Friday, September 29, 2006

Video game football; Plus, remember nostalgia?

In keeping with some discussions we've had in the past, I felt it was my duty to point out, if anyone hadn't noticed yet, that on NCAA 2007 Vernon Gholston is white. Nice to see that EA is keeping up a fine tradition.

MSU fan goes apeshit, live on radio

I'm pretty sure I've often made mention to some of you about Mike Valenti (who somewhat oddly shares my exact birthday, month, day, and year), co-host of what is, in my opinion, the only sports radio program worth listening to in the metro Detroit area. I still listen to their show via the streaming option whenever I remember to. Well, Mike is a particularly passionate MSU grad and fan, so there was no way in hell I was missing out on this past Monday's show. He did not disappoint, losing his voice in the first 20 minutes of the show and eventually going home before the program was halfway over. Well, Notre Dame blog The House Rock Built got ahold of the audio, and his schadenfreude is particularly gleeful. But I can't blame him: it's pretty damn funny (unless you're an MSU fan). Check it out, if you get a chance.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


I'm taking a break from not posting my continued GVGOAT list in order to discuss this weekend's game. My main motivation is that I was just talking to the Land of Eternal Scooter Buckeye Optimism (LESBO) discussing the fact that OSU is a 7 point favorite heading into Saturday's tilt. He's convinced (shocking) OSU will win by more than that amount. I'm not convinced the Bucks will win at all.

As I see it, Ohio State is 1 win away from being 11-0 heading into Michigan week. MSU on the road...well, after the ND loss and playing UM right before OSU, they don't concern me. (DAGGONE COACHES!!) Therefore, this one is yooge. Heading into the season, I wasn't concerned about the Iowa game, b\c I had already conceded defeat. Now, I'm just at terror-dome level: "terrified".

OSU still cannot consistantly stop the run, although, they seem to be able to when absolutely necessary. Or, the Bucks could just be getting lucky at the right time. Tressel has made a career off of getting lucky at the right time, so I'm willing to concede it's not a fluke. But a better run-d, would be a welcome change.

Iowa had to go to OT with Syracuse, c'mon, Syracuse. I know that Iowa's backup QB is more likely to throw game than a decent pass, but still, OT with Syracuse. I also think Tate is slightly overrated, but the dude is a gamer and a winner. The whole key to this game is the Iowa O-line. If they hold (literally), OSU in check and OSU can't keep pressure or contain, Iowa will win. But, as long as goatlegs is in there, I feel pretty good about the D-Line.

Should OSU win? Probably. The bucks have more talent at almost every position.

Will OSU win? I've got a bad vibe about this game. At night, on the road, after eating their children last year...ugh, the fans will be ultra-lathered, and we've totally challenged the Hawkeye's manhood. State College nor Madison at night was good to us in recent years, I'm afraid this one won't be much different.

Prediction: 16-13 Iowa

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Something positive about Stewart Mandel!!

Yes, the MWB's favorite Erin impersonator has caught our watchful eye once again, but not for the usual reasons: I actually support something he/she/it has said! From his most recent ... um ... "blog entry," Stew-pot (happy-go-jacky like a donkey eatin' a waffle!!!) has apparently reversed course in his feelings about Notre Dame. Yep, he is responsible for this nugget, from his "Five Things We Learned This Weekend" entry:

1) That Notre Dame is headed to the Sugar Bowl. As flawed as that team is, you
can pretty much script the rest of its season. The Irish are going to beat their
next seven opponents fairly easily. And they’re going to get crushed by USC.
That puts them at 10-2; Sugar gets first choice of at-large teams this year. The
only remaining mystery is how much they’ll lose the bowl game by.

Bravo, good sir. I take back most several of the bad things I may or may not have said about you. If anyone on this blog had any reason to dislike Michigan State before, you now have another huge entry in the ledger: their piss-poor performance on Saturday, an epic collapse that probably couldn't have been accomplished by anyone but the Spartans, has virtually assured Notre Dame of a spot in a BCS bowl game, which will thereby lead to excruciating amounts of hype before the game and even more maddening justifications and excuses for their inevitable blowout loss from the CFB punditry at large after the game. Damn you, Michigan State. DDAAAAAAAMAMMMMMNN YYOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUU!!!!!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Nittany Kitty Thoughts

That game was hideously ugly, an aesthetically unappealing throwback to the fun-but-cardiac-inducing 2002 season, where offense was ridiculously hard to come by for both sides and the punt became the most important play for each team. I guess it's somewhat comforting to have it reinforced that this defense will be up to the challenge when it is faced with a tight, tense, low-scoring affair, but this contest was just annoyingly ugly. But I guess it could be worse: we could be Spartan fans. *Shudder* Anywho, here's what I thought then and what I think now about the fourth game of the 2006 season...

When OSU had the ball

My greatest fear about this game, as I expressed to Todd on Friday, ended up coming true: it rained pretty much all day, and that combined with the horrific condition of the turf to almost completely negate OSU's main advantage in this game: speed. As anyone who watched PSU's drubbing at the hands of Notre Dame can attest, this team is not fast, and when Notre Freaking Dame makes your team look slow, you know you've got some thick ankles out there. The mud and sludge made cutting difficult and helped to completely neutralize Teddy Inge and Gonzalez, and was, in my opinion a large factor in the relative ineffectiveness of OSU's offense. Granted, this may be rampant homerism on my part, so if you happen to be a Michigan fan and are thirsting for some rampant homerism viewed through maize-colored-glasses, MGoBlog has provided it.

All that being said, Troy was a bit off all game, and it was obvious. On the first or second possession of the game, he had Teddy with perfect inside position on a post route, and threw the ball so far off the mark that it was intercepted by a guy who was plainly beaten. The majority of the game continued in a similar vain for the apparent Heisman frontrunner. Someone (I think it was Todd) mentioned on several occasions that some guys just have trouble with some teams, and Penn State appears to be Troy's kryptonite. He now has three career starts against them, with these underwhelming stats: 31-for-55, 313 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT, 3 lost fumbles. Thank God he never has to face them again.

Most of the slack was made up for by Antonio Pittman, who remains the most underrated back in the Big Ten. 5.5 yards per carry against Penn State's defense is a solid day, even if this year's edition isn't as good as last year's. He still bounces it outside a little bit more often than I would like, but you can't argue with his production.

Poor Paul Poslusznzsnznsny. Sure-fire top 20 draft pick if he leaves after his junior year. Suffers horrific knee injury in bowl game, forcing him to return to school and commit to rehab. And now he's out there running around, and I don't know if he's tentative about that knee or he's just lost some quickness, but he looks like a shell of what he was last year, at least in the two PSU games I've watched. To describe him as a "non-factor" thus far this season would be charitable. (Not so for Dan Connor, who is an absolute menace.)

When PSU had the ball

John Q. Fan, if the CFB blogosphere is any indication, is getting really sick of hearing about James Laurinaitis, and I can understand why. He's still iffy in run support, although he's getting markedly better. His claim to fame thus far has been an astonishing number of turnovers created, most of them being interceptions, several of which were, admittedly, just flat-out tipped right to him. But he IS improving, and I hope he plays well enough to make everyone who isn't a Buckeye fan sick and tired of him by the end of the season.

There's nothing else that needs to be said about the defensive line. Pitcock and the boys get pressure on opposing QBs even when they get no help from blitzes, and that's the key to any defense.

The secondary has been a pleasant surprise as well. As someone I read recently pointed out, Jenkins is probably the most physical corner we've had since Nate Clements, but Antonio Smith has impressed me just as much in run support. Brandon Mitchell never seems to be out of position, constantly making plays when he has to. And the passing yardage stats speak for themselves: 87 allowed vs. PSU, 216 vs. Cincinnati, 154 vs. Texas, and and 169 vs. Northern Illinois. That's 167 ypg. I'll take it.

Where did PSU get all those rushing yards? I remember when we were watching the game, and Hunt had that 40 yard run sometime in the fourth, and they flashed his stats on the screen, showing that he had like 120 yards at that point, and we were all like "What? When did that happen?" And I look at the final stats and see that they rushed for over 150 yards and I'm like "Wha?" Am I crazy, or did it just not seem like they were that effective on the ground? As it stands, judging by stats alone, we still appear to be eminently beatable on the ground.

Still, though: 4 games played. 32 points allowed.

Kind of a big game coming up this week, too.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Abra-abracadabra…I wanna reach out and grab ya

Okay, as our 3 loyal readers know, Midwest Bias’s blogtributors, especially Jack Fu and myself, have an uncanny ability to jinx teams. The Michigan-ND game notwithstanding, we’ve notoriously been able to bring down a number of seemingly competent athletes. Want proof? Check out my fantasy baseball draft. Fucking Peavy.

Anyhoo, this unharnessable power reached a new and strange height this week for yours truly. After the acquisition of Anson Carter and winning or first preseason game, I thought about posting a Blue Jackets season preview. I started brainstorming and came up with 4 keys to a successful 2006-2007 season. My #1 key? I called it simply, “Health, health, health”. The very night I considered the extreme importance of a healthy Blue Jackets squad, Sergei Fedorov went down with a separated shoulder. Now he’s out 5-6 weeks. That means he misses the rest of training camp and up to 9 regular season games. On a team ridiculously notorious for starting slowly, I thought it was nice to have all our forwards healthy and able to create some legitimate chemistry in our lines. So much for that idea. I hate these powers of mine.

Monday, September 18, 2006

GVGOAT 34 - 25

A few comments before continuing the list....
1) Thank you so much for all the comments on the list. Wait...strike that. There's been almost none. Just gimme a little sugar, that's all I ask!
2) I apologize for the delay between the last two installment. It's been an interesting week.
3) The list becomes very difficult from here on. In fact, the top 25 was nearly impossible to dissect. So, I tended to heavily weigh replayability for the overall factor along with my own personal obscene knowledge of that game. Trust me, it'll make sense. Here we go!

34) Super Mario 64 (N64)
A lot of lists will have this game much closer to the top. Personally, I don't agree. But, it's high regard, coupled with incredibly solid game play earn is a spot in the top 35. The game did have a very nice "feel" to it and really explored the early space of the 64 bit console.

Above: 8 bytes of Mario

Fun Fact: No matter how many times I see it used in a platformer, the "stinky butt-drop" move is always enjoyable.

33) Asteroids (PC)
Spin, click, shot. A simple idea, a great game. The single thing that set this game apart in those early days was the ability to go off the edge of the screen, and come out on the other. Well, that, and the fact it seemed to have a physics/momentum engine built in. The movements were much more fluid than even some games are today.

Above: Uhhhh....I think one of those things is an enemy craft. Maybe?

Fun Fact: The mouse pointer used by every computer today is modeled after the ship in Asteroids.

32) Gran Turismo 3
One of the most hyped titles to be released for the PSII, it's graphics certainly disappoint. I'd actually call the game's handling too realistic if such a thing is possible. It provided enough cars and add-ons to keep any gear head occupied plus enough tracks and difficulty for even a casual car person. It's full replay mode was the one thing that separated it from the rest and REALLY let it showcase it's graphics.

Above: Mizer driving around campus. Look out for the 4-0 Dewwie Retardo!!!

Fun Fact: The game was pretty tough....until you got that first race car. Yet, having an open-wheel indy car crush a Miata was still fun. Suck on it computer!

31) Test Drive 3 (PC)
This game was probably the first one I ever played that had the "sandbox" ability. Granted you were supposed to do this mission and that mission, but if you wanted, you could drive down the railroad tracks as long as you wanted. Back in the early 90s, this type of thing was simply unheard of. In fact, the more I think about this game, it could have been a bit higher, but there's no way I could drop anything else down. A victim of circumstance, just ask #30, you're coming up on the list.

Above: Your car was always driven by the invisible hand.

In a way, it was really the precursor to GTA. You could ram other cars, be chased by cops, and the sandbox idea are all themes used by GTA. TD3 did this all back in the day. One of the best.

Fun Fact: I'll always remember how cool it was to see rain on the windshield of your car. We've come a long way baby.

30) Super Bomberman 2 (SNES)
While compiling my list, having to rank this game outside of the top 20 was questionably the biggest surprise of the ordering. While one of the greatest and easiest multiplayer games ever, I had to bump it down for it's TERRIBLE single player mode. Honestly, has anyone ever played it? Just gawd-awful. Gawful? Unlawful? probably should be, it's that bad.

Above: Stage 1 of 10

However, the MP mode is gospel. You only needed really one button (2 if you had a glove to throw bombs), but it still required strategy with a wonderful array of powerups. Simply fantastic.

Fun Fact: One of the powerups was a skull. It would be a random power, that sometimes would even hurt you. To this day, we all know what bomb diarrhea can do.

29) Madden (the whole friggin series)
Madden '93 changed my life. The graphics, the gameplay, the creepy music. Then about "the year 2000", the game transformed itself into an institution. It's more than a game, it's part of our mainstream culture now. "Madden Day" is a widely accepted practice. That's all you need to know. That, and Steve Young in Madden 95 threw the hardest pass in video game history.

Above: Those were the days.

Fun Fact: I once got 102 yards with Thurman Thomas on a single drive. There were no penalties. I think that's a record.

28) Chronotrigger (SNES)
Of our loyal readers, I bet maybe 1 of you has even heard of this game, let alone played it. So, I'll spare you the details and just let you know it was one of the best RPGs ever.

Above: A sleepytime explosion?

27) Street Fighter II (Arcade, SNES)
In the day of side-scrolling fighting games, there were two. For me, I preferred the other one more, and it's yet to show up. You know what it is. I will say I think this game had better overall characters. But the MKII was just cooler overall.

Above: Simmer down Ryu. It's just a chick.

Fun Fact: Street fighter gets bonus points for JackFu and I turning the characters screams to match names of north campus streets. "IIIIIIUKA", "Summit BOOM", and "Waldeck Fire" (just go with it) always hold a special place in my heart.

26) The Sims (PC)
Here's how much our lives suck: We'll spend our worthless time watching virtual people do the same things we don't want to do. I love our species.

Above: "No, Mom, I can't take out the trash b\c I'm busy making sure my virtual self does so."

For me, the highligts of this game were 2 fold. First, making every male character make out with the other male characters. Secondly, I tried to find any way possible to kill people. My favorite was getting someone in a swimming pool then removing the ladder.

Fun Fact: The easiest and more boring add-on to this game was "The Sims: Alter Boy Challenge". You spent 400 game hours praying, then "won" after being sodomized by Billy Graham. What? Too Soon?

25) Mario Kart 64 (N64)
The game also gets points for being equally enjoyable on the gamecube. And props to the cube peeps for not attempting to totally redo an already fantastic game. However, the 64 version was the real groundbreaker. A totally fantastic multi-player experience, coupled with a decent single play mode.

Above: The lightning bolt awaits to make you travel-size

Using the well established gaming protocol of skinny vs fat is acceleration vs speed, the game made great use of all the great mario characters.

Fun Fact: In order to balance out the greatness of Mario Kart, they created Mario Party to prove a fact that a game with all Mario characters could, in fact, royally suck.

Clarett goes to jail, Tom Friend scrambling to write article

In case you haven't heard, Maurice Clarett has pled guilty, negotiating his punishment down to 7 1/2 years in prison, 3 1/2 of which he is guaranteed to serve, after which there is a slight chance of him getting out with good behavior. Apparently Coach Tress wasn't able to do anything more for him.

On a slightly more serious note, thank God we're now at a point where it seems like we won't have to hear tons more stories about him doing stupid shit and having it inexplicably reflect back on our university. Every time the guy screwed something up or robbed somebody or killed a kitten, Tom Friend or some other jagoff from ESPN was there waiting to write about how it made the school look bad, despite the fact that he played in like 9 games for us and hasn't been associated with the program in over three years. At least now that he's behind bars, he can't do anything stupid to put normal citizens in danger, and have us deal with columns and articles about how it's Jim Tressel's fault that Maurice decided to punch a toddler or blow up a hospice center. Good riddance, and I hope it's the last we hear about him for a good long while...

Specific response to a commenter! And Irish-bashing!

Fun for the whole family!

In case you didn't know, Michigan alum Break of Dawn asked for a prediction on the UM/ND game. I gave my honest assessment of a close Michigan victory, then warned about my tendency to brutally jinx any team I specifically predict to win. BoD was, quite properly, pleased and confused about my "jinxing." So, I say:

RE: me jinxing Michigan in the comments

I was seven yards off on my Mike Hart prediction. OMG SOOPER GENIUS!!!1!

RE: ND overration

The "how overrated was/is Notre Dame" question can be answered "tons" pretty much any time you ask it. They're always overhyped relative to their talent. I thought it was hilarious that everyone was saying their defense had magically gotten faster in the offseason after getting pantsed by OSU last year, and after only shutting down a GT team lead by Reggie Ball and a PSU team that lost its QB and 4 O-Linemen from what was a "meh" offense last year. The media will always pump up Notre Dame to levels they should not be occupying.

I loved the affirmation that ND's defense is still deathly slow, and now everybody knows it. And those corners are terrible. If you can run on them consistently and get just one of those two clowns on an island, you're almost assured of getting a long touchdown. They'd have a tough time covering me ... if I was blindfolded ... and in a wheelchair...

Two problems, though, one short term and one long term:

1.) After the MSU game this Saturday, it's cupcake city for the Irish until the USC game to close the year. They play all three service academies and a couple of Big East/ACC bottom feeders. Chances are more than good that they'll be 10-1 and ranked in the top 5, with everyone having forgotten about this game, by the time late November rolls around.

2.) Weis is recruiting like a motherfucker. He's getting almost USC-ish classes to come in. Now, some of this may be the media's tendency (especially Tom Lemming, who is notorious for this) to overrate any recruit who says Notre Dame is even interested in him. But early returns are that these first few Weis-coached teams will probably be the least-talented teams he'll have in his tenure. Time will tell.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cincinnatuh preview stuff

In case you haven't read enough college football coverage this week, here's some OSU-centric stuff to look at, as new sidebar link Men of the Scarlet and Gray has a preview of this week's game, along with some over/unders and predictions and stuff. A humble prediction from Yours Truly: this Saturday will mark the first of many times we watch Chris Wells accumulate 100 rushing yards in a game.

Thank you Mr. Sports Agent, but I already have a watch

So I'm painting the house yesterday, and I'm listening to the laptop-quality streaming audio of the Detroit sportstalk station I used to listen to. The show I really like was over, but it's follow-up show, Wetzel and the Gator, featuring Dan Wetzel of yahoo sports, a guy I had no clue was a Detroiter before he started this show a few months ago, is on. Wetzel is off in a studio in California, taking time out from working on some assignment for yahoo. And they're talking about college football. Out of nowhere, Wetzel asks something along the lines of "So what do you think would happen, hypothetically, to the point spread on that USC-Nebraska game this weekend if the news broke, sometime in the near future, about a major scandal at USC? Hypothetically?" This piqued my interest but was soon forgotten.

Then I (unfortunately) watched last night's debacle of a West Virginia-Maryland game. (Incidentally, SMQ has some great thoughts on it, including the big one about their offense that I think we all noticed but hadn't yet crystallized: White and Slaton are good and quick, but that OLine murders people. To death.)

At halftime Rece Davis comes on and says that yahoo sports is reporting that in his time at USC Reggie Bush received over $100,000 in improper benefits. Shocking, I know.

As per usual, EDSBS already has a fantastic take on the situation. Make your way over and read, post-haste!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I still like him better than Steinbrenner

I was just going to tack this on to the previous post but once I got going I thought it deserved its own post. Anyway…

And on an unrelated but still local pro sports-themed note, I JUST found out the Clippers and Yankees have parted ways after 28 years. Wow. I’m still in shock. As a Clipper-lover and Yankee-hater, this is bittersweet. I just thought it would NEVER happen. And I especially didn’t think it would happen as the team moves from the barely affectionately dank Cooper Stadium into a new downtown ballpark in 2008. I’m just in complete shock. Their uniforms mirror the Yankees. I mean for chrissake, they play Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ at the end of every game, win or lose. It’s completely bizarre, but so is the entire Cooper Stadium experience.

The one good thing about having the Yankees as the mother ship was that you got to see the most bizarre players on the way up and down from the majors. Sure we got to see Paul O’Neill, Bob Wickman, the Sausage Beater, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Jorge Posada on their way up. But those weren’t the ones I REALLY remember. Among countless others, we got to see Hideki Irabu, Jason Giambi, Ruben Sierra, Ramiro Mendoza, and Darryl Strawberry in person all WELL past their prime. And for that I thank you, Steinbrenner. Now get the hell out of my life.

- What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs and over 100 RBIs last year. He's got a rocket for an arm. You don't know what the hell you're doin'!
- Well, Buhner was a good prospect, no question about it. But my baseball people loved Ken Phelps' bat. They kept saying "Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps."

Anson Carter, Anson Carter, Anson Carter, ooooh shit, Anson Carter!

Amid all this extremely deserved hubbub (Bubrub?) surrounding an already spicy college football season, it bears mentioning that NHL training camps open in a few days with preseason games starting soon after. I’m sure I care more about this than any of my fellow blogtributors, but I really felt the need to comment on the Anson Carter signing from yesterday.
Does Doug MacLean deserve credit? You betcha. After getting in the Zherdev contract negotiation quagmire, this helps him save all kinds of face. And it may ultimately save his job.
Would we prefer Zherdev to Carter? Sure. But we’d also prefer Carter to nothing. And that’s what we were about to go into training camp with. Carter’s a truly acceptable 2nd line replacement and sounds like a damn good fit with Modin and Brule.
So I applaud MacLean up and down.
But still, this situation was just a bit too perfect for MacLean and Carter. It’s the eve of training camp and MacLean desperately needs a 2nd line forward and Carter happened to be the only acceptable solution. Carter had just been dumped by the Canucks and needed to feel needed. (Sigh.)
It’s like when the bar’s about to close and there’s one drunk single horny guy and one drunk single horny girl left. Hey you two! HOOK UP!! It’s kismet! In this situation, MacLean just got shit-ass lucky that at this stage of the game his lonely girl appears to be entirely doable. (He’s got a thing for dreadlocks.) Now we just have to wait until morning to see if she’s hot…

Stroke it Anson Carter, but don’t stroke so fast….

New depth chart for Cincinnati

The most interesting thing here is probably that John Kerr, who pulled a total disappearing act in the Texas game, apparently strengthened his hold on the WLB position, as he is listed alone as the starter instead of the "John Kerr or Ross Homan" we saw in that spot last week. However, considering that 52 different players saw significant action in the first quarter alone at Texas, who knows how meaningful the phrase "expected starter" is to Heacock and Fickell. Tons of guys have seen time in each game so far, and that trend will definitely continue against The Natty.

In other news, Keith over at BC has his analysis of the Texas game up. Give a look-see.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

OMG Saturday of the Century!!!!1!

As you are all no doubt aware, since none of you have to my knowledge been hiding under A GODDAMN ROCK for the last week or so, this upcoming Saturday features like 7 different games pitting Top 25 teams against each other, the most since 1993, apparently. And other intriguing matchups -- like the Buckeyes -- will come to the fore, as well. For this momentous day, Evan and I are working on the logistics of a (*gasp*) THREE-TELEVISION SET-UP in his apartment, so as to miss out on as little of the hot college football action as possible. So, in an effort to lay out to y'all the ridiculous cornucopia of goodness, as well as attempt to coordinate the coverage we will be striving for, here's the schedule we'll hopefully be looking at:

11:30-11:45 range -- I show up at Evan's. Drinking commences.

12:00 -- Triple-TV action in full effect. The games:
  • ESPN - Iowa State at Iowa
  • ESPN2 - BYU at Boston College (earlier in the week, the Droppa was supposed to be carrying Michigan State at Pittsburgh - now that game has been relegated to regional ESPNPlus and is likely not available to us. Sigh.)
  • CBS/ESPNPlus - Cincinnati at Ohio State

3:30-ish -- Chipotle break.

3:40-7:30 or so -- More college football than you could shake a stick at:
  • ABC - Oklahoma at Oregon OR Miami (FL) at Louisville (with us most likely getting the latter)
  • NBC - Michigan at No-trah Dame
  • CBS - LSU at Auburn
  • OLN - Texas Tech at TCU (5:30 kickoff)

7:30-ish-'til-God-know's-when -- And lastly, the night games (an audible may be called here, moving us to a sports bar or something. You never know.):
  • TBS - Arizona State at Colorado (sure seems like a stinker now - 7:00)
  • ESPN - Clemson at Florida State (7:45)
  • ESPN2 - crappy games (Rice at Texas, Army at Texas A&M) (6:00, 9:00)
  • CBS - Florida at Tennessee (8:00)
  • ABC - Nebraska at USC (8:00)

Zowie. Stupidly good games, all, hopefully. I suggest that we all get plenty of fluids and get a good night's sleep on Friday, so as not to have a repeat of September 2, when all you 'mos were crashed and burnt by 7:00 p.m. As always: huzzah.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Preliminary not-quite-kneejerk stuff

So. Here we are. One day after the totally ultimate biggest game of the century of the year of the week. Yes, I was at a wedding reception back home in Michigan when the game kicked off. Yes, I broke down and left at about 8:35 EST, and watched the rest of the game at my parents' house. As such, I didn't watch the battle with my usual, uh ... "peeps," and have only thus far talked to Todd about the game -- aside from Reader Joel drunkenly calling me after the first touchdown of the game, repeatedly shouting "San Antonio Gonzalez!!!"

I'd love to be able to post promises about "in-depth analysis" and "formation breakdowns" or whatever, but there are myriad reasons why I can't: 1.) When it comes to sports, I am superstitious to an admittedly ludicrous degree -- the first three OSU football games I ever taped all turned out to be losses, each varying in levels of unexpectedness (The last one? Homecoming 2001 vs. Wisconsin. Things have worked out well since then, no?), and I haven't even thought about doing it ever since. Hence, I have no "game tape" to look back on or anything. 2.) Not that it would do any good, since, I mean ... I know dick-all about football (at least compared to basketball). Hell, I subscribe to the SMQ "My PS2's a better teacher than Bob Davie could ever be" school of football-wise learnin'. Lastly, 3.) Others already do it way better than I ever could.

However, I shall not remain silent. In the humble words of the immortal Jimmy Chitwood, "I got somethin' to say." Sort of. My one-day-later thoughts on what was a yooge win for the Buckeyes in Austin:

Okay seriously, if I read one more fucking review of the game from the MSM where they compare Troy Smith to Vince Young I’m just gonna … light myself on fire, or perform some other blandly hyperbolic Sports Guy-esque act of masochism. Troy never even crossed the line of scrimmage in this game! The comparisons between the two essentially go like this: “Black quarterback blah. Wear #10 blah. Blah blah played each other last year blah.” But I suppose in a sportswriting culture where the wildly racist moniker “The Tiger Woods of Poker” flourishes, this isn’t so surprising.

But back to Troy. The guy played a fantastic game, and while a certain ROAD WARRIORING defender probably made the two biggest plays, Troy controlled the contest from beginning to end. The progress he’s made over the last year or so is astonishing: at the end of 2004 and early last season, he used his mobility to escape from daunting situations, tucking and running for positive yardage. Now, he primarily uses his feet to buy himself more time in the pocket, constantly keeping his eyes downfield. With the receivers we’re trotting out this year, that’s probably even more deadly for defenses than Troy taking off on the ground. With the offensive line performing as well as they are, if Troy can buy himself an additional 3 or so seconds on top of the copious protection he’s already getting, you can pretty much guarantee that someone is gonna be open downfield.

As for the rest of the O: San Antonio Pittman remains supremely unheralded, and I couldn’t be happier. One of the OSU blogs we link to o’er thar on the sidebar said before the game that Pittman had been called “underrated” so many times by so many people that he was almost in danger of becoming overrated. After the Texas game, where he had scant few carries but was largely effective when given the ball (16 rushes, 75 yards – stats almost identical to those of Jamaal Charles for the game, begging the question of “Why do people think our running game was so bad when we didn’t try it all that often?”), the only lingering questions most of the media still has about the Bucks center on our “lack of a running game.” Make no mistake: the goal was to move the ball through the air, with a few runs mixed in to keep the D honest – an almost complete reversal of the bulk of Tressel’s tenure here (and it showed, as the Texas defense seemed legitimately flummoxed at times, not expecting us to pass so much, but I’ll touch on that later).

Nothing can be said about the receivers that hasn’t already been pointed out numerous times: they good. I was leery of “Teddy Inge: #1 Receiver” before the season, but he’s stepped up big-time, and the attention he’s getting makes legitimate threats like San Antonio Gonzalez and Brian Robiskie even more dangerous (and Roy Hall hasn’t even played a snap yet!) I touched on the O-Line but it can’t be said enough: best of the Tressel Era thus far. Aside from a few mistakes by Alex Boone, making something like his third career start at night, on the road, in friggin’ Texas game, they did yeoman’s work against a superb D-Line.

This was a little more iffy to me, specifically the linebackers. I know that Laurinaitis had 13 tackles and that he did legitimately make the two plays that were the two biggest reasons the Buckeyes won the game, but this group as a whole is still marginal at best against the run. The gaps are just not getting filled the way we’re used to seeing from an OSU linebacker unit, and the guys still aren’t getting off blocks well. Also, as has been commented on by just about every OSU blog already, John Kerr is toast, which I suppose should delight the Caveman. I never even noticed him in the game, never caught a glimpse of a red “52” coming close to making a play. Ross Homan seems to be the heir apparent. Marcus Freeman is good, not great, and I thought Curtis Terry saw an inordinate amount of time; maybe I’m crazy. These guys will be good, but I’m just not sold on them yet. Still, though: 12 points to Northern Illinois, and 7 to Texas. They’re doing something right.

Speaking of doing something right, the DL is as good as I hoped they would be. They reacted better to screen and swing passes this week, and they got consistent pressure on McCoy. The less said about the infuriating “helmet-to-helmet” penalty the better, but I just want to point out that SMQ likened it (at the very bottom) to last weekend, when a similar play happened in the ND-GT game: Quinn was drilled as he was running out of bounds, but the hit was clearly before he got out-of-bounds, so the officials had to scramble and say it was “helmet-to-helmet.” SMQ is right in saying that this is an off-putting, NFL-like “protect the QBs at all costs” trend, one I hope we don’t see any more of.

As Tressel predicted, we played an assload of guys on defense, young, inexperienced guys, on the road, at night, against Texas (I still can’t help saying that). They gave up yards, but they made the plays when they had to. Tons of commentators talked about how OSU has “answered the questions” about the defense, but I saw us getting gashed by the run a bit too often for me to be comfortable (still, though: seven points!), and it probably would have been worse had it not been for…

The DBs. “All-new,” as was pointed out ad nauseum by everyone before the season started, plainly ignoring the fact that Malcolm Jenkins was the #2 corner opposite Youboty for most of the second half of last season. Against No.Ill. they were rarely tested in the passing game, and were pitiful in run support, failing to shed blocks, taking bad angles and tackling poorly. Pretty much all of that was fixed in the Texas game, the good tackling being the most obvious improvement to me. Even when the LBs got beat, the secondary always cleaned it up, bottling up every potential big run (save one) at the 8-12 yard mark. They were much better reacting to screens, most notably when Antonio Smith blitzed, read “screen,” then immediately reversed field over toward the sideline and tackled the Texas running back just as he was catching the ball. Again, we didn’t see them challenged downfield very much, but because of the nature of television coverage we have no way of knowing if this was primarily because they were covering the receivers or because of conservative playcalling by Texas. The latter is undoubtedly part of the equation, but I have no clue how big. Also, I’m still scared of how they can deal with stretch plays, which we will almost undoubtedly see against Iowa, Minnesota, and Michigan.

Update: If you still feel that the defense "answered questions" or whatever, take a look at this analysis of the game, featuring video of every non-special-teams play from scrimmage in the entire game. The main defensive trends you'll notice from the replays are: 1.) Laurinaitis, despite getting heaps of praise nationally for the two yooge plays he made, really didn't have that good of a game, especially in run support (but ESPECIALLY Bart!). I'm having a hard time figuring out where those 13 tackles came from. 2.) The corners were excellent in run support, for the most part. And 3.) I think Texas threw the ball more than 5 yards downfield maybe 4 times in the game. Take all this for what it's worth, but check out the replays; if you got giddy about the D after Saturday night, this'll probably change your perspective at least a little. (HT: BC.)

The Opponent
Todd and I talked about this, but I was shocked by how unprepared to deal with our passing game Texas appeared to be. I saw Mack Brown say on SportsCenter that they prepared a lot for Troy Smith’s scrambling and for last year’s ever-present “If we’re in the red zone, we’re running the QB on a draw or sweep” gambit. And I guess that’s understandable, but … I still don’t know what to think. Is this more a “WTF, Mack?” or a “Huzzah, Tressel!” situation? We passed like crazy against No.Ill., but Brown and OMGene Chizik apparently felt that Saturday’s game would be more of a return to conventional “TresselBall” (Speaking of that, I forgot to mention that A.J. Trapasso’s yoogeness in this game cannot be overstated. He was positively Andy Boom-esque in the way he flat-out reversed field position. On the other hand, the placekicking still scares me, and is probably the one aspect of the team I’m most scared about.). They paid dearly for their miscalculation.

Colt McCoy is good. He’s very good for a freshman. In the future, I can totally see him becoming great. But he’s not there yet. Still, anyone who pins this loss on him is stupid.

Pinning it on Texas’s playcalling, on the other hand … that may hold some water. The guys over at Burnt Orange Nation have been harping on this almost literally since the game ended, but the question must be asked: why did Texas throw so much, especially since the running game appeared to be working? Now, I didn’t see the level of dominance on the ground that they apparently did (Really, our DL got “pushed around” by their OL? Really?), but McCoy put the ball in the air more times than Troy Smith. With a rushing attack (Rush ‘N Attack?) that averaged over 6 yards per carry for the game, what’s with all the throws?

What does all this mean for the Cincinnati game?
Probably nothing. In what I hope will be a multi-TV Saturday on Evan’s couch (Seriously, have you SEEN all the games that are gonna be on? I’ve got half a stock right now just thinking about it!), the game will naturally get our full attention, but it should be a blowout serving as a tune-up for the next weekend’s matchup against a frankly bizarre Penn State team that I just don’t know what to do with. Should be good times.


Friday, September 08, 2006

GVGOAT 44 - 35

44) Tetris (NES)
If you look up a lot of other top game lists, you'll almost always see this game near the top. Yes, I know it's one of the simplest AND best selling games of all time, but guess what, I don't care. However, I feel due to the mass appeal this game brought and we all know how to play it, it's worthy of at least a top 50 spot.

Above: A rare glimpse of the tetris mating season.

Fun Fact: The Tetris soundtrack has been credited as the single motivating factor to 14 separate serials murderers.

43) Duke Nukem 3D (PC)
Before GTA, there was Duke Nukem. He blew stuff up, he had great one-liners, he was a total badass. Not only could you give money to strippers, but you could also gain health by pissing in a urinal!! How awesome is that?!?!

Above: Pixelated booty.

He often said, "who wants some?". Frankly, we all did. In the age of shareware, the Duke was king.

42) Star Tropics (NES)
This game probably qualifies as "lost classic" more than any other game I know. An action/RPG game that was fun, with a good story line, and solid difficulty level, it just never got the public attention is deserved.

Above: Semi-automatic octopus

Also, your main weapons was a yo-yo. Props for that. And it was one of the few games in this genre that allowed you to jump in a 3D type environment. Just a really cool game.

Fun Fact: The game manual included a note from one of the game characters that contained a 4-digit code you needed to launch the game. This was a big issue to game rental businesses, as they always took the booklet/paper out (morons), so no one could use the game.

41) Commando (NES)
Sadly, I think all characters in this game are wearing underwear, but I don't think you can prove it. What I never understood about this game was why the guy always ran forward. I mean, that's where all the bad guys are. Wouldn't you just go around them?

Above: Going Commando, hopefully.

Fun Fact: Commando and his enemies were actually on the same side, but somehow his outfit got washed in the wrong load and turned blue instead of the standard issue gray. So, they became enemies because someone can't separate the whites and colors...hehe, racism.

40) Contra (NES)
Gimme a spread gun and some funions and I'll dominate the world in 2 hours. Don't question it.

Now, there's really two main reasons Contra gets to be this high:
1) We all can still ramble off the cheat code for infinite lives
2) The co-op was the most wonderful use of side scrolling action, as you could easily get your teammate killed at any time.

Above: You better have the cheat code typed by now.

Also, I loved the Contra "blowing up" sound. It was like a midi file doing "Ka-blahalalala". Never got old.

Fun Fact: Contra is an autobiography by Chuck Norris

39) Pong

The game that started it all. We all owe the creaters of Pong a big kiss for getting the ball rolling...errr...bouncing, as it may be.

Above: Behold the beginning of games, it was transcribed to this parchment from the Rosetta Stone.

Fun Fact: 3 player Pong would never work.

38) Day of the Tentacle (PC)
Widely regarded as the "funniest" game of all-time, DOTT provided irreverent humor as the game progressed in point and click style. Bizarre scenery and even more bizarre jokes added to the cult-classic status of this game.

Above: So, uhh, you sell your paycheck for that window?

Maybe the greatest part of this game is that you could play a full version of it's prequel, Maniac Mansion, inside it. That gets major bonus points as Maniac Mansion was almost good enough to make this list on its own right.

Fun Fact: There is a porno by the same name.

37) RC Pro-Am (NES)

I learned how to drive by playing this game. Always ram as many cars as possible. Never run over an oil slick. Remeber to be on the lookout for super speed arrows and Mel Novak. And, always equip rockets that look like paper fireworks on your car. After that, it's all a summer's breeze. DOUCHE!!

Above: Tiny Little (You can DO IIIIIIIIIIT!) Cars

Fun Fact: Micro-Machines were inspired by this game. Inspired to be awesome!

36) Pac-Man (Arcade)

Wonka Wonka Wonka. Bleep. Blurp. Wonka Wonka.

Above: A round spaceship flying to the left, leaving a vapor trail.

This game taught me two vaulable lessons:
1) The hierarchy of fruit.
2) Ghosts are only edible if you ingest magical glowing pellets.

Fun Fact: Ms. Pac-Man is actually just Pac-Man with a bow on. I'm seroius, have you ever seen them together at the same time? Why wouldn't she just be in the game with him? Think about it people!!

35) NBA Live 95 (SNES)
An absolute staple of my youth. This game introduced the first chaz batch of hall of fame video game atheletes from the basketball world. Welcome Dan Majerle and Mitch Richmond! Yes, I had Majerle go 24-25 from 3pt range. And yes, I scored 96 pts (still a record) with Mitch in a 3 minute quarter game. However, this game was much more than that.

Above: You'd be CRAZY not to guard Charles Barkley

For me, it was the first game to feature alley-ooooops. Which included any player able to dunk on an oop. 2-handed thunder dunks by Stockton were always a favorite. Also, David Benoit could dunk from ANYWHERE inside the 3 pt line. And, I don't know if it was intentional, but centers refused to dunk. It was just like real life!!

Fun Fact: This game is really the first shocker on the list. In my initial phases, I figured this one would easily crack the top 25. But somehow it just didn't. So, with apologizes to Felton Spencer, Tracey Murray, and Haq, the top 35 await...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The New Clock Rule = Balls

Before the season there was much "meh"-ing and "wuzzuh"-ing about new NCAA football Rule 3-2-5e, designed to shorten the length of games. After one weekend of college football action, a crack group of football-loving nerds have determined that, yes, the games were shorter (run-happy Minnesota's opening tilt vs. Kent State apparently clocked in at an astonishing 2 hours and 36 minutes(!!!)), but a harrowing number of plays were lost. Some have estimated that up to three to four DRIVES per game have been eliminated because of this new rule. Cold, hard factoids have been accumulated and commented upon by SMQ here. Meanwhile, EDSBS has gone all "You all think I'm licked? Well I'm not licked!" on us, trotting out names, addresses, and phone numbers in a probably-fruitless attempt to bitch the rule out of existence. And, since these are the hinterwebs, and no online furor would be complete without a petition-ish thingy to sign, one has been made available. Make haste!

And lastly, here's a look at what this might mean for the Buckeyes this season.