Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Week 14 BlogPoll Ballot

It's late so this is being presented without comment. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan --
3 Southern Cal --
4 Florida --
5 Louisville 1
6 LSU 6
7 Oklahoma 3
8 Arkansas 3
9 Wisconsin 2
10 Auburn 1
11 Rutgers 4
12 Notre Dame 3
13 Wake Forest 8
14 Virginia Tech 3
15 Boise State 3
16 West Virginia --
17 Tennessee 2
18 Georgia Tech 4
19 Texas A&M 7
20 Texas 12
21 Nebraska 1
22 Boston College 9
23 California 3
24 Brigham Young --
25 Georgia 1

Dropped Out: Oregon (#23), Maryland (#25).

Monday, November 27, 2006

Texas, Our Texas

I'm a big believer in the theory that football teams need to learn to win, that programs are built one win at a time. It's no coincidence that a young Ohio State team swung a huge upset in Ann Arbor in 2001 then went on win the MNC the following year. Or that Auburn pulled out a tight win over Alabama in the Iron Bowl in 2003 to set up their own undefeated season. Even more immediately, Texas came from behind to conquer Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl, setting the stage for the glory to follow.

It's certainly not my intent to predict a national championship for Texas A&M, but I find it hard to feel this week that the Aggie football program is headed anywhere but up. After all the heartache and pain that was Texas Tech, Nebraska and Oklahoma, Coach Fran finally has the win that will forever define the 2006 version of the Aggies. With a single interception by Japhus Brown (where has he been all season?) all the disappointment of three losses by a combined six points lifted and the future looks bright indeed.

My thoughts on the game itself:
-Much has been said already about the OPI call on Sweed in the endzone. The stillframe certainly shows that Gorrer took a full blow in the face, but watching the game live I thought that it was a weak call at best. The Aggies were victimized by a push-off against Nebraska on the game-winning touchdown and they were probably due for a break. This is, of course, no solace to Longhorn fans.

-The other controversy seems to be surrounding Kellen Heard's late hit on Colt McCoy. I've seen a number of Aggie fans on that question whether there even should have been a penalty, but I think that the officials handled the situation correctly. I've finally found a camera view that shows the entire sequence and the hit was clearly late. Even if the play had still been going, Heard deserved a similar penalty for blocking from behind. I do however stop short of calling for a suspension for Heard or any other of the other overreactions I have seen online. I'm confident that the Aggies will handle punishment in-house properly. In the future refs and fans are sure to watch Heard very closely and if cheap shots develop into a pattern I will be forced to change my mind. (And yes, I'm aware that Heard has taken a number of personal fouls this season, but I'm hoping that the ejection will serve as proof of a need for a turnaround. Here's hoping he takes the hint.)

Heroes of the Game
-On offense, I'll go with the offense line who gave the running game just enough room to pound the best rushing defense in the Big XII into oblivion when it counted.

-On defense, Mark Dodge not only had the big interception, he also made the tackle that killed the Longhorn's opening drive. I'm looking forward to him as a full-time starter next season.

-Justin Brantly had another nice game punting the ball to lead the special teams.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thoughts on Texas

I just wanted to jot down some quick thoughts I had this week before I dash out the door. I'll be out of town for Thanksgiving until at least Friday.

-I've seen lots of predictions of Texas by a wide margin this weekend. I just don't see it. If the Aggies have proven anything this season, it's that they consistently play to the level of their opponent, regardless of quality. Close games against bad teams (Army, Kansas) have been just as numerous as good games against good teams (Oklahoma, Nebraska) and are only outnumbered by riveting games against mediocre teams (Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma State). I see no reason that the Aggies won't make this interesting.

-A&M's defense has been terrible early in games. Texas has enough weapons to continue this trend. I think that both Limas Sweed and Jamaal Charles will have first quarter touchdowns, but the Aggies should settle in and fix things before halftime.

-I can't predict how the A&M offense will be with a straight face. Coach Fran never seems to employ the same strategy twice. Picking the offensive stars is a crapshoot, but I'll go with L'Tydrick Riley finally catching the ball and Martellus Bennett showing another glimmer of promise. Mike Goodson is really, really good but he is no longer a secret. I suspect that Texas will sell out early to stop the run and hopefully that translates into a big day for Stephen McGee.

-Prediction? Alright, homerism says A&M 27, Texas 21. Rationalism says Texas 35, A&M 17. Make it A&M 23, Texas 21.

Thoughts on the passing of Coach Schembechler

I really wanted to get this post up over the weekend, but with the overwhelming disappointment that was Michigan-OSU 2006, I just couldn't string coherent sentences together. Everybody in the media seems to be sharing their favorite Bo Schembechler story, and I thought that I would add mine.

I'm a proud member of the University of Michigan Class of 2005. When our commencement speaker, John Seely Brown, was announced, there was quite a bit of grumbling on campus that it wasn't a bigger name. Of course many of the engineers were happy as Brown helped invent GUI's and spellcheck, but the general feeling on campus was disappointment.

When the big day rolled around, the University also presented a number of honorary doctorates to distinguished guests, including the guy that founded H&R Block, and of course, Bo Schembechler. I want to say that Brown's speech made some great impression on me, but it largely didn't. Bo's speech on the other hand was short, to the point, and funny as always.

It was no surprise to me at the time that Coach Schembechler received the largest ovation that day, after all I was standing and cheering alongside my fellow graduates. It wasn't until after he died and ESPN was running all the tributes that it dawned on me just how long he had been retired. The average student in the class of '05 was six or seven years old when Bo stepped down. And yet, everyone in that crowd knew what he meant to Michigan.

In a little more than a year and a half, Michigan has lost Don Canham, Vic Heyliger and now Bo Schembechler. Even though these losses are painful, they shouldn't be allowed to intrude on the memory of the great accomplishments of these great men. May they all rest in peace.

*Video of Coach Schembechler's commencement address here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Week 13 BlogPoll Ballot

1 Ohio State --
2 Michigan --
3 Southern Cal --
4 Florida 2
5 Arkansas 2
6 Louisville 1
7 Wisconsin 3
8 Texas 1
9 Notre Dame 1
10 Oklahoma 2
11 Auburn 3
12 LSU 3
13 Boston College 8
14 Georgia Tech 5
15 Rutgers 11
16 West Virginia 3
17 Virginia Tech 6
18 Boise State 2
19 Tennessee 2
20 California 9
21 Wake Forest 3
22 Nebraska --
23 Oregon 1
24 Brigham Young 2
25 Maryland 9

Dropped Out: Clemson (#25).

I'm pretty happy with the top 6. 7-12 feels pretty interchangeable and after that it's anybody's guess. For some reason Boston College keeps surging up my ballot, perhaps I will have to readdress my bias rankings in the offseason.

Tomorrow morning I'll have my thoughts on the Texas game. Until then, Gig 'Em Ags.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

BlogPoll Final Ballot, Week 12

I took another look at my ballot and came up with the following. The changes came in the 12-20 region where I shuffled some SEC teams up and Maryland down. It isn't perfect, but I'm much happier with this iteration.

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

Dropped Out: