Saturday, November 22, 2008
And how about Sammy Stroughter for the Beavs tonight? Are the BEAVS a team of destiny this year? Pretty amazing stuff in the desert tonight. He saved Kahut and early desert burial in Tucson with huge catches down the stretch. Wow, go BEAVS - beat Oregon. Next week's Civil War should be epic. The Road to the rose Bowl goes through Corvallis. And the Chief for one is cheering for a Beaver / Nittany Lion Rose-Bowl rematch. "It was just another game dealing with adversity. It's the Beaver way", Sammy Stroughter. OS now has 7 conference wins this year. They've never posted 8 PAC-10 wins in one season before.
How great is rivalry week in CFB? Nothing beats it, period. Where else will you get Tennessee over Vandy? Otherwise, the games were chalk. Next weekend should be spectacular. We need 14 weeks of Pick-Em. I'll work on that for 2009.
Speaking of Pick-Em, it was another awesome year for Ronler Pick-Em 2k8. Congratulations to the Amazing Kreskin (Mr. Chet Lee @99.8% nationally). Wow, and the trend continues of no repeat winners. Very impressive campaign in probably our most competitive year ever. Our top-20 was 90% or better. Our top-6 was 99% or better. Nice job everyone. Thanks again for playing. It wouldn't be the same without you.
Kudos to the Cougar Nation (16-13 over Washington today in the Crapple Cup). To the victor go the spoils, a rotten apple core. Yes John, your Cougars did it. To Washington, ugh - I'm not sure there's been a longer off-season in CFB history. But with the end of one season comes the hope of a new beginning next year. You can take that to the bank of your choice.
Chief on the Tribe - In case you didn't notice yet, it's basketball season so get with the program. From here on out until I say so we will no longer refer to that other sport by any other name than 'that other' sport, even if it pays most of the bills. Yes, the tribe are 4-0 on the young 2008/9 season after beating Jackson State (pre-season SWAC fave) handily today inside the Hall. We're also the only BCS conference basketball team to win a road game this year against another BCS conference (Vandy on Thursday night 69-63). Sure, we don't play stiffer competition until the ACC/BIG-10 challenge after Thanksgiving (Clemson this year), but 13-0 or 12-1 out of the blocks isn't out of the question. Of coure, league play will be bruising in the BIG-10. I'd take .500 ball in conference this year (9-9). And that would get our ticket punched to the BIG SHOW this year.
This year's club looks a lot different than the last few years. Gone are Pruitt and Randle, so we'll be rebuilding the front-line this year with Tisdale, Davis, and Semrau. In many ways we're like the Blazers looking to find that new chemistry with a lot of young talent. Frazier and Meachem need to lead the way as senior ball handlers. Davis and McCamey each have the potential to hang 25-30 points on you on any given night. I also like the JUCO transfer sensation Dominique Keller coming in off the bench with 17 big points tonight. And I still haven't mentioned Alex Legion yet. Wow! There's a lot to be thankful for this year if you're an Illini hoops fan. And of course we play defense since we're a Weber-coached BIG-10 team.
This could be a dangerious Illini edition come March and NCAA tourney time. I like our prospects this year as we look to improve on a disappointing 2007/8 campaign in Champaign. Free-throw shooting is up big this year over the past two years (10 for 13 tonight). Part of that is not having Pruitt and Randle on the stripe. And it was good to see us shoot 62% from the field at home tonight against a pretty swanky and talented JSU club without falling in love with the outside shot. We have more work to do as we build the resume and look to get better each time out, especially on defense. But as we prepare to head down to South Padre next week to win another early-season tourney we won in 2005, I like the chemistry of this year's club. Oskee Wa Wa B-ball Illini!
My New Top-10 (body of work):
- Oklahoma - I saw the beat down in Norman. Oklahoma is the best team in the country right now. Remember that Tech was #2 heading into this one. Boomer Sooner!
- Florida - Florida with the one home loss to the Right Revrend (Ole Miss). Otherwise, there just as good as #1. Gators are worthy. Just beat Bama.
- Alabama - Undefeated for now. Body of work not as impressive as once thought. Beat Florida and you play for the title. Otherwise, enjoy the Sugar Bowl and shut - up.
- Texas - I know you beat #1, but that was over a month ago on a neutral field in a close game. You also lost to #8. #1 didn't have the same problem. Good year. Enjoy your BCS berth.
- USC - May not be a better defense in the country. Offense is sputtering a bit. Win the next two and you'll go to the BCS yet again. Rose or Fiesta are in your future.
- Penn State - Congrats to JoePa on his first BIG-10 Title. Enjoy the Rose Bowl against either OS or USC. 800 wins for the Penn-State program. Wow!
- Utah - BCS bound no doubt. Great win today in teh Holy War.
- Texas Tech - Tough loss tonight. Take comfort in knowing nobody in the nation could have beaten OU tonight in Norman.
- Ohio State - 5th straight over Michigan today. BCS or Cap1 Bowl? Hmmm......
- Boise State - Good win today against Nevada. Body of work. No BCS for you!
What about bowl season and beyond, you might ask? Here's an interesting scenario developing out West. Right now it's hard to see the PAC-10 with more than 5 bowl-eligible teams even though they have 7 bowl alliances. ASU and UCLA are battling for the sixth spot, both needing to run the table over their next two games to join USC, Oregon State, Oregon, Arizona, and CAL. And it could get worse, since USC and OS are both in the picture right now for BCS bids. That likely means teams from other conferences, including non-BCS conferences, will probably snatch up a few extra bids this year. How about Hawaii vs. Buffalo in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl instead of ASU or UCLA? Not a good year, top to bottom, for the conference of champions.
And despite another down year in the BIG-10 (top to bottom not including Penn State / Ohio State), the conference has 7 bowl-eligible teams leaving Illinois, Purdue, Michigan, and Indiana on the outside looking in.