Sunday, November 08, 2009

Oops, We Did it Again! We Played with Your Hearts ...

To steal a line from that great musical thespian of our Age, Brittany Spears - Oops, he did it again. He played with your hearts. The Chief won another ball game this week in Minneapolis over those dreaded Golden Gophers from the northland. And I was wrong, it happened before universal health-care passed the senate. Wow, just goes to show you that when it comes to college football, you just never know what will happen in the greatest show on earth.

Seriously though, how about those ever-improving Illini Gridders? That's now two in a row form over the M-schools (Michigan and Minnesota, bowl likely going to bowl games this year). And the way we played yesterday on TCF Bank Field was very encouraging to me. It's like we're actually getting better with the passing weeks of what has to be some of the best practice sessions in the country right now. You can see the team grow in confidence and skill with the passing of each minute.

As for yesterday's performace, digest these numbers:

1) Charest and Juice combined on 15-25 for 238 and 2 TD's, no INTS. Wow!
2) We were 9 for 17 on third downs, and 1 for 1 on fourth downs (3/4 in red zone).
3) Where has this defense been all year? Chief registered seven (7) sacks on Sat.
4) We dominated the line of schrimmage, with 8 more tackles for loss.
5) Hawthorne remains a game-changer with his pick-6 yesterday. Nurse had 4 sacks.
6) We held Weber to just 221 yards on 14-31 passing, down from his 416 last week.
7) The win makes two in a row over Minnestoa in Minnesota (44-17 in 2007).

More importantly than the final numbers, the win is another watermark that this team, still not very good, is improving each and every week. We'll need to if we want to become bowl-eligible this year with games against Northwestern (home), Cincy (road), and Fresno State (home) to close out the 2009 campaign.

And what another crazy Saturday of CFB it was yesterday. In the BIG-10, Iowa and Penn State were both upset at home, nonetheless. Wow! Nationally, USC had to hang on against lowly ASU. Oregon lost a barn-burner in Palo Alto. Oklahoma lost a defense struggle in Lincoln. And the Beavs took down CAL in Strawberry Canyon. Wacky stuff for sure.

For the Heisman race, it's really heating up between Gerheart (Stanford), Spiller (Clemson), Keenum (Houston), McCoy (Texas), and Ingram (Bama) - that's it. I don't want to hear any more talk about Tebow, for now. He's clearly off the list and on the radar with his lackluster performance this season (so far). You can't throw 2 pick-6's and against Mississippi State and expect to be taken seriously. His numbers are down and the team is winning ugly. I view this individual award as an MVP of sorts, going to the most outstanding player in the nation and not necessarily to the perceived pop-culture star of an undefeated and overrated media darling.

Now, for my TOP-10:

1) Gators - until they're beaten. Winning ugly never looked so unimpressive.
2) Horns - the true inside track to Pasadena is theirs to lose over the next month.
3) Tide - good win yesterday against a gutty LSU club. Bama keeps rollin'.
4) Cincy - only because they keep winning even without Pike. Kelly can coach.
5) TCU - right on the Bearcats' heals. May be most-balanced/dangerous team in country?
6) Georgia Tech - the Ramblin' Wreck is fun to watch these days. And playing well.
7) Boise State - not their fault, but the Broncos just aren't getting tested anymore.
8) Pittsburgh - I know, hard to believe. Panthers sneak into the TOP-10.
9) Houston - last second win ears the Cougars a slot this week.
10) Arizona / Oregon / Miami / Ohio State - take your pick here. I can't separate them.

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