By: Jamie Samuelsen
Has anyone noticed that the college football season is almost over? No seriously! We spend all winter and summer talking about recruiting and spring practice and preseason prognostications. And here we are three days after Election Day, and Michigan and MSU are quickly winding down their years. Bowl projections actually mean something. Losses are actually damaging. And Alabama was actually challenged in a game last weekend. When you have children, people always tell you to enjoy it because before you know it, they’re all grown up. That’s true. And it’s also true of college football.
So what have our local teams grown up to be?
Well…we’re still trying to figure that out.
Michigan State – The Spartans are that team that literally nobody wants to play. Why? First of all, they have a stellar defense that makes every other offense struggle to do what they want to do. Secondly, they got so royally jobbed by the officials last Saturday against Nebraska that they’re due to get some measure of make-up calls and karma the next time they take the field. I’m usually not one to blame the refs for losing a game, unless of course the refs’ calls lead directly to a team losing the game.
Michigan – It all depends on whom you ask. One fan will tell you that Denard Robinson is one of the most dynamic players in college football history who deserves to have his number retired for nearly single-handedly leading Michigan to a BCS bowl last year and destroying Notre Dame in his two previous starts prior to this year. Another fan will tell you that Michigan has wasted nearly three years (and apparently a BCS berth) on Denard and that Devin Gardner should have been given the keys to the Michigan kingdom the moment he walked on campus. How do these fans know this? Because of how well Gardner played against Minnesota last week, of course. Apparently the ultimate litmus test for any quarterback is how they perform in that snake pit of a stadium up in Minneapolis.
Lions – Much like Michigan, it all depends on whom you ask. Detroit is divided on the Lions. Half the fans think that they’re a scrappy team which is starting to come together and has the inside track to make the postseason now that Matthew Stafford is playing well again. The other half believes that the Jacksonville Jaguars are worse than Eastern Michigan and all the Lions did last week was chow down on the worst that the NFL has to offer. I guess Stafford needs to prove himself in Minnesota the same way that Gardner did. Are the Golden Gophers available before the Vikings game?
In terms of proving oneself, I finally did it last week by posting a 3-0 record for the weekend. This falls under the blind squirrel/nut corollary. By doing that I tightened things up a bit with Wooley who is acting like he’s better than we are all of a sudden. Wooley has been doing afternoon updates at WWJ. So he gets to be on a legitimate news station while Wojo and I just say “BIG GAME” every single night. He’s also been in first place for the entire season. It’s definitely one of those two things.
NORTHWESTERN (+11 ½) AT MICHIGAN – Full disclosure – I went to Northwestern so I’m a tad biased on this pick. But I’ll also point out that I’ve watched most of their games this year so I’m well aware of the fact that their 7-2 record is incredibly deceptive. Their two losses are to the two best teams they’ve played – Nebraska at home and Penn State on the road. The Wildcats had total command of both of those games and gave them away down the stretch. They run a funky two quarterback system with Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian (Are Wojo’s eyes glazing over yet?) and are improving defensively. Former Wildcat great Pat Fitzgerald is in his (Wojo is fast asleep…isn’t he?) seventh season as head coach and…oh forget it. Who do you THINK I’m taking???? PICK –NORTHWESTERN
WOJO – MICHIGAN
WOOLEY – MICHIGAN
WISCONSIN (-7) AT INDIANA – It’s kind of a weird time in the Hoosier state. The IU basketball team is ranked #1 in the preseason just two years after failing to make the NCAA Tournament for the 12th straight year (give or take). The Colts are much better than anyone thought they’d be after jettisoning the greatest player in their history. (Center Jeff Saturday…I think.) And now the Hoosier football team is very much alive for a berth in the Big Ten Championship game in…Indianapolis. Ask the average Big Ten football fan what they know about Indiana football and they’ll give you two names – Anthony Thompson and Antwaan Randle El. Seriously. Try that today. I guarantee the results. PICK – WISCONSIN
WOJO – INDIANA
WOOLEY – WISCONSIN
LIONS (-2) AT VIKINGS – It only makes sense that the Lions are favored. After all – the Vikings have a better record. The Vikings beat the Lions head-to-head (a saying that Chad Greenway took literally) back in September. Calvin Johnson is admittedly injured. And Adrian Peterson had a bionic knee inserted into his damaged knee. Anyone else scared? Actually the Lions seem to be the team on the rise and the Vikings are like a plummeting stock. Quarterback Christian Ponder hasn’t been the same since he admitted that he was dating ESPN’s Samantha Steele. (The Steele Curse?) And Minnesota likely will go without speed demon Percy Harvin. All the signs are pointing towards a Lions win…or a devastating Lions loss. PICK – LIONS
WOJO – LIONS
WOOLEY – LIONS