Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Suck it, Iowa! You too, Notre Dame!

About the only bright spot to come out of a weekend where the Gophers lose to a two win Illinois team was Iowa, Notre Dame AND Michigan all losing. Really, if Minnesota could have just taken care of business this would have been about the most joyous of joyous college football weekends. A Gopher victory AND three of our most hated opponents going down in flames would have been almost more fun than I could handle. Thankfully (said with a heavy, heavy amount of sarcasm), Tim Brewster, Adam Weber and Co. saved me from an overwhelming amount of glee that probably would have caused me to pass out.

Still, I can take solice despite our loss that Iowa fans can shut the **** up about being disrespected, and how "it doesn't matter how much we win by, just that we win." Um, no. It does matter. Your defense is very good and very opportunistic and Ricky Stanzi and your offense had so many horseshoes up their keisters I'm surprised they could walk. Pundits and people outside the state of Iowa kept telling you over and over how lucky your team was simply because your team was lucky. Well their luck ran out Saturday against Northwestern.

You remember Northwestern, don't you Gopher fans? The same team we beat at their house and hung 35 on? Yep, that Northwestern. Anywho, Stanzi sprained his ankle, the Wildcats took the lead, and Iowa fans saw their dream season go down in flames. Awesome. Couldn't have happened to a classier group of fans (and by "classier" I actually mean the opposite). Their national championship (pipe) dreams are gone, and WHEN they get slaughtered by Ohio State this weekend, their hopes of a Big Ten title will disappear too. The sad part (at least if you're nto an Iowa fan)? If (and probably when they beat us. And that's with or without Stanzi back), they'll still get to 10 wins and will probably take a BCS bowl spot. That's because of 1) Iowa's traveling horde and 2) other than Alabama, Florida and Texas, nobody else in any of the other conferences will be any better.

And if Iowa doesn't take that spot, Penn State, who played two good teams all year and got thumped by both of them, will. Once again, more evidence that regardless of the national perception of this conference, our top teams travel as well or better than anyone else (and that includes the SEC), and therefore you'll continue to see Big Ten teams in as many big bowls as they can get them into.

As for Notre Dame, we're all pretty sure the Charlie Weis Era ended with a loss to Navy. Want to hear an amazing stat from E!SPN.com's Mark Schlabach? Weis has lost to Navy two out of the last three years. Before that first loss to them in 2007, the Irish had beaten the Midshipmen 43 STRAIGHT TIMES (told you it was amazing). Yep, the shine is definitely off the Golden Domers (Hello Brian Kelly? Notre Dame is holding impatiently for you on line 1...they say it's urgent...very urgent...and no they don't seem to care about your run for a BCS game).

Continuing to pile on The Irish, SI.com's Stewart Mandel had a fantastic piece yesterday in his weekly College Football Overtime column, where he says that Notre Dame is now just like, and no better, in football than academic superpowers Stanford and Northwestern. And you know what? He's right. Even better, Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald actually thinks they're worse!

"Even though we're similar academically, we're in a little different boat as Stanford and Notre Dame... We've been consistently winning since 1995. They're still saying they can do it, but we're doing it."

Ahhhhhhh yeah, if that doesn't make your day, I don't know what will. And to finish kicking Notre Dame while they're down, not only will they now not get to 10 wins and a BCS bowl game that they didn't deserve to be in, but at 6-3, they're going to need all the "Luck o' the Irish" they can get just to get to eight wins. Before the season Notre Dame's schedule looked easy after USC, but now, the last three games at Pitt, home to UConn and at Stanford don't look so easy anymore. It would be shocking to see The Irish win all three, and somewhat surprising to see them beat Pitt or Stanford, which means the team is likely to finish 7-5. Not what the ND administration had in mind when they gave ol' Charlie that 10 year extension.

As for Michigan, well, I still say RichRod needs one more season, but whether he gets it is anyone's guess. I say he should get his third year because yanking him after two seasons means you're very likely to bring in another coach who will want to completely change up the offensive system. Again. So now you've got at least two more years with a new guy while he tries to run HIS offense with players that don't fit it. Give RichRod one more year (and another monster recruiting class) and see what happens. Remember, winning cures everything. With all the drama of the offseason, everything was forgotten when Michigan started 4-0. As "un-Michigan" as this has been for Wolverines fans, this is a young team, and with another year of seasoning and another strong recruiting class, there's no reason they're not competiting for a Big Ten title next year. No really- tell me who's going to be a juggernaut in the Big Ten next year other than Ohio State? Please, I'm waiting. So IF Michigan can stick to the plan and give Rodriguez one more year, I think they'll be fine.

Then again, the argument to can him now is gaining steam. They are going to finish with a losing record for the second straight season (keep in mind, before RichRod showed up they hadn't suffered a losing season in four decades!!!) because there's no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks they're going to win at Wisconsin and home to Ohio State. None. So Rodriguez will finish with two losing seasons AND a swirling NCAA investigation. I say he SHOULD get one more shot, but I suppose you can't blame the folks in Ann Arbor if he doesn't get it.

Still, let this be a lesson to Michigan, and anyone else whose fanbase is unhappy with a coach who averages nine or ten wins a year but is deemed to "not be able to win the big one" like Lloyd Carr was: be careful what you wish for, because it could be worse. A lot worse. Just ask Notre Dame or Nebraska.

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