SOC - Michigan State 2022
There's a certain relaxation that comes with writing the SOC on a Friday night. It's probably my most pleasant writing experience of the week. I'm pulling double duty right now - the big basketball preview comes out Monday - and so I'm in "I'm never going to get all of this done" mode nearly 100% of the time right now.
Which is all my fault. I schedule too many things and make completing my to-do list 100% impossible. If we're being honest, I don't even know why I would schedule a "series" of posts. The week of the basketball preview, it's 100% impossible to keep up with something like Check The Tape (just like it's impossible to keep up with The 90 Illini when I'm writing the football preview), but there I am, declaring every post a series. At some point I have to change that.
But I'm never giving up the SOC. It's therapy. If it's a road game it's my Friday night hotel room ritual and if I'm home it's exactly what is happening right now. My wife got back from her work trip 10 minutes ago and she just went to bed. My oldest son is here for the game tomorrow and he's asleep in the other room. His girlfriend is asleep in the guest room. The dog is asleep at my feet. And I'm seated at the kitchen island writing about my 7-1 football team. If 2:30 pm today was a constant voice in my head saying "you'll never, ever get everything done", this moment is a sensory deprivation chamber.
Heh. My wife just called me in for our nightly routine. I probably shouldn't share this but this is the SOC and I'm SOC-ing.
This routine began right after we got married. It was a phase where she was getting up for work at 5:15 most days, so she'd go to bed well before I'd go to bed. When she climbs into bed she calls me in. Maybe there's a brief discussion of tomorrow or whatever - tonight it was just "it's so nice to have our boy sleeping in the other room" - and then I kiss her goodnight. I turn out the lights and then, when I leave the room, before closing the door, I tap out our secret code on the door frame.
I've probably done this... 3,000 times since we got married? Some nights we go to bed together (and on rare occasions I go to bed first), but on nights where she goes to bed and I'm still up, its her saying my name, I go in, kiss goodnight, lights off, tap the code on the door frame, close the door. It's probably less than 50% of the time now (since moving here we go to bed at the same time quite often), but on SOC nights, it's almost always the last thing I do before sitting down to write.
So if you're wondering if I live my life the way I run the website ("the night before the game it's the Stream Of Consciousness, and then immediately after the game it's From The Stands..."), I live my life the way I write. Kiss, lights, secret code, shut door, SOC.
OK, so here's how I feel about this game. In these next two games, I feel like we're going to play one great game and one Indiana-like game. And I'm really hoping that tomorrow is the Indiana-like game (because it will mean that the Purdue game will be the great game).
Like, we have a blowout game coming, I think. And I'm not talking about the impending Northwestern blowout game. After writing what I wrote on Monday ("Suffocation Protocol" where I posited that we've stopped trying to move the ball in the third quarter of five of the last six games), I feel like there's a "you know, when Illinois goes full-throttle on offense, their offense is pretty solid" game coming. One of those "everyone has been talking about Illinois' defense but they won this one 44-6" kind of games.
I can't decide if it's Purdue or Michigan State, though. The line is this one (-17, which is INSANE to think about) would suggest that it will be this game. But I feel like it will be the Purdue game? That's probably something I'm trying to wish into existence.
I guess the weather is playing into that as well. The rain will be done by the time this game starts (the sun might even start peeking through) but the wind will still be around. We haven't had a good old fashioned Memorial Stadium wind game in a long time, but it looks like tomorrow will be that game. Let me go check the latest forecast real quick:
South-southeast wind 23 to 29 mph becoming southwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 49 mph.
Southeast or southwest - that's the kind of wind that hits the tunnel. Here's something for you to watch tomorrow. When someone is kicking a field goal towards the south goalposts, watch the pants of the two officials stationed at the goalposts. Memorial Stadium has this wind thing where a southern wind gets funneled under the horseshoe and blasted out at field level like there's a massive box fan under the horseshoe. I've seen officials struggle to stand when they're on that end.
So that's this kind of game. You get to pass for two quarters and try to run clock for two quarters. Punting with the wind gives you 30-35 more yards than punting against the wind. Field goals kicked into the swirl could go anywhere. Which means the team that runs the ball well will win the game. Duh.
I will say that it won't affect our passing game as much as it affects Michigan State's passing game. I saw a stat this week (can't find it right now) which said that we were something like 4th-from-last in "passing yards before the catch". So much of what we throw = short routes to get the ball to playmakers in space. That's a lot easier to throw in a 30 mph wind than the 20 yard in.
But running game will dominate this one, so let's check some running stats.
Illinois - 25th nationally in rushing yards at 197.6 per game
Michigan State - 118th nationally in rushing yards at 97.5 per game
So, uh, yeah. We average 100.1 more yards on the ground. And the wind will make this a ground game. They have a better punter than we do, so they'll likely win the field position game, but they'd then have to throw the ball to capitalize on that, and A) we have a pretty good secondary and B) "gusting up to 49 mph".
I don't think I need much more information here. I think the wind will hold the scoring down, and I'm not sure we cover a full 17 points, but I do think we win by two touchdowns.
Illinois 27, Michigan State 13