I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Links to your ballot are desired here, as are any general comments you have to make. There are a ton of interesting conflicts after a wild, wild weekend in college football. Have at it.
Comments about the general state of college football and how they should affect the blogpoll go here.
Let's get some last basking in before Mr. Rational Analysis shows up pissed off about the punt with under three minutes left. Vijay of IBFC is a prince amongst men for bringing us an extra-heapin' helpin' of highlights this week. Please run over there and click copiously so that his high traffic marks are not exclusively bad bad video.
Almost makes you want to run around writing paeans about how Michigan is OMG THE BESTEST... but no.
Sam's crack investigative reporting also reveals that there was someone at the game who screamed "Robinson, you filthy goddamn pirate hooker!" I regret to inform you that this was not me.
Ian at Sweaty Men Endeavors details a phone call to his sister right at the end of the game that contained the following priceless exclamation [swearin']:
"YEAH! YEAH! OH HO HO! UNBELIEVABLE! MANNINGHAM, YOU MAGNIFICENT MOTHERFUCKER!"
I mention it because clearly the acronym YMMFer has entered circulation around these parts and you should probably know what it means lest I turn into TMQ.
Johnny of RBUAS, well...
So I'm sitting there with my brother, when all of a sudden this kid number 86 was in the back of the end zone with the ball in his hands, and I start thinking about football and Octobers and oxygen and why we breathe it. And I realized they're all pretty much about the same thing.
OMG REFEREE OMG!!! The rich, beefy irony of this...
This is from the official 2005 NCAA Rules and Interpretations guidebook:
Rule 9, Section 3, Article 2B - Interfering for or helping the runner or passer.
"The runner shall not grasp a teammate; and no other players of his team shall grasp, push, lift or charge into him to assist him in forward progress."
"Penalty - 5 yards from the basic spot."
By the way, the clock runs on an offensive penalty.
The following is a quote from Reggie Bush, regarding the last-second touchdown run by QB Matt Leinart:
"I just shoved him in there as hard as I could."
Excuse me while I go throw up. I'm literally having dry heaves as I write this. We won this game.
There Is No God
Jesus would not let a team that represents everything that's wrong in the world rip the heart from his mother's university. USC is a team full of drug dealers, rapists and violent criminals.
I'm jumping on the bandwagon... the atheism bandwagon.
This is a message for the throng of SC dicks from Brendan Loy's site who have come here to gloat. Go away. Show some class and let us wallow in our misery without rubbing it in. Jesus, you've won 28 straight and you still can't act like you've been there before. Oh, and one more thing... [picture of man flipping bird]
...is a delicious icing on Saturday's Mario cake. Instant karma. I mean, Notre Dame OMG literally never loses without blaming the refs! Whiners! OMG!
Can't we force these guys to root for someone else? It's okay to dislike Lloyd Carr and quietly hope he retires in the near future. It's less acceptable to call for his firing publicly--bad form all around there. But when you do this...
A couple of blocks from Michigan Stadium, a small group of fans in army helmets painted maize and blue stood with signs and literature demanding Carr's ouster. One man held a sign with a grainy picture of Osama Bin Laden and "Osama Bin Lloydin has hijacked Michigan football'' written above it.
... you should get your picture posted outside all the gates and be banned entry for life. By the way, I passed by these guys and they were indeed a "small group"... a small group of exactly two people. The Ann Arbor News published their names: Teague Orblych and Joel Getchner. Assuming those are in fact accurate, it's time to revoke whatever season tickets they have. And possibly send David Harris to their homes to gently explain the difference between a football coach and Osama Bin Laden.
So this is a habit. Big Ten Wonk helpfully pointed out that when Courtney Sims said something to the effect of OMG National Championship(!!!) recently that this was not a new phenomenon:
Courtney Sims, Michigan sophomore big man and fabulist, for his bold-â€”nay, Namathesqueâ€”-talk on media day: "I think we're capable of [winning the national championship]. I think we have the talent. If we just come together and play as a team, I don't think anybody can really stop us."
Yeah... I think we can all agree that Sims is the Michigan Basketball equivalent of that guy who shows up at Tim Horton's with a really big spoon. (Yes, that joke will only be comprehensible to Hockey Night In Canada viewers, so it's time to ask yourself "Why don't I watch Hockey Night In Canada? Am I a communist or something?")
10/15/2005 - Michigan 27-25 Penn State - 4-3, 2-2 Big Ten
The seating configuration had been unwisely arranged so that directly next to me was an adorable young boy, the kind of boy who you could easily imagine saying "good game, mister" at innocent opposing fans in a post game melee. Since I have a regrettably difficult time refraining from swearing like a sailor, this was probably going to end badly.
The kid's father was pointing out the various players on the field during the pregame warmups, explaining who was who and what they did, when the kid burst in with an urgent question about the one player he did remember--one guess as to who.
"Where's number one?" he said, "Daddy, what happened to number one?"
From the mouths of babes. The kid had not only posited a specific question about a player currently busy being freakishly injured in the NFL but also levelled a piercing philosophical query about the state of the program. Where was number one? How could we expect to orient ourselves without last year's compass? While my rational side beats back thoughtless assertions re: Braylon's departure being devastating, I am not a robot, and in a Nittany Lion-overrun Michigan Stadium that day the overwhelming ennui of the program seemed to have a definite source that the kid had spotlighted for all to see.
The father tried to explain, talking about eligibility restrictions, the NFL, the history of the #1 jersey--essentially trying to cram in a deep, meaningful conversation about aging before the two hundred and thirty five member Michigan Marching band took the field. He didn't do very well. His son asked again, wheedling out "but where's number one?" one more time before his father ended the conversation with a flat, dull sentence.
"There is no number one," he said. "Not this year."
His son's facial expression made it very clear that he thought this was no kind of answer at all, and neither did I.
When you need affirmation of something's cultural relevance, where else do you go but Tina Turner and Mel Gibson? Even though Tina sang the following in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome ...
We don't need another hero
We don't need to know the way home
All we want is life beyond the thunderdome
...the movie--no, the entire movie industry--puts a lie to her chorus. Hell, making a song about defiantly not needing a hero underscores the ubiquity of the concept in human storytelling. Joseph Campbell built a career out of it. And what is sport but a story with no defined script and an uncontrived ending? The tendencies of sports writing I hate the most all come from this idea that all events are easily explained by previous events, that they follow a story. Mr. Rational Analysis thinks all this hero crap is just that, but he has the weekend off.
So, the chips were down, the towel thrown, the boat had sailed, and the bags had been packed. A devastating three play series had transformed a 10-3 Michigan lead into a 16-10 deficit; the additional nuts-kicking provided by the botched extra point that turned into a two point conversion was the symbolic signal to turn the lights out and hit the message boards, spewing bile. I swore like it was freestyle rap battle between pirates.
Then the ball was in the air, Mario Manningham was way behind the defender, and I was praying the ball would not be intercepted. Each step brought Manningham and his defender closer to the ball, except Manningham was getting, er, more closer. A step behind. Half a step. Even. A step ahead. Touchdown.
Then, then... after we had blown it, blown it all to hell, we were sitting on the ten with one second that Lloyd Carr had verbally eviscerated the referees to get, one little second and his little second pal, with one play into seven guys sitting in a zone. Henne dropped, and fired, and Manningham cradled the ball, and incoherent things came out of my mouth for a good minute. I think there was WOOOO. I think there was HOOOO. It was a good time.
86? 86? At that moment, if he had ripped off his outer jersey and revealed the gleaming 1 underneath we all would have understood. At that moment, if he had decided he was going to fly we all would have understood. We were beyond Thunderdome. Two teams entered, one team left, and it was ours because we had a hero.
After the game, I felt a tug on my shirt, and looked down to see the adorable moppet, beaming. At the half it had been revealed to myself and those around me that this was his first-ever Michigan game; I had said "sorry it couldn't be a better one," further proving that everything that comes out of my mouth about Michigan football is wrong, wrong, gloriously wrong. The kid didn't say good game, or call me mister. In fact, he just said "hi." I gave him a high five. "You're good luck, kid, keep coming, " I said.
However, I left something out. I hereby correct the error: Yes, little child who probably doesn't use the Internets and even if you did you probably would have gotten bored and seen what was up with Pokemon or whatever, there is a number 1. He wears number 86. It's the new math.
Have at it; yes I may have laid it on a little thick in yesterday's preview.
Update: Gorgoroth comes through! This is what you get when you punch in "kitten orgy" into beloved Google image search:
And proud we are of all of them.
One more! "Mario kitten":
.... One more! "last second kitten":
Oooh. Creepy. GET IN THE BOX PENN STATE! GET IN THE BOX!
Run Offense vs. Penn State
Not likely to be a strength. Penn State has been moidering opposing running backs (see?). They're tenth in the country against the run and that's after games against Minnesota (#4 rush offense) and Northwestern (#12). Hell, even USF checks in at #23. Tamba Hali is making a run at All-American status with five sacks and seven TFL so far. Paul Posluszny has 71 (71!) tackles. They were very good last year; almost everyone is back. They're better this year.
As for Michigan, they're unlikely to radically improve their mediocre-to-date run blocking. They've opened up holes against MAC teams and teams with MAC defenses like Michigan State but haven't shown any tendency towards being able to ground-and-pound even mediocre defenses. Penn State's fast, intelligent linebackers will probably shut down the draws that have been a staple of the offense the past year and a half, leaving the offensive line to try to plow ahead more conventionally.
Mike Hart is still freakin' awesome, yo, but too often this year the three yards he's fabricated from nothing have gotten him back to the line of scrimmage instead of past the first down marker. Expect a rushing performance similar the to one Michigan turned in against OSU last year: not good.
Key Matchup: FB Brian Thompson versus Posluszny. Thompson has emerged as a decent starting fullback and the rushing game's ability to run straight at the Lions will depend heavily upon him blocking Penn State's tackle factory.
Pass Offense vs. Penn State
At this point we've all stopped hoping that Henne's going to rekindle that Rose Bowl magic, haven't we? His good performances this year are heavily tainted by the defenses he opposed in them, defenses that got no pressure whatsoever against him and couldn't cover a disabled goat if asked to. The defenses he's played against that aren't resolutely awful have pwned him. Wicked pwned: he hasn't completed 50% of his passes in any of Michigan's losses this year.
I think it can safely be declared that the Penn State defense is not resolutely awful. They're 20th in pass efficiency D and have an explosive pass rusher or three (20 sacks to date, on pace to easily surpass last year's badass Iowa D number of 35) plus a secondary that's veteran and good. The image of Tamba Hali crushing Ohio State TE Ryan Hamby and then performing a fatality on Ohio State's Rose Bowl chances was at once a joyous, schadenfreude-laden thing and an ominous portent of doom. The similarities between it and the rings true freshman and non-All-American candidate Steve Davis ran around our right tackle are stark and unpleasant to contemplate. And that's just one freakin' guy.
It probably won't be total disaster against Penn State. It hasn't been total disaster at any point thus far. Except against Notre Dame. And Wisconsin. And Minnesota. And that pick against Michigan State. Er. I guess the point is: Michigan's pass offense probably isn't that bad, but it would take a major improvement merely to hold its crappy ground in its first foray against a defense that isn't terrible.
Key Matchup: OTs Ruben Riley/Mike Kolodziej ("small animals in my immediate vicinity post-game") versus Tamba Hali ("wood chipper").
Run Defense Vs Penn State
We have a great run defense that's gashed when Pat Massey gets crushed or one of our outside linebackers does something inexplicable, which means we have an average-to-poor run defense despite having three great players in our front seven (Harris, Branch, Woodley). Penn State's was eating up some of the worst run defenses in the country before running up against a brick wall in Ohio State. We're not either of those extremes.
So what will happen? Robinson is going to run a lot, sometimes from a designed play but often when he can't read the coverage and just takes off. Harris will probably spy on him most of the day and remove the latter option or at least reduce its effectiveness. The draws will probably work since Michigan's apparent answer to the mobile quarterback issue is to lay back... a lot, rushing only three with great frequency and dropping a ton of guys into coverage. Tony Hunt has been playing very well this year but is probably not going to do very well against a Michigan defense that will have to be keying on the run most of the day. Sporadic runs in the teens will occur due more to errors from our safeties and linebackers but Robinson is going to have to throw on third down a lot.
Key Matchup: OLBs Chris Graham and Prescott Burgess versus Their Apparently Religious Objections To Maintaining Outside Containment.
Pass Defense vs. Penn State
Any other safeties want to test fate? Call it the Curse of Cato, since it seems everyone we throw out there ends up injured or goes slowly insane and fails to show up for an NFL camp. Ryan Mundy's career may be over and both starters in his absence didn't say their prayers or something and were subsequently smote by Angry, Michigan-Safety-Hating God during the Minnesota game. Shazor-apparent (not a compliment) Jamar Adams and true freshman converted cornerback Brandon Harrison step forth into the void, awaiting God's boomstick justice.
The cornerbacks are healthy and pretty good, actually. There's a little Todd Howard disease going on and some issues with reading and reacting with Mason, but the coverage should be all right. I don't expect much in the way of laser-accuracy from Robinson; I don't actually expect much at all. Penn State will probably break out the same gameplan it did against Ohio State and Lloydball the hell out of this thing, keeping Robinson from doing anything like throw three picks like he did against Northwestern.
Key Matchup: Deep, open Derek Williams versus Michael Robinson's history tendency to suck. It's going to happen. There's going to be a heavy play action bite or a blown coverage or something truly wacky and blackly humorous and Williams is going to be striding downfield with someone behind him--probably Adams--running real fast, trying hard not to think about what just happened. Robinson will either hit him or miss him.
Hey! Steve Breaston! Goddamn, nice to see you. You're a little late. How come we never see you and Garrett Rivas in the same room?
Key Matchup: Garret Rivas versus AAAAARGH! AAAAARGH!
Something, I know not what, brought me up short--perhaps an acrid, unfamiliar smell or the suspicious patterns of light that reached my questing eyes. I felt a deep disquiet. All around me the jungle laid, waiting. It was as if I had placed my foot directly above a trap laid by the forest itself. The normal teeming, beastly chatter that composes a background symphony to all one's movements in this accursed place had utterly ceased. The impression was one of indrawn breath. A tense moment passed; I saw a clearing; men were in it; strange men, desperate men; I listened...
"Gorgoroth, we beseech you. Fill the hearts of our enemy with dread at our coming. We are weak, and he is strong, but many battles have we won against these interlopers from the far east. We ask you, in our time of need, to smite them! They have scorned you! Scorned you and your kitten cuteness! They revel in the mature form of the feline beast! They mock your adorable mewling with their pre-canned growling sound! We bring you forth to destroy them, to make our Brie Stone(?) fly, to grind their fence into the ground with our Heart, to strike them off their lofty perch!"
The ground trembled, and I momentarily glanced around me, checking for an exit route. When I looked back, indescribable horror confronted me.
GET OUT OF MY MIND! GET OUT OF MY MIND!
A terrifying ululation filled the canopy. Birds burst from their perches, scattering feathers in their mad flight to escape. I looked deep into the heart of a terror I have not words for. These desperate, mad people! Their eyes! One turned right towards me, spotted me, and burst forth with words in their savage language that chilled my very bones. I cracked. In a panic, I tore through the forest, screaming, my voice merging with theirs until memory fades--all that remains is the sensation of branches whipping at my exposed skin, the sting of the myriad cuts I sustained, and a deep disquiet I fear will never leave me. I passed out of sight and time for how long I do not know.
When I awoke, my tattered body laid on the forest floor; the stars were out, and it was unseasonably cool.
Three Things I'd Like To See:
- Trickeration. Copious freakin' trickeration, man. I don't think the PSU defense is going to give us much of anything unless we pull some Houdini. Let's see the Bass/Breaston option, some single wing, transcontinental stuff, slip screens, the diamond formation, flea-flickers, anything. It's time to empty the cookie jar.
- A tight end lined up next to whichever RT is playing Tina.
- Two David Harris clones.
Three Things I Don't Want To See
- Our OLBs losing contain yet again.
- Michael Robinson running effectively.
- This game.
Fear/Paranoia Level: 7 out of 10. (Baseline 5; +2 for No, I Guess Henne Isn't Back; +1 for Safety Smiting; -1 for He's Still Michael Robinson; -1 for Maybe Breaston...; +1 for ...Naw.)
Desperate need to win level: 5 out of 10. (Baseline 5; -2 for We're Playing For Pride? Pride Blows; +1 for At Least We'd Still Own... Penn State; +1 for Stay Out of Detroit)
Loss will cause me to... I dunno. Go to the hockey game. At this point it's academic, isn't it?
Win will cause me to... run over to BWI to revel in the misery.
The strictures and conventions of sportswriting compel me to predict: I was warned to predict a Michigan loss deep down in my bones, unlike last week's patently ironic, Angry-Michigan-Safety-Hating-God-baiting prediction of 3,000 points via lasers for Minnesota that faintly cloaked a confident prediction of victory.
Well, you got your wish. How are we going to move the ball? Hart will probably do a few nice things but unless the OL gets hopped up on PCP they're not going to create anything approximating a consistent run game, which leaves it in the hands of Henne and the Deadly Squirrel RT Platoon. Feelin' good? No.
Defensively, well, we aren't Ohio State but neither are we Minnesota. Penn State fans seem to have forgotten all about the fact that Robinson is terrible simply because they're winning against really bad defenses and scoring via short drives courtesy boneheaded turnovers. Robinson's been bombing it deep all year because that's the only throw it's safe for him to make. Michigan is going to hold up just fine against the Nittany Lion offense... save for the semi-frequent occurrences of lost contain and safeties blowing coverages or run defenses. Penn State scores when we screw up.
This will be a contest of errors. Whoever makes the fewest will win; that'll be Penn State.
Finally, three opportunities for me to look stupid Sunday:
- Hart gets a total of sixty rushing yards.
- When you combine the pure aesthetic value of the upcoming festival del suck with my psychological state in regards to it, this will be the least enjoyable game I've ever seen in Michigan Stadium.
- 7-6, Penn State.