College Football Week 13 Primer

Top 25 vs. Top 25:

Sam Bradford
No. 2 Texas Tech at No. 5 Oklahoma, 8:00 PM ET ABC
Raise your hand if you don’t appreciate what the Big 12 has given us this year and I’ll come over and punch you square in the mouth. The Big 12 has handed us game of the year matchups virtually every week this season and this week is no exception. Many college football pundits have had this Saturday circled on their calendars as the day when Texas Tech finally falls. Oklahoma has stumbled only once this year (vs. previously top ranked Texas on October 11), but outside of that no other team has come close to knocking them off. The Sooners have averaged over 50 points a game, but they’ll take on a much-improved Red Raider defense this week in Norman. OU is going to score points, but can they stop Heisman hopefuls Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree? No defense in the nation (not even Texas) has slowed down the dynamic duo yet and it’s hard to believe that anyone will at this point. Still, the Sooners will be looking to avenge last year’s 34-27 loss to Tech in Lubbock. In that game, No. 4 ranked OU lost Sam Bradford early in the first half and allowed Crabtree to haul in 12 passes for 154 yards and one touchdown. Oddsmakers have established Oklahoma as a 7-point favorite, but one has to believe that this is going to go down to the wire.

No. 14 Brigham Young at No. 7 Utah, 6:00 PM ET
No love for the Mountain West – this one won’t even be shown on national TV despite huge ramifications for the Utes. A MWC title and a possible BCS at-large bid is on the line in this game as Utah has another opportunity to justify their high ranking. Before being upset by TCU, BYU expected to be where Utah currently is – ranked in the top 10. The Cougars will have to overcome a stingy Utes defense that is damn near impossible to run against, yielding just 3.0 yards per carry. The onus for BYU in this game will be on quarterback Max Hall to carry the offense, while the Cougar defense will have its hands full with Brian Johnson. Considering this will be yet another tightly contested game, the Utes should be prepared. They’ve got five wins this year by seven or fewer points, including their nail biting 13-10 win over TCU three weeks ago. Oddsmakers have made BYU a 6.5-point underdog.

No. 15 Michigan State at No. 8 Penn State, 3:30 PM ET ABC
How sad is it that in the same week of Ohio State-Michigan, this is the best matchup in the Big Ten. Penn State’s win over Indiana may have looked like a blowout, but the Lions struggled with Hoosiers in the first half. Truth be told, PSU’s offense hasn’t looked that impressive in weeks. After reaching the end zone 12 times threw the air in their first fives games, the Lions have managed just five touchdown passes in their last six contests. The Spartans struggled in their last Big Ten statement game (a 45-7 drubbing at the hands of Ohio State on October 18), but Brian Hoyer (548 yards, 5 TDs in two games vs. PSU) has really stepped up of late and is putting together a nice season. Of course, all eyes will be on RB Javon Ringer. Ringer is third in the nation in rushing and if MSU’s massive offensive line can open up holes for the small back, Sparty will have an opportunity to keep PSU’s spread offense off the field and possibly walk away with an upset. Penn State is a 14.5-point favorite at home.

No. 20 Pittsburgh at No. 19 Cincinnati, 7:00 PM ET ESPN2
The job head coach Brian Kelly (who I suggested should be a candidate to replace Phillip Fulmer at Tennessee) has done this year in Cincinnati despite losing three quarterbacks has been remarkable. To keep the Bearcats afloat in the Big East is outstanding it speaks volumes about Kelly being a true winner. Speaking of the Big East, first place is on the line in this game as Cincy will try to avenge its 24-17 loss to PITT last year by throwing early and often. The Panthers have struggled against teams with like to attack downfield and Tony Pike has played very well lately in Kelly’s offense. The mission is clear for Cincinnati: Win the next two games at home and claim the Big East title. PITT is a 5-point underdog.

Upset Watch:

Graham HarrellNo. 2 Texas Tech at No. 5 Oklahoma, 8:00 PM ET ABC
As previously mentioned, there’s a ton of folks waiting for the Red Raiders to fall this year, but I’ve already bought into the hype. No defense has even remotely slowed down Harrell or Crabtree and while Bradford and the OU offense can go toe to toe with anyone, I say Tech walks away with a straight up upset. Of course, they may need to score 60 points to win.

Other Notable Games:

Michigan at No. 10 Ohio State, 12:00 PM ET ABC
This could be the worst Michigan-Ohio State matchup in the history of this rivalry. If the Buckeyes don’t beat the Wolverines by more than four touchdowns, Jim Tressel should resign. Michigan has never found a way to stop a mobile quarterback, so Terrelle Pryor should find life pretty easy this week at the Horse Shoe.

Florida State at No. 25 Maryland, 7:45 PM ET
Does any team want to win the ACC? The Terps have provided some great upsets this season, but they don’t seem to fare well when favored. Still, their rushing attack matches up well against a solid Seminole front seven and this is one of the more underrated matchups of the week.

No. 21 Oregon State at Arizona, 7:00 PM ET
The Beavers can still punch a ticket to Pasadena this year, but they’ll need to get past a Wildcat team that gave USC fits a couple weeks ago.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Mitch Albom reacts to Rich Rodriguez’s “Get a life” comments

Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press has two separate thoughts on Rich Rodriguez’s recent comments that Michigan fans should “Get a life.”

Rich RodriguezBut I am of two minds on Rodriguez’s comments. On one level, he is absolutely correct. The venom that you find on blogs or on talk radio is beyond fandom. It comes from a darker place: Anger, frustration, jealousy spit out in almost murderous tones — all of it masked by a Web name so no one has to admit who he is or where you can find him.

After all, these are college kids. They don’t get paid; they are, in some cases, one year out of high school. Compared to real issues — the economy is just one — their losing games is minor. Rodriguez is right about that.

On the other hand, if things were going well, no amount of hype would be too much for Rodriguez. The bigger the hoopla, the higher the ratings, the more precious the tickets — the happier he would be. The same guy who is saying “look at the economy” wasn’t trying to keep football in perspective when he broke his contract with West Virginia and took a huge one in Ann Arbor, including millions the school had to pay to free him from his WVU obligations.

He came here fluffed with hype, a whiz kid set to turn around a solid but stodgy program and gun the motor to a national championship. Instead, he got a little drunk on his own reviews, took a few shots to the chin and the gut, and is staggering home as night falls. He says “get a life.” The fans say “get a team.” And all most people want is to get this season over with.

I think this season was good for Rich Rod. He got knocked on his ass for the first time in his career and now he realizes that he can’t plug just any player into his system and make it run like a corvette. And let’s be honest – he got what he deserved for leaving WVU in the lurch.

But all this will be moot in a couple of years. He still has plenty of recruiting power at Michigan and he’ll eventually land the quarterback he needs to run his spread option offense. The Wolverines will be relevant again, but it won’t be this weekend in Columbus.

Rodriguez tells Michigan fans to “get a life”

Facing the prospect of losing nine games, including a possible fifth-straight loss to arch-rival Ohio State, Michigan fans are in a sour mood. Naturally, some of them having been taking out their frustrations on their new coach. Rich Rodriguez is feeling the heat.

Heading into his first Michigan-Ohio State game — where the Wolverines are expected to extend their dubious record with a ninth loss — he tried to deliver a message to fans who have lost touch.

“It’s amazing some of the things that people would say (on a message board) or yell at you of a personal nature,” Rodriguez said Monday. “You almost want to tell them, `Get a life.’

“There’s a whole lot bigger problems. Look at the economy.”

College football’s winningest team has tumbled like the stock market, losing a school-record eight games and getting beat a Michigan Stadium-record five times at home.

For the first time since 1974, the Wolverines will be relegated to watching bowl games.

The 10th-ranked Buckeyes are favored to beat their rivals on Saturday at home by 19 points, matching the largest spread in series history, and win at least a share of the Big Ten title for the fourth year in a row.

Hey Rich – welcome to big-time college football. What did you expect when you abandoned West Virginia and signed your huge contact?

Michigan championship drought affecting online retailers as well

When a college football program hasn’t won (or co-won) a national championship in over 10 years, everybody starts feeling the effects – including online apparel shops.

Case in point: the University of Michigan and the “M-Den,” the programs official online, on campus and catalog retailer. If you take a peak at their “Championship Merchandise” section, you’ll get a message that reads:

Sorry, No Products To Show For This Department

Is it just me or could someone have come up with a less embarrassing description than that? Better yet, have a freaking $12.99 T-shirt available for purchase from the 1997 season. Or how about a hat or a damn button or something? Here’s an idea – TAKE THE PAGE DOWN UNTIL YOU HAVE SOMETHING AVAILABLE.

Besides the fact that they’ve beaten the Wolverines seven out of the last eight years, Buckeye fans just got one more reason to laugh at their most hated rivals.

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