Ohio State will soon be #1 in College Basketball Polls

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The great American poet Cornell Haynes once posed this existential query:

“What does it take to be #1, two is not a winner, and three nobody remembers.” In slightly more recent history, another local wordsmith named Kanye West stated “number one can’t put nothing above that. You deserve a verse from me, we’re going to party like it’s our anniversary.”

Today, the Ohio State Buckeyes, among favorites to win the Big Ten, now looking like serious contenders for a national title, are living these lyrics. With the Florida State upset over Duke, the polls will later today deem the Buckeyes the new rulers of college basketball.

OSU fans, I hope you run these two rap references into the ground, exactly like I did in 2004-05 when Illinois was #1 for most of the season. It’s pretty rare for the same school to assume the #1 ranking in both college football and college basketball, but OSU is about to pull it off.

But again, this is the same school that (along with the University of Florida) played for the national title in both college basketball and football.

Here’s what some of the stars of the team had to say:

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#2 Ohio State-Illinois: the Brutally Honest Game Preview

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The last three times Illinois beat Ohio State: 2007, 2001, 1999, it was in Columbus. For some reason, the Illini play the Buckeyes much better in the Buckeye state than they do at home. The last time they beat Ohio State in Champaign, Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer were at the peak of their popularity.

Whenever Illinois is having a good season, they seem to beat the Buckeyes, as they have a 9-11 record against
OSU dating back to 1988. Only Michigan has more victories over Ohio State during the span, posting an 11-10-1
record.

However, this year is not a (as 50 Cent would say) “Champagne Campaign.

There is one thing Illinois can claim over #2 OSU- a character on the ABC sitcom “Modern Family” wore a Juice Williams jersey for an entire episode last season. So until Courtney Cox rocks a kid size Terrelle Pryor jersey on “Cougar Town”- advantage Illini.

By Paul M. Banks

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Mike Brewster: Ohio State’s Leader Up Front

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With the multitude of megastar skill position players possessed by the Ohio State Buckeyes, it’s pretty easy to overlook the offensive line. And that’s the nature of football– OL is the most overlooked position group of all.

People like to talk about Terrelle Pryor first, then the tailbacks Brandon Saine and Dan “Boom” Herron, or the linebackers Brian Rolle and Ross Homan. With his highlight return last week, even Cam Heyward is getting some pub. And CB Chimdi Chekwa was national defensive player of the week.

But no one talks about Ohio State Center Mike Brewster, who is becoming a  leader in the same mold as Alex Stepanovich, the Center on the 2002 national title team.

By Paul M. Banks

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Big Ten Football Power Rankings

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By Paul M. Banks

1. Iowa (6-0, 2-0)

Now won 10 consecutive. The Hawkeyes’ 10-game winning streak is the second-longest active streak among all Football Bowl Subdivision schools behind Tim Tebow’s army of Christian Crusaders. The last time Iowa had a streak like this was when the program won 20 in a row 1920-1923.

2. Ohio State (5-1, 2-1)

I hate their fans as much as I hate the fact that Jim Tressel gets all the credit (and way too much credit) for all that they do. Spike.com aptly summarized why their fans are so annoying:

This is a team whose main cheer consists of spelling their state in repetitive succession. OH-IO…OH-IO… We get it! You passed remedial English and are really excited to show off your basic grasp of the language to the three attractive girls from Ann Arbor who actually visited the Columbus campus over the weekend. Yes, it’s adorable that every one of your alumni is playing a 52-year-long game of “I bet I can annoy everyone I meet today,” but maybe it’s time to get a life and stop idolizing some geek in a sweater vest who just crossed out “get horribly outcoached in two straight BCS Championship games” off his bucket list.

3. Wisconsin (5-1, 2-1)beilema

The Bielema Bowl awaits! as Coach takes on his alma mater, Iowa Saturday. Wisconsin has won at least five of its first six games for the seventh time in the last eight seasons, including a 5-1 start in 2007 and a final mark of 12-1 in 2006, Bret Bielema’s first year as head coach of the Badgers.

4. Penn State (5-1, 1-1)

Did you see the redneck reporter take JoePa to task on his ultra-soft scheduling? We know why their schedule contains more cupcakes than an obese 6 year old’s birthday party. Paterno is trying to further cement his legacy by being the first and only to reach 400 wins, and make certain he finishes ahead of Bobby Bowden, which looks like a done deal given the discontent afoot in Tallahassee.

5. Minnesota (4-2, 2-1)
How do you get out-gained by 120 yards and still win by 15? Because you have a very less than awe-inspiring 7-5 team in the making here, perhaps even less exciting than last year’s 7-5 team that got rolled in their bowl game.

6. Michigan (4-2, 1-2)

Why did Rich Rod sound like a major douche in his postgame press conference? Why was Denard Robinson in there instead of Tate Forcier when the game was on the line? Maybe Rodriguez realized he made a mistake? Or maybe there’s an injury we don’t know about?

7A. Northwestern (4-2, 1-1)
So far QB Mike Kafka pretty much is the entire offense, as the O Line still has not shown up and done anything productive this season. When they couldn’t open up running lanes against Miami of Ohio, one of the worst teams in all of FBS, you could understand why Fitz was so upset. Yet as horrendous as their wins have been this season, the schedule still shapes up to be 7-5 or 6-6. The Little Caesars Pizza Bowl is calling!

7B Michigan State (2-3, 1-1)

Beating Illinois proves nothing. I guess the superior of the 7th place logjam will establish themselves Satruday. Behind quarterbacks Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol, MSU ranks first among Big Ten teams in passing offense (280.3 ypg) and passing efficiency (143.37 rating). The Spartans also rank first among league teams in sacks allowed, giving up just one sack per contest

For these schools….basketball practice begins this week!

Of course, the Hoosiers are going to be awful at that sport this year as well.

9. Purdue (1-5, 0-2)

I’m tired of people saying “they’re so much better than their record.” No, you are your record. Period. If they were any good, they would learn not to throw and fumble the ball away. The Boilers are to committing turnovers what Caucasian women aged 18-35 are to watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”

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10. Indiana (3-3, 0-2)

They were absolutely destroyed by Virginia, a team so fierce that they lost to an FCS team, William & Mary in the season opener. In other words, everything I said about how much Indiana actually sucked back when they were 3-0, was proven ultimately right.

11. Illinois (1-4, 0-3)

As an alumnus, I must refrain from commenting on this phantasmagoric train wreck. Well I guess I just did. But in the future I need to stay objective as a journalist.

Big Ten Power Rankings: less BS than the BCS

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By Paul M. Banks

1. Iowa (5-0, 1-0)
The first BCS rankings of the season will debut in 12 days, and with that in mind, I’d like to do my part to help keep the Buckeyes from making another National title game where they could embarrass the conference and bore America by getting destroyed by an SEC team again. For that reason, I voted them #2 in this week’s poll.

2. Ohio State (4-1, 2-0)
Do the TSB Big Ten power rankings have anything to do with the BCS computer rankings? Probably not, and it will likely have no influence whatsoever. But then again, the flight pattern of a drunk, retarded housefly has more cohesion, logic and order than the BCS standings, so I think every vote of any sort- and I am in the Football Writers Association of America, if that helps- against Ohio State helps

3. Wisconsin (5-0, 2-0)

Just One Win from Bowl Eligibility, and it’s not even Homecoming yet. Of course, one needs to remember how badly they collapsed in the 2nd half of last year. If they upset in Columbus this week, their HC game against Iowa the following Saturday could be epic. I really should have not been such a Scott Tolzien heretic at the beginning of the year, as he’s leading the conference in passing efficiency.

4. Penn State (4-1, 1-1)
They’re not that good, but then again they’re also not that healthy. What could they be when everyone’s back and clicking on all cylinders? “A scary team,” tailback Stephfon Green told me last Saturday. He combines with Evan Royster, to give them arguably the league’s best tailback tandem.

5. Michigan (4-1, 1-1)
So who’s the “little brother” now? Not Michigan State who held the Wolverines to just 28 rushing yards. To verify what a truly emotional game football can sometimes be, think about MSU Defensive End Trevor Anderson’s comments before the big rivalry game. “It’s sickening, their total lack of respect for our school period,” and on Saturday their uppance came

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6A. Minnesota (3-2, 1-1)
These two schools have played each other so ridiculously close the last 3 years, it’s fitting they’re tied here. When you look at what Eric Decker has done in every game this season, you can honestly say NU “limited” him to 8 catches, 84 yards and 2 TDs. In August, everyone thought the conference pitch-and-catch combination would be Juice Williams to Arrelious Benn, but it’s really Adam Weber to Decker, who just became the school’s career leader with 3,000 receiving yards after hauling in eight passes for 140 yards versus Wisconsin.

6B. Northwestern (3-2, 1-1)
Easy to identify who the team MVP is- QB Mike Kafka, who’s 3rd in the nation in completion percentage, and second in conference in both passing yards and total offense. Those numbers rank in the top 25 nationally. Fitz was right, he’s a much better passer than anyone gives him credit for.

For these schools….basketball midnight madness is just a week or so away

8. Michigan State (1-3, 0-1)
Like our Wolverines correspondent HJB said: “what we didn’t know is that the linebackers would also epically fail. Allowing Kirk Cousins to have 10 ypc is pretty pathetic. It got to the point where my dad and I could call when Cousins would be able to step up and then scamper for some yardage.”

9. Indiana (3-2, 0-2)
They’ve been absolutely destroyed in their last two games, both against top 25 teams. So “they are WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE,” not what their earlier record indicated. Of course, they do have a great pair of athletes and skill guys at the DE and RB positions, so it’s nice they have that going for them. They also have a brand new renovated Memorial Stadium, and that will be a huge boost to the program. Look what it did for Illin…oh, wait never mind.

10. Purdue (1-4, 0-1)
You can’t beat anyone when you turn the ball over 6 times, but QB Joey Elliot is coming into his own. Of course, it’s easy to put up big passing yardage numbers when you’re always trailing, and often facing a garbage time- prevent defense. I’d almost rather comment on the women’s volleyball team here instead of the football team.

Illini b-ball media day is next tue...in case you've given up on football season already

Illini b-ball media day is next tue...in case you've given up on football season already

11. Illinois (1-3, 0-2)
As an alumnus, this situation reminds me of Cub fan friends I have. Years of following a team that loses badly what seems like ¾ of the time, but also has some recent successes; only to get your hopes way up high before then crushing your soul with another disappointment and defeat. Many Cubs fans I know have just checked out, gave up due to the mental anguish being a supporter of the program brings. I wonder how much longer they can sell out games? How many more great recruits can Ron Zook bring in, yet still end up doing absolutely nothing with? Is Eddie McGee for Juice Williams going to be enough to avoid going 2-10? This feels like my freshman-through-junior years at the school, when the Illini went 5-28.

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Big Ten Power Rankings Week 5

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By Paul M. Banks

1. Ohio State (3-1, 1-0)

Buckeyes post back-to-back shutouts for first time since 1996, and are starting to look like the best team in the conference. Again. Eventually making this year…well, so FUN and EXCITING that I just had to get up and dance (see picture above)! Ok, seriously,  yet another OSU conference title would really suck for ratings; for everybody. Because it would be BORRRRRRRRRRING!  Where are the 2000 Purdue Boilermakers, 1995 Northwestern Wildcats, and 2001 Illini when you need them?

2. Iowa (4-0, 1-0)

Meet senior linebacker Pat Angerer, could there be a better name for a linebacker? Angerer racked up a game-high 14 tackles and two turnovers to help the Iowa defense limit Penn State to only 10 points. Angerer recorded his first interception of the season and rambled 38 yards to set up the Hawkeyes’ second touchdown of the quart. Later he forced a fumble that was recovered by the Hawkeyes at the 18-yard line.

So far, the eyes have it, as the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes look a cut or two above the rest of the Big Ten, but this next group of five teams could all go bowling this holiday season.

3. Penn State (3-1, 0-1)

PSU holds a 13-3 series advantage over the Illini, including a 6-3 edge in Champaign, so 4-1 looks likely. The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten (sixth nationally) in allowing just 10.24 points per game. They got a big boost from the return of LB Navarro Bowman: In first full game back from injury, he recorded a career-best 13 tackles (five solo) with three TFLs (-7 yards) against Iowa

4. Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0)

QB Scott Tolzien set career highs with 19 completions, 31 attempts and four touchdown passes against Michigan State. He became the first Badgers’ signal caller to toss four TD passes in a game since ‘06.  Three of them went to Tight End Garrett Graham, the world’s least interesting interview subject.

5. Michigan (4-0, 1-0)

Yes they’re undefeated, after going just 3-9 last year. But their secondary and offensive line units are terrible. To quote TSB Michigan correspondent H. Jose Bosch

“We already knew how lame the secondary was. Boubacar Cissoko and JT Floyd were awful on the corners this week and that situation doesn’t look much better. As for the offensive line, the loss of David Molk hurt more than I thought it would. The slight rearranging to fill in for him affected the line enough to make Tate Forcier’s day a little more difficult.”

6. Minnesota (3-1, 1-0)

Did you know THEY have the 3rd most championships in Big Ten history. (Yes, Michigan and Ohio State are 1 and 2) Is it possible to develop a man-crush on a player whose team you hate? Because if anyone can inspire it- Eric Decker, the early favorite to win the Silver Football award. He could also end up fourth on the Big Ten’s all-time receiving and receiving yardage list at the end of 2009. The feat is more impressive when you consider how the top three WRs on both lists emerged from the statistically-inflated, pass-happy “Basketball on Grass” era at Purdue.

7. Indiana (3-1, 0-1)

Ok, so they’re much better than you or I (or anyone thought) And they deserved a power rankings jump based on Bill Lynch’s angst alone. Which was almost Mike Gundian. They also have Darius Willis going for them (152 yards on 16 carries, 9.5 avg. 2 TDs) His 85-yard score tied for the third longest in school history and the longest run against Michigan in over 20 years.


For these schools….basketball midnight madness is just a couple weeks away

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8. Northwestern (2-2, 0-1)

Last year, the Wildcats set a school record for fewest rushing yards allowed per game. They returned 8/11 starters on defense this year, including everybody’s pre-season All-American Corey Wootton. Yet everyone’s running all over them these days. What gives? Start with Wootton- 0 tackles for loss, just 6 total stops through 4 games. Maybe he’s a real-life, high-brow version of Boobie Miles- never the same after knee injury and rehabilitation.

9. Purdue (1-3, 0-0) illinette3

Are they better than you think, or is Notre Dame worse? Well, 99 times out of 100, ND is much worse than their publicity suggests. Boilers sophomore running back Ralph Bolden, who leads the Big Ten in rushing with a per-game average of 122 yards, is seventh in the nation. But defenses are figuring him out, as he was held to a season-low 64 yards by Northern Illinois and 67 by ND.

10. Illinois (1-2, 0-1)

So where is the allegedly vaunted offense hiding? WR Arrelious Benn was a favorite in August to win the Biletnikoff award. He has a whopping 44 yards receiving on the season. Juice Williams was on every QB award watch list you can mention. Through three games, he has 0 TDs, 3 INTs and a passer rating that would make Rex Grossman vomit. With Penn State coming to town, this season could get ugly quickly, like Lou Tepper or Ron Turner era ugly.

11. Michigan State (1-3, 0-1)

Replacing a QB and tailback is tough, but at Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan, they just re-load instead of rebuild.  They do have a bright spot in WR Keshawn Martin (and how could you not end up becoming a wideout with a name like Keshawn Martin?) At Wisconsin he had four catches, 139 yards and two TDs, including a 91-yard score, the second-longest pass play in MSU history.

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