Saturday, September 1, 2007

LIVE BLOG: Illinois vs Mizzou


Greetings from the land of lakes and no sales tax. After four hours at the Mall of America, we're looking live from the Wildwood Lodge outside Lake Elmo, MN. Since I can't be at the game (damn friend's wedding), the least I can do is live blog!

And after I hustled back for the start of the game so I could live blog, Blogger decided to eat my post as I tried to post after the first quarter was over. What follows is my recollection of the 1st quarter's entries. I really hate Blogger sometimes.

2:35 - Martin Rucker on pace for 415 receptions this season.

2:52 - Illinois blocks a punt for a TD. You know what? Good. The offense was tight, and they apparently needed a swift uppercut to the face to get focused. I figure that should do the trick. And the blocked PAT was a nice touch.

2:57 - There we go. Maclin with a 30-yard run on a reverse after doing the Aussie Rules "bounce the ball on the ground while running" technique. I'd recommend not attempting that again.

3:01 - Chase to Chase on 4th-and-goal for a TD after Tony Temple got to the 1-inch line on back-to-back plays. I hate having to throw on 4th-and-an-inch, but we got in there, I guess.

3:07 - Every time Tony Temple is handed the ball, he's moving either backwards or sideways. I realize that's how it was last year, but...I dunno...was kinda hoping maybe something would be done about that in the offseason. Illinois is just stringing the play out until more tacklers can get there. He's done very well to get the 0 yards he has so far. Should have about -20.

And we're caught up, more or less.

3:26 - Is Andre Ware Juice Williams' uncle or something? He just made a nice play, but...good lord.

3:29 - Hardy Ricks collides with Juice Williams, an accidental helmet-to-helmet, and Juice is groggy.

3:30 - SUPER groggy. Looks like he could be out a while.

3:31 - I'm sorry, but that was a legal hit. Ricks was going in to wrap up, and your head's going to be out there when you do that.

3:39 - And I'm sorry, Andre, but not everything Illinois does is "amazing."

3:40 - What IS amazing is Mizzou's punting team. Sweet jesus. KILLING us at the moment. I'm just amazed Crossett caught that snap at all.

3:41 - Almost a broken play on 3rd-and-5 with the backup Illini QB bobbling the snap, but he made a great pass that will probably lead to 7 points shortly.

3:43 - Okay, I swear I wrote that last line before it DID lead to 7 points...for Missouri. Pig Brown with two awesome plays so far.

3:44 - They're reviewing this, but it was clearly a fumble. I'm sure they'll say he was down. I have that much confidence in the replay booth.

3:47 - Mizzou goes for 2? What the hell is that? That's the worst playcall I've ever seen from Pinkel and staff. You have a chance to go up 8 and you don't? And you run a direct snap to the goddamn WR? Come on, guys. The offense is a bit rusty, but the coaches have to be ready to go when the season starts.

3:49 - Maybe they just felt bad about the 14-point turnaround there, so they decided to only make it a 13-point turnaround? That's the most logical thing I can think of.

3:52 - Looks like Juice just got taken to the locker room. I have to figure he won't be back in this game if his bell was rung that badly.

3:54 - Somehow the Mizzou defense is unprepared for the no huddle offense. Two penalties in three plays for 12 men on the field.

3:56 - NICE play by Carl Gettis, breaking up a pass. Ware and Play-by-Play guy (totally just forgot his name) take a break complimenting every Ron Zook recruit to compliment a Pinkel one.

3:57 - HA! McGee fumbles, recovered by Pig Brown. I've seen this episode before. Nice strip by Ziggy Hood.

3:58 - Play-by-Play Guy just pointed out that Mizzou has a Ziggy and a Pig. I don't know why it took me two years to think of this, but wasn't the Ziggy Pig what Napoleon ate at the San Dimas Mall in Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure?

3:59 - The horizontal stuff really isn't working all that well. It's there to set up the deep stuff...maybe we should try the deep stuff here shortly?

4:00 - And the ESPN2 sound is messed up, cutting in and out. I think I like this better.

4:01 - Boy, do I love Tommy Saunders. Just when you totally forget about him, he makes an awesome play. Meanwhile, Daniel's shaken up. Not shaken up enough to miss a play, though.

4:03 - Meanwhile, Vontae Davis is now shaken up. He's been their best player so far. Looks like he'll be back if I had to bet.

4:06 - And the sound is out for a while, as they're broadcasting the play-by-play from Bristol for now. Now we've got Dave Revsine, Stan Barrett, and Jesse Palmer. Yeah, let's keep it here for the rest of the game. No more Andre Ware and Play-by-Play Guy, please.

4:06 - Martin Rucker gets his second carry out of a direct snap. Dude's touched the ball about 19 times in the first half. He should have run on the 2-point conversion. Well...there shouldn't have been a 2-point conversion, but I guess that's neither here nor there.

4:08 - Will Franklin for the TD on a gorgeous inside screen. Faked one way, went the other. Think they'll go for two? I ask that in jest, but...well...I wouldn't have even remotely thought they'd go when they were up 13-6 either.

4:09 - PAT. Whew. 20-6, 20 seconds remain.

4:10 - We have a Connell Davis sighting!! Illinois falling apart...they just fumbled the kickoff and Davis recovered. I must say I've been very impressed with the way Mizzou's going after the ball. I noticed it even before McGee's two fumbles. They're going for the strip, and so far it hasn't kept them from making the tackle.

4:12 - Wolfert out with 4 seconds left to make this a 23-6 game after the charity fumble.

4:13 - Good! 23-6. And we're at halftime. Time to go peruse Illini message boards to read about how dirty Ricks' hit on Williams was. I'll say it again--no way in hell was that dirty.

4:14 - Nevermind. Time to give the computer to my wife for a little bit. She's been a really good sport, only making fun of me a little bit when I bitched about the announcers for 45 straight minutes, so I'll give her the computer now.


4:44 - And we're back. Rashard Mendenhall just ripped off a pretty pissed-off run for a TD. I will say that this Eddie McGee kid has much better touch than Juice Williams, who is looking more and more concussed with every moment that goes by. Mizzou probably took the foot off the accelerator a bit there (always happens after a rash of turnovers for the other team), but power to Illinois for stepping up and playing pumped to start the half. Zook's always been a motivator...he just hasn't taught his kids how to wrap up the ball.

4:46 - Speaking of wrapping up the ball, Chase Coffman just fumbled. Somehow he recovered the ball despite the fact that a) there were 18 Illinois guys on the pile, and b) the ball was between Coffman's legs.

4:48 - Man, do I love Danario Alexander. He just flies around the field, leaping, spinning, running, etc.

4:49 - Oh, and Play-by-Play Guy = Dave Pasch. Maybe I didn't forget that so much as I didn't actually know who he was.

4:50 - Temple with a helluva run for...3 yards. Illinois has done a really nice job on him.

4:51 - Jeremy Maclin with his first TD as a Tiger on a gorgeous throw from Chase. Daniel doing a great job of distributing the ball to all the weapons...Maclin, Franklin, Alexander, Coffman, Rucker, Saunders...the only guy I don't think we've heard from is Jared Perry.

4:52 - And meanwhile, Andre Ware just said "Chase Daniels." Come on, Andre. This is not your first Mizzou game. Can I get Dave Revsine back, please?

4:56 - Hardy Ricks with a GORGEOUS tackle of 'Regis' Benn on a reverse. Loss of 10.

5:00 - 'Regis' Benn has now learned that reversing your field and running backwards might work in high school, but it doesn't in college. Nice D by Mizzou here...hitting really really hard.

5:01 - I think I'm going to like Jeremy Maclin. Call it a hunch. He broke off a punt return TD, and you knew after 10 yards he was gone. He's aggressively fast, if that makes sense. Meanwhile, speaking of making sense...Ware just said "Mizzou has missed Maclin." A weird thing to say about a guy playing in his first collegiate game...even one who injured his knee last year. Either way...37-13 Mizzou. Guess that stupid 2-point conversion attempt

5:05 - Luke Lambert with the tackle on the kickoff! And Andre Ware just called Marlon Lucky "Martin". Okay, I'll stop making fun of Andre. I like him when he's giving analysis at Bristol...just don't like him doing play by play at all. At least his partner was Gary Thorne last year. Thorne wasn't very good at calling football either, but I love his voice...I'd listen to him reading the phone book.

5:06 - Okay, the dogs are back on Andre. He just said he thinks Nebraska is the clear North favorite.

5:07 - We're hitting Eddie McGee a lot. Ziggy Hood just forced another fumble, though Illinois managed to recover this one. Whereas we didn't really 'miss' Maclin last year (since, in the words of Pat McGee, you can't miss what you never had), but there's no question we missed what a healthy Ziggy Hood can do.

5:08 - Okay, 'Regis' been just made a ridiculous catch over two Mizzou defenders. Credit where it is due. And now he's cramping up too, as is much of the Illinois team. Oh, and it's 'Rejus', not 'Regis', according to his bio.

5:10 - Defensive breakdown. Illinois' backup RB (Dufrene) just ripped off a nice run inside the Mizzou 10. The game's not in question, but I'd prefer that we continue to play well.

5:12 - Touchdown, Eddie McGee. It's 37-20, and somehow only 11 minutes have gone by in the 2nd half. This game's not gonna end till about 7pm. I miss last year's 'running clock' rules. It was stupid to start a possession with a running clock with <2>another first down catch. LOVE that guy.

5:53 - Chase scrambles backwards about 30 yards and almost gets tripped up before throwing it away. Whew.

5:54 - Third-and-8 for Mizzou. We're in field goal range, but we need a TD. Instead, it's picked off...and Jerry Brown. I'm sure that's how Mike Kelly called that one, and I can't blame him. Brown (a former Mizzou target) bobbled it, caught it, bobbled it again, then dropped it as he hit the ground.

5:55 - Wolfert with a FG to make it 40-34. I'd say something like "he just doesn't miss", but that would be an automatic jinx right there. And I'd point out that we'd be up 41-34 right now if not for the hideously stupid 2-point conversion attempt in the first half, but I'm too pissed about it to mention it. Sigh. I hate live-blogging. Correction: I just hate watching Mizzou games, period. And have I mentioned there are 8.5 minutes left? The fourth quarter has already lasted 30 minutes.

5:58 - So I've noticed I use a lot more italics when I'm pissy.

6:00 - It's 3rd-and-7 for Illinois. This would be a huge stop. But alas...Rashard Mendenhall catches a screen pass and runs untouched for 40 yards. Good lord, guys.

6:01 - William Moore with an UNBELIEVABLE diving interception. Holy moly. HUGE play by Willy Mo. Now we just need to kill 7 minutes.

6:02 - That's right...italics when I'm pissed and all caps when I'm excited.

6:03 - Another huge third down for Mizzou...two running plays net only 3 yards. Mizzou burns their second timeout (their first was burned because of the "failed" replay challenge...not that I'm not still ridiculously bitter or anything) with 5:35 remaining.

6:05 - Daniel with a HUGE scramble for a first down, but he didn't slide. Slide, Chase, slide. He got leveled just as hard as Juice did, and Chase Patton's warming up on the sidelines.

6:06 - And Patton's in the game for at least a play. I smell a handoff to Temple.

6:07 - Handoff to Temple for about 3. Ware is duly excoriating Illinois for not loading up at the line of scrimmage.

6:08 - Daniel runs onto the field, but Patton didn't run off. Two guys lined up to take the snap, and Mizzou gets called for an illegal substitution.

6:08 - After a nothing pass to Rucker, it's 3rd-and-11. I hate Mizzou.

6:09 - But I LOVE Danario Alexander. Great pump fake by Daniel, and it's first-and-10 from the Illinois 25. And Andre just said something about a "cow on ice". Who knows. I'm too beaten down at this point to make fun of him.

6:11 - And now it's 3rd-and-about-16. Franklin drops the pass, so Wolfert comes on for a long field goal. See, if I'd said "he doesn't miss" earlier, this is where the jinx would have taken effect.

6:12 - Wide left. Crap. Missed it by about a foot. I blame the jinx on Dan Pasch.

6:13 - This sucks. Illinois ball from their 30.

6:13 - I swear McGee just skidded one into his receiver, but they're not reviewing it. First down Illinois.

6:14 - Sulak defends a screen big time, and McGee throws it away. McGee overthrows somebody on a bomb, and now it's fourth down. I just got a text from a friend that said simply "I'm hyperventilating."

6:16 - McGee tried to call a timeout on 4th down, but the ball was snapped, and he completes a strike to Benn. My wife raised a good point: isn't it a distraction to our players if he's signaling timeout? Shouldn't the refs have blown the whistle anyway? Just wondering.

6:17 - First down Illinois at the Mizzou 20 with 1:04 left. I was so nice and relaxed two hours ago. Can't wait for the barrage of calls and texts when this game ends. Maybe I'll just leave my phone in the hotel room when I go to the wedding party tonight.

6:19 - McGee calls timeout as the ball is snapped this time, only the refs blow the whistle this time. Guess the rules change with each play, huh?

6:21 - Pig Brown with the interception at the 1. Huh. That should probably wrap up Defensive Player of the Week, don't you think?

6:22 - Daniel plunges forward to the 2, and Illinois uses its last timeout. Meanwhile, Eddie McGee is crying on the sideline. I feel for him. He was responsible for everything good Illinois did today...and everything bad. Lucky for us, Pig Brown committed to Mizzou over New Mexico, Texas Tech, Marshall, Nevada, and Boise State on 11/27/2005, I say.

6:23 - Ballgame. Think I'll go pass out now. I knew that rivalry games make weird things happen, and that this could be a game, but...ugh. Survive and advance. Or something. I'm done for now. I'm just glad that idiotic (asinine, batty, crazy, daffy, daft, ding-a-ling, dull, dumb, dumdum, fatuous, foolhardy, foolish, gorked, half-witted, hare-brained, harebrained, imbecile, imbecilic, inane, insane, jackass, jerk off, lunatic, moronic, senseless, silly, squirrelly, thick-witted, unintelligent) 2-point attempt didn't cost us the game.