History at stake in the College World Series finale tonight

The outcome of tonight’s game between Vanderbilt and Virginia will decide the College World Series. A victory for the end of the alphabet is guaranteed, but for Vanderbilt, the stakes are higher: a win would be the school’s first national championship for a men’s team, and only its second overall. (The VU women’s bowling team won it all in 2007.)

After winning game one of the best-of-three series on Monday, the Commodores had a chance to clinch last night. They were unable to hold an early 2-1 lead, however, and ended up falling 7-2. While some are criticizing Vandy coach Tim Corbin’s decision to leave starting pitcher Tyler Beede in to pitch the seventh inning, during which Virginia’s 4-2 lead expanded to a 6-2 lead, the real problem lies with Vanderbilt’s absentee offense. There remains plenty of attention on Vanderbilt’s nine-run third inning in the first game, but UVA still owns the run differential advantage, 15-11, over the two games. Take out that wild third in the opening contest, which was as much a result of an early and unexpected pitching collapse as it was Vandy plate discipline or hitting, and that expands to a 15-2 advantage for Virginia. The truth is that VU has been unable to generate its own offense in this series, and outside of one disastrous frame, Virginia has been in control. The Commodores aren’t a power-hitting bunch, and the conditions in Omaha won’t do anything to change that, but one has to believe the Vandy bats are due to come alive. They must do so tonight if the Dores are going to claim this national championship.

While a Vanderbilt win tonight would make school history, and last night’s bid may itself have been historic as (possibly, I haven’t researched this) the school’s first actual opportunity to win a men’s national championship, the Cav-Hoos are carrying the mantle and burden of a conference into tonight’s game: The ACC has just one College World Series win, and it came in the 1950s, when Wake Forest topped the Broncos of Western Michigan.

A minute for the Minutemen: What’s happening in Amherst this fall?

The better question might be, What’s happening away from Amherst this fall?

Before the 2012 college football season began, I surveyed the schedules of some of the teams I wanted to see in live action. While I must’ve noticed the common opponent on the Vanderbilt and Michigan schedules, it wasn’t until I heard a broadcast of UMass at Western Michigan that I knew there had to be a story here. Who won’t these guysmen play? (And, more generally, UMass has a football team?)  Keep reading…

Rivalries and Penalties

In honor of the general chippiness of the Georgia-Vandy game this weekend and the swings Spartans DE William Gholston took against Wolverine players, resulting in suspensions to players (see here and likely here), but interestingly not coaches (see here or here), the WSJ took a look at the “dirtiest” college football rivalries, based upon the number of behavior-related penalties per game.  Interestingly, Georgia popped up again: number one on the list was the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.  Michigan/Michigan St. wasn’t far behind.

RIVALRY PER GAME BIGGER OFFENDER
Auburn-Georgia 5.4 Georgia 59%
Duke-North Carolina 5.2 N. Carolina 69%
UCLA-Southern California 4.8 UCLA 54%
N. Mexico-N.Mexico St. 4.6 N. Mexico 65%
Kansas-Missouri 4.2 Missouri 76%
Michigan-Michigan St. 4.0 Michigan St 80%
C. Michigan-W. Michigan 3.8 Western 58%
Brigham Young-Utah 3.6 Utah 61%
NC State-North Carolina 3.4 N. Carolina 59%