BTB Roundtable - Week 6

The Big Ten Bloggers are relieved to have a host for this week's roundtable. Things looked bleak as, until just yesterday, no one had stepped in to post the questions this week (MBN is slated for the 2nd week in November). But alas, as things looked almost their darkest, a hero emerged.

Vico from the tOSU blog Our Honor Defend, yes...yet another tOSU blog named after part of their fight song...has posted 5 questions, even more long-winded than last week's questions from Boiled Sports.

01. We're all basically in conference play now, sans Purdue who played visitor to Notre Dame over the weekend. What did you see in the conference opener that you liked? What did you see that sucked noodles? If you're one of the Purdue blogs, what did you see against Notre Dame that has you nervous (or even optimistic) for your conference opener against Penn State this Saturday? Oh, and, have fun with that game, by the way.

What did I like? Are you serious?

Good thing I can't remember the first half!

What I saw that I liked was improved play calling in the 2nd half. We started throwing the ball past the line of scrimmage...and actually making catches. And that in turn, opened up the running game. Wisconsin's defense, said to be one of the best in the league was sucking air by the end of the 3rd quarter. Michigan, by that point, was able to execute the spread very well. Threet showed that he has the ability, and now confidence to run the spread option effectively.

The line looked very good in the second half, blocking for Minor and McGuffie. And now Michael Shaw will be healthy this week for Illinois. If we can continue to execute the passing game, we will be able to move the ball with ease against the Illini.

On the defensive side of the ball, everything I saw last week made me happy. We turned the ball over a ton in the 1st half, thus putting the D into bad field position. We gave up 16 points off 5 turnovers, but only 1 TD. The defense looked very strong against the #12 ranked rushing offense in the country. We held PJ Hill to less than 100 yards, and put lots of pressure on their QB to force him into mistakes that eventually cost them the game.

02. Ole Miss punked #4 Florida in Gainesville. #1 USC got punked by Oregon State on national television? What's the underlying theme behind these bizarre upsets? You guessed it: magic. Some kind of hocus-y pocus-y sorcery in the form of "familiarity". The idea being pitched around is that these upsets come in conference games because the underdog has played the heavily favored team before, and thus isn't afraid of them nor surprised by anything they do. Should I buy this idea? Or are these upsets more likely the combination of something more conventional, like great/horrendous gameplanning, preparation and execution by the underdog/favorite team respectively?

The rule is, any team can beat any other team on any given day. That's why you play the game. Is it overconfidence? Lack of proper preparation? Maybe.

Or is it just good ole' fashioned college football at it's finest?

I mean, every year now we all get ourselves into a tizzy over who knocked off USC or LSU or Florida. I think it just boils down to teams are now more evenly matched than maybe they were 10 or 20 years ago.

Recruiting is getting better. And the talent pool is always getting bigger. HS players are training year-round now. Strength programs start the day after the season ends and last all winter/spring. Many of these HS players come to college ready to play from day-one.

I can not remember a time when so many true-freshman have been on the field for the Maize & Blue. Chalk it up to losing a ton of starters from last year, either can't deny it.

Smaller schools that are perennially weaker such as Vandy, Duke, Northwestern are now suddenly in the mix.

Another huge reason is television.

More mid-majors and major conference cellar-dwellers are starting to find themselves on ESPN on Thursday nights, or on the Big Ten Network, or Fox Sports whatever...either way, gone are the days when you had to go to Michigan or Texas or USC or Notre Dame to be able to get yourself of national TV.

03. Entering the season, Beanie was the Big Ten's Heisman favorite. After a few games, Javon Ringer had put up the Heisman stats, though I don't think anyone could've believed that Ringer would have the hype machine necessary to get him to New York. Yet, after this week, I see his name mentioned more and more in the Heisman race. Do you think Ringer, at this pace, gets to New York on something more than a courtesy visit (on courtesy visit, see: everyone last year not named Tim Tebow; everyone in 2006 not named Troy Smith)? How about Daryll Clark? Is Daryll Clark of Penn State legitimately in the Heisman race after week 5?

If you're not a RB from the SEC, or a QB of a Big 12 school, any invitation to NYC will be just a formality. Ringer is good, don't get me wrong, but MSU doesn't have the hype, nor will they have the record by the end of the year to garner anything more than Heisman speculation for their vaunted RB.

04. With the nonconference schedule basically over, do you think the Big Ten collectively bettered its standing from the maligned position it was in before the season began? For every Wisconsin victory over Fresno State and Penn State thrashing of Oregon State, there's Michigan's turnover bonanza against the Irish and Ohio State's neutering by USC. Long question short, what sticks out more: the positives or the negatives for the conference?

With all due respect to our co-horts from Columbus, I am so sick of psycho-analyzing in what esteem the world holds the Big Ten Conference.

For some reason, every tOSU fan I know and tOSU blog seems to hell-bent on rooting for the Big Ten as a whole. I've remarked on this before...I do not care what other Big Ten teams do. When tOSU lost to USC in agonizingly horrible fashion, I laughed. Why? Because I can't stand tOSU.

But in the same respect, when we lost to Notre Dame, I fully expected every other Big Ten blog to collectively laugh at us. And to tell you the truth, I'm fine with that. I really don't care.

So, to answer your question. The negatives stick out more. And that is thanks largely to tOSU's defeat at the hands of USC. Everyone watched that game. Many less watched Michigan lose to ND.

05. As I'm sure you may have seen on your moving pictures box, the Ernie Davis movie has been getting a lot of publicity for its imminent release to theatres. The story, of course, centers around the first African-American Heisman winner and some of the trials that come from being a black athlete, playing before the Civil Rights movement and playing in the Cotton Bowl. Does your football program have an uplifting story that you think is movie-worthy? If so, please share it.

Movie worthy? Hmm...Well, nothing that is as movie worthy as Ernie Davis.

In 1994, Michigan Co-captain and receiver Walter Smith was set to light up the record books in his senior year. But in August camp, he injured his
anterior cruciate ligament. This injury, largely considered to be a season-ending injury was a huge blow to not only Smith himself, but the team as a whole.

After spending countless hours rehabbing his leg after surgery, Smith was back on the practice field in 3 months. He dressed in the Wisconsin game that year, but did not play. Two weeks later, against Minnesota, his last home game as a Michigan player, he got into the game for one play.

Smith came into the game and lined up split left near the sideline. Backup QB David Carr took the snap, took a 3 step drop and hit Smith on a two yard curl route. Smith caught the ball and quickly fell out of bounds without being hit.

As the crowd was chanting "Walter, Walter, Walter!", his teammates mobbed him.

It's kind of a cliche story. Senior star gets hurt in pre-season, supposed to end his career, but he fights to get back on the field and does so in his final home game.

Not many folks remember that one.

1 comment

  1. I don't know if anyone is going to read this post 4 years later, but there is finally video of the Walter Smith catch online: