Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mac Blogger Roundtable: Week 12

TFF's real and magnificent picks
Until I hit the lottery, I have two rules for betting:
1) Don't bet with real money;
2) Wait until the season is at least 10 weeks old (in order to get a perspective).
But I do like to test my knowledge of college football against Vegas, so I'm happy to report I am 5-1 this year against the spread.
Two weeks ago, I was 2-1.
Last week, I lost on Iowa at Northwestern, but won on Fresno State getting eight at Nevada (it lost, 35-34), Louisiana-Lafayette getting 10 against Florida Atlantic (it lost, 24-23) and Tulsa getting the 3 at Houston (Tulsa won the game outright, 30-28).
This week's picks:
Ohio State 21 at Iowa 10 (OSU favored by 3);
Northern Illinois 35 at Ball State 14 (NIU favored by 15);
WESTERN MICHIGAN 27, visiting Kent State 20 (WMU favored by 3);
Florida International 23 at Louisiana-Lafayette 20 (FIU favored by 10)

That hurt.
Sixteen returning starters, a Heisman Trophy candidate (going into the season, at least) and a team coming off a 9-3 season.
Another 9-3 season, to me, would seem to be going sideways.
So, at best, we're going sideways.
Unless we finish 9-3 and win a bowl game.
Then we're going forward.
Some of the more savvy amongst you might have noticed we changed our banner. Since Jan. 1, we put the heading "It's Title Time" in it.
Since there will be no MAC title, I'm removing it.
Congrats to either NIU or Ohio.
The title time headline does not fit anymore.

Now I have to answer questions from my MAC brethren in the weekly MAC Bloggers' Roundtable.
I can't remember a week I have been up for this less, but these guys have blogged through some pretty tough seasons (except for NIU) so I will soldier on this time.
1. Northern Illinois is having a nice season and appears to be getting stronger. Do you think NIU is a Top 25 team as of today?

I think of two guys who gave young Al Golden a clinic in game coaching and Jerry Kill was one of them. Frank Solich was the other. I think if NIU plays Penn State or some decent above Northwestern-level (Dan Persa is out) Big 10 team and wins, which I believe it will, NIU deserves a top 25.

2. We talk a lot about skill players, but the game of football is often won and lost on the front line. Evaluate your offensive and defensive fronts, including your best players.

Adrian Robinson has been a season-saver (blocked extra point against BG, stolen ball for TD against UConn) and Mo Wilkerson is one of the top defensive linemen in the country. I'm extremely disappointed in everyone else across both lines with the possible exception of Sean Daniels, a true freshman from Highstown, N.J., who is an incredible talent at DE.

3. Similarly, special teams are an often overlooked part of football. Evaluate your special teams thus far this season and what contribution they have made to winning….or losing.

I thought James Nixon would be more deadly on kickoffs and Delano Green on punts. Neither one were, unfortunately. Brandon McManus had a solid sophomore season, but he could not afford to miss an extra point in the Ohio game and he did just that. He is an NFL kicker, though. No doubt.

4. To date, what is your best memory of this season? And what memory are you currently seeing therapy to block from your memory.

My best memory is getting revenge against UConn, beating that team by two touchdowns, and then watching that team beat West Virginia and Pitt. My worst memory is sitting there in the rain against Ohio and watching Frank Solich run the same schemes he did a year ago against Al Golden and Al Golden, with a year to watch that film, does nothing substanitive to counter Solich.

5. BG and Toledo have their rivalry game this week, and your team has had one on the schedule somewhere. Do you think rivalries are important to the quality of play in the MAC, or are they a distraction that make it harder to get up for other games.

I love rivalries. I just don't think Temple has one with anyone in the MAC due to geography. Rutgers was the Big East rival and before that Delaware was the rival. Now Villanova is the rival for two more years.

6. Rank ‘em.

1. NIU

2. Ohio

3. Toledo

4. Temple

5. Miami

6. WMU

7. Kent

8. Ball State

9. Buffalo

10. BG

11. CMU

12. EMU

13. Akron