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Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable: Week 5

Roundtable hosted over at Our Honor Defend.

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.

I saw the defense play well throughout, and Michigan make a huge comeback in the second half, both of which were good. However, with every comeback, there is a team digging itself in a hole, and boy howdy did Michigan ever do that against the Badgers. 31 yards of total offense and 5 turnovers tell the tale before the comeback began. Of course, this goes to show that the spread can run both hot and cold, and oftentimes both in one game. Considering Wisconsin likely had the best defense that Michigan will see until heading to Columbus, hopefully the "cold" moments can be minimized (my tip: turn the ball over less frequently).

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?

I think the conference foe aspect has little to do with it. More likely, the USC and Florida players saw who the week's upcoming opponent was, and decided that Oregon State and Ole Miss, respectively, weren't worthy of their best effort. Coaches may also save some of the gameplan for better opponents, though they are more likely to understand that everything starts with a conference championship, and will do what is necessary to win. So pretty much what I'm trying to say is I think that's a dumb idea.

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?

Ringer will not be able to get the same number of carries or amount of yardage against Big Ten defenses that he did against lesser opponents (I'm including you, Indiana). Likewise, the Spartans will be far more likely to play from behind against good teams than they were against Florida Atlantic, for example. Hoyer will have to throw the ball more often (leading directly to EPIC FAIL), and Ringer will be less prominent in the gameplan.

Aside from that, Ringer's main credit to his name is yardage, and that comes primarily on the strength of having millions of carries. He has 187 so far this year (a whopping 41 more than the next closest guy). His yards per carry average isn't all that impressive, at 4.80 (Donald Brown of Connecticut, the guy with 146 carries, is up around 6.2 ypc), and is only going to go down. Keep in mind it's also propped up by a bunch of really long runs against FAU, and a 63-yarder against a Notre Dame team that was playing risky to try to get back into the game. He also gets tons of touches, with 40 plays (including incomplete passes) in the Cal game, 36 against Eastern Michigan, 45 against Florida Atlantic, 41 against the Irish, and 47(!) against Indiana. He's going to get worn out or hurt unless Dantonio gives him a little less responsibility (and whether he gets worn out or used less, either will take a toll on his Heisman candidacy).

The strength of schedule on Ringer's current run to glory is pitiful, by the way, and any national columnist seriously mentioning him as a Heisman candidate is a little premature, if not completely idiotic.

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?

I think the net change is essentially zero for people who know anything, and a pretty major negative for people who just listen to the talking heads on ESPN saying "OMG BIG TEN TEH SUX." Sure, Ohio State laid an egg against USC, and both Michigan and Purdue managed to lose to Notre Dame in equally embarrassing ways. However, Penn State crushed everyone in their way by ridiculous margins, Wisconsin beat a ranked team on the road, and both Northwestern and Minnesota (neither went bowling last year, Minnesota only managed to win one game) swept their conference play. 

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.

There are tons of stories about Michigan's football programs that could be told, and even some that already have. Without doing any research at all, here are the first few that came to mind:
  • The point-a-minute teams of Fielding Yost that dominated football's early years.
  • Tom Harmon: Heisman winner, war hero, acting family patriarch.
  • The Ten-Year War between Bo and Woody (hell, there could be a story just about Bo's first year in Ann Arbor).
  • The 2006 Redemption of Lloyd Carr (complete with Rocky/Friday Night Lights ending!).
...and so on.

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“Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable: Week 5”