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Westsider Rider

Friday, September 29, 2006

And the Michigan hockey faithful must hold their breath again

The NHL team that most Michigan fans have grown to despise, although they are my favorite team, the Los Angeles Kings have traded for Jack Johnson. So far the Kings are 2 for 2 in getting Michigan prospects to leave school early as they had done so with Mike Cammalleri and Jeff Tambellini and I know many hockey fans will be concerned however Johnson is quoted as saying the trade will not affect his timetable in turning pro. Previously all Michigan players have stated their intentions of staying but most have gone pro early, we shall see if that's the case this time but hopefully not. I believe that Johnson has more of a connection to the school and wants to fulfill his commitment of at least playing this season considering he is originally from Ann Arbor and has always wanted to play for Michigan so his attachment to the school is greater than other players, let's hope I'm right.

Update: After reading Maize N Brew's post on this, he also mentioned Trevor Lewis who I forgot about, who was supposed to be an incoming freshman this year but signed right away with the Kings.

Picks of the Week

It seems as if I'm stuck in this 2-3 slump as it has happened again for the 3rd week in a row bringing the year to date record at 11-9. I feel much better about this week though so hopefully things will turn around. Starting off this week tonight with:

Rutgers -4 @ South Florida - The Scarlet Knights are off to their best start in decades as they are 4-0 and even ranked in the top 25. Brian Leonard and Ray Rice lead the charge as they head to South Florida who is coming off a 13-7 loss following two tight victories over heavyweights Florida International and Central Florida. It's Friday night on the road so advantage USF but this Rutgers team was beaten at home by the Bulls last year so they will be out for payback.

Nevada -3.5 @ UNLV - Nevada was good to me last week as they pulled a great backdoor cover by taking an INT back to the house with less than 3 minutes to play to cover against Northwestern. Part of my belief in them is because when I played college fantasy football the past two years I had their QB Jeff Rowe who put up some big games for me and I believe the pistol offense is difficult to prepare for as not many teams in the country run it. This is a rivalry game so you never know what can happen but I believe the Wolfpack will pull it out in Vegas.

Oregon +1 @ Arizona State - The Sun Devils are coming off a whopping by Cal up at Berkeley and it doesn't get any easier for them as the Oregon Ducks come to town. The Ducks head to Tempe a week removed from their controversial 34-33 win over the Oklahoma Sooners. Led by Dennis Dixon and Johnathan Stewart I believe the Ducks will come out on all cylinders ready to prove to the nation that they are for real and send Arizona State into a deeper tailspin.

California -9.5 @ Oregon State - The Golden Bears head to Corvallis after a convincing win over Arizona State. Nathan Longshore has buckled down after a terrible performance to start the season in Knoxville and Cal is starting to look like the team that many thought would challenge USC for the Pac-10. The Beavers have dominated the games they should have, big wins over Eastern Washington and Idaho but got blown out at Boise State, I believe they are more like the team that got blown out by Boise State and I expect Cal to keep rolling with a big W.

Clemson -33.5 vs. Louisiana Tech - The Clemson Tigers did whatever they wanted to on the ground last week against North Carolina and it should be even easier to do against Louisiana Tech. The Tiger rushing attack looks to keep running against the Bulldogs who have been blown out by the major conference teams they have played Nebraska and Texas A&M, Clemson is better than both of them. I try to stay away from games with spreads this large but after what Clemson has shown the past two weeks I think they are for real.

Bonus pick: I have been betting additional games this season which has kept me afloat as it seems my unpublished picks are hitting more than my published ones. So because of that I've got two more games I'm betting this week which are:

Temple +34 @ Vanderbilt - yes Temple is bad but they are playing Vanderbilt, who although has been respectable I highly doubt they can ever cover spreads this big, even my boy who went to Vandy agrees with this as Vandy is not used to being a huge favorite. They are 3-0 against the spread against BCS conference teams but they are 0-1 against non-BCS teams ATS so I hope that continues this week against the Owls.

Houston +16.5 @ Miami - The Cougars are a surprise 4-0 after a big win against Oklahoma State. Houston is led by Kevin Kolb, another player I had on my college fantasy team, and he has been lighting it up this year as he is averaging almost 300 yards per game along with 3 TD's and he has only thrown 1 INT so far. Miami is in the unthinkable position of being 1-2 and many are calling for Larry Coker's job. I don't know if Houston can pull off the upset but I do expect them to hang around and make it a game.

Let's Go Doyers!!!!!

The Dodgers added to their lead in the Wild Card race by picking up a big 19-11 victory over the Colorado Rockies yesterday, combine that with the Phillies 3-1 loss at Washington and the Dodgers are now 2 up on the Phillies with 3 to play and just one back of the Padres for the NL West title. The story of the day was rookie James Loney who played in place of Nomar Garciaparra at first and came up with a HUGE day. Loney who had 8 RBI's on the year coming into the game had 9 yesterday. Loney has played well while he has been up in the majors and I think he's close to ready for the full time gig. If Nomar asks for too much money I wouldn't be opposed to letting him go and giving Loney the job.

The other big baseball news of the day was the announcement that Pedro Martinez will be out for the season with a torn calf. Looking at the standings I would rather play the Mets to begin with since Houston is just on fire right now and the Dodgers can never beat the Cardinals to save their lives so I would rather win the wild card and face the Mets who are not used to the pressures of October baseball. Picks of the week will be up later today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Week 5 Top 25

1. Auburn
2. Ohio State
3. USC
4. Michigan
5. Florida
6. West Virginia
7. LSU
8. Texas
9. Oregon
10. Louisville
11. TCU
12. Georgia
13. Tennessee
14. California
15. Notre Dame
16. Virginia Tech
17. Rutgers
18. Clemson
19. Oklahoma
20. Missouri
21. Boise State
22. Georgia Tech
23. Nebraska
24. Florida State
25. Wake Forest

Auburn moves back up to 1 after Ohio State's performance against Penn State was not that impressive. I had almost put Auburn back up to 1 after last week but decided against it, this week I couldn't do it any longer. The same Penn State team that got destroyed at Notre Dame actually led at halftime and was one drive away from potentially tying the game until Anthony Morelli decided to help the gamblers of the world out by throwing 2 pick 6's in the last 3 minutes to give the Buckeyes a backdoor cover.

West Virginia is still getting by on their schedule alone. Sure they are a very good team, but I'm not completely sold on them considering the trouble they had with a terrible East Carolina team that also held Steve Slaton without a TD.

Georgia falls after barely pulling the W out against a bad Colorado team that had dominated them through 3 quarters. I never imagined that could happen considering how good Georgia had looked and how bad Colorado was.

Cal rises as that was the type of team that was expected this year as they demolished Arizona State. DeSean Jackson showing the country that Mario Manningham isn't the only sophomore WR making a big impact for their team and he needs to continue to do so if Cal wants to challenge USC for the Pac-10.

Georgia Tech is a new entry because Calvin Johnson is the man as is Wake Forest who is 4-0 and just defeated the Orgeron easily in Oxford. Guess Schaeffer isn't really working out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Roundup

Before I get to the weekend in college football, the Dodgers picked up a must win game on Sunday against the Diamondbacks when Nomar hit a walk off Grand Slam, the second time in the past week that he has done so. Nomar is stepping up big when the Dodgers need it as the Phillies and Padres continue to keep winning games. The Dodgers now sit 1 1/2 games behind San Diego for the NL West, and 1/2 game behind Philadelphia for the Wild Card. With only 6 games left for the Dodgers and 7 for the Padres and Phillies, every single game matters. I read last week that the coinflips had been done and the Dodgers have home field if they have to play the Padres for the Division but they lost the flip to the Phillies for the wild card. So potentially if all 3 teams finish tied then the Dodgers and Padres would play in LA and the loser would immediately have to fly out to Philadelphia and play the Phillies the next day.

Now onto your favorite and mine college football. As expected Michigan came out a bit flat in a 27-13 win over Wisconsin. It didn't start well as Mario Manningham bobbled a ball that should have been caught and ended up being intercepted and then Wisconsin drove right down the field for the early 7-0 lead. Super Mario redeemed himself later as he ended with another 2 TD's to bring his total to 5 in two games.

The defense is just ridiculous as they have only allowed 74 rushing yards on the season and are the #1 Rush defense in the country. I haven't seen a Michigan defense play like this in a long time, the front four gets a lot of pressure and I love seeing it. Another positive is the play of Adrian Arrington who has stepped up and emerged as another dependable target for the offense. On the other hand there are some problems with the offense, namely dropped balls and the terrible 3rd down conversion percentage. As we get deeper into the season it must get better otherwise there will be some problems.

Notes on games from across the country that I watched:

Georgia looked awful as they struggled to barely beat Colorado 14-13 on a Joe Cox TD to Martez Milner with less than one minute to play. There could be a QB controversy brewing as Cox took over for heralded freshman Matthew Stafford in the second half and led the Bulldogs to the victory. Colorado had a couple chances to finish off the game but failed to with a fumble at midfield in the 4th quarter as well as a dropped 3rd down converstion, but it was a much better effort than expected from the Buffaloes and it looks like they will give some teams some problems this year.

Cal looked dominant in their 49-21 victory over Arizona State. These are the types of performances that were expected coming into the season as the Bears try to challenge USC for the Pac-10 title. If they keep this play up it will be one hell of a game in LA on Nov 18th. DeSean Jackson made big plays, including an 80 yard PR for a TD en route to a 42-14 halftime lead.

Penn State hung around for a while before Ohio State pulled away for a 28-6 victory that was not nearly as bad as it looked as the Buckeyes returned two INT's for TD's in the last 3 minutes. Many wrote Penn State off after the thrashing they took at the hands of Notre Dame but the Nittany Lions showed that they are not to be taken lightly the rest of the way, that October 14th night game in Happy Valley has me concerned.

USC also struggled in the first half but pulled away from Arizona to get a 20-3 win in Tucson. I was surprised at how well the Arizona D played in the first half and the D kept them in it into the second half as well but the Wildcat O shot themselves in the foot too many times and you cannot do that against a team as good as the Trojans. The bad news for USC is the shoulder injury to Dwyane Jarrett which will sideline him for 2-4 weeks as only Arizona State would be considered a mild threat in the next 5 weeks. If it lingers on longer though it could hurt them as the schedule closes with Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame and UCLA.

Michigan State blew a game only the Spartans could in allowing 19 points in the 4th quarter and losing to Notre Dame. I could've sworn that I heard the announcers say that Drew Stanton's completion with 1:33 left in the 4th quarter was his first of the entire second half. As if John L Smith's seat wasn't getting warmer I think this one could cost him his job. We shall see how the team responds in two weeks with back to back games against Michigan and Ohio State.

Just as I thought UCLA was showing that they belonged in the top 25 and would make a decent run in the Pac-10 they go to Washington, win the turnover battle and lose for the first time in Karl Dorrell's tenure. The Bruins had many chances to put the game away but instead of getting TD's necessary they ended up with FG's and the Huskies came back to pick up a 29-19 victory. Washington, who was considered at the bottom tier of the Pac-10 coming into the season, now have victories over Fresno State and UCLA, two respectable opponents as well as hanging around against Oklahoma a couple weeks ago. The Huskies could make some noise in the Pac-10.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Picks of the Week

After another sub .500 week at 2-3 which brings the season total this year to 9-6 hopefully I can get back on track with these picks for the week starting with tonight's game.

Nevada -7 vs. Northwestern - The Wolfpack look to start a winning streak coming off of a 28-10 victory of Colorado State last week. In the season opener Nevada played Fresno State tough until the end falling by 9. Jeff Rowe is ready to lead the pistol offense against the Wildcats of Northwestern who are coming off terrible performances the last two weeks, falling 34-17 to I-AA New Hampshire followed by a 14-6 victory over Eastern Michigan. Nevada only allowed 64 yards rushing last week and will need to continue their good run D as Tyrell Sutton leads the charge for Northwestern. I don't believe Northwestern can stop the pistol O and I think Nevada will do a decent job of containing Sutton to pick up a big W at home.

Minnesota -2.5 @ Purdue - the Gophers rebounded from a loss on the West Coast to Cal by pummeling Temple last week 62-0. Alex Daniels and Amir Pinnix have done a good job making up for the loss of Gary Russell so far and they should continue to run effectively as they head to West Lafayette this week. Purdue is 3-0 on the season but the wins have been nothing to write home about as the only blowout win was against Indiana State. The other two opponents for the Boilermakers, Miami (OH) and Ball State, have played them close and I think the Golden Gophers will prove that a real team not from a mid-major conference will be too tough for them to handle.

Washington State -10 @ Stanford - The Cardinal opened up their season getting demolished by the Ducks up in Eugene and followed that up by blowing a 20 point lead and falling to San Jose State. Then last week in their home opener they laid an egg by letting Navy come in and beat them 37-9. I think that is explanation enough why I believe Washington State should be able to cover this weekend in Palo Alto. Sure the Cougars barely got by Baylor last week but the way Stanford is playing this year I'd probably bet on a high school team over them.

UCLA -3 @ Washington - I'll continue with another Pac-10 pick as I expect the Bruins of UCLA to head into Seattle and pick up the victory over the Huskies. Washington had a surprising, at least in my eyes, victory over Fresno State after they almost lost to San Jose State, but some may have seen it coming as the Huskies played with Oklahoma for a half in Norman. UCLA started the year with an impressive victory over Utah before sleepwalking through a win against Rice. With Ben Olson at the helm and a much improved defense I believe the Bruins will get the big road W to start off their Pac-10 campaign.

UTEP -9.5 @ New Mexico - The Miners look to get back on the winning track after their last game two weeks ago which was a disappointing OT loss to the Red Raiders of Texas Tech. They face a New Mexico team that is 1-2 on the year including a 17-6 loss to Portland State. The Lobos only win is over one of the few teams that are worse than them their instate rivals New Mexico State. Mike Price will have his guys ready to go and Jordan Palmer should have a big day as the Miners roll.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Blogpoll Roundtable

1. Its only the third week of the season and we've already seen some highly ranked favorites drop out of national championship contention. Preseason favorite Cal dropped to #21 after a loss and a pair of underwhelming victories. Who's your pick as the next NC contender to take a fall?

My vote goes to the Florida Gators who just have a brutal stretch of schedule beginning in October as they face LSU then travel to Auburn and then in Jacksonville at the World's Largest Cocktail Party against Georgia. The other vote, as much as it pains me to write it, would go to Michigan as historically we are known for dropping a game that we should not and the schedule isn't too kind for the next five weeks starting this week with Wisconsin, @ Minnesota, Michigan State, @ Penn State and closing against Iowa before there is a drop in the level of competition.

2. By that same token there are several schools hanging around without a loss that all of a sudden look like surprise contenders. There are also a few one loss teams with a legit shot at getting back into it. Looking at the rankings who's the team no one's talking about with the best shot at crashing the party ?

Two teams come to mind here which are Virginia Tech and TCU. The Hokies are now one of the favorites in the not so tough ACC and it is definitely possible for them to run the table considering they get Clemson at home and the game at Miami doesn't look as difficult as it did before the season started.

The Horned Frogs took care of business against their big name opponent in Texas Tech and with only the Mountain West schedule and a trip to Army it doesn't look like there's much in the way from TCU to make it through the schedule unbeaten.

3. Every team has their quicksand away game. You know. That place you should win but somehow find ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory or at least scare the &*%^ out of you every year. Did you know that over the last 21 years Kentucky wasn't won once in Knoxville? Where is your team's yearly sandtrap?

As every Michigan fan will say this answer was Notre Dame until that test was passed with flying colors last week. Now there isn't a game that is a yearly sandtrap just games that we should win but could potentially lose whether they are home or away. You could argue that Penn State is due considering they haven't beaten Michigan in what seems like forever or Michigan State could get back at us for the past two years.

4. Now that you've looked into the darkest place in your football soul, free Escalades aside, turn and look into your crystal ball. Conference play is either just starting or a single game in. Based on what you've seen so far, give the order of finish in your conference, and if you've got a Conference Championship game tell us who the winner will be. Independents must predict the remainder of their schedule. The results your predictions will be held against you at the end of the season.

Big Ten Conference

T-1. Michigan
T-1. Ohio State
3. Iowa
4. Michigan State
5. Penn State
6. Minnesota
7. Wisconsin
8. Purdue
9. Indiana
10. Illinois
11. Northwestern

5. In keeping with the spirit of Maize n Brew, name your beverage of choice on game days and why. It need not be alcoholic, as there are some of us who choose not to imbibe on game day. Further, it need not be limited to a single brand/type/category. If you enjoy drinking PBR and Kraft Turkey Gravy at the same time (which I have personally witnessed), please, elaborate. Finally, if you should feel so inclined, and this is not a requirement, add an anecdote involving said beverage choice.

No beverage of choice really it's either water or Diet Coke as I've never been superstitious about what I drink as opposed to my superstition when I was in school that I couldn't eat until after the game. The only thing is that it is not alcohol. I was never one to drink before games because I wanted to be able to remember everything about the game and besides I was afraid of the need to go to the bathroom a million times during the game if I drank alcohol. That and the fact that the only time I had ever drank before a game was the 2002 game at Notre Dame and we all know how that one turned out so I vowed to never do it again.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Week 4 Top 25

1. Ohio State
2. Auburn
3. USC
4. West Virginia
5. Michigan
6. Florida
7. LSU
8. Texas
9. Georgia
10. Oregon
11. Louisville
12. Virginia Tech
13. TCU
14. Notre Dame
15. Iowa
16. Tennessee
17. California
18. Rutgers
19. Boston College
20. Clemson
21. Oklahoma
22. Arizona State
23. UCLA
24. Boise State
25. Florida State

I almost kept Auburn as my number one a couple weeks ago and wanted to move them up but I just couldn't considering I wasn't able to watch any games aside from the one I attended this past week and condensed Tivo versions of Oregon-Oklahoma and Florida-Tennessee. Regardless I still think Ohio State, Auburn and USC are a cut above the rest and we'll have to see how it plays out.

High risers include Michigan (what more is there to say) and TCU (holding Texas Tech to just a FG is crazy). The free fallers include Notre Dame (PWNED!) and Florida State (don't I look like an idiot for what I posted a few weeks back).

Out of the top 25 are Nebraska, Texas Tech and Miami, their places taken over by Clemson, UCLA and Boise State.

Not as much to look forward to this week as last week was just overload on great matchups I'll be interested in watching Michigan State against Notre Dame and Penn State at Ohio State. There's also a great matchup out west as Arizona State travels to California for an early elimination game for who will challenge USC for the Pac-10.

Coming off a big win as Michigan did last week there is always concern over letdown but I don't believe that will happen with this team as many Wisconsin fans are hoping. A. we lost to them last year and B. last year sucked and the team is not going to let that happen again. Therefore it shouldn't occur, especially considering that the next two opponents Wisconsin and Minnesota are teams that we lost to last year. Tomorrow I'll answer the latest Blogpoll roundtable from Maize N Brew.

Monday, September 18, 2006


What more is there to say about Saturday? It was enjoyed by the Maize and Blue faithful all across the country and the world but I was fortunate enough to actually be in the stands, with great seats as well, and enjoy all the action live. Got to Notre Dame at a decent time around 9:30 or so and did the usual tailgate and then headed out early to the Stadium so I could actually look around the campus unlike 4 years ago since I don't know when/if I'll ever make it out there again for a game.

Got to my seats and it finally started to sink in that I actually at the game and I started getting butterflies until the game started. Since we were there early I got to see all the warmups including everyone's favorite Romanian Overlord Zoltan Mesko. Zoltan was just killin his punts in warmups it was the first time I had seen him warming up and I have to say it was impressive. Once he gets more consistent watch out, we will have a real weapon on our hands.

After what seemed like forever the team emerged as the game was ready to get underway.

In the middle of the first half Chris Perry made an apperance into our section.

I didn't take too many action shots because I was too into the game but I had a feeling about this play so I got my camera ready but was a little late to the shot, still here's the team celebrating in the corner after Mario's 3rd TD of the day.

The team comes out and ready to go for the 2nd half.

The next two shots are the 1st and 2nd down after Prescott Burgess' 2nd INT of the game.

One of the few problems I had was with the playcalling on that drive, you can see in the 2nd picture Arrington is one on one on the outside and had a good shot at it but the angle was tough for him, I wanted to see the coaches go back to the same play to give Arrington another shot because ND was bringing everyone else in the box to stop the run.

Here's a great shot of the band playing the Victors directly in front of us.

As time expired and the team started heading towards our corner.

And now the celebration begins.

Warning the following videos may make you dizzy as I'm shooting them with my digital camera while I'm trying to celebrate as well.

The Victors with the team:

It's Great to Be A Michigan Wolverine:

It was an unreal feeling walking out of that stadium with a win like that and here's the Band as they celebrate while marching towards Touchdown Jesus.

I think that sums it all up my day at South Bend. I am extremely proud of the way our team came out and played and especially for the coaches who have been under a lot of heat. Another great moment that I wish I was able to record was when Mario Manningham caught his last ball of the day the band then immediately broke into the music from Super Mario Bros. I wasn't able to watch a copy of the game so I can't say much else, I'll just let it soak in and enjoy it for a few days as we head into the Big Ten schedule. Wait, there is one last picture that can sum it all up, the end result:

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Back from South Bend

and it feels so good. My friend gave the perfect metaphore for football roadtrips, he said they're like golf, sometimes you play so bad you never want to play again but then the next time out you play a perfect round so you always end up going back. People think I'm nuts taking the red-eye from LA and then driving for another few hours but games like this make it all worthwhile. I'll have a game/trip recap up later with photos and video, it was everything I could have asked for and more.

Friday, September 15, 2006

The day cannot end fast enough

It always happens the week of a big game, time just seems to drag forever and it seems like Saturday will never come. Since I'm on the west coast my updates always come later so for those that are still sitting in their offices like I am there's plenty of reading to go around regarding the game. I've kept myself under control for most of this week but I'm starting to get revved up like any other Michigan fan for this game.

Things I expect, hopefully, to see tomorrow include Mike Hart having a big day, and setting the tone from the get go. Notre Dame has never faced a healthy Mike Hart and we know he is ready to go for this one. More varied passing attack, not just the screens we've been running I mean more of the waggle, plays that go over the middle and plays that go vertical to prevent ND from committing too many into the box. Of course, I also want to see a big W to show that Michigan is not going slip anywhere like other big time programs have had when they had a bad stretch of years like Notre Dame, USC, Penn State, Oklahoma, Alabama, etc.

That's all I've got because I have way too many things running through my mind at this point there's great stuff about the upcoming game all over if you haven't read from RBUAS, Maize N Brew and of course MGoBlog. In a few short hours I will be on that red-eye towards Detroit and my journey towards South Bend begins, there's been a lot of talk about this game but it's time to see it actually happen on the field. Michigan hasn't won a road opener in a long time and to add to that is the streak of losses in South Bend, I believe this is the year it ends, I believe this is the team that can do it. Let's Go Blue! Beat the Irish!

Picks of the Week

Well last week wasn't so kind as luckily I had a break even weekend due to my extra ML bet on San Jose State as well as one of my new favorite coaches Mike Bellotti going for the fake FG to cover the spread against Fresno State. Last weeks losing 2-3 record brings the year total to 7-3 and here we go with this weeks installment.

Oregon -5 vs. Oklahoma - I did just say Bellotti is one of my favorite coaches right? Aside from that I don't see how the Sooners can pull this off in Autzen, one of the loudest places to play in the country. We all remember how loud it was when Michigan was out there a couple years ago and it will probably be even louder considering Duck fans will want revenge for last years loss in the Holiday Bowl. Oklahoma let Washington hang around in Norman for a while last week and that does not bode well for them as Oregon is a much better team and will be playing at home. The nation will know who Dennis Dixon and Johnathan Stewart are after this one.

Fresno State -3.5 @ Washington - the Bulldogs almost pulled off the upset last week against Oregon at home and they will be hungry to get another win over a Pac-10 opponent. Pat Hill always has his teams ready to play and Saturday should be no exception. The Washington Huskies made a game of it for one half against Oklahoma last week but ran out of gas in the second half. The week before they struggled to put away San Jose State and Fresno State is much better than that, the Bulldogs will take a big bite out of the Huskies.

Arizona State -11 @ Colorado - The Sun Devils did not look impressive in their season opener against the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona so I didn't expect them to blow out Nevada which was one of my picks last week, well I was dead wrong on that one as the Sun Devils are starting to show more of the form that made them Pac-10 contenders and that will continue this week as they take on the dreadful Colorado Buffaloes who are now 0-2 after losing to their in-state rival Colorado State last week. I expect Rudy Carpenter to put up some monster numbers.

Pittsburgh -2.5 vs. Michigan State - Michigan State has not looked good at all in their first two games as they only beat Idaho by 10 and then last week allowed lowly Eastern Michigan to stay in the game well into the 3rd quarter. That does not bode well for the Spartans as the Pitt Panthers look like they are back on track and Tyler Palko should be able to pick apart the Sparty secondary, I like Pitt to roll at home.

USC -17.5 vs. Nebraska - the Cornhuskers have looked impressive to start the season but they played a couple of cupcakes while USC is coming off a bye after an impressive season opener at Arkansas. Yes this is a big line but I think it's still good for the Trojans, especially with all the trash talking Nebraska is doing including at least one player guaranteeing victory I believe USC will just march up and down the field in their home opener. USC is hungry to prove that they're still a threat in the NC hunt even after losing all the talent they did to the NFL, the Trojans will send the Cornhuskers back to Nebraska with a big L.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

And now the real season begins

The warmups are out of the way and now it's time for the first big game of the year. Michigan comes into Saturday's matchup at #2 Notre Dame as the underdog and with most of the national media picking against us, and I wouldn't want it any other way. You can watch film of the first two games for both teams, you can analyze their opponents and you can debate strengths and weaknesses of both teams but none of that will matter come Saturday. This is one of the best rivalries in college football and I hate to use a cliche but you truly can throw the records out when Michigan meets Notre Dame.

Most of the media is all over Notre Dame and their return to glory for the 80th time so not many people are giving Michigan a chance and that is when we play our best. I know this team can prove all the doubters wrong and get the job done in South Bend. I've been trying to keep it low key this week so I don't get too worked up too early which I have had problems in the past for big games but now it's starting to creep up on me. I haven't written up a preview of the game because I didn't want to get too crazy too early but now it's starting to hit me that tomorrow night I will take that red eye from LAX to DTW where my ride will be waiting for me to hop in and head down to South Bend.

There's not much else to say, there has been plenty written about and I've read every possible preview. It's time for Michigan to show the nation that we have not fallen off anywhere, that we are still Michigan and still a force to be reckoned with. I believe in this team and I know they can do it. Let's Go Blue! Beat Notre Dame!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

10 years already?

This post has nothing to do with Michigan football even though it is Notre Dame week. Instead I wanted to discuss the 10 year anniversary of Tupac Shakur's death. I couldn't believe when I heard on the radio that it was already 10 years since he had been killed. I still remember I was in my living room watching TV when MTV announced that he had finally died after struggling throughout the week after being shot in a drive-by.

I had grown up somewhat sheltered as my mom would not allow me to watch MTV growing up so up until about late junior high, early high school I had never been allowed to listen to other music except classical. Then when this MTV ban was lifted I remember watching one day and seeing the video for "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" and I was hooked. I can't really pinpoint exactly what it was, maybe it was because I was told not to listen to that type of music, maybe it was because it nothing like a kid from the suburbs had ever seen before but that instant I became a Tupac fan. I went out and bought All Eyez on Me and I never turned back. I think I either purchased or downloaded every possible Tupac album there is and to this day he is still one of my favorite artists of all time.

There was a lot more to Tupac than the violent portrayal of him but not many know that. During college whenever I was able to write papers on my own topic I ended up doing them on Michigan sports or on Tupac. There were many sides to him that most do not realize exist. Unfortunately the side that made him most popular is the side that ended up getting him killed. Times like these make me start to think I'm getting old, but I say that all the time since I am moving along in the real world and my youth is kept in check for Saturdays when I can scream and shout at a bad call by a referree or when I can sing the Victors after a touchdown. Tupac was right when he said he would have an influence on people across the country, I know because I am one and I know I'm not alone.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Week 3 Top 25

1. Ohio State
2. Auburn
3. USC
4. LSU
5. Notre Dame
6. West Virginia
7. Florida
8. Texas
9. Georgia
10. Michigan
11. Oregon
12. Florida State
13. Louisville
14. Tennessee
15. California
16. Virginia Tech
17. Rutgers
18. Iowa
19. TCU
20. Oklahoma
21. Nebraska
22. Texas Tech
23. Miami
24. Boston College
25. Arizona State

Thought long and hard about keeping Auburn at #1 but Ohio State was too impressive not to move up. Almost moved LSU ahead of USC but I bet USC will dismantle Arizona just as easily.

Florida State moves out of the top 10 after their pathetic performance against Troy while UCLA falls out of the top 25 for that pathetic performance against Rice.

New entries into the top 25 include Virginia Tech, Rutgers, TCU, Boston College and Arizona State.

LSU looks ridiculous right now, I can't wait to watch the LSU-Auburn game, although it will be on my Tivo 2 days after it happens, I'm expecting a great one there. This saturday is just going to be ridiculous. My Tivo will be on overdrive as I try to record as many games as possible while I'll be in South Bend for the game.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Picks of the Week

Now for the everyone's favorite Picks of the Week for Week 2. It's definitely a favorite when you go 5-0 like I did last week, I guess there is a first time for everything. Let's hope I can keep it up.

Iowa -19 @ Syracuse - pretty much this one boils down to Iowa is really good and Syracuse stinks. The Hawkeyes will be in contention for the Big Ten while the Orange will be fighting to not be last in the Big East, expect Iowa to roll easily.

San Jose State +9.5 vs. Stanford - The Spartans of San Jose State put a scare into the Washington Huskies last week in Seattle and I expect them to do the same this week at home versus Stanford. The Cardinal on the otherhand were smoked up in Eugene by the Ducks. Stanford is not a very good team right now and part of me even thinks SJSU can pick up the win but to be safe I'll take the 9.5 points. I may put some money on the SJSU ML which currently stands at +330.

Nevada +14.5 @ Arizona State - Nevada put up a fight at Fresno State last week and I believe they will continue that as they take on Arizona State. The Sun Devils were pushed to the 4th quarter by Northern Arizona and Nevada is a much better team than the Lumberjacks. I like Nevada to cover, possibly even win if they catch a few breaks as that pistol offense is a different look that not many teams are used to preparing for.

Clemson -2.5 @ Boston College - the Tigers, favorites in the ACC according to some, take on a BC team that struggled to beat Central Michigan last week. I expect James Davis and C.J. Spiller to carry the load for Clemson and for the Tigers to pick up the W at BC.

Oregon -3.5 @ Fresno State - the Ducks were impressive in their 48-10 victory last week, although it was against Stanford while the Bulldogs almost let the Wolfpack of Nevada come back and win last week. I can't really explain it but I think Oregon gets it done.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Blogpoll Roundtable #2

This week's Roundtable is brought to you by The Ciskie Blog:

1. What team best met your overall expectations of them in their opener?

According to my expectations, that team would have to be the Florida State Seminoles. I had them at #6 in my preseason poll because I felt they would have an outside chance of getting to Glendale, AZ but they were still a notch below the top 5. That's exactly what their game against the Miami Hurricanes showed me. The defense is sick while their offense is what you expect from a Jeff Bowden coached offense. Buster Davis and co. will keep the Seminoles in every single game and give them a chance to win and their playmakers on offense Lorenzo Booker and Greg Carr will make some plays that will get them some W's as well. They have an NC caliber defense, just not sure of the offense.

2. What team jumped off the map and surprised you the most? (Bonus points to anyone who can make an argument for someone besides Tennessee.)

I'm going to go with the UCLA Bruins here as I thought they would struggle with Utah but still pull out the win. Instead Ben Olson came out on fire in his debut as a Bruin and the defense held Utah to 10 points and more impressively 0 for 11 on 3rd downs. UCLA caught a lot of breaks last season to finish with 10 wins and with the losses of Maurice Drew, Marcedes Lewis on offense and Spencer Havner and Justin London on the D I thought the Bruins would be a borderline top-25 team throughout the year going in and out of the polls, however with performances like last week this could be a darkhorse to win the Pac-10, although it will be tough having to travel to Oregon and California as well as that team from across town.

3. What team best moved themselves into a position to surprisingly contend for a national title?

I've already mentioned Florida State earlier but I believe that they have a great shot of running the table as their schedule sets up very nicely now that they have defeated Miami. In two weeks there is the Bowden Bowl but after that there is not much on the schedule to challenge them until the final game of the year against Florida.

In addition, I may be overreacting to one game over a bad opponent but Oregon could be in the running as well. They travel to Fresno State this weekend but after watching part of the Bulldogs game against Nevada I don't think this team is as good as the one last year. Also Oklahoma struggled to get by last week as well so minus the trip to Los Angeles against the Trojans I don't see any other team beating Oregon, maybe Cal if they find a QB and if Jeff Tedford would give Marshawn Lynch more than 12 carries.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Week 2 Top 25

1. Auburn
2. Texas
3. USC
4. Ohio State
5. LSU
6. Florida State
7. West Virginia
8. Notre Dame
9. Florida
10. Michigan
11. Tennessee
12. Oregon
13. Louisville
14. Iowa
15. Georgia
16. California
17. Penn State
18. UCLA
19. Clemson
20. Oklahoma
21. South Carolina
22. Texas Tech
23. Miami
24. Nebraska
25. Fresno State

My top two stay the same but plenty of other movement elsewhere as strong performances push USC and Ohio State up to 3 and 4 respectively. Tennessee on the strength of their big win over the Golden Bears of Berkeley move up to 11. Yes it was a good win but I don't think it was big enough to move them up to top 5-10 status, much less #1. Correct me if I'm wrong, I was getting drunk during the game but I think both Meachem TD's could have easily been stopped after the catch but Cal got desperate and tried to make a big play instead of just making the tackle. Maybe it's just my west coast bias trying to cling to the hope that Cal can still beat USC this season.

Since I was gone the entire weekend in a drunken stupor probably not the best weekend to give analysis for a new top 25, most of this is going off of Sportscenter. But this Saturday I will be home watching every last game on Gameplan so hopefully I can form some more solid opinions after watching most teams play.

Games watched this week in its entirety: Michigan-Vanderbilt
Games watched partial : USC-Arkansas, California-Tennessee, Notre Dame - Georgia Tech, BYU-Arizona.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Back from Ann Arbor

and still recovering from the weekend as well as catching up on all the work left on my desk since I took off early last week. Will have an update maybe tonight, most likely tomorrow.