Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Insight Bowl Running Diary

We're stealing an idea from The Sports Guy and doing a running diary of thoughts during the Gopher game as Jeff and I sit and watch the game. We'll switch off as we go.

-Kansas: one play. ONE F'ING PLAY!?!?! You've got to be kidding me. Is this Iowa all over again? I think I'm going to be sick. Yep, I just threw up a little bit in my mouth. Why did Theret bite on that route? Where's my beer?

-Brewster wasn't kidding when he said Pittman would be involved. Beautiful throw to Decker. And on the next play, there's that power running game by Tim Davis... I-formation, Weber under center and two TE's... and how about that? A TD by a fullback? What is a fullback? Did anyone else not know that we had one of those?

-"Big Play" Traye isn't starting? Did anyone else not know this? Disciplinary reasons?

-Eric Decker is back baby!!! And it looks like Weber's confidence came back with him.

-Who the heck is

- The Defense is getting SOOOOO close to getting to Reesing... this could be very interesting if they actually start to get to him.

-What is with the late hit by Small? That had nothing to do with being aggressive and everything to do with being stupid. That play set up a Kansas TD on a fade route on the next play.

-Gophers go 3 & out on the next series... shades of the last 1/3 of the season.

-ANOTHER late hit on the punt? I feel sick again. Or is that thirst?

-Meier... is... KILLING US!!! We're getting through the line of scrimmage, but Reesing is finding Meier or Sharp everytime.

-Penalties are killing us right now too... and some of these calls seem to be a bit phantom to me.

-Can someone please explain to me why we aren't double-teaming Briscoe?

-Holy crap, this game seemed a lot more promising in the first quarter. The offense has really stalled in the second quarter, and the defense is having a lot of trouble getting to Reesing, which means he has time to throw. This sucks.

-Our pass blocking is horses*#t. I'm switching to bourbon.

-I've been saying this all year, but Weber becomes a much better decision maker on throws when he rolls outside of the pocket.

-A blocked punt... a fricking blocked punt? Somebody shoot me.

- Jeffrick here at halftime. Great start to the game. A totally different Gopher team than we'd seen all season. How bout that I-formation? I don't know about you, but I really enjoyed the new Gopher offense- for the two series that it lasted. Now it's right back to that old Gopher team we've come to know and love through November. It makes me want to drink- well drink more than I already have been. Also, what would it take to get a double-team on Desmond "Donnie Brasco" Brisco of Kansas? The guy has seven catches at the half for like 943000 yards. Anytime he's been in single coverage, he's caught the ball. Alright then, time for the second half- hopefully it gets better.

- Mmmmmm Jermo just served up some rye. The second half is better already.

- Is it me, or does MikeMayock do a good job as an analyst? He watches a ton of film, and doesn't just point out the obvious like Madden, but tells you WHY the last play happened and what the teams were trying to do.

- Whoops I blinked and missed the Gophs first series. 3 and out? Good to see Brewster's halftime speech really got through tothe offense.

- Brewster apparently did NOT get the memo about Brisco. Thrown to twice in single coverage, and what do ya know- 2 completions! I know, I was as shocked as you were.

- Another long completion for Kansas. Honeslty, I'm half in the bag already, and yet even I know the Gophs need to switch tactics, because whatever they're trying to do is not working. If you're trying to get pressure and can't, does it make too much sense to drop 8? Oh, and I can't remember if I mentioned this, but doubling Brisco would be a good idea.

-I generally hate sideline reporters, and think they serve no purpose. Before this game my expection to this rule was Erin Andrews.I might have to add NFL Network's Lindsy Soto as my second exception. She's easy on the eyes, and a nice distraction from how Minnesota is playing right now.

-FUMBLE!!!!! The Gophs force a punt and then give it right back running a shotgun draw that I thought we had gotten away from with the new line coach. I don't care what the calendar says, it still feels like November.

- First play, option pass, touchdown to Brisco!!! Is it bad when as soon as Meyer gets the ball I'm yelling "PASS! PASS! PASS!" and yet nobody covers Bricso downfield? I mean if I can see it happening, why can't the defense?!? Jer just got up in disgust to get another rye. The only good thing that's happened in the last 5 minutes.

- Apparently the NFL Network doesn't think things are bad enough right now for Gopher fans, because coming out of commercial break they decided to show the highlights from the Gophs loss to Texas Tech the last time they were in the Insight Bowl. Thanks for that.

- Hey the refs finally called a penalty on Kansas! Good to know they're cheaters too! Makes it first and goal from the two. Really need a TD here to have a shot....AND right on schedule the Gophs are called for a false start. Minnesota have shot themselves in the foot so many times they're out of toes.

- 1st and goal- no. 2nd and goal- no. 3rd and goal- no. 4th and goal? Let's just say I'm not holding my breath. Timeout means a rye break.

- This Keystone Light commercial is funny. I love how in beer commercials average dudes like me get really, really hot girls. I've drank Keystone Light before and I can tell you, that does not happen. Truth in advertising my ass.

- I'll give you three guesses what happened on 4th and goal. Seriously, take your time and think about it....ready? You got it- nope again! The QB sneak from 2 yards out was NOT a good call.

- Gophers force a 3 and out. On 3rd down, Brisco gives a two-handed shove to Big Play Traye Simmons to create space. Offensive pass intereference? Of course not. What would a receiver have to do to get offensive PI called? If Brisco had a gun in his pants like Plaxico but shot the receiver instead of his own leg, would that be enough?

- With a lack of African American head coaches in college football, it looks like Minnesota is trying something new to get their own black coaches more exposure- bright yellow shirts. Seriously, the Gophs' black coaches are wearing bright yellow while everyone else is in white. It's definitely working because I've noticed them.

- Jeremy here, back to complain during the 4th quarter... they just flashed Weber's stats: 13-22 for 130 yards... it's the 4th quarter, this isn't good. But you know what is good... bourbon, you probably knew that was coming.

-Hey, how about that? The refs called a PI on a Kansas defender who was covering Jack Simmons. Didn't see that coming.

-This just in: the offensive line? Not that good. The running game? Not improved?

-Hey, TD pass to Eric Decker... that's guy is pretty good isn't he? You know what else is good? You get the idea... but it helps with stomaching this game. I have I mentioned that I want to puke? I want to puke.

-11:45 left in the game and it just occured to me that the Gophs haven't gotten a turnover yet... unless you count the garbage time just before the half that we intercepted... but Jeff and I have already decided that one didn't count.

-You know who loves Kansas? The refs. They love them.

-The Gophs are starting this drive pretty much in their own endzone... this should be fun.

-Jeff just said this (and he is right) "Why are we running a QB draw on 3rd & 17?"

-There are 4 minutes left in this game, the Gophs are down by 14, and I'm already trying to figure out how we are going to break down this game. Here's the thing, obviously we knew if they won that would be huge. If they kept it close, we'd be happy. Right now we are down by 2 TD's and it feels like a blowout. Except for the 1st Q, Kansas has dominated every aspect of this game.

-I haven't been keeping track of stats for this game online because we're watching it about 30 minutes delayed on the DVR... but I'm wondering if I'm going to possibly feel worse once I actually see them. Now I'm wondering if that is even possible.

-Reesing just ran for a first down and brought the ball inside the Gophers 1o... and with that play, I don't think seeing the stats could make me feel worse about this game.

-But you know what could make me feel worse? Jake Sharp scoring a touchdown on the next play. Have I already asked to be shot? Have I already mentioned that I feel sick? Have I mentioned the puking a little bit in my mouth (which has happened at least a dozen times during this game)?

-Remember in the Iowa game when we said that Troy Stoudemire was the lone ray of hope? He's also been a ray of hope in this game. Which is just... no comfort whatsoever.

-Adam Weber looks completely uncomfortable... Jeff calls it happy feet... I call it "I want to die."

-Kansas wins 42-21. Happy New Year Gopher fans... let the drinking begin... or in our case, continue.

Powers on Brewster

(In case you hadn't noticed, the new podcast is available, please check it out. We talk Insight Bowl, bowl predictions, Brewster's potential contract extension, and somehow manage to spend more time than necessary discussing holiday libation choices.)

I don't read the Pioneer Press nearly as much as I check out the Strib... and honestly I'm not sure why that is, because I am generally fairly impressed with how the paper on the east side of the river covers the Gophers.

I'm not sure what Tom Powers' history is with covering the Gophers, and I'm not sure what his tone has been about Coach Brewster. But Powers has a nice piece today about his experience in talking with the head coach before his press conference. It's a good read, so I encourage you to check it out.

The conclusion that Powers comes to about the Insight Bowl for the Gophers I think sums things up nicely:

"Here's your scorecard: A victory would be amazing. Playing well in defeat wouldn't be bad, either. Getting clobbered ... well, there are those 15 extra practices...If the Gophers are half as locked in as Brewster, they should play pretty well."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Don't forget about us

See, what had happened was...

Yeah, we've been really busy over the holidays. I know that's no excuse but... wait, yes it is. Anyway, despite holiday madness in our personal lives and year end craziness in our vocational lives, we will be recording a podcast tonight.

So if you are checking now, check back later tonight, or tomorrow morning, or sometime tomorrow before the game... we'll have a new podcast up. And we promise it will be a good one (pressure's on).

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Closing thoughts

Over the last couple of weeks I've been trying to process my thoughts about our Gopher Football season. It wold be easy to write "if you had told me at the beginning of the season that we would be 7-5 and going to a bowl game I would have been ecstatic." But that has already been written. It's the truth, but it's already been said enough.

Before the season started I thought we'd be a 5 win team, and that if we won 6 games it would be a huge bonus for this program. What I didn't know going into the season was that as nicely as our schedule seemed to set up for us, I was way off about where it set up well.

Illinois, Indiana and Purdue prior to the season looked like the would have been very nice wins... what we know now is that all of those teams dropped off considerably this year.

Closing out the season with 3 out of 4 games at home looked like a nice chance to finish strong... what we didn't know was that our offense would force our defense to spend so much time on the field that they would run out of steam.

It's also been said several times that the Gophers feel a lot more like a 4 loss team than a 7 win team going into bowl season. I think we all feel a little beat up right now, and rightfully so. But looking at the season objectively, as a whole, it really was quite an improvement.

A team that didn't give us much to cheer about last year gave us plenty of reasons to sing the rouser this year. At the end of last season it certainly didn't seem like this team had a prayer at making a bowl game, and yet, we're on our way back to Tempe.

While our offense took a fairly large step backward, our defense took such a huge jump forward that they carried us to several wins. The juco transfers that Brewster brought in to shore up the defense did far more than shore it up.

All in all, it's a difficult time to feel optimistic, but I think that the future of Gopher football is very bright. Looking long term, it's an exciting time to be a part of Gopher football. I think we clearly have the right coaches in place, and recruiting classes that we can certainly build on.

I'm sure that we won't have any trouble cheering hard for the Gophs on NYE... but just in case you do, let's keep in mind where this program was last year at this time, and where we're going to be in the future.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Let it begin...

Another podcast available to you and boy have we got a good one... at least we think we do.

We had a really good conversation with a Kansas Jayhawks football blogger. DJ from Hawk Digest gave us some great insight into what we can expect from the Jayhawks on New Year's Eve, as well as giving us his thoughts on Glen Mason (who he actually liked, if you can believe it). DJ thinks his Jayhawks can put up 38 points on our Gophs, and predicts a KU win... can you say BULLETIN BOARD MATERIAL?!?!?! (Okay, not quite.)

We also jabber a bit about holiday parties, coaching changes in college football, and some other stuff that you will probably find both stimulating and memorable.

Check it out (it's over to your right, also available on iTunes), and as we always ask, please let us know what you think.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Five Big 10 Players Named to AP 1st Team

The Associated Press have announced their annual All-America team, and five Big 10 players made their first team: tailbacks Shonn Greene of Iowa and Javon Ringer of Michigan State on offense, and on defense Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin, and Ohio State linebacker James Laurenitis and corner Malcolm Jenkins. Laurenitis made 1st Team AP All-American for the third straight season, which is great because the Champlain, MN native did not get recruited by the Gophers. Thanks again, Coach Mason, we couldn't have used him.

When the year started, I think we could have predicted Laurenitis and Jenkins would have made this team, and quite possibly Ringer, but Greene (did you know he was selling furniture last year? Did you know that? DID YOU KNOW?!?! IT'S THE GREATEST STORY NEVER TOLD!!! I'm so excited about it I'm going to strip naked, paint myself black and gold and go steal somebody's goal posts!!!!!!!!!) and Maybin (only got a shot to play because of injuries) were the biggest surprises.

As good a season as Eric Decker had, the ankle injury hurt his production late in the season, and to be honest, even if Decker had put in a full year I couldn't take him over Michael Crabtree or Dez Bryant of Oklahoma State on the first team. But assuming he stays and the offense improves, he'll have a great shot to make this team next year as a senior.

Friday, December 12, 2008

So Who Do You Like?

That’s the big question being asked this time of year, whether it’s for the upcoming bowl games, the Heisman, or other player awards, and there seems to be as many awards as there are answers.

… is running an NFL-style 12-team playoff for college football, where you the people vote for the winner. Honestly, is it much different to have fans vote for the National Champion than the coaches or media? Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, and Alabama got first round byes. First round matchups are already done, with Penn State “beating” Boise State, USC destroying Virginia Tech, Texas Tech over Ohio State (I voted for the Buckeyes, but America strongly disagreed), and Utah got past Cincinnati.

…Is there more bowl games or “Player of the Year” Awards? Ok, number of bowl games beats it by a pretty wide margin, but did you know there’s THREE official unofficial National player of the year awards? Besides the Heisman, we also have the Walter Camp Award (who voted for Texas QB Colt McCoy) and the Maxwell Award (who voted for Florida QB Tim Tebow for the second straight year).

A better question might be, whose system for deciding the best is more screwed up- the BCS or individual awards? Before you say BCS, help me try and figure out how the NCAA can have multiple awards for the SAME POSITION voted on by completely different people. They had their official awards ceremony last night, which to me tells us absolutely nothing about who the best really was this year. This drives me freaking crazy, that not only do we not have just ONE award for the national player of the year, but we seem to have different voters for every award. And this doesn’t just apply to the Heisman or Walter Camp or Maxwell. College football handed out its “official” individual awards last night, and the insanity continued. Case in point is that USC linebacker Rey Maualuga was named the Defensive player of the year award, obviously he’d be named the best linebacker too right? Nope. That’s what you get for using logic in trying to name the winners for anything in college football. Not only is it insane that Maualuga can be named player of the year but NOT the best at his position, the guy who won the best linebacker award was not named James Laurenitis. Who won it? Somebody named Aaron Curry from Wake Forest. Seriously. If that’s not the biggest slap in the face the Big 10’s received all year, I’m not sure what is.

There’s also not one but two different awards given out by two different voting groups for best quarterback- and right on cue, they not only voted for different guys, neither of the were McCoy or Tebow. The Davey O’Brien award went to Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award went to Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell. At this point, let’s just give every quarterback who starts a game this year an award. If you can get a famous college football name and give the NCAA some money, I’m sure you too can have an award and vote for whoever the hell you want!

They did at least get two awards right: The Doak Walker for best tailback went to Iowa’s Shonn Greene and the Biletnikoff for best wideout went to Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech. Those were so obvious even the NCAA couldn’t screw those up.

...Finally, the most overrated award in sports, the Heisman Trophy, will be handed out Saturday night in NYC. I realized that on the podcast I said I’d vote for Tebow and then by the end of my rambling explanation agreed with Jer that McCoy should win it. Let me clear it up by saying that while I do believe McCoy is the most deserving, I do believe Tebow will win it.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gophs back to practice

An interesting tidbit from Kent Youngblood's Gopher blog yesterday. Looks like the stamp of Tim Davis is already being felt:
"There I was, watching the first half-hour of the Gophers’ first practice, and I’m seeing I-formations. I’m seeing fullbacks. I’m seeing offensive linemen put their hand on the ground... Quarterback Adam Weber opined that the Gophers could line up with two backs and the QB under center as much as 40 percent of the time once everybody has the changes down cold. Now, that might not happen by the time Minnesota plays in the Insight Bowl. But you can bet you’ll see some of it against Kansas."
Very interesting stuff. I was curious how quickly some of this change utilizing Davis' style would come about. It will be very interesting to see how much of this is used against Kansas. While the offense doesn't need anything to make things more confusing, the chance to get out and smack somebody in the mouth might be a nice change of pace for the o-linemen.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

That's Right, We've Done Another Podcast

Don't believe me? Download it and see for yourself. This week we talk Heisman, bowl matchups, and the many, many, many, many (you get the idea) problems with the BCS. So go on, give it a listen.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Insight Bowl opening point spread...

The point spreads for most of the bowl games have been created and the Gophers are opening up as 10 point dogs to the Jayhawks.

Clearly the Jayhawks offense vs the Gophers defense is going to be the story of this game. I think we all knew that Kansas would be favored, but it will be interesting to see how the line moves as we get closer to the game. The spread probably shouldn't come as much of a surprise as the Jayhawks have a prolific offense when it comes to scoring, and the Gophers ended up giving up a lot of points this season.

With a month to rest and heal I would expect our defense to get back to being the difference makers that we came to know during the first two months of the season. But the Jayhawks can move the ball through the air and on the ground and the defense is going to need to be fast and very active to make a difference.

A difference maker could be Willie VanDeSteeg. The Jayhawks did have some trouble protecting Reesing this year, and if that continues to be an issue, WVDS could have a field day in Tempe.

We'll continue to try to breakdown this match-up in the coming weeks.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Looking back...

I thought it would be interesting to have a look at my preseason predictions, and how far off I was. So let's take a look at my "Stream of consciousness breakdown..." post on August 25th and see how wrong I was.
"I'm expecting 5 wins. I think this would be a major improvement over last year..."

Hey, what do you know, I was wrong! But I don't mind being wrong on this one, obviously. 5 wins would have been an improvement, but knowing what we know now, not exactly a major improvement. 7 wins is big, but the way the season ended leaves a bad taste.

"I expect the Gopher's to be much faster on defense and much more in-sync on offense. I expect they will win 3 non-conference games (N. Illinois, Montana State & Florida Atlantic, all at home, losing to Bowling Green on the road), and two Big10 games (Indiana & NWestern both at home). The team is still inexperienced, so winning a game on the road will be tough, in addition to the fact that the Big10 road schedule is REALLY tough (OSU, Illinois, Purdue, Wisky)."
I would definitely say that the defense was faster, but I was WAY off about the offense being in-sync... BOY, was I off. I guessed right on 4 of the 5 wins that I predicted, and was obviously very happy to be wrong about Bowling Green, Illinois and Purdue... but that N'Western loss still stings me. Our inexperience didn't seem to hamper us on the road, as we won 3 games away from the Dome (BG, Illinois, Purdue).

"If all goes according to my prediction (and why wouldn't it?) the Gophers will go into the final week of the season, welcoming Iowa, with a 5-6 record. And that's the trump card. On paper, Iowa is a beatable team, especially at home in the Gophers final game at the Metrodome."

"For the season, I expect...
... Adam Weber to be a solid starter, and do more with his arm than his feet..."
I was actually pretty close on this one for the most part, in my opinion. Weber did way more with his arm than his feet early in the year, but his legs definitely were a huge help late in the season.

"... the offensive line to shuffle and struggle most of the year, so Weber will have to do more throwing on the run."
The o-line, as well-documented, was a big problem. It didn't lead to Weber throwing on the run quite as much as it lead to just overall chaos for the offense.

"... David Pittman to make an immediate impact at a couple of offensive positions."
Not so much.

"... the defense to be faster and improved, but still mistake prone."
The D was clearly faster and improved, and the mistakes that they were prone to make often seemed to come on long passing plays down the field, which became their nemesis. I also think that at the end of the season the defense just got tired because they spent so much time on the field, and this lead to a lot of mistakes in November.

"... Coach Brewster and his staff to do a better job of managing the game (i.e. no blunders like when your opponent (NDSU) is on offense, is still in the huddle, and has only 5 seconds on the play clock... and Minnesota calls a timeout.)"
I think the jury is out here. I was disappointed with some of Brewster's in-game decisions throughout the season. I thought that clock management at times was questionable, and I thought that Brewster struggled with when exactly to be aggressive.

"... Jay Thomas to lead the team in rushing."

"... Eric Decker to be in the top 3 in the Big10 in catches and recieving yards."
Decker ended up 2nd in the conference in yards and first in receptions.

"... Jack Simmons to be the top tight end in the Big10."
Simmons wasn't tapped nearly as much as I had thought, or as much as I would have liked to have seen. He had a decent year, but certainly not the kind of season I had hoped for.

"... Marcus Sherels & "Big Play" Trey Simmons to lead the team in interceptions."
They actually ended up 1st (BPT) & 3rd (Sherels) with 4 and 2 respectively. Pretty decent season for the Gophs in terms of turnovers, and these guys certainly were a big part of that.

"... Simoni Lawrence to lead the team in tackles."
Lee Campbell actually lead the team with 75 total tackles and Simoni was 4th with 64. Kyle Theret had the highest number of solo tackes with 54. Simoni Lawrence also came in 4th in this category.

"... IF the Gophers DO win 6 games and make it to a low-tier bowl game, Reusse will write an article saying that this accomplishment means nothing because Mason would have done the same thing."
He hasn't written this article yet, but he did write an article this past weekend, which we talked extensively about on the podcast this week, in which he took a shot at Brewster, even though there had been no Gopher news in days.

Overall... The defense was much improved and probably a huge reason why we were able to get to that 7 win mark. The offense took a huge step back this year, which is obviously a huge concern, but the line is still very young, and having Tim Davis to coach them should make improvement a certainty by next fall.

All-in-all the biggest thing is that the Gophers won 7 games and they are Insight Bowl bound.


New Podcast

A new podcast has been recorded, posted and is ready for your listening pleasure (or annoyance, as the case may be).

This week Jeffrick and I recorded on a Sunday afternoon while watching the Vikings stumble to a win over the Lions. We discuss the Gophers season, how it started and how it ended. We also spend far too much time talking about this article from our favorite "Grumpy Old Troll," the Strib's own Pat Reusse.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Another Batch of Friday Musings

So yeah, Jer’s right, we’ve been slacking and I, for one, apologize. I’ve had a bunch of thoughts on college football from the past week, so since I didn’t get them spread out into a couple of posts, let’s just get them all in right here…

…A lot of Big 10 news this week like…oh that’s right the Big 10 continues to insist on wrapping up their regular season before Thanksgiving, so therefore there is really NOTHING Big 10 related to talk about. Awesome. I DO NOT want a conference title game (but allow me to say again they should drop at least one non-conference game so we only miss one team a year instead of two), but they need to play Thanksgiving weekend. There’s so much hype and chatter this time of year and yet there’s nothing Big 10-related to talk about. Boo-urns.

…Ok fine, I’ll weigh in on Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. But just this once. Should Weis have been fired this year? I like to see a new coach get 4-5 years to have his recruits and system fully in place. The Irish fired Ty Willingham too soon (although, with the way things went at Washington, looks like it would have happened eventually anyway), just as his kids were becoming juniors and seniors, the very group Weis has had his only success with. Weis needs one more year to prove himself with an entire group of kids he recruited, so I don’t have a problem with him getting one more year. What I do have a problem with is all of these Notre Dame people complaining. You want to complain about something? Complain about the group of people who run your school that decided to give Weis a 10 YEAR EXTENSION (10 YEARS! 10 FREAKING YEARS!!!!!) barely a year into his first season. That was stupid. Stoo-ped. You want to fire someone? Fire those people, or at put someone else in charge of executive football decisions. Because that, friends, is ridiculous.

…Ok one more Notre Dame thought- anyone else saddened to see Jimmy Clausen failing so far at ND? (Allow me a minute to laugh heartily at that thought) The kid who in high school rolled up to make the announcement he was attending Notre Dame in a stretch Hummer limo, and acted like the greatest player in the history of the universe (probably because everybody was telling him that). Two lessons to be learned here: 1) Clausen boys are average-at-best and generally disappointing college quarterbacks (older brothers Casey and Rick had less than stellar careers at Tennessee) and 2) nobody overhypes their recruits, and especially their QB recruits (remember Ron Paulus, who was SO GOOD coming out of high school Irish fans said he would win FOUR Heismans? How’d that work out?), more than Notre Dame. Nobody. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.

…Hopefully this weekend’s slate of games are more exciting than last weekend’s. Last weekend we saw some old-school pre-BCS/parity-style beatdowns. The best game I saw (or at least parts of) was Georgia Tech’s win over Georgia. If you haven’t heard or seen it, new Tech coach Paul Johnson came from Navy and brought his old-school Nebraska triple-option run offense to the ACC. People laughed at the hire, saying BCS conference schools now have defenses that are way too fast for a traditional running option offense to work anymore. Well now that Tech are 8-4 are probably headed for a New Year’s Day bowl, nobody’s laughing, especially not Georgia. While it’s definitely true that defenses today ARE faster and stronger than ever, that doesn’t mean they’re better, for two reasons: defenses today are more undisciplined than ever, and they CANNOT TACKLE!!! Holy Christmas, watching that Tech/Georgia game, I was amazed/appalled at how many missed tackles the Bulldogs had (and that defense is loaded-LOADED-with NFL talent). The atrocious level of tackling in college football has become an epidemic, and because of that, Johnson’s old school triple option run-heavy offense works better than ever. Don’t be surprised to see more teams in coming seasons bringing that offense back.

…Can’t believe the stink some people are making because USC wants to wear their home uni’s this weekend in a road game against rival UCLA. Back in the day (in that crazy, long-ago decade called the 1980’s), the Bruins and Trojans both wore their home unis when they played, and from what I’ve seen, it looked pretty awesome to see the UCLA blue against the USC red and gold. Since that time the NCAA has instituted a rule saying the road team HAS to wear white, otherwise they forfeit one timeout each half. SC coach Pete Carroll has said he and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel have agreed to allow the Trojans to wear their home reds in the Rose Bowl this weekend, and that Carroll has no problem giving up the timeouts (and with UCLA at 4-7 this season, why wouldn’t he?). The problem seems to be not just in Neuheisel agreeing to this, but also saying HE would give up a first half timeout as a gesture of goodwill. Bruins fans and others are outraged because they think UCLA is being pushed around by SC, and that they need to stand up to them and not be “disrespected.” Really? So it’s not ok to try to bring back a cool tradition? It’s not ok to build the rivalry by doing something that people from coast to coast will talk about? I just don’t get the outrage. If Neuheisel wants to give up a timeout to make it happen, I say good for him.

…The Big 12 just can’t decide anything. The latest example is Texas QB Colt McCoy being named the Associated Press Big 12 Player of the Year…and then the same group of people voted him 2nd team all-conference behind Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford. Only in the Big 12.

…Speaking of Bradford and the Sooners, how many points do they hang on Missouri? 50? 60? 65? I’d like Missouri’s chances if they had a defense, but since they don’t, I don’t see how they stay within a couple of TD’s of the ridiculous Oklahoma offense.

…Finally, I’m VERY excited for the SEC championship game. Florida has been the best team in the land since their shocking loss to Ole Miss (although with the Rebels finishing 8-4, that loss doesn’t look so bad now), yet Alabama continues to answer every challenge, and might be the most physical team in the country. I think Florida wins a close one, but it should be a great game. As for the Big 10 games this weekend- oh right, forgot, they’ve been done for two weeks. Well nonetheless, enjoy the games this weekend everybody, and as Seth Cohen would say “Happy Christmakah.”

Thursday, December 4, 2008

All apologies...

We've been slacking... plain and simple.

We got fat and happy on the turkey and gravy of a post 4 game losing streak long holiday weekend where we didn't have to watch the Gophers lose a game that we thought they could win. Of course, they didn't even play, but at least we didn't have to watch them lose again.

Leaving the Iowa game was horrible, and it made me remember what the entire season felt like in 2007. Week after week of disappointment, head shaking and wondering if there was an end to this. 2008 was a reprieve with a 7-1 start, but then it all came back to us.

Add to that the post-Thanksgiving week catch-up game at work... and yeah, no excuses, we've been slacking.

We WILL be recording a podcast this weekend... put it on the board, you will have a podcast by Sunday night.

And you will have new and meaningful posts from us starting again very soon. We're getting our mojo back, recovering from a tough season end, and we're getting ready for bowl season.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Some Pre-Turkey Day Musings

…Unless Buck Bravo, the resident mayor of Positivity in the Gopher blogosphere, can talk me out of this, I am now of the belief that this Gopher season was not a success after all. Up until the Iowa Debacle (ID) I kept trying to talk myself into how that no matter how badly November had gone (and it was bad), that a 7 win season coming off a 1-11 year was a success. But this feeling I’ve had since, oh, about midway through the first quarter of the ID, does not feel like success. I spent the rest of the weekend drowning my sorrows in the “7 Win Coolaid” and yet I sit before you today and cannot and will not put a positive spin on this year.

I heard the analogy of this season with the Minnesota Twins 2008 season, and that’s really what brought me around. The Twins were not expected to compete in 2008, and yet thanks to that plucky bunch of overachievers, there they were in the pennant race all season long. When the trade deadline rolled around, GM Bill Smith and company had an opportunity to trade for a quality reliever (I’m not even going to broach the topic of the Twins needing a power hitter because they’ve needed one since Harmon Killebrew retired, and yet each and every year they refuse to do anything about getting one. God forbid they’d deal some prospects for a real-deal middle-of-the-order bat), yet flatly refused. Of course their bullpen fell apart by the end of the season, and I was appalled that there were actually fans and media types saying “Hey it’s ok! We had a great season because we weren’t supposed to win in the first place! We exceeded expectations so that’s all that matters!”

That, my friends, is a loser’s attitude. And up until the ID that was the attitude I had with the Gophers. Well no more. You cannot start 7-1, lose your last four, and call the year a success. You just can’t. An improvement? Sure. But not a success. Not with inexcusable losses to both Northwestern and Michigan AT home, and not after suffering your worst Big 10 loss EVER- in the history of the program, like worse than anything Wacker ever did- when you were only a touchdown dog. Oh and despite a very pro-Iowa crowd, that game was at home too. Yeah no, can’t call that a “success” at all.

Do I want to fire Brewster? Am I calling for his head? No, absolutely not. Glen Mason left this program in shambles, and Brewster’s putting in a lot of work to clean things up. The recruits continue to roll in, the team gets a gorgeous new outdoor stadium next year, and the core of your team gets a year older and (hopefully) a year better. Things are definitely looking up in Gopher Nation, which is why we can all be realists and admit that this while this season was an improvement over 2007, it was not a success. Better luck next year.

... After the ID, I officially hate Iowa (and their fans. And their whole damn state) more than any other team/fans in sports. I have never seen a more obnoxious, arrogant, and ridiculous group of fans in my life than I saw at the Metrodome Saturday night. Jermo and Josho and Lenny and Josho’s pa’s section were some of the few Gopher fans who stuck out that disaster until the bitter end, and it just made me angry to see the Iowa fans gloating and acting like idiots. I had a few comments that cannot be repeated here that I was dying to unleash, but considering we were about the only Gopher fans left in the upper deck (and I feel I should remind you at this time that yes, this really was supposed to be a Gopher home game), I was fearing for my safety a little bit and decided to take the high road (for Iowa fans, the “high road” is where you don’t act like a complete a**hole when you win. Or in general. That concept apparently hasn’t made it down I-35 to you folks yet. Maybe someday). But yeah, for the record, if you’re wondering who hates Iowa? I definitely do.

...All-Conference Teams were announced for the Big 10 Monday. Not surprisingly Eric Decker was a first-teamer on both the coaches’ and media teams, VanDeSteeg was a 1st teamer with the media and 2nd with coaches, Big Play Traye Simmons was a 2nd teamer on both, and Jack Simmons was a 2nd teamer with the media but not the coaches. Biggest shocker? Adam Weber named by the coaches as the 2nd best QB in the conference (the media went with Juice Williams). Really? Did they watch the last month of the season? A research project for the offseason would be to find out if this was the worst season ever for quarterbacks in the Big 10, because I can’t imagine there being another one as bad as this. After Daryll Clark, Terrelle Pryor improved a ton from the beginning of the year, but man after those guys it was just awful. They shouldn’t even have named a 2nd team quarterback.

... Finally, no podcast this week because of Thanksgiving. Jermo and I will stuff ourselves with turkey and be back next week. Travel safe and have a Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Gophers need...

... a famous fan to support us in the national spotlight.

Just like Bill Cosby does for his Temple Owls.

Brew not wasting any time

As I'm sure everyone read yesterday, Phil Meyer "resigned" as Offensive Line Coach for the Golden Gophers. I say "resigned" because this "resignation" feels not unlike Dan Monson's "resignation" from the basketball team a couple of years ago. The guess is that Meyer was asked to resign.

Whether or not the offensive line problems were actually Meyer's fault is up for debate, but the fact remains that his unit was a glaring problem ever since the conference season started.

In any case, Coach Brewster, as is his M.O., doesn't seem to be wasting any time in finding a replacement. It appears that Tim Davis, Director of Player Personnel under Nick Saben at Alabama is possibly in line to take the position.

I'm not a great "available offensive line coaches" mind, but Davis appears to have some nice experience coaching in the trenches. From Kent Youngblood's article this morning:
"Davis has an extensive résumé. He was assistant offensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins before re-joining Nick Saban at Alabama. He was an assistant at Southern California for the 2002-04 seasons, spending one year focused on guards and centers and two years as the offensive line coach. USC won at least a share of the national title in two of his three seasons at the school. Davis was tight ends/offensive tackles coach at Wisconsin from 1997 to 2001."

Monday, November 24, 2008


I have tried to make this blog a place that portrays Gopher football from a fan's perspective. I've admitted several times to not always being objective and to often being biased. Here it comes...

If I had to rate the most unpleasant days of my entire I think that Saturday November 22, 2008 would probably rank in the Top 5... at the very least in the Top 10.

Nothing can ruin a fantastic day of spending time tailgating in the newly painted Gopher camper with friends and family like sitting in a section at the Metrodome surrounded by Iowa fans as their squad puts the proverbial wood to the Gophers.

The Hawkeye fans were NOT gracious in their victory. I know that is hard to believe, but it's true. I tried yelling back... heaven KNOWS I tried... but I had lost my voice somewhere between playing cornhole in the parking lot and yelling at the Gophers during the first quarter. It's probably better that I couldn't yell, the outcome would not have been good.

(There was, however, there was an Iowa fan walking down the steps sometime during the beginning of the 4th quarter who was yelling "Who hate Iowa, NOW?" I quickly raised my hand and in a very hoarse voice tried to yell, "I DO... MORE THAN EVER!!!" There was also an Iowa fan who walked up to me in the concourse after the game and said "Wow, 55-0 huh?" My response was calm. "Yeah, I was there, but thank you for the recap. Enjoy living in Iowa.")

Seriously Gopher fans... WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!?!? It's two days later and I am still having trouble believing, like Ron Burgundy would say, that just happened. I said going into the game that in the history of being a Gopher fan I never wanted to win a game more than this one... which is probably what made it so painful

It also might have been the jackass Iowa fans, but we've already touched on that.

So how about a season recap? I think that Down With Goldy said it best, so I'll leave this one to them.
"Gopher Football. Embarrassing. Anyone who calls this season a success should be stabbed in the face."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Losing to Wisky

Wiskey always gets the better of me and on Saturday Wisky got the better of the Gophers and me.

Much has already been written about this game, and Jeff did a great job of recapping things from his perspective in the stands at Camp Randall. Clearly our Gophers played well enough to win... sometimes. And clearly they played poorly enough to lose... enough that they actually did lose.

I've decided that I'm not going to focus today on what the Gophers did poorly, how they gave the game away, how I felt there were a couple of coaching errors, how the offense sputtered through most of the second half, how Adam Weber took a sack in the endzone instead of throwing the ball away, etc.

I'm going to focus on some things that I was really happy to see on Saturday.

Fight... No matter what you think of this Gopher football team, I don't think you can dispute that this team constantly fights for their coach. When the Weber fumbled on the second play of the game I was thinking "here we go again." It didn't get any better when Wisconsin scored after they got the ball and then the offense went 3 & out on their next 2 possessions. They did muster a first down before the end of the Q, but quickly had to punt after that. But the defense got the ball back on Wisky's next possession and the offense wasted no time in getting the ball into the endzone to tie the game! Suddenly on their next possession the offense looked like what they were supposed to be this year, scoring 2 more touchdowns on just 5 offensive plays.

The second half was obviously a far different story as Wisconsin came out strong scoring on their first three possessions of the half, then followed that up with two safeties, while their defense held us to just 3 points. And back came the "here we go again" feelings.

But down by 11 points in the 4th the team didn't give up. And Adam Weber suddenly looked like the same guy who threw for 2 TD's in the first half as he marched the team downfield 60 yards in 11 plays and threw a (slightly off-target) bullet to Shady Salomon for the TD. Shady then punched it in for the 2-pt conversion, and holy crap... WE'RE BACK IN IT!

We know how the game ended, but the point is that the team never gave up, they kept battling even through an absolutey flurry of points from all angles by Wisconsin.

No Decker, No Problem... We were all concerned about Decker being gone, and in the podcast last week Jeff convinced me that Decker being out was increasing Wisconsin's point spread in this game by 7 points. Who on earth was going to step up and become Weber's favorite target?

Holy smokes did the freshman step up in this game. Your leading reciever: true freshman Brandon Green. Oh, by the way, your second and third leading recievers: Broderick Smith and Shady Salamon, also true frehsmen.

Weber... I said I wasn't going to talk about what I thought Weber didn't do well, so I won't. But what did he do well? In the games that I've seen Weber play I've never seen in check through his throwing options better than he did on Saturday at Camp Randall, and I would argue we've never seen him show such a balance of throwing to running. He's starting to become more efficient (I will not mention accuracy here) because he knows when to tuck and run and he knows when to check down his options. Weber hit 5 different recievers for at least 2 catches each in this game.

Bottom line: Adam Weber, despite some mistakes and inaccuracy, played like a leader and fought threw everything that was thrown at him on Saturday at Wisconsin. While I agree with Jeff that Weber shouldn't just be handed the starting position next fall, I believe that the good certainly far outweighs the bad when it comes to Adam Weber. At this point he does far more to help the Gophers than to hurt them.

Mixing it up... As I've mentioned, it was really good to see all of the freshman receivers get in the act, but we had a pretty good idea that this was going to have to happen with Decker out. What I was really impressed to see was how involved Shady Salamon got with the offense this week. As a RB I think that Eskridge is really good. He's fast, he's got good vision and he's only going to get better. But to me, Shady brings a slightly different dynamic. It seems that he hits holes harder, and he's got better hands catching the ball out of the backfield. Shady was an important part of the offense on Saturday and I thought it was really good to see.

Overall obviously this is a very tough loss. But let's be honest, a lot of people though this game was going to be a blowout in Wisconsin's favor after how the Gophers played last week against Michigan. They played a very tough game, agaisnt a very tough oppponent and they never gave up fighting. I think that the Gophers can hold their head high.

All that matters now is Iowa... and beating the living #$*@ out of the Hawkeyes!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Another Tough Loss at Camp Randall

Well a tough game for the Gophers Saturday at Camp Randall. I was there, in the second to last row, taking it all in. A few thoughts:
- This was really a game of swings- both in momentum and mood. We got to our seats a bit late, so I saw the first touchdown before we even sat down. A quick Gopher turnover leading to a Badger touchdown was exactly what could NOT happen for Minnesota to have a chance. I was thinking what a LLLOOOONNNNGGGGG afternoon it was going to be. Until…
…the Gopher D comes alive, forcing turnovers left and right. The U’s offense gets some short fields to build confidence (exactly what he had hoped for on the podcast!), and !gasp! they ACTUALLY MAKE SOME THROWS DOWN FIELD! HOLY CRAP! WE HAVE AN OFFENSE!!! Seriously, having some momentum and field position, Mike Dunbar made a couple of GREAT calls, especially the play-action fake option throw that set up the third TD. A thing of beauty. I also loved the call on the first TD to THROW on 3rd and goal instead of the expected QB sneak or option. Again, nice to see some originality for a change. The Gophs were rolling and up 21-7 until…
…the horrible Kyle Jefferson injury just before the half. Watching it live you couldn’t see what happened, and they didn’t replay it at all at the stadium, but when the trainers, then the medics, and then the ambulance came out onto the field, you knew it was bad. We did see him give the “thumbs up” as he was being carried out on the stretcher, so that was good to see. Still, the whole incident made me go from “fired up but worried” to “solemn but worried”. Oh and also cold. It was definitely cold at Camp Randall. For the Badger crowd (which was probably 95% Wisconsin fans. We need to work on taking Gopher Nation on the road), the injury and then him giving the “thumbs up” gave them life and rallied them a bit...
...Despite a 14 point halftime lead, I was still worried. I admittedly had zero confidence in the Gophers to hold this, because even before the half the Gophs had gone into “play not to lose” mode by taking a knee instead of trying to add more point. Wisconsin also had little trouble moving that ball the first half- they just had trouble hanging onto it. If the Badgers took better care of the ball in the second half, they were going to score points. Sure enough…
…Badger field goal to start the second half. Three and out from Minnesota, and the Badgers march down and score a touchdown. Even with the Joel Monroe field goal, the lead did NOT feel safe. Sure enough…
...A PJ Hill touchdown, TWO safeties, then a John Clay TD run give Wisconsin an 18 point swing with 7 minutes left. Ball game? I asked two Badger fans I was with that on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being very worried, how worried were they about a Gopher comeback? They were both at about a two…
…which changed to a 4 when Weber rallied the Gophs late with a drive that ended with a 13 yard Shady TD, but it was too little too late. All in all, a very entertaining heart-wrenching, punch-in-the-gut kind of game, but another tough loss and another blown lead.

- I’m not sure what was more appalling- The penalties- all 10 of them!!!!- or the back-to-back sacks Weber took in the fourth quarter, the second of which was the second safety in as many minutes! Ok, I guess I do know. Those two sacks were absolutely unacceptable. You CANNOT give up sacks there. In both cases it looked like had had one read, which was taken away, and then he didn’t know what to do. THROW IT AWAY ADAM!! Holy Christmas throw it 8 yards over his head out of bounds but don’t take a sack there!?!? I’m not sure if that was inexperience or ignorance, but it just can’t happen. I’m not saying Weber should lose his job, but I don’t think Brewster should hand it to him next year either. I hope MarQueis Gray and whoever else they have back next year will be given an opportunity to compete for the job. If Weber is truly the best, then fine he deserves it, but he hasn’t played well enough to automatically get his job back next year.
- Having said that, the Gophers made it pretty tough on themselves with the 10 penalties, half of which were false starts. Again, inexcusable. Young line or not, you’re only making things worse.
- I just have to keep reminding myself that 7 wins is a big step up from last year.
- I just can’t hate Wisconsin. Lord knows I’ve tried, but I just can’t hate them like I do Iowa. I don’t like the Badgers, but I certainly respect them, and think they’re a good example for what I hope the Gophs can be someday soon. This was my first COLD outdoor football experience (the only other outdoor college football games I’ve seen was the Fiesta Bowl waaayyyyy back in the day with Syracuse vs Kansas State. The quarterbacks in that game? Donovan McNabb and Michael Bishop. No kidding. The other one was Ohio State/Washington in Seattle last year in the most beautiful college football setting in the country), and I gotta say Iloved the setting and the elements. I cannot wait for the Gophs to be playing outdoors in November. It’s how Big 10 football should be! Camp Randall is an AWESOME college football experience, with the band and the Fifth Quarter and Jump Around, and a student section that seemed a little more creative than Minnesota’s. Of course, this is because they’ve been successful the last 15 years or so, so when the Gophers have their success and their trips to Pasadena, they’ll be able to build and create some Gopher football traditions of their own.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Big 10 Picks

Indiana +35.5 @ Penn State
I know Indiana is beat up and Penn State will be looking to rebound strong from their upset loss to Iowa last week- but 35.5?!?! FIVE TOUCHDOWNS?!? I just don't see it. I just don't.
Northwestern @ Michigan -4
Michigan getting 4 points at home basically says Vegas isn't sure here. Well neither am I. Logic says if it's basically a coin flip you should take the points, right? But then I start thinking about Northwestern struggling to do anything last week with their backup quarterback (yes the same one who ran for 200+ yards on your Gophers), and now being down to their third string RB. Michigan's put up points two weeks in a row now, and this is their last home game of the season. Don't you think their seniors, who are frustrated with how their last year has gone, will want to go out with a bang? I know, I know, I'm overthinking this, but I'm sticking with the Maize and Blue.
Ohio State @ Illinois +9.5
Illinois played the Buckeyes extremely tough last year, and according to their seesaw season (they've won one-lost one for the past 8 games), this should be a game where they come to play. They laid a gigantic egg last week against Western Michigan (which has to be concerning to Illini fans, no?), but they rebound here to keep things close- or at least closer than 9.5 points.
Purdue @ Iowa -17.5
While a letdown here from the Hawkeyes is possible, it's not exactly probable. It's Senior Day at Kinnick Stadium, Shonn Greene has been running roughshod all year, and Stanzi should be fine at home. Not to mention that Iowa suddenly has a New Year's Day bowl game to play for. I'm also of the belief now that Purdue's 48 point outburst in their win over Michigan a couple of weeks ago was an aberration. In their other five Big 10 games (all losses), the Boilermakers have 42 points COMBINED. On the road with more uncertainty at quarterback means the Hawkeyes roll.
Minnesota @ Wisconsin -13.5
No Eric Decker for an offense that's been struggling of late, and at Camp Randall (where the Gophers always have a tough go) makes me think that Minnesota will have to be VERY fortunate just to stay within two touchdowns of the Badgers.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The new podcast is up and ready for you to take a listen.

You will note that "the hurtin' is" on us this week, as Michigan has punted the Gophers winning ways off of the bridge (and we didn't even get to throw a burrito at them). We take some time to lament on the times when we were 7-1, and look ahead to what might happen at Camp Randall this week.

We also interview Nadine Babu from GopherHole. She's great! Nadine breaks some huge recruiting news right here on our very own Gopher Football Blog Podcast (not really, but we'd like you to take a listen anyway), and talks about recruiting and what Coach Brewster brings to the table.

Gray Gets Eligible

While things haven't gone so well for your Gopher football team on the field, the news continues to be positive off it- well except that whole Eric Decker won't play this weekend thing. That's definitely negative. But in recruiting? Better and better. After three big recruits committed over the weekend, we get news this afternoon via Kent Youngblood's blog on the Startrib that MarQueis Gray passed his ACT and will enroll at The U in January.

As Youngblood notes in his post, Gray was one of the most highly rated spread-offense-type QB recruits in the country last year. The Indianapolis native failed his ACT last summer and was ineligble for the Gophs this year, but with his latest passing grade, he can enroll in January, practice in the spring, and be ready to go for next year.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Decker to miss Wisconsin game

As if we didn't have enough stacked against us going into Camp Randall this weekend, our best player and really our only playmaker, Eric Decker is out for this Saturday's game against the Badgers.

"Head coach Tim Brewster announced at his weekly press conference Tuesday that junior wideout Eric Decker will miss this weekend's game at Wisconsin because of an ankle injury. Decker injured his ankle two weeks ago in a game against Northwestern, then re-aggravated the injury in last Saturday's loss to Michigan."

To quote the movie "Beautiful Girls":

"Superb... just superb."

Asking Some College Football Questions

After another crazy weekend in the Big 10, some folks might have found some answers. Me? I just have more questions- lots and lots of questions…

First a couple for your Gophers…

Is Eric Decker the most valuable player in the Big 10 this year?
The Goph’s offensive offense hadn’t exactly been lighting the conference afire since the end of September, but I mean, did you SEE them Saturday without Decker? If you did, and you weren’t traumatized by the awfulness, you’re a brave, brave man.

Would the Gophers have just been better off punting on first down and hoping the defense would score?

Does Gopher offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar realize there are actually pass plays in existence that go further than four yards downfield?

How amazing is Coach Brewster for being able to land THREE stud prospects after a performance like that?

Ok, ok, ok I’ll lay off for now…other questions then…

Was Penn State’s loss to Iowa really a good thing for the Big 10?
Of course not. What a stupid question. Nobody would think that…oh wait, except’s Stewart Mandel.

A third straight blowout on the big stage might have gotten the Big Ten blackballed. Even worse, even if Iowa had missed that field goal, Florida might have surpassed the Nittany Lions in the polls Sunday. To send a one-loss team to the title game over undefeated Penn State would be like saying the Big Ten is no different than the Mountain West. As strange as it sounds, the best way for the conference to begin restoring its reputation is to steer clear of the title game for now.

Um, Stew? What happens next year if/when a Big 10 team gets to the National Title game? Will everybody suddenly forget the “Ohio State Effect” and believe the Big 10 is as good as the SEC or Big 12 again? Or do you think that maybe, just maybe, the conference is going to carry this stigma of not being good enough until they actually win the National Title and/or some BCS games? Let’s hope Penn State starts knocking down these ideas with a strong showing in the Rose Bowl this year.

I hate (to bring up) Iowa, but didn’t it seem like only yesterday that the Hawkeyes had lost three straight games and looked to be in serious danger of either playing in the Motor City Bowl, or not going bowling at all?
Now they’re 6-4 and are looking at another New Year’s Day bowl. Again. I hate Iowa.

Ok, so The Team We Hate has established itself as the Big 10’s fourth best team: but who exactly is fifth?
No really, who? We know it’s NOT Indiana, Purdue, or Michigan. Here’s your other candidates:
Minnesota (3-3 record in the Big 10): lost a home game they should have won for the second week in a row. This is probably the last time they’ll be in the top half of the conference this season.
Northwestern (3-3): got blown out by Ohio State, but then again so has everybody else. Had a bad loss to Indiana a few weeks ago, but also has a couple of quality wins against Iowa and Minnesota.
Illinois (3-3): just got beat AT HOME by Western Michigan a week after notching a huge win against Iowa. With Ohio State and Northwestern to finish the season, they’re inexplicitably in danger of not being bowl eligible.
Wisconsin( 2-5): how much emphasis should we put on blowing out Indiana? The Badgers, for one of the few times all year, looked like the Big 10 title contender they were pegged to be when the year started, doing whatever whenever they wanted against the Hoosiers. I fully expect to see this kind of performance again on Saturday, but I’ve been wrong before about Wisconsin (pretty much all year). Still, right now, today, they get my vote for fifth best team in the conference.

Could the BCS gods give me the “Plus-One” game I asked for last week?
Looks like it’s possible with just a few weeks to go. If an undefeated Alabama plays one-loss Florida in the SEC Championship (looks very, very probable) and undefeated Texas Tech and/or a one loss Oklahoma/Texas/Texas Tech plays Missouri in the Big 12 Title game, that could be the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a football National Championship semi-finals with the winners of those games playing in the BCS title game.

Monday, November 10, 2008

This helps...

I don't know how Tim Brewster does it. After two losses in a row, one being your homecoming game and after a loss at home that was completely embarrassing, he still lands a top 5 Minnesota recruit.

I realize that you can't see me right now, but I am shaking my head and smiling. Seriously. How does he do this?

Welcome to Gopher Nation Ra'Shede Hageman!!!

Hageman is 6'6", 260 lbs and has good hands. He also happens to be the 3rd best prospect in the state, the 9th best TE in the nation, and the 4th most athletic tight end in the nation according the Rivals!

Also, join me in welcoming Matt Garin to Gopher Nation!!!

Garin is a 6'4", 220 lb DE from Eastview HS in Apple Valley. Like Hageman, this is a big local get for Coach Brewster as Garin is considered by Rivals to be the 6th best prospect in the state and the 20th best DE in the nation!

Check out the Minnesota Top 10 folks!!! 5 of the top 6, and 6 of the top 10 will be in Dinkytown next fall! Brewster has done a great job in a short time of beginning to close up the Minnesota borders.

Also joining Gopher Nation this weekend, 6'1" 270 lb D-Tackle Joey Searcy from Texas. Searcy was a national Top 50 DT prospect, and a Top 50 prospect in the state of Texas.

Go recruiting!!! Ski-U-Mah!


embarrass: to place in doubt, perplexity, or difficulties: to cause to experience a state of self-conscious distress: to hamper the movement of; synonyms: confound, confuse, disconcert, fluster, mortify, rattle.

I guess that would pretty much sum it up wouldn't it? In doubt? Check. Perplexed? Check. Distressed? Check. Movement hampered? Check.

A great Gopher football fan said it best in the parking lot after the game: "This felt like the Mason days of old." A complete and utter collapse. Breakdowns in every facet of the game. Coming out with no fire. The team was not competitive at any point during Saturday's game.

And the worst part? Michigan is NOT a good football team.

These types of losses used to come when the team looked promising early in the season, then matched up against a team that was clearly better. And that is was makes this game so... oh, let's go with perplexing. The Gophers had a promising start, and they have played better football and more consistent football than Michigan.

But clearly something is wrong with the Gophers. Something isn't right. This isn't the same football team that beat Illinois that looked like it had a chance to make a run at a Rose Bowl. This isn't the same football team that figured out a way to beat Indiana and Purdue despite coming out flat in both games.

We're 7-3 Gopher fans! Certainly better than where we thought we'd be 3 months ago... but definitely not where we thought we'd be 3 weeks ago.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I've Got Your Change Right Here!

All we've been hearing about during the election is change, change, change! You want real change? Put me in charge of college football and you'd see the meaning of the word change!

I hate the rotating schedule, and I hate that Minnesota won't get a chance to play Penn State or Michigan State. I don't care if both of those are potential losses, I'd love to see a TRUE conference champion who had to play everybody else. Since we're now playing 12 games (or even 13 for those with a conference championship game) why not drop two useless non-conference cupcake foes a year so that everybody plays everybody. I know we don't do it because schools make money off of the two extra home games, and they’re two cheap victories that can add to your bowl chances. But as a fan, wouldn’t you rather see a full conference slate than two cupcakes? Wouldn’t it be better to have a TRUE conference champ every year? Say what you want about how bad the Pac 10 has been lately (really, I'm not going to stop you. Come to think of it, I heard an interesting idea this week: what if USC became an independent in football like Notre Dame? The rest of their sports could stay in the Pac 10, but football would get to play whomever they wanted. Knowing Pete Carroll, who has been as aggressive a non-conference scheduler as there is in the country, he'd play anyone, anywhere. I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'), but I think it's great that all 10 teams voluntarily gave up basically a guaranteed win against a cupcake at home so that they could have 9 conference games a year and play everybody. It’s not possible for the SEC, Big 12 and ACC, but since the Big 10 insists on being different with refusing to add a 12th team (which I’m fine with, by the way. Notre Dame’s the only team that makes sense, but I don’t see them ever coming over), why not raise the bar and show those “other conferences” who are so down on us what a real conference schedule looks like!

Seriously, when schools are playing not one but TWO FCS teams a year, how hard is it to pick up four more wins along the way to qualify for a bowl? God forbid teams earn a bowl birth anymore instead of rewarding mediocrity and a .500 record.

Head coaches do not fill these out, their grad assistants do. Either way, college coaches do not, and should not, have the time to research and watch enough of everybody else to make an accurate judgment of who the top 25 teams in the country are each week. It's how we end up with things like this week where Oklahoma is ranked ahead of Texas- despite the fact Texas beat Oklahoma. If we’re going to put weight on those polls and have them part of the convoluted formula that determines a national champion, I’d prefer to have it done by people who are paid to follow the game, nation wide, instead of the coaches. But that’s just me.

Look the top 25 polls are great fun and all, but they do much more harm than good by releasing them at the start of the season instead of in mid October. Teams who start the year ranked outside of the top 15 are at a serious disadvantage when trying to play in a major bowl. Just ask Auburn in 2004, or perhaps Penn State in about a month. The only reason I’ve heard for having preseason polls is because “fans love them.” Really? And if we didn’t have polls out until mid October you think fans wouldn’t love debating who the top teams would be? You don’t think that would create MORE fan interest and debate than we already get?

Alrighty, onto the picks. A LOT of big lines this week, which means Vegas thinks they’ve figured out the conference. If only I could say the same!

Wisconsin @ Indiana (+10)
Look I know IU got beaten last week-AT HOME- by Central Michigan. I know this. But the Chippewas did it through the air, whereas the Badgers are a ground team. 10 points is a big number, and the Badgers are winless on the road this year. I like the Hoosiers to cover.

Ohio State (-10.5) @ Northwestern
The Buckeyes are playing for a spot in the Rose Bowl, and their defense is just a wee bit better than the Minnesota squad that Wildcats QB Mike Kafka shredded last week. The Wildcats will have trouble moving the ball all day, and Ohio State’s offense will have plenty to blow out Northwestern.

Purdue (+9.5) @ Michigan State
It may have taken Purdue most of the year to find their quarterback, but it looks they’ve found him. Justin Siller is for real. The 6’4 sophomore shredded a talented Michigan defense for a combined 343 yards and four touchdowns, and should be a handful for the Spartans all day.

Illinois (-7.5) @ Western Michigan
Illinois is 4-3 in their last seven games, and haven’t won two in a row since September 13th. Their pattern says they should get shocked by Western Michigan, but I not only don’t see them getting upset, I see them as at least a touchdown better. Ron Zook better hope so, or all that momentum and good vibes he carried in from last year’s Rose Bowl season goes right out the window.

Penn State (-7.5) @ Iowa
Penn State has to be angry they got passed in the BCS standings by Texas Tech, and they know the only hope they have is to blow out the last three teams on their slate. Kinnick Stadium is a very tough place to play, especially with an Iowa team that can grind it out in what should be cold weather conditions. Still, the Nittany Lions have covered the spread in three of four road games this year. Expect them to make it four of five.

Michigan +8 @ Minnesota
I think/hope/pray the Gophers win this one outright, but for an offense that honestly has struggled since the Big 10 season started, 8 points is too much against a very talented Michigan defense. The teams that have put up points on the Wolverines (Michigan’s given up at least 35 points in five of seven losses) have done it with athletic quarterbacks (Illinois, Penn State and Purdue) and/or through the air (Michigan State threw for a season high 306 in their win. Notre Dame does have a good passing attack, but their win was more because of Michigan’s six turnovers than anything else). Minnesota’s D has to continue to force turnovers, and the Gophers are going to have continue to move the ball well through the air and have Weber’s athletic ability be a factor. Gophers win what should be a dandy at the Metrodome tomorrow.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No Mas Podcast Delay

That's Spanish for "The Nino". Or that we've got the newest podcast up and ready to go. Also available on I-Tunes for those that enjoy listening on your I-pod. We know there's one of you. Thanks Josho. Thanks also to this week's guest, Buck Bravo. Check out his blog, and give us a listen. Peace out.

Podcast delayed

A loyal reader (who also happens to be a relative of mine so he is required to read the blog and listen to the podcast) sent me this email this morning:
"How am I supposed to start my Thursday without a Podcast! I want Podcast!
Raise the brown jug high...."
Due to my travel schedule for work this week we were not able to record, and therefore post, the podcast on Wednesday night which has been the norm.

We will be recording this evening, and the Michigan week podcast will be available tonight.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Playoff or Plus-One?

Greetings. Happy hump day. Also happy "we don't have to see another stupid negative campaign ad for four more years" day too. Whether your candidate won or lost yesterday, hopefully you got out and voted. Ok, no more politics. Promise.

Well let's take a break from complaining about how Penn State is going to get screwed by the BCS, and talk about everybody's favorite topic this time of year: how college football needs a playoff system. I'm a stats dork and love numbers and polls and data, so I'm often interested when websites run polls. Now I know these are there solely to chart how much traffic is being driven to their site, but they can also serve an interesting purpose, especially those on E!SPN (on Jer and mine's old site, I always typed ESPN with the E! since I believe it's turned into the trashy gossip station for men) because they show poll data from all 50 states.

(This is especially interesting when they ask college football questions, like whether a one-loss Big 12 or SEC team should go to the National championship over an undefeated Penn State? I think they ran this one Monday and I can't find it now, but the poll was close, with a slight edge to to Penn State. However, the people that voted FOR the SEC or Big 12 were, or course, people in those states. And they voted heavily in favor. Again, shows how much people in those states hate the Big 10)

Anyway, the poll this morning was simply whether College Football needs a playoff system, and the results were an overwhelming YES, which was getting 92% of the vote. This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone since college football fans have been clamoring for this since oh, I don't know, about ever. The BCS sucks, this we can all agree upon. Will it ever change? I say no, unless Barack Obama makes good on the threat he made on Monday Night Football to put some heat on the NCAA to make it happen. Something tells me he has a few other more pressing issues to attend to before he addresses that one. There's just way too much money tied up in the bowls right now and for the foreseeable ever to make a playoff happen. E! writer Pat Forde makes an interesting case for an 8 team playoff, but personally, I believe all we need is a Plus-One.

College football has the best regular season of any sport because every game means so much. A Plus-one game keeps that completely intact, and would still give us the truest national championship game. Take the top 4 teams, have the BCS #1 vs #4 in one New Year's Day Bowl and the #2 vs #3 in the other (take your pick from the Rose, Sugar, Orange, and Fiesta), and then have the winners play the natty title a week later, just like they do now. No extra games that stretch well into January, it gives four teams (and let's be honest, it usually comes down to about four teams with a legit argument) a chance for the title, and the regular season still means everything. This season, we'd have Penn State, the SEC and Big 12 Champs, and either USC or another one-loss squad from the SEC or Big 12.

Once you go beyond four teams, it just opens the door to water down the process more and more and more. We'll be at a 64 team college hoops style tourney before you know it (and there are proposals on the table from people like Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim for 128 teams in the tournament. Seriously. Hell, let's just hand out an award to every team at the start of the season so everybody can win. God forbid we actually let competition decide things and have consequences for losing), as we've already seen the Little Guys whining about wanting to be included in the BCS, and therefore getting a fifth BCS game added. There's ALWAYS going to be complaints about people being left out, but limiting it to the top four schools says "You want to play for the national title? Win all your games and play in a real conference. Thanks for asking." While it's a nice story to see a Boise State make the Cinderella Run (and their game against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl a couple years back was one of the best endings I've ever seen), the ratings say that people want to see the Big Boys from the Big Conferences. And as the BCS has proven, the Little Guys usually can't hang with the Big Boys, and even with all of the parity right now, I don't see that changing. The best teams in the country continue to come from the BCS conferences, and those are not only the ones that should be given the best chance to play for the title, but also the ones the nation wants to see.

Second Guessing the Fake FG

Greetings from sunny Pittsburgh, PA!

It hasn't been very often during Tim Brewster's time as Gopher head coach that I've disagreed with an in-game coaching decision that he has made. (Afterall, the blogosphere IS the true litmus test for coaching competency... isn't it?)

The NDSU game comes to mind last year when the Gophers were on defense, the play clock was winding down, NDSU had not yet broken their offensive huddle, and WE called a timeout.

Generally I've appreciated Brewster's ability to make in-game adjustments and his aggressive style. But I thought his aggression was a bit misguided on Saturday against N'Western on the fake field goal.

Let's look at the situation leading up to this decision: The score is 17-17, neither team had scored since the first half, and the 3rd quarter is winding down. The Gophers drive to N'Western's 3 yard line, and Joel Monroe attempts and misses a 20 yard field goal. We could discuss the merits of going for it or kicking the FG on 4th & goal from the 3 yard line, but points were hard to come by in this game for the Gophers, so we'll go ahead and assume going for the FG was the right choice.

On N'Western's next drive Traye Simmons makes his second interception of Mike Kafka of the day and the returns it to the Gopher's 44 yard line. Weber runs (our most productive play call throughout the day) for 19 yards on 1st down to the NW 37 yard line. Then a short pass complete to Decker gets us to the 31 and two incomplete passes bring up 4th down.

Out trots Joel Monroe, who had just missed a 20 yard field goal on the Gophers previous possession, for about a 48 yard field goal.

At this point I turned to Jeffrick and said "fake."

And I can't imagine that I was alone. I think that probably everyone in the Metrodome, and everyone watching the game on ESPN2 probably knew the fake was coming. And CLEARLY Pat Fitzgerald knew it was coming.

What are the chances that you are really going to kick that FG after your kicker had just missed a chip-shot on the previous drive?

And I think that that stop for N'Western was the play of the game because it fired them up and brought the momentum back to them. They were nothing close to dynamic after that point, but the game took on a very different feel after that point.

I don't agree with the call. On 4th & 4 from your opponent's 31 yard line I think you keep your kicker (who isn't consistent anyway) and you find a way to pick up that 4 yards. You've got the best reciever and the best tight end in the Big Ten on your squad, and the QB draw has been working all day. There HAS to be a way to find 4 yards on that play.

And if you don't get it, you have a defense that has played well all day (outside of the opening drive).

Look, I get it, if the fake FG works, Brewster looks like a gunslinging genius. Or, if you go for it on 4th and don't get it, everyone is going to say that you should have gone for the FG. There were three options in that situation, you go for it, you kick the FG, or you fake the FG. My opinion is that faking the FG is the worst option of the three and the fact that it was obviously coming makes it even worse.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Big recruiting weekend

With Bryce McNeal coming to town on Saturday, the Little Brown Jug weekend is going to be a big one for recruiting.

But even in losing the homecoming tilt, the Gophers managed to impress a couple of recruits and have added two big names to the verbal commitment list.

Heyo Carpenter will be a JUCO transfer from College of the Canyons. He's one of the top JUCO receivers in the country and ranked 11th on Rivals top 100 JUCO players for 2009. Heyo runs a 4.4 40 yard dash and Rivals considers him a 4-star recruit, while Rivals lists him as a 5-star at his position. Also, on a personal note, I will be excited next year to begin yelling "HEYOOOOO!!!!" Especially considering I already like to yell that.

Next, we get to welcome more help to the defensive secondary.

Kerry Lewis is another commit from (Don't Mess With) Texas, was ranked in Rivals pre-season top 100 in the state of Texas and is considered a top 40 cornerback in the nation. He's 5'9", 179 lbs, and as a prototypical CB, also runs 4.5 in the 40.

Two nice commits Gopher Nation!!! Let's land a few more this Saturday!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

I'm In A Glass Case of Emotion!!!

Yeah that was me and Jer after watching Northwestern punt our Rose Bowl dreams off the bridge. We hit the man with a burrito. But you know what? We weren't alone Saturday. Not by a long shot. Every game involving Big 10 schools were decided by a touchdown or less, with three of them being won with less than 30 seconds left. All of them were gut-wrenching, heartbreaking, stomach punch losses. Misery loves company. "The Man punted Baxter! He punted him! Aghhhhhhhhhgggggaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!"

Michigan State 25 Wisconsin 24
The Badgers racked up 281 yards rushing, outgained the Spartans 430 to 312, and held the nation's leading rusher Javon Ringer to just 54 yards on 21 carries...and still lost. Wisconsin back John Clay galloped 32 yards to put his squad up 24-13 with nine minutes left, yet Michigan State would score the next 12 points, including a 44 yard Brett Swenson field goal with 7 seconds left.

Purdue 48 Michigan 42
Remember when I said on Friday I was glad I wouldn't have to watch this game? Well it was one of the many games on at Senser's, and between plays and commercials of the Gophs, this was the one I kept going back to. It seemed like every time I looked up, somebody was either making a big play, or scoring on a big play. So much for the boring defensive slugfest. Michigan's offense was still average at best (just 300 total yards with QB Steve Three throwing completing 9 of 21 passes for 123 yards. I've probably asked this before, but I'm asking again just in case: why on God's green earth would Rich Rodriguez insist on running a spread offense when he doesn't have the personel to do it? He couldn't have transitioned to the spread over a couple of years until he had the recruits to run it? Hey he's the big time football coach. What do I know?), but they kept pace with the Boilermakers suddenly resurgent offense (after watching Brandon Siller I'm glad he didn't have a game under his belt before he played the Gophs. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Curtis Painter won't be getting his job back whenever he's healthy again), tying the score at 42 with just 1:20 left. Purdue then did what the Gophers tried to do, driving for the winning score on a perfectly executed hook and ladder (wait we need a ruling on this: I've heard both "hook & ladder" and "hook and lateral" to describe this play. Anyone? Hang on I'll ask wikipedia...ok it gives both. Thanks wikipedia. Thanks for nothing. Glad we cleared this up) with just 26 seconds left.

Illinois 27 Iowa 24
Like Scony, Illinois led big (24-9) in the fourth quarter, only to see the lead slip away. Unlike the Badgers Illinois rallied late as kicker Matt Eller booted a 46 yarder to win it. Still Juice and the Illini struggled as Juice got picked twice and ran for just 30 yards, the same as the rest of his teammates combined. Iowa wasn't much better as QB Ricky Stanzi struggled (just 11-29 191 yards and 2 picks), but tailback Shonn Greene- aka the Big 10 offensive player of the year thus far- rushed for 103 yards and a TD, giving him at least 100 yards in every Hawkeye game this season.

Central Michigan 37 Indiana 34
The Hoosiers broke the first two rules of Big 10 football. The first rule is you do not lose to the Chippewas at home. The second rule is YOU DO NOT LOSE TO THE CHIPPEWAS AT HOME!!!! I'd have to look it up, but if the third rule was "Don't give up 485 yards passing to the Chippewas" then Indiana broke that one too.

Finally, the craziest ending of the weekend, and probably the season, was Texas Tech's upset of #1 Texas. If you didn't see it, you've gotta see the ending here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Reaction to losing to Northwestern

Ever since the game ended this afternoon I've been thinking about what I was going to write about this. Usually there is an angle, or something you can take away from the game, or a "at least..." statement to be made, even after a loss.

But I can't come up with anything.

The Gophers lost their Homecoming game to a Northwestern team that they should have beaten. It's that simple.

I did not come away from this game feeling like Northwestern was a better team than the Gophers. I thought the Gophers played admirably on defense, but they just could NOT come up with an answer for something called Mike Kafka. That guy, more than the Wildcats, just absolutely killed us today.

220 yards on the ground?!?!?! Are you kidding me?

I said last week both in print and on the podcast that I was concerned about when our offensive line was going to become a liability. Then, yesterday I was at lunch with a co-worker and we were talking about the Gophers (big surprise!). And here is what I said to him:

"The two things that scare the (expletive) out of me about the Gophers is our offensive line and our susceptibility to the deep pass."

Imagine how sick to my stomach I was seeing Kafka throw an opening drive touchdown over our secondary just 7 plays into the game. And then on the Gophers ensuing drive to see Weber with no time to throw and Eskridge with no daylight to run to.

In the wins over Indiana and Purdue, despite the fact that the offense couldn't settle in, at least you felt like the defense had things under control. But this game was different. The offense moved the ball well at times, but by the time the defense settled into their game, the Gophers were already down 10-0.

The thing that makes me the most sick is that I can already hear the naysayers talking about how the Gophers can't beat a good team.

Coach Brewster said after the game that the Gophers didn't do enough in all three facets of the game to win. But I don't buy it. Our defense, despite having one of their most trying days of the season so far, gave up only 17 points.

Mike Dunbar's high-powered, spread coast offense is not getting the job done. But I don't blame Dunbar. The problem, as we've been talking about for weeks, is the offensive line. And the biggest concern is this: the o-line production is not going to improve through scheming or game planning because the greater issue is that they are young, they are inexperienced and they are banged up.

This loss hurts. Not because of how we lost on the interception, but because of the bigger picture. The bigger picture being that we have an exciting season going, that we have an overall good football team, that for the first time in memory we actually have a defense, and that I still believe we are a better football team than Northwestern.

The last three games of the season suddenly have a very different feel.

Friday, October 31, 2008

We're talking about Northwestern?

Remember good ol' Allen Iverson's "practice" rant? ("We talkin' about practice, man. What are we talkin' about? Practice? We talkin' about practice, man. We talkin' about practice.") I was just reminded of this rant by a co-worker yesterday, and just in case you missed it, Allen was talking about practice. Oooooohhh, I love that video! It's almost as good as Jim Mora's PLAYOFFS?!?!?!" rant.

Speaking of which...

Anyway, we're talking about Northwestern, and I do not mean to imply that this game is only as important as practice. On the contrary, this is an incredibly important game for the Gophers, and considering that the final three games of the season are all trophy games, where team record doesn't amount to a hill of beans, this N'Western game could almost (I said ALMOST) be called a must win.

We've gone over offenses and defenses, we've gone over records, we've gone over injuries, we've gone over expectations, we've gone over point spreads, bowl predictions and overboard... so what's the bottom line?

The line, as of today has the Gophers favored (-6.5). Although we both agree on a Gopher win, I believe the Gophers will easily cover the spread, while Jeffrick thinks they will not.

Gophers 27 - Northwestern 13
Gophers 24 - Northwestern 21

Either way we're predicting another Gopher win, and as always...


Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Big 10 Picks on Hallow's Eve

A few random thoughts as I yet again try to figure out the Big 10...

...Bravo to whoever came up with Halloween. You get free candy, get to dress up and act like an idiot and get away with it as long as you're "in character" and women use this night as an excuse to dress slutty (honestly, I am still amazed at how many classy, self-respecting, intelligent women have uddered the phrase "Oh I love Halloween! It's the one day of the year where I can dress slutty!"). Fan-freaking-tastic.

...If Northwestern football had fan blogs, I think these are some of the things they would talk about: What time study hall is at? What is your favorite shade of purple? When's an appropriate time to wear an ascot? Did you know our QB sounds French? Is there really ever an inappropriate time to wear an ascot?

...What's more annoying: all the political commercials, or the Toyota "Saved by Zero" commerical? You know the one, where it goes "Saavvvvveeeeeddd by Zzzeeeerrrrrooooo!!!!" Is it, or is it not on EVERY SINGLE MOTHER F&%*^ING COMMERCIAL BREAK ON EVERY CHANNEL? I was watching football on Sunday and it would come on during break of the Fox game so I'd flip to CBS only to hear "Saaaaaavvvvveeeeeddddd by Zzzzeeerrroooooo!!!" If I could afford a new car right now, I would purposely not buy a Toyota just because of those damn commericals. And just in case you don't have that song stuck in your head yet "Saved by Ze-ro! Saved by Ze-ro!"

Central Michigan @ Indiana (-3)
(Jer takes Indiana -3)
At first glance this looks like an upset special: Central Michigan (did you know they're called the Chippewas? I didn't. I could sing an old Tim McGraw song right now, but, well it's probably better if I don't) is 6-2 overall, and have won four in a row. Of course, those two losses are to the only two BCS conference opponents they've played- they got spanked by Georgia and lost to Purdue by just 5. Their point differential for the season is also -1. That's not good. With a healthy Kellen Lewis back under center, or at least splitting snaps, IU should get the win at home.
Indiana 31 C Michigan 17

Wisconsin (+4.5) @ Michigan State
(Jer Wisky +4.5)
Let's be honest: I haven't picked the Badgers right all year, so there's no reason to start now. Whatever I say here, just go ahead and do the opposite. Dustin Sherer looks to be the stabilizing guy the Badgers have needed at QB, and while the loss of TE Travis Beckum will be big, I like Wisky here. The Spartans are about due for their annual Fall Fall, and are primed for a letdown after an emotional win over Michigan.
Wisconsin 27 Michigan State 21

Michigan (+2) @ Purdue
(Jer Purdue -2)
Honestly, what's the difference between these two teams? Pretty much a coin flip at this point, and in that case, I'll take the points thank you. Not much else to say, other than thank gawd I don't have to watch this one.
Michigan 13 Purdue 9

Iowa (+3) @ Illinois
(Jer Illinois -3)
What a turnaround for the Hawkeyes. After I gleefully left them for dead a couple of weeks ago, they've knocked off Indiana and Wisconsin convincingly. QB Stanzi has been consistent, Shonn Greene just might be the best back in the conference (look at the numbers and tell me differently), and the defense has actually been good all season. Iowa has given up just 63 points in 4 Big 10 games (15.75 per game) and on the season have outscored opponents 238-92. Illinois is 3-3 in their last 6, so according to their season they're due for a win. Close, but not close enough.
Iowa 31 Illinois 24

Northwestern (+6.5) @ Minnesota
(Jer Minny -6.5)
Really, really, REALLY nervous for this one. If the Gophers were involved in a trap game this year, I would have assumed it would have been their opponent overlooking THEM, not the other way around. Not to say Minnesota is overlooking the Purple Smart Kids, but it seems like with injuries to Bacher and Sutton, as well as how bad the Wildcats looked against Indiana last week, there's almost a little TOO much working in the Gophs favor right now. I think (hell I HOPE!!) the Gophers roll over a weakened Wildcats team, but I have a feeling this one is going to be close. Gophers 24 Northwestern 21

(Last Week 3-3. Season 10-7)