You’ve heard coaches say something like this before, “Play every game like it’s the championship.” On Saturday, it’s less of a clich?, because that is exactly what Michigan and Nebraska will do when they meet in Lincoln, Neb.It has taken eight weeks of football for true front-runners to appear in the Big Ten Legends Division, but these two teams look to be the ones showing they want it, and they both want it bad.What exactly is at stake in this upcoming Week 9 division matchup? The leg-up among the Legends group moving forward that could likely decide which team will head to Indianapolis to play in the second Big Ten Championship game and a spot in the Rose Bowl.No. 22 Michigan (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten) holds a one-game lead heading into the game. A victory would keep them in sole control of their destiny, two games ahead and could also mean a last-week game against undefeated Ohio State could have no implication on their standing.But Nebraska (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) won’t be any less motivated Saturday. A Husker victory would result in a tie for the division lead, with the tiebreaker advantage in their favor after a head-to-head victory. With four very winnable games to end the season, this weekend’s game against the Wolverines is their biggest hurdle remaining.Entering the game, both teams will be riding momentum from their Week 8 victories. For Michigan, that came from beating rival Michigan State for the first time in four years after a last-second field goal to give the Wolverines a 12-10 edge over the Spartans. The Huskers also came back from a twelve-point deficit to beat Northwestern on the road by one.Yes, momentum and motivation play into a game, but what happens on the field is all that will truly matter.Here is how I see these teams matching up:Running ability in questionRanked fifth in the nation in rushing and leading the Big Ten with 279 rushing yards per game, Nebraska holds a clear statistical advantage. However, it is unknown if, or how much, their star tailback Rex Burkhead will play after he suffered a left knee injury against Northwestern. While losing him would be a blow to Nebraska’s offense, Ameer Abdullah and quarterback Taylor Martinez are both threats on the run. Michigan’s numbers fall not far behind the Huskers. Quarterback Denard Robinson currently ranks as the team’s leading rusher with 900 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Fitzgerald Toussaint, who has received 10 or more carries since Week 2, is the team’s lead back.Advantage: Michigan. Without a healthy Burkhead, Robinson’s dynamic running ability will edge out the threat’s of Martinez and Abdullah.Skipping stones: Robinson and MartinezAs aggressive as Robinson is on the run, his passing game does not even come close to matching that level. His 53.5 percent completion rate on the season is less-than-impressive.Now onto Martinez. When he is on, he is on fire. With 15 touchdown throws this season, two of which brought home a win this past weekend, Martinez is definitely a game changer for the Huskers. Martinez is ranked 15th nationally in passing efficiency with a 162.8 rating and has thrown just four interceptions. He was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week Monday for the third time this season.Martinez hasn’t been without his rough spots this year, most notably two weeks ago against Ohio State where he threw three interceptions. However, I suspect the Martinez we saw against the Wildcats will be the guy that shows up against Michigan with everything at stake. The Huskers have not lost a game in which he recorded zero interceptions. That will be key to a Nebraska victory.Advantage: Nebraska, and a significant one.Clear Defensive DifferenceThe ability to stop Martinez and the Husker offense is what will decide the outcome of Saturday’s game. Two years ago, Michigan owned one of the worst defenses in college football. Now we are looking at a group who in the last month has resembled a unit that could be one of the best in the nation. In Big Ten play, the Wolverines have given up 23 points total in their three games, meaning their opponents averaged just a measly 7.7 points in each game. Since a rough start to the season with a loss to No. 1 Alabama and a close game with Navy, Michigan has flipped the switch when they don’t posses the ball and after Week 2, have given up no more than 13 points in any game.What also is in the Wolverine defense’s favor is their experience with top teams this year. While losing to both Alabama and currently No. 5 Notre Dame, a powerhouse offense like Nebraska’s will not faze the experienced group.Nebraska’s defense has seen more struggles this season than successes. Ranked 72nd nationally, they allow on average 27.7 points a game, with a number that is even higher against its first three Big Ten opponents.Advantage: MichiganLocation, Location, Location!It cannot go unmentioned that Nebraska is undefeated in its four home games this season. Michigan is 1-2 on the road, but the crowd at Memorial Stadium will be amped up and ready to greet the Wolverines for the first time as Big Ten competition. Last season Nebraska was trampled in Ann Arbor 45-17 and will be looking for revenge, like what happened to Wisconsin in Week 5.Advantage: NebraskaSo who is going to come out the likely favorite to be playing Dec. 1 against the winner of the Leaders Division? It will be close, but I predict Michigan will come out on top. The way Michigan’s defense has played tips the game in their favor for me. Martinez and his offense are good, but we have seen them stopped before this year, and I think we will again come Saturday.
Providing just compensation to student-athletes — who, aside from their scholarships and a few nominal stipends, are locked out of the revenue created by the $13 billion college athletics industry — constitutes important rationale for laws challenging the NCAA’s amateurism system. However, it’s clear that the competitive atmosphere of college sports is also playing a role in the ongoing political intervention into NCAA amateurism. Since the California State Legislature took the reins of the college amateurism debate last September, enacting a bill that would allow California student-athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness starting in 2023, political intervention has emerged as a key tool to pressure NCAA reform. Obviously, the California state legislature’s willingness to tackle the issue of NCAA amateurism would not benefit USC in relation to rivals UCLA, Cal and Stanford, which are also located in California. But an advantage over programs in other states would give USC (along with the other California schools) a competitive boost at a time when they are struggling to maintain national relevance in football and men’s basketball, the two sports that would be affected most by updated amateurism rules due to their huge revenue-producing capacity. Last year, the California law presented the NCAA with two unappealing options: punish the California NCAA schools for non-compliance with its amateurism rules when the law goes into effect in 2023 or risk giving the California schools a competitive advantage by allowing their student-athletes to profit from name, image and likeness while student-athletes at schools in other states cannot. In the end, the NCAA caved, promising to reconsider its amateurism rules altogether to comply with the California law. Now, other states are considering laws that would, in turn, give their own in-state NCAA programs a competitive advantage and possibly pressure the NCAA into further reform. Also, from a competitive standpoint, USC Athletics is poised to benefit from further changes to the NCAA’s amateurism model. California’s passage of the name, image and likeness law demonstrates its status as a state at the forefront of new, innovative legal thinking and hints that it will continue to mount the most aggressive challenges to amateurism, regardless of whether they comply with NCAA rules. This will benefit USC and other California universities, allowing them to offer student-athletes the most generous compensation. The NCAA’s submission to the will of the California State Legislature seems likely to usher in a period of upheaval for the NCAA’s amateurism model, which should be welcomed by college sports fans. After years of rejecting pleas to fairly compensate student-athletes, the NCAA clearly will not reform on its own accord. While some proposed state laws relating to student-athletes’ rights to compensation are not ideal, coercive action by state lawmakers is a necessary means of dismantling the unsustainable status quo in college sports. 2020 will likely prove to be a pivotal year for the future of the NCAA, with over two dozen state legislatures currently deliberating similar laws. Some of the proposals being debated, including a bill under consideration in New York that would allocate a share of ticket revenue as payment for student-athletes, would go even further than the law California passed. Jake Mequet is a junior writing about sports and law. His column, “Court in Session,” runs every other Monday.
Donegal’s senior team manager Jim McGuinness says his team is in better shape this year to have a crack at the All-Ireland than it was last year.The optimistic outlook comes as Jim enters his second year in charge of the Donegal footballers and he would appear to be in a much better position than 12 months ago when he had to contend with a string of injuries.Donegal begin their pre-season exploits against University of Ulster Jordanstown in the first round of the Dr McKenna Cup this Sunday. And McGuinness is in upbeat form after the mandatory eight-week break from training.“We’re definitely starting from a much better base this year,” said McGuinness.“It’s a good opportunity to prepare properly for the National Football League. We’ll have a stronger McKenna Cup squad this time around then we had last year, no question.“There are a couple of new faces in there also and this competition will give us the chance to look at them and what they can offer. “If we can push on through January to April in particular, and get as much work done as possible both in the gym and on the pitch; that should set us up for a year or two of championship football. The next four or five months is very important from that point of view.“We’d be happy that we got through a huge amount of work last year in terms of fitness and the strength side of things.”Meanwhile Kevin Cassidy is playing down reports linking him to a return to the Donegal fold after his much-publicised exit.Sources close to the player said he would like to play for his county again, and would welcome a reconciliation but that he feared that would not happen.© 2011 donegaldaily.com, all Rights Reserved The copying, republication or redistribution of donegaldaily.com Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited by law.Follow us on www.twitter.com/donegaldailyFollow us on www.facebook.com/donegaldailySell anything on www.donegaldailyclassifieds.com ‘WE’RE IN BETTER SHAPE FOR THE SEASON AHEAD’ – McGUINNESS was last modified: January 4th, 2012 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)