Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chief Keeps Rollin'

Another good home win for the Chief, this time over a dangerous and struggling Boiler club, 44-10. Offense is efficient and improving, but the defense is setting the table allowing just 200 total yards against Purdue. Despite one of the nation's most difficult schedules to date (Missouri, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Penn State), the Illini defense ranks 12th in the nation for points against (16.8 average), giving up a season high of just 26 points on the road in East Lansing to a high-powered and balanced Sparty attack. We've held half the competition to 13 or fewer points.

Scheelhaase is gaining confidence under center in his first full year as QB, 18-24 for 205 yards and 4TDs and no interceptions. And I know the passing game (111th in teh country) is a work in progress as we try to become more than a rushing attack. Paul Petrino's offensive schemes really seem to be working well most of the time. Players are buying in and delivering on the field. And, it won't be long before this Petrino gets serious consideration for some head coaching positions. And that's what we learned on this Saturday.

What most impresses me this year compared to the last few losing campaigns is the determination to make plays and to finish strong. I see guys putting out that extra effort to make the tough catch, break that extra tackle, make the first down, or reach for the endzone. That energy is translating into results at just about every position.

So where does that leave us? 5-3 with four to play, including one more home game with Minnesota and next week's road trip to Ann Arbor. Despite Michigan's recent struggles, that should be another tough test against one of the most dynamic players in the game. Still, I like our chances as we finish the year at Wrigley with Northwestern and in California with Fresno State. There is some unfinished business to settle with those Bulldogs.

My Latest Top-10: - three from BIG-10!

1) Oregon - there is no stopping that Duck offense.
2) Auburn - seemingly on a collision course with #1. No stopping Cam.
3) Boise State - just keep doing what they are supposed to with their schedule.
4) TCU - ditto, see #3.
5) Alabama - Tide keep rolling. May control their BCS destiny on 11/26 at home.
6) Wisconsin - Badgers are road-graters. Off this week, and in charge in BIG10.
7) Oklahoma - Sooners bounce back this week. Another solid club
8) Ohio State - Buckeyes need some help to win the conference.
9) LSU - Tigers are still a good football club but have a tough stretch coming.
10) Iowa - Hawkeyes are the best two-loss team in the nation. Could be 8-0.

Finally, what should happen with the BCS? Ideally, I would favor an eight-team playoff starting on the first Saturday of December (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, etc...) with the higher seed hosting. How about an Iowa / Oregon game in Eugene? Or a Boise State / Ohio State playoff in Boise? Or a Badger / Tide showdown in Tuscaloosa? End the conference title games and figure out the $$$. Second, use the BCS games on January 1st at the 2nd round to get from four to two teams. Finally, add the plus-one game after that, and you have a worthy national champion.

But, that ain't gonna happen anytime soon. So, the more I think about it, the more I like how the BCS is shaping up this year. First, if Oregon and Auburn keep winning they should and will collide in Glendale come January. If either one loses, then you have to consider TCU, Boise, Bama, Oklahoma, Wisky, and Ohio State. What will happen? Chief predicts the Oregon Ducks will be in Title Game against either Auburn or Alabama. Here's what the remaining schedule of bowl games is shaping up to be with only one month left in the season: Bowl Outlook.

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