Big Ten Football

September 23, 2006

My Week for Game 4: Notre Dame at Michigan State

Destination: East Lansing, Michigan.

Spartan Stadium

My pick: Notre Dame 33 - Michigan State 28

In today's other "big" game, Penn State-Ohio State, I'm picking the Bucks 42-3.

September 15, 2006

My Game for Week 3: Michigan at Notre Dame

Michigan at Notre Dame in 2002

I'm heading to South Bend in less than an hour for the Michigan-Notre Dame matchup tomorrow. Should be an interesting game, as it will most likely be the stiffest test for each team until their final games of the season. (Michigan closes at Ohio State and Notre Dame closes at USC.)

My pick: Notre Dame 21 - Michigan 20.

Showdown Saturday

Tomorrow is Showdown Saturday. There are seven games that feature AP Top 25 teams going head-to-head. Teams from seven conferences plus Notre Dame will take part in those games. For some odd reason (or perhaps because it's the best game on ABC tomorrow), ESPN College GameDay is headed to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Nebraska-USC showdown, even though it was voted as the 3rd most popular game this week in an ESPN user poll. I suppose they didn't want to hype a game on CBS (LSU-Auburn) or NBC (Michigan-Notre Dame). It's a shame that they can't go to a better game though. Anyway, here are the games with my score picks (with rankings in parentheses):

(2) Notre Dame 21 - (11) Michigan 20
(3) Auburn 15 - (6) LSU 9
(12) Louisville 27 - (17) Miami 24
(18) Oregon 31 - (15) Oklahoma 17
(20) TCU 38 - (24) Texas Tech 31
(4) USC 42 - (19) Nebraska 21
(7) Florida 20 - (13) Tennessee 14

September 13, 2006

Week 2: Notre Dame 41 - Penn State 17

Notre Dame didn't dominate this game from the start, but certainly took control of the game in the second and third quarters, capitalizing on Penn State miscues and making big plays. Some photos taken during the weekend:

Friday, 3:36 p.m. EDT — Indiana I-80 Eastbound Exit 77:
Exit 77

6:38 p.m. EDT — Pep Rally. I estimated the crowd at around 35,000. Less than last year's USC game, but still pretty big:
ND Pep Rally for Penn State game

7:03 p.m. EDT — Me with Touchdown Jesus and football:
Jimbo with Touchdown Jesus on eve of 2006 Notre Dame vs. Penn State

Saturday, 1:21 p.m. EDT — ND players walk from the basilica to the stadium:
Jeff Samardzija

Brady Quinn

Darius Walker and Ambrose Wooden

2:10 p.m. EDT — Notre Dame Marching Band:
Notre Dame Marching Band

2:52 p.m. EDT — Goodyear blimp over Notre Dame Stadium:
Goodyear blimp over Notre Dame Stadium

4:29 p.m. EDT — Jeff Samardzija makes a catch in the second quarter:
Jeff Samardzija catch against Penn State

4:43 p.m. EDT — Notre Dame lines up against Penn State in the second quarter:
Notre Dame vs. Penn State

7:04 p.m. EDT — Final score, Notre Dame 41 - Penn State 17:
Notre Dame 41 - Penn State 17

October 08, 2005

Week 6: GameDay Picks

Following my first loss last week when USC defeated Arizona State, the current standings are as follows:

Jimbo 4-1
Kirk Herbstreit 4-1
Lee Corso 3-2

This week is pretty vanilla with both Corso and Herbstreit picking the Buckeyes over the Nittany Lions in State College, Pennsylvania. I am also taking Ohio State this weekend. Their defense will be too much for Penn State to overcome.

Ohio State 24 - Penn State 13

September 18, 2005

My Game for Week 3: Michigan State 44 - Notre Dame 41

Despite a 21-point second half comeback by the Irish, the Spartans prevailed in overtime and defeated Notre Dame 44-41. Notre Dame has failed to beat Michigan State at home since 1995. Two turnovers made all the difference in this game. At the beginning of the second half, with the Irish trailing by 7, quarterback Brady Quinn threw an interception that was returned 30 yards for a touchdown by Sir Darean Adams. In the third quarter, the Irish had the ball first and goal at the one-yard line, but fullback Asaph Schwapp, in an attempt to extend the ball to the goal line, fumbled and the Spartans recovered. That 14-point swing was just too much for Notre Dame to overcome.

Well, at least I managed to get some good photos.

Charlie Weis, Ara Parseghian, and Brady Quinn at the Notre Dame pep rally

On Friday night before the game, Charlie Weis addressed a capacity crowd at Notre Dame's Joyce Center. Former coach Ara Parseghian and quarterback Brady Quinn also spoke to the crowd.

Goodyear blimp and the Golden Dome

Goodyear blimp and the Band of the Fighting Irish on the steps of Bond Hall

Goodyear blimp at Notre Dame Stadium

It must have been a big game because one of the Goodyear blimps was out in full force, flying above the Golden Dome, above Bond Hall during the Notre Dame band's concert on the steps, and above the stadium during the game.

Notre Dame vs. Michigan State

And I had my best seats of the season so far, section 29, row 28, at the north 35-yard line on the press box side, right in the heart of the Notre Dame student section.

Final score: Michigan State 44 - Notre Dame 41

Four quarters was not enough to decide the outcome of this game, but after an Irish field goal, the Spartans scored a touchdown to immediately end the game, 44-41.

September 14, 2005

My Game for Week 3: Michigan State at Notre Dame

I'm heading back to my alma mater this weekend to see Michigan State - Notre Dame in South Bend. The Irish are celebrating the 75th anniversary of Notre Dame Stadium, the "House that Rockne Built," which first opened in 1930.

My pick: Notre Dame 31 - Michigan State 24

September 11, 2005

Week 2: Sunday Morning Notes

My notes after a college football Saturday that lived up to all the hype:

It is rare that an excessively hyped up early regular season game can live up to its billing. But Texas - Ohio State certainly was a game for the ages as Texas prevailed 25-22. In the week leading up to the game, Buckeye linebacker Bobby Carpenter gave the Longhorns some high grade bulletin board material: “Our goal is when Vince Young leaves here, he won’t be a candidate for the Heisman,” Carpenter said. Well, Mr. Carpenter, you've managed to put Young front and center in this year's Heisman race. The Longhorn quarterback finished with 346 yards of total offense. And his big plays came through the air; he completed 18 of 29 passes for 270 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs. His game-winning 24-yard touchdown pass to Limas Sweed all but sealed the game. "Obviously he's a great runner," Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "Tonight he showed us he's a great passer."

Iowa State blew up Iowa 23-3 yesterday. There goes my national championship pick. And it wasn't even close! The Hawkeyes' furthest offensive penetration was the Cyclones' 26-yard line.

Georgia survived a surprisingly close scare from South Carolina yesterday in Athens. The Gamecocks gave the Bulldogs all they could handle but a missed extra point on South Carolina's first touchdown came back to haunt them.. After all that pregame talk about running up the score on Steve Spurrier, Georgia barely held on for a 17-15 win.

Finally, LSU and Arizona State each needed a fourth and 10 conversion to win the game late in the fourth quarter. The difference was LSU converted theirs, as JaMarcus Russell connected with Early Doucet on a 39-yard strike on fourth and 10 with 1:13 remaining. The Sun Devils were unable to respond and the Tigers won 35-31 in a thriller in Tempe.

September 10, 2005

Notre Dame Outlasts Michigan, 17-10

Who would have thought that 17 points would have won this game? After much talk of explosive offenses and maligned defenses, the tables turned on Saturday in Ann Arbor, as Notre Dame's defense stepped up big to hold Michigan's offense in check in a 17-10 Irish win over Michigan.

Or was it poor offensive play by Michigan that determinded the outcome of this one? Wolverine quarterback Chad Henne had three chances to score touchdowns in the red zone, and all three times he came up empty-handed. In the second quarter, Henne had a wide open receiver in the middle of the end zone, but never turned to see him. Instead he tried to thread the needle on the sideline and was picked off by Tom Zbikowski. In the fourth quarter, Henne overthrew Jason Avant on fourth and goal. Minutes later, he fumbled a snap inside the one-yard line. The Irish were simply there to take advantage of his mistakes.

Another note: Irish fans sure are glad that college football is using instant replay this season. Two fumble calls were properly overturned in the fourth quarter, both in Notre Dame's favor, inciting Michigan's student section to litter the field with debris.

September 08, 2005

Return of the Intersectional Football Rivalry

September 28, 1996 was the last time two non-traditional rivals both ranked in the top five met during the regular season: #4 Ohio State defeated #5 Notre Dame 29-16 in South Bend. Nine years later, college football fans once again will be treated to such a high-profile game when #2 Texas takes on #4 Ohio State in Columbus in the first ever meeting between the two teams.

Stewart Mandel of points out that scheduling these types of intersectional rivalries between elite teams has become somewhat of an endangered species lately. He points to some of the intersectional rivalries of the past that made college football classic, Notre Dame - Army of the 1940s, USC - Alabama of the 1970s, and Notre Dame - Miami of the 1980s. Lately, many athletic directors have strayed from these types of games because they require a home and home contract that requires the sacrafice of a home game every other year.

But with schedule strength being a determining factor in getting Oklahoma to the BCS title game over USC and Auburn in each of the last two years, we're beginning to see the return of the intersectional rivalry to college football. Consider: Ohio State and USC will play in 2008 and 2009; Miami and Ohio State (remember that 2002 Fiesta Bowl?) in 2010 and 2011; Nebraska and USC in 2006 and 2007; Cal and Tennessee in 2006 and 2007; Florida State and Oklahoma in 2010 and 2011; Notre Dame and Oklahoma in 2012 and 2013.

Texas head coach Mack Brown, however, has indicated that the Longhorns will shy away from tough non-conference scheduling after the Ohio State series is over next year: "At places like ours, we're going to fill up our stadium regardless of who we're playing, so we'd actually make more money playing another game at home, getting our guys ready for our conference schedule. So I don't see this continuing."

Read more: Bring on the big boys

September 03, 2005

National Champion Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes

I just checked out the score of the Ball State-Iowa game. The Hawkeyes lead 35-0 and the game is barely 20 minutes old! Iowa is my pick to win the national championship this year. I'm going a bit out on the limb for this one. But I wanted my pick to be different. Not the same old USC, Texas, Tennessee, and Michigan picks we keep hearing about. Why Iowa? I just think it's their time: Kirk Ferentz has this team playing extremely well lately, notching up 10 wins in each of the last three years. The only other teams to do this are Georgia, Oklahoma, and USC. In their last two bowl games, they've beaten SEC powers Florida (Outback Bowl) and LSU (Capital One Bowl).

The major challenge for the Hawkeyes will be their tough midseason schedule. In a span of 29 days, beginning September 24, Iowa has to play Ohio State, Purdue, and Michigan. Only the Wolverines game is in Iowa City. Facing tough opponents in Columbus and West Lafayette could derail Hawkeye hopes. But if they can turn those question marks into W's, which I think they will, Iowa will be 11-0 and playing in the Rose Bowl come January.

Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times has written a nice piece on Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes: Why Not Iowa?