Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Amused into action

After my inital post, I'd planned on waiting until the end of the semester to begin the blog inearnest. I'd hoped to do a Big Ten Football preview, beginning with my pick for last place and working upwards through the ranks until finishing with my pick for the league champion. However, a change of plans was forced by one Demond Williams, a senior cornerback at Michigan State University.

Following what has by all accounts been a great performance by MSU's defense during spring practice, expectations for the fall are high in Spartan country. And to be honest, despite my self-avowed disdain for all things Spartan, I can't blame them. Despite the loss of much of their offensive line, the offense that ranked in the top 20 in the country last year should be even more dangerous. Any improvement to the defense should make this year's State team bowl eligible for sure. Last week, senior QB Drew Stanton went on the record as saying that "Anything less would be a tremendous disappointment." Barring a characteristic post-September crash, MSU could finish as well as 9-3 though the safe bet is on 8-4 or even 7-5, which would be a significant improvement on last year's 5-6 record. No, a 7-5 or 8-4 record and a bowl game would be great expectations for this year's team, but apparantely it is not. In yesterday's State News, Mr. Williams decided to make his own views known:

"I'll put the burden on my back and say we will be even better than a bowl team."

Then he said the words:

"National Championship. Really"

Wow. As a senior, Williams was there four years ago. He knows firsthand the damage that drugs can do to a promising young football player (see Smoker, Jeff, circa 2002). Yet he wasn't alone. Drew "I'm a Heisman contender too guys! Really, I am!" Stanton backed up Williams's statements:

"We don't have to sit out here and publicize it, but we have that mentality going into it. We can beat anybody on our schedule."

Anybody? Maybe. But everybody? On a schedule that contains 2.9 teams that are considered serious national title contenders (OSU, ND, and Michigan, who gets the 0.9 because I'm not fully convinced that Carr won't coach us out of it), asking 12-0 of anyone is tough. Add in MSU's long running history of losing to teams that truly shouldn't be able to hang with them (see MSU, circa damn near every season) and their odds of going undeafeted are only slightly better than the likelyhood of Woody Hayes rising from his grave, congratulationg Carr on a victory over the Bucks, then leading the Wolverines in a rousing chorus of The Victors. Even their coach, John L. Smith thinks that they may be aiming a little high, asking "Were they drinking before they left?" in response to Stanton and Williams' expectations.

That being said, I do think MSU will have a pretty good season and finish in the upper half of the Big Ten. A schedule almost as nice as you can ask for when playing in the Big Ten (Indiana and Illionis, OSU @ home, no Iowa or Wisconsin, only significant road games @ Michigan and PSU), returning their top passer and running back and their top two receivers from last year, as well as some of their top defensive players have the makings of one of the best seasons MSU has seen in years.

2006 Schedule
DATE OPPONENT Projected Result
09/09E MichiganW
09/16at PittsburghW
09/23N DameL
10/07at MichiganL
10/14Ohio StL
10/21at N'westernW
10/28at IndianaW
11/18at Penn StateL

Projected Final Record: 8-4 (5-3)


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