Tag Archives: college football

30 at 30 Lists #28: Memories and Moments from Michigan’s CFP National Championship Season

In honor of me turning 30, I’m compiling 30 different top-30 lists on a wide variety of topics ranging from trivial interests of mine to meaningful life moments. Read the introductory post for more background information on my 30 at 30 project. Reminder: there is no scientific rationale for these lists. They were composed by a panel of one—me.

30. Everything that came before this season
#TueFact: Michigan football has more devastating losses on my personal list than any of my other favorite teams. Ten of the top 30 spots on that infamous list belong to Michigan football. The joy of this moment of Michigan winning the CFP national championship cannot be fully appreciated without first recalling the anguish the Michigan fanbase has endured since they last won a national championship in 1997.

That was the last year before the BCS. Head coach Lloyd Carr and Heisman trophy winning cornerback Charles Woodson led the Wolverines to a 21-16 Rose Bowl win against Washington State, and the 12-0 Wolverines were voted number one by the Associated Press. However, Michigan was voted number two behind undefeated Nebraska in the Coaches Poll, leaving them with a split national championship. Carr would go on to coach Michigan for 10 more seasons. The team finished ranked in the top 20 in nine of those 10 seasons, but they never finished higher than 5th and lost four games in a row against Ohio State to close out Carr’s career, including the number-four-ranked game on my list of most devastating losses.

After Carr retired, Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez as the new head coach. Rodriguez tried to bring the spread offense to Ann Arbor, but the experiment was an infamous flop. The team went 3-9 in his first season, becoming the first Michigan team that failed to qualify for a bowl game in 33 years. They failed to do so again the following year after a 5-7 season. The next year they went 7-6, finishing with a 52-14 loss in the Gator Bowl against Mississippi State. Rodriguez was subsequently fired.

Enter Brady Hoke. Hoke inherited the electric Denard Robinson at quarterback, and led Michigan to an 11-2 record in his first season as head coach, which was capped off by a 23-20 win over Virginia Tech. The team finished the season ranked 12th in the nation. However, it was all downhill from there. The 2012 team went 8-5 and lost in the Outback Bowl to South Carolina. The 2013 team went 7-6 and lost in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to Kansas State. The 2014 team went 5-7 and missed out on bowl season altogether. Hoke was fired after the season.

On Dec. 30, 2014, Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh as the school’s new football coach. Optimism was high in Ann Arbor. Harbaugh arrived on the heels of having success turning losers into winners at San Diego State and Stanford as well as in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. Moreover, Harbaugh was a beloved Michigan man who had played quarterback for the Wolverines in the 1980s.

Although he lost his first game as Michigan coach against Utah, Harbaugh quickly got Michigan back to its winning ways. In his first five seasons at the helm, his teams went 10-3, 10-3, 8-5, 10-3, and 9-4, a far cry from the low water marks of his predecessors Rodriguez and Hoke. Yet there remained a lot of questions from the Michigan faithful because while he was winning games, he was losing the big ones, often in painful fashion. He started 3-2 against Michigan State but lost the infamous “trouble with the snap” game. He started 1-4 in bowl games with the lone win coming at the end of his first season. The most damning stat though was undoubtably his 0-5 start against Ohio State, including a double-OT loss in 2016 (aka the “JT Was Short” Game) and four other losses by an average of 23 points per game.

The COVID-shortened 2020 season marked the low point in the Harbaugh era, and arguably, in the history of the Michigan football program. The team went 2-4, winless at home, and canceled The Game against Ohio State citing “an increasing number of positive COVID-19 cases and student-athletes in quarantine over the past week.”

That offseason was marked by a lot of reflection and change within the Michigan football program. Heading into the 2021 season, Coach Harbaugh made it clear what the goals were. “Well, I’m here before you, enthusiastic and excited as I ever am, always am, even more to have at it, to win the championship, to beat Ohio and our rival Michigan State,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what we want to do, and we’re going to do it or die trying.”

Although they did lose 37-33 on the road against Michigan State, Michigan made good on the other two promises. On Nov. 27, 2021, on the strength of five rushing touchdowns from Hassan Haskins on offense and three sacks from Aidan Hutchinson on defense, Michigan defeated Ohio State 42-27, snapping the program’s 8-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and giving Harbaugh his long-awaited first win as a coach in the rivalry. A week later they beat Iowa 42-3 to win their first Big Ten championship since 2004 and earned themselves a number two ranking in the College Football Playoff. They were beaten soundly 34-11 by Georgia in the CFP semifinal at the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31, 2021.

In 2022, Michigan rolled through the regular season 12-0, including a 45-23 road win against Ohio State, marking the first time the Wolverines had beaten the Buckeyes in Columbus in 23 years. They beat Purdue 43-22 in the Big Ten championship game, and Michigan once again earned a number two ranking in the CFP. Unfortunately, the season ended in the semifinals for a second consecutive season. Despite being favored, Michigan lost 51-45 to TCU. The loss left Michigan fans disappointed after a great season. After the game, quarterback J.J. McCarthy vowed the Wolverines would be back.

Continue reading 30 at 30 Lists #28: Memories and Moments from Michigan’s CFP National Championship Season

Grieving After The Game, 2016 Edition

The 2016 edition of The Game between the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes will go down in history as a classic chapter in arguably the greatest rivalry in sports. Unfortunately for me and Michigan fans everywhere it was another painful chapter in which we ended up on the losing side. Michigan blew a 17-7 lead, a trip to the Big Ten Championship, and (likely) its hopes at a spot in the College Football Playoff, prompting me to update my 30 at 30 list of “The Most Devastating Losses of My Life as a Sports Fan.” Yesterday’s double overtime thriller jumped all the way to number six on my depressing countdown (a list that I really wish I didn’t have any more cause to update). Yesterday’s loss for Michigan marks the third time The Game has made the list. In my time as a Michigan fan, which dates back to the early 1990s, only the 2006 edition of The Game was as a more devastating loss against Ohio State.

Recovering from a devastating loss is never easy. Unfortunately, I am experienced when it comes to grieving sports losses. As miserable as Saturday’s outcome made me feel, I knew I needed to process the loss and eventually get on with life. Over the past 48 hours since the game ended, I have been mourning the loss through the sports fan’s equivalent of the traditional five stages of grief. I have borrowed some of that language here and edited other parts of it to more accurately reflect a sports fan’s perspective. (I don’t mean to trivialize grief and mourning. The loss of a loved one is obviously much more traumatic than the loss of a football game. I shouldn’t even have to write that sentence, but I wanted to be clear.) However, I also cannot pretend not to grieve after yesterday’s loss to Ohio State. No, it wasn’t life or death. However, the pain of a devastating sports loss like the one Michigan suffered on Saturday—a rivalry game on the road in double overtime—is real. And if you’re a diehard fan like me, you probably know the feelings associated with grieving a devastating sports loss all too well.
Continue reading Grieving After The Game, 2016 Edition

Finally, Something Good Comes From the BCS

This year’s college football season got off to a bad start for me when Michigan lost its home opener to Utah. Of course, I had no idea back then that Utah would finish the season undefeated and Michigan would win just three games. Fortunately for me, there was a good ending to the season, in part thanks to Utah.

In Erie Times-News columnist Duane Rankin’s BCS challenge, I correctly predicted Utah would defeat Alabama. I also picked USC, Texas, Virginia Tech and Florida to give me a 5-0 mark and the win.

Rankin wrote a column about my “historic” undefeated run through the BCS, which ran today in the sports section of the Erie Times-News and on goerie.com.

Here’s some of what Rankin wrote:

Matt Hubert made history.

He’s the first to go 5-0 in my Bowl Championship Series bowl contest.

Considering he’s a Michigan fan, this was likely the best news he had all college football season, but you have to give the 24-year-old Erie resident credit.

Out of the 35 contest entrants, Hubert and Jeff Taylor, 49, of Millcreek Township, entered the BCS title game with 4-0 records.

Hubert picked Florida. Taylor went with Oklahoma.

Florida won 24-14.

Taylor figured Oklahoma was done when it failed to score twice from the goal line in the first half.

As for Hubert, Tim Tebow is why he picked the Gators.

Hubert should send Tebow a thank-you card. The Florida junior quarterback threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 109 yards.

So for making history, Hubert won a Michigan T-shirt, a calendar that plays the school’s fight song and a 2007 Michigan-Penn State game program from when the Wolverines beat the Nittany Lions in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Congratulations, Matt.

Thanks, Duane. Now I’m just hoping Michigan can get back to its winning ways in ’09 so my bowl-picking success isn’t the highlight of another college football season.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

The SEC Owns the BCS

Tim Tebow against Sam Bradford. Urban Meyer vs. Bob Stoops. The SEC against the Big 12. Florida vs. Oklahoma. This year’s BCS National Championship is loaded with intriguing storylines, but the most interesting may be the SEC’s domination of the BCS.

If Florida beats Oklahoma (and they are favored to do so), the Gators will win their second BCS National Championship in three years. It would also make the SEC a perfect 5-0 in the title game since the BCS originated in 1998. Tennessee won that first year. LSU won in 2003 and again last year. And Florida won in 2006.

How good has the SEC been? At 4-0, they aren’t just the best conference in the BCS era—they’re dominant. No other conference has won more than two BCS National Championships and. No other conference even has a winning record in the big game. The Pac-10 is closest at 1-1 thanks to USC.

Here’s the breakdown:

BCS National Championship Success
SEC: 4-0
Pac-10: 1-1
Big 12: 2-3
ACC: 1-2
Big East: 1-2
Big Ten: 1-2

Not that Oklahoma needs any added incentive. They represent the Big 12, and will play in a record fourth BCS National Championship. However, they are just 1-2 in the big game under Coach Stoops.

And conference success on the big stage means more than just bragging rights. It means more media attention. It means a boost in recruiting. And, if everyone plays their cards right, it breeds more success. The SEC’s Georgia Bulldogs began the season as the nation’s top team. Alabama, also of the SEC held the #1 ranking for several weeks. Florida now holds that spot and looks to finish the season on top.

Win or lose, the Gators will be among the top teams again next year along with several other SEC schools. The SEC is 4-2 in the ’08-’09 bowl season heading into the finale. The one loss that sticks out came against an opponent from the Mountain West conference. How come they never get a shot at the BCS?

But until the little guy gets a shot or a playoff system is instituted, the big bad SEC is going to remain king. Tonight, expect plenty of offense from both sides. But in the end, Tebow and the team speed of the Gators is too much for the Sooners.

Florida 42, Oklahoma 35 is the pick.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

Looking Back at 2008 and Ahead at 2009

2008 was a great year for sports. Michael Phelps’ record-setting 8 gold medals highlighted the most exciting Olympic Games of my lifetime, which also included a gold medal for the Redeem Team in Men’s basketball as well as excitement in gymnastics from Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson and on the track from Usain Bolt.

In the NFL, the New England Patriots started the season 18-0 only to lose in one of the most dramatic and surprising Super Bowl outcomes of all-time against Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

The NBA saw the resurgence of its two most storied franchises when the Boston Celtics met the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals, won by Boston in six games.

College sports featured another upset-filled football season that saw a slew of top teams knocked off down the stretch, eventually setting up an LSU vs. Ohio State matchup in the BCS title game, which LSU won handily. And in basketball, Kansas ended the David-and-Goliath-like run of Davidson before upending Memphis thanks to a clutch shot from Mario Chalmers that will be replayed every March from now on.

Major League Baseball featured a season in which the previously-forever-futile Tampa Bay Rays removed the ‘Devil’ and beat out the Evil Empire New York Yankees and their Boston brethren to win the AL East and, eventually, the pennant before losing to the Philadelphia Phillies. For the City of Brotherly Love, it was their first title in the major four sports since 1983.

And in the NHL (yes, hockey reporting on MattHubert.com), Sid Crosby grew up as he led his Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals where they fell to the Detroit Red Wings.

Yes, it was a good year for sports—just not for my teams in sports.

Most of my teams failed, plain and simple. But even those that had good seasons ended up breaking my heart.

The Lakers exceeded preseason expectations, but their Finals performance was disastrous—blowing a 24-point lead at home in Game 4 and folding to lose Game 6—and the series—by 39 points. The fact that this happened against archrival Boston was what hurt most of all, though, and all the year’s successes were mitigated by six lackluster games leaving me feeling empty and betrayed.

Likewise, in college hoops, UCLA had a strong season, riding freshman Kevin Love to the Final Four. It was the Bruins’ third straight trip to the Final Four, and with Love filling the void that had seemingly cost them in two previous losses—a formidable presence down low—it seemed like this was the year. But Love shot just 4-11 and Memphis outscored UCLA 40-28 in the second half to pull away for a victory that the Tigers controlled pretty much the whole way.

And if the Lakers and Bruins’ season-ending losses stung, at least they had some wins to get them there. The Raiders finished out the ’08 campaign with back-to-back victories to salvage something from a lost season, but they still finished 5-11, which made them the first team in NFL history to have five seasons in a row with at least 11 losses. They also fired coach Lane Kiffin, making interim Tom Cable the Raiders’ fifth head coach in six years.

Things were no better in the college ranks where Michigan won just three games, lost five games at the Big House, and missed a bowl for the first time since 1974.

In baseball, the A’s weren’t even relevant, and though they’ve been competitive in the decade, have never made a World Series appearance during the Moneyball era.

But 2008 is over, so it’s time to focus on the future.

Here now are 10 predictions, fears and dreams for 2009—five for the sports world at large and five focusing on my teams—the Lakers, Raiders, Michigan, UCLA and the Athletics.


  1. The Raiders will not make it a sixth straight year of 11-or-more losses, but they won’t break the .500 mark either.
  2. Lamar Odom will not be a Laker at the start of the 2009-10 season.
  3. Michigan will play in a bowl game in 2009.
  4. In basketball, Michigan will not only make it to the tournament, they’ll advance to the Sweet 16, further than my other team, UCLA, who will see its run of Final Four appearances snapped by an upset on the first weekend of the tournament.
  5. With a few call-ups to bolster their staff, the A’s will return to the postseason.
  6. Tim Tebow will return to Florida and attempt to become a two-time Heisman and three-time national champion.
  7. With teams aware of his singular talent, Stephon Curry and Davidson will get tripped up in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
  8. LeBron James will supplant Kobe Bryant as NBA MVP.
  9. Tiger Woods will once again be the best golfer, winning two majors. (For the record, that’s hockey and golf in the same post.)
  10. Matt Cassell will start Week 1 for the New England Patriots—not Tom Brady.


  1. Jamarcus Russell fails to develop as a quarterback in 2009, forcing the Raiders to start over (again) at quarterback.
  2. Andrew Bynum will reinjure himself, handicapping the Lakers’ playoff chances again this year.
  3. Terrelle Pryor will be to Michigan what Troy Smith was with the added pain that he almost chose to play for the Wolverines.
  4. Jrue Holiday will follow Kevin Love’s lead and be one-and-done, off to the NBA after his freshman season.
  5. The Angels become the Yankees of the West, leaving Oakland in the dust when it comes to money for free agents.
  6. The Celtics sign Stephon Marbury and Kevin Garnett wills him to play as well as he did when the two took the Timberwolves to the playoffs in the 90s.
  7. Tom Brady makes a full recovery, and the Patriots regain their 2007 form.
  8. College football signs a 10-year extension to keep the current BCS system in place.
  9. USC’s football team stays focused for a full season.
  10. The Steelers win the Super Bowl, bringing out the annoying droves of fair-weather Steelers fans in all their black and gold glory.


  1. Al Davis sells the Raiders organization to give them a fresh start and a chance to win again.
  2. The Lakers find a way to combine the defense and athleticism of Trevor Ariza, size and three-point shooting of Vladimir Radmanovich, and basketball IQ and passing ability of Luke Walton to form a complete small forward.
  3. Michigan finds a freshman quarterback with the skills to run Rodriguez’s offense and the mind to handle Big Ten defenses.
  4. Michigan re-hangs the banners from the Fab Five’s Final Four appearances.
  5. A prominent free agent spurns the Yankees to sign with the A’s for less money because he prefers the A’s green uniforms to the Yankees’ green.
  6. My team wins a fantasy football championship.
  7. Major League Baseball institutes a salary cap to level the playing field and keep the Yankees in check.
  8. Sportscasters stop pointing out the obvious and provide actual insight.
  9. A Web site develops a jersey shop where you can order any player from any team from any era. My first order? Pooh Richardson circa 1990 with the Minnesota Timberwolves. I don’t know why, but that’s my dream.
  10. The Lakers host (and win) Game 7 of the NBA Finals. Beyonce is the halftime entertainment. And I have courtside seats next to Jack Nicholson to take it all in.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

A Cold Winter in Ann Arbor

The calendar turned to December and Michigan’s football season was already over. That’s still hard to believe. But after a 3-9 season that was disappointing even for the most cautious Wolverine supporter.

They fell well short of my 6-6 preseason forecast. They lost to Toledo and were humiliated by Ohio State. They lost an unthinkable five games in the Big House and six games against the Big Ten.

There were very few bright spots during coach Rich Rodriguez’s debut season in Ann Arbor. The historic comeback against Wisconsin to open the Big Ten season was one highlight, but Wisconsin was clearly overrated back then as they needed overtime to defeat Cal Poly and finished the regular season 7-5.

The biggest concern for Michigan has to be inconsistency from virtually every position on the field. No quarterback looked like he had a firm grasp of the offense. The defense surrendered 35+ points on five occasions. And turnovers were a season-long plague.

No one expects another losing season in 2009, but it won’t be easy for the Wolverines to get above .500. After all, a 6-6 mark next year would mean doubling the team’s win total.

While the focus will be on recruiting this year and what kind of players Rodriguez can land after a 3-9 campaign, player improvement will be the real test for the coach. A new bunch of freshmen can’t be expected to turn the program around all on their own next year. How will the players who have now been in the system for a full year show improvement in 2009? If they don’t get any better, that’s a serious cause for concern.

Michigan has already seen several players depart the program (in addition to graduating seniors), so it’ll also be interesting to see who steps up as a leader of this team. Running back Brandon Minor seems to fit that mold, but he shared carries with several backs during his junior year. Will be step up as a senior to restore pride to the maize and blue?

On defense, all eyes are on Brandon Graham. The defensive end led the team with 10 sacks this season. He could enter the NFL Draft, but if he returns, he would give the Wolverines a great anchor on their defensive line.

When it comes down to it, expectations will be low again next year. Undoubtedly, Rodriguez will feel the pressure, especially if Michigan struggles out the gate. But no one seriously expects them to contend in the Big Ten next year. What they have to do is so progress and not in the form of a one- or two-game improvement.

The program and coach Rodriguez deserves a one year pass. It would’ve been tough for anyone to overcome the loss of Jake Long, Mike Hart, Chad Henne, Ryan Mallett, Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington. But next year, there’s no excuse to miss a bowl. After the worst season in the history of Michigan football, Rodriguez better improve in a big way. Otherwise people will be calling for his head. Patience is short in the what-have-you-done-for-me-now world of college football.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

The Game, 2008 Edition

How big is the annual meeting between Michigan and Ohio State? Well, it’s know simply as “The Game.” And, in 2000, ESPN dubbed it the greatest rivalry in North American sports.

The past few years have added to the rivalry, especially the 2006 game when undefeated #1 Ohio State met undefeated #2 Michigan for a chance to play for the BCS championship. But the Buckeyes have clearly had the upper hand since Jim Tressel took over as their head coach in 2001. Tressel has lost just once against Michigan.

This year? Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez makes his debut in the rivalry, and the forecast is gloomy, to say the least. At 3-8, Michigan has already secured the record for most losses in the school’s history. With a sub-.500 record, they’ve already snapped the streak of 33 consecutive bowl appearances.

All that remains is Ohio State.

As poor as Michigan has played, this is the ultimate chance for revenge. The Buckeyes win at least a share of the Big Ten title with a victory, and could still earn a trip to the Rose Bowl. A loss versus Michigan would end their hopes of playing in any of the BCS bowls.

For the Wolverines, this is a daunting task and a huge opportunity. Forget the disappointment of this season. The seniors on this Michigan squad are in danger of graduating having never beaten the Buckeyes. That’s not a legacy they want to leave behind.

For Rodriguez, a win would do wonders to ease the mounting pressure bearing down on him after one year at the helm. Even the most patient Wolverine fan is having trouble holding back now. I thought my modest preseason projection of six wins was palatable. Yet heading into the finale, they have achieved merely half that win total, and Rodriguez is receiving the brunt of the blame.

By setting the bar low with their performance this year, Michigan is in good position to show improvement in 2009. But Michigan fans want more than improvement. They expect to be in competition for the Big Ten title year in and year out, and they expect to be a national title contender. Clearly the team is far from that as it is presently constructed.

Until they re-establish that consistency, there’s only one way Rodriguez and the Wolverines can ease the pain of the maize and blue faithful: beat the Buckeyes.

Ohio State is beatable. They’ve suffered defeats at the hands of USC and Penn State already this season. They also start a freshman quarterback, Terrell Pryor, who will certainly be in the spotlight on Saturday afternoon. Pryor spurned Michigan and Rodriguez’ recruiting efforts, choosing to sign on at archrival Ohio State instead. Pryor will have the home crowd behind him for this year’s game, but he’s sure to be under attack from the Wolverines defense.

No one expects Michigan to win this game. Many think it won’t even be close. But rivalry games are different. Win or lose, this is Michigan’s last game of the year. Essentially, this is their bowl game. If Rodriguez can’t get his team fired up to play well in this one, it’s going to be a long offseason in Ann Arbor.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

First to Seven Wins?

September means two things for me: my birthday (on the 7th) and the start of football season. As a diehard fan of the Michigan Wolverines and Oakland Raiders, my expectations are tempered for the 2008 season.

Michigan already started the Rich Rodriguez era with a disappointing, if not entirely unexpected, loss in the home opener against Utah.

The Raiders will host the Denver Broncos as the second part of the week one Monday Night Football double header. And after losing more games than any NFL team in the past five seasons, no one’s expecting big things from the Raiders. They should be better than last year, though.

The way I see it, seven wins would be a successful 2008 season for either team, but I’m predicting neither one gets there. My preview of each team follows:

Michigan Wolverines

8/30/08 vs. Utah
RESULT: Loss 25-23

9/6/08 vs. Miami (Ohio)
SUMMARY: An easy opponent allows the Wolverines to bounce back at home and earn Rodriguez’s first victory at Michigan.

9/13/08 at Notre Dame
SUMMARY: After being outscored 85-21 the past two seasons, you can bet the Irish will be fired up for a chance to kick Michigan while the program is down. An experienced Wolverines offense will turn it over early and often leading to a big win for Notre Dame.

9/27/08 vs. Wisconsin
RECORD: 1-3 (0-1)
SUMMARY: Michigan opens the Big Ten schedule at home against a Wisconsin team currently ranked number 11 in the AP poll. The Badgers punished the Wolverines with 232 yards on the ground last year despite a banged up P.J. Hill carrying just 5 times for 14 yards. Expect similar results with the bruising Hill back and healthy this time around in The Big House.

10/4/08 vs. Illinois
RECORD: 1-4 (0-2)
SUMMARY: Juice Williams and the Illini fell to the Wolverines at home amid their run to the Rose Bowl last year, and Michigan struggles with athletic quarterbacks like Williams.

10/11/08 vs. Toledo
RECORD: 2-4 (0-2)
SUMMARY: While Michigan fans know not to take any game for granted after last year’s Appalachian State debacle, this is a must-have and should-win game versus Toledo in the middle of their schedule. They need to be careful not to look ahead to Penn State.

10/18/08 at Penn State
RECORD: 2-5 (0-3)
SUMMARY: The Wolverines have owned the Nittany Lions for more than a decade, having won nine straight games dating back to 1996, but Penn State looks poised to end the streak this year. Expect a close game that finally goes against the Wolverines in this rivalry that has been the bizarre Ohio State feud in recent years.

10/25/08 vs. Michigan State
RECORD: 3-5 (1-3)
SUMMARY: The in-state rivals will have a wounded Wolverines team up against the ropes, but two thirds of the way through the season, Michigan’s offense shows visible improvement and wins in impressive fashion to avoid an 0-4 mark in the Big Ten.

11/1/08 at Purdue
RECORD: 4-5 (2-3)
SUMMARY: Michigan kicks off November by winning consecutive games for the first time all season.

11/8/08 at Minnesota
RECORD: 5-5 (3-3)
SUMMARY: Minnesota barely held on against Northern Illinois in their season opener, so this could be the only game all season when Michigan is favored to win on the road.

11/15/08 vs. Northwestern
RECORD: 6-5 (4-3)
SUMMARY: Northwestern keeps this one closer than it should be, but the Wolverines win their fourth straight to get above .500 for the first time all year heading into the finale.

11/22/08 at Ohio State
RECORD: 6-6 (4-4)
SUMMARY: Michigan would love to play the role of spoiler, but the Buckeyes, who may already have the Big Ten title clinched by this point, won’t allow it, continuing their recent dominance in this bitter rivalry.

Michigan finishes the season 6-6 (4-4 in the Big Ten) and plays an early December bowl game. Because let’s face it, if they’re bowl eligible, they’ll get an invite.

Oakland Raiders

9/8/08 vs. Denver Broncos
SUMMARY: The Raiders usher in the Darren McFadden era in style with a win at home on Monday Night Football against the rival Broncos.

9/14/08 at Kansas City Chiefs
SUMMARY: The Chiefs are nothing special this year, but Arrowhead is always a tough place to play. The young Raiders offense struggles and falls on the road.

9/21/08 at Buffalo Bills
SUMMARY: The Raiders’ stout secondary frustrates Bills quarterback Trent Edwards and leads the silver and black to a 2-1 mark.

9/28/08 vs. San Diego Chargers
SUMMARY: In a battle for early-season division supremacy, the Chargers will make it clear that they are head and shoulders above the Raiders and the rest of the AFC West with a convincing win.

10/12/08 at New Orleans Saints
SUMMARY: The Raiders cannot keep up with the high-powered Saints on the scoreboard, falling below .500 for the first time all season.

10/19/08 vs. New York Jets
SUMMARY: With Brett Favre at the helm, the Jets are nothing like they were in 2007. New York hands Oakland its second straight defeat.

10/26/08 at Baltimore Ravens
SUMMARY: Baltimore is one of the few teams in the league with a less-proven quarterback than Oakland. Whether it’s Joe Flacco or Troy Smith, this game features multiple interceptions for the Raiders defense en route to victory.

11/2/08 vs. Atlanta Falcons
SUMMARY: Potentially, the Raiders could be facing their second straight rookie quarterback if the Ravens and Falcons stick with rookies Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan, respectively. That spells a two-game win streak for the Raiders and a first-half finish at the .500 mark.

11/9/08 vs. Carolina Panthers
SUMMARY: The Raiders squander a golden opportunity to get back above .500 with a poor effort against the Panthers.

11/16/08 at Miami Dolphins
SUMMARY: The Raiders continue to hang around in the AFC playoff picture with a win over an improved but not threatening Dolphins team.

11/23/08 at Denver Broncos
SUMMARY: The Broncos enact revenge from week one in a critical divisional matchup that, once again, prevents the Raiders from eclipsing the .500 mark in November.

11/30/08 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
SUMMARY: Oakland earns a season split with the Chiefs. Darren McFadden has his best game of the season, now in a starter’s role for the Raiders.

12/4/08 at San Diego Chargers
SUMMARY: The Chargers deal Oakland’s playoff hopes a near-fatal blow in this Thursday night showcase game.

12/14/08 vs. New England Patriots
SUMMARY: The Patriots, battling for a first round bye, dispose of the Raiders in embarrassing fashion.

12/21/08 vs. Houston Texans
SUMMARY: In a battle of former number one picks, the Texans’ Mario Williams gets the better of the Raiders’ Jamarcus Russell. Williams records three sacks and pressures Russell into two costly interceptions in a big win for the upstart Texans. The loss assures the Raiders of a sixth consecutive losing season.

12/28/08 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
RECORD: 6-10
SUMMARY: In a Super Bowl XXXVII rematch, the result stays the same, although score is closer.

The Raiders finish the year on a serious down note with a four-game losing streak after a promising 6-6 start. Nonetheless, their six wins is still a two-game improvement from last year and the most the Raiders have won since they won 11 in 2002 on their way to a Super Bowl appearance.

The way I see it, both the Wolverines and Raiders finish the season with six wins (Michigan loses its bowl game) and losing seasons. Not a fun season at all.

Well, that’s what my fantasy teams are for!

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

How Often Do Championship Games Actually Live Up to the Hype?

After watching three of the first four BCS bowl games turn out to be blowouts, I began wondering about the chances that LSU-Ohio State would also be a blowout similar to the Buckeyes-Gators championship from last year. And that got me thinking about championships in general. How often does the final game of the season actually live up to the hype of a championship?
I did some research and compiled tables (see below) from the past nine championship games (the first BCS champion was in 1999) in college football, the NFL, the NBA, college basketball and Major League Baseball. If we set parameters of a “close game” as 7 points or less in football, 6 points or less in basketball, and 2 runs or less in baseball, only 22 of 45 championship-deciding games have been close in the aforementioned sports since 1999.


It’s hard to compare across sports because obviously basketball games are higher scoring than football games, and baseball games are much lower scoring. Perhaps there’s some statistical expert out there who knows how to formulate a stat that could eliminate the variables and compare the scoring margin across the sporting world. But until that person steps forward, I’ll just offer the data and my observations.


Comparing football to football, the BCS championship games don’t quite stack up against the most recent Super Bowls. The average margin of victory in BCS title games is 15.33 whereas the Super Bowl margin of victory has been just 12.0 since 1999.


Judging the World Series and NBA Finals is also difficult because, unlike the other sports, they decide their champion in a series. But judging by the final game of the series, they are slightly more likely to be close games. In the case of Major League Baseball, no deciding game has been decided by more than 3 runs in the past nine years. Unfortunately, five of those years saw the World Series end in a four game sweep, which significantly lessens the drama and intrigue of the closeout game.


The Nielsen TV ratings indicate that the BCS is performing strongly. While the Super Bowl remains the standard by which all televised sporting events are measured, the BCS ratings average is greater than all of the other sports listed.


What does all this mean? I’m not completely sure, but basically it seems to suggest that even if the game Monday night is a blowout, I’ll probably be watching. Yeah, sounds about right.
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For more information, visit MattHubert.com.

LSU vs. OSU in the BCS Could Spell Blowout

Ten years later, everyone’s still complaining. Well, not everyone. Fans in Louisiana and Ohio are surely excited as the LSU Tigers and Ohio State Buckeyes prepare to meet in the 2008 Allstate Bowl Championship Series Championship Game.

For all its hype, all its hoopla and all its maybe-this-will-make-them-stop-talking-about-a-playoff hope, the BCS leaves fans disappointed. Putting talk of the system aside – you can find plenty of those columns online – the games themselves have failed to deliver the goods.

This year’s bowl season has actually been exciting overall. Of the 29 games played so far, 17 have been decided by 7 points or less. But the average margin of victory in BCS games this year has been 21.5 points.

Shouldn’t the biggest games be the best games? That’s certainly what fans hope for and are led to believe. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always pan out that way. In the nine-year history of the BCS, the average margin of victory in the championship game is 15.3 points. Only four games were decided by less than 10 points.

LSU-Ohio State’s blowout-ability

Personal allegiances aside, everyday fans of football want a competitive game Monday night. But LSU and Ohio State both have a recent penchant for bowl blowouts.

The Buckeyes lost last year’s BCS championship 41-14 against Florida. The year before that, they dominated Notre Dame 34-20. The year before that, they pounded Oklahoma State 33-7.

LSU’s last two bowl performances? A 41-14 romp of Brady Quinn and Notre Dame in last year’s Sugar Bowl and a 40-3 annihilation of Miami two years ago.

To be fair, both the Buckeyes (31-24 in 2OT vs. Miami, 2003 Fiesta Bowl) and Tigers (21-14 vs. Oklahoma, 2004 Sugar Bowl) have won the BCS title in close games within the past five years, but that doesn’t mean this game will be an instant classic.

The Buckeyes had just two games all season decided by less than 10 points. Meanwhile, the Tigers played a number of close games within the SEC, but they also had four wins by 40 or more points.

Explosive offense meets stout defense

If there is a reason to suggest this game stays close, it’s the matchup of LSU’s high-powered offense and Ohio State’s tenacious defense. LSU scores more than 38 points a game. The Buckeyes surrender just over 10 points per game.

Ohio State allowed more than 20 points just once all year – in their lone loss of the season, 28-21 against Illinois. On the flip side, LSU’s two losses came in triple overtime, which inflated the score. But their score at the end of the fourth quarter in those games was 27 and 28, respectively.

If the game is played in the teens or below, the Buckeyes will feel right at home. If it gets into the 20s, they may still have a shot. But if scoring gets into the mid-30s or higher, the game is LSU’s for the taking.

For more information, visit MattHubert.com.