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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's business time, roundtable style

It’s Wednesday at Off the Tracks and you know what that means. Awwwwww, yeah…


Well, it may not quite be business time. It is Big Ten Bloggers’ roundtable time though. This week’s edition is hosted by the distinguished Michigan blog Maize N’ Brew, who helped me out last season with some Q&A before the debacle in Ann Arbor.

Also, this week’s new Blogpoll is out. Purdue is bringing up the rear of the others’ receiving votes category, but I hope that changes this week.

1. We're two weeks in and everyone in the Big Ten, minus the two Michigan schools, are 2-0. This week marks the end of your early "tune-up" or serious OOC play. Are you satisfied with the way your team has played against the cupcakes on your schedule, or happy with the way they've competed against serious competition?

Aha! We’re not 2-0 yet, though I would like to be. 2-0 means we beat Oregon this weekend and finally broke a 14 game losing streak against ranked opponents. We have far from a tune-up schedule too. Our one tune up was against Northern Colorado last week and my thoughts have morphed quite a bit on that. The score ended up not being what I thought it would, but I think Northern Colorado played a better game than most thought. It was still a blowout. The defense still performed much better than in past openers as their 10 points were scored on a 4 yard “drive” after a punt went off our own player’s leg and a sustained drive against the second string when the game was well in hand.

I am very pleased with the play of our special teams. We blocked a pair of punts, one of which was returned for a touchdown. We had some touchbacks from a true freshman kickoff specialist who will likely move into the placekicking role in two years. We also had two big kickoff returns that set up a pair of touchdowns. Desmond Tardy showed a lot of shiftiness once he had the ball, giving us a missing element. Keith Smith also showed we have a large physical presence in the slot.

2. You knew this was coming. This week's OMG Game of teh Century!!!!1!!1!! until next week's OMG Game of teh Century!!!!1!!1!! is Ohio State versus Southern Cal. Who are you pulling for and why? Further, if you're pulling for one particular team tell me why they'll win, or won't. If you're like me and will be attempting to cure a sunburn from over exposure to the sun during the Michigan Notre Dame game by drinking large quantities of whiskey instead of watching the game, state your excuse.

After the events of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl I am barred from ever cheering for Ohio State. As J Money stated in a comment last week, my sex life does indeed depend on it. Because of that, I will have to go with USC. I do want to see a competitive game and not a blowout.

I probably won’t be able to see the beginning because we’ll be heading back home from West Lafayette after the Purdue-Oregon contest. I am shedding my perceived Michigan bias in the hopes that the Wolverines spank Jimmy Montana and Notre Dame Saturday the same time we are facing Oregon. I don’t think it will quite be the cripple fight it was perceived as last year, but both teams are far from the status many of their fans think they are. At least Michigan fans are more realistic about it.

3. Besides the above mentioned Game of the Century, there are actually some decent match ups this week in the Big Ten. Purdue v. Oregon; Wisconsin v. Fresno State; Michigan v. Notre Dame; Michigan State v. Florida Atlantic; or Iowa v. Iowa State. I said decent. I didn't say they were all good. Pick the best game from that group, pick the worst game from that group, and Minnesota and Illinois bloggers must post an apology for scheduling Montana State and Louisiana Lafayette respectively.

You’re inferring that we actually have an Illinois blogger. Paging Jim Shikenjanski and the Daily Gopher mean a double apology though. As much as I am looking forward to Purdue-Oregon on Saturday I think we’re headed for another loss. Oregon just has too many weapons in my opinion. For us to have a chance we must slow down their running game and force them to pass.

Unfortunately it has been a LONG time since our defense has been good enough to force teams to go against their strategy. That being said, I am really looking forward to the Wisconsin-Fresno State game late Saturday night. Fresno can be a nightmare if they play well at home, which happens often. Wisconsin has stomped opponents in the second half so far, so it will be interesting to see what happens if they fall behind and can’t turn it on immediately.

It will also be interesting to see if Iowa finally asserts the dominance it should against Iowa State. As my friend Greg once said about something about prison rape, “It’s not a sexual thing, it’s a dominance thing.” In a related note, Greg is a strange guy.

4. Out of Conference scheduling is always something that draws the ire of journalists and bloggers alike. You all know how weak your OOC really is. Admit it. You're sad. So fix it. Pick two teams out of conference you really wish your school would schedule. Nursing colleges and the Center for Veterinary Sciences are verboten. Pick two major conference middle to heavy weights or two heavy weight non-BCS conference programs to add to the schedule. (Please note you get to keep your two patsies per season).

Our out of conference schedule is weak? When Notre Dame may be our third toughest opponent it is far from weak. We play a very good Oregon team, Notre Dame in South Bend (which is always tough for us), and the two-time MAC champion with one of the most dangerous quarterbacks at a non-BCS school. This is a year we could use another patsy!

As far as non-conference matchups, I’d like to see us play Miami for obvious reasons. I just want to see what we would do against them before they get good again. Thanks to the Champs Sports Bowl there is always that possibility at the end of the season. A second BCS conference team I would like to play is Colorado. I love the scenery, so a road trip would definitely be in order. Also, they are a mid-level Big 12 team we could have a decent game against. I would also like to play Nebraska, a traditionally strong program that is down a bit. They would be a good test and a good “name win” for us.

5. All college football fans love to tailgate. Even you, your mothers' basement dwelling bloggers, you. Name your beverage of choice on game days. Alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, your readers need to know these things about you, to judge you. Confirm all their suspicions.

My parents don’t have a basement, and I moved out when I got married at 25. My reasons for moving back home after graduation were financial. I got a good job in my home town and saved a ton of money living at home. Er, wait, what was the question?

Since I value the chance for sleep over early tailgating, I usually don’t have beverages of a spirituous nature until after our noon kickoffs. Should we have a later kickoff, I have preferred the Boiler-rita. My dad’s business partner is a Purdue alum and regular tailgater in the R Lot. Until a few seasons ago, one of his companions brought a giant margarita machine hooked up to a generator. I know beer and Jose Cuervo went into them in large quantities. I was very thankful for several of these before the 2005 Notre Dame game, as they helped ease the pain. Post game I usually have a beer before heading home. At least once a season a stop at Harry’s is required for a Long Island.

Once I’m safely home and watching the night games I prefer a Breckenridge Brewery Avalanche Ale as my beer of choice. If we’re watching the Canes on TV a category five hurricane is a must. We have studied the recipe while in Miami and have all the tools to duplicate it home. It’s a good thing too, because duplicating it elsewhere then trying to get home is difficult due to its strength.

Bonus Question!

6. Rivalry games dot the schedule this week. If your team is playing in a rivalry game, say something nasty about your opponent then predict a lopsided score to infuriate the opposing fanbase. If you're not playing a rival, then start a rivalry by saying something nasty about your opponent and then predict a lopsided score to infuriate the opposing fanbase. Or just give me a non-offensive prediction and a reason to watch.

I have absolutely nothing against Oregon. I have been excited about this game for a long time because it is an opponent we don’t normally get to see. There’s no real rivalry, as Purdue won the only game in the series 13-7 a few weeks before I was born in 1979. I’m already planning on heading to Autzen Stadium for the return game next season simply because it is a trip we don’t normally have.

As far as a reason to watch goes, this could potentially be a fun offensive shootout. Oregon’s defense has done alright so far, but Washington and Utah State don’t exactly have unstoppable offenses. If our offense is sharp (and it had better be after last week) we can score some points. Oregon has already proved it can move. They currently have the best offense in the country. Again, Washington and Utah State won’t be mistaken for the 1985 Chicago Bears. Our defense is better, but can they slow them down enough? This is the first real chance to see just how much better we are defensively.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Can't read the entire post... your words are cut off T-Mill

BLAZER PROPHET said...

FIRST, let me say I'm the ultimate Oregon Duck fan.

Now, with respect to this weeks conference schedule, it's a darn good one. USC/OSU may be a stomping, but it's still a couple of top 5 teams. Wisconsin/Fresno State should be the best game of the week. FSU has a solid team and they never quit (unlike an SEC team when they're down). Michigan/Notre Dame may actually be a pretty good game. Not because we're seeing a couple of power house teams, but because it's always a good rivalry game of sorts. Iowa/Iowa State is always good for the in-state rivalry aspect. Those games can be fun to watch for no other reason as they tend to have more intensity.

Now we come to Purdue/Oregon. On paper I like my Ducks. Depending on Johnson's health our running game can be lethal. Which could be important as our QB (Roper) is having his first road start, is coming off a head injury and isn't very mobile. If JJ can't run then it's an even game. Oregon's defense may be the best kept secret as we have both corners & safety as opotential all-americans going up against one of the best QB's in the country. If healthy, I'll say Oregon by 6.

By the way, I'm in my 50's. When I was a kid growing up in Eugene, Oregon, (about age 10) I had one of those Radio Shack crystal radio sets with an earpiece kids made and on Sunday mornings I would pick up Purdue & Notre Dame game replays and listneded to them for a few years. It was my introduction to college football.