weird combo ND/Michigan tradition: check
Via official site:
Two of college football's most storied programs will meet for the first time in regular season history when the University of Michigan and the University of Oklahoma play a home-and-home series during the 2025 and 2026 seasons, announced jointly by the two institutions today (Monday, July 14).
Hooray. I'll probably be able to take a self-driving car to the away game, but hooray. That's the first game scheduled in the post-ND era that comes close to replacing Notre Dame in terms of appeal. Unfortunately, it arrives 11 years after this year's finale.
I hope I didn’t just give away the ending
Sit down kids and let me you a little story about the real reason Nebraska is a Big Ten team. Sure you’ve heard other stories about expanding the footprint, Big Ten network and the like but the reason is much simpler, much B1G-er you might even say.
The story begins on a regular Saturday in September of 2009. After the Nebraska legislature made the bizarre decision to ban Metallica music from the state (the move was so controversial it passed with only one house of the state legislature), the Cornhuskers were forced to head out to Blacksburg, Virginia to get their fix of the Napster hating rock band.
It was billed as a matchup of the walk-ons versus the lunch pail carrying Hokies. The Black Shirts versus Beamer Ball. And the game lived up to it’s hard nosed, Top 20 billing.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Huskers were holding a 15-10 lead thanks to 5 Alex Henery field goals. You may think this is where the story ends, winning a game with five field goals and without any new-fangled touchdowns the kids are talking about. Five fields is about as B1G as it gets, but there was more, oh so much more.
With five field goals in their pocket and an insurmountable five point lead, Nebraska pounded the ball down to the Hokie 37 yard line and forced Virginia Tech to burn the last of their three timeouts. Roy Helu Jr and quarterback Zac Lee combined for over 200 yards and nearly 6 yards a carry. It was fourth down and only one yard separated the Huskers from a couple kneel downs and marquee win and a 3-0 start to the season.
If things were that easy, Nebraska would still be playing Oklahoma every year and cashing Longhorn Network checks today. But Tom Osborne, Bo Pelini and the Huskers had bigger plans. Why put the game away when you could…punt the way game away.
Rather than risk giving the Hokies the ball with 63 yards and no timeouts to a victory, Nebraska shelved the chance at ending the game then and there and ruthlessly punted the ball, gaining a critical 25 yards of field position.
When game MVP Alex Henery trotted out to punt the ball, I can only imagine how the telegraph machine in Jim Delany’s office lit up. Messages from Barry, Lloyd, Ron and all of the Big Ten punting legends. Forget conference numerical accuracy, that already went out the door with Penn St, forget the cool logo with the 11 in the white space, the Big Ten had found their soul mate. It didn’t even matter when they were kicked out of the AAU shortly later. Nebraska had proven that they were the one. The one the Big Ten would be willing to sell all of its possessions to have.
Within three months the Big Ten put out a coy statement about reviewing expansion but the decision had been made. Nebraska must be ours, and within six months she was. Our perfect punting bride.
Years have passed and the once great program’s descent into mediocrity has been a perfect fit for the Big Ten. Every weekend, Jim Delany waits for that perfect moment, that perfect punt from that perfect team. The need for a new punting fix pushed him out to Maryland and Rutgers but with each new hit the high recedes a little. There will never be a moment like that September afternoon back in 2010.
Now by this point in the story you are surely jumping between tabs in your browser and have looked up this moment in time, that is if you are one of the few who doesn’t remember where you were when Nebraska proved they were B1G at heart. You have looked at the final from the game and saw that Virginia Tech did in fact go 88 yards for a touchdown to secure a 1 point win, and what you would see would be true. Despite the onerous burden of 25 extra yards, the Hokies were able to do the possible and defeat the Husker punting strategy. But that fact that punting to win actually led to a loss, just solidified the marriage. Better to lose the right way than win the wrong way.
And punting is definitely the right way.
Promising Quote Is Promising
Is four-star LB Josh McMillon looking blue? [photo via 247]
It's no secret that Michigan's scholarship availability for the 2015 class is dwindling. Per Sam Webb, that fact is not lost on four-star TN LB Josh McMillon, who's spoken very highly of the Wolverines lately ($):
One of the topics of discussion in recent weeks has been Michigan’s dwindling scholarship availability. McMillon is well aware that there is only one scholarship left for a linebacker, but he has made it a point to not let it affect his recruitment.
“They said I was number one on their boards, so I feel like if they did take someone it would be my loss rather than theirs,” he stated.
Well, hello there.
McMillon will visit for the BBQ at the Big House on July 27th, and he's also got trips planned to Alabama (July 12th) and Auburn (TBD) before a decision he'll make either in August or September. McMillon spoke in glowing terms about his last visit to Ann Arbor—when he was the first recruit to see the new Schembechler Hall renovations—from both a football and academic standpoint, as well as his close relationship with Chris Singletary.
A potential commitment from McMillon could leave four-star UT OLB Osa Masina, who named Michigan to his top five on Thursday, out of a spot—he doesn't plan to decide until the Army AA Game, per 247's Evan Flood ($). This is what we call a good problem.
Prospects are looking up on the defensive line, as well. Four-star NC SDE Darian Roseboro has Michigan as the only non-ACC/SEC school in his top six thanks to the connection he and his family have made with the coaching staff, especially Roy Manning, per Webb's latest DetNews article:
“I like the coaching staff,” said Roseboro to Scout.com. “They’re all down to earth and I have a real good relationship with them. I also enjoyed being around the players when I visited and I like the environment.”
His connection with Michigan assistant Roy Manning served as the catalyst for his initial interest. During the visit that bond quickly expanded to also include Roseboro’s parents.
“We got along perfect,” Roseboro’s father Johnny said. “(Manning) was like someone I have known for years. We just clicked and I liked that. He didn’t try to be anybody else. They are themselves. What you see is what you get. I like that.
Webb confirms that Roseboro will be in attendance at the BBQ, which gives U-M the chance to make another strong impression before he makes his college choice on August 29th. The whole article is well worth your time; notably, both Roseboro's mother and father made sure to note that distance won't play a factor, which is excellent news for Michigan given the other finalists. There's a very good chance the Wolverines add two highly touted defenders to the 2015 class before football season begins.
Obligatory 2015 Running Backs Update
While Damien Harris, Jacques Patrick, and Ray-Ray McCloud were also in attendance, the 2015 running back creating the most Michigan recruiting buzz at The Opening was Mike Weber, who showed up rocking the Maize and Blue, something both Alex Malzone and Darrin Kirkland were eager to point out. Whether on their own volition or by instruction from the coaches, Michigan's current commits have made Weber their top recruiting priority at the position, per GBW's Josh Newkirk ($):
“I’d probably say Mikey (Weber),” Malzone said, when asked which running back he wanted this years class. “I talk to Mikey a lot. I’ve known him from Cass Tech, Michigan native.
“Mike Weber, we’re getting him to go blue.”
With Malzone and Nussmeier both making Weber their No. 1 priority, Weber has no choice but to choose Michigan, right?
“Alex [Malzone] has just been saying come down there and have a good time with him,” Weber said on conversation with Malzone. “Hopefully that will affect my decision.”
Weber's recruitment has increasingly looked like an in-state battle; according to Newkirk, one-time contender Tennessee has backed off lately in their efforts to land Weber, potentially eliminating one of his top five schools.
Positive news for Michigan State could also be positive news for Michigan in this case. The Spartans pulled a recruiting coup on Friday, landing four-star OH RB LJ Scott in a head-to-head win over Ohio State. The Only Colors is projecting a relatively small class for MSU, and it's quite possible the Spartans are done with running back recruiting for 2015. That'd leave Ohio State, Wisconsin, and possibly Miami (YTM) as Michigan's competition for Weber, and the Wolverines would likely be out in front of that group. We should find out more when he's on campus for the BBQ.
That's good news on its own, and better still since U-M is on the outside looking in for their other top running back targets. Four-star FL RB Jacques Patrick told Scout that while Michigan is staying in regular contact with him, Florida State and Alabama are his top two schools ($). With an announcement already planned for October 27th, it looks unlikely U-M will climb back into contention.
Same goes for four-star FL ATH/RB Ray-Ray McCloud, who told Rivals' Adam Krohn that he'll decide on July 28th, and he already has his mind made up ($):
"I know the school I'm choosing," he said. "It felt right for me every time I went on campus, and the relationships I have with the coaches."
Florida is the overwhelming favorite. McCloud hasn't made it to Michigan's campus and doesn't plan to before his decision, so it's about time to wish him happy trails.
U-M isn't entirely out of quality options if Weber ends up elsewhere, however. There's always the chance Damien Harris re-commits, though that's not my expectation, and GBW reports that four-star Florida back and current soft Miami commit Dexter Williams will take official visits to Michigan, USC, and possibly Notre Dame ($).
In 2016 running back news, Michigan could be in on another ex-North Carolina commit after previously reeling in 2015 TE Chris Clark after his decommitment from the Tar Heels. The coach of four-star NC RB Antonio Williams told 247's Steve Lorenz that Michigan is "absolutely under consideration" after Williams decommitted from UNC over the weekend ($). Once again, it's Roy Manning making a major impact in that area:
"I know [Williams and Manning] had a great relationship for a long time," [Williams' coach] said. "We had always been led to believe that Michigan was going to make Antonio the first RB offer in their class, but they backed off a bit after he made his commitment to North Carolina. Antonio really likes Michigan a lot and always have. We are going to sit down in the very near future and discuss what his next moves are going to be as far as visits go."
Williams himself said he's looking to talk to Manning "as soon as he can," presumably to set up a visit. If he gets on campus, an offer is likely to follow for the nation's #8-ranked running back on the 247 Composite.
Kirkland, deWeaver Impress At Camps
While I can't find anything on Alex Malzone that isn't recruiting-related, Darrin Kirkland's performance at The Opening earned positive reviews, impressing Scout's national scouting guru over the course of the three-day event, per Newkirk ($):
“Kirkland stood out early in footwork drills and then showed his change of direction and straight ahead speed in one-on-one drills,” said Scout national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn, on Kirkland’s Tuesday performance. “He moved fast but remained patient. He was able to beat the running back to the point of attack on several drills and used his length well.”
Kirkland also took the opportunity to pitch Michigan to Weber, Harris, Patrick, and Masina. 247's Clint Brewster listed him as one of five Michigan commits or targets who look primed for a ratings bump after The Opening; Weber also made the cut after showing some impressive receiving ability out the backfield.
Meanwhile, 2016 QB commit Messiah deWeaver participated in the Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge on Saturday, and Josh Helmholdt ranked him as the fourth-best signal-caller in attendance ($):
DeWeaver came to Jacksonville on a run of outstanding off-season performances, and he continued that momentum on Saturday. A year ago, the Ohio native had real loose mechanics and struggled with consistency, but he has developed into one of the more well-rounded quarterbacks in the 2016 class with clean mechanics and good footwork. The recent Michigan commit made some of his best throws during one-on-one play, fitting passes into tight windows and varying his trajectory well.
At the same event, 2016 Orchard Lake St. Mary's four-star Daelin Hayes won positional MVP honors among linebackers ($). He picked up a Notre Dame offer after a standout performance at their camp last month, adding to a list that already includes U-M, OSU, MSU, PSU, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. While this is a Midwest battle in the early going, and Michigan should be in good position to land him, expect more big-time competition to appear—he's looking like one of the top LB prospects in the class regardless of region.
The goal of Draftageddon is to draft a team of Big Ten players that seems generally more impressive than that of your competitors. Along the way, we'll learn a lot of alarming things, like maybe Maryland is good? Full details are in the first post.
PREVIOUSLY ON DRAFTAGEDDON
- Everyone not grabbing dual-threat senior QBs grabs defensive linemen
- Seth takes Venric Mark in front of just about everyone
- Nothing terribly remarkable happens
- BISB takes all the guys I want
- A ridiculous amount of time is spent discussing the merits of one particular interior lineman from Rutgers
- WILDCARD TIME as Brian takes a quarterback despite already having a quarterback.
- Peppers drafted in WILDCARD TIME II.
- Someone drafts an Illinois defender! I know!
ROUND 17 - PICK 2: Adolphus Washington, DT, Ohio State
O: QB Connor Cook (MSU), RB Ameer Abdullah (NE), WR Devin Funchess (U-M), SLOT Dontre Wilson (OSU), TE Maxx Williams (MN), LT Brandon Scherff (IA), LG Kaleb Johnson (RU), RT Tyler Marz (WI)
D: WDE Shilique Calhoun (MSU), SDE Andre Monroe (MD), NT Darius Kilgo (MD), DT Adolphus Washington (OSU), OLB Chi Chi Ariguzo (NW), OLB Matt Robinson (MD), CB Desmond King (IA), S John Lowdermilk (IA), HSP Earnest Thomas III (IL)
ST: KR/PR Ameer Adbullah (NE)
ACE: I was really hoping Trinca-Passat would fall just a little further, but I'll happily settle for the fourth member of Ohio State's fearsome defensive line. Adolphus Washington came to Ohio State as a five-star defensive end in the class of 2012; as a freshman he backed up Big Ten DPOY John Simon at DE, recording three sacks in ten games, including a sack/fumble against Taylor Lewan when he beat him clean around the edge. In 2013 he was a valuable backup all along the defensive line, lining up both inside and outside en route to picking up two more sacks among his four TFLs in 12 games despite playing at less than 100%.
Washington was initially a starter at SDE last season, but a groin injury in game two against San Diego State cost him the next two games, and when he returned he'd been Wally Pipped by Joey Bosa—no shame there. With Bosa's emergence, Washington finally has a place to call his own on the defensive line, as the OSU coaches made him a permanent defensive tackle in the spring; in fact, his ascension to the starting lineup was so inevitable that senior Joel Hale, who started 11 games at DT last season, volunteered to move to offensive guard after turning down the same move a year prior.
No longer concerned with maintaining edge-rushing speed, Washington is a solid 288 pounds, and he should be even bigger by the fall. He won't have to worry about too many double-teams with Kilgo commanding two blockers and the Calhoun/Monroe duo coming off the edge. (He won't in real life, either, though neither he nor Michael Bennett is a true two-gap nose.) He can be disruptive as a penetrating three-tech who's retained enough quickness to be very dangerous on stunts. As he settles into his new position, he should only get better, too.
I know it's been two years since I made the very same selection, so perhaps it will work out better this time, but best of luck with the whole Campbell thing, Brian. From the FFFF you linked:
Strong safety Ibraheim Campbell also acquitted himself well in this regard, flowing downhill aggressively and making a couple nice tackles pretty close to the LOS; he was also prone to taking poor angles, however, and had a couple whiffs in there too.
Run defense is his strength. I considered drafting him instead of Thomas, but I like Thomas's controlled aggression—and thumping hits—against screens and run plays more, especially in confined spaces, and I'll wait to grab another safety more suitable for coverage purposes in a later round.
ACE: Oh, and I'm pretty sure I've already won this whole thing anyway.
Brandon Scherff is 11 foot 5, 890 pounds?!
BISB: Eh, his pad level is probably terrible. Plus he's in legal trouble for crushing Oberyn Martell's skull in a fight.
ACE: Oh man, I watched that episode on the DVR, and as soon as it ended I flipped to overtime of Game 7 between the Kings and Blackhawks.
The surgeon general's warning for this course of action is simply: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Okay I'll stop now, but only because watching Melvin Gordon rip off huge gains against Thomas is making me kick myself about the Mark pick.
ACE: Seth, your ability to link highlights that have zero context due to pore-o-vision—and, in the case of the second one, showing Thomas execute his assignment while an entirely different defender is late to get to the fullback—is unparalleled.
BRYAN: You just have to look at the tape REALLY closely.
SETH: Didn't really affect the play but he sat there and ate tight end. I can keep pulling these out but I really don't think anybody should be watching this much Illini secondary play without, like, protective gear or heavy drugs.
BRYAN: You're talking to the guy who did the App State, Miami (NTM) and Rutgers HTTV previews. Ace has seen things even the Illini couldn't dream of seeing.
Please send help.
ROUND 17 - PICK 3: Deon Long, WR, Maryland
DRAFT ALL THE MARYLANDS
O: QB Devin Gardner (UM), RB Jeremy Langford (MSU), RB Tevin Coleman (IU), WR Kenny Bell (Neb), WR Shane Wynn (IU), WR Deon Long (MD), OT Donovan Smith (PSU), OT Jack Conklin (MSU), C Austin Blythe (Iowa)
D: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat (Iowa), DE Joey Bosa (OSU), DE Noah Spence (OSU), LB Jake Ryan (UM), LB Mike Hull (PSU), CB Sojourn Shelton (Wisky), CB Jabrill Peppers (UM), S Kurtis Drummond (MSU)
ST: Bell (KR), Peppers (PR)
BISB: It's hard for me to explain Long's continued presence on the board, other than to think that people didn't see enough separation between Long and teammate Levern Jacobs to warrant grabbing one until the other was gone. But I'm amazed he's still here in Round 17, and I gladly yoink him at this point.
Long caught 32 passes for 489 yards despite (a) only playing six and a half games, and (b) sharing targets with Stefon Diggs. Extrapolate that out over Maryland's 13 game season (i.e. multiply by 2) and he was on pace for a 64 catch, 978 yard season. His 15.3 YPC and 8.9 yards per target would have been among the best in the Big Ten last year if Maryland had been in the Big Ten last year. A really good all-around receiver, especially on slants and fades/outs. He finds separation to the outside, and he has great body control and sideline awareness. He can also high-point the ball well for a moderately-sized receiver. He was also a 5-star coming out of high school, which, while it means nothing, means something. Jacobs is solid, but Long is a little bigger, a little faster, and was the starter over Jacobs when everyone was healthy.
Between Kenny Bell, Shane Wynn, and Deon Long, I feel like I should be okay in the ball-catchy department.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Marcus Rush, more like Marcus Stationary Bike Amirite; BISB doubles down on Maryland; a long discussion about the philosophy of safeties; BISB reminds us all that Kurtis Drummond exists about 600 times.]
The annual recruiting extravaganza known as the BBQ at The Big House is just a couple of weeks away on July 27th and already the list of visitors is quite star-studded. A blend of committed and uncommitted prospects from multiple classes will be in attendance for what has proved to be a huge recruiting tool in past classes. Below is who I’ve been able to contact in order to start putting together a list of who will be in attendance and who won’t be. Of course there are many prospects that are still unsure, they are listed as well.
CB Marcus Lewis
CB Mook Reynolds
CB Garrett Taylor
DE Kengera Daniel
K Andrew David
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr.
LB Joshua McMillon
QB Alex Malzone
RB Damien Harris
RB Mike Weber
S Tyree Kinnel
TE Chris Clark
WR Grant Perry
CB Iman Marshall
DE Darian Roseboro
LB Tyriq Thompson
OL Jon Runyan Jr.
TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
WR Brian Cole
LB Asmar Bilal
OL Grant Newsome
OL Patrick Allen
OL Connor Williams
RB Alec Murphy
S Kahlil Haughton
WR Lawrence Cager
CB Lavert Hill
QB Messiah deWeaver
RB Elijah Holyfield
TE Luke Farrell
TE Naseir Upshur
WR Austin Mack
LB Daelin Hayes
OL Ben Bredeson
OL Erik Swenson
CB Levonta Taylor
OL Liam Eichenberg
OL Michal Menet
RB Kentrail Moran
RB Kareem Walker
TE Jake Hausmann
WR Binjimen Victor
A visitor list for an event like this is always subject to change and I know there are several others who belong in one of the categories that I just haven’t heard back from yet. Unfortunately for the readers I am embarking on my honeymoon tomorrow so I won’t be adding or subtracting to or from this list for at least a week.
The question this week is a simple one. Of the Michigan games you've attended, which one is your favorite, and what makes it stand out so much?
Seth: I've got so many Michigan memories with my dad that I can't separate (or I'm just not ready to think about) them, but even if I could it would still be the one when I started going without him that sticks out: The '98 Penn State game.
It was a chilly, kind of overcast, sweatshirty Michigan fall afternoon and I was a first-year flying solo. My freshman year came right after the national championship and the "Halo" stadium expansion, and that meant fewer student seats available with way too much demand. The freshmen were at the bottom of that list, thus I wound up with the option of getting only a "half-pack" or no tickets. Since I went to all the games with my dad and his friends anyway, what did it matter? So it wasn't until the PSU game, when my dad wasn't going, and Steve Kyritz offered me his ticket, that I got to see my first game from the student section. Since I'd been informed not sitting in your seat was SOP in that mass of human bodies, I wound up squeezed and standing sideways on a bench in the 30-somethings.
And it was a hell of a game to do that. That PSU team was very good (they came in ranked #9) and the last time we'd faced them was Judgment Day/Party at Bollinger's House. Michigan was still floundering in the #20s because of the two losses to open the season.
What made the day was each time Penn State got near us they'd get blown back by three sections of 18- to 21-year old raging psychotics possessed of toilet paper rolls and marshmallows. The Nits didn't arrive until later in the 1st quarter, and Michigan blocked a FG. They came down again and Michigan stood them up on the goal line three times before PSU let time expire in the quarter to get the hell away from us (they didn't get in on 4th down either). In the 4th quarter Penn State kept getting pinned deep against us, and the linemen couldn't hear the calls, meaning we were treated to a TFL fest. Michigan won 27-0 and by Mondaywas back in the top 15.
Michigan with my dad was this paced thing we enjoyed like a baseball game while he and his best friend worked through their complicated lives. His standard cheer was a clap-clap-fistpump. PSU '98 was the first time I experienced the Big House as a visceral thing I did with my whole body. I still sat with my dad at least a game a year, but when it came time to sign up for '99 student tickets I was one of the first in line.
The Mathlete: I don't think that was the real ticket, I didn't see the official game sponsor noted anywhere.
[Hit THE JUMP for the obvious answer, a far less obvious answer, and one that falls somewhere in the middle.]