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Posts Tagged ‘michigan st. spartans’

College football bowl season is nearly upon us.  It’s always a fun time and there are a number of matchups I’m excited to see.  Here are my top five:

5.  New Era Pinstripe Bowl – Kansas State vs. Syracuse
December 30

Okay, okay, so I’m a little biased here.  Sure the football may be near unwatchable but the Orange are back in a bowl!  Kudos to Coach Marrone for the job he’s done in turning around the program.  I look forward to watching the future progress.

4.  Capital One Bowl – Alabama vs. Michigan St.
January 1

It’s hard to believe that the Crimson Tide lost three games this season.  I expected their running game to dominate everybody but it certainly did not.  The Spartans are a great surprise story who really rallied around their coach.

3.  Allstate Sugar Bowl – Ohio St. vs. Arkansas
January 4

Two of the best college quarterbacks face off in this one with Terrelle Pryor leading the Buckeyes against Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks.

2.  Rose Bowl – Wisconsin vs. TCU
January 1

TCU takes the Pac-10’s spot in the granddaddy of them all.  This will be the Horned Frogs chance to prove they belong in the discussion about the best teams in college football.  It certainly won’t be easy.  Wisconsin has destroyed their opponents in the last month of the season.

University of Phoenix Stadium

The biggest game of the college football season will take place here at University of Phoenix Stadium

1.  National Championship Game – Oregon vs. Auburn
January 10

This should be a very exciting, fast-paced game.  Soon-to-be Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton looks to continue his dream season against the Ducks.  Oregon is first in scoring and Auburn is sixth – I hope the scoreboard operator is ready.

What bowl games are you most looking forward to?  Post a comment below and let’s discuss.

Photo source: purpcheese

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The cream really started rising to the top last weekend as Alabama, Oregon and Oklahoma got important conference wins.  The Crimson Tide were especially impressive as they dominated Florida from the beginning of the game.  The Gators can now only hope to get another shot at them in the SEC Championship game.  At the same time the Ducks started off slow but then took off like a rocket after halftime to roll over Stanford.

Week six will again be highlighted by critical conference battles.  Here’s five questions I’m looking forward to getting the answers to this weekend:

5.  If a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, did it make a sound?

Fallen Tree

....................

In other words, when Connecticut plays at Rutgers Friday night and nobody watches will they have really played a game.  I’m sorry, I’m a Syracuse alum and fan, but the Big East is inconsequential to the national scene this year.  I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.

4.  Can “Shoelace” keep his Heisman hopes alive against Michigan State?

Denard “Shoelace” Robinson, the most dynamic college football player in the nation, and his Michigan Wolverines host intrastate rival Michigan State.  Robinson has gotten hit hard and missed parts of each of the past three games.  Saturday afternoon he’ll have Spartans linebacker Greg Jones hunting him down.  Will he avoid an injury and lead his team to victory?

3.  Will the Hurricanes be the ACC’s shining light?

After three consecutive road games, Miami finally returns home to face rival Florida State.  One of those road games was a loss to Ohio State in which they were not really competitive.  But they’ve seemed to right the ship in the past two games.  The ACC is really struggling and needs the Hurricanes to carry the banner for them after N.C. State dropped it last week and Virginia Tech stomped on it.

2.  How does Florida rebound against undefeated but much-maligned LSU?

The Gators have handily beaten the teams they should but were never really in the game against Alabama.  Of course, that’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Saturday evening they host the LSU Tigers with a chance to demonstrate what type of season they want to have.  LSU has not yet lost but they’ve been a lot closer to it than their fans would like.  Every game they play seems to be a referendum on head coach Les Miles.

1.   Can South Carolina challenge Alabama?

The Crimson Tide is coming into form as the juggernaut that many expected them to be.  After being taken nearly to the wire by Arkansas, Alabama dominated Florida.  South Carolina is coming off a tough loss at Auburn two weeks ago.  With two weeks to prepare and home field advantage can the Gamecocks beat the Tide?

What do you think the answers will be to the questions I asked above?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: Mary-Lynn

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Unlike many of the expected big college football matchups in 2010, the Alabama-Arkansas game lived up to the hype.  The Razorbacks played quite well in the first half, but a very determined Crimson Tide came out after halftime ready to win.  They gave the ball to Mark Ingram and let him do work.  Meanwhile the defense stepped up and made the plays they needed to win the game.

As we enter the portion of the season where conference play is now the rule instead of the exception, the games become bigger and wins and losses mean more.  The neat thing is that the five games I chose to focus on in week five represent five different conferences.  Here are the five questions I’m looking forward to getting the answers to on Saturday:

Michigan State Coach Mark Dantonio

Will Mark Dantonio lead the Spartans to a victory over the Badgers?

5.  Will the return of coach Mark Dantonio inspire Michigan State to beat Wisconsin at home?

Michigan State is 4-0 after four home games with one good win over Notre Dame.  Less than two weeks after a heart attack, their head coach Mark Dantonio will return, likely coaching from the Spartan Stadium coaching box against Wisconsin.  The Badgers are also 4-0 against a pretty weak slate.  This is an important game for the Spartans if they are going to have a successful season, as they will play Michigan, Iowa and Penn State all on the road.

4.  Is North Carolina State for real?

The Wolfpack looks like they may be the cream of the crop in the ACC.  But that may just mean they are the least rotten egg in the carton.  They have a 4-0 record and are 19th in the nation in passing yardage and scoring.  There’s even been whispers about quarterback Russell Wilson joining the Heisman race.  We’ll have a much better idea of how good N.C. State is when they take on Virginia Tech on Saturday.  Although the Hokies suffered a terrible loss to James Madison, they still may be the most talented program in the conference.

3.  Will Texas make up for last week’s loss by beating Oklahoma?

 Texas football suffered a major reality check last weekend, playing very poorly in losing to UCLA at home.  Now they have to get ready for the Red River Rivalry game with Oklahoma before heading to Nebraska the following week.  The Longhorns should have no trouble getting up for this big rivalry game against the Sooners.  Texas can pay the favor of having their national championship hopes ruined forward by doing the same to Oklahoma.  The Sooners are coming off a way to close two point win over Cincinnati that was proceeded by a three point win over Air Force.  Oklahoma was considered a sleeper national championship contender before the season but they will clearly have to pick their game up to get there.

2.  Can Stanford take control of the Pac-10 by beating the Ducks at Autzen Stadium?

The Cardinal have come out of nowhere and look like a very serious challenger for the Pac-10 crown.  Potential #1 NFL draft pick Andrew Luck has orchestrated the Stanford offense brilliantly, they are fourth in the country in scoring.  On the other side of the ball the defense has been much better than expected and is 12th in points allowed.  But the road to the Pac-10 title goes through Oregon and Stanford will visit Autzen Stadium on Saturday night.  The Ducks have been just as impressive as the Cardinal, leading the nation in scoring and ranking third in points allowed.  Stanford beat Oregon at home last year behind a 223-yard, three touchdown effort by Toby Gerhart.  This could be the game of the year.

1.  Is Florida capable of taking down Alabama?

The Gators started the season on questionable ground but have seemed to settle down over the last two weeks, scoring SEC wins over Tennessee and Kentucky.  Neither of those contests can really be counted as big tests, certainly not to the level of Alabama.  The Crimson Tide have picked up right where they left off last year and are coming off a strong win over Arkansas.  Mark Ingram was back in Heisman form racking up 157 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries against the Razorbacks.  Florida and Alabama have met in the last two SEC Championship Games, with each school getting a win and then going on to win the National Championship.

What matchup are you most looking forward to this weekend?  Who do you like to win the big games?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Photo source: avinashkunnath

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It’s always fun to look back on predictions and see how they compared to the final results…especially if you were not the one that made the predictions.  I did not put any preseason college basketball predictions in print so instead of looking back at my predictions I will look at the predictions of the Sports Illustrated team.  First, I’ll give credit where it’s due:

Hit the Bullseye

  1. Kansas – SI picked the Jayhawks at #1 and although they did not achieve their ultimate goal they did have a wonderful season that was worthy of the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
  2. Michigan St. – Chosen by SI at #2 the Spartans rallied from a challenging season to make the Final Four and had a solid chance to beat Butler.
  3. Kentucky – Maybe dead on, SI picked the Wildcats in the #5 slot. 
  4. Washington – While the Huskies did not have the best regular season, they made a nice mini-run to get to the Sweet Sixteen.  SI picked them at #9.

Hit Below the Bullseye

  1. Butler – SI wasn’t way off on this one – they picked Butler at #14.  Doubtful that anybody would have picked the Bulldogs at #2.  Although they should be picking them there for next season.
  2. Syracuse – The #1 seed and Big East regular season champions were picked at #35 by SI before the season.
  3. Kansas St. – Right below the Orange SI picked the Wildcats at #36.  Kansas St. played their way to a #2 seed in the big dance.
  4. Baylor – The Bears’ excellent season was a surprise to many, including the writers of SI who did not pick them to make the tournament in their college basketball preview.

Overthrew the Target

  1. Texas – Picked #4 by SI the Longhorns were never able to pull all their talent together in a way that resulted in a lot of wins.
  2. North Carolina – Many were surprised by the poor performance of the Tar Heels this season.  SI picked them at #7.
  3. Connecticut – The Huskies played like a group of individuals instead of a team throughout most of the season.  They did not live up to expectations, including those of SI who picked them at #10.
  4. Michigan – I personally expected a lot out of this team coming into the season and so did SI who picked them at #15. 

The team that most outperformed my expectations was Pittsburgh.  I did not expect anything from them but they really had an excellent season built on the foundation of high effort and defense that they’ve been exhibiting for quite some time.  Michigan is the program that most underachieved when compared to my expectations.  With the return of Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims along with the three other starters from the previous season I thought the Wolverines would be really good – they certainly were not.

What teams surprised you most, both positively and negatively?

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