The game is over. No, really, it's already over. This is of course assuming that Michigan can contain...
That was your UMass preview: an unrelated video and a "Mike Cox is awesome haha not really" joke. Anyway, my friend Mike Taub will have the Who Are You? post up tomorrow as usual (I think).
"The kids call 'em ballers." I think this may have to be the new site tagline.
Duck season. The last few days have not been good ones for Oregon football, what with two senior starters, safety John Boyett and guard Carson York, both going down with injuries, ostensibly for the rest of the season. This is where I make a lazy joke about Phil Knight and Oregon's players being interchangeable cogs in the machine that is Oregon football and so on and so forth.
I spent the offseason convincing myself of this theory of interchangeability vis-a-vis Wisconsin football, and we've seen how that's turned out (although Wisconsin's offseason losses were obviously more significant than Oregon's losses). Still, for a team that isn't quite on the same level as Alabama or LSU in the starting 22--and certainly not depth-wise--any losses at all can become a damaging blow to a team's title hopes.
Columns that will be written every year for the rest of Time. Bryan Fischer tackles the primary driving force behind the Big Ten's ineptitude since the beginning of the new millennium. The verdict? Oh, don't pretend that you don't even know. Or maybe you don't know, because you are taking a long time to think about it, because you are sloooow:
The biggest issue for the conference is overall team speed. Sure, that's subjective. But it's accurate. From the safeties to the slot receivers, one can't compare how most Big Ten teams operate between the lines to their counterparts in the Big 12, Pac-12, SEC and, even in some cases, the ACC.I've always been sort of mystified by the fact that people will, without fail, chalk up the B1G's struggles to a lack of speed. Not only is it reductive, it doesn't really give the teams beating B1G squads their due credit. Football games are not won and lost solely because of team speed.
It's 2012. I thought we had the "yes, the SEC is certainly faster in the front 7 but everywhere else it's too close to be statistically significant" line down pat. I guess not. On the bright side, Fischer does give our very own D. Funch some well-earned respect:
Freshman of the week Devin Funchess, who became the Wolverines' first tight end to have 100+ yards receiving since 1997, is an example. He's big and physical but can still move down the field and in space with a reported 4.6 40-yard dash. Grabbing more players like him at positions like tight end is a start to being more competitive with programs from other leagues, and the Wolverines have been well on their way based on their recent recruiting classes.
Dear Michigan: recruit more players that are big and fast and talented. This recruiting advice has been completely pro bono on my part. You're welcome.
Grasping at straws. For the people staring at the Alabama-WKU box score and wondering how the Hilltoppers were somehow able to contain the Crimson Tide ground game much more effectively than Michigan did, here's one thing to make you feel a little bit better:
On Monday, two days after a 35-0 victory over Western Kentucky, Lester acknowledged that the Crimson Tide wasn't as focused last week as it should have been.
“I would say it was because Western Kentucky is a smaller team," Lester said. "I think a lot of guys didn’t look at them as seriously as they did games like Michigan or Arkansas. A lot of guys weren’t motivated like in a big game. We were coming off a big game and have a big game coming up, so a lot of guys weren’t motivated.”
Obviously, "not being focused" for Alabama still yields a shutout and a comfortable 35-point victory. So, good news everyone: if Alabama doesn't try, you have a very real shot at scoring zero points.
It's one week in a very long season, but don't think Jim Delany is not at this instant crafting the most carefully worded full-page ad in the Birmingham News congratulating Alabama on their continued football success while also slyly mentioning the state's dismal high school dropout rates.Not that the above isn't probably true, but, to add to the sentiment about "team speed" above: sometimes I get the feeling that college football commentary is just one big elaborate Mad Lib.
If this works, this will be just another one of those moments where you have the marvel at the frivolous yet awesome power of the Internet.
More? Jamie Mac says nice things about the Big Ten...no, this is not a trick at all. Even the Wall Street Journal has a take on the Big Ten being terrible, as well as some unsolicited some advice. Zach at Maize n Brew takes a look at the key offensive and defensive plays from the Air Force game.