Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Week Five, Get Gamm Previews ...

Illinois at Michigan State
Wisconsin at Indiana
Purdue at Notre Dame
Northwestern at Penn State
Michigan at Minnesota
Ohio State at Iowa (Tiebreaker)

Illinois at Michigan State
The question around college football this week went something like this, “how and the hell do you lose a game that you completely dominated and were up by 16 in with less than ten minutes to go?” The answer comes in the form of another question. Ever heard of the curse of the Great Bambino (Red Sox) or the curse of the Billy Goat (Cubs)? As a MSU grad, I have to say, there is simply a curse. This is at least the eighth time I have seen such a collapse in person and about the 15th overall since I got my letter of acceptance back in 1990. They all happen the same way, with the coach – be it Perles, Saban, Williams or Smith – going a little too conservative, a quarterback trying to do too much and someone, somewhere, falling asleep at the wheel. It’s maddening, it’s frustrating, it stings.

That off my chest … what a better way for MSU to bounce back than to play Illinois. Folks, this team may eventually head back in the right direction, but it isn’t happening this year. The Illini are just plain bad. Even if State is fighting a hangover, the green and white should run all over the Illinois defense (literally). Remember when they said last year that that Spartans couldn’t handle success after the overtime win in South Bend? Well, State went to Champaign and annihilated the Illini 61-14. It might not be that bad this season with cool temps and rain in the forecast, but it will be close. Michigan State 48 – Illinois 17.

Dan Meyer says … Illinois 14 at MICHIGAN STATE 28 -- I think that the Spartans may have a first half and perhaps even early third quarter hangover, but eventually Stanton and the green and white take care of business.

Wisconsin at Indiana
Like my picking partner for the week, I had this one down as an IU upset back when my preseason previews came out. After week two, that was looking like a smart pick. Not so much after a loss to 1-AA Southern Illinois and lowly Connecticut. Maybe it has to do with the brain surgery Coach Hoeppner had to endure. Or maybe it is really just a case of the Hoosiers struggling with a rookie quarterback. Whatever the case may be, this might be just what the doctor ordered for the Wisconsin offense. It has been, in a nutshell, painful to watch for much of the season. Expect the crimson defense to get a steady diet of P.J. Hill in this one and for the Badgers to even up their Big Ten record. Wisconsin 27 – Indiana 10.

Dan Meyer says … WISCONSIN 24 at Indiana 10 -- Picked a Hoosier upset in the preseason, but I am not sold on the IU offense. Stocco and the Badgers do just enough this week.

Purdue at Notre Dame
And they said no to the Big Ten. Despite shunning the Big Ten, our conference continues some rivalries with the Fighting Irish. This is Notre Dame’s fifth game against the Big Ten in its last six ball games, dating back to last year’s Fiesta Bowl. Thanks to the epic choke by the Spartans, we get to hear all over again how fantastic Notre Dame coach Jabba the Hut, er, I mean Charlie Weis is, how Brady Quinn is a shoe-in for a trip to NYC for the Heisman presentation and of course how the domers were not overrated despite getting clobbered by Michigan.

Purdue is the league’s last hope to hand N.D. a losing record over the said five game span. Trouble is; Purdue might not have the secondary to handle Quinn. The Boilermakers are a nice if not somewhat shaky 4-0 and could turn some heads with an upset win in South Bend. Aside from the defense, how will Curtis Painter handle the pressure of his first truly big game, a game on a national stage? If he is calm and collected, it will be a good old-fashioned barn-burner. If not, we could all be relegated to listening to the hype until the Irish play a decent team again, which isn’t slated to happen until late November (at USC). Notre Dame 45 – Purdue 27.

Dan Meyer says … Purdue 38 at NOTRE DAME 56 (oh, may the Boiler D catch me by surprise) -- Purdue can and will score points against a suspect Irish D, but I fear that Quinn vs. the Purdue secondary is a total mismatch.

Northwestern at Penn State
This one could go one of two ways. First, it could be a defensive battle that comes down to special teams play given that neither team is really tearing it up on defense so far this year. Or, it could be the game where the Nittany Lion offense awakes and runs wild on a Northwestern team that is slowly improving but that is still over-matched. Penn State is just 2-2 to start the season but don’t let the score of the Ohio State game fool you. The Nits were right in that until two late picks were returned for scores. Northwestern is also 2-2 but barely beat Miami-OH and Eastern Michigan while getting trounced by 1-AA New Hampshire. The purple battled at Nevada last Friday but still couldn’t make the plays to win. This one will be no different. Penn State 33 – Northwestern 13.

Dan Meyer says … Northwestern 17 at PENN STATE 34 -- Certainly the Nittany Lions are better than the Wildcats in Happy Valley.

Ohio State at Iowa
The Game of the Week in the Big Ten. Might even wind up being the Game of the Season. No one and I mean no one likes to travel to Kinnick to play the Hawkeyes. From pink locker rooms to raucous crowds and a fundamentally sound Iowa squad, trips to Iowa City are no picnic. The Hawkeye faithful will be even more fired up for this one since it is a night game against the number one team in the land. Now, Iowa might be 0-9-1 all time against top-ranked teams, but don’t let that sway you in this one.

Ohio State looked plenty human against Penn State in Columbus and the Nittany Lions don’t have a quarterback like Drew Tate. This game will be all about field position, ball control and limiting mistakes. Iowa has been unimpressive so far this season, but they are like a hungry gator laying in wait in the tall saw grass. This is Ohio State’s third big game in four weeks and another sluggish start could spell doom. I’m sticking with my preseason pick of Iowa hanging a big “L” on the Buckeyes in this game… on a late field goal. Iowa 19 – Ohio State 17.

Dan Meyer says … Ohio State 14 at IOWA 16 -- Could be wrong, but I think that we may see some "Kinnick magic" Saturday.

Michigan @ Minnesota
The Little Brown Jug finally returned to the Twin Cities last season after a lengthy stay in Ann Arbor. Unfortunately for the Golden Gopher faithful, it may be a while before they see it again after this one. The Gophers are 2-2 and while they’ve shown flashes of brilliance, they’ve also been downright mediocre against better teams. Michigan and Temple aren’t in the same stratosphere and Minnesota will not have to run against a run D like the Wolverines have the rest of the way. Chad Henne and Mario Manningham has become a deadly pitch and catch combo and that will continue in the Homer Dome. Minnesota keeps it close early, but Michigan exacts some revenge for the loss last year and reclaims the jug. Michigan 31 – Minnesota 14.

Dan Meyer says … MICHIGAN 26 at Minnesota 14 -- Pinnix and Cupito keep the game interesting through halftime, but the Wolverines are too strong in the long run.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Monday Morning QB...
And then there were four ... four unbeatens that is. After the opening weekend of conference play for all but Indiana and Michigan State, four teams sit atop the conference, and the same four remain perfect on the season. Michigan buckled down in the second half to defensively dominate Wisconsin. Purdue won a wild one with Minnesota. Ohio State sealed a tougher than the final score indicated victory over Penn State with two late interception returns for touchdown. Iowa fought off a pesky Illinois team to set up a show down with the Buckeyes this weekend.

For others, it was all about heartbreak. Northwestern fought and clawed and gave it a great effort but fell short at Nevada. Indiana came up a score short against UConn. And then there was Michigan State. Oh to be a Spartan this Monday morning. Okay, so it is nothing new to watch my alma mater snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but it is particularly painful when you dominate a rival for 50 minutes, weather a soaking rain and swirling winds and don't arrive home until 2 am! Last year the experts were on watch to see if MSU could handle the success of beating Notre Dame in overtime. This week we're all on standby to see how the Spartans respond to the adversity of a never should have happened loss.

Team of the Week...
I could give it to Michigan again, but instead, I'm going with the scarlet and gray. This was the second big game in three weeks with a huge road trip looming this weekend as well. OSU fought through the offensive doldrums and slugged out a win setting up a big contest with Iowa this Saturday.

Player of the Week...
Michigan's Mario Manningham. The sophomore became the second Wolverine to win the conference honor two straight weeks (Desmond Howard was the other) and now has five TDs in the last two games.

Get Gamm Standings...
The winner for the week was Purdue fan Dan Meyer who went 7-0 and nailed the point differential on the tiebreaker.

1 - phatsdawg: 35-5 (.875)
2 - Dan Meyer: 34-6 (,850), 1 GG win
3 - mayo170: 33-7 (.825)
T4 - Gamm: 32-8 (.800), 1 GG win
T4 - flakcat: 32-8 (.800)
T4 - Buckeye Nation: 32-8 (.800), 1 GG win
T7 - andrewj1313: 31-9 (.775)
T7 - BigTenSportsFan: 31-9 (.775), 1 GG win
T9 - Aaron Roberts: 20-2 (.909)*
T9 - Mike: 10-1 (.909)*
11 - PUFan: 14-4 (.777)*

* Missed weeks, not eligible for prize

This weekend's slate...
Illinois at Michigan State
Wisconsin at Indiana
Purdue at Notre Dame
Northwestern at Penn State
Michigan at Minnesota
Ohio State at Iowa (Tiebreaker)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Week Four - Get Gamm Previews ...
Big Ten play kicks off this weekend, but three more teams still go out of conference for the weekend. The game of the week in conference takes place in C-bus. But all eyes are more likely to be on East Lansing for a primetime game with a ton of side stories.

Joining me this week is BigTenSportsFan. To say he's an optimist is an understatement. An over-exhuberant, glass is over-flowing type of guy - but you gotta love his enthusiasm for the Big Ten and Ball State!

Northwestern at Nevada (Friday)
Not exactly your made for prime time match-up here. Northwestern was going to be rebuilding a bit even with Randy Walker, his sudden death has only made things a bit tougher. The Wildcats squeezed out a "W" over hapless Eastern Michigan a week ago and things get tougher when they travel to face the Wolfpack. With the Big Ten slate looming and wins no easier to come by as the weeks pass, a surprise road win here would really be an accomplishment just a few weeks after an embarassing home loss to a 1-AA school. NU is struggling on offense and unless it finds itself in Reno, the 'cats may have to settle for a two win season. Nevada 30 - Northwestern 13

BigTenSportsFan says: Expect the notoriously stingy Wildcat D to put up another stifling performance. Mike Kafka shreds the Wolfpack D and Northwestern is primed for the conference season. Northwestern 48 @ Nevada 10
Iowa at Illinois
The perfect tune up for Iowa before a big date with Ohio State. Illinois is, well, there is only one way to put it - horrible. Look for the future to get an early start at quarterback for Illinois in an effort to shake things up and to, well, build for tomorrow. Ron Zook will get this program right, but we're seeing just how poorly his predecesor recruited. Iowa needs to make sure they score early and often and then get Drew Tate off the field to rest up for the biggest game Kinnick has seen in some time. I expect that to be the case, though Illinois will hang tough for a quarter. Iowa 37 - Illinois 10.
BigTenSportsFan says: Ron Zook gives an emotional pre-game speech that riles up the troops, but Drew Tate solidifies himself as a Heisman contender as the Hawkeyes squeak out of Champaign unscathed. Iowa 31 @ Illinois 30 (2OT)
Minnesota at Purdue
This is a true separation game. One team will head out of the Big Ten opener as a legit threat to make some noise in the conference. Neither will compete for the title, but the winner will be making a statement in this one. Why? Well, Purdue has picked on two MAC foes and a 1-AA team on a lengthy losing streak. The Golden Gophers have also picked on the MAC and Temple, who might be the worst team in all of college football (can you say Prarie View A&M all over again). Minnesota got hammered by its one true test - California. These teams have played some fantastic games over the past few years and this one will be no different. It'll be a high scoring, overtime affair, with Purdue getting the best of the Gophers. Purdue 35 - Minnesota 28.
BigTenSportsFan says: Curtis Painter v. Bryan Cupito. Folks, if that doesn't get your heartrate going, nothing will. The Boilers win an instant classic! Minnesota 42 @ Purdue 45
Wisconsin at Michigan
This one tends to get lost in the shuffle with the games in Columbus and East Lansing, but don't sleep on this game. Wisconsin beat Michigan last year and although the Badgers are 3-0 this year, they are not given much of a chance to win in Ann Arbor given the beat down the maize and blue put on Notre Dame last Saturday. The Michigan defense is downright stiffling, particularly against the run. Given the lack of a rythmic passing game so far for the Badgers, that doesn't bode well for an upset. Still, these teams always play classic, grind 'em out battles and this will be no different. Michigan rides Hart and Grady to a nice win and a little more revenge for last year's debacle. Michigan 24 - Wisconsin 14.
BigTenSportsFan says: The Wolverines were the team of the week, but don't think the Badgers will just roll over and play dead. Motivated by their BCS snub last year, the Badgers fight tooth and nail but lose on a 55-yarder by Garrett Rivas at the horn. Wisconsin 20 @ Michigan 21
Connecticut at Indiana
This week's insomniac special. Connecticut made some noise a few years ago but has done little with the momentum. Indiana should be 3-0 with a shot to win this game to get as close as they've been to a bowl in September since, well, who knows when! But alas, the Hoeppner-less Hoosiers lost to 1-AA Southern Illinois last week and now need this one and some major breaks the rest of the way to sniff a bowl berth. The program is heading in the right direction, slowly, though quicker than Illinois. Indiana 33 - UConn 24
BigTenSportsFan says: Folks, I saw the Hoosiers win an epic clash in Muncie -- and I'm sold! This team is for real and on it's way to a bowl. Connecticut 0 @ Indiana 38
Penn State at Ohio State
This is a key clash in the Big Ten this season. There are few teams with a shot at upseting the number one Buckeyes, and Penn State might still be one of them. The Nittany Lions have struggled to get a rythm on offense though and that could haunt them when facing a team that can score on a dime. OSU has been better than expected on the defensive side of the ball and will be able to attack in a balanced manner on offense. This is stop two for the scarlet and gray on the revenge from last year tour and while this won't mimic the disasterous trip to South Bend for the Nits, it will not be the win they are seeking. Ginn and Co. run away late. Ohio State 33 - Penn State 17.
BigTenSportsFan says: A past coaching legend (JoePa) battles a current legend (Coach T). Paul Posluszny vs. Troy Smith is your Cialis matchup of the week -- because if you can't get it up to watch that, you never will! Penn State 27 @ Ohio State 34
Notre Dame at Michigan State
In case you live in a cave, let me recap the reasons to watch this game. One, it is a primetime, ABC contest. Two, Michigan State seemed to have pissed off N.D. something fierce when they planted the Spartan flag at the 35 after last years overtime win in South Bend. Three, Michigan State did that because the Megaphone trophy was still in storage and, hey, they have won there five straight times. Four, reportedly, Coach Weis told some Irish boosters that he'd never lose to MSU again. Five, it is a celebration of the "Game of the Century" 10-10 tie. Six, Hightower, er Bubba Smith is having his number retired. You follow? Oh and there is something about the quarterbacks being Mel Kiper's two top players at the position for next year's NFL draft. The forecast calls for wind and rain and that is to MSU's advantage. The Spartans are better on the ground, including Drew Stanton. In an emotional win, this time the flag is planted at home... Michigan State 31 - Notre Dame 27
BigTenSportsFan says: Drew Stanton solidifies himself as a Heisman Trophy candidate with a masterful performance on the banks of the Red Cedar. The Bo Jackson of our time (Matt Trannon) hauls in 12 more catches as the Notre Dame defense gets slaughtered by a Big Ten foe for the third straight week. Notre Dame 13 @ Michigan State 45

Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Morning QB...

Three weeks down and the Big Ten is still on fire. Well, most of it anyway. Six teams, best in 1-A ball mind you - are unbeaten in the Big Ten. Not bad for a conference that the pundits annually place behind the SEC and even ACC and Big Twelve in terms of talent and depth. Michigan anihilated Notre Dame in South Bend. Michigan State man-handled Pitt on the road. OSU and Wisconsin breezed to their third wins. Iowa and Purdue had a tougher go but go there. It's good to be in the Big Ten

Well, it's good except for Indiana, who became the second conference member to lose to a 1-AA team (Southern Illinois). And then there is Illinois. This might have been the last good chance for the Illini to get a win. Northwestern struggled again and believe me, this isn't about the loss of Coach Walker. This team is just a hair above Juco when the offense (except Sutton) takes the field.

Minneosta and Penn State rebounded and give the Big Ten eight teams with a legitimate shot at a bowl game this holiday season. Yep, the Big Ten is looking good. Michigan State has a chance to make it 2-1 against Notre Dame and the conference race officially gets underway. Tighten the chin straps, this is going to be a wild ride.

Team of the Week...

Nothing more needs to be said than, Michigan.

Player of the Week...

So many to choose from, only one POTW award to hand out. I'm going to give mine to the Michigan defense. They set the tone early in a shockingly easy win at Notre Dame and served notice to the country that last year was a fluke...

Get Gamm Standings...
BigTenSportsFan wins last week for his WAG on the ND - Michigan score. BTSF, get me your picks by Wed. evening.

1 - mayo170 - 29-4 (.879)
T2 - Gamm - 28-5 (.848), 1 GG win
T2 - andrewj1313 - 28-5 (.848)
T2 - phatsdawg - 28-5 (.848)
T5 - Dan Meyer - 27-6 (.818)
T5 - flakcat - 27-6 (.818)
T5- BigTenSportsFan - 27-6 (.818), 1 GG win
8 - Buckeye Nation - 26-7 (.788), 1 GG win
T9 - Aaron Roberts - 20-2 (.909)*
T9 - Mike - 10-1 (.909)*
11 - PUFan - 8-3 (.727)*

* = Did not play week two
This weekend's slate:

Northwestern @ Nevada (Friday)
Iowa @ Illinois
Minnesota @ Purdue
Wisconsin @ Michigan
Connecticut @ Indiana
Penn State @ Ohio State
Notre Dame @ Michigan State (Tiebreaker)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Week Three, Get Gamm Previews

Iowa State at Iowa
Nothing like an early season, in-state rivalry to kick off week three for the Big Ten. Iowa and Iowa State are both 2-0 and both have already had at least one near-loss experience. For Iowa, that came last week when the Hawkeyes struggled in several facets of the game only to rebound with seven, yes, seven stops inside the 3-yard line in the second overtime of a win over Syracuse. Yes, that all took place without senior star Drew Tate, but it still raises some questions. Meanwhile, the Cyclones, who have won six of the last eight over the Hawkeyes, won on a failed Toledo two-point conversion in overtime in week one and with some controversy over UNLV a last week. Iowa State has Texas after this one so now’s the time to get things going right. IF Drew Tate plays for Iowa, the Hawkeyes eke out a close win, if not, ISU will rain on the Hawkeyes parade yet again. IOWA 24 – IOWA STATE 23.

Syracuse at Illinois
Syracuse is really a lot better than everyone thought, Iowa had a really bad day or it was a combination of both last week. The same can be said for Illinois in its loss to Rutgers. Whatever the case may be, we’ll find out more about these two teams when the Orangemen travel to Champaign to take on the Fighting Illini. Illinois was highly ineffective in all the areas that matter in a shutout loss at Rutgers. Syracuse couldn’t stay alive against Iowa even with seven chances to punch it in from close in a double overtime loss. This one might be a cure-all for insomniacs, or it could wind up being a good game. I don’t think the ‘cuse is as good as they “appeared” last week, nor is Illinois quite as bad. When in doubt, go with the home team… ILLINOIS 20 – SYRACUSE 17.

Michigan State at Pittsburgh
If not for the plethora of fantastic match-ups around college football this weekend, this game would be one of the best to take the time to watch. Two senior quarterbacks who are having great early season success lead their teams into the first true tests of the season. Michigan State looked somewhat unimpressive in its opener (Idaho) and aside from a few plays in a short period, dominated Eastern Michigan last week. Pittsburgh has certainly beaten better foes, well at least opponents from BCS conferences, but neither 1-1 Virginia nor 1-1 Cincinnati have done much to prove that they will go bowling this winter. The Panthers have a more proven defense but Michigan State has a much more balanced offensive attack. Both teams will score with relative ease but it will be a special teams play that changes this game. In a memorable battle, MSU edges Pitt on, of all things, a late field goal. MICHIGAN STATE 31 – PITTSBURGH 28.

Cincinnati at Ohio State
What is 109 years? That is the Jeopardy style question to the answer: The amount of time it has been since the Bearcats have defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in football. Will it end this weekend or extend another year? The answer to that question might not be as obvious as you think. Why? Simple, Ohio State comes in riding high after a huge road win at No. 2 Texas and is sandwiched between that victory and a huge battle with the other team that knocked them off last season – Penn State. The last time the Buckeyes were a national title contender, the Bearcats led for most of the game before falling to OSU in dramatic fashion. The scarlet and gray went on to win the national crown that season. The circumstances are similar except that was a better Cincinnati squad. Ohio State may have to shake some early cobwebs, but I fully expect the Buckeyes to roll in the second half and head into another big game with a perfect 3-0 record. OHIO STATE 33 – CINCINNATI 9.

Ball State at Purdue
It is MAC v. B10 Part XI when the Cardinals of Ball State cross the state to take on Purdue. After a heartbreaking loss to Indiana last week, Ball State will be hungry to take out its frustrations on the Boilermakers. Purdue barely escaped MAC foes Miami-OH last week, a team that lost its home opener to Northwestern, who got pounded by 1-AA New Hampshire last week. Okay, so none of that really matters. What does is the fact that Purdue is having trouble stopping anyone and Ball State is really a pretty good team with a better than you’d think defense. This would be a huge upset, but not a shocker. That said; look for the gold and black to edge BSU with a late drive: PURDUE 37 – BALL STATE 30.

Michigan @ Notre Dame
The Game of the Week, in my opinion, in all of college football this weekend. ESPN Gameday needs to bag the trip to Southern Cal and head to South Bend. The two winningest programs lace ‘em up for what should be a great battle. The Fighting Irish have more or less owned Michigan of late and the Wolverines have lost six straight road openers. Michigan has not win in South Bend since 1994 and it may be another couple of years if the passing game doesn’t come around. The Wolverines’ new zone blocking scheme has really paid dividends for Mike Hart and company, but it is Chad Henne and the passing game that is drawing some concern. If Michigan is to pull off the mild upset, the defense will have to be great and the offense productive. Notre Dame is explosive with the ball and better than recent memory on defense. If it comes down to special teams, the maize and blue might get the nod, but ND wins with the home crowd on its side. NOTRE DAME 24 – MICHIGAN 20.

The rest of the slate (hey, busy week and a late summer round of golf calls, so not much food for thought on the rest…)

Eastern Michigan @ Northwestern – Eastern gave Michigan State a scare for about 3 minutes last week while Northwestern lost to a 1-AA squad. This one will be closer than it should be, but Northwestern keeps the Big Ten unbeaten against the MAC. NORTHWESTERN 31 – EASTERN MICHIGAN 27.

Youngstown State @ Penn State – This isn’t a Jim Tressel coached YSU machine. Penn State is stinging after losing – and how – to Notre Dame and takes it out on Youngstown State. PENN STATE 45 – YOUNGSTOWN STATE 14.

Southern Illinois @ Indiana – It’s all about winning one for Coach this week for IU. After a tight battle with in-state MAC foe Ball State, the Hoosiers get a little breather. INDIANA 34 – SOUTHERN ILLINOIS 20.

Temple @ Minnesota – Minnesota’s OOC streak is over but a new one will start this week when Temple comes calling. The Owls might just have the worst program in all of college football, regardless of division. MINNESOTA 56 – TEMPLE 9.

San Diego State @ Wisconsin – San Diego State has a fighting chance in this one, though Wisconsin is slowly getting better in the preseason areas of concern. This will be tight until the 4t quarter when the Badgers kick it up a notch and grind out a win. WISCONSIN 30 – SAN DIEGO STATE 20.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Monday Morning QB...
Week two of the college football season is in the books and after a stellar 11-0 start, the Big Ten fell to earth over the weekend. The match-ups were tougher - by far - and the results tell the story. 7-4 for the week, with three big road losses and a shocking home loss to a 1-AA squad.

Penn State played Notre Dame for the first time in 14 years and found out that they have work to do to be anywhere close to last year's team. The Nittany Lions were outmatched on defense and struggled to get things rolling on the offensive side of the ball. Minnesota ran into an angry Cal team and lost its first non-conference regular season game in the last several years. Illinois got smacked around at Rutgers and really, really struggled on the offensive side of the ball. Finally, there was Northwestern, playing an emotional home opener against 1-AA New Hampshire. New Hampshire took control early and never looked back in a telling loss for Northwestern.

On the bright side, Ohio State dominated defending national champion Texas and in the process boosted Troy Smith up the early Heisman watch list. Michigan and Michigan State had no troubles (well, virtually no troubles - fans of both schools know what I am speaking about) with in-state, directional MAC squads although both Indiana and Purdue did struggle to put away their MAC foes (Ball State and Miami-OH). Iowa fought to a tough, overtime road win without Drew Tate and Wisconsin breezed over 1-AA Western Illinois.

Team of the Week...
How can it not be the Buckeyes? Ohio State served notice that it reloaded just fine, thank you, on defense and is fully loaded on offense. From the looks of it, only the scarlet and gray's own possible complacency (if it ever comes to fruition) stands in the way of the Bucks and a trip to the national title game.

Player of the Week...
Michigan State's Matt Trannon was brilliant in a Spartan blowout win over Eastern Michigan. Trannon broke the school record for receptions in a game with 14, scored two touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass as well. It might well have been the best game ever for the senior who may have previously been more well known for what he meant to Tom Izzo and the basketball team.

Get Gamm Standings...
No one out-picked yours truly this week but that shouldn't stop you from continuing to try!

T1 - Gamm - 20-2 (.909), 1 GG win
T1 - Buckeye Nation - 20-2 (.909), 1 GG win
T1 - Dan Meyer - 20-2 (.909)
T1 - mayo170 - 20-2 (.909)
T1 - Aaron Roberts - 20-2 (.909)
T6 - andrewj1313 - 19-3 (.864)
T6 - phatsdawg - 19-3 (.864)
T6 - flakcat - 19-3 (.864)
9 - BigTenSportsFan - 18-4 (.818)
10 - Mike - 10-1 (.909)*
11 - PUFan - 8-3 (.727)*

* = Did not play week two

This weekend's slate:
Iowa State @ Iowa
Syracuse @ Illinois
Michigan State @ Pittsburgh
Cincinnati @ Ohio State
Ball State @ Purdue
Eastern Michigan @ Northwestern
Youngstown State @ Penn State
Michigan @ Notre Dame (TIEBREAKER)
Southern Illinois @ Indiana
Temple @ Minnesota
San Diego State @ Wisconsin

Friday, September 08, 2006

Week Two - Get Gamm Previews

Editor's Note: To "Get Gamm" simply post your scores for each game in the comments area here or under Monday AM QB. You have to play all season to qualify for the prize. Joining me this week is Buckeye Nation, who went a perfect 11-0 and nailed the tiebreaker.

Central Michigan at Michigan
At first glance, this the seventh Big Ten battle with the MAC in this young season, might seem like a sure blow out for the maize and blue. But for one, Michigan didn't play that well in week one against a Vanderbilt team that everyone thought they'd blow out. Two, Central Michigan pulled out all the stops and aside from a lame-brain trick play that cost the Chips a late shot at tying the game with Boston College, CMU went toe to toe with a big program from a big conference. True, that was at home and this is at The Big House. But, stranger things have happened.

That said, Michigan has the perfect opportunity to get its struggling passing game going. Central gave up yards in droves and that might be just what the doctor ordered. Also, don't expect the Wolverines to be as shoddy on defense as the Eagles were in the opener. If the old adage that the biggest improvement for a football team comes in the second game, the Chippewas better take cover. It'll be close early, but Michigan controls this one when it counts. Michigan 37 - Central Michigan 14.

Buckeye Nation says ... Henne will get sacked by the best pass rusher in the MAC, but Central has no offense. UM 34 - CMU 6

Illinois at Rutgers
On the surface this one seems like a game to avoid. However, the teams played well in their respective openers and were involved in a thriller in Champaign last fall. Rutgers certainly beat tougher competition to start the season (road win at North Carolina versus an Illini home win over 1-AA Eastern Illinois) but Illinois is slowly coming together. I expect this to be another battle. Rutgers has that salty taste remaining from last season and wants to prove the bowl berth a season ago wasn't a once every 30 years occurence. Look for the Scarlet Knights and Fighting Illini to try and control the ball on the ground, but in the end, Rutgers is more put together and toughs out another win. Rutgers 24 - Illinois 20.

Buckeye Nation says ... The Illini may get caught reeling from the announcement that Chief Illiniwek and a tough road test. Rutgers 23 - Illini 13

New Hampshire at Northwestern
A battle of Wildcats that could be, shockingly, one of the more entertaining games to watch kicks off in Evanston on Saturday. For Northwestern, it is the home opener. For New Hampshire, it is a chance for a 1-AA squad to pull another Montanta State (win over Colorado last weekend). It isn't far fetched to think that N.H. could win this game either. It took a full effort for Northwestern to beat Miami-OH last weekend and unless the offense wakes up a little, it could be a scary day. Lou Holtz rah-rah of the other team aside, Northwestern should win this game. It might be closer than they want or expect, but look for Tyrell Sutton to go gangbusters and for the purple Wildcats to start the season 2-0. Northwestern 38 - New Hampshire 28.

Buckeye Nation says ... New Hampshire is more famous for Presidential primaries than for football. Wildcats get the most votes and score the most points. Northwestern 28 - New Hampshire 6

Miami-OH at Purdue
Big Ten vs. MAC part VIII. Miami struggled mightily in its home opener against a defense it should have had success against. Purdue scored a lot of points but also gave up a bunch to a 1-AA team (Indiana State) that has now lost 12 straight. Logic says Miami should have more offensive success while Purdue works to keep its own offensive train rolling. Whatever the case may be, both teams should be more fluid than they were in their openers, after all, isn't that Murphy's Law? Make it Big Ten 8, MAC 0. Purdue 31 - Miami-OH 17.

Buckeye Nations says ... Purdue can score points, but their defense looks suspect. Miami loses to another Big 10 team. Boilers 36 - RedHawks 24

Western Illinois at Wisconsin
In the game of the week as far as visiting mascots go (who can't cheer for a team that calls itself the Leathernecks?), WIU heads to Madison to partake in Bret Bielema's home opener. Western Illinois was impressive in its 1-AA opener but Morehead State is no Wisconsin. Even with the Badgers looking to further define the skill positions, look for P.J. Hill to get 35-40 carries and for the Badgers to simply wear out their smaller opponent. Not much more to say for these cupcake games... Wisconsin 41 - Western Illinois 9.

Buckeye Nation says ... Where is Western Illinois? Under the claws of Wisconsin. Badgers 38 - W. Illinois 10

Penn State at Notre Dame
Sorry OSU and Texas fans, but if I wasn't going to East Lansing for the Michigan State game, this is the one college game that I am most intrigued by this weekend. Why? Simple - tradition. Plain Jane blue and white against the Golden Domers. Notre Dame's home opener. This one has the makings of a classic. Penn State looked solid against a decent Akron team last weekend, while N.D. struggled against what is probably a better than first though Georgia Tech squad on the road. With the pressure of the first game off his shoulders, Brady Quinn should be able to settle down the offense and produce a little more. Then again, Penn State has a better attack than the Yellow Jackets. The difference will be on offense. Can Anthony Morelli lead a young and potentially potent offense to a huge road win? Give me the experience of Quinn and company in a close one. Notre Dame 27 - Penn State 24 in overtime.

Buckeye Nation says ... The Nits hang tough, but the Irish win a big one for the home crowd. Irish 32 - Lions 28

Eastern Michigan at Michigan State
In the first two weeks of the season, 10 of the Big Ten's 22 games are against the Mid American Conference. Eastern Michigan isn't often thought of as a power in the MAC but this is a decent team. The Eagles went 4-7 last season but lost a pair of games by a point and another by 2. Sure, some of that talent is gone, but EMU has a QB that plays and runs more like a tailback in Tyler Jones. Jones rushed for 164 yards last week - IN THE FIRST HALF! Meanwhile, many looked at the final score of the MSU - Idaho game and assumed that the Spartans played poorly. Without intesity at times maybe, but you can hardly call no turnovers, just two penalties and only one play allowed that covered more than 20 yards as poor. Look for the offensive and defensive fronts to play much better and for Drew Stanton, Javon Ringer and Matt Trannon to have banner days. Michigan State 41 - Eastern Michigan 17.

Buckeye Nation says ... The Spartans sometimes have problems with the directional schools in their home state, but not this year. Drew Stanton controls. Spartans 38 - EMU 13

Iowa at Syracuse
A few years ago, this would have been a good game to tune into. That was when Syracuse was good. While the Orangemen can play some defefnse, the offense is, in a word, abysmal. The conversion to the West Coast look is taking time and the proper talent isn't in place so if there is to be a fairly monumental upset here, it will have to be because Iowa beat itself. Anyone that follows the Big Ten knows that Coach Ferentz and the Hawkeyes don't travel that road all too often. Look for Drew Tate and Albert Young to have big games and for the Iowa defense to pitch a shutout. Iowa 31 - Syracuse 0.

Buckeye Nation says ... A few years ago, this might have been an exciting game. This year, only the Hawks will be excited. Hawkeyes 41 - Orangemen 13

Minnesota at Cal
This one is a head scratcher. On one hand, you have a Minnesota team that has won 17 straight over non conference opponents (although many have been slightly above high school level). On the other, you have a Cal team that some were penciling in as a darkhorse national title contender that is coming in after a blowout loss at Tennessee. Minnesota was expected to struggle to find a horse to replace Laurence Maroney and Gary Russell but plugged in a linebacker, yes, a linebacker who ran wild on Kent State in the opener. Cal just flat out looked outmatched against a Volunteer squad that missed a bowl game in 2005. Something tells me Minnesota is better than I gave them credit for in my previews, but at the same time, Cal is mad. I don't like to play angry teams on the road. Cal 27 - Minnesota 23.

Buckeye Nation says ... The Gophers are in a transitional year. That means they get blown out in Berkley after the Bears lost to the Vols. Bears 42 - Gophers 17

Indiana at Ball State
In the final B10 v. MAC battle of the weekend, the Hoosiers take to the road to face the Cardinals of Ball State. Ball State more or less breezed past Eastern Michigan in its opener, while Indiana bum rushed Western Michigan. Every time I think the Hoosiers are going to lose (read - last week) they win. Every time I think they will win, they throw me a curve. I like the IU offense and special teams, but the defense has me concerned. Then again, BSU doesn't do much for me on defense either. Make it a shoot out and Big Ten 10, MAC 0. Indiana 38 - Ball State 34.

Buckeye Nation says ... The Hoosiers take their in-state brethren a little lightly, and they'll tear down the goal posts in Muncie. Cards 27 - Hoosiers 21

Ohio State at Texas
Okay, I know this is the marquee match-up in all of college football this weekend. A rematch of the classic last fall that led to an eventual national title for the Longhorns. The only thing missing to really pique my interest is Vince Young versus Troy Smith. A couple of the 'horns defenders are out for this one, which means Smith and Ginn could have some fun. I don't think that a win here propells OSU to a national crown, but it certainly makes a statement. This one will come down to how Texas signal caller Colt McCoy (great football name by the way) handles his first huge game and how Ohio State handles the heat. Upper 90s in Ohio is nothing like upper 90s in Texas. Keep the pickle brine handy. Don't change the channel during this one or you will miss an epic battle. A field goal wins this one late... Ohio State 23 - Texas 20.

Buckeye Nation says ... Last year, the 'Horns won a heart-breaking thriller in Columbus, then went on to win the National Championship. Vince Young willed the Longhorns to victory. This year, in Austin, Troy Smith carries the Buckeyes to victory on a National TV primetime game that has major BCS implications. BUCKEYES 28 - Longhorns 24

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Monday AM Quarterback...
For the first time in history, the Big Ten went a perfect 11-0 on opening weekend. Not too shabby even if there were no big games on the slate to kick off the season. A few of the victories definitely fall into the "lackluster" category (Michigan and Michigan State come to mind) but wins are wins and the Big Ten loaded up on them.

Things get a lot tougher this weekend with teams like Minnesota looking at possible streak breaking match-ups on the road. The Golden Gophers have won 17 straight non conference games but travel to play what one would predict is an angry and hungry Cal squad. Ohio State takes to Austin, Penn State heads to South Bend and the Illini have a road battle at Rutgers.

Team of the Week: Minnesota. Who would have thunk it that a convereted linebacker would be the next yard gaining, touchdown scoring machine at tailback for the Gophers?

Get Gamm Standings...
A solid start to Get Gamm with a few unbeatens. The winner was Buckeye Nation, one of five to go 11-0. Buckeye nailed the tiebreaker (differential in the OSU game) and gets to pick this week. BN, send me your picks by Thursday (

T1 - Buckeye Nation, 11-0 (1.000), One GG Win
T1 - Dan Meyer, 11-0 (1.000), -
T1 - BigTenSportsFan, 11-0 (1.000), -
T1 - mayo170, 11-0 (1.000), -
T1 - Aaron Roberts, 11-0 (1.000), -
T6 - Gamm, 10-1 (.909), -
T6 - andrewj1313, 10-1 (.909), -
T6 - Mike, 10-1 (.909), 1
T6 - phatsdawg, 10-1 (.909), -
T6 - flakcat, 10-1 (.909), -
11 - PUfan, 8-3 (.727), -

Schedule for 9/9 edition of Get Gamm:
Central Michigan @ Michigan
Illinois @ Rutgers
New Hampshire @ Northwestern
Miami (Ohio) @ Purdue
Western Illinois @ Wisconsin
Penn State @ Notre Dame (Tiebreaker)
Eastern Michigan @ Michigan State
Iowa @ Syracuse
Minnesota @ Cal
Indiana @ Ball State
Ohio State @ Texas