Saturdays with Izzo: Michigan St.-Michigan Rivalry

By Jeff Ghiringhelli and Paul M. Banks

Welcome to a new quasi-weekly feature where we discuss some of the biggest topics in the Michigan State Spartan world, including the insight and observations of legendary MSU coach Tom Izzo. In our first installment, we discuss the rivalry with Michigan.

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Where the season ends

rich_rodriguez_1

By H. Jose Bosch

To celebrate the end of the season, and to honor one of my favorite poems and writers, Shel Silverstein, I’ve decided to pen a poem that rounds out my thoughts. If you’re unfamiliar with the original, then I suggest you read it. It’s a classic and one of my favorites (See, we try to teach at The Sports Bank!)

And now my version of the poem, “Where the Season Ends.” (below the jump)
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TSB Exclusive Interview: Rich Rodriguez’s pride

Michigan Rodriguez Football

By H. Jose Bosch

The Sports Bank’s very own H. Jose Bosch has been given a once-in-a-lifetime exclusive interview with Rich Rodriguez’s pride. Long believed to have disappeared, Jose has managed to find it and get the interview everyone’s been wanting.

The transcription after the jump.

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Illini Win??!!?? Yes, You Read That Right!

ROSE BOWL
By Paul Schmidt

There’s no one anywhere who predicted an Illinois win Saturday against Michigan.  I’m about the biggest Illinois apologist that there is, and even I was urging you to bet against the Illini, and to lay 7 points while doing it!

After a short amount of time, however, the glow of a great victory has waned and left two very poignant questions to be asked.

The first is whether this was a victory from an Illinois team finally playing up to expectations, or whether this victory can completely be attributed to the wheels falling off of this Michigan teams’ wagon.

The more that I think about the game, the more I really believe the latter to be true.  Michigan’s defense is starting to play ridiculously bad.  It’s almost getting comical at just how bad they are playing.

The Wolverines are doing whatever the opposite of peaking is, winning only one game in their last five, with that win being against FCS opponent Delaware State. With NCAA investigators descending upon Ann Arbor, RichRod looking dirtier than Rod Blagojevich and a best-case scenario of six wins (with games remaining against Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State, winning one would be an accomplishment), Michigan is definitely in disarray.

Illinois just managed to take advantage of that.

The second question is much more accusatory towards the Illini — Just where was this type of offensive production all season?? I understand that Michigan’s D isn’t that good, and that Illinois just managed to take advantage of it. But 55 rushes for 377 yards? Illinois didn’t even manage that production against Illinois State earlier this season, in their only other win. That type of production has little to do with the quality of your opponent — You’re just getting the job done up front and mangling a team when you get that many yards. And even if Michigan’s defense (along with coordinator Greg Robinson) is terrible, Illinois still was great on offense, just like everyone thought they would be all season long.

So why now? Why, when they are 1-6, and 0-5 in the Big Ten, can Illinois suddenly move the football?  Why is the offense NOW able to create some opportunities? Why did it take so long for this team to finally get motivated and put up the effort which we all knew they were capable of?

Zook_thinkingUnfortunately, those are all questions that only Ron Zook has the answer to, and no doubt he’s not giving anyone the answers.

And therein lies the ultimate problem.

This team would have almost been better off playing horribly the rest of the season — this win only provides a ridiculous tease to an increasingly more disenchanted fan base.  While they were certainly placated during the second half, and most likely after the game as well, soon all of their minds will turn to these questions, namely, just where was all this effort all season long?

If Zook can’t figure out what worked this week, and how to consistently squeeze this type of effort out of his team, remarkably, the win may end up reflecting worse on him than any loss would have.