By: Jamie Samuelsen
Let’s climb into the way back machine and travel in time to a magical month known as August.
Remember that month? The Tigers couldn’t catch the White Sox. Mitt Romney couldn’t catch Barack Obama. And Wojo couldn’t catch the clue that his pasty white legs looked really bad when he wore black socks with shorts. (That may or may not be true.) We also had some crazy notions about our local football teams, didn’t we?
The Lions were supposed to be an unstoppable offensive juggernaut, which would have a hard time stopping opposing offenses. Michigan featured the great Denard Robinson and was ranked in some preseason polls in the top ten. And Michigan State was a dark horse National Championship contender who was a heavy favorite to beat archrival Michigan for the fifth straight year.
Oh my how wrong we were.
The Lions have held Stephen Jackson, Frank Gore, Chris Johnson, LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte under 100 yards. Their overall defense ranks 8th in the NFL which is roughly 24 spots ahead of where we thought they’d be when the season started. The offense? Well let’s just say that Matthew Stafford is still trying to throw his first touchdown pass to Calvin Johnson. And Megatron has scored fewer touchdowns this year than receivers named Brandon LaFell, Joe Morgan and Jeremy Kerley. And no, I didn’t make ANY of those names up.
Michigan is the closest thing to what we expected. Their offense has struggled a bit after the loss of some key lineman. And their defense has actually become a weapon. In fact, you could say that their defense actually won the game last Saturday against Michigan State, which is the first time that you can say that since 2006. Or earlier.
And MSU is the biggest disappointment of all. Forget about the BCS game, the Spartans are now only concerned with the B (as in bowl). Their defense remains stout. Their offense? Sleight? Remember after the Boise State game when Le’Veon Bell was a Heisman hopeful? Yep. That game was played in August. What a month it was.
And what a week it was for our boy Ryan Wooley who posted his second 3-0 slate of the season. Wojo and I are a little like the Lions offense. A lot is expected. But we’re still trying to get things going.
MICHIGAN STATE (+6 ½) AT WISCONSIN – Continuing the theme of the blog, this was the Game of the Year back in August. It was a rematch of the inaugural Big Ten title game. It was a rematch of “The Rocket” game from last October. It was a power struggle between the two best teams in the conference. Yeah…August was a fun month, wasn’t it? Now the two schools are a combined 10-6 and 4-4 in conference play. That’s of course patently unfair to Wisconsin because MSU has done most of the losing. The Badgers have heated up – winning their last three in a row by a combined 66 points over Illinois, Purdue and Minnesota. That’s the good news for Bucky. The bad news is that those are three of the worst teams in the Big Ten. But back to good news for Bucky? So are the Spartans. Sorry MSU. But 1-3 tends to paint you into that corner. PICK – WISCONSIN
WOJO – WISCONSIN
WOOLEY – WISCONSIN
MICHIGAN (+ 2 ½) AT NEBRASKA – If Michigan looks at Nebraska, it might be a reflection of itself. Then again, it would have to be one of those goofy funhouse mirrors where everything changes and the colors are altered to make you look nothing like yourself. Then the analogy really works. But Nebraska does have a mobile quarterback with a funky nickname. For the Huskers it’s Taylor Martinez (a.k.a. Taylor Magic), which sounds a little bit better when it comes to nicknames than “Shoelace”. The two quarterbacks are also similar in that their fan bases love when they do spectacular things but then criticize them wildly and long for their graduation when things don’t go well. Michigan has not fared very well in hostile environments this season. Nebraska has not fared very well against good defenses. Michigan all of a sudden has a very good defense. PICK – MICHIGAN
WOJO – NEBRASKA
WOOLEY – NEBRASKA
SEAHAWKS (+2) AT LIONS – This is a battle of two of the best defenses in football and two of the worst offenses. Wait. Did I just write that sentence? I think I did. No, I don’t think the Lions actually have one of the worst offenses in football. I just think they’ve tended to play that way through the first three quarters of most every game this season. Matthew Stafford has thrown five touchdowns in six games. And ALL of them have come in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, Seattle rookie quarterback Russell Wilson is about 4 feet 11 (give or take). But he does have Marshawn Lynch behind him who runs the ball all the time, but just doesn’t have a lot of game-breaking carries (only ONE run longer than 20 yards this season). And oddly enough, the Lions don’t tend to give up a lot of yards. This is a desperation game for Detroit. And this is a desperation pick for me because this is one of the most confounding teams I’ve ever watched. PICK – LIONS
WOJO – LIONS
WOOLEY – LIONS