Thursday, November 25, 2010

Week 12: Score Update and Michigan Hate

Welcome to Michigan-Ohio State Week.

More on that in a minute. Before we get to the latest Pick Six scores, here is the update from two weeks ago. No news the cat's winning blah blah blah:
Team Name Total
1 Mr. Q 116
2 Hüskers Dü 101
3 Finley 90
4 Mo 87
5 P. Puff 82
6 Piece of Cheese 82
7 Frrrrrr 77
8 Sidney 71
9 Larry Sparks 68
10 My Non-Contention 67
11 HuskerFan 66
12 Sadandbritish 65
13 Tippy 61
14 Art/Arden/Aislinn 58
15 Sodeh 56
16 Mitzu 56
17 QBKatt 54
18 Gin-N-Tonic with Extra Lime 53
19 MPF004 53
20 Team Awesome Excavator 46
21 MAC FAN 29
22 The Boonster 26

Now this week. Florida State jumped back into the poll, thanks to a win over these guys.

F.S.U. Fears Not the Turtle

The biggest impact on the poll was Nebraska's 9-6 loss to Texas A&M, hurting two of the top three players. (Not the cat of course. His picks appears unbeatable.) Iowa's loss to Ohio State hurt, but the Hawks did remain in the poll, the highest-ranked four-loss team, at No. 24.

Okay, here's the link to the scores. No surprises. Quigley is still leading.

How about this weekend's games? I've gotten very MACtastic this year. Not sure why. I think it's just because it's been fun watching Ohio put together a solid season after stumbling out of the gate. I've followed the conference pretty closely, so I can tell you that the MAC East Championship comes down to tomorrow morning's game (yes morning ... 10am). If Ohio beats Kent State, they win the East. If they lose, rival Fake Miami will take the division.

Let's say you're out of the running in the Pick Six, and now you're just rooting for chaos. What does this weekend mean for you?

Arkansas vs. LSU: 10 of the top 12 scorers have either Arky or LSU. The 3rd, 4th and 5th place players have both teams. Someone's going to drop points.

Boise State vs. Nevada: The Wolfpack is the only decent team on Boise's schedule, other than Virginia Tech. Boise won't lose this game, because Nevada isn't really THAT good. But if they do, watch the blue turfers drop (three of the top five players have Boise).

Okay, let's get back to Michigan-Ohio State. In his 10 years at Columbus, Jim Tressel has been a model of consistency and success: 7, 14, 11, 8, 10, 12, 11, 10, 11 wins, plus 10 wins so far this year. Since arriving in Ann Arbor, Rich Rodriguez has set all sorts of records, such as the first major NCAA sanctions and probation in the program's history, and the first three losing conference seasons in the past 40 years (2008, 2009, 2010).

And now a joke, courtesy of the eloquently named and spelled "" The joke is "Michigan Cat."

A guy walks into a bar in Ann Arbor wearing a Michigan jersey. He's carrying a cat that also has a Michigan jersey on.
The guy says to the bartender, "Can my cat and I watch the Michigan-OSU game here? My TV at home broke down, and my cat and I always watch the game together."
The bartender replies, "Normally, cats wouldn't be allowed in the bar, but it's not very busy in here right now, so you and the cat can stay. But, if there's any trouble with the cat, I'll have to ask you to leave."
The guy agrees, and he and his cat start watching the game. Pretty soon Michigan manages to kick a field goal and the excited cat jumps up on the bar, walks all the way down and gives everyone a high five.
The bartender says, "Hey, that's pretty cool! What does he do for a Michigan win?"
The guys answers, "I don't know, I've only had him for 6 years."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Evolution of a Friendship

Day 1: Uncomfortable co-existence.

Day 2: The rumble. Perhaps you remember:

Day 3-4: No photographic evidence. I went to work, I came home to find the house still standing. That was good enough for me. Suffice to say it was somewhere between Day 1 and Day 2: nobody went to the emergency room, but it wasn't buddy-buddy either.

Day 5: TM comes home. And she captures this:

Later in Day 5: Unified for a mission.

The mission apparently being bird-spotting.

Day 6: Best buds.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

EVANSTON INVASION: Revenge On the Nerds

As a Big Ten fan, you have a complicated relationship with the other conference teams. Some programs/coaches you respect (Penn State, Michigan State until the handling of the Chris L. Rucker situation). Some are legit border rivalries (Minny, Wisky, soon to be Nebraska). Some, to quote Craig Finn, "I couldn't find the hate and I couldn't find the fear" (Indiana, Purdue). Some you just flat out hate 24/7/365.

And then there's Northwestern.

The nerds in purple used to be a reliable "W" on the schedule (season series is a comfortable 45-22-3 lead). During my formative years of watching Hawkeye football, we won 14 straight. And when you live in Chicago, it's so easy to take the Red/Purple up to that dinky little high school stadium of theirs. Back in the good ol' days (2001), I went to a game with Rich and Kary (Hawkeye fans from the hometown) and we won 59-16. We spent the first half of the game actively watching and cheering, and the second half talking, occasionally being interrupted by oh hey look we scored another touchdown. It was fun, and easy to make fun of them as the school we kept in the Big Ten to keep the conference's grades up.

And then Fitzgerald happened.

In the four years he's been coach, he's beaten Iowa three times. And it's not like he's ever had the better team:
  • In 2009, we were 9-0, ranked No. 8 in the country, high off that amazing win over Indiana, and then Corey Wooton crunched Ricky Stanzi's ankle, and it all went to hell. The pain is still strong, and fuels my motivation to win on Saturday. We finished 11-2 and won the Orange Bowl; they finished 8-5.
  • In 2008, Shonn Greene had his usual 100-yard game but Iowa had turnover-itis and lost by 5 points. We finished 9-4 and won the Outback Bowl; they were 9-4 and lost their lesser bowl.
  • In 2006 we were in the middle of a meltdown season, and they came into our house and beat us by two touchdowns. We finished 6-6 and went to a bowl we frankly didn't deserve; they finished 4-8.
Why did this happen? Mostly, because Fitzgerald Hates Iowa. He will never say as much in public, of course, but Hawkeye State aka Patrick Vint explains in this essay that it dates back to his playing days. And while we must acknowledge he has brought the program to Barnett-era levels of achievement, he has a particular hard-on for Iowa, and motivates his team to beat Iowa unlike any other opponent out there.

Basically: they are a smarter, in-conference version of Iowa State. Their whole fucking season revolves around beating Iowa. Despite inferior talent and lesser prestige, they see us as the only metric for their program.

As if the coach wasn't bad enough, NU fans are the nouveau-riche of college football, refusing to acknowledge anything that happened before 1995 (note to NU fans: you sucked). They never fill up that tiny stadium unless Ohio State, Michigan State or Iowa comes to town.They are the hammer and sickle to our Stars and Stripes, the ruble to our dollar. They are dirty communists (elitist, Gucci-wearing commies).

All of which is a way of saying WE'RE GOING STREAKING IN THE QUAD tailgating on enemy turf before the Iowa-justNorthwestern game Saturday. We've got a couple things in our favor. For starters, TM will be at the game, and Iowa is undefeated when she's in attendance.
TM was there. Probably took this picture.

For another, Ricky Stanzi is a senior and has cut down on the Stanziballs. Adam Robinson is back after missing last week with an injury. We need this game to stay in the Big Ten conference championship conversation. And TMMPF is hosting the pregame party.

So if you're anywhere in the Central Time Zone, you're invited to our tailgate Saturday morning. Reach out to any either co-author for contact info. Say "Fitzgerald is a dirty commie bastard" and drink free all morning, on me. The Hawkeyes, and America, will thank you.

Note: credit for the "empty seat" photo, and general inspiration/support, goes to Black Heart Gold Pants.

What a Weird Football Saturday

This accidentaly got posted down below ... re-posting to the top. Pick Six update is at the end of this post. --Ed.

I'm glad I spent this one on the couch, in front of two TVs, because so much stuff happened I didn't believe it til I listed it all out (see below).

But first, a little MAC-tasticness. (Yeah I just made up that word.) The Ohio Bobcats played a nationally televised game last Thursday night. OK, it was ESPNU, but still, pretty good for the MAC. As much as I rip on the Alleged World Wide Leader for sucking at the one thing--sports--they are supposed to be good at, I will give credit where due. And ESPNU rolled out this fall a new set of school-specific graphics, playing off the channel's standard block "U."

You can see examples in the first few seconds of the sizzle reel from the agency (called National) that created the logos. Of course, the examples I've seen on air are the heavyweights with well-known characteristics: Alabama, Notre Dame, Southern Cal, Georgia, Penn State. So how surprising was it to see...


...during the game. This version doesn't have sound, but the Ohio "U" even snarled a bit upon spinning!

Okay, trying to recap Saturday's action. Well:
  • The No. 6 team lost by 40 points. At home. I would be amazed if that has happened ever, maybe in any sport, much less football.
  • These college football teams were bowl eligible at the start of action Saturday: Central Florida, Maryland (went 2-10 last year), Syracuse (no bowl since 2004), Baylor, Hawaii, San Diego State (4-8 last year, no bowl since 1998). And from the MAC: Temple, Toledo, Northern Illinois and Ohio (had six before the Thursday win).
  • And these schools were not bowl eligible at the start of the day: Texas, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Florida, Michigan, Tennessee. (Italics means they got the sixth win on Saturday.)
  • Michigan beat Illinois 67-65 in three overtimes. Each team scored as many points in the first half (31) as Iowa and Illinois did combined, in their entire game. This game hit the over ... in the first half. This game had more points than the last time they played in basketball. The two teams had 1,237 yards of offense. That's 0.7 of a mile.
Other weirdness:
  • Mississippi State is fifth (second from last) in the SEC West, but if they were in the East, they'd be in first.
  • Speaking of the Bulldogs and the SEC: Alabama plays MSU this weekend and is only ranked six spots higher. Alabama, everyone's preseason No. 1, the team prematurely coronated as a shoo-in to get back to the championship game, is barely higher than a team that before two weeks ago was last ranked in 2001.
  • The "other" MSU, Sparty, jumped six spots for beating a team without a coach.
  • The Big East has zero teams ranked. The Almost Competent Conference (ACC) has one. Compare that to those two conferences I can never tell apart, the Western Mountain WACky Whatever, which have four between them (Boise, Nevada, TCU, Utah).
  • Let's end on this pinnacle of WTF-ality. (You damn right I just made up another word.) Colorado jumped out to a nice big lead over Kansas. It was 14-3 after one, 35-10 at the half, and 38-17 at the end of the third quarter. I was feeling pretty good about my pick of Colorado to win by 8.5 points. A Buffs TD made it 45-17, then Kansas scored 35 unanswered points in the fourth quarter for the 52-45 win. That about summarizes my picks lately, and not suprisingly, Dan Hawkins was fired.
Okay, I know I need to update the Pick Six, especially with so many people benefitting from LSU and the Mad Hatter taking down Bama. I'm watching Northern Illinois destroy Toledo and wondering how either Temple or Ohio could take these guys in the conference championship game, and then realizing how much I've learned about MAC football in the last few years.

....okay okay, the spreadsheet is updated. Analysis later, if I can bear it (hint: find my name way down on the list, and draw your own conclusions).

Monday, November 08, 2010

Me and the Boys

There's an experiment going down at TMMPF HQ: we've introduced a second cat to the ecosphere.

Now, don't get too excited ... this one's just a loaner. Our friend Sarah, keeper of the computer-user Booni, is out of town for the week, and we all thought this would be a good opportunity for the two cats to meet each other. Just one catch: TM is out of town too, so I'm home alone with two male housecats who are used to having the run of their respective domains.

MPF004 comes to grips with the situation.

Sarah and Booni came over Saturday afternoon, and that was relatively calm, but the real action began Sunday morning, after the girls went to the airport. I left the house for a few hours (church, breakfast, errands) and came home around noon. The house was still standing, so that was good.

But when I walked in, this is what I saw (click to make bigger):

Let me try to set the scene. All those magazines and the burgundy accordion folder? They were on the lower part of the coffee table. In that empty space where the magazines used to be? A big ol' clump of Quigley fur. If you look between the table and the couch, you'll see more tufts. And in the left center? Yeah, that's Quigley's collar. Whatever those two did, it knocked his fucking collar off.

I kneeled down to look at the coffee table.

It might be hard to see here, but trust me: those are claw marks etched into the wood, indicating some serious shit went down.

Did I mention they knocked over a TV tray?

As I set about cleaning up the mess, I picked up the excess fur. Every time I thought I'd captured it all, I found more: Under a table leg. Under a magazine. By the couch. Over here a few feet away. I finally piled it all up on now-upright TV tray.

From back to front: the combatants, and the fur that flew.

I'd love to tell you the two bastards got this out of their system. Unfortunately, last night they decided to have another round, and then after I separated them, Booni cried for his "friend." Sigh.

Other than the fighting, the dynamic is pretty damn interesting to watch, from a feline sociologist* perspective. For example, our guest is on diet food, and the host eats the regular version of the same brand. And yet, both cats have been eagerly eating each other's chow. Booni also gets wet food (the good stuff), but Quigley has no interest in that. He does, however, have mischevious ways of asserting his home-field advantage. What I find most hilarious is that Sarah left a coat on the guest bed room, presumably for Booni to have something with her scent. Yeah, Quigley slept on that coat all day yesterday, and I found him there again tonight.

At the moment we've reached another detente: Booni is on the futon here in the office, Quigley upstairs on Sarah's coat.** I've got one more night solo, then the girls return (TM for good, Sarah for just the night). Then Wednesday, I'll leave for work, and the chaos will be for TM to handle.

* -- VERRY different from "crazy cat lady." Our person-to-cat ratio is usually at a safe 2:1. It is only through temporary circumstances that we're sporting this 1:2 ratio.

** -- UPDATE!! Q just came in and is givin' the stinkeye to Booni, as if he's sleeping in Q's special spot (oh the irony). Hopefully they will defuse this safely ... I'm getting sick of playing the United Nations (and being about as successful).

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Pick Six, Week Nine

Pretty quiet, alla round...

The leader (Mr. Q) held onto the "quad-fecta" of the AP Top 4, ruling the leaderboard with an iron paw. Huskers Du put together a nice weekend, with modest gains from Nebraska and Stanford. Finley took a loss from Florida State but the five others all gained, for a week-best net gain of +13. Remember last week when I said the average player dropped four points? Well, you mostly got that back: this week's average score jumped from 63.5 to 67 points.

Who's winning? Of course:

Here are the numbers. As for this Saturday, Alabama-LSU will be a huge game in the SEC ... and the Pick Six game. Almost half the players (15 of 22) have one or the other, with Larry Sparks and My Non-Contention having both.

Elsewhere, Utah-TCU should be a fun game to watch ... if it wasn't on at the same time as Alabama-LSU. I guess this is why you have the two-TV system at your house, right?