Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week #9 - Meltdown in Madison ...

CHIEF on the TRIBE - It's like I said last week, it's the little things that matter most. More of the bad same this week from the tribe: senseless penalties, turnovers, blown coverages, and missed tackles. It's almost as if we find new ways to beat ourselves. And against Wisconsin for Pete's sake, ugh! Not good. No my friends, Wisky didn't beat us today. We gave that win away. This year's team is a work in progress to be kind. We're not very good week to week; consisteny is the word of the year. And with four games to go, 2-2 seems reasonable, but maybe not good enough for a bowl game. We still don't have a good win on the year. But after today's defeat in Madison, we now have two bad losses in conference. Yuck! And Zooker has still yet to win in Madision. I don't like Camp Randall at all.

I knew this was a bad match-up for us this week coming off a blowout win at home against Indiana. We're just a middle of the pack FBS club, nothing more or less. We don't know what it takes to play championship football. Wisky had nothing to lose at home today after losing four straight in conference. It was a game we should have won going away in the 2nd half. Yikes ...

Williams had a terrible day on just 17/32 for 223 and 3 INTS (with 2 TDs). Yuck! And the Illinois running game was held in check all day, posting just 77 yards on the ground. Regis was a blip on the radar at best on just two catches. What the hell guys! And learn how to line up to take a snap. WTF! Discipline, respect, honor, pride - go look those up in the dictionary this week in between classes. Or don't come out to play next weekend. Nobody will want to watch. Up next, Iowa. Get ready to play guys. Nobody will give it to you. You have to earn it. When does basketball season start?

Message to Coaches - Well, and 4-4 we're on the outside of the bowl picture looking in. And with four tough games ahead of us against bowl-eligible or winning programs, it's not going to be easy. Needless to say, six wins gets you eligible to play in the post-season. But, we'll likely need 7 wins this year, especially when considering we don't have ANY quality victories. Sorry, beating Michigan and Indiana don't cut it this year. We'll have our chances against good Iowa and Ohio State programs, but we can't falter against Western Michigan or Northwestern. But it all starts next weekend at home on Dad's Day against the Hawkeyes. If we address the little things and play with some passion and discipline we should win all four of them. I don't think anybody has near our talent, save for perhaps Ohio State. But we've proven time and time again that our own worst enemy out there at times is ourselves. Ugh! Oye .... ouch.

I need to see more urgency and heightened awareness of distance and down. I need to see more confidence that we will score on every possession and stop them from scoring when they have the ball. Just watch what Tulsa did in the 2nd half this weekend against UCF. Do it like you've done it before; and again. Don't take any play for granted.

“We can be a good team but they’re going to be held accountable, especially the older guys,” Zook said. “It’s not the way it was before we got here. If we want to be the kind of program we want to be, guys have got to bow up.”

“If we’re going to be a winning team and beat this curse of not having two winning seasons in a row, we have to be smart,” linebacker Brit Miller said. “If we do our jobs, we win.”

Elsewhere around the Nation -

Every week matters. Every week is a championship in the balance. Every week is a play-off. Every week is an opportunity. There is no static state. You're either moving up or down.

Penn State / Ohio State - a defensive battle for sure. And the playcalling was very conesrvative for long stretches of this game. But give credit to Ohio State and that defense. The offense needs more work in the passing game. The pathway is clear for Penn State's run to the national - title game. Unlike my Illini, this team just doesn't beat themselves. I don't think the Nittany Lions even had a penalty tonight in Columbus. It's shaping up for JoePa's 3rd championship. 381 for Mr. Paterno. 1 for 7 in Columbus, first since 1978. Nice job. Yeah, you're worthy..... for now.

Texas / Okie State - How much longer can the Horns continue to run the gauntlet? Colt McCoy is amazing. I think he went 25-28 tonight against a pretty good Poke squad. First it was Oklahoma, then Mizzou, and now the Cowboys from Oklahoma. Up next in Lubbock on Halloween weekend is Texas Tech; who whacked a good Kansas club at home in Lawrence today. Wow, that should be fun. Can Texas possibly do it again, four in a row? It's Colt's world, and we're just living in it. As of today, McCoy is your Heisman winner. Unless they lose.

Alabama / Tennessee - What happens if both Texas and Alabama run the table? It's going to be tough, but the TIDE look for real this year. Just ask Tennessee who was man-handled tonight at home in front of 102K.

My New Top-10, BIG -12 Love!:

1) Texas - three monster wins in a row, unparalleled. Up next the Red Raiders in Lubbock.
2) Alabama - good road win in Knoxville. Perhaps the best team in the SEC.
3) Penn State - no doubt the BIG-10 front-runner. It might just be JoePa's year.
4) Oklahoma - keeping pace with the top-3 if one should stumble. Tough club.
5) Florida - starting to peak at the right time of the year. Up next, the cocktail party.
6) USC - still lurking. Great individual talent. Not sure this is a great team yet.
7) Georgia - impressive in Baton Rouge. Up next, the GATORS! Make mine a double.
8) Texas Tech - may not be a better offense in the country. But can they stop anybody good?
9) Oklahoma State -no shame in today's loss to Texas. Almost pulled it off.
10) Utah - undefeated likely into the Holy War with BYU.

FINAL NOTES - The game is changing. If you can't score, and score often, you aren't ranked in the TOP-10. Just ask Ohio State. Everybody at the top in FBS football can light it up like chain smoker in a tobacco shoppe. Sure, defense is important. And it's even been said that defense wins championships. Maybe so. But, you can't win if you don't score. And, let's be honest. You can't ask your defense to stop the opposition and score in the same sentence. At least not week in and out. A great offense can hide the mistakes of a marginal defense (Texas Tech). Of course, it doesn't hurt when you team doesn't make many mistakes. The best teams tend to not beat themselves.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week #8 - It's the Little Things ...

CHIEF on THE TRIBE - I ask myself, self - how are we 3-3? Self answers, "It's the little things." Were it not for key defensive breakdowns and disasters in the kicking game we'd be 7-0 at this point. Ugh! It's the little things. They turn into big things in close games. Tighten it up and you dominate. Execute the little things all the time. And be strong in the kicking game. Sure, we whipped - up on Indiana tonight to bring the record to 4-3. Not bad. Not great. That's about how I would summarize my season. At this point in the year, I'd expect us to be 5-2 instead of 4-3. Up next, a road trip to Madison to play a reeling Badger squad who's now lost four in a row, and maybe more.

Quick thoughts on the Indiana game tonight:

  1. Offense executed in all facets. I'm not sure there's a defense in conference that can stop us right now. We'll put up 30 points / game and nearly 500 yards per effort and are at the top of most statistical offensive BIG-10 categories, right behind Penn State.

  2. Defense / Special Teams - need more work. Too many blown coverages, missed tackles, and questionable plays on special teams including kick-off coverage and field goals / extra points. If we expect to contend for the crown this year then we'll need to tighten up these facets of the game.

  3. Juice continues his domination in conference and across the nation. There may not be a more prolific offensive player in the land right now. He's averaging over 400 total yards / game this season. Wow!

  4. Good to see Jason Ford arrive on the scene in the rushing game. We'll need his power and speed in the 2nd half of the season to complement Dufrene. I must say we're not missing Mendenhall this year. Daniel and Jason provide us a nice 1-2 puch! Bammmm.....

  5. And give credit to OC Mike Locksley. Balance on offense. 300+ passing yards and 250+ rushing yards tonight. Wow! We can run it or throw it whenever we want to on offense. As long as we don't turn it over, we can name the final score right now. But, it's one thing to do it against Indiana. It's quite something different to do it against the powerhouse in conference. We'll have our chances.

  6. How 'bout the 'D' tonight? We held them to 10 points and 200 yards total offense most of the night, at least until it didn't matter anymore. They average almost 200 yards / game. We kept them under 100 for most of the game.

  7. Keep getting AJ (Jenkins) as many touches as possible. I like him returning kicks and punts. The true freshmen from Jacksonville is special.

I knew this would be an interesting year of football in Champaign. Let's face it; 2003 was ahead of schedule. And, it's always hard to follow - up a great season with a good one. We seem to be back on track tonight after Indiana. But, we have more work ahead of us. Juice Williams has arrived as a big-time QB in CFB. He may be the best in the game right now in terms of balanced rushing and passing. Nobody is putting up numbers like he is right now back to back to back. Wow! It's not just the X's and the O's but the Jimmies and the Joes! Go get it boys; it's right there to be taken! Do it like you've done it before. We should be favored in our next three games (Wisconsin, Western Michigan, and Iowa). But they won't be gimmies.

Inside the STATS -

  1. Almost 600 yards in total offense tonight. Williams with another 300 yards and 4TDs.
  2. Welcome Jason Ford - 171 on 19 carries and 3TDs including a 41 - yard gallop. 2nd-best rushing effort in school history for a true freshmen. Yes, the future is bright in the backfield.
  3. Benn, 7 for 130 and 1 TD on 37 yards. A.J. Jenkins - 2 kickoffs for 116 yards and 1TD.
  4. Defense gave up just 13 points tonight, mostly when they didn't matter. We're now 8th in the conference in terms of points allowed (27/game on 354 yards / game).
  5. As a team, we're 2nd in BIG-10 scoring at 36.1 points / game on 485 yards / game with good passing/rushing balance (205 yards / game on the ground).

My Top-10:

  1. Texas - nobody has two better wins in Oklahoma and Mizzou.

  2. Alabama - struggled with Ole Miss tonight. Many more teams will as well.

  3. Penn State - slow start against Michigan. Ran away with it down the stretch.

  4. Oklahoma - good win over a solid KU squad under Reesing.

  5. Florida - off this week hosting KY next.

  6. USC - 69 points better than WAZZU. Yep, they covered

  7. Oklahoma State - beating Baylor is one thing. At Texas next week is another.

  8. Texas Tech - good road win over A&M.

  9. Ohio State - who had Bucky 38 better than SPARTY?

  10. Utah - we'll learn more in two week against TCU, unless they lose next week at NM.

FINAL NOTES - So, now that we've crossed into the 2nd half of the season and the heart of conference play, what did we learn this weekend? The TOP-half of the TOP-25 stabilized this weekend, for the most part. The bottom-half of the same group had more Ls than Ws. Expect more shake-ups in the polls this week as the BCS debuts. Here are this week's winners and losers. Sorry John, the 280-game WAZZU scoring streak came to an end in Pullman last night at the hands of the Trojans.

TEXAS and OHIO STATE really imprssed me this weekend, but for different reasons. The Horns cambe back to blow-out a mighty good TIGER TEAM at home after an emotional victory in the Red River game. And Ohio State went on the road in conference to dismantle Michigan State (yes, another sign it's October). Ohio State has themselves a QB. Penn State beat Michigan for the first time in 9 tries, but didn't look all that convincing in the 1st half. Their defense has some work to do in order to contain that powerful Buckeye offense next weekend in the Big Horseshoe. That is shaping up to be another great showdown of powers.

Here are your current bowl projections as of WEEK 8. Right now, it looks like a trip for the CHIEF to the CHAMPS SPORTS bowl against BC or VT. Most have TEXAS playing either Penn State or Florida for the national title with a rematch in the Rose Bowl between Ohio State and USC. On the slate for next Saturday, I'll be looking forward to the following matchups:

  • Texas Tech @ Kansas - are the Red Raiders for real?
  • Illinois @ Wisconsin - can the chief sustain the momentum?
  • Georgia @ LSU - another inter-divisional SEC clash with national implications.
  • Okie State @ Texas - promising to be another classic BIG-12 showdown.
  • VT @ FSU - somebody has to win this one. Two teams looking to get back on top.
  • Penn State @ Ohio State - will the real BIG-10 champion please stand up?

And my final thoughts on the BCS; rumor has it that the first ranking of the 2008 campaign was unveiled today. What to make of it? What to hope for? What, in this crazy world does it all mean? I don't know. But I do know this: in the 10 years of the BCS system, 20 teams have played for the nation title. 19 of them have come from the initial ranking of the top-6. So, take a close look at the list today and you'll likely find the National Champ in there somewhere.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Week #7 - Utter Calamity in Champaign - Ugh!

At least Sherwood beat Hillsboro Friday night (34-13). Yes. Go Bowmen! Not totally sure where this is going to go or how deep into the depths of despair I'll plunge this week. So, before I pen this column in all of its tragedy, think of me in your thoughts and prayers this week. I'm a damaged man right now. Hopefully, we'll find a way to right the ship after today's meltdown. We better if we have any chance at making a marginal bowl - game this year.

Chief on the Tribe - What is very clear to me right now is we're a long way from last year's success in so many subtle ways. Looking back, maybe it was too much / too fast. After all, it's hard to follow a 9-3 season which earned us a Rose Bowl opportunity. And I did say this would be a step back year, before we arrive on the national scene in a big way next season. But today's performance was totally unexpected. and extremely disappointing. Just when you think things are going well ... a big whack of reality like a sack of frozen potatoes in a ragged burlap sack.

Sure, Benn and Williams are putting up huge numbers early this year. The defense is looking better to me each and every week. And don't think that it's all doom and gloom. My team is doing many things right on both sides of the ball (special teams excluded). But, when it's all said and done we're just 3-3 (1-2 in conference) and reeling after today's homecoming loss to a surprisingly good and extremely well-coached Minnesta Gopher squad in front of a capacity crowd, who went home very dissatisfied today (27-20 defeat). Ugh! Did I mention it was homecoming? What's with that?

WHAT HAPPENED? Maybe we lost focus with all of the distractions associated with Homecoming? Maybe it was the distraction of mid-terms? We all know preparing for exams and papers in GENERAL STUDIES is a tall order. Maybe the guys didn't get enough sleep last night? I'm sure the water is at least partially to blame. Or maybe we just didn't bring IT today, expecting to win instead of executing to win? It's like I've been saying all year and forever, it's a different game each week. You have to come to the show prepared and motivated. Every week matters. It's a 3-month playoff in order to determine the grid-iron pecking order. Good teams win games they're expected to win. Great teams always get it done. This just in, we're neither. Actually, after today's crushing home loss, I would put us in the bottom-half of the BIG-10 right now (bottom - dweller territory).

3 key turnovers and mistakes in the kicking game will ALWAYS get you beat. Playing 3.5 quarters of lethargic football will ALWAYS get you beat. I didn't see any urgency on the offensive side of the ball until we were down 20-6. Granted, we moved the ball well all day long up and down the field OUTSIDE of the red zone. But when we broke into that place, we were denied almost every time by a gutty Gopher defense and/or our own crutial mistakes.

Instead of leading 28-14 or 31-14 in the 4th quarter, we trailed most of the game - as much as by 14 points until a sense of urgency finally set in. But in the end it was too little too late. There were so many problems I'm not sure I'll be able to expose them all. The biggest of them all is that this year's team lacks discipline and respect: respect for the team, respect for protecting the rock, respect for the fans, and respect for the game. How else do you explain 3 turnovers, 5 key penalties, missed field goals, kick-offs out of bounds, muffed punts, and blown coverages in the secondary at key moments in the game? Sure, we're loaded with young talent to burn at most positions. But that comes with a prices of foolish mistakes and inconsist performance game to game, quarter to quarter, and drive to drive.


With winning comes higher expectations. It's been several years since we've had that winning spirit in Champaign which arrived with last-year's club. It's no longer good enough to win one or two big games each year. We need to put a string of consistent performances together and take care of bidness. Until I see more of that, this year's team will remain a bunch of one-hit wonders and more disappointments. I agree coach, we have a long way to go.

Starting with our 'special teams' play today, grade = F-. I've already alluded to the missed field goal, the kick-offs out of bounds, muffed punts, and terrible kick coverage. The 'kicking game' has now significantly contributed to our three losses this year. In each of them, the kicking game has had major meltdowns allowing either outstanding field position or points. Ugh! We have to have the worst special teams' play in the nation. Ugh! And with so many other parts of our play today, this group failed to play with intensity and urgency.

A quick look t the box score shows that we dominated most statistical categories, except for the final score. You might ask yourself how we lost this game and just scored 20 points. Ugh!

  • We had 25 first downs to their 16.

  • Our 550 total yards on offense exceeded theirs by more than 200.

  • Juice had another monster day throwing the ball for over 460 with 2TDs, and one killer pick late in the game.

  • Time of possession was about equal, 30 minutes per team.

  • 3 costly turnovers (2 fumbles and 1 pick). Ugh!

  • 5 sacks allowed, including the forced fumble leading to their scoop and score.

  • Only 88 rushing yards, down from our season average of 210.

FINAL NOTES - It's time to get back to the fundamentals like 'kicking', 'tackling', 'blocking', 'catching', and 'holding onto the ball'. While it's true we have too good losses against Penn State and Mizzou, we now have our first 'bad' loss against a decent Gopher club. And with Michigan spiraling downward faster than the stock market these days, we are still in search of our first 'good win' of the season. It's now mid-October. We only have a few more opportunities against quality conferenece opponents. It may take beating Ohio State to set the record straight. It's put up or shut up in my opinion. So, let's get going guys. Let'ts get back to the fundamentals which have cost us our three losses. The time for whining about our problems is over. 90% of the country could care less about our deficiencies. And the other 10% is glad we have them.

We actually 'gave' them 13 points today on offense. The defense didn't give up 27 points today. Good news there at least. The defense is improving each week, I think. But give credit to a very good Minnesota squad. They've turned the corner from last year's campaign and are now 6-0 (bowl eligible). This is going to be a good team with Decker, Eskridge, and Weber. That trio gives them the offense they need to compete in this conference and beyond.

There wasn't much good news, but I did take some comfort in the following:
  • Our receiving core is young, but talented. Bunch of studs in Benn, Duvalt, Judson, Jenkins, Sykes, and Cumberland. They're going to develop even more as the season progresses. A.J. announced his arrival on the scene today as a true freshmen with 3 receptions for a whopping 117 yards and 2 monster TDs. Benn is a true stud (one of the best in the land) who ended up wtih 12 receptions for 181 yards. Nice.

  • Williams had another awesome showing, at least statistically. I already alluded to his 460 passing yards on 26 of 42. He also had 18 rushes, but for just 41 yards. Minnesota bottled him up for most of the afternoon.

  • The DEFENSE played well again today, and forced 1 key fumble late in the game. Sure, they gave up 312 on 61 plays, but only 14 points in all honesty.

  • Up next, Indiana at home. Then we travel to Madison before getting Iowa at home. All games we can win if we play like we did in Ann Arbor. All games we will lose if we play like we did today against the Gophers. Ugh!

MY NEW 10 -

  1. Alabama - didn't play this week. Probably would have lost otherwise. Inherit #1.

  2. Texas - after doing what most thought was unlikely, horns are #2 for now and face a brutal schedule in conference. They get MIZZOU next at home. For now, 6-0.

  3. Penn State - scary team. Dismantled a marginal Wisconsin club. What's happening in Madison.

  4. Oklahoma - no shame in losing to an awesome TEXAS club this year in the Cotton Bowl.

  5. Florida - when you beat LSU that's news. When you lay 51 on that defense, that's special.

  6. USC - defense is stout even if the offense sputters at times. No problems today with ASU.

  7. BYU - only an 18 point win over New Mexico at home. Not overly impressive, but still unblemished on the card. We learn more this Thursday at TCU (nation's best defense). Until then at least, make it 16 in a row, nation's longest.

  8. Oklahoma State - beating Mizzou in Columbia is impressive. Holding them under 50 is amazing. And that's 2 straight against the TIGERS in Columbia. First time the COWBOYS beat a top-10 club since 2001, under Les Miles.

  9. Texas Tech - Red Raiders struggled with Nebraska. Their defense is suspect. Their offense isn't.

  10. Ohio State - don't look now. The Buckeyes are 6-1 (bowl eligible yet again).

And what else did we learn this weekend? Maybe, just maybe, the BIG-12 is the BEST in the LAND. I've been saying all year the the SEC is the best CFB conference in America. Last weekend I had them in a dead sprint with the BIG-12. But, as I think more deeply about this question, I'm leaning more and more towards the BIG-12, at least for now. There's no question they possess the most potent offenses in the country. So, w/o further hesitation, I give you my latest BCS conference rankings:

  1. BIG-12

  2. SEC

  3. BIG-10

  4. ACC

  5. BIG EAST / PAC-10

The Bottomline - Welcome back Alabama, Texas, and Penn State to national prominence. At least for a week, I won't be talking about Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia, LSU, or USC. It's like the 1960's all over again. Rece Davis of ESPN had a good observation in that for the 2nd time in three weeks 3 of the TOP-5 all went down. It's just another crazy season of CFB. I do know this; you better bring it each and every week. Not that preparation alone is good enough to win. Not that desire can always overcome mistakes. Not that perfecting your skills is any guarantee of the outcome. But more and more across the landscape of college football, if you expect to win each and every time you take the field you better execute to win. Intentions aren't good enough. There is no room for excuses. The harsh reality (and probably in part what makes it so great) is that when the new rankings come out on Sunday the picture could not be more black and white. Each game is a play-off game. Every week matters.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Week #6 - Here Comes the Chief!

Around the Nation -

Welcome to October and WEEK #6 already of 2008; amazing how time flies. And as I look around the nation this week, I'm starting to see some themes emerge as teams begin to claim their slice of the pie. CAL, Penn State, Alabama, and all took care of business today as well. Auburn went down @ VANDY today for the first time in forever. I had a feeling about that outcome. It's hard to watch that club try to move the ball on offense. And how about Miami / FSU - crazy game. Missouri, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and UNC all rolled with the TRIBE. And looks who's back - Ohio State with a quality road win in Madison tonight. Ugh! And for the first time ever at 4-1, the Irish are unranked (Wow, how times have changed). It's happened 27 other times, to put this story in perspective. A win this coming weekend in Chapel Hill will ensure they're ranked at 5-1. Of course, a loss will justify this week's story. Here's what else we learned.

Chief on the Tribe -

I know, I know - before you even say it. Sure, this wasn't the Michigan of old, of Schembechler, Moler, or Carr. Yes, these Wolverines are a young bunch searching for an identity under 1st-year coach, Rich Rodgriguez. Still yet, today's ILLINI performance in Ann Arbor was historic (45-20 final score). Yes, on Saturday we broke an 84-year old mark with our 45 points in the BIG HOUSE. The old record was set by Red Grange's 1924 club. And finally, we have a 'quality' win to move us to 3-2 (1-1 in conference). And when you look at the two losses, they don't look so bad at this point do they? At least we played Mizzou and Penn State competitively for most of those games.

Give credit to the coaching staff this week. The tribe was ready to play in front of our second 100K road audience in as many weeks. And this time, we came through in a BIG WAY (45-20). What was impressive to me about this win wasn't the W but the way we did it. Down 14-3 early, it could have been a long day in Ann Arbor. But, when Juice took charge in the 2nd quarter with a quick 10-yard TD scamper you knew it was game on. From there, he put his stamp on this team and would not be denied. Yes indeed, put it down. On 10/4/2008 Isiah Williams announced to the league and nation that this is his team going forward.

And kudos to my much-maligned defense for finally stepping up in the 2nd quarter. Michigan really didn't have an answer the rest of the game. At times, we made them look bad - really bad. It was a slow start and more of the same in the 1st quarter: missed tackles, blown coverages, and poor positioning. I guess it helps when your offense reals - off 42 points to their 7. Still yet, the defense came to play today for most of the game. Miller was amazing, make big play after big play all day. The D-line grew up today in front of our eyes. And the secondary made a few nice plays as well.

Yes, it was the 108th homecoming for the EVIL EMPIRE today. What a glorious victory in the BIG HOUSE. Benn, Dufrene, and Williams (the terrific trio) had monster days. Williams rushed for 120 and passed for 310, accounting for 4 TDs and no turnovers. It's probably too early to mention him and Heisman in the same sentence, but if he keeps putting up numbers like this it won't be much of a decision. Next year. Next year. Enjoy the helmet sticker Isiah. Benn had 6 catches for 122 yds. And while Daniel only had 46 tough yards on the ground, he had 77 in the air including a monster TD in the 1st half. Yes, it was a good day in most areas of the game.

On the downside, our special teams needs work, especially on PUNT and KICK-OFF coverage. With the offense finally starting to click, they should have plenty of chances to improve. We gave up far too many return yards today (243 yds), especially in that 1st half. And while Juice did have a big day, he only hit 50% of his 26 pass attempts. There's room for improvement there. Other stats to consider: 11th in BIG - 10 in points allowed (94th nationally) and just 10th in total defense (75th in nation). We give up 29.6 points per game and 371 total yards. Yuck! It's a good thing we put up 35.6 ppg and 455.6 ypg, respectively.

Looking ahead, always dangerous, we finally get back home for our next two games where we should be heavy faves (Minnesota and Indiana). Then we hit the road again play Wisconsin in Madison before closing with Iowa and Ohio State at home, Western Michigan and NW on the road. 10-2 isn't impossible, but 9-3 or 8-4 is more likely given the schedule. At this point, 7-5 would be a bit of a disappointment. Anything less than 7 wins would be a letdown, especially after last year. Keep in mind, we were expected to take a step back this year from 9-3 as we re-load for next year and a possible BIG10 / Championship run. At 3-2 (1-1) we're in good shape. We needed a 'quality' win; which this was by all accounts. After last week's road loss, Penn State is clearly the cream of the conference. But, we're right there should they slip up. Check out the latest bowl picture.

Message to coaches - Do it like you've done it before. And play up to the level of the competition, and beyond. Stop the run and you'll have more fun! We need to get the next two as we continue to improve, especially on defense and special teams. We'll need those skills up in Madison. I'm hoping this was our 'get off' game of the year, propelling us on our way. So, enjoy this one for 24 hours, a truly historic - our biggest win over BIG BLUE. The last time Michigan gave up 45 points at home was 1991 against Florida State (51). I expect these winning results to help us on the recruiting trail where our 2009 team is 34th nationally, and only 6th in conference right now behind the big boys like Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State.

My Top 10 -

  1. Oklahoma - Taking care of business in Baylor today. Next week is HUGE! Bradford and McCoy will finally get to duke it out against each other. Who has the better 'D'?

  2. Missouri - Simply amazing offensive machine. Another beatdown in Lincoln tonight. It's OK Ted, they do this to just about everybody. Scary team!

  3. Alabama - Scratchy win over Kentucky in a trap road game for the TIDE. They move on in the SEC. A bit surprising they didn't dominate more here.

  4. LSU - Off this week. Holding steady. Off to Gainesville next week. Oh my! Could easily swap them with #3 above. Let's see what they do agains the GATORS first. Bama has better wins right now.

  5. Texas - Blew out the Buffs in Boulder. Red River Shootout at the Cotton Bowl next. Colt and Company are rollin'. I'd be a little worried about the pass 'D' if I were a UT fan.

  6. Penn State - Good but not great road win today in West Lafayette. I've been saying it all year, fear Joe Pa this year. Where's the first loss in the schedule? Lot of football to be played.

  7. USC - Back on track tonight against a disillusioned duck squad. Injuries starting to pile up. Too much for Oregon tonight. Far and away the BEST compilation of players in PAC-10.

  8. Texas Tech - Yep, they're for real this year - at least on offense. Ask Kansas State.

  9. BYU - Beating UTAH STATE to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 15 was the good news. Bad news, AF lost to NAVY.

  10. Ohio State - Gutty back and forth comeback win on the road. Watchout for the Buckeyes. This just in, they have a QB.

Conference Ratings - not that conferences win Championships; teams do. That being said, there's a lot riding on how conferneces are perceived internally and externally across the nation. From recruiting to pride, it matters.

  1. SEC / BIG 12 - I just don't see much of a difference between the two anymore. BIG-12 obviously has the better offenses. SEC plays stout defense. You pick 'em.

  2. BIG 10 - Penn State, Illinois, Ohio State, NW, and Michigan State lead the way in a very deep conference. It's going to get interesting in early November.

  3. ACC - UNC, Va Tech, FSU, Ga Tech, BC, and Duke all have winning records right now.

  4. BIG EAST / PAC 10 - UCONN gets blown out by UNC. OS loses to UTAH. I'm still not sure how the PAC-10 will have 7 bowl-eligible teams to fill those slots.

Looking Ahead - Week 7 promises to be awesome. Here are some of the games I'll be looking forward to next week:

  • LSU @ Florida - another SEC clash that will shape the national championship picture.
  • Texas & Oklahoma - in the Cotton Bowl. Probably another classic Red-River Showdown.
  • Penn State @ Wisconsin - I know, but winning in Camp Randall is tough!
  • Notre Dame @ UNC - Hmmmm .....
  • Poker Night in Woodhaven - always a game to look forward to.
  • World's largest basketball practice on 10/11 after Minnesota and Illini gridders.

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