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Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blogpoll Roundtable - Week 3

This week’s Blogpoll roundtable is being hosted by Dave over at Maize and Brew. After the pasting the Wolverines laid on the Irish, the Wolverine blogosphere is full of love. So, of course, we’re very happy to respond.

1. It’s only the third week of the season and we've already seen some highly ranked favorites drop out of national championship contention. Preseason favorite Cal dropped to #21 after a loss and a pair of underwhelming victories. Who's your pick as the next NC contender to take a fall?

Picking an SEC team for this response is a bit of a copout, and is pretty much just subject to the schedule. I don’t see any SEC team going through the conference undefeated and wouldn’t be surprised to see the winner with two conference losses. Winning the MNC from the SEC is a near impossibility due to the competitiveness of the conference.

Texas is also a logical answer here. I believe they were overrated to start the season and probably still are. I don’t care how many players they had coming back, Vince Young didn’t. He’s the best player to not win the Heisman. Though the Longhorn defense was tough last year, the single reason Texas was #1 was because of VY. This year’s team, while good, isn’t great. But I think they’ll stay in contention due to a pretty weak conference.

My selection for the next contender to fall by the wayside is Notre Dame. Yes, they’re still very much alive despite the beat down from the Wolverines. Hell, ND probably has to lose three to not be considered for the BCS title game. I see the Irish again struggling this week against Sparty. There is no air of invincibility with Notre Dame after Saturday, and that might not matter to Sparty anyway, since they’ve won seven out of the last nine in the series. Sparty will be able to move the ball all day - I don’t see ND having any answers for Drew Stanton. The Irish will score – a lot – but it won’t be enough.

2. By that same token there are several schools hanging around without a loss that all of a sudden look like surprise contenders. There are also a few one loss teams with a legit shot at getting back into it. Looking at the rankings who's the team no one's talking about with the best shot at crashing the party?

Before the season, many people considered West Virginia national title contenders for two reasons: they kicked Georgia’s ass in last season’s Sugar Bowl, and they played no one. Well now they actually do play someone: Louisville. And the Cardinals are my pick for the current sleeper. I know they lost their top RB for the season. I know they lost their starting QB, though he should be back in a few weeks. But this is a team that has a serious shot at being 12-0 and making the BCS title game. It would help their strength of schedule if Miami turns back into MIAMI, which might not happen.

The Cards’ schedule is actually easier than West Virginia's the rest of the way, mainly because they get the ‘Neers at home on November 2. Win that one, and it’s just a matter of winning at Rutgers and at Pitt and a 12-0 record will be theirs. Will that be enough to make the title game? If every other team has one loss it sure will be.

3. Every team has their quicksand away game. You know. That place you should win but somehow find ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory or at least scare the &*%^ out of you every year. Did you know that over the last 21 years Kentucky wasn't won once in Knoxville? Where is your team's yearly sandtrap?

Despite not having won in Columbus since 2000, I can’t label that the quicksand away game. tOSU’s had a pretty good team the past few years. And though we always seem to struggle in the Metrodome, we haven’t ever lost in that building. Up until last Saturday the answer to this one would have been South Bend. Not so much that Michigan was by far the better team going into those games, but rather they always seemed to find a way to lose. Whether it was turning it over an inordinate number of times, having ND score a TD despite their QB losing the ball around the one yard line, or the wind dying down just long enough for some kicker to make a 51 year field goal. When Michigan goes to South Bend highly ranked, they tend to play tight and lose.

Though this hasn’t been the case the past two trips up there, the answer has to be East Lansing. From ’93 through ’01, only the national champion ’97 team was able to win there. This was the place where time stood still thanks to Spartan Bob. Meanwhile Michigan hasn’t lost at home to Sparty since Desmond got tripped in the end zone in 1990. Even in the recent victories strange things have happened, like a big fella returning a fumble for a touchdown, and Chris Perry’s 52 carries almost going for naught thanks to a late fumble. Again, much like when the Wolverines travel to South Bend, the playbook shrinks, the throats get tight, and the Wolverines just don’t play well.

4. Now that you've looked into the darkest place in your football soul, free Escalades aside, turn and look into your crystal ball. Conference play is either just starting or a single game in. Based on what you've seen so far, give the order of finish in your conference, and if you've got a Conference Championship game tell us who the winner will be. Independents must predict the remainder of their schedule. The results your predictions will be held against you at the end of the season.

Big Ten Conference

1. Ohio State

2. Michigan

3. Iowa

4. Wisconsin

5. Minnesota

6. Michigan State

7. Purdue

8. Penn State

9., 10., 11. Teams that lose to I-AA teams or Syracuse don’t get placed.

5. In keeping with the spirit of Maize n Brew, name your beverage of choice on game days and why. It need not be alcoholic, as there are some of us who choose not to imbibe on game day. Further, it need not be limited to a single brand/type/category. If you enjoy drinking PBR and Kraft Turkey Gravy at the same time (which I have personally witnessed), please, elaborate. Finally, if you should feel so inclined, and this is not a requirement, add an anecdote involving said beverage choice.

Every Saturday, Yost and I get together in one of our mom’s basement and whip up a killer batch of mimosas and sip them throughout the game. For me and Yost, nothing says Michigan football more than mimosas in a basement.

Seriously, I have no superstitions about what to eat or drink before or during a game. In truth, I rarely drink anything during a game and not even much beforehand. This is even more true for a big game – the last thing I need to be doing when I’m already nervous is drink. If I’m actually attending a game in Ann Arbor, I’ll go without liquid for about 12 hours beforehand so I won’t be faced with the decision to risk my bladder exploding or miss a quarter of the game to go pee.


Anonymous said...

FYI, there have been four undefeated teams from the SEC since the advent of its title game in 1992. Three SEC teams have won national titles in that time.

That's just as much, and in some cases, more than all the other conferences.

So this notion that it is somehow next to impossible to win a MNC in the SEC is just wrong. It happens just as much as in other conferences.

TitleIX said...

are you kidding?
that's the shit they make us girls drink at wedding showers, not pre-football events....

dudes, ya shoulda never admitted to that in public....

how about a nice breakfast beer like Honey Brown or something? sheez

Anonymous said...

Nice roundtable in general except the Cardinal bit. Sure they look pretty tough- but who really thinks the Big East still deserves a BCS automatic bid? Yeah, yeah, yeah WVU put the wood to UGA last year when it mattered, but do you really think UGA was thinking about that game as compared to their elation of just winning the SEC? Their fault, I admit, but still I think Big East should have had their auto-bid taken away when the franchise moved to the ACC. Of course if you did that, it would probably mean the ND would get 2 at-large bids to the BCS every year.

Benny Friedman said...

Anon 1:23, I agree that the Big East should not receive an automatic BCS bid. After the departure of Miami, Va Tech and BC that conference is just not on par with the other five majors.
But the fact remains that it DOES get a BCS bid, and if one of its teams is 12-0, with wins over Miami and West Virginia, it's possible that team will be playing in Glendale on January 8, 2007.

Allaha said...

The shot at Texas's schedule is a bit harsh: before the season started, UT's schedule looked to be extremely difficult -- including games against two consensus Top 5 teams (tOSU and OU (pre-Bomar fiasco)) as well as away games at (then more highly ranked) Nebraska and Texas Tech. Basically, it is not UT's fault that the Big 12 suddenly looks underwhelming.

Also, credit to Louisville for beating (a seemingly terrible) Miami squad, but the only real game on their schedule is against WVU -- in an epic battle of over-rated teams, with the winner likely getting the right to get crushed in a bowl game to which it never should have been invited. . . . Does anyone seriously believe WVU or Louisville would be the (or even a) dominant power in the SEC?

Anonymous said...

The Big East should certainly receive an automatic BCS bid.

Recall what "undeserving" WVU did to UGA in the bowl last year. And spare me the details about UGA being beaten up...they had weeks to get ready. Plus WVU was really very young.

Both Louisville and WVU are top tier programs right now and other programs are on the rise (Rutgers for sure, and Pitt -- even though their caoch is a liability, IMO). South Florida has a lot of athletes and might also be a solid team regularly soon.

Not a Big East fan per se, but the bashing is unwarranted. Give the Big East a break -- their powers bailed on them, so give them some time to revcover. Revisit this is a few years. If the league is only WVU and Louisville, then you have some bashing to do.

How bad is the Big 12 North? If Texas weren't so strong last year and Colorado pulled an upset, would there have been an outcry? What about Florida State? They were underserving of a BCS bid last year.

daddyduck said...

The sec is way overrated (all defense no offense)I dont think any team in that conferance is legit. as for the other pretenders. Top 5 no particular order Cal,Notre Dame,Ohio state, Boston college, Texas. Here is my top 5 underrated teams that could be contenders Louisville, Oregon, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Boise State.