Urban Meyer – 1; Jim Harbaugh – 0

There was plenty of hype leading up to this game, and frankly it was justified. While Michigan has been a miserable mess against Ohio State since Jim Tressel arrived at the beginning of this millennium, things were poised to become more interesting with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh.

Ohio State is the reigning national champ, and Urban Meyer is now the king of the hill in Columbus, but Harbaugh gave Michigan fans hope.

Many thought it might take a couple of years for Harbaugh to compete with the Buckeyes, but as this season progressed, attitudes started to change. The Buckeyes were sleepwalking through their schedule, while Michigan rolled off three straight shutouts. Suddenly, many of the talking heads started calling Michigan the best team in the Big Ten.

Then Michigan State spoiled some of the hype. They miraculously beat Michigan on a wild final play, and then stunned Ohio State last weekend with some serious defense and an assist from Ohio State’s coaching staff.

Still, this was shaping up to be an epic battle that would kick off a new phase in the iconic rivalry. Would we have another ten-year war reminiscent of Woody and Bo?

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Upset Saturday

We’re finally getting some upsets to shake up college football. #5 Stanford traveled to Utah and was stunned by the Utes who made an impressive goal line stand at the end of the game for a final score of 27-21. Check out the parody video above that makes fun of Stanford fans.

#25 Missouri improved to 6-0 with an upset of #7 Georgia on the road. Georgia had a ton of injuries but losses like this have been all too common for the Bulldogs in recent years.

In another huge shocker, much-maligned Texas took care of #12 Oklahoma 36-20 in this classic rivalry game. With the win Mack Brown can breath a little easier, while Bob Stoops is yet another year removed from that last National Championship that happened oh so long ago.

Meanwhile, #18 Michigan managed to lose to Penn State in an overtime thriller, though this one is hardly a surprise. The undefeated Wolverines have been barely escaping with wins against mediocre teams all season. It finally caught up to them.

For a while it looked like Boston College might upset #3 Clemson, but everything fell apart for them in the fourth quarter.

The top 25 will change quite a bit tomorrow, and we’re looking at a potential battle between 4 sets of teams to play in the National Championship game: Alabama (or possibly a one-loss SEC winner other than Alabama), Oregon (or maybe UCLA if they win out), the ACC winner (Clemson, Florida State or Miami) and Ohio State (no other Big Ten team has a chance).

Of course, if everyone starts losing, even teams like an undefeated Louisville or Baylor could have a shot, but chances are the game will be played between two of the teams mentioned above.

This Year’s Final Four Will Be…

It’s always difficult to predict the four teams out of 68 capable of making it deep in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament we refer to as March Madness. There’s always a bracket busting team that takes out a top competitor or even a Cinderella story making it to the Sweet 16 or even further. However, this year may be a little different and actually attending the games might just provide serious excitement for any fan. Here’s how this non-expert believes it could play out.

Small Schools Getting In

Akron and Bucknell are the most dangerous smaller schools with the ability to make it into the tournament. The reason these two top the list is due to the size advantage they bring to the game. Akron features Zeke Marshall at seven feet tall and Bucknell brings Mike Muscala standing 6’11” tall. This will help even the playing field with any of the larger schools bringing a significant size advantage.

Other small schools with a great chance of making into the tournament include Middle Tennessee State, Belmont, Boise State, Davidson, Valparaiso, Weber State and Louisiana Tech. Although it is unlikely that all these schools will make the dance you always have to be aware of the ones that do sneak into the dance. A small school with momentum would be like the Kia Sorento winning the car March Madness Contest, unlikely but you never know! Make sure you pay attention to all the little guys before filling out your bracket.

Top Teams Most Likely for an Early Departure

1. Kansas

The Jayhawks might take a top seed in the tournament, but they’re not as good as their record shows. They lost to a team with an RPI of 229 and nearly lost to another team they should’ve beaten easily. If they draw a team they don’t match up well against, Kansas could make an early exit.

2. Ohio State

Not considered a top five team, but in the top 20, the Buckeyes struggled in February. If this was any indication about how good they really are, this is another team potentially leaving the tournament early.

3. Florida

Showing their struggles on the road makes it hard to believe the Gators can go anywhere in the tournament. They’re tough to beat at home, but they won’t get a single game on their home court during the tournament. Look for Florida to fall victim to an upset early.

Final Four Predicted

Looking at all the top teams, potential Cinderella stories and those middle seeds with the ability to go deep, picking the Final Four is still difficult. However, an easy pick for one of the final four spots is the Indiana Hoosiers. This team is tough and has been ranked at the top most of the year. Another pick for the Final Four is Michigan. They’re ready to make a run and it seems they’ve already cleared their system of some of the losses.

The other two spots in the Final Four are a bit more difficult to predict. There will certainly be a middle seed, maybe a #5 or #6 involved. The team basketball of Notre Dame could support a deep tournament run, but they won’t be there in the Final Four. However, another Big East team will be out of a two or three seed in Georgetown. That only leaves one spot left and it goes to Saint Louis University.

Nebraska leaning towards joining the Big Ten?

As long as the conference doesn’t leave them hanging without an invitation, it appears that Nebraska could be heading to the Big Ten.

From ESPN.com:

The source said the school is leaning toward the Big Ten, but an invitation hadn’t yet been extended, and there was no indication when that would occur. The consensus within the athletic department is that Nebraska wouldn’t separate itself from the Big 12 without some assurance that a Big Ten invitation would come, the source said. The Big Ten has set no date for any announcement in the coming weeks, leaving open the possibility that Nebraska could be left in limbo.

Adding another school would allow the Big Ten to implement a championship game and expand its cable television network. Adding a title game would be exciting for fans of the conference, especially considering the Big Ten usually doesn’t play past the last weekend in November. When other conferences are still getting exposure in December thanks to their title games, the Big Ten is sitting with its thumb up its ass waiting for bowl season to start. It makes sense for them to expand.

That said, would Nebraska be a good fit? Yeah, probably. From their point of view, they get security (as everyone can see, the Big 12 is ready to fall apart at any moment, where as the Big Ten will stay intact long-term) and added revenue (Big Ten schools bring in $22 million each year thanks in large part to the Big Ten Network). A Nebraska-Iowa rivalry is also intriguing and the Huskers would no doubt bring competition to a conference that sorely lacks it.

We’ll find out by the end of the week whether or not Nebraska is Big Ten bound or will stay in the Big 12. But as of Wednesday morning, it appears that Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan are going to get some new company.

Michigan not in compliance with NCAA rules

According to a report by ESPN.com, the NCAA is accusing the Michigan football program of breaking five rules violations under head coach Rich Rodriguez.

In its notice of allegations — which Michigan received Monday — the NCAA said Rodriguez “failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program.” He tracked neither what his staff was doing nor whether his players were following NCAA rules, particularly those limiting the time spent on practice and football-related activities, the report said.

It also said the athletics department failed to make sure its football program was complying with NCAA regulations. Brandon said the department “clearly made mistakes,” but “there was no charge of loss of institutional control” — an allegation that in previous cases has led to severe NCAA sanctions for other schools.

Michigan has 90 days to respond and will appear at an NCAA hearing on infractions in August. The school will see how its internal investigation matches up with the NCAA findings and will consider implementing self-imposed sanctions, a move that could reduce NCAA penalties.

The NCAA said last October that it was looking into the Wolverine program following a report in the Detroit Free Press citing anonymous football players that said Michigan exceeded NCAA limits regarding practices and workouts in 2008 and 2009.

NCAA regulations allow players to spend eight hours a week on mandatory workouts during the offseason and several Michigan players have told the media that they spent two to three times that amount on required workouts. The players also said the amount of time they spent on football activities during the season exceeded the weekly limit of 20 hours, as well as the daily limit of four hours.

It would be naïve to think that other programs aren’t exceeding these practice times as well, but it sounds like what Rodriguez was doing was excessive. He, along with the Michigan program, have a serious problem on their hands.

Rodriguez has been nothing short of a disaster so far in Ann Arbor and if the Wolverines suffer another losing season (which would be their third straight), then I don’t know how the AD can keep Rich Rod on the sidelines. They’re showing support for him in light of these compliance issues, but one more bad year of football would probably end Rodriguez’s short tenure at UM.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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