SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/11/2006 05:19:00 PM
Saturday Observations Part II
Mike Hart and the Wolverines are firing on all cylinders a week before The Game.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Apparently, Ohio State and Michigan got the blahs out of their systems last week.
The Wolverines controlled the first half here fairly easily. Mike Hart is running the ball well, and, with the exception of an interception in the end zone, Chad Henne has looked better than he has in weeks. His 62-yard touchdown pass to Steve Breaston – in which he looked off Mario Manningham on his left, then went deep down the right sideline – was exactly the kind of big play Michigan’s offense has been missing in recent weeks.
Defensively, Michigan’s front four has been dominant as always, though sometimes to their hindrance, as athletic Hoosiers QB Kellen Lewis has been able to elude the pressure a few times and break off decent runs. But with Leon Hall and the secondary keeping star WR James Hardy bottled up, Lewis hasn’t been able to manage anything but underneath stuff in the passing game.
I’ve also been keeping an eye on the Ohio State-Northwestern game on GamePlan. The Wildcats might have been able to make it a game had they not turned it over four times in the first half. The Buckeyes’ defense hasn’t looked great. But Troy Smith is back to being Troy Smith. His 34-yard touchdown pass to Ted Ginn. Jr. right before the half was a thing of beauty.
∙ One developing story to keep an eye on: SMU (5-4) is beating Conference USA leader Houston 24-14 at halftime. If the Mustangs pull it out, they’ll be bowl eligible for the first time since 1997. Thanks to the presence of four bowl games with C-USA ties (including one in Fort Worth), SMU would be assured of its first bowl trip since its pre-death penalty days (the 1984 Aloha Bowl).
If there is such a thing as an "embarassing win," Florida just experienced it. South Carolina just completely exposed their suspect defense, and only TWO blocked kicks saved them. There's no way they are even close to the best one-loss team in the country; they're barely in the top 5!
Once again the Gators show why they should be considered in the NC conversation. They came back against a better then their record South Carolina game and came up HUGE in special teams. They lost their best defensive player and it showed. However the defense made the plays when it counted.
It’s VERY hard to win in the SEC as you can see with the Auburn loss and I guarantee you that the Tennessee/Arkansas game will be a battle. There are absolutely no gimmie games like playing Northwestern and Indiana, Stanford, or Army, Navy, Air Force, or Kansas ST. I know Florida’s wins have not been pretty but hey they just keep wining and you can’t discredit them for that. Let’s get a BCS playoff system in soon!
Michigan look unstoppable running the ball today. Nov. 18 is the National Championship! If there's not a rematch in the other game, I feel bad for the team that has to play either Michigan or Ohio State. It'll be a blowout. This is just that type of year. Go Blue!!!!
yeah the SEC plays powerhouses like lousiana monroe, Arkansas st., West Carolina, Arkansas St. and every other school that has a weird name, but that is college football, most teams schedule these weak teams and expect respect. The big east out of conference schedule looks good now compared to what I have seen, but you never know how good a schedule is until the season is over do you? hmmm interesting how we have a different national champion every year, but the same teams are expected to lose...well ok maybe Temple will lose lol
I can't wait until we get to bowl season and can start to settle the "my conference can beat up your conference" smack talk, because that's all it is. It's funny how when it's YOUR conference, parity means that there's "just so much depth" but when it's someone else's conference, it's because there are so few good teams. Give me a break. We'll see what happens at bowl time. And while I'll admit my Big 10 seems to be having a bit of a down year this year, I'll still bet you we take more than our share of bowl games (as we have in past years).
As for those of you who say OSU or Michigan would have 2 losses in the SEC, well...you need to watch OSU and Michigan. My Buckeyes are as workmanlike, balanced and methodically excellent as any team I've seen in a long time. The hardest game they could have this year will be here in Columbus against Michigan. I would have NO concerns about them playing Texas, Florida, Auburn, Arkansas or any of the other so-called "demolition derby" teams. As we'll see in the bowl games, some Big 10 teams are way underrated and there are a TON of teams (many in the SEC) that are ridiculously overrated.
One other thing as an addendum to my earlier post...are you still thinking the OSU defense didn't look so good? They held Northwestern to 10 points and caused a number of turnovers. They looked pretty good to me...
It's time to shelve all the nonsense about how hard it is to win in the SEC. Assume for the sake of argument that the SEC has the best talent; all this season has shown is that they must also have the worst coaching and discipline. Why? INCONSISTENCY. So why is it so hard to win in the SEC? Because all the teams are "better than their record." And why did those teams lose then in the first place? Because the teams they lost to were also "better than their records." All this shows is a lack of consistency. The conference shouldn't be lauded for having 'tough' games like Auburn's against Georgia, when the latter team has been absolutely terrible the whole year. I mean terrible. Speaking of which, that's a horrible example to use, allowishes. Brandon Cox just played the worst game of any quarterback's life against a defense that got half a hundred dropped on them by Tennessee. There are no gimme games, huh? Right. . . Maybe that's just because no SEC team (Arkansas excepted) has showed up to play every week. A game is only a gimme if you make it so. All that being said, after today Florida is definitely to be "considered" in the NC conversation. The problem is it's not about conversation for UF; it's about winning the SEC championship game. Good luck. You look like you'll need it.
I bet there is a very, very small contingent of people who actually congratulate you, Mr. Mandel. But, after seeing many of your upsets take place within hours of your predictions, I join that elite group.
What does this mean? Notre Dame could sneak into the Championship game, and if Michigan can somehow beat Ohio State, Brady Quinn could win his precious Heisman.
Notre Dame in the NC Game? God and the Pope help us. I am not an Ohio State fan, and kinda like Michigan, but are you kidding me? This team that should have lost to a Michigan state team that is the worst coached team in football history? Or the team that should have lost to a Mid-Pac-10 team UCLA? Yea, they were great today against our U.S.A. Fly Boys...WOO HOO! If USC beats CAL, then gives it up to the hunch back...then maybe they deserve it. But as an Oregon fan...as much as I hate to admit it, if USC runs these next 2 (3 if you cound ucklaa) games, they have earned a repeat chance, beaver spankin or not...
Stewart's words: "The Wildcats might have been able to make it a game had they not turned it over four times in the first half. The Buckeyes’ defense hasn’t looked great."
Give me a break ! Why do you hate the Buckeyes so much? Because they don't fit your predictions? The wildcats may have made a game of it..only if the buckeye's plane had been delayed another 24 hours. You would not have been happy with the buckeye's performance if they had caused 10 turnovers and 100 points !
The 'game' has finally arrived! Since my childhood the only game that counted is the day we play 'the team up north'. Next weeks game is for all of the marbles. The Buckeyes have the edge in all areas. Don't get me wrong Michigan has a very good team, but they are not as complete and in synch as OSU. The difference maker to the game will be the QB's. Chad a good quaterback however the Buck's scoring defense will create a lot of issues for him. On the other hand, Troy will have the best game of the season and his career. His performance will seal the envelope for the Heisman. Key play's in the 4th quarter will pull the Buckeyes ahead to stay and win the 'national championship'!
Florida is lucky to be where they are in the rankings. Arkansas will defeat the Gators. Of all of the teams positioning themselves for the BCS title game it's the Razorbacks. If Notre Dame defeats USC and the razor's win straight out they are in!
Does someone wnt to tell me why ohio state michigan shouldnt rematch in the championship instead of another one loss team that has lost to a low ranked or non ranked team taking the osu-michigan loser's place in the championship. The loser of michigan-osu would have only lossed to a #1 or #2 team so wouldnt that make that team the best one loss team in the country. Besides, no one else in the country is any where near as good. All of the other one loss teams are dropping like flies and the rest are losing to bad teams so why should one of those teams take place of a one loss team that lossed toa great team. OSU-MICH REPEAT FOR CHAMPIONSHIP
I can not wait till saturday, when the Buckeyes whoop the Wolverines. I expect this to happen and I could be shot for saying that out loud, considering I live in Ann Arbor. Living in Ann Arbor and not really having feelings one way or another for Michigan I have been able to watch them all year and they are very overrated, I mean who have they beaten, A Notre Dame team who has only played one big game, Michigan, and we say what happened there. The Big 10 this year is not even as good as the Big East, The big east has multipule good teams. The Big 10 has one great team (Ohio State), one good team (Michigan), one average team (Wisconsin) and 8 bad teams. The Big 10 will once again show their true colors when the bowl games arrive. USC is not going to win out, because Cal is going to upset them, and Michigan in the Rose Bowl. USC beats Notre Dame and grabs a BCS bid at 10-2. Florida will win the SEC with a 12-1 record and play Ohio State for the National Title. Florida has not looked great over the past few weeks, but they keep winning and that is what matters. The other BCS teams will be LSU, Boise State, Texas, Wake Forest, and West Virginia. The SEC not getting 2 teams in the BCS would be a travesty and LSU will beat Arkansas to claim their bid. The worst thing for college football would be a Michigan - Ohio State rematch, no matter who wins. What if the loser wins the Championship, then both teams would be 12-1 and 1-1 against each other. Treat this Saturday as a playoff and make the winner play someone else, Please.
Amazing that just a few days ago Louisville was worthy of running the table and getting into the natinal championship, yet Rutgers defeats them fair and square and every ESPN and network announcer dismisses Rutgers and praises the "one-loss" teams that are vying for the honor to play for the championship. What is more remarkable is the sportscasters talk that "after a few years" of winning, Rutgers may earn the "right" to compete for the title. The title game should pit the best teams THIS YEAR. Its not a dues paying event. Rutgers is going to get screwed. Same can be said for Boise State. Year after year they post 10, 11, and 12 win seasons. Even undefeated seasons. They proved they belonged in a major bowl a few years back and they barely lost by 4 to a very solid Lousiville team in one of those games where the team that has the ball last seems to win. Simply put- they proved they belonged. This year they destroyed an always solid Utah team (an etsablished Utah program that was 12-0 just a while back) and they beat an always dangerous Fresno State squad. So what do they have to wait for- another 2 or 3 seasons at 12-0?! Okay, maybe they're not quite as strong as Ohio State this year, or even Rutgers, but have you noticed how the writers and coaches are taking extraordinary measures to keep Boise State at #16, #14, #13 every week- just out of the reach of the BCS bowls ranking requirement? Its almost like a conspiracy. The fact is that Rutgers could beat the top 3 teams in the country 4, 5 times out of ten, and Boise is just one step behind. The whole system stinks.
I think Michigan should automatically be in the Mythical Title even if they lose to Ohio State. The Wolverines MUST be rewarded for easily disposing of Vanderbilt when every SEC fan has made it clear beating the cellar dwellers of their conference is such a tremendous task.