Michigan State beat previously undefeated Ohio State in Indianapolis last night to claim the Big Ten championship, a 12-1 record (9-0 in conference), and a berth in the Rose Bowl, the Spartans’ first trip to Pasadena since 1987-88.
Last week was one of the best football weeks in recent memory, and although our Tuesday Afternoon Inside Linebacker weekly feature has fallen by the wayside due to worldly obligations, this week and the week ahead deserve note.
The Lions started things off on Thanksgiving with a wonderful win over Green Bay. It was Detroit’s first win on Turkey Day in nine years, and it was the first time Matt Stafford beat the Pack. The Lions also avenged the career game Matt Flynn had the only previous time he quarterbacked Green Bay against Detroit.
Brendan and I were in the Big House for Michigan’s surprise one-point loss to Ohio State, and I made it out of Ann Arbor in time to see Georgia come back to defeat Georgia Tech in overtime, note Vandy’s comeback win over Wake Forest, and watch maybe the greatest one second of college football in Auburn’s regulation toppling of Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
Records of note:
- Auburn: 11-1 (35-21 loss at LSU)
- Michigan State: 11-1 (17-13 loss at Notre Dame)
- Ohio State: 12-0
- Vanderbilt: 8-4 (poised for second consecutive nine-win season)
- Missouri: 11-1 (27-24 2OT loss against South Carolina)
- Rose Bowl: Barring a very bad loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night, Michigan State seems set to ring in the new year in Pasadena. Here are the details on that situation.
- Bowl projections keep waffling Vandy between the Music City and Liberty Bowls. Despite having a national championship in women’s bowling, they can’t seem to roll outside the Volunteer State. The former Independence Bowl in Shreveport might be a good alternative.
The BCS national championship: Right now, Florida State is set to play Ohio State, but that could change after this weekend. Each team needs to beat its conference championship opponent, Duke and Michigan State (more on basketball later!) respectively, of course. Auburn’s also in the mix here. If the Eagles/Tigers/Plainsmen beat Missouri in the SEC championship game, one-loss/SEC champ Auburn could leap an undefeated Ohio State. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask Florida head coach Urban Meyer:
There are a lot of people making a lot of decisions out there, but this is a big one. We’re going to tell a group of young men, who just went 12-1 in a most difficult schedule against six ranked opponents, that they don’t have a chance to play for a national championship? I’m going to need help with that one.
That was back in 2006, though, and in 2013, Meyer finds himself singing a decidedly different tune as the head coach of Ohio State. 2006 Urban Meyer got his way, something 2013 Urban Meyer ought to keep in mind this week.
News broke last night that the Detroit Tigers traded starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals, the team’s second major move of this young offseason. (They traded Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler last month.)
In exchange for Fister, the Nationals sent Detroit Steve Lombardozzi Jr., a utility player; Ian Krol, a left-handed reliever; and Robbie Ray, a left-handed starting pitcher in the minor leagues. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said that Krol “can step right into our bullpen and has the potential to be a No. 1 lefthanded reliever,” and he called Lombardozzi “one of the best utilitymen in baseball.”
It’s tough for me to evaluate this trade, because I’ve never heard of Lombardozzi, Krol, or Ray. I’m far from a league-wide expert on players, but that may be an evaluative statement, however. I know Dombrowski has committed to moving Drew Smyly into a starting role, but I thought it would be Rick Porcello, or perhaps Max Scherzer, who departed to make room for Smyly. The decision to move Fister surprised me, and although I don’t know anything about Lombardozzi, Krol, or Ray, I can’t help feeling like Detroit got too little in return for the very solid Fister. Continue reading
I started writing about the Baseball Hall of Fame even before we started ALDLAND (see also here and here), and the issues and conversations surrounding Cooperstown and the process by which players are chosen to be enshrined there often lack basic elements of reason and logic.
Briefly, membership in the Hall is regulated by a group of writers who are affiliated with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who enforce unwritten rules and take self-aggrandizing positions in a way that makes Brian McCann look progressive and relaxed.
Today, Deadspin announced that it has broken the mold: an eligible voter agreed to sell Deadspin his or her vote. The site now is in the process of determining how it, and its readers, will cast that ballot, which was released today. In the meantime, the site is trying to buy more votes.
For someone else’s thoughts on what this means, click here.
I don’t know that the predominant basis of the HOF selection process should be a popular vote. After all, we see that on a small scale every year in the All-Star Game balloting, which leads to ridiculous and deeply uninformed outcomes. I do think it’s okay to mix things up a little bit, though.
I might write more about the names on this year’s ballot at a later date– it’s sort of interesting to see the number of hilarious former Tigers, including Todd Jones, Sean Casey, and Kenny Rogers, alongside the great Alan Trammell, on the list– but I’m not really qualified to do that.
At the very least, we now can say that Cooperstown is Y2K compatible. Whether that will or should change anything about the place, and how this real-life experiment will unfold, are other questions.
ALDLAND will have a presence on the ground at this weekend’s Ohio State- Michigan game in Ann Arbor. According to widespread commercials promoting this game, the annual meeting between these two rivals is known as “The Game.” I have attended this game many times over the past twenty or so years, and I’ve never heard it called that. Unless Brendan, between gulps of Four Loko, corrects me on Saturday morning, I’m going to chalk this labeling up as a media marketing concoction.
Outside of pride, this game does not have a lot of meaning for either team. Ohio State is undefeated but has only an outside shot at the BCS championship game, and has already secured a spot in the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State. Michigan is bowl-eligible at 7-4, but they have a losing conference record and will be home dogs on Saturday.
In year three of the Brady Hoke era at Michigan, things are slipping a bit. His teams have yet to beat Michigan State and Ohio State in the same season, and it looks like the Wolverines could go 0-2 against their conference rivals this year. Michigan was 11-2 with an exciting Sugar Bowl win in Hoke’s maiden maize and blue voyage, but they were 8-5 last year, losing to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. There’s still room– with zero margin for error– to improve on that mark this year, but even if they do, it may not erase the feeling that there’s a noticeable lack of spark with this Michigan team. Negative forty-eight yards of rushing against Michigan State says a lot about the Spartan defense, but it says something about the Michigan offense too, and although at least one critic has pointed a finger of blame at Hoke, most Wolverine fans have been calling for the head of offensive coordinator Al Borges. (Text message from a die-hard Michigan fan after the Nebraska loss: “I can never actually root for Michigan to lose, but I hate the offensive coordinator enough that I think a few more losses are in Michigan’s best interest if it gets the OC fired.”)
Still, the feel in Ann Arbor under Hoke is decidedly different than it was under the coach Hoke replaced, Rich Rodriguez. Should it be, though? Is there a chance Michigan fans are missing Rich Rod?
Ohio State is about a two-touchdown favorite on the road this weekend, and although that feels about right as I write this on Tuesday morning, my prediction is that they will not cover on Saturday.
Unless Michigan has beefed up their mobile reception capabilities, expect in-game coverage from Brendan and I to be somewhat limited, but you can always track us @ALDLANDia.
The more-often-than-not decent MMQB used one of its “deep dives” to investigate what’s wrong with this year’s Atlanta Falcons, solidly in last place in their division with a 2-9 record after being a play away from the Super Bowl last year. A more difficult schedule meant that they were unlikely to match 2012′s 13-3 record, but they didn’t count on numerous early, crippling injuries on offense and defense. That’s the reason these Falcons have won just two games, and you only need a midseason “deep dive” to figure that out if you’ve been willfully ignorant of the team since August.
The article did include two pieces of barely second-level analysis. The first was a visual illustration of how quarterback Matt Ryan struggles with decision-making when he lacks competent linemen and receivers, to say nothing of a running game. The second was a reminder that teams shouldn’t fire their coaches when losing is directly and unequivocally the result of numerous injuries. The article’s final sentences could have been its only sentences:
Some believe Mike Smith and his staff will be fired. But that would be ludicrous. Smith’s .644 winning percentage is seventh best among active coaches. His Falcons are tied for third in victories since he took over in 2008, and this will be the first time during his tenure that they fail to finish above .500. A perfect storm of injuries is to blame, and nothing else.
Two fine bits of musical interaction made themselves known this week, and because neither are, so far as I can figure, embeddable, I’ll offer links to both of them.
The first Jam is multigenerationally interactive, just not for you. Watch it here.
The second is an all time great, and you get to play along. Click here (and keep clicking).
Jameis Winston is the Heisman-candidate quarterback of the #2 Florida State Seminoles. Last week, a previously inactive criminal sexual assault investigation involving Winston was reopened, initially without explanation. Today, an ESPN.com story cites research by the Tallahassee Democrat revealing that the initial investigation stalled after the alleged victim “changed her mind and did not wish to prosecute.”
Without knowing more about the case, and few do, there are a number of reasons and combinations of reasons why the alleged victim might have “changed her mind” and decided she “did not wish to prosecute.” One is that her allegations were not true. Another, which can arise in the college football setting (as illustrated with particularity in The System, a book I pre-reviewed and hope to review in full soon), is that the alleged victim felt pressure not to go forward with a sexual-assault prosecution of a major college athlete. Maybe she even felt fear. It wouldn’t be the first time.
That today’s story at least raises the specter of that second reason– and some would say it’s the obvious implication (the headline on the front page of ESPN.com tonight has fluctuated between “Official: Woman at first wary of Winston charge” and “Official: Woman didn’t want Winston Charged“)– makes the advertising on the side of the page at least questionable. (You can click the image to expand it.)
It’s time to get prepped for your new November obsession: the FIDE World Chess Championship finals between Magnus Carlsen and Viswanathan Anand. This is the most hotly anticipated chess match since Garry Kasparov’s prime. Aside from matches involving the Russian grandmaster, this is the most anticipated match since Bobby Fischer squared off against Boris Spassky. It’s well worth your time.
What Is the FIDE World Chess Championship?
The FIDE World Chess Championship pits the reigning world champion against the winner of a qualifying round-robin tournament between eight of the top players in the world. The finals is a best-out-of-12 tournament with draws earning half a point. If the finals end in a draw, four rapid-chess matches are played as a tiebreaker. If those draw, then blitz chess, played with a three-minute starting clock, serves as the final tiebreaker. … Read More