... but Coach Fitz kept the team focused and they never lost belief that they would come back and win.Around the league early ...
And as much as I've been critical of McCall this year, the third down call late (the delayed counter out of the shotgun on 3rd and long for the first) was brilliant and -- as we saw with IU at the end -- needed to run down the clock.
We still have to find a way to navigate a rough final four games, three against teams who are 18-3 and one at an old rival who has the talent to explode at any time (fingers crossed, it's Cincinnati when Juice & Co. wake up - it wouldn't hurt any in the Big Ten and would be a blow to those who think the Big Least deserves to have teams who lost to NC State and Auburn ranked ahead of Michigan or Wisconsin).
Right now, Michigan and PSU seem to be setting up for a back-and-forth thriller, as they always seem to do in Ann Arbor ... and tonight's game is a definite trap for the bumblebees ... we'll see if they can escape.
* Yawn on OSU's win. The Buckeyes aren't relevant until November, when they can win the Big Ten, or at least decide what other team does, as they play PSU and Iowa in consecutive weeks.What a fantastic game in East Lansing.
* Purdue may not make it to a bowl with their early hole, but they will probably be one of the better teams in the league by the end of the season (glad we played 'em early!). The only real thing of interest in that game was hearing a commentator relate a story I hadn't heard on Juice & Benn snitching out some teammates to Coach Zook on a team rule which could explain the disunity in Champaign.
We'll see after tonight how the bowl picture looks for the league, but 5-3 with PSU and Iowa up next is a heck of a lot better than 4-4 and staring at two possible BCS teams.
One of the nameless Big Ten Network guys mentioned today how Iowa '09 reminded him of Ohio State '02, and I gotta tell you, when Stanzi threw that sideline route with four minutes left in a 6-6 game to get first and goal, I had shades of Krenzel throwing that 4th down sideline route at Purdue in the 3-6 game. Of course, OSU's went for six, while Iowa could only get a field goal - but Stanzi and company came through BIG time at the end. Big win for the Bumblebees.The latest guess ...
A huge win for Penn State as well - Michigan has owned JoePa, especially at the Big House and yet the Nits dominated the afternoon game in every phase with an improving offense.
Our next two opponents are 15-1, should be in the top 10 if the pollsters have any brains and are looking more and more like BCS teams. We needed that win against Indiana today!
So what does this do to the bowl picture? To the latest crystal ball ...
* On the B(C)S double-dipping, it's looking better and better each day now. The Big XII is a one-bid league unless Texas loses the title game. The ACC and Big East are one-bid leagues every year. The only two Pac 10 teams capable of getting bids play each other next week. The only darkhorse could be those pesky Irish. The pollsters bought Charlie's whining and kept them on the cusp of the top 25 despite having the same record AND LOSING TO Michigan, who was ranked 5-7 spots below them. With another "miracle" win today, the Irish could finish 10-2 and be an attractive spot to fill seats amid the crappy offerings the B(C)S is promising this year. Blech.
TITLE GAME: Florida vs. Texas - Until I see Bama look good on offense and defense in a game, the Gators are a lock ... and Texas just has to win out to get payback from being robbed last year.
ROSE BOWL: USC vs. Iowa - With 3 of the final 4 at home, the Hawks only have the OSU road trip left ... and that could be moot in terms of Pasadena if the Bucks lose in Happy Valley the prior week. Iowa's foe will be determined next week in Eugene.
ORANGE BOWL: Penn State vs. Virginia Tech - That weeping you heard earlier was Orange Bowl folks' crying over Miami's loss to Clemson - now it's back to the Hokies ... again ... and no hometown team. So they bring in 11-1 PSU to fill seats in a game that SHOULD be a September east-coast rivalry game every year.
SUGAR BOWL: Alabama vs. Cincinnati - Yawn. Bama better not get creamed by a mid-major again or the Sugar folk will invite LSU instead. As for Cincy, write 'em in now despite all the hype about the new powers in the Big Least -- WV lost to Auburn, Pitt to NC State. Quit trying to make another league sound better than the Big Ten now that the Big XII's overratedness has been exposed, ABC!
FIESTA BOWL: Boise State vs. Notre Dame - It's looking more and more like the Irish will take that last spot, unless TCU makes a run or Oregon keeps it close next week.
CITRUS BOWL: Ohio State vs. LSU - Great defenses, weak offenses.
OUTBACK BOWL: Wisconsin vs. Tennessee - Two annoying young coaches.
CHAMPS BOWL: Michigan vs. Clemson - Party like it's the early 80s!
ALAMO BOWL: Minnesota vs. Nebraska - The Huskers are fading fast but still fill seats, and the MSU @ Minny game next week will decide the Big Ten team.
INSIGHT BOWL: Michigan State vs. Kansas - Again, if we can make this a football/hoops doubleheader THEN you'd sell some tickets!
MOTOR CITY BOWL: Northwestern vs. Central Michigan - Beat the Illini to get to six and the reward is Detroit and a hot QB. Ouch.
Hard to see anyone else in the league getting to six. Indiana has a shot if they can beat Wisky at home (otherwise they have to win at Iowa City or Happy Valley).
Big win today and a great game to cap off the evening. Things certainly step up the next two weeks, but for now at least, the clock tower is purple!
Happy Homecoming and GO CATS!!!
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