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Posts Tagged ‘michigan wolverines’

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

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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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Week two of the college football season may have more big matchups than any other week on the schedule.  But, before we get into the big questions for this upcoming weekend, let’s look at the answers to the questions I asked before week one.  The two biggest statements came from Boise State and TCU, who both proved that they are ready to make a run at a BCS National Championship.  Michigan and Notre Dame also looked impressive in starting out their seasons with wins.

Now…onward.  Here are the five college football questions I am looking forward to getting the answer to in week two:

Home of the Florida Gators

Will the USF Bulls challenge the Gators?

5.  Can new head coach Skip Holtz help South Florida steal a win over Florida?

The Gators offense looked sketchy at best during most of their 34-12 win over Miami of Ohio.  The defense played better, intercepting four passes and holding the RedHawks to four yards rushing.  The Bulls crushed Stony Brook 59-14, as they should have, in the debut of Holtz as head coach.  Each team will serve as the other’s first real measuring stick for the 2010 season.

4.  How will Mark Ingram’s likely absence affect Alabama against Penn State?

It is looking more and more likely that Heisman Trophy winner Ingram will miss Saturday night’s game against the Nittany Lions.  His “backup” Trent Richardson may be one of the top five running backs in the nation, but he has not been called on to carry a heavy load in a game by himself.  The Penn State defense is solid, although inexperienced at linebacker.

3.  Can Denard Robinson maintain his momentum when Michigan heads to Notre Dame Stadium?

He still didn’t tie his shoelaces, but Robinson exceeded all expectations in his performance against UConn last weekend, racking up 197 yards rushing on 29 carries and completing 19 of 22 passes for 186 yards.  Can he put up a similar performance against a more skilled defense in hostile territory?

2.  How much of Oklahoma’s poor performance from week one will carry over to week two against Florida State?

The Sooners did not play well in week one against Utah State.  I’m trying not to read too much into the first game of the season, but the fact is Oklahoma gave up 341 passing yards to Diondre Borel and the Aggies.  A stellar, workhorse effort by DeMarco Murray in carrying the ball 35 times for 218 yards got the Sooners the win.  If they gave up 341 yards passing to Borel how many will they give up to Christian Ponder?

1.  Is Miami truly back?

The Hurricanes have been mentioned as a sleeper contender for national championship contention.  Part of that is based on the increase in the level of talent they’ve brought in over the past few years.  The other part is based on the opportunities like this one that lie within their schedule.  Ohio State is clearly a top contender.  If Terrelle Pryor can consistently play the way he did in the Rose Bowl the Buckeyes will play in the national championship game.  This one should be an outstanding battle.

Let me know your week two questions and your predictions in the comments section below.

Photo source: Gregory Moine

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The college football season is finally upon us…now hopefully some cooler weather will follow.  There are always many questions heading into the first week of the college football season.  With new contenders, new coaches, new players, fluctuating schedules and the BCS, there is never a shortage of issues to address.

Here are five college football questions I am looking forward to getting the answer to in week one:

5.  How seriously can TCU contend for a national title?

Many people have their eyes on Boise State as the non-BCS school that could be playing for a national championship.  But TCU could have just as good a shot with a preseason #6 rating and comparable schedule.  They open at home against #24 Oregon State on Saturday night and we should get an early indication of how strong the 2010 Horned Frogs will be.

TCU's Matthew Tucker

TCU's Matthew Tucker - Running Toward a BCS Championship?

4.  Was coaching all that was missing from Notre Dame?

New coach Brian Kelly comes to the Irish after winning two consecutive Big East Championships with Cincinnati.  There is little question that Notre Dame still has a lot of talent.  Is Kelly the man to make them successful?  We’ll find out when the Irish play Purdue tomorrow.

3.  How many UNC players will be suspended for the opening game against LSU?

The current word is that 12 Tar Heels will miss Saturday night’s game and three more may be suspended as well.  Among those 12 players are defensive leaders Marvin Austin, Robert Quinn and Kendric Burney, as well as explosive receiver Greg Little and two tailbacks – Shaun Draughn and Ryan Houston. Whew, that’s a lot of talent.

2.  Will Michigan take a step toward saving Rich Rodriguez or burying him?

Rodriguez enters his third season with an 8-16 record at Michigan and alumni howling for his departure.  The Wolverines need to show some real progress to save his skin in Ann Arbor.  They open against a game Connecticut team that will be determined to score the upset on Michigan’s home turf.

1.  Can Boise State go into Virginia Tech’s backyard and get the win?

As college football darlings, Boise State was looked upon as the little team that could.  Now that they have built their program to be more successful than many BCS schools and have gotten a #3 preseason ranking there is a big backlash.  The fact is, Boise State has to be considered a serious National Championship contender…IF they can beat the Hokies in D.C.

Please share the questions you are looking forward to getting answered and/or any predictions in the comments section below!

Photo source: SD Dirk

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Nothing will show that the Big Ten’s initial bold move to add three Big East programs was more successful than the follow on addition of Notre Dame.  With Pittsburgh, Rutgers and Syracuse jumping to the Big Ten the Irish will have no choice but to follow suit.  My prediction is that the football season after the three former Big East schools join the Big Ten, the conference will expand again.  This time it will be two teams, Notre Dame and Missouri.

Notre Dame will have fought expansion as much as possible, but as the Big East searches for answers to keep afloat, the Irish must make a move to solidify their standing and revenue.  Independence will no longer be an option. 

Of course, Notre Dame will be a great addition to the Big Ten.  While they are not a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), I don’t think that fact will hold the university presidents back from offering an invitation.  The school had an excellent ranking by the U.S. News & World Report (#20) and will bring a great many dollars to its new conference.

Missouri is already politicking for Big Ten membership and I believe they would be a solid addition.  They are an AAU member, have quality sports programs and would help expand the Big Ten Network in the midwest, specifically into Kansas City.  Working against Missouri is their #102 ranking by the U.S. News & World Report.  I believe a pledge by the university to improve that ranking would be enough to convince the presidents that Missouri will live up to every part of the Big Ten’s brand.

The Big Ten’s fast and forceful expansion to 16 schools will bring a whole bunch of questions.  How will teams be grouped?  Two divisions seems inevitable but ESPN’s Pat Forde has even suggested four pods.  Will the groups be effective in football and basketball?  Where will the annual Big Ten football championship be played?  Will the conference name finally be changed?

As far as dividing the teams, here’s my stab at two divisions:

East Division
Indiana
Northwestern
Ohio St.
Penn St.
Pittsburgh
Purdue
Rutgers
Syracuse

West Division
Illinois
Iowa
Michigan
Michigan St.
Minnesota
Missouri
Notre Dame
Wisconsin

Yes, I realize I put Ohio St. and Michigan in two separate divisions.  In football, I think their rivalry can be resumed through scheduling.  Each team will play the seven other teams in their division plus one game against a team from the other division.  That team may always be the same team, like in the case of Michigan and Ohio St., or the team may vary.  Of course, you may have a situation where Michigan and Ohio St. play early in the season and then matchup in the conference championship game at the end of the season.

What I was really shooting for in creating the divisions was competitive balance.  But that’s like throwing darts at a moving target.   What are your thoughts on my proposed divisions?  Any specific schools that must be in the same division?

So, the third phase of expansion is complete and the Big Ten is now the Big 16.  Will the other power conferences stand still or will they look to pick up some of the pieces that remain?  I certainly don’t think it ends here…I’ll be posting the next phase in a few days.

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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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