Archives for November 2013

Ohio State Takes All Michigan Can Dish Out, Wins 42-41

devin_done

Wow. From the biggest brawl in recent memory (resulting in three ejections) to the biggest gamble that I can remember, Ohio State survives a huge scare in the Big House and wins 42-41.

Ohio State had all the advantages going into this game — talent, recent success, superior coaching, and better looking fans. All that gets thrown out the window in a rivalry game (As Oregon will tell you). Ohio State and Michigan exchanged body blows and upper cuts for the better part of four quarters. Ohio State looked like it would pull away, up 14 and driving when Carlos Hyde had the ball stripped during a second effort push and gave Michigan a short field and momentum.

Ultimately, Ohio State would go up 42-35 with little time left on the clock. Michigan then drove down and scored with 30 or so seconds left on the clock. In a decision that will go down as gutsy or stupid depending on who you ask, Brady Hoke decided to go for it all and go for two instead of kick the extra point and go to overtime. Whether that shows confidence in your offense or a lack of confidence in your defense (Ohio State was gaining yards in chunkfuls), I don’t know.

I also don’t know how I would have felt if the shoe was on the other foot. Michigan had nothing to lose (besides the game). They weren’t playing for any post-season considerations. Their lot had been cast. This was a go-for-broke moment. Had Urban done it in similar situation, with the same results, I don’t know if I would have been ok with it. Would you? (I almost hate to mention it, but if this was a Cooper team, they get that two point conversion, don’t they?)

Ulitmately, Gardner tried to squeeze a pass into double coverage. Michigan came out in a stack WR formation and Ohio State had four defensive backs in the area. That would have been a hard throw to make no matter who he threw it too, but the ball was almost intercepted and the game was over.

The game was probably close enough to give Michigan confidence in their coaching decisions and give the team confidence going forward. They went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams and almost knocked out the champ.

5 Quick Thoughts on Today’s Games!

1. #3 Ohio State at Michigan (11am CST ABC): Outside of possibly South Carolina, Michigan has been the most unpredictable teams in the country. They have impressive wins over Notre Dame and Minnesota, but nearly lost to Akron and Connecticut (who have 5 wins combined) in back-to-back weeks and needed 3 overtimes to beat a dissipated Northwestern team (which hasn’t won since Mike Greenberg gave them a “pep talk” prior to playing my Buckeyes). All that being said, this game is at the Big House and the Wolverines would love nothing better than to finish their regular season by ending the Buckeyes’ 23-game winning streak and essentially their national title hopes. The only thing I worry about is Jeremy Gallon having a big game as the Buckeyes’ secondary have given up several huge individual receiving performances this season (i.e. Wisconsin’s J. Abbrederis with 10 receptions, 207 yards, 1 touchdown and Penn State’s A. Robinson with 12 receptions, 173 yards 1 touchdown. Gallon is 16th in the nation in yards per game so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about him having a big game on Saturday. The Wolverines have lost four of their last six games this season and eight of their last nine against the Buckeyes (they won in ‘11 in the Denard Robinson “spoon-feeding game”). That means Coach Meyer’s focus this week was likely to ensure his team doesn’t approach this game as if it will be one that will just be given to them. He will make sure they don’t look ahead to their matchup with the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship game. This is a classic trap game and if we combine that with it being one of the most intense rivalry games in the country, this game will surely be closer than it should be on paper. Vegas has my Buckeyes favored by sixteen points but I’m not so sure about that. I hope the Wolverines get a huge dose of Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller has a big day on the ground. Buckeyes win, but I don’t think they cover the spread.

2. #24 Duke at North Carolina (11am CST ESPN2): We move from the biggest rivalry in college football to the biggest rivalry in college basketball … only in football. This is a matchup that doesn’t usually means much to anyone beyond the fans of these two teams, but this season it means a lot. If the Blue Devils win today, they clinch the Coastal Division of the ACC and will play Florida State in the championship game. They can still win the division if they lose today, but they would then need help from Miami and Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels started the season 1-5, but have reeled off five straight coming into today. Although, their second half of the season was easier than their first half, the offense seemingly has finally figured out Larry Fedora’s spread offense. Going into the season I was big on Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner, but he was hurt, and Marquise Williams has played well in his place (60.8% passing, 13 TDs, 4 INTs). I think this is the reason Vegas is favoring the Tar Heels over the Blue Devils (-6) despite having three fewer losses on the season. All that being said, I love what David Cutcliffe has built at Duke. They beat Virginia Tech and Miami (albeit without their best player). What I think will be the difference is that I think Duke will commit fewer turnovers and that they will have at least one big fourth down conversion (their 7th in the nation in fourth down conversions). I have Duke winning outright and by a touchdown.

3. #1 Alabama at #4 Auburn (2:30pm CST CBS): I’d like to start by saying that I wish ESPN had been successful in their pursuit of this game; they wanted to make it the night game. I have no problem with the start time, but I hate that Gary Danielson and Verne Lundquist will be calling the game. Those guys get on my nerves — Danielson in particular. Let’s start by saying that I think Gus Malzahn will certainly be in the running for coach of the year (is Ed Orgeron eligible?) because we cannot forget that the Tigers were winless in the SEC last season and nearly lost to Louisiana-Monroe. This year, they walk into the Iron Bowl with a chance at the SEC West title! Also impressive is that Auburn is second in the nation in rushing yards per game because the top three is usually reserved for teams running the triple option (i.e #1 is Army and #3 is Navy). If you like these kinds of stats, Alabama has never beaten and Auburn team with nine or more wins (0-2). I’ve never been a fan of those kinds of things especially with a sample size of just two, but ESPN has mentioned it for two weeks. Alabama will play a lot of man-to-man on the outside, with floating safeties, and loading the box against the run. I also expect CJ Mosley to spy Nick Marshall for a lot early in the game. Saban will want Marshall to beat him with his arm if he’s going to beat him. That’s the right strategy, of course, but it’s the exact same one he executed against Cam Newton in 2010 (held him to just 39 rushing but allowed three passing touchdowns). The difference here is that Saban has the advantage of learning from that game. One of his mistakes in that game is that he let his foot off the gas with a 24-point lead at halftime and then had trouble getting his team energy back up in time. This time, if he gets up early, I don’t see him becoming passive. Some might disagree with me (I think those people may say VT or MSU), but I think this will be the best defensive line Alabama has faced all season. Dee Ford, Carl Lawson, and Montravius Adams are beasts and I think McCarron may either get sacked a few times or get hurried into a bad throw or two. All that being said, I think Auburn may see two things that not many teams have seen thus far this year from the Tide. 1. 5 WR sets 2. Chris Black making a name for himself. I think OJ Howard will be the player of the game as I think he’ll have at least two touchdown catches. If I were Nick Saban, I would have spent some time preparing for Jeremy Johnson at least a little bit this week because I really believe he’ll make a few appearances in this game. Saban will force them to throw the ball and Johnson can sling it. Alabama wins, but Tide fans will definitely have moments of nervousness, until they pull away late in the game.

4. A few more picks: Clemson over South Carolina (to break their four-game losing streak), Missouri over Texas A&M (because that Aggies defense can’t stop Franklin and company, but Johnny Football will play well today), Stanford over Notre Dame (won’t be close), USC upsets UCLA (Marqise Lee goes off), Georgia Tech over Georgia (we’ll miss you Aaron Murray!), and Florida State over Florida (I think we’ll see some Sean Maguire at QB today).

5. If I were playing fantasy college football: I’d start Taylor Kelly at QB (vs Arizona), Andre Williams at RB (at Syracuse), Marqise Lee (vs UCLA) and Dorial Green-Beckham (vs Texas A&M) at WR, OJ Howard at TE (at Auburn), and I’m going to separate defense and special teams. I’m starting Michigan State’s defense (vs Minnesota) and I’m taking Kansas State on special teams (at Kansas).

Memories…

Michigan Open Thread

Here’s an open thread for today’s match-up of The Game.

Hype Video

Ladies and Gentleman of Buckeye Nation. The greatest fan base in the Nation. We are less than 24 hours away from the kickoff for The Game.

Thanks to Ohio State Football for putting out this video.

Michigan Preview

A Tipping Point

osuHelmetWe are reaching a tipping point over two decades in the making. Much success was enjoyed during the Coach Cooper years but Coop was never able to beat Michigan with any regularity. For all the great recruiting classes he brought in, for all the success he had outside of Michigan week, for some reason Cooper never looked comfortable that last week of the season in November.

Some have said that since he wasn’t a homegrown Buckeye, he never grokked the gravity of Michigan week. I don’t buy that. I think he was acutely aware of the importance of beating Michigan. Just for some reason, he was never able to seal the deal.

In his thirteen seasons, he beat Michigan twice (1994, 1998), tied them once (1992) and lost an unacceptable nine times (including the first FOUR times he coached against them). It was a dark time to be a Buckeye fan.

Since Coach Tressel took over in 2001, Ohio state has enjoyed unprecedented success against that team up north. Since then, in stark contrast to Coopers failures, Ohio State has won nine times and only lost twice.

So tomorrow we reach the tipping point. Throwing out the tie we have an even split record of 9-2 on both sides.

Those twelve years were oft times miserable.

So that’s why I asked in the poll earlier this week — has Michigan suffered at the level we have? Were our nine victories over them as bad, demoralizing and frustrating as the nine losses a decade earlier?

Michigan has lost 8 of the last 10 games against Ohio State. Have they suffered enough?

  • NEVER! They can NEVER suffer enough! (97%, 181 Votes)
  • Yes. Now I just feel sorry for them. (3%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 186

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I don’t think Michigan has suffered enough. Three times in the 90’s, Ohio State went into The Game undefeated, sporting a Top 5 ranking and looking forward to a chance to win their bowl game and be considered National Champions. Those dreams were never realized as Michigan overcame talent deficits to upset Ohio State in all three meetings. The proverbial wooden stake had been driven through the collective hearts of Buckeye Nation.

In contrast, this has only happened to Michigan fans once in the past eleven years when #1 Ohio State beat #2 Michigan in the game of the century in 2006. It also began the precipitous fall the Michigan program has suffered the past seven years, starting with the fall to Appalachian State.

So no, Michigan has not suffered on our level. They have a ways to go.

Spoiler Alert: the suffering is going to continue for at least another year. Michigan’s outlook isn’t super rosy, either.

The Actual Game

This game has never come down to the match-ups (see previously mentioned Cooper’s struggles) but the talent disparity this year seems particularly stark. Michigan, since the Notre Dame game, has struggled to find any kind of consistency on offense. They have weapons (Funchess, Gallon) but the way Devin Gardner has been manning the helm has not quite worked out.

On defense, the numbers actually point to a competent if not particularly flashy defense. But they have given up back-breaking drives (Penn State comes to mind). Either way, Michigan fields a defense that appears at first blush to be much more competent than the offensive side of the ball. Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison doesn’t have all the talent he could use but he has managed to develop a defense that has kept Michigan in more games than not.

Turn overs, inability to develop a ground game and a very unimaginative offense has led to Michigan fans to the truest pit of despair.

So what happens this year? I really feel like this game is more than just a tipping point of records. These are two programs with very different trajectories. Ohio State, with Urban Meyer at the helm, has the Buckeyes heading in the right direction with incoming recruits ready to take the team to the next level. Michigan, with Brady Hoke leading the way, initially seemed to be heading in the right direction. But with the recent struggles his team has had and the recruiting struggles has Michigan fans doubting.

Ohio State has already secured its spot in the Big Ten Championship Game, but this isn’t a chance to rest the starters. They are still in the running for a spot in the BCS Title Game and need to make a statement in The Game. Ohio State should win going away. But in a game where match-ups and records get thrown out the window, the Buckeyes still need to make a final statement. I don’t see Urban taking the foot off the gas.

OSU: 45
UM: 17

Q&A with an Opponents Blogger:TTUN

Well here we are at the last game of the regular season, its the most anticipated game of the regular season. This is The Game really nothing in all of sports compares. Folks down south like to think that the Iron Bowl is the best but lets face facts I believe only twice have those teams met when they were both Top 5 or Top 10 something like that. It seems like 9 out of 10 times that the wolverines of TSUN and the Buckeyes of The Ohio State University meet there is something on the line.

I know you are all just waiting for this weeks post on who I’m talking with and what kind of hard hitting questions I can come up with for TTUN. Well this week Joshua who is the editor of The Big House report was ever so gracious enough to work with me on this weeks post.

MotSaG: I wanted to start out with what the hell is going on with the Michigan fan base? I’m seeing they are getting rid of their tickets online and ready to burn Ann Arbor down, is it that bad or just the Wolverine boards I’m reading greatly exaggerated?

TBHR: It’s not fun to be a Michigan fan right now. The season hasn’t gone as planned and the fans are acting accordingly. A lot of the message board fodder you are mostly reading are from fans who have a tendency to freak out. Most fans dont understand the meaning of “perspective” and just want to automstically result in fire and pitchfork protesting.

MotSaG: Do you think enough bandwagon fans get ride of there tickets Scarlet and Gray will overrun the Big House?

TBHR: Ohio State fans always travel well, it’s not a huge secret. Considering how big this game is, I expect the stadium to be filled with plenty of scarlet. Those fans who are willingly giving their tickets to Buckeye fans are part of the problem.

MotSaG: Brady cHoke is in his 3rd season and he seems to be getting worse (record wise) with his own hand picked talent, Is it him or the coordinators failing him?

TBHR: I wouldn’t necessarily call Hoke’s tenure a failure yet. Hoke is trying to rebound from a senior-heavy squad in 2011, the team is young. I’m not trying to excuse the lack of results, it’s just the way it is right now. Is Al Borges to blame for a lack of offense? Probably. I give Hoke one more season before the heat gets turned up on his seat.

MotSaG: One of Michigan’s biggest problems this season is the offensive line, will they be able to patchwork something to keep OSU’s defensive line away from Gardner?

TBHR: Simply put, no. Michigan has shuffled that line way too many times this season. There really isn’t much chemistry there, as you can see from the terrible year they are having.

MotSaG: Whats the over/under on Devin The Pastry Chef Gardners turnovers vs Buckeyes?

TBHR: Believe it or not, Gardner has cut down on the turnovers as the season has progressed. Although that won’t help him this weekend. Considering Michigan will be desperate, they will try to force plays. With that being said, I expect Gardner to have at least two turnovers.

MotSaG: Being this is The Game and the greatest rivalry in ALL of sports Buckeye fans know and expect Michigan to bring their best and then some but my question is have they played their best yet this season at any game or is there to many problems?

TBHR: Notre Dame was arguably Michigan’s most complete game. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really mean much. I am hoping that Michigan is leaving the best for last. But, again, that’s going to be tough.

MotSaG: Seen a report come out Sunday I believe that cHoke has lost the team do you feel this to be true?

TBHR: Don’t believe those reports, they are not true. Hoke is still respected by the team.

MotSaG: With the issues the Wolverines have been having this season what effect is it having on recruiting? I seen Jabrill Peppers is taking official visits after his season ends I thought that was a big no non in cHokes eyes?

TBHR: I think losing out on Hand is good enough evidence that the season is taking its toll on recruiting. The Peppers thing was overblown, he said he wanted to have a backup plan because of fake rumors floating around that Hoke will be let go after the season. So far, there are zero decommits and I dont really expect any changes with the current class. What happens in the future remain to be seen.

MotSaG: Before the season started I wrote my first post hoping and thinking Michigan was going to be a good team and I also wrote about The Pastry Chef and our site thinking he was going to be the in the Top 25 of the B1G talent as much as I don’t like Michigan I do respect the heck out of them so my question is, is the talent on the team overrated or the coaching overrated?

TBHR: I think it’s just a simple fact of the players not living up to expectations I don’t think the coaching or players are overrated, I still think the team needs one more offseason to be coached up before we can make a determination.

MotSaG: Buckeye fans keep hearing Michigan fans say that Ohio State has a cupcake schedule and they haven’t played anyone ( you know riding the coat tails of national media). If Ohio State schedule is so easy why did Michigan need OT to beat Northwestern lost to Iowa and Penn State and barely beat the cupcakes Akron and UConn? Michigan’s schedule isn’t harder than the Buckeyes yet tOSU is undefeated and Michigan is 7-4.

TBHR: Every team plays each other differently. Northwestern gave Ohio State all it could handle, while they sucked when they played Michigan (as did the wolverines.) The lopsided records to conference strength between the two teams is due to the Buckeyes being a vastly superior team. Its as simple as that.

MotSaG: What does your gut tell you to expect from this game? Final score prediction and if you feel Michigan wins what do they have to do to beat the Buckeyes?

TBHR: I’m thinking Ohio State will put up 35-40 points this weekend. Michigan will lose, obviously. It could be worse, considering the Buckeyes need style points in the BCS.

I’m at a loss here because honestly I have been hoping that TTUN was turning things around and this was going to start another Ten Year War or something along those lines. I’m not sure what the problem is up there nor do I really care but I do know rest assured as much as we Buckeye fans are beating our chests that this should be a slam dunk kick their butts type of game, it won’t happen till the end. As much as I feel that Brady cHoke is vastly overrated and in over his head those kids putting on those putrid maize and blue helmets and jerseys they will come to play.

One of the many reasons I can never look past this team no matter the coach no matter the year 2 games stick out in my mind from all of my many years of watching this rivalry. The kid from Cleveland striking that damn pose and the one which that kid ran all over us for over 300 yards and while he wasn’t doing his Forest Gump impression on the field he was riding a stationary bike on the sideline for which we recommended envy reaper scooter bars. I refuse to mention them by name because when I hear their names I feel that same pain in my heart all over again and if your to young to know I bet they will remind us Saturday.

Like many of you I will be going out early for kegs and eggs and I will make sure I sit next to my friend who is a TSUN fan and revel in his misery I hope. Seriously the Buckeyes could really make a statement in this game early and quickly like they have done this season. This is the game where if the Buckeyes get up early and are firing on all cylinders you better believe the main man from Astubula, Oh will be going for the kill and when asked after the game why did you run up the score. “Because its TTUN”

I as many of you are hoping for a can of whoop ass to be open up on the wolverines but history and my gut tell me the odds makers are probably right with the 13 point spread. The Buckeyes defensive line is going to need to pin their ears back and constantly beat the hell out of The Pastry Chef and Carlos Hyde is going to have to do what he does best run over them again and again.

I want to thank Joshua from The Big House Report again for being a great sport and taking the time out to help me with this weeks post. Please go check out his site they do great work over there even if its for TTUN.

If you want to get involved and have questions about THE B1G Championship Game feel free to send them in to me and I can send them on. Email your questions to AskMotSaG@gmail.com or MotSaG@gmail.com. Would love to know your thoughts on this post and hope you enjoyed it.

Memories…

Robiskie catches TD against UM 2006

MotSaG’s 2013 Pick ’em Contest Update

FootballIt’s your weekly reminder to get your picks in for the Pick ’em Contest.

Here are the updated top five standings:

Rank Pick Set Name Total Pts W-L
1 buckeye lad 140 140-114
2 Phil my nuts Go Bucks 138 138-116
3 buckeye nation 131 131-123
4 Urban Meyer Wieners 131 131-123
5 Buckeye Mania 122 122-132

These guys are in the driver’s seat for the prize package. The prize package includes:
$25 Amazon.com gift certificate
An 11×14″ Framed Copy of Braxton Miller’s SI cover from SICovers.com.

SI_OSU
… and more…

MotSaG TV Guide: Rivalry Week

It’s rivalry week! We’re forgoing predictions this week, because–as you know–rivalry week is when we throw out all the record books! Which is a pretty wasteful tradition, since we then have to buy all new record books next week.

Thursday

7:30pm

The Egg Bowl: Ole Miss @ Mississippi State. In 1907, the two teams played a muddy and scoreless first half. Ole Miss coach Frank Mason gave his team coffee at halftime to try to warm them up. Oh, and the coffee had whiskey in it because 1907. The second half didn’t go so well for Ole Miss, and they lost 15-0. Mason lost his job after telling a reporter he hoped he never saw the team again. (ESPN)

Texas Tech @ Texas. This game doesn’t have a cool name or a rich history, but the winner does take home gold and silver spurs, a tradition that has been around since 1996. Also around since 1996: The Backstreet Boys. (FS1)

Friday

Noon

Iowa @ Nebraska. As a fan blog for a Big Ten member school, we are obligated under Big Ten Digital Media Guideline 192.02.13.05(c) to remind you that the University of Iowa Hawkeyes and the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers are rivals in the sport of Men’s Football. Please consume this game accordingly. (ABC)

3:00pm

The Shula Bowl: Florida International @ Florida Atlantic. Yes, that is the actual nickname for this game, a reference to each school’s tangential ties to ex-Dolphins coach Don Shula, whose name also appears on the trophy awarded to the winner. Shula. (FS1)

3:30pm

The Apple Cup: Washington State @ Washington. This series is so old that the first game was a 5-5 tie witnessed by 1500 people, and the original Governor’s Trophy awarded to the winner went missing for 50 years. In 2008, the teams had one win between them heading into the game, which then prolonged the agony into double overtime. (Fox)

7:00pm

The Civil War: Oregon State at Oregon. After a 1937 victory, Beaver fans understandably partied well into the night. Upon waking up the next morning, they were still in a celebratory mood, so they proceeded to caravan to Eugene, where things got really out of hand: water balloons, tomatoes, attempted drowning, public humiliation–you know, COLLEGE. Read all about these lunatics here. (FS1)

Saturday

Noon

Florida State @ Florida. What better way to crush a rival than to ruin their national championship run the week after losing to Georgia Southern? You scoff, but maybe that was the Gators’ plan all along.

Maybe?

Of note: Florida State has lost to an unranked team each of the past 12 seasons. This is their last chance to do so this year. (ESPN)

The Game: Ohio State, away. There was a time not so long ago when everyone was talking about the possibility of an instant rematch in the Big Ten Championship Game. Now, even with an unlikely win here, Michigan can finish no better than fourth in the Legends division. (ABC)

2:30pm

The Bayou Classic: Grambling @ Southern. The only regularly-televised FCS game, this is the most even rivalry here, currently sitting at 30-30 overall (20-19 in Grambling’s favor since adopting the Bayou Classic name). (NBC)

3:30 pm

The Iron Bowl: Alabama @ Auburn. It’s probably the biggest edition of the long-running rivalry ever, and definitely the most important game of the weekend. Despite being a double-digit underdog, Auburn has a decent shot of dethroning Alabama. With the Buckeyes and Seminoles wrapping up as this game kicks off, all eyes will be on the Tigers and the Tide. (CBS)

Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate: Georgia @ Georgia Tech. Tech’s fight song features the line “To Hell with Georgia,” so you know this is a legit rivalry. The Yellow Jackets have only beaten the Bulldogs once in the past twelve years, but UGA is a battered, struggling team this year. (ABC)

7:00pm

The Palmetto Bowl: Clemson @ South Carolina. Much like our own beloved rivalry with that school up north, this one has its roots outside of sports. It’s much too complex to cover here, but suffice it to say: Do. Not. Agitate. Farmers. (ESPN2)

8:00pm

UCLA @ USC. You drive further to work than these two teams travel when they play each other. Separated by only 12 miles, the Bruins and Trojans are not really separated at all, the only major college football rivals who share a city. Imagine if you were surrounded by Wal-Mart Wolverines everywhere you went, every day. These two fan bases deserve our respect for the very fact that any of them are still alive. (ABC)

9:30pm

The Duel in the Desert: Arizona @ Arizona State. The Territorial Cup is the oldest trophy in college football, and the gridiron battle for it led to Arizona State becoming an official university (their 47-0 thrashing of Arizona helped persuade voters) and inspired the creation of the Fiesta Bowl (after Arizona coach Darrell Mudra essentially forced the Sun Bowl to select his team regardless of whether they beat Arizona that year, which they did not). Starting in 2009, the Territorial Cup became an all-sport trophy, which is an awesome idea that every major rivalry should steal. (Pac-12 Network)