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Posts Tagged ‘LSU’

Michigan’s potential bowl matchups

Sunday, December 6th, 2015

Citrus Bowl

The last 12 months have been a roller coaster ride for the University of Michigan in terms of bowl aspirations. After dropping its final two games in 2014, the Wolverines failed to qualify for postseason play for the third time in seven years. Fast forward to just over a week ago, and Jim Harbaugh’s team had an outside chance to land in the College Football Playoff.

But after being blown out at home by Ohio State and finishing the season at 9-3, the 2015 Wolverines sit somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Michigan’s resume is impressive, but the Big Ten is loaded with elite teams at the top.

Michigan State will move on to the final four while Iowa and Ohio State will land in New Year’s Six bowls – likely the Rose Bowl and an at-large bid.

Once those three top 10 teams are placed, Michigan and Northwestern are the remaining ranked teams in the conference. So how does it work from there? Since the Orange Bowl is hosting one of the national semifinal (playoff) games, the Big Ten will send a team to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

I think the Citrus Bowl is Michigan’s most likely destination, though the Big Ten has to approve the bowl’s request before anything is finalized. Formerly the Capital One Bowl, the Citrus Bowl is an upper-tier bowl that pits a Big Ten school against an SEC school.

Potential Citrus Bowl matchups

Florida vs. Michigan: Since the Gators couldn’t upset the Crimson Tide in the SEC championship game, Alabama will move on to the College Football Playoff and leave Florida as the top non-final four team in the conference. Florida’s Cinderella season lost most of its steam when starting quarterback Will Grier was suspended for using a banned substance. In the final four weeks of the regular season, Florida nearly lost to Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic before getting crushed and failing to score on offense against Florida State. Though the Gators did win the East, they aren’t trending in a direction that will make them a sexy bowl pick. But if these teams do meet, it would be a rematch of Lloyd Carr’s last game as Michigan’s coach, when the Wolverines won an entertaining shootout over Tim Tebow and the Gators.

Ole Miss vs. Michigan: Mississippi got dumped by Florida, 38-10, back in October, but the final few weeks of the season could give the Rebels a leg up on the Gators in the bowl selection process. Ole Miss has a road win over Alabama on its resume, the crowned jewel on an otherwise average resume. The Rebels lost to Memphis and Arkansas but picked up a pair of solid wins over LSU and Mississippi State to close out the season. Michigan has struggled to stop the run since losing Ryan Glasgow from the defensive line, but Ole Miss is led by quarterback Chad Kelly, who would meet one of the best secondary units in the country in this matchup.

If Michigan isn’t picked for the Citrus Bowl, it would likely head about 100 miles southwest to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. The Outback Bowl will host five different Big Ten teams from 2014-2019, so Michigan could land here for the second time in four seasons. The Wolverines lost a shootout with South Carolina in the Outback Bowl under Brady Hoke on Jan. 1, 2013. Like the Citrus Bowl, the Outback Bowl would match Michigan up with an SEC team.

Potential Outback Bowl matchups

LSU vs. Michigan: The Les Miles vs. Michigan storyline would give this matchup a little extra steam, but LSU was dreadful during the second half of the season. Three straight blowouts at the hands of Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss proved that if you can stop running back Leonard Fournette, you can roll past the Tigers.

Mississippi State vs. Michigan: If this matchup brings back bad memories for Michigan fans, that’s because Mississippi State was responsible for putting the nail in the coffin to send Rich Rodriguez out of Ann Arbor. It took Michigan three seasons to make a bowl game under Rich Rod, and when it did, the Bulldogs smashed the Wolverines 52-14 in the Gator Bowl.

Georgia vs. Michigan: I really don’t see this happening, because Georgia would have to be selected above some of the much more impressive teams in the SEC West, but the Bulldogs did finish second in the East. Though Georgia won nine games and reportedly hired Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to replace Mark Richt, this team might be a bit of a mess in the bowl game.

The only other potential landing spot for Michigan would likely be the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. The Holiday Bowl is the final top-tier bowl game with a Big Ten tie, and it would give Michigan a chance to play a Pac-12 team.

Potential Holiday Bowl matchups

USC vs. Michigan: USC put up a bit of a fight against Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game, but the Trojans finished the disappointing season with five losses. At times, like in a runaway win over Utah, USC’s elite talent shone through and it looked nearly unbeatable. But Pat Hayden’s crew is very hit-or-miss, especially after a month of preparation.

Oregon vs. Michigan: This is definitely not a matchup Michigan wants to see. With Vernon Adams back healthy at quarterback, Oregon’s offense is rolling and the Ducks are extremely dangerous. Michigan would have to win a shootout to win this matchup, a tall task against a team like Oregon.

The College Football Selection Show will air on ESPN at 12:30pm Eastern time today, beginning with the playoff teams and pairings. The rest of the New Year’s Six bowl pairings will be announced along with the rest of the Top 25. Michigan will know its destination and opponent by this evening, so stay tuned for a preview.

Recruiting Profile: 2015 CB Iman Marshall

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Iman Marshall
(247 Sports)

Previously: 2015 TE Chris Clark

Iman Marshall – CB | 6’2″, 190 | Long Beach, Calif. – Long Beach Poly
ESPN: 5-star, #1 CB, 92 grade Rivals: 5-star, #1 CB, #3 nat 247: 5-star, #1 CB, #5 nat Scout: 5-star, #1 CB
Other top offers: USC, Alabama, FSU, Oregon, LSU, UCLA, Auburn, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Miami, ND

One of the most talented and impressive physical specimens being recruited at the cornerback position this season, Long Beach Poly’s Iman Marshall looks to be Michigan’s number one quarry this winter. Marshall has yet to commit to any team thus far, but has either visited or has visits scheduled with Notre Dame, Florida State, LSU, Oregon, and Michigan, with USC also having mutual interest. Marshall sported the vaunted No. 2 jersey during his visit to Ann Arbor this past week, and could have a similar impact to Charles Woodson given the tools he would bring to Michigan if he does indeed commit to the Wolverines.


Athleticism - Iman MarshallMarshall has prodigious size as far as cornerbacks go, having a Nike verified height of 6’2″ (though listed at a shorter 6’1″ by many other outlets). While most defensive backs with 6-foot-plus frames don’t stick on the boundary as cornerbacks due to a lack of athleticism, there is no such concern with Marshall. The Long Beach native showcases very good range and downfield speed, and while he doesn’t have the most fluid of hips, he has flexible ankles and has good change of direction ability for a player of his size. Marshall might not light up stopwatches while running in shorts, but he carries his pads well on the field. Additionally, he has shown the athletic versatility to play as a receiver, with the ball in his hands, as outside corner, a nickel back, a deep safety, and as a kick returner.


Coverage - Iman MarshallMarshall lined up most frequently in zone coverage as opposed to man coverage during his high school career at Long Beach, and seems best suited to zone going forward. Marshall has great length and demonstrated it often, frequently taking away passing windows and getting his hand in to break up would-be completions. His instincts and ability to read the play in front of him and the ball in the air are top-notch, which should translate into early playing time and success in college.

In terms of man coverage, Marshall lacks great change of direction and transition out of his backpedal, and could struggle to keep up vertically on an island versus the fastest and quickest receivers in college football. Marshall is not afraid to get physical in coverage, especially near the line of scrimmage, and has the length of a prototypical press corner. As a senior, Marshall was deployed as a single safety and charged with playing the center field which he manned capably.

Ball Skills

Ball Skills - Iman MarshallAs Marshall’s experience playing the wide receiver position at times throughout his career can attest to, he has very good ball skills, not only for the interception, but to catch passes on offense. Marshall doesn’t flash an outstanding catch radius or show off with eye-popping one-handers, but he has sure hands to pluck the football and the ability to put himself in position to do so. He adjusts well to passes thrown over his head and on his back shoulder. Marshall’s length and leaping ability are useful in competing for contested passes and high-pointing the football. When Marshall has the ball in his hands, he can be dangerous on interception and kick returns, showing shifty footwork and strength to ward off tackles.

Run Support

Run Support - Iman MarshallOne thing that can be infuriating while watching cornerbacks at any level of football is how noncommittal they can be towards playing the running game. This is certainly not the case with Marshall as he is an aggressive run defender who plays with strength and instincts. While Marshall could do a better job of getting off of blocks given his ability and the relative level of competition he faced, he pursues with great range and hustle. Marshall shows good tackling technique for a defensive back and wraps up while still delivering jarring hits on the football. With his combination of size and willingness versus the run, Marshall could convert to the safety position if needed by a coaching staff.

Bottom Line

Marshall may not possess blazing timed speed or the most explosive change of direction capabilities, but he stands out in every other category that is important to the cornerback position at the collegiate level. His great instincts will go a long way toward leveraging a role for himself on the football field and he possesses long-term potential to go pro within a few years. If Marshall does indeed sign with the Wolverines this winter, he could form one half of what could be a devastating duo at the cornerback position with last year’s five star recruit Jabrill Peppers. On the whole, Iman Marshall compares to former Virginia Tech and current Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller.

MG&B Grade (out of 10)
9.2 (5-star)

Following his visit to Michigan earlier this week, Marshall is visiting LSU this weekend and plans to wrap up his official visits with Oregon next weekend. Jim Harbaugh and staff plan to make an in-home visit to Marshall and his family — Marshall made the trip to Ann Arbor alone — before signing day on Feb. 4, but pulling him from hometown USC will be a tall order.

Your bye week Saturday viewing guide

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Since you don’t have to worry about making the pilgrimage to the Big House or blocking off a chunk of time to watch the beloved Wolverines on TV tomorrow, there are any number of things to do. Yardwork, that home improvement project you’ve been putting off, appeasing your significant other, take the kids to a fall festival, or…maybe watching other games? Without much at stake tomorrow, you may not have paid much attention to the slate of games, but don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Here’s your guide to tomorrow’s games that relate to Michigan.

Early games

There are no noon kickoffs that have any bearing on Michigan’s season so use this time to do any of the aforementioned tasks. Spend the morning and early afternoon with your significant other or getting stuff done around the house before you settle in for the afternoon games. There are three ranked teams in action at noon: #11 Oklahoma at West Virginia (ESPN), #12 South Carolina at UCF (ABC), and #15 Miami at South Florida (ESPNU), so perhaps you could have one of those on in the background.

Afternoon games

LSU and Georgia are potential bowl opponents to keep an eye on (Dale Zanine, US Presswire)

The first big matchup of the day that relates to Michigan is #14 Oklahoma at #22 Notre Dame (3:30pm, NBC). The Sooners are out for revenge after getting throttled by the Irish in Norman a year ago. OU has given up just 27 points in three games this season, and they have had two weeks to prepare for Notre Dame, but this will be their first road test. Quarterback Blake Bell looked good against Tulsa two weeks ago, completing 27-of-37 passes for 413 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. Michigan fans will want to cheer for the Irish in this one since Michigan already beat Notre Dame. The more games ND wins the rest of the season the more it will help Michigan’s BCS chances should the Wolverines keep winning.

Also at 3:30 is a Big Ten matchup between Iowa and Minnesota (ABC/ESPN2). This certainly won’t be the best game on but it’s a chance to scout out two future opponents including next week’s. Minnesota is 4-0 so far and Iowa is 3-1, though neither has beaten a quality opponent. It will be a good early season barometer of how good both of these teams really is before they face the upper tier of the Big Ten in the coming weeks. It’s a rivalry game, played for the Floyd of Rosedale, and two of the last three meetings have been decided by three points or less.

The biggest game on at the 3:30 time slot is one that may or may not be relevant to Michigan: #6 LSU at #9 Georgia (CBS). GameDay will be in Athens in the morning, which might be worth flipping on to see Bubba Watson and Willie Robertson as the guest pickers. You may not enjoy watching SEC football, but one of these teams could very well end up being Michigan’s opponent in January, and it’s sure to be a great game.

Evening games

Wisconsin may be the best chance for Ohio State to lose before Nov. 30 (Kirk Irwin, Getty Images)

If you weren’t able to catch any of the games during the day, now is definitely the time to kick back, enjoy a cold one (or a few) and watch some football. At 8pm #4 Ohio State hosts #23 Wisconsin on ABC. While Michigan doesn’t play the Badgers this season, it may be the best chance for the Buckeyes to lose before they come to Ann Arbor on Nov. 30. Wisconsin has one of the nation’s top running games with two very good backs, both of which are on pace for well more than 1,000 yards. Melvin Gordon has 624 yards on 11.8 yards per carry through four games, while James White has 442 on 7.2 yards per carry. Even freshman Corey Clement has more yards than Michigan’s leading rusher, Fitzgerald Toussaint, does (334 on 7.6 yards per carry).

Ohio State has played four cupcakes to start the season and is coming off a 76-0 thrashing of Florida A&M. What’s more is that Braxton Miller is set to start after missing the last two games with a knee injury. He entered the season as a Heisman favorite, but his backup, Kenny Guiton has looked phenomenal the last two weeks. It will be interesting to see how Urban Meyer handles it if Miller struggles.

Two other evening games will be worth checking out similar to the LSU-Georgia game for the potential of Michigan facing them in January. Top-ranked Alabama hosts #21 Ole Miss (6:30 on ESPN) and #10 Texas A&M visits Arkansas (7:00 on ESPN2). Alabama hasn’t been as dominant to this point as it has been the past few years, and Ole Miss is in the midst of a resurgence, so it should be a good one to watch.

Overall, it’s a pretty good slate of games this weekend so enjoy a stress free weekend of football and whatever else is on your agenda.

Gameday G.R.I.T.S: Akron recap

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

As part of our ever-expanding coverage at Maize and Go Blue, we have teamed up with Alex Dileo to provide the perspective of a girl raised in the south about Michigan football and more specifically gameday fashion. You might recognize her last name and be thinking to yourself “hmmm, that sounds familiar.” Well, that’s because her brother is senior wide receiver Drew Dileo.

Alex recently graduated from LSU and moved to Ann Arbor in June. She will attend every home game and several away games, providing fashion advice and expertise for how to look good at the game. She’s not here to say there’s anything wrong with wearing a jersey and jeans, but Alex hopes to blend the excitement of dressing up for football games that she experienced down south with you, the maize and blue faithful. You can follow her on Twitter @adileo9.

This is a new weekly feature that will be posted midweek throughout the season. Guys, this is your opportunity to get your girlfriends, wives, sisters, or mothers interested in Michigan football if they aren’t already. So pass this along. Ladies, feel free to send in your own gameday fashion photos and Alex will post the best ones each week.

Hey y’all!

Did you watch Saturday’s game against Akron? What a close call…a little too close for my liking! The actual game may be a sore conversation topic, so let’s talk about something a little more upbeat!

What did you do to put on your Saturday’s best last Saturday?! Let me show you some pictures from my Saturday gameday experience as well as some photos sent in by some viewers of my blog!

Saturday was a beautiful day for a football game! I was prepared for it to be cooler, so I picked out a maize maxi dress from Nordstrom Rack in Ann Arbor for only $20! I paired it with the blue necklace from Target that I featured in my last blog. The maxi was strapless, so I pulled out my trusty denim jacket to piece over it for a little more warmth. This was perfect for the first bit of the game, and then the sun came out! I went from being cold in the morning to getting a sun tan by the end of the game! Michigan weather is so crazy sometimes. I used my denim jacket as a seat cushion after the first quarter. 🙂

Here are some fantastic photos submitted by some viewers showing off their gameday best!

Chris K. submitted this photo! Chris proved that looking your Saturday’s best isn’t just for ladies! Chris cleverly paired a navy Michigan block M monogramed sweater with an awesome maize and blue bow tie! Dressing up for gameday is fun for guys too! Thanks Chris!

Tyler B. submitted these photos for things she does to look her Saturday’s Best. Look at these awesome maize and blue desserts for gameday! She also knitted a cool maize and blue beanie that she is proudly sporting on gameday. And you can never go wrong with maize and blue nails to completely “polish” an outfit off! Thanks Tyler!

Look how a-MAIZE-ing Casie K. looks in her gameday maize sweater with a matching maize necklace! We could all take some tips from her gameday prep with her classy and chic gameday style! Thanks Casie!

Thanks everyone for checking in for my recap from Saturday’s game. Do you want to be featured on my next blog? Submit your photos to me at for a chance to show off your Saturday’s Best!

Check back later in the week for my post about prepping for the Michigan-UConn game whether you’re watching it at home or traveling with the team!

Put on your Saturday’s best!

xoxo Alexandra

Gameday G.R.I.T.S. (Girl Raised In the South)

The Michigan Medley analyzes Michigan’s bowl outlook

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

With an 8-4 record and a second place finish in the Big Ten Legends Division, Michigan is obviously headed to a bowl game. Since Ohio State and Penn State are both ineligible for postseason play, Michigan’s bowl destination will be better than it would have been had the 12-0 (8-0) Buckeyes and 8-4 (6-2) Nittany Lions been able to go bowling.

Games to watch on Saturday
Atlanta, Ga. Indianapolis, Ind.
#2 Alabama #3 Georgia #12 Nebraska Wisconsin
11-1 11-1 10-2 7-5
4pm on CBS 8:17pm on FOX

Michigan will fill the Big Ten’s second or third bowl slot behind the winner of Saturday’s Big Ten Championship game between Nebraska and Wisconsin. The winner will get the conference’s guaranteed BCS bid, while the loser is unlikely to receive a BCS at-large due to the conference’s weak showing all season. There is a chance Nebraska could still get one if it loses, but the bowl committees won’t look to kindly on an end-of-season loss to a 7-5 team.

If Nebraska wins and heads to the Rose Bowl, the Capital One Bowl will choose between Michigan, Northwestern, and Wisconsin. A 7-6 Wisconsin squad is likely the odd man out despite playing in the Big Ten title game because the Badgers wouldn’t have been there if Ohio State was eligible. Michigan will travel far better than Northwestern will, and a matchup between the Wolverines and a top-tier SEC school is far more appealing than one involving the Wildcats.

If Wisconsin beats Nebraska and goes to Pasadena, Nebraska will likely get slotted into the Capital One Bowl, pushing Michigan down to the Outback Bowl in Tampa. In the previous two decades, Tampa was a familiar sight for Michigan, but the Wolverines haven’t been there since beating Florida in 2003. The bowl committee would love to get a Michigan vs. SEC matchup in Raymond James Stadium. So who will Michigan face? Depending on the outcome of the Big Ten title game as well as the other conference championships, Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, and LSU are most likely. Let’s take a look at each team.

Likely Bowl Opponent Comparison
Points/Game 38.0 26.8 44.8 30.2
Scoring Defense 17.7 12.9 22.5 16.9
Rush Avg 190.1 194.5 235.1 179.9
Rush Def. Avg 163.4 97.0 140.9 101.8
Pass Avg 273.6 143.9 317.2 207.2
Pass Def. Avg 174.4 186.4 248.4 194.3
Total Yds Avg 463.7 338.4 552.3 387.2
Total Def. Avg 337.8 283.4 389.3 296.2
Turnovers 16 12 20 16
Takeaways 25 29 15 31
Time of Poss 28:39 33:07 28:33 31:09
3rd Down Conv. 69/150 (46%) 62/168 (37%) 102/184 (55%) 75/181 (41%)
3rd Down Def. 64/180 (36%) 49/173 (28%) 58/189 (31%) 51/167 (31%)
Sacks by/allowed 24/22 25/36 30/23 30/26
Field Goals 8-for-12 23-for-28 13-for-22 20-for-28
PATs 54-for-58 34-for-35 64-for-71 41-for-41
Red Zone pct. 35/41 (85%) 35/42 (83%) 56/64 (88%) 42/50 (84%)
Red Zone Def. 25/35 (71%) 23/32 (72%) 31/40 (77%) 24/31 (77%)
Red Zone TD pct. 30/41 (73%) 22/42 (52%) 47/64 (73%) 25/50 (50%)
Red Zone TD Def. 18/35 (51%) 15/32 (47%) 24/40 (60%) 19/31 (61%)

Georgia faces Alabama in the SEC Championship game on Saturday in what is essentially the BCS National Championship play-in game. Notre Dame awaits the winner. The loser will still probably get a BCS at-large bid because of the strength of the conference, especially if Alabama is on the losing end. But there’s a slight chance that if Georgia is blown out by the Crimson Tide, the Dawgs would fall to the Capital One Bowl and Florida will gain a BCS at-large bid.

Georgia has quietly put together an impressive season, beating then-No. 2 Florida in Athens, and outscoring opponents by an average of 38-17. But if there is a knock on the Dawgs it is the fact that the SEC scheduling allowed them to skirt playing LSU and Texas A&M and they didn’t play anybody of note in the non-conference. The only loss was a 35-7 thrashing by South Carolina on Oct. 6. The Gamecocks were the only other ranked team Georgia played all season. We will find out on Saturday whether they are for real or merely benefited from a favorable schedule.

Florida and Georgia would both present stern tests for Michigan (Sam Greenwood, Getty Images)

Florida won’t get to play in the SEC Championship game because of a 17-9 loss to Georgia. It was the Gators’ only loss of the season, although they had several close wins. Thanks to the SEC’s wacky scheduling, Florida got to face Texas A&M in Week 2, before super freshman Johnny Manziel took off, and beat the Aggies 20-17. They beat LSU 14-6, hung on against Missouri 14-7, and needed some late magic to hold off Louisiana-Lafayette 27-20. Like Georgia, the Gators didn’t play much of a non-conference schedule save the annual matchup with rival Florida State. Bowling Green, Jacksonville State, and Louisiana-Lafayette were the other opponents. If both Alabama and Georgia earn BCS bowl bids, Florida will likely be slotted into the Capital One Bowl.

Texas A&M finished the season 10-2 and 6-2 in the SEC with losses to Florida (20-17) and LSU (24-19). The Aggies feature one of the best players in college football, likely Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. They rank fourth nationally in points per game (44.8) and shook up the BCS standings by beating Alabama on Nov. 10 (29-24). Since they were in the SEC West, they didn’t have to face Georgia or South Carolina, and their non-conference schedule featured SMU, South Carolina State, Louisiana Tech, and Sam Houston State. The Aggies will likely go to the Cotton Bowl, but bowl committees would love to get a matchup of two of college football’s most exciting players, Manziel and Denard Robinson.

LSU put together a good season, going 10-2 with losses to Florida (14-6) and Alabama (21-17). In the game against Alabama, LSU moved the ball with relative ease and led the Tide 17-14 late in the fourth before A.J. McCarron hooked up with T.J. Yeldon on a screen pass that went 28 yards for a touchdown with 51 seconds left. The Tigers beat Texas A&M 24-19 on the road and South Carolina 23-21. Like the Florida and Georgia, LSU didn’t play much of an out-of-conference schedule of North Texas, Washington, Idaho State, and Towson. LSU is probably the most unlikely opponent among the group, but if Wisconsin beats Nebraska and Michigan slides to the Outback, it’s possible.

Florida and Georgia are probably the most likely, depending on the outcome of the SEC title game, which will be played Saturday at 4pm on CBS and the Big Ten title game, which will be played Saturday at 8:17pm on FOX. I would much rather face Florida than Georgia or Texas A&M. While A&M doesn’t quite have the defense the other two feature, Florida’s offense is not very good. The Gators are pretty comparable to Notre Dame with a really good defense and a lackluster offense, and Michigan hung with Notre Dame for most of the game, falling due to a cacophony of turnovers. Regardless of the opponent, it will be a tough bowl game to win for Michigan this season since they will essentially be playing up a slot or two. If Ohio State and Penn State were eligible, Michigan would probably be playing in the Gator Bowl against someone like Mississippi State.

Previewing the BCS National Scrimmage

Monday, January 9th, 2012

It has been talked about, written about, and debated for the last month, but tonight’s BCS National Championship game, effectively dubbed “the oversigning bowl” by some because of the two teams’ propensity to sign more players than technically allowed, may not actually crown the proper national champion. And if so, it would be the biggest injustice in the BCS’ 15-year history.

Clearly, the Southeastern Conference is the far and away winner this season for getting two of its own teams into the game, and it will certainly relish the opportunity to pound its chest even more, but reality says the national champion should have already been crowned.

No team in the country has outperformed Louisiana State from Sept. 3 through the SEC Championship game, and that includes the Alabama team they face in tonight’s championship.

Take a look at the resumes of the current top four teams in the BCS rankings. This is assuming Alabama beats LSU tonight. Obviously, if LSU wins, there is no debate.

Record 13-1 12-1 12-1 11-2
Record v. Top 25 8-1 5-1 5-0 2-2
Road Record v. Top 25 3-0^ 3-0 2-0 0-0
Record v. Top 10 3-1 1-1 2-0 0-2
Non-Conf. Opp. Record 34-18 30-21 32-19 28-22
FBS Non-Conf. Opp. Record 29-12 19-18 32-19 28-22
Avg. Opponent Rank* 46 46 36 54
Scoring Offense 38.5 36.0 48.7 43.2
Scoring Defense 10.5 8.8 26.8 21.9
* according to Massey rankings
^ also had neutral site victory over Top 25 team

Which of those teams has the best resume? With the same number of losses (again, assuming Alabama wins), LSU has three more wins over Top 25 teams, two more over Top 10 teams, and a better non-conference schedule (especially when throwing out FCS opponents Northwestern State and Georgia Southern). LSU’s one loss would be to the 2nd-ranked team on a neutral site. Alabama’s to the 1st-ranked team at home. Coming into the game, LSU holds the #1 ranking by every single voter. Judging by the above resumes, a very good case could be made for Oklahoma State over Alabama. The only real disparity between the two teams is scoring offense (OSU plus-12.7) and scoring defense (Alabama minus-18).

Some will say championships are won in January, not in November. But that’s not the way the college football landscape is set up. If the season came down to a playoff to decide the national champion, that statement would be correct, but it doesn’t. Every week throughout the season is critical. We currently have one team that ran the table the entire season. One undefeated team. And it already beat the team on the road that it has to beat again in order to officially be awarded the title of national champs.

Barring a West Virginia-Clemson-style blowout by Alabama, Monday night’s game should just be for show. Sure we’ll all watch and the SEC and BCS apologists will point to the TV ratings to show that the BCS got it right, but the 2011 National Champion should be the LSU Tigers regardless of what happens in tonight’s ultra-hyped BCS national scrimmage.

Oh So Sweet: Michigan to Face Virginia Tech in Sugar Bowl

Monday, December 5th, 2011

Imagine how you felt at this time three years ago, watching the bowl selection show and knowing Michigan was staying home for the first time in nearly four decades. Then move forward a year and think about watching bowl season without your beloved Maize and Blue for the second straight year. Now advance to this time a year ago, finally being bowl eligible, but limping into the Gator Bowl on the heels of two blowout losses with a lame duck and beleaguered coach.

Now, imagine Bourbon Street and Cafe DuMonde, creole food and ragtag jazz musicians on every corner. But best of all, imagine Ryan Van Bergen and Mike Martin, Kevin Koger and David Molk, and the rest of Michigan’s seniors who chose to stay through three head coaches, multiple coordinators, and more scrutiny than any Michigan class in decades now going to a BCS bowl.

On Sunday night, Michigan was selected by the Sugar Bowl to face the Virginia Tech Hokies on January 3. It will be Michigan’s first BCS appearance since a Rose Bowl loss to USC at the end of the 2006 season and Michigan’s first ever matchup with Virginia Tech.

Michigan hasn’t won a BCS bowl since a 35-34 overtime win over Alabama in the 2000 Orange Bowl. Since then, Michigan has made a BCS bowl three times, all losses in the Rose Bowl, two to USC and one to Texas. Michigan has played in one Sugar Bowl previously (before the BCS existed), losing 9-7 to Auburn in 1984, and is 18-3 all-time against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. Virginia Tech is 1-0 against Big Ten opponents and  1-2 in Sugar Bowls.

It creates an intriguing matchup two of the nation’s top ten defenses. The Hokies allow 17.2 points per game – identical to Michigan – and rank 12th nationally in total defense, giving up 313 yards per game. Offensively, the Hokies average 28.5 points per game and rank 31st in rush offense and 66th in pass offense. They do boast the nation’s seventh-best rusher, David Wilson, who averages 125 rushing yards per game, but Michigan has seen its share of talented running backs this season.

Neither team is very familiar with the other, having never played before. Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, in his 25th season at the school, said he hasn’t seen much of Michigan but knows Denard Robinson can move.

Michigan coaches and players say likewise about the Hokies, but also talk about what this means for the program.

“It puts us back on the map, so to speak, as a national powerhouse,” said senior Ryan Van Bergen. “It will be great for recruiting, it will be great for the alumni and the fans, but the biggest thing for us: team 132 wants to play again. We’ve really grown close. We have great team chemistry, and the opportunity to play one more game on a stage as big as the Sugar Bowl is huge for us.”

More to follow on the matchup in the coming weeks.


In other BCS news, Alabama edged out Oklahoma State to get a spot in the BCS National Championship game against LSU, thus proving what we all already knew: the BCS system is terrible. The same system that denied Michigan a shot at a rematch against Ohio State in 2006 allowed Alabama a rematch against an LSU team that came into its own house and beat it a few weeks ago. If you don’t think there’s an SEC bias, you’re crazy.

Alabama beat Penn State and Auburn on the road and Arkansas at home. Aside from those three, the Crimson Tide didn’t beat a another FBS team that finished with a record above .500. So much for the “vaunted” SEC.

What about the team they held off? Oklahoma State recorded wins over four teams that finished in the BCS Top 25, including a 44-10 stomping of rival Oklahoma on Saturday, and averaged 49.3(!) points per game. Its only loss was in double-overtime at Iowa State. Seven of the Cowboys’ 11 wins were against teams that finished the season with winning records.

Alabama was given the spot in the BCS National Championship game, not because of the season-long results on the field (the overall body of work), but because of the perception that the SEC is be-all end-all in college football. Critics of some type of playoff or plus-one system should be locked away.

The worst part of it is that the system designed to choose the top two teams completely failed the number one team in the nation. LSU is far and away the best team in the nation this season. They’re the only undefeated team in the country, having beaten Pac-12 champion Oregon on a neutral field, Big East champion West Virginia on the road, Alabama on the road, and 10-3 Georgia on a neutral field.

LSU proved it can beat Alabama at Alabama. Why does it have to prove it again? If Alabama wins, who can anyone rightfully call them the better team? If we’re going to throw any other conference out of contention for this season’s national champion, one of two things should happen: LSU should be crowned national champion right now and Oklahoma State should face Alabama for #2, or Alabama should have to beat LSU twice to claim the crown since the Tide already lost to the Tigers once – in Tuscaloosa no less.

Yet it’s not a perfect system and the BCS relishes controversy and the TV ratings and dollars that come with it. And while the same system that got Alabama into the title game this year screwed Michigan out of it five years ago, Michigan was one of the beneficiaries of it this year. So we’ll enjoy our Sugar in New Orleans while our little siblings to the north are relegated to the Outback Bowl.

BCS Bubble Watch: A Michigan Fan’s Viewing Guide to Saturday

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

Michigan basketball fans have grown accustomed to sweating out Selection Sunday the past few years, anxiously awaiting whether the Wolverines would get a spot in the Big Dance or be left out. This weekend, Michigan football fans get their turn. While it’s not exactly the same – Michigan will still go to a good bowl regardless of what happens on Saturday – the outcome of Saturday’s conference championship games will determine whether Michigan plays in a prestigious BCS bowl or a typical New Year’s Day* bowl.

In all likelihood, only two of the following scenarios need to happen to get Michigan into the BCS (and most likely the Sugar Bowl), but why leave it up to chance? The more of these scenarios that happen, the better.

The winners of the six BCS conferences (SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac 12, Big East, and ACC) earn automatic berths into the four BCS bowls (the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, and Orange Bowl). If any of those happen to finish #1 or 2 in the final BCS standings, it will play in the BCS National Championship game, leaving a vacancy for an at-large.

An at-large selection must be ranked in the top 14 of the final BCS standings (teams from non-BCS conferences must be ranked in the top 12 or the top 16 if ranked higher than a BCS conference champion). Michigan currently stands at 16th with no games left to play, meaning the Wolverines have to leap frog two teams currently ranked ahead of them. Below is a list of Saturday’s games ranked in order of importance of what must happen for Michigan to make that jump.

For more on what needs to happen this Saturday, check out The Michigan Review’s breakdown.

1. SEC Championship: #1 LSU v. #14 Georgia (Line: LSU by 13.5)

This one is numero uno, since LSU and Alabama likely already have their spots in the BCS National Championship game secured. A Georgia win would give the Bulldogs the SEC’s automatic BCS bid and and knock Michigan out of contention for an at-large selection. At 10-2, Georgia is just two spots ahead of Michigan in the current rankings. A loss, even to the #1 team in the nation, would give the Bulldogs a third loss and drop them lower than Michigan. There’s an outside chance that a down-to-the-wire loss could keep Georgia ahead of Michigan, so root for Les Miles to help out his alma mater with a convincing victory.

Root for: A convincing victory by LSU


2. Big Ten Championship: #13 Michigan State v. #15 Wisconsin (Line: Wisconsin by 9.5)

This one is number two priority since regardless of who wins, one is bound to drop below Michigan. Wisconsin is #15 in the BCS and Michigan State is #13. The loser of this game would have a third loss and, therefore, likely drop below Michigan. MSU fans will argue that since they beat Michigan during the season, they deserve the BCS bid, but the reality is, they lost to Notre Dame and Nebraska and wouldn’t finish in the top 14 with a third loss. Wisconsin is just two hail marry’s away from a perfect season, but one was to 6-6 Ohio State. That, combined with a third loss, would pull the Badgers below 14th.

Like the LSU-Georgia game, an outside chance remains that an overtime game or a down-to-the-wire finish could keep the loser ahead of Michigan, so a lopsided win either way should be the goal.

Root for: A convincing win by one or the other. It really doesn’t matter who wins, but since we’re Michigan fans, keeping the Spartans from a Big Ten championship and a BCS bid would be ideal. Wisconsin convincingly.


3. Conference USA Championship: #6 Houston v. #24 Southern Miss (Line: Houston by 14)

Saturday TV Schedule
Time Game TV Root For:
12pm #24 Southern Miss at #6 Houston ABC
12:30pm Iowa State at #11 Kansas State
3:30pm #22 Texas at #17 Baylor ABC
4pm #14 Georgia v. #1 LSU CBS
8pm #10 Oklahoma at #3 Oklahoma State ABC
8pm #5 Virginia Tech v. #20 Clemson ESPN
8pm Fresno State at San Diego State
8:17pm #15 Wisconsin v. #13 Michigan State FOX
All times Eastern

The team everyone is forecasting Michigan to face in the Sugar Bowl, Houston, has turned in an impressive season. The Cougars have one of the most prolific offenses in the country led by senior quarterback Case Keenum. Had the Cougars compiled the type of season they did against BCS competition, they would be a shoe-in for the BCS National Championship game. However, the only team from a BCS conference that they played was the season-opener against UCLA (who finished 6-6) and Houston barely pulled out a 38-34 win.

A loss to Southern Miss would send the Cougars plummeting down the rankings, undoubtedly below Michigan, and freeing up a spot for the Wolverines in the BCS.

Root for: Southern Miss to pull off the upset, but it may also be a good game to watch to scout who could be Michigan’s Sugar Bowl opponent.


4a. #17 Baylor v. #22 Texas (Line: Baylor by 3)

The Big 12 no longer has a conference championship game since it is down to 10 teams and no divisions, but it will factor heavily into who plays in the BCS. This game and the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game could be interchangeable in terms of importance, but I see this one as slightly higher in importance. It won’t get Michigan into the BCS, but it could keep another team from jumping them.

Both teams are currently lower than Michigan, but Baylor is right on Michigan’s heels. Rightly or wrongly, the rankings view the Big 12 as a tougher conference than the Big 10 which explains why a three-loss Baylor squad is so close to a two-loss Michigan team. The fear here is another win over a Top 25 team would propel the Bears ahead of the stagnant Wolverines when the final rankings are released. The voters like the Bears with the Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Robert Griffin III and if he turns in a captivating performance in a big win, it could be enough to leapfrog the Bears over Michigan.

Texas, at 7-4 and 22nd in the BCS standings, has no chance of surpassing Michigan, so a Longhorn win would keep Baylor from moving up. With Mack Brown’s rumored retirement on Saturday (to which Burnt Orange Nation says not so fast), Texas could play inspired ball.

Root for: A Texas win.


4b. #3 Oklahoma State v. #10 Oklahoma (Line: Oklahoma State by 3.5)

I ranked this with a slightly lower priority as the Baylor-Texas game because I think the probability of Baylor jumping Michigan with a big win is greater than Oklahoma falling below Michigan with a loss. The Sooners started the season ranked #1 in the nation and despite losses to Texas Tech and Baylor, have fallen only to 10th. The loss of top receiver Ryan Broyles a month ago really hurt the Sooners in their loss to Baylor.

An Oklahoma win would obviously keep the Sooners above Michigan in the rankings and Oklahoma State probably wouldn’t even drop out of the top 10, so that wouldn’t help. Really the only way this game could help Michigan is an Oklahoma State blowout.

Root for: An Oklahoma State blowout [Edit: this is assuming Oklahoma State does not jump Alabama for the #2 spot. I don’t see it happening, but there may be enough voters out there who don’t want a rematch that in this scenario, they will intentionally drop Alabama to try to secure Oklahoma State a spot in the BCS National Championship. Since this is an 8pm game, hopefully by this point in the night, Kansas State (and/or Baylor/Houston) and Georgia will have lost and then we can root for Oklahoma to avoid any chance of Oklahoma State passing Alabama]


5. Iowa State v. #11 Kansas State (Line: Kansas State by 11)

This game is unlikely, but still has a rooting interest. At 9-2, Kansas State is 11th in the current BCS rankings. The only losses for the Wildcats were in back-to-back weeks a 58-17 route to then-#9 Oklahoma and #3 Oklahoma State. In addition, the last two weeks have weeks have been near upsets. K State beat Texas A&M 53-50 in four overtimes and then beat Texas 17-13 two weeks ago. A loss to Iowa State would certainly drop the Wildcats below Michigan, and it’s not out of the question. Kansas State has played a number of close games this season: the two mentioned above, a 10-7 win over Eastern Kentucky, 28-24 over Miami, 36-35 over Baylor, and beat Missouri and Texas Tech by a touchdown each. This isn’t a team that has blown opponents away.

Iowa State isn’t good at 6-5, but the Cyclones did pull off a shocking double-overtime upset of then-#2 Oklahoma State two weeks ago, and also beat Iowa at the beginning of the season.

Root for: Iowa State to pull off the upset


6. ACC Championship: #5 Virginia Tech v. #20 Clemson (Line: Virginia Tech by 7)

This game is probably the least likely to factor into Michigan’s BCS hopes. Win or lose, Virginia Tech is solidly ahead of Michigan and Clemson is unlikely to jump the Wolverines. After climbing as high as #5 in the BCS standings a little over a month ago, the Tigers are reeling with three losses in their last four games. Even with a win tomorrow, against a Hokie team Clemson already beat, it will be a longshot for the Tigers to move all the way to 14th.

Root for: Virginia Tech or anything but a Clemson blowout.


Fresno State v. San Diego State (Line: San Diego State by 8)

This game has no official bearing on the BCS rankings, but since Michigan beat San Diego State, a win by the Aztecs may help give Michigan a few more percentage points. At this point, every point helps.

Root for: A San Diego State win.


Obviously, not all of these things are going to happen, but at least a couple of them need to. LSU beating Georgia is a must. From there, at least one of the others (two to be safe) would be great and we can look forward to watching Brady Hoke take Team 132 into Michigan’s first BCS bowl since the 2006 season.

*Since New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday this year, the NFL takes center stage, pushing the usual New Year’s Day bowl games to Monday, January 2.

When Maize and Blue Meets Purple and Gold

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

This week, my job took me to Baton Rouge, La. for the battle of the Tigers. LSU entered as the nation’s top-ranked team while Auburn came to town ranked 20th. With three top LSU players suspended, a good game was expected in this rivalry that typically features tight matchups. Instead, LSU blew Auburn away 45-10. But how was the game day experience? I can describe it in two words: underwhelming and overrated.

It was my first experience of a true SEC football game (I had been to a game at Kentucky before, but that doesn’t really count), so I was hoping to be blown away. We always hear about SEC domination, not just on the field, but in tailgating and game day experience as well. However, I saw nothing that can’t be found in Ann Arbor, Happy Valley, South Bend, or Columbus on a college football Saturday.

The Chimes Restaurant & Tap Room - a must-visit when in Baton Rouge

The visit started with Friday night dinner at The Chimes Restaurant & Tap Room on Highland Road, just on the north edge of campus. If you get a chance to go to Baton Rouge, The Chimes is a must-visit if you’re looking for tasty southern food, plenty of beer options, and great atmosphere (SI’s Andy Staples plugged it last week).

Being a Friday night when I went, it was packed. I was told the wait for a table was an hour and a half – and I was only a single. My other option was to sit at the bar if I could find a stool. I chose that option and a stool opened up in about 10 minutes.

I had the duck and sausage gumbo and a barbecue shrimp po boy. Both were fantastic. I’m told the oysters are 35 cents on Tuesdays, so if you’re here during the week, that’s the night to come.

I’m not a fan of the NOLA brews, but I’d suggest trying the local Tin Roof Voodoo Bengal Pale Ale or Perfect Tin Amber. There’s also the array of New Orleans’ own Abita brews for your tasting pleasure. Aside from the large selection on tap, The Chimes has a wide assortment of bottles from around the world as well. Overall, it was a pleasant experience.

Game day started out with breakfast at another Baton Rouge staple, Louie’s Cafe. It’s your typical dive diner with great breakfast food and fast service. On a Saturday morning, it was packed with fans heading to the game. We were told the wait would be 30-40 minutes, but we were seated in about 20. I had the cheesy hashbrowns with sausage, monterrey jack cheese, and jalepenos as well as some cheese grits. Both were very good. My cousin had the cheesy grits and pancakes. She wanted waffles, but the waffle iron was broken, so that’s the only negative of the whole experience.

After breakfast, I drove towards the stadium, not wanting to park in the…umm…downtrodden areas just off campus. I found a huge free lot near the baseball fields, parked, and walked towards the stadium. Tailgating was everywhere, but certainly not the “you haven’t seen tailgating until you’ve seen the SEC” that I’ve always heard about.

Walking through all of the tailgating with a Michigan hat on, I didn’t get a single “Michigan sucks” or similar taunt (is it because we’re not seen as a national force anymore?). I did, however, get a couple of “Go Blue!”s from other guys with Michigan hats on, so it’s nice to se we’re everywhere.

Inside the stadium I found a good game day atmosphere, but again, not as great as I expected.

The LSU band performing shortly before kickoff

The colors and pageantry were nice. I really like the look of LSU’s field with the two different colored end zones and the tiger eye in the middle. The two bands played often, although often at the same time. The LSU band was seated in the middle of the student section, about halfway up instead of closer to the field like at most stadiums. The student section was good and loud, but the rest of the crowd was average.

For a rivalry game that had been played closely the past few years, and for the number one team in the nation, the atmosphere wasn’t anything to write home about. I would put it on par with a Michigan home game against a mid-level Big Ten team – certainly nowhere near the excitement, energy, or loudness of a Michigan-Notre Dame, -Michigan State, or -Ohio State game.

When the band wasn’t playing, the piped-in music was exclusively rap or hip hop, including this incredibly bad version of Michigan’s In the Big House. I actually prefer In the Big House to this thing.

The game was close for a quarter and a half before LSU stretched the lead to 21-3 at halftime. The Tigers (the purple and gold version) quickly put the game away in the first few minutes of the second half, and by the end of the third quarter, most of the student section had thinned out and the Auburn fans were heading for their cars.

After the game, there are a number of bars within walking distance, but I didn’t go to any as I wanted to get back and watch the MSU-Wisconsin and ND-USC games.

Overall, I’d rate the LSU game day experience better than Oklahoma, which I saw at the beginning of the season, but still well below Michigan, Penn State, and Ohio State. I’d say the only thing LSU has going for it compared to the Big Ten schools is the weather and the girls, but there’s something that just feels right about tailgating in the cold chill of late fall, so that’s not a huge advantage.

I would certainly recommend experiencing an LSU game if you get the chance, but don’t believe the SEC hype. I expected to be blown away, but came away still convinced that the SEC homers who say there’s nothing like the SEC have never been north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

For previous When Maize and Blue Meets… reviews, click here.