Sunday, May 22, 2011

Moving Day

Unfortunately running the UM Gameday blog by myself became too much of a time consumer and I was unable to get the blog off the ground. I'd like to thank everyone that came to the site. While I am done writing on this blog and on Michigan Football, I am not done writing. I'm moving on to a more limited role at an all-around sports blog called SBC Chicago Now. The site is centered around Chicago sports, but will cover all the four major sports plus college at a local and national level. I will be the Blackhawks and NHL writer for the site.

Once again thanks for coming to the site and I hope you all will follow me to the new site!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Week 1 Big Ten Saturday Preview

Obviously big news broke yesterday with all the divisions and stuff associated with that. I'll have all my thoughts on the matter on Tuesday in my College Football Ramblings post. Until then here is your Week 1 Big Ten Saturday Preview (with special Thursday games this week!) You won't find Michigan vs UConn in this post. That preview will come tomorrow in its own post.

Thursday, September 2nd
Towson at Indiana (7:30, BTN)
Even for Indiana 1-AA Towson is a cupcake. Towson is a team that Northwestern beat 47-7 last year. There's no analysis needed for this game.
The pick: Indiana

Marshall at #2 Ohio State (7:30, BTN)
Another cupcakes comes to town to take on a Big Ten opponent. The Bucks will roll over this team.
The pick: Ohio State

Minnesota at Middle Tennessee State (7:30, ESPNU)
My main question is why in the world Minnesota agreed to go on the road to Middle Tennessee State when they could easily find a 1-AA school to beat up at home.
The Pick: Minnesota

Saturday, September 4th
Western Michigan at Michigan State (Noon, ESPN2)
While some may remember Michigan State losing at home to Central Michigan last year, that was a fluke miracle-type win for the Chippewas. In addition, the Broncos don't nearly have the firepower that Central had. This game is no contest.
The pick: Michigan State

Youngstown State at #19 Penn State (Noon, BTN)
The Nittany Lions welcome in Ohio State's baby brother for a butt whooping.
The pick: Penn State

Eastern Illinois at #9 Iowa (12:05, BTN)
Don't sleep on this one. If you remember correctly, the Hawkeyes needed two blocked field goals to hold on 22-21 against Northern Iowa in their opener last year. They also beat 1-AA Arkansas State just 24-21. Eastern Illinois could keep this one close.
The pick: Iowa

Illinois at Missouri* (12:30)
Missouri has crunched Illinois every time they've played, including a 37-9 beatdown the year after the Illini went to the Rose Bowl. This year will be no different.
The pick: Missouri
*Game in St. Louis, MO

Purdue at Notre Dame (3:30, NBC)
Purdue lost a heart breaker at home last year 24-21 against Notre Dame. They will have revenge on their mind Saturday. But in a hostile environment against a talented team it won't be enough.
The pick: Notre Dame

Northwestern at Vanderbilt (7:30,
This is definitely the most intriguing match-up this weekend aside from the Michigan game. While Vanderbilt is not very good, the 'Cats have been known to stumble on the road (see: NU at Indiana, last year). Are these the same Wildcats of old? No.
The pick: Northwestern

#12 Wisconsin at UNLV (11:00, Versus)
This is a trap game for Wisconsin who is going to have to go full-effort to win this one comfortably. Expect UNLV to contend into the second half.
The pick: Wisconsin

My 2010 Big Ten Saturday Preview record: 0-0
Last week: 0-0

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Week 1 Big Ten Power Rankings and National Top 10

Here's my preseason Big Ten Power Rankings. Normally I'd have the previous week's ranking in parenthesis next to the teams but since this is the first week that will begin in Week 2's edition of the Big Ten Power Rankings. Without further ado off we go!

1. Ohio State Buckeyes
The Bucks return fifteen starters from a team that won the Rose Bowl 26-18 over Oregon last year. The Buckeyes figure to be even more dangerous this year as quarterback Terrell Pryor finally found his groove against the Ducks last year. Watch out Big Ten because the Buckeyes are going to be monsters this year.
2. Iowa Hawkeyes
The Hawkeyes return the majority of a team that was ranked fourth in the country at one point last season and won the Orange Bowl. Iowa's defense will shut down opponents this year but the key will be if quarterback Ricky Stanzi can stay healthy and show up earlier than the fourth quarter, which he struggled to do last year.
3. Wisconsin
The Badgers return the most talent out of any of the top three teams as seventeen starters are back. Running back John Clay is a Heisman dark horse and quarterback Scott Tolzien should be better than ever. The defense is also great so the Badgers should be a force to reckon with this season and contend for a Rose Bowl appearance.
4. Penn State
The Nittany Lions return fourteen starters but lost their most important one, quarterback Darryl Clark. Penn State now has slim pickings at the most important position on the field but a solid ground game with RB Evan Royster and a good defense should make up for some of the deficiencies at QB.
5. Michigan State
The loss of nine players last winter really hurt the Spartans as they could of contended for a Big Ten Championship this season. Instead, Michigan State is back in the middle of the pack with a good passing game, led by QB Kirk Cousins, and a great ground game. The defense is decent and should make for a good but not great season in East Lansing.
6. Michigan
The Wolverines return a Big Ten-high eighteen players (now technically seventeen because of the injury to Troy Woolfolk) and that should be enough to get them to a Bowl Game. The offense is decent and should put points on the board but the defense is a real concern. You can't win if the other team is putting up forty points every game no matter how good your offense is.
7. Northwestern
The Wildcats seem to have found their niche in the Big Ten and despite a relatively low ranking to open up the season they could climb. While they lost superstar QB Mike Kafka, Dan Persa should more than competently fill that role. The defense, though, should not be as good as it was last year and could hamper the team moving forward.
8. Purdue
Half of the starters return from a 5-7 squad last year that easily could have been 9-3 without some close losses to good teams. However, QB Joey Elliot is off to the NFL and transfer Robert Marve is left to fill the roll. Marve was okay in his rookie season at Miami FL but moved to West Lafayette after Jacory Harris took over. The defense should be decent for the Boilers, anchored by All-American DE Ryan Kerrigan.
9. Minnesota
Senior quarterback Adam Webber hopes to lead Minnesota to a respectable season but it doesn't look promising. The defense is in shambles, returning less than half of 2009's starters, and Webber himself is in competition with Sophomore Marquis Gray. That's right a sophomore is challenging the schools all-time leading passer for the starting job. Minnesota should win a few games but not be bowl eligible.
10. Indiana
A bad 2009 defense got worse with the loss of their best player, DE Jamey Kirlew to the NFL Draft. The defense is going to kill the Hoosiers in 2010. However, the pistol offense is a high-powered passing attack behind the laser arm of Ben Chapell and All-Big Ten receiver Tandon Doss. However, Indiana has no running game and the one-dimensionality of the team will likely come back to bite the team.
11. Illinois
A brutal 2009 season is going to be followed by a brutal 2010. With no QB or defense it's going to be a long season. The one bright spot for the Illini is probably junior RB Mikel LeShoure who has the potential to be a star this year.

National Top 10
1. Ohio State The Buckeyes have the countries best defense and a great offense to go along with it.
2. Boise State The Bronocs don't need tricks to beat you anymore. A stingy defense and video game like offense will propel the Broncos to their first BCS National Championship Game ever.
3. Alabama The defending National Champs return most of their offense but just one starter on defense. Defense wins in the SEC so Alabama will not go undefeated.
4. Oklahoma Though Sam Bradford is gone, the Sooners still have a great offense and a stellar defense to go along with it.
5. TCU An SEC-like defense to go along with an offense led by one of the nation's best quarterbacks makes the Horned Frogs the top team in Texas.
6. Texas The Longhorns return most of their defense and still have a good offense without Colt McCoy.
7. Florida The Gators lost most of their defense and one of the greatest college football players of all time in QB Tim Tebow. The Gators will still be good, but they're not National Title contenders.
8. Virginia Tech The Hokies have one of the best QB-RB combinations in the country with Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Williams. A solid defense complements the high powered attack.
9. Iowa The Hawkeyes have the second best defense in the Big Ten, behind #1 Ohio State, and the most clutch quarterback in the country in Ricky Stanzi.
10. Nebraska The Big Ten's soon-to-be newest member has a great team in its final year in the Big 12.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Big Ten Road Trip 2010

Special thanks to Mapquest for all the mileage.

Do you want to see the a lot of Big Ten football live this year? Well here's the solution: drop everything and go on the Big Ten Road Trip 2010. The trip will visit all eleven Big Ten stadiums as well as Notre Dame and Nebraska so you can get your fill of Big Ten football. Here's your itinerary for your thirteen week journey:

September 4
Your journey starts in South Bend, Ind. as you take in Notre Dame Stadium and watch the Fighting Irish host Purdue. Last year's game was an instant classic as Notre Dame pulled out a 24-21 win in West Lafayette on a 4th and goal touchdown with under a minute to play.

After the game head to Champaign, Ill.
Distance to Champaign: 199.9 miles
Total distance traveled: 199.9 miles

September 11
The Fighting Illini host Southern Illinois and you will be in attendance. One of the few games on the schedule that Illinois has a chance of winning!

After the game head to Minneapolis, Min.
Distance to Minneapolis: 511.88
Total distance traveled: 711.78

September 18
You watch while the Golden Gophers host the USC Trojans at TCF Bank Stadium. The Gophers are projected to struggle but a win over the troubled Trojans could spark a run for the Fighting Brewsters. And you would be there to see it.

After the game head to Bloomington, Ind.
Distance to Bloomington: 638.18 miles
Total distance traveled: 1,349.96 miles

September 25
You get to watch a night game in Bloomington, and the Hoosiers take on Akron in the Big Ten's final non-conference week. Get ready for conference play because you're about to head to some big games.

After the game head to Iowa City, Iowa.
Distance to Iowa City: 413.26 miles
Total distance traveled: 1,763.22 miles

October 2
The Hawkeyes will play host to Penn State in a likely national ABC game beginning at 8:05 pm. The place will be rocking (maybe even a blackout) and this is a huge game early in the Big Ten Season.

After the game head to Ann Arbor, Mich.
Distance to Ann Arbor: 452.01 miles
Total distance traveled: 2,215.23 miles

October 9

The Wolverines will host one of their bitter rivals, Michigan State, as the two teams battle it out for state supremacy with you in attendance. May the best Michigander win.

After the game head to Madison, Wisc.
Distance to Madison: 395.37 miles
Total distance traveled: 2,610.6 miles

October 16
Another huge conference match-up awaits you at Camp Randall Stadium as the Badgers welcome in the Ohio State Buckeyes. An upset win here for Wisconsin would likely shatter not just the conference picture but the BCS as well.

After the game head to Evanston, Ill.
Distance to Evanston: 114.14 miles
Total distance traveled: 2,724.74 miles

October 23
Your shortest drive of the road trip takes you a showdown between the happy-go-lucky Wildcats of Northwestern and the Michigan State Spartans. Michigan State set the NCAA record for biggest comeback in college football history at Ryan Field in 2006 in a 38-35 win.

After the game head to State College, Penn.
Distance to State College: 588.23 miles
Total distance traveled: 3,312.97 miles

October 30
Welcome to Happy Valley, home of the whiteout. The Nittany Lions will entertain Michigan, a team they have stomped two years in a row. The game will also be a nationally televised night game so buckle up.

After the game head to West Lafayette, Ind.
Distance to West Lafayette: 546.54 miles
Total distance traveled: 3,859.51 miles

November 6
Another long drive brings you to the campus of Purdue University where the Boilers will be looking to get revenge on Wisconsin, who whooped them 37-0 in Madison last season.

After the game head to
Lincoln, Neb.
Distance to Lincoln: 612.11 miles
Total distance traveled: 4,471.62

November 13

You get to a catch a preview of the Big Ten's soon-to-be newest member, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Kansas Jayhawks come to town to try to upset the Big Red.

After the game head to East Lansing, Mich.
Distance to East Lansing: 727.44 miles
Total distance traveled: 5,199.06

November 20
Your longest trip of the journey takes you to Spartan Stadium where Sparty battles Purdue. While you're there you can watch the Michigan State football players struggle to read first grade level books.

After the game head to Columbus, Ohio.
Distance to Columbus: 250.97 miles
Total distance traveled: 5,450.03 miles

November 27
What better way to finish your Big Ten Football road trip than sitting back and watching a new chapter unfold in the greatest rivalry in all of sports? Your last game of the trip is The Game. Hopefully Michigan will be able to keep it close for you.

So there's you itinerary, a 5,450 mile journey across Big Ten country. For perspective you could drive from New York City to Los Angeles nearly twice with that kind of mileage. Better save up for gas.

2010 Season Preview: Wrap Up

Now that my whirlwind of previews is over here's all of them in one easy access point: