Prep football playoff brackets already shaken up
Who could have seen all this coming in the first round of the state high school football playoffs?
This year’s first round will likely always be remembered for the number of stunning upsets that took place this past weekend.
Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, which won the Division 1 state championship last year and had a 9-0 regular-season record, was knocked out by a 5-4 Macomb Dakota team in a surprising rout, 34-13.
Rockford, a traditional power on the west side of the state that was 8-1, was also crushed by a 5-4 team, losing 38-12 to East Kentwood.
Oak Park, one of the favorites in Division 2 that was littered with future college players, lost to Farmington, 12-6.
Traditional power Birmingham Brother Rice was knocked out by Flint Kearsley, 20-19, while 8-1 Ithaca, winner of five state titles in Division 6 since 2010 and a team that went 8-1 during the regular season, lost 19-14 to Sanford-Meridian.
Already, it’s guaranteed that there will be different state champions in seven of the eight divisions. The only division still with a chance of a repeat champion is Division 8, where Reading is still playing.
Lions wasting great season from Stafford
Through eight games, the Lions are 3-4-1 and it was rightfully documented by irate fans on Twitter following Sunday’s 31-24 loss at Oakland that the Lions blew an opportunity to gain ground on Minnesota and Green Bay in the playoff chase.
Both the Vikings and Packers lost unexpectedly, but the Lions couldn’t take advantage and their playoff hopes are fading fast.
More alarming is that quarterback Matthew Stafford is having a banner year that is being wasted by a terrible defense and ineffective running game.
Stafford has thrown for 2,499 yards, 19 touchdowns and just five interceptions through the halfway point of the season, good for a 106.0 quarterback rating.
Yet, the Lions aren’t even a .500 football team.
It’s a sad example of wasting another one of Stafford’s prime seasons as he approaches age 32.
Michigan steadies ship, MSU next
There wasn’t much drama for Michigan, which did what it was expected by routing a bad Maryland team, 38-7.
Following the loss at Penn State, the Wolverines have recorded blowout wins over Notre Dame and Maryland and now have their second bye week of the season before its annual rivalry game with Michigan State on Nov. 16 in Ann Arbor.
At this point, given odds are slim U-M will make the Big 10 title game, the success of the season will come down to whether the Wolverines can upset Ohio State in the season finale.
MSU deals with loss on bye week
Just when it appeared the season couldn’t get any worse for Michigan State, the Spartans suffered a loss on their bye week when senior linebacker and captain Joe Bachie was ruled ineligible after he tested positive for a banned substance.
Bachie is the team’s best defensive player and there is no backup who can come close to replacing his production.
Reeling with a three-game losing streak, MSU will face a suddenly resurgent Illinois team at Spartan Stadium on Saturday. Illinois has won three straight games and it’s no longer the sure win on the schedule it appeared it would be for MSU all season.
CMU becomes bowl-eligible
The second in-state team to become eligible for a bowl game was Central Michigan, which earned its sixth win of the season with a 48-10 win over Northern Illinois.
The Chippewas (6-4, 4-2) will now prepare for a first-place showdown in the MAC West at Ball State (4-4, 3-1) this weekend.
Qualifying for a bowl and playing for a title in November is terrific turnaround for a CMU program that won one game last year.