B1G Power Rankings – Week of 10/13

16 Oct

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  To see where your team was ranked last week, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Michigan State.  The Spartans did what the top team is supposed to do:  win.  I’m not real sure what to make of Purdue hanging 31 on Michigan State, but we’ll let that slide.
  2. Ohio State.  It’s really too bad that Ohio State was off this week.  If they would have traded bye weeks with Penn State, the weekend’s Big Ten schedule would have been composed only of “original” Big Ten teams as Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers were all off.  But since the conference struggles with scheduling, I’m not that surprised.
  3. Minnesota.  By knocking off the Wildcats, Minnesota has claimed the title of “Surprise team in the West”.  I expect the Gophers to hold that title for the rest of the month (Purdue this week and at Illinois), before a grueling November schedule hits.  Until then, let’s reward the Gophers with the #3 spot.
  4. Nebraska.  This is a critical game in Nebraska’s season.  Coming off of a loss and a bye week, Nebraska needs to beat Northwestern to stay in the hunt for the division title.  But this series is known for close, competitive games (a cumulative difference of 1 point in the last three meetings).  The edge might be if Nebraska has home field advantage in Evanston like they did in 2012.
  5. Wisconsin.  The Badgers took care of Illinois and are rewarded with a week off before welcoming both of the new schools to the league.  This is about the time where Wisconsin really starts to hit stride.

    English: Big Ten Conference logo since 2010.

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  6. Northwestern.  Admittedly, I am probably punishing Northwestern a little too much for a seven point loss to Minnesota, but I’m just not sure what to make of Northwestern.  The “Battle for NU” should be a close, competitive game.
  7. Rutgers.  Rutgers enters into the hazing portion of their Big Ten initiation tour with their next three games at Ohio State, at Nebraska, and against Wisconsin.  This is where Rutgers can validate this relatively high ranking or watch it plummet.
  8. Iowa.  I still maintain that Iowa v. Maryland sounds more like a December 30th bowl game than a Big Ten Conference clash.  The Hawkeyes are in need of a good challenge, and I think the Terps could provide it.
  9. Maryland.  Let’s see how Maryland reacts to their first conference smack down as they host Iowa.  This is one of those games that helps provide clarity in the middle of the pack.
  10. Purdue.  It may seem strange to promote the Boilermakers after giving up 45 in a loss, but in a head-to-head match up with any of the schools below, I’d probably pick Purdue.
  11. Penn State.  A loss to Michigan really hurts.  Yeah, Penn State probably got screwed by the refs on another call.  (That sound you hear is Husker fans still bitter over 1982 muttering “karma”).  Regardless, these are the games that Penn State needs to win.
  12. Indiana.  Bad news: the Hoosiers get beat up by Iowa.  Worse news:  they play Michigan State this weekend.  Worst news:  on Monday, they lost their starting QB for the season.  How long until basketball season?
  13. Michigan.  A much-needed win should calm the fires over the bye week (until Sparty drops gasoline over everything).  Although I’m not a fan of the show, I appreciated Michigan’s QB corps showing their excitement for the return of “The Walking Dead”, by limping around for three hours Saturday night.
  14. Illinois.  Simply put, the Illini are the worst team in this league.  For my money, it’s not even close.


Thought of the Day – 10/14/2014 – Doors

14 Oct

When I go out to the local Big Box store, I’m always fascinated by the people who refuse to open a door for themselves.

Nothing is more American than walking out of your way to use an automatic door.

Sorry, Whites Only

14 Oct

Last weekend, we took the kiddos on a mini-vacation to an indoor water park – one that my son excitedly referred to as “Grape Wolf Lodge”.

Everybody had a lot of fun.  The five-year old loved the water slides, the 2-year-old liked dumping buckets of water on people, and the 1-year-old enjoyed playing in the water.  Family fun for everyone, and something we’re likely to do again.

But one thing from the trip is sticking with me.

In the room, they had a little promotion for Shutterfly.  There was a sample of a photo book and a coupon to create your own for free.  As you likely know, Shutterfly photo books are a digital scrapbook where you upload pictures to create a very nice looking book.  I’ve created multiple Shutterfly photo books, as I make one at the end of the year showcasing pictures of the kids from each month.

Our kids love books, and love looking at the Shutterfly books I’ve created, so naturally they spent some time in the room flipping through the sample book.  The sample book was a scrapbook of a faux-family’s visit to Grape Wolf:  Here are the water slides.  Here we are hugging the costumed characters.  Here is somebody swimming in the pool.  Here are the kids and their new friends in some group activity, and so on.

I didn’t think too much of it until I was flipping through with our one year old.  That’s when I noticed something odd.  As I was going through the various pages, I was only seeing white faces in the pictures.  Friends and regular readers know that all of our children have at least one birth parent of color.

About halfway through the book, I semi-jokingly said “Let’s look for the people of color in this book”.  I kept flipping pages and wasn’t seeing anyone who wasn’t lily-white.  Not finding anybody, I started over at the beginning.  This time, I looked closely at each photo (probably three or four per page) and carefully scanned the group activity photos for any children of color (black, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, hell – anything other than white).  I kept coming up empty.

Finally, about two-thirds of the way through the book, I found a woman of color.  I couldn’t really tell her ethnicity (African-American?  A Latin America country?), but she was definitely not white.  This was good.

But wait…what is this woman doing?  Oh, she’s giving little Susie an ice cream cone.  The lone person of color in the sample photo book is an employee.  That is not so good.  But at least she looked happy to be serving ice cream to all those white kids at White Wolf Lodge* for minimum wage!

*White Wolf Lodge, where your ice cream choices are vanilla, vanilla chip, vanilla mint, and white chocolate!

Now, let’s clear some things up:  I’m not “outraged” by this.  I’m not sharing this to raise a stink, or bring negative attention to Shutterfly or Great Wolf Lodge – two companies whose products and services I will continue to use.

And yes, I have mocked ads and publications that use awkward diversity pictures – you know, that group shot of the black kid, the Asian kid, the Indian kid, the Hispanic girl, etc. all hanging out in front of the student union instead of in their own racially segregated groups?  (In the past, I’ve derisively called that a “United Nations” photo).  Trust me, I’m not saying that there needs to a specific quota of minority children per Shutterfly demo book.

I’m under no illusion (or conspiracy theory) that non-white, non-employee faces were intentionally excluded, or that either of these fine companies is racist.  I’m pretty sure that the only color they really care about is green (which helps to explain the expensive prices at the lodge:  $4.99 for a side of fresh fruit at the pool bar?  Really?).

But it sure would be nice if my kids, or the dozens of other non-white kids we saw last weekend, could see themselves represented in the sample “My Awesome Vacation at Grape Wolf Lodge” photo book – even if they’re just hanging out in the background.  I don’t want them to think that the only way they could ever return to Grape Wolf Lodge (without their white parents) is as an employee.

B1G Power Rankings – Week of 10/6

10 Oct

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  To see where your team was ranked last week, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Michigan State.  The Spartans had an excellent game plan against Nebraska and executed it very well for two or three quarters before they got bored and almost lost the game.  Still, I didn’t any reason to knock them from the top spot.  Sparty probably won’t be challenged for the rest of the month.
  2. Ohio State.  Hello, Maryland.  To welcome you to the league, we’d like to light up your scoreboard with 52 points.  The Bucks get a week off to prepare for the other B1G newbies.
  3. Nebraska.  It seems odd to move a team up in the rankings when they a) lost and b) looked poor for most of the game in doing so.  In theory, I agree, but it helps that the team in front of them (Wisconsin) lost to a team that is not as good at Michigan State.  The Huskers also get a week off to prepare for the NU-NU grudge match.
  4. Minnesota.  Minnesota’s lone loss (a 30-7 beating at TCU) looks a lot better after TCU knocked off Oklahoma.  The game with Northwestern should provide some clarity as to which West division upstart is a legitimate threat.
  5. Northwestern.  So let’s get this straight:  the Wildcats allow Melvin Gordon to rush for 259 and a touchdown, and they still win?  If Northwestern is going to contend for the West title, they’ll earn it in their next three games (at Minnesota, Nebraska, at Iowa).  Get past those and they can coast to Indy.
  6. Rutgers.  I’m still not real sure what to make of Rutgers.  Four of their six games have been decided by a touchdown or less, which means they are a few bounces away from 6-0 or 2-4.  The game with Ohio State in two weeks should provide some answers.
  7. Maryland.  TheTerps got thumpedgood by Ohio State – probably out of anger inspired by Maryland’s ugly uniforms.  They get to lick their wounds for a week before taking on the Hawkeyes.

    Maryland, the Big Ten has a strict dress code. These things are clearly in violation. (image via Washington Post)

  8. Wisconsin.  So let’s get this straight:  Melvin Gordon rushes for 259 yards and a touchdown and they lose?  Look for the Badgers to take out some frustrations against Illinois.  And considering how bad the Illini rush defense is, don’t be surprised to see Gordon put up 300 yards.
  9. Iowa.  Having successfully defeated the bye week, Iowa turns their attention towards the Hoosiers.  The loser will definitely find themselves in the double digits of these rankings.
  10. Penn State.  For a team with the depth issues that Penn State has, a bye week is a welcome chance to rest and heal.  Unfortunately, their schedule has them off, at Michigan, and off again before six straight games to end the season.  That is rough.
  11. Purdue.  Look at you, Purdue!  Last year you had to wait until late November before you won a conference game.  If you could play Illinois every week you’d make the Rose Bowl!
  12. Indiana.  It’s Hoosiers v. Hawkeyes in the battle of “which team is a potential cellar dweller”.
  13. Michigan.  I’m not sure what is more surprising:  that Michigan almost won, that Brady Hoke is still employed, or that the Wolverines made it through a game without any scandals.
  14. Illinois.  Having lost to Purdue, Illinois’ best chance for a conference win will be hoping that Penn State is so beat up on Nov. 22 that they can steal a W.  Until then, I’m not seeing much hope for the Illini.

Spartan Offense

10 Oct

Thanks for stopping by!  While I am very grateful for those who take the time to read my work, I would greatly it if you read this one on HuskerMax.com.  

Why?  As a writer for the site, I earn a fraction of a penny per page view.  And with three mouths to feed, and a poor wife who becomes a football widow 12 Saturdays a year, I need those penny parts to keep everybody happy.  

Thank you,

Feit Can Write

Continue reading

Rejected Pumpkin Spice Products

7 Oct

Fall used to be a simple time.  Back to school.  Football season.  Halloween and Thanksgiving.

But in recent years, fall has been replaced.  The change of season marking the end of summer is can be summed up in two words:

Pumpkin Spice.

The return of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte is a highly anticipated event and generates a cult-like following.  Eager to cash in, food and drink makers are all rushing to put out a pumpkin spice version of their product.  So far, I’ve seen Oreos, M&M’s, bagels, non-dairy creamer, and dozens of other products aimed at pumpkin spice fanatics.

How brand managers think in autumn.

Unfortunately, not all pumpkin spice products are home runs.  Some are horrible failures.  For example:

  • Pumpkin Spice Brussels Sprouts
  • Starkist Pumpkin Spice tuna
  • Totino’s Pumpkin Spice Party Pizza
  • Pumpkin Spice McRib
  • Chlorox Pumpkin Spice Bleach
  • Pumpkin Spice Coke
  • Pumpkin Spice Rice
  • Phillip’s 66 Pumpkin Spice Ethanol
  • Ragu Pumpkin Spice Spaghetti Sauce
  • Pumpkin Spice limes
  • Hormel Pumpkin Spice Bacon
  • Massengail Pumpkin Spice Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Spicy Pumpkin buffalo wings
  • Pumpkin Spice Noodles
  • Pumpkin Spice Poodles
  • Pumpkin Spice Cole Slaw
  • Pumpkin Spice iPhone 6 (wait, that one would probably do really well)
  • Pumpkin Spice rat poison
  • Pumpkin Spice sauerkraut
  • Camel pumpkin spice cigarettes
  • Winchester pumpkin spice 12 gauge shotgun cartridges (perfect for turkey hunting!)
  • Charmin pumpkin spice toilet paper

B1G Power Rankings – Week of 9/29

3 Oct

We’re back for another B1G season!  Throughout the 2014 season, I’ll be ranking the Big Ten schools 1-14.  In case you missed my pre-conference season predictions, click here.  As always, if you think I’m right, wrong, or clinically insane, let me know in the comments.

Prepare to disagree…

  1. Michigan State.  The Spartans crushed three inferior non-conference opponents and lost to a top 5 team by 19 points.  That really doesn’t tell me how good they are, but I still think they are the class of the conference.
  2. Ohio State.  I’ll admit that the Buckeyes are ranked this high partially based on reputation.  Another part is the sweet take down of a fan by their strength coach.  But since that former Buckeye linebacker has exhausted his eligibility, we should learn a lot about this team when they travel to Maryland to officially welcome the Terps to the league.
  3. Wisconsin.  Much like Michigan State, we really don’t know too much about the Badgers.  They too have beaten up the non-con opponents they should beat and barely lost to a top 15 team.  But with Wisconsin, they may not be tested until the end of October.
  4. Nebraska.  Yeah, the Huskers are probably too low, but I’ve been underwhelmed with the teams they have played.  Don’t worry, the Huskers will have every opportunity to make a big jump Saturday night in East Lansing.
  5. Maryland.  Kudos to the Terrapins on being the first B1G expansion team to win their debut since Penn State.  Granted, it was against Indiana, but it still counts.  To go 2-0, they’ll need to beat Ohio State at home.
  6. Minnesota.  A lot of attention has been paid to Michigan practically giving away tickets to watch the Gophers, as well as the tire fire surround that program.  Meanwhile, few are giving credit to Minnesota for going into Ann Arbor and taking care of business.  That is what teams in the upper half of the conference are supposed to do.

    “You are looking live at the Big House in Ann Arbor, MI”

  7. Iowa.  Like the Gophers, Iowa faced a struggling team on the road in a stadium that was below capacity.  But beating Purdue by two touchdowns is not as impressive to me.
  8. Northwestern.  Raise your hand if you saw the 29-6 win over Penn State coming.  No, seriously.  Are the Wildcats going to rally from a 1-2 start to put together a strong season?  Well…let’s wait until after they play Wisconsin before making any declarations.
  9. Penn State.  Bad news:  with a bye week coming up, the Nitany Lions have to chew on that Northwestern loss for two weeks.  Good news:  Penn State’s next opponent is Michigan, so they probably can take most of this week off.
  10. Rutgers.  I feel like I have Rutgers too low as their only loss was by three points at Penn State in their conference debut.  We probably won’t learn too much until October 18 (at Ohio State) as the Scarlet Knights do not play anybody the next two weeks.  Oops…my bad.  Rutgers hosts Michigan this week.  Same difference.
  11. Indiana.  Who is this team?  Are they the ones who beat a ranked SEC team (even if it was Missouri)?  Or are they the ones who lost their conference opener by three touchdowns?
  12. Purdue.  Once again, the Boilermakers again find themselves in their familiar 12th place slot.  The good news is there are now 14 teams in the conference.  So they’ve got that going for them.  Of course, losing to Illinois next week will change that in a hurry.
  13. Michigan.  What a rough week for the Wolverines.  First the buy two Cokes, get two tickets promotion made the program a national laughingstock.  Then, they look bad at home against Minnesota.  Now, there are big questions about Brady Hoke putting his players in risk.  If Hoke is still employed on November 1, (they host Michigan State on 10/25) it will be a minor miracle.
  14. Illinois.  With all that said, why aren’t the Wolverines in last place?  Like Michigan, Illinois is a bad team with a coach unlikely to be employed in 2015.  But here is the key difference:  Michigan has enough talent on their roster to squeak out a win on athleticism alone.  Illinois is rather devoid of talent – especially at the skill positions – and their defense is giving up an average of 35 points a game.
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