Sunday, August 31, 2008

Game One: Cal 38, MSU 31

Okay, I'll be honest, I had a family commitment last night, so I couldn't watch the game live, but have no fear, I have it taped.

In the meantime, here are the press release, final stats, post-game quotes, and post-game notes from yesterday's game.

There is also a podcast of Coach Dantonio's post-game press conference here.

Now I am going to watch the game, so more analysis later.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Prediction: Game 1 - MSU at Cal

For the first game of the season, MSU and its young players have to handle several different things right out of the chute. They need to play the game, they have to play it on the road and they have to handle traveling to the West Coast.

This is a tough task for any team, especially one where several key skill players have to be replaced (Kellen Davis at tight end, Jehuu Caulcrick at running back and Devin Thomas at wide receiver.) MSU also has to deal with replacing several key players on the defensive line.

Of course Cal has their own issues. They have an inexperienced quarterback and lost their all-everything speedster Desean Jackson. However, they do not have to deal with playing three time zones away in front of a hostile crowd.

I expect MSU to play will, Javon Ringer and Brian Hoyer will carry the load on offense. And defensive players like Trevor Anderson and Brandon Long will play well on the defensive line.

But MSU will have too much to overcome and will fall just short 27-21.

If I am wrong, buckle up for one heck of a season.

Season Standing Prediction Time!

Alright, here are the final Big Ten standings as I see them unfolding..

Ohio State 12-0 (8-0)
Wisconsin 11-1 (7-1)
Penn State 10-2 (5-3)
MSU 8-4 (5-3)
Purdue 7-5 (5-3)
Michigan 7-5 (4-4)
Illinois 7-5 (4-4)
Iowa 6-6 (3-5)
N'Western 5-7 (1-7)
Indiana 5-7 (1-7)
Minnesota 4-8 (1-7)

Let's check back at the end of the year and see how close I was.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Listen to the Coach Dantonio Show

After (or maybe before, whichever you'd like) click here to listen to this week's Coach Dantonio Show. It was recorded on Wednesday live at Reno's East in East Lansing.

Enjoy what the Coach has to say about his team and the upcoming season.

Everything you need to know for Game One

Members of the media are given tons of information prior to each game. That's how broadcasters can give you all those wacky stats about how a certain team hasn't won a game on a Wednesday in months ending in "y" in 23 years.

One of the tools media members use is available to the general public and those are the pre-game notes. They list everything anyone needs to know about both teams - home record, away records, records in the series, records against that conference, etc.

The game notes for the MSU/Cal game can be found here.

I mean the game is not until 8 p.m. ET, take some time to catch up on the Spartans' matchup before the game.

Virtual reality bites?

So, I picked up the newest NCAA football game by EA Sports for the XBox 360 earlier this summer. Of course I chose to control the Spartans though the 2008 season.

Well, lets just say I hope the real Spartans fare better than I did!

I finished with a 5-7 record and missed out on the bowls. I finished with wins against Cal, FAU, Eastern Michigan, Iowa and Michigan, but that was it.

I trust Dantonio is a better coach/playcaller than I am.

Let's go!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Free Press' Drew Sharp uses the 'S' word

In general, Spartan fans tend not to agree with our friendly columnist at the Detroit Free Press, Drew Sharp. He is, after all, a graduate of the University of Michigan, and in many Spartans' minds, that maize and blue stain can never be washed away.

However, Spartan fans should take a look at today's column regarding MSU's football team under second-year head coach Mark Dantonio.

While he does not heap tons of praise the Spartans' way, he simply says what Spartan fans have hoped to hear for years: this is the beginning of something good.

There have been many debates among MSU fans regarding how thi upcoming season could be classified as a success. Some have said a repeat of last year's 7-5 season would be a failure.

I disagree, and from the sounds of it, Mr. Sharp disagrees. This season cannot be classified as a failure or a success simply by winning or losing one more game than they did a year ago. It is about laying the foundation for the future and building a program from the bottom up - because let's face it, under John L. Smith, this program did hit the bottom.

The Spartans need stability. Remember, this is a program which has not had back-to-back winning seasons since 1989-90 (there were a few .500 seasons in there, but those are not winning.)

Let's hope Dantonio keeps his level head this season and we see the stability that Drew Sharp talked about and we all have been craving.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Spartans scheduling gets credit

I wrote about this at the start of last season. I wrote that schools like Michigan and Ohio State should be embarrassed by their schedules. No teams of their caliber (or frankly of the caliber of MOST Big Ten Teams) should have Division I-AA teams on their schedules.

(Of course Michigan ended up losing that game to Appalachian State, but that's another story completely.)

As much as I don't like our friends from Ann Arbor or Columbus, I respect them for what they are - traditional football powerhouses. And as a fan of the Big Ten, its embarrassing to have so many of our teams playing I-AA opponents. And yes, I know plenty of programs from other conferences do the same thing, but we are in the Big Ten, and we should be different.

Now, the Wall Street Journal agrees, while giving Michigan State credit for playing at Cal to start the season. I thought it was a good read about the state of college football which has lead to so many of those lopsided matchups to start the season... Well, lopsided in the wrong way if you're a Wolverine.

You can read the full Wall Street Journal story here.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A new gem on campus

Well, I cannot wait to see this in person.

We know MSU has prided itself in some of the best basketball facilities in the Big Ten, if not the country - just ask Coach Tom Izzo about how top notch facilities have helped him succeed and build the Spartans into one of the premiere programs in the country.

The new Skandalaris Football Center , a $15.5 million addition to the Duffy Daugherty football building, was dedicated last week just in time for the 2008 season. The addition was made possible through the generous donation of MSU alumni Robert and Julie Skandalaris of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who donated $5 million as the lead gift. Former head coach and current MSU trustee George Perles donated $500,00 to the project and has "Perles Plaza" named in his honor.
My favorite part of the new gallery has to be the NFL display. On the wall are helmets of every NFL team and a list of all of the Spartans who have played for that team posted underneath. You have to takepride in the players going on to the next level. Of course near this display is a huge picture of Plaxico Burress's Super Bowl winning catch from last year.

See the photo gallery of the new center here. And read more about the center here.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A new season getting underway with a "new" blog

I'll be the first to admit I have slacked off in keeping this blog up and running. But what can I say? Last fall was a bit hectic, so the blog slipped down a few pegs in terms of importance of things that needed to be accomplished.

That said, I am refocusing on this as the new football season gets underway and hope to keep it going through basketball and hockey season as well.

Here we go.. A season preview and predictions soon to follow.