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Westsider Rider

Friday, September 28, 2007

Picks of the Week

Great week last week sweeping the slate going 5-0 and bringing the season to 15-5, I've got a lot of games I like this week so let's hope we can keep it rolling:

Alabama +1.5 vs. Florida State (Neutral Site) - The Crimson Tide should be fired up coming off the home OT loss to Georgia. Florida State has not shown much this year, losing to Clemson and ugly wins against UAB and Colorado. The Seminoles offense has not shown the improvement many expected with Jimbo Fisher heading there and I don't think it will change this week. The Tide will roll.

Oklahoma at Colorado - Over 55.5 - The Sooners have been putting up points like crazy and that will continue in Boulder.

California +7 (buying 0.5 points) @ Oregon - Cal is too good to be a TD underdog even at Oregon. The Ducks have put up points in bunches but I still believe they are a bit overrated. Cal knows the Ducks very well, especially with Tedford being the former OC under Bellotti. I think Cal will win outright which is worth the bet at +200, but 7 points is too much to pass up.

Texas -13.5 (buying 1 point) vs. Kansas State - The Wildcats upset the Longhorns last year and I think they will be out for revenge. That combined with the fact that Texas started to put up some points last week, albeit against Rice, I believe the Horns will be ready to make a statement before they head to the Red River Shootout next week.

Purdue -20.5 (buying 1.5 points) vs. Notre Dame - One of the rules of this year so far is bet on whoever is playing Notre Dame and we will continue that trend this week. Just to play it on the safe side I'm buying 1.5 points but the Boilermakers should win in a rout. Purdue has been scoring over 47 points per game and there is no way the Irish O can put up even half of that.

Cincinnati -13.5 (buying 1 point) at San Diego State - Another trend of the year has been to ride the Cincinnati Bearcats who are rolling with another blowout victory last week. This week they travel to face the Aztecs who have had a tough going this year. The Bearcats are starting to get national recognition and it will continue with the win this week.

Clemson -2.5 (buying 0.5 points) at Georgia Tech - After what was thought to be an impressive season opening win at Notre Dame, the Yellow Jackets have floundered and been very disappointing. The Davis/Spiller combo will be too much for them to handle as the Tigers pound the ground game to a victory.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Week 5 Top 25

1. LSU
2. USC
3. Oklahoma
4. West Virginia
5. Florida
6. California
7. Texas
8. Ohio State
9. Wisconsin
10. Oregon
11. Rutgers
12. Kentucky
13. Boston College
14. Clemson
15. South Carolina
16. Georgia
17. South Florida
18. Virginia Tech
19. Penn State
20. Alabama
21. Cincinnati
22. Purdue
23. Missouri
24. Michigan State
25. Arizona State

The big gainer of the week is Kentucky after their impressive win at Fayetteville. While the two biggest losers are Penn State dropping 9 spots as well as Louisville who is now completely out of the top 25 after their pathetic performance against a previously winless Syracuse team. Other than that just a bit of shuffling teams around a few spots as well as Missouri and Arizona State joining the poll. It will be a big week as Florida takes on Auburn, who is reeling but still could be dangerous, Alabama taking on Florida State in Jacksonville and the marquee matchup of the weekend California traveling to Oregon which should determine who is in line to take their shot at USC.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

And we have some life

As great as it was to get the first win, we knew that it didn't mean much considering how bad Notre Dame is. And now after opening the conference slate with a win over Penn State the season still has a lot of potential. Sure a lot of the confidence in this team is gone after the opening two weeks but they are showing signs of life, at least in the Big Ten race. With the majority of the other teams playing styles that match up well against our strengths I wouldn't be surprised to see this team still win a Big Ten title, then end up losing to whoever finishes 2nd in the Pac-10 whether it be USC, Cal or Oregon.

Sure there are things that are still frustrating watching this team, the offensive playcalling. But I did see some great things that most have already noted. Mallett has done a great job at times making plays such as the 3rd and 11 where he scrambled around and found Mathews for a 12 yard gain and first down on the last drive. Also gotta love his pocket presence standing in the face of the blitz and delivering the ball to Mathews that time in the red zone, I forgot exactly when it was. Props also have to go out to the defense only allowing 3 FG's especially after two of them were in the red zone. That said there is plenty of work to be done but the schedule seems to give us a break when we need it with Northwestern and Eastern Michigan the next two weeks, which should allow us to ease Henne back into the lineup. But I must say I am extremely proud of the fight this team has shown from getting up off the canvas. They will be a player in the Big Ten race and I'm ready to watch it unfold.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Picks of the Week

Last week was a barely winning week going 3-2, bringing the overall season to 10-5. Let's hope we can make this week better.

Michigan State -11 @ Notre Dame - We all saw how bad Notre Dame was last week and it won't get any better with the Spartans coming to South Bend. Yes, the Michigan State team that has won 5 in a row in South Bend, expect the streak to continue.

West Virginia -23.5 (buying a point) vs. East Carolina - The line is actually set at 24.5 but I'm buying a point and going with the Mountaineers. WVU has been rolling all season long and covering as well so I will continue to roll with them.

Cincinnati -24 vs. Marshall - The Bearcats are also on a roll as they have easily handled every team they have faced so far this year. Marshall on the other hand is winless and struggling to even compete in their games. Expect more of the same as Cincinnati should take this going away.

Purdue -13.5 @ Minnesota - The Golden Gophers have struggled all year long with losses to Bowling Green and Florida Atlantic with their one win being a squeaker over Miami (OH). They have allowed over 36 points per game in this stretch, while Purdue rolls in undefeated and averaging almost 50 points per game. Not a good combination for the Gophers as the Boilermakers should blow this team out.

Oregon -17 @ Stanford - The Ducks look like they are a force to be reckoned with in the Pac-10 this season and they get to open up the conference slate at a Stanford Cardinal team that is coming off their first win of the year against San Jose State. 3 weeks ago UCLA blew this team out 45-17, and I expect a similar score, if not more from the Ducks as they should keep their momentum going into next weeks big showdown vs. California.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Big Ten Roundtable

1. Time to break out the crystal ball. I want to know what happens at the END of the season. Give me your offensive and defensive Players of the Year in the Big Ten along with Coach of the Year and why.

Offensive POY: Mike Hart. Michigan will continue to give him plenty of carries as he will determine how far this team will go this season.
Defensive POY: Dan Connor. Overshadowed the past few years by Paul Posluzny, it's his time to shine this season
Coach of the Year: Mark Dantonio. He's done a great job in getting the Spartans to 3-0 and I don't think we'll see a John L. Smith type collapse this year

2. With the upsets, close games, and head scratchers so far, every game we thought was going to be important has changed. Michigan State is 3-0, for Pete's sake, and they look good doing it. Pick the three games on the Big Ten Schedule that will determine the Big Ten Champion. Bonus Points for not picking three games on your own schedule.

1. Wisconsin at Ohio State - the obvious choice as the top front runners for the Big Ten collide on November 3rd
2. Penn State vs. Ohio State
3. Penn State vs. Wisconsin

3. How many games, this season, have you been to? How many games have you tailgated at? If you have tailgated, name your beverage of choice. If you answered no to the previous questions, hang your head in shame, or at least give a good story about watching the game in enemy territory and giving the bouncer the finger when he asked you to quiet down.

So far I have been to three college football games this season, the first one was not a Big Ten contest as I was up in Berkeley for California-Tennessee. Drinking consisted of Miller Lite during the Michigan-Appalachian State game, then once I got to Berkeley I drank whatever my Cal friends gave me because I really needed it.

Second game was Michigan-Oregon, no tailgating because I had plenty to drink the night before. The third game was last week's Michigan-Notre Dame where due to our losing streak I switched it up and drank at a game I was attending which consisted of a Miller Lite and 3 Irish Car Bombs at the Brown Jug.

Bitter/Angry Bonus Question!

4. As the Big Ten Season kicks off, the Conference is in somewhat of a difficult position nationally. Needing some momentum after a horrid BCS performance, the Conference needed some momentum early in the season. It hasn't gotten it. The first three weeks have been abysmal. Is this just a down year for the Big Ten, is there a change Nationally that the Big Ten just hasn't picked up on, is there some truth to the "Big Ten Style of Play" that everyone harps on, or has college football simply caught up? What so you think and why? I may be beating a dead horse, but no one looks good this year and I'm at a loss as to why.

I think it's a combination of factors as partially it is a down year, the other part being the Big Ten Style of Play IMO. Watching plenty of Pac-1o games out here as well as SEC contests there is definitely a difference in the offense in the Pac-10 and defense in the SEC. The offenses in the Big Ten don't play nearly as fast as they do out west, and the defenses are not up to the level of those in the south right now. But it will adjust itself as every conference goes through these times, much like the Pac-10 was going through a few years ago.


Blogpoll Roundtable 3.2

1. Handicap your team's chances to win your conference championship. If your team is not the favorite who is?

After 3 weeks I'd say our chances of winning the conference championship lie around 35%. Just a rough estimate. I still think this team could pull it together and get it done considering we do play in the Big Ten where there are no other spread offenses the like of Oregon or even Appalachian State. I'd say the favorite right now is Wisconsin/Ohio State, I can't make up my mind. Both teams have not looked overly impressive but they are getting the job done.

2. Outline the (realistic) best case and worst case scenarios for your team.

Best Case: The team that we thought was showing up at the beginning of the season does show up we run the table and make it to the Rose Bowl, then get beat by whatever team in the Pac-10 that shows up with lots of speed and spread ability.

Worst Case: Only getting wins over Northwestern, Eastern Michigan and Minnesota while losing to everyone else leaving the team at 4-8 and making the Year of Infinite Pain of 2 years ago look like a great season.

3. We're only 3 games into the season but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare your team to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.

Even though MGoBlog has already said it I have to agree with him and say Humpty Dumpty.

4. Imagine you're coach of your team. Give three specific changes you'd implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving your team.

First, as Brian said in his response, stop making everything so damn predictable. We all know when a true freshman wide receiver enters the game it's going to be a run. We all know the first play of every game is run to the left side.

Second, as Dave from Maize N' Brew said, stop with the soft zone.

Finally I would get rid of Mike Gittleson and the outdated Strength and Conditioning coaching that our program currently uses. Our players seem to get slower once they get to Ann Arbor and we need to get with the times and get rid of the outdated H.I.T. technique that pretty much every other school in the country has stopped using.

5. USC, LSU/Florida, and Oklahoma have established themselves as frontrunners in the early going. Which other team or teams are you eyeballing as potential BCS party crashers?

Definitely have to throw in West Virginia as they have impressed. Also need to look at the winner of the California/Oregon contest next week as a possibility as well. I would also mention South Florida but their win over Auburn doesn't look nearly as good as it did a week ago.


Week 4 Top 25

Been busy with orientation starting for school so I'm a bit behind. I still have to get to both the Blogpoll and Big Ten Roundtable's as well as still put up the pictures from the three games I attended so far this season. But first here's this week's top 25.

1. LSU
2. USC
3. Oklahoma
4. West Virginia
5. Florida
6. California
7. Wisconsin
8. Ohio State
9. Texas
10. Penn State
11. Oregon
12. Boston College
13. Alabama
14. Rutgers
15. Louisville
16. South Carolina
17. Clemson
18. South Florida
19. Texas A&M
20. Virginia Tech
21. Kentucky
22. Hawaii
23. Purdue
24. Cincinnati
25. Michigan State

Not much changes up top. Yes USC was impressive in their win over Nebraska but that was expected, Texas drops a few spots for struggling again. Big movers include Oregon, Boston College and Alabama. The bottom part of the top 25 looks like it's basketball season with Kentucky, Cincinnati and Michigan State making their entrance.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Make or Break Time

The battle of winless teams is only hours away but I feel an unusual calmness about myself as we head into this game. Sure it could be partly because I feel as if the season is over but I just have this weird sense of confidence that we will get the job done today. I believe in Ryan Mallett being able to get the job done and most especially I believe that Mike Hart will not let this team lose today.

This team is at a crossroads today. If they do not get the job done today there's no telling how bad this season could be. I've told my friends I believe this team will implode if we lose today. Watching Hart start yelling at Adam Kraus and then shaking the coaches off in staying in the game we could see a major meltdown if we don't get the W today. But I believe in this team today and I don't think it will happen.

Sure we're upset at the way this season has started but there's still 10 more games to be played. Do I expect us to run the table? Absolutely not. But I do expect this team to play much better than we have the first two weeks and continue to improve and as long as that's the case we will have a chance to win every game we play and that's all that I ask for. The effort, which it seems we have been lacking for the past two weeks, needs to show up. People across the country are all ready to continue to hammer on us if we don't get the job done. We cannot let this happen. I have faith in this team to turn it around starting today. For everyone heading out to the Big House let's get behind this team and show them the support they need. Let's Go Blue! Beat the Irish!


Friday, September 14, 2007

Picks of the Week

Was in Chicago during the week so I didn't have much of a chance to update and also give one of my plays of the week which was West Virginia -16.5 against Maryland which covered but here are the other picks of the week. Last week was a losing one at 2-3 to bring the record to 7-3.

Vanderbilt -5.5 vs. Mississippi - Both teams are coming off losses but Ole Miss is still struggling to get it turned around under the Orgeron. The Commodores have homefield advantage and the great duo of Chris Nickson to Earl Bennett and that will be the deciding factor.

Louisville at Kentucky - Over 77 - People who have been following Louisville know their offensive prowess as seen by their 131 points in two games. Those that watched last week also know how bad their defense is as they gave up 42 points to MTSU. This game could go either way but I expect a lot of points to be put up in this in-state rivalry. Andre Woodson and the Wildcats are hungry for a win over the Cardinals and the offense will give them a great chance to do it.

Georgia Tech -6.5 vs. Boston College - After their big opening week win at Notre Dame, the Yellow Jackets rolled through Samford to set up this weeks ACC showdown against the Eagles in Atlanta. Tashard Choice should have another big game and the Jon Tenuta led D should give BC plenty of problems.

USC -9.5 @ Nebraska - The Cornhusker faithful have been waiting for this big time statement game to tell the nation that they are back. Unfortunately it won't happen this week against USC. Many people point to Sam Keller's prior experience against USC but you still must remember he lost a 18 point first half lead the last time he played them. Also with the USC coaching staff familiar with him they will be able to have the schemes ready to confuse him. Whenever USC is on upset alert they always come out with the big W. If you look at all their losses the past few years they are in conference games and to under the radar teams such as Oregon State last year. The Trojans should roll in this one.

Cincinnati -7 @ Miami (OH) - The Bearcats led by Brian Kelly have jumped out to a great start this season only allowing 6 total points along with the big 34-3 win over Oregon State last week. Cincinnati should keep rolling against a Miami (OH) team that struggled to beat Ball State.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Week 3 Top 25

1. LSU
2. USC
3. Oklahoma
4. West Virginia
5. Florida
6. California
7. Texas
8. Louisville
9. Wisconsin
10. Ohio State
11. UCLA
12. Georgia Tech
13. Penn State
14. Arkansas
15. South Carolina
16. Rutgers
17. Nebraska
18. Clemson
19. Hawaii
20. Virginia Tech
21. South Florida
22. Oregon
23. Texas A&M
24. South Florida
25. Boston College

A few changes two weeks into the season. LSU is my new #1, I was extremely impressed with their play against Virginia Tech. They were great on both sides of the ball and I expect it to continue this season. Also South Carolina makes their entry into the poll with the impressive win Between the Hedges at Georgia. South Florida is also in after their big win at Auburn. A lot of people are expecting the big 3 in the Big East to win the title but don't sleep on the Bulls.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Is this the beginning of our decline???

I brought this topic up with some of my friends after last week and it seems like I may be right. Is this the start of our decline? Every major football power in the past 20-30 years has gone through a bad stretch where they had losing seasons and missed bowl games, everyone except for Michigan. USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, and others have dealt with losing seasons. I'm sure none of the fans of the aforementioned teams saw their decline coming, much like no one could have ever imagined Michigan starting this season 0-2.

The coaching staff has been getting by with just enough. The Big Ten Championships and the Rose Bowl Berths have given the coaching staff a pass when it can be seen that Michigan has not been able to compete at the elite level the past few years. The coaching staff is too stubborn to make any changes into the modern era of football and we are seeing the problems that arise when that happens. Everybody knows the first play of any Michigan offense is run left, and when any true freshman receiver gets into the game it's a running play. Tendencies like this are easily picked up by any fan watching Michigan casually, you think opposing coaching staffs can't pick up on that while studying film for a living?

Changes must occur this offseason otherwise this will continue. This era of unlimited scholarships and huge talent gaps between teams is gone. No longer can the Michigan philosophy of line up and ram it down the opponents throat be implemented successfully. We have seen what happens when we try that against teams with the same or more talent than we have. As this season goes on there will be more and more talk about Coach Carr's successor and it is already heating up as there is talk all over the place about Les Miles due to his connections to Michigan. I'm sure more names will emerge, my choice is Jeff Tedford from Cal, there are also a lot of others that want Greg Schiano from Rutgers, or even some wanting coaches with NFL experience such as Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher which I find unrealistic but who knows. It will be an interesting week as Michigan faces Notre Dame with both teams 0-2 for the first time ever, and extremely desperate for a win. Mike Hart has guaranteed victory, let's hope this team can come through before it implodes.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Picks of the Week

So it looks like the College Football gods gave me a good week so I wouldn't give up completely on the sport, although I would've given it all up for the Michigan win. So I started the season with a bang going 5-0. So without further adieu, here's this week's picks.

West Virginia -24 @ Marshall - The Mountaineers rolled up the points on Western Michigan last week and I expect nothing less this week. This year's WVU squad could be like the 2005 Texas squad led by Vince Young that seemed to cover the spread and the over every single week.

California -14 @ Colorado State - The Golden Bears rolled on last week against the Vols and they should do the same to the Rams who lost a close one in OT to their instate rival Colorado last week.

TCU +9 @ Texas - the Horned Frogs come off the shutout win over Baylor while the Longhorns struggled with Arkansas State last week. This is a big game for TCU and I expect them to come out and give the Horns everything they got and possibly even win but I think the points are the way to go.

Hawaii -27.5 @ Louisiana Tech - Not many saw Colt Brennan put up 416 yards and 6 TD's in the first half and he will be able to continue to rack up the yards against the Bulldogs. Hawaii should roll them easily.

LSU -11.5 vs. Virginia Tech - The Bayou Bengals easily dismantled the Mississippi State Bulldogs last week and should be hyped up and ready to go for this big game on Saturday night primetime. The Hokies struggled to put away East Carolina last week and will have difficulties trying to put hold this high powered LSU offense.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Week 2 Top 25

1. USC
2. LSU
3. West Virginia
4. Oklahoma
5. Texas
6. Louisville
7. California
8. Wisconsin
9. Florida
10. Ohio State
11. Georgia
12. Virginia Tech
13. Arkansas
14. Auburn
15. UCLA
16. Georgia Tech
17. Texas A&M
18. Hawaii
19. Penn State
20. Clemson
21. Rutgers
22. TCU
23. Nebraska
24. Boise State
25. Tennessee

So there we go after one week of play and of course Michigan belongs nowhere near that list after last weeks play. I was very impressed with California and expect them to do big things this year in the Pac-10. I have always been a proponent of Jeff Tedford for next Michigan Head Coach and that has not changed. Also have to give a shout to Colt Brennan and his huge first half that he put up last Saturday. He'll need to continue to do that if he wants any shot at the Heisman. Two new entries are Georgia Tech coming off the impressive win over Notre Dame in South Bend and Clemson. This week will tell us a lot as there are a number of big time matchups with Virginia Tech traveling to LSU, Miami at Oklahoma and TCU at Texas.

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What more is there to say

It's been very difficult dealing with the debacle that was last Saturday. I haven't read, watched, listened to much about the game but two points I wanted to make about it. First is the unnecessary use of the 2 point conversion. In the 3rd quarter it was way too early for the coaching staff to go for 2. Was the coaching staff really concerned that we wouldn't score again and would need a FG to potentially tie the game? Replace the two missed two point conversions with two extra points and its a tie game going into overtime. The other point is on Crable's blocking on last FG block. Rule number one of PAT/FG blocking is always take the inside man. Granted I only saw the replay two times because I couldn't stomach it anymore but from what I saw it was the man inside of Crable that got to the ball untouched.

It was very tough getting from San Francisco to Berkeley after the game to watch Cal-Tennessee. Everywhere we went it was tough to stomach the smack talk coming from all the fans. At least the Cal fans were very classy but the Tennessee fans we encountered were what was expected from them and I'll leave it at that. It was probably the best thing for me to go to that game as it made me completely forget about the debacle. I've got some pictures that I'll put up later including some of the PR TD that DeSean Jackson had. Speaking of which, it reminded me of something Steve Breaston would do as we have seen Breaston make many jukes like that in his day, he just wouldn't be able to take it to the house. The difference is that Jackson has ridiculous breakaway speed that Breaston didn't.

And now I am in Ann Arbor for the next 10 days to watch the Oregon and Notre Dame games. This whole season was supposed to be something special but that has been taken from us 1 week into the year. Typically during my trips from Los Angeles to Detroit I get hyped up and there's a lot of excitement as I know I'm heading to the Big House but that was missing during my flight today. Don't get me wrong I will be in the Stadium these next two weeks screaming my head off and supporting my team but it's like the wind has been taken out of my sails for now. I'm ready for the second wind to kick in on Saturday morning. The optimist in me still wants to believe we can run the rest of the table and make the Rose Bowl, then the realist in me which witnessed last Saturday knows that if Appalachian State was able to tear up our D like that Oregon is definitely capable. I just hope this Michigan team comes out and plays like I know it's capable of and that's all I can ask for.

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