via photoshop thread
By Heiko Yang
So, about last Saturday …
Oof. Nothing like a good kick in the nuts to remind yourself that you still got ‘em. I appreciate the Futurama reference, though.
Last week Nick and I both picked a Michigan loss, and this went about as well as either of us could have hoped for. Admittedly, we’ve been playing a little fast and loose with the rules of Punt/Counterpunt as a way to cope with the oppressive darkness of last season. This was a very appropriate reminder that dissidence during perestroika is not a good idea.
(You know what else is not a good idea? Punting to Will Likely. Don’t ask me about specifics; I just read it somewhere.)
This week Michigan travels to College Park as the overwhelming favorite against a Maryland team that would struggle in the MAC. They have no real starting quarterback, and they got their one somewhat substantial win by forcing South Florida to also play without its starting quarterback. A few days ago their coach appeared to be aware but not totally aware of what his football players were doing – it’s a sign that by now should be pathognomonic for an impending tire fire explosion, and there isn’t enough black that Under Armour can douse their uniforms with to put it out.
So don’t worry, neither Nick or I will be predicting a loss today.
Michigan is probably going to fall off from its exponential trajectory though. It’s another road game (weak argument I know, but I’ve got about 10 road games worth of personal data over the last few seasons that says overwhelmingly that Michigan is a bad road team), and it’s looking like the weather is going to reduce everything to a sloppy rugby match anyway. To minimize errors, I imagine Harbaugh will be happy to call the game the same way he’s been calling the second halves of each of the last few games, and the final result will reflect a low variance affair.
This game might set Michigan football back about a century. On the bright side, at least that’s the kind of football Michigan was always good at.
Michigan 13, Maryland 6
by Nick RoUMel
What an ass-kicking last week. No, I’m not talking about the game.
We, Punt and Counterpunt, were called out.
“Hackneyed and forced.” “Should be ashamed.” “Can we get rid of this now?” “So full of fail.” “Your posts are bad, and you should feel bad.” “Eat a dick.”
It was so brutal I heard from friends as far away as Palo Alto and Seattle asking if I were all right. The comments were so consistently negative that I embraced this one as a compliment: “Nick says things about stuff, I guess,” hanging onto it like a life preserver.
Many wondered aloud about the point of this column.
I’ve been Counterpunt since 1994. I served with “Punt Classic” (Ken “Sky” Walker) until he retired for the 2013 season, and Heiko (“New Punt”) took over. Mercifully, the column was on hiatus during the Rich Rod years, and then it was resurrected by MGoBlog and transformed from paper to electronic medium. There’s always plenty of serious discussion and debate about Michigan football, especially by this blog’s writers who are way more analytical than I will ever be. So I – we, Punt and I – try to bring a more humorous aspect.
Heiko has a great style, meandering around aimlessly like Barry Sanders in the Lions’ backfield, and then finds his opening and bursts through. Then you understand what his purpose was all along.
My typical formula is to make fun of Michigan’s opponent and discuss some aspect of the rivalry, then build up to the prediction. I did the same thing last week.
Where we went wrong was both picking against Michigan. While that was not unprecedented – for example, last year we both (correctly) picked losses to Utah and Ohio State – it was not so shocking then, given how far Michigan’s football expectations had fallen. As one commenter noted last week, our fan base has suffered serious damage.
This year was different. There is hope. Reflecting that, last week we were a 7 point favorite against a pretty good opponent. But to be fair, at that point, we did not have an impressive victory; we had questions about our quarterback; we were unaware how good Utah was shaping up to be; and we were still generally hoping for an 8-4 season as a good outcome.
What a difference a game makes. Now we are nationally ranked, a legitimate Big Ten title contender, and in line for a major bowl.
Maybe by season’s end, the truth will be somewhere in the middle. One thing is certain: no matter where we end up, it is clear we now have a coach. And that coaching is evident on the field. Do you remember how many times Brady Hoke would enter a Monday presser and blame the loss on lack of execution? Do you remember the missed tackles and other sloppy play?
Compare that with the execution against Brigham Young. We finished plays. From Darboh’s one handed catch, to Pepper’s throw down tackle, to Smith’s “Get Off Me” run, to Chesson’s block on Rudock’s TD run, to Rudock’s own lock-down execution - such as the play where he fake-looked off two receivers and found Khalid Hill.
Have no doubt – execution is a direct function of coaching.
So maybe Punt and Counterpunt succumbed - for one week and two badly blown predictions - to the deep-seated pessimism that was rooted in years of mediocrity. If Michigan can right itself, so can we.
I’ll leave you with this story: I once went on a golf weekend at Crystal Mountain with a friend. We had the first tee time, at something like 7:30 AM, so we could play two rounds that day. The weather was unseasonably cold and they delayed all starting times until after 10 AM, until the sun burned off the dew. By the time we got to the first tee, there must have been 50 impatient golfers who were going to follow us all day watching us hit our drives.
I whiffed. Not once, but twice. I finally grabbed a five iron and managed to hit a weak shot that at least moved me up the fairway.
Sometimes you just need a Mulligan.
MICHIGAN 28, MARYLAND 3
Trollface De'Veon Smith is the best De'Veon Smith.
On the roundtable this week:
- The aftermath of obliteration.
- Dime things.
- Mason Cole: fastest guy on the team?
- Sam on what Jeremy Clark brings at corner.
- Rudock's ability to find guys: needs improvement.
- Early-season numbers for Michigan are pretty interesting.
THE USUAL LINKS
Somehow, we’re already a full third of the way into the college football season and with league play starting for the Pac-12 and Big 12, opportunities for notable non-conference results have dwindled to a precious few (mostly the rivalry games held between the ACC and SEC East). From now on, we’ll be covering the world of college football on a league-by-league basis.
Even though there were quite a few byes across the conference, the Pac-12 still had the most important games of the weekend. College football’s Week Four was headlined by a trio of intriguing Pac-12 contests; unfortunately, they were mostly a disappointment for the unpartisan viewer – by halftime of those three games, the road teams (UCLA, Utah, and USC) were routing their hosts (Arizona, Oregon, and Arizona State, respectively) in impressive fashion. The three winners on the evening are now the favorites in the potentially excellent Pac-12 South – interestingly, a league with supposedly unparalleled parity (especially in the South) has more definition in its title race than many other conferences.
[Hit the JUMP for more on the college football world]
|WHAT||Michigan at Maryland|
College Park, MD
October 3rd, 2015
|THE LINE||Michigan –15.5|
|PARKING||suggest you bring a kayak|
|WEATHER||mid 50s, 25% chance of rain, 20 MPH wind|
Ceilingturtle is watching you… well, you know.
Maryland is bad. They were outgained about 2-to-1 in a 21-point loss to Bowling Green in which they gave up almost 700 yards of offense. They were just blown out by West Virginia 45-6 in another game they just about got doubled up in. Their wins are over an FCS team most notable for once having John Beilein as its basketball coach and South Florida.
They had a team meeting this week that Randy Edsall had no idea about, and then Edsall misinterpreted Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump is not exactly Zizek, whoever Zizek is. Ask MGoWife. I think he was a Hungarian waffle impresario or something.
The current forecast has winds around 20 MPH and a 25% chance of rain. Meteorologist dudes say that there will be gusts:
The main weather factor to affect Michigan's game will be strong, gusty winds. The wind gusts are still expected to be over 30 mph out of the northeast. There even could be a gust near 40 mph.
But the rain should be intermittent and not ridiculous:
Deep passing will be erratic and special teams will be impacted by the wind, but this shouldn't be a complete disaster.
Run Offense vs Maryland
Yannick Ngakoue is back. Ain't nobody else.
This is going to be a theme for this year and all subsequent ones: dunno, but probably destruction. The Terrapins have not played anything like Harbaugh's offense. They have not done well against the spread attacks they've faced so far. That's not a huge surprise. They lost six of seven starters from their front seven and have been gashed in every game except Richmond. I'm not taking out Maryland's many sacks because you get the idea anyway:
- vs Bowling Green: 50 carries, 201 yards
- vs USF: 50 carries, 240 yards
- vs WVU: 59 carries, 304 yards
When Ace settled in for a review of that West Virginia game he came back with many screenshots of lanes a battleship could scoot through:
West Virginia got whatever they wanted because they controlled the line of scrimmage. Maryland's defensive tackles, especially, couldn't prevent WVU from opening huge creases up the gut. This went for a big gain because a DT got pancaked so quickly that Kyle Bosch—yes, that Kyle Bosch—could get out to the MIKE and nobody else was home:
Safeties are making a ton of tackles for the Terps. Their linebackers are constantly eating blocks; nobody on the front seven is able to make much impact against single blocking. The good news for Maryland, such that it is, is that the Terps have been playing a 4-3 much of the year. They won't have to change their personnel much in an attempt to match up.
That defense sounds like something Michigan should tear apart. Harbaugh's maniacs have spent big chunks of the past couple games with one wide receiver on the field and that's been fine. Michigan has ripped off few big runs; the constant pounding has seen their rush offense approach 5 YPC despite a ton of missed cuts and a second-half tendency to put the horses back in the barn after sprinting to a four-score lead. Blocking has been consistent but not overwhelming; this looks like a defense against whom consistent will be overwhelming.
Meanwhile, Harbaugh's weird-ass offense is well suited to deal with any weather issues that may arise. Many weather games devolve into hopeless slogs because opposing defenses get cocky and bring everyone to the line of scrimmage. That is already happening to Michigan's offense and they're still banging out five yards a carry. All rain does is make the prospect of tackling De'Veon Smith even more daunting.
KEY MATCHUP: RUNNING BACKS versus MICHIGAN RUNNING LANES HAVING SOME SORT OF WEIRD STEALTH MODE
[Hit THE JUMP for YOU GAVE UP WHAT TO WHO?]
What is this? A new feature tracking the secondary ticket market because I'm too cheap to buy season tickets. Also because that strategy has worked for me pretty well so far. I strongly encourage interaction from the readers on this because I'm still feeling my way on format and it's a very big market. Quite a few people already have emailed me with their tricks for ticket trading. A few have noted that I'm way more helpful to buyers than sellers, which probably can't be helped since that's what I am, but I'll try to throw some good selling opportunities out there when I see them.
LESSONS FROM YESTERDAY'S TRADING
I got me and a friend into BYU for free, and the morning of the game I got offered face value on the 50 yard line (Section 2, row 44). Both were because the "Dances with Dirt" run overlapped with the game. Mental note: when scouting ahead for tickets know about events that green thumb Ann Arbor types can't resist.
There was also a craigslist post from pretty close to me offering face or best offer right when I was leaving. They were actually trading about that on the sites, which surprised me. Since I already had tickets I didn't check them after 9 but I did walk down to the Main & Stadium entrance to find people selling the typical "wife didn't make it" tickets for $10 and trying to get $40/ticket for a pair at about 11:30.
THE NEXT GAME
The rest of Maryland tickets went to garbage the second a wild Bowling Green appeared (never schedule an Art Briles acolyte), but local Michigan fans were keeping the night matchup the premier event on the Terps' schedule. Ralph Garcia of TiqIQ before the storm:
The game at Maryland has seen a 25% decrease in average price over the past week. Current average is $133.21. Cheapest ticket available is $70. This is Maryland's most expensive game of the season.
SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL SELL! If you have a pair already put them up now under market and pray they go—you'll find a new set on the way down. Things around the 50 are already under $100 out the door:
On StubHub there's a pair upstairs for $30/each (plus $15 for fees).
The weather news already halted the market, and it's been just hours since the new start time ruined the plans of mice and men expected to be at Erin Frost's Bat Mitzvah in Rockford at 10:30 a.m. and no you are not missing it that's why we are in town, not your football game; family comes first. Also: Mazel tov from MGoBlog, Erin.
If you've been waiting to buy tickets I suggest hitting the last-minute market. There are going to be empty seats and last-ditch attempts to unload them after Erin's oneg, and a lot of those tickets will never even make it near the stadium. I'd also be willing to gamble that there will be plenty held between thumbs and forefingers around the stadium.
NO NOT SCALPERS
Skip scalpers unless you're desperate. They do not call them gently shavers.
The BYU game awoke the Michigan monster in a lot of people, and tickets climbed 10% across the board, especially for the MSU game (because we have so much respect for the #2 Spartans, Mark, no other reason).
Again, my process is I spend a week of tracking prices on TiqIQ (which collates all the smaller markets), Stubhub, and Craigslist (Ann Arbor and Metro Detroit), then post a price per ticket for two or more seats together:
|@Maryland||$85||$30||$30||at game||Weather plus new start time 8 hours from old one.|
|Northwestern||$80||$81||$74||at dip.||Price is going up since it's homecoming + BYU bump|
|MSU||$194||$225||$168||at $150||State fans still driving up.|
|@Minnesota||$78||$40||-||at game||says you.|
|Rutgers||$43||not moving||lol||whenever||Hello permanent I-AA team on our schedule.|
|@Indiana||$63||$60||-||wait.||They still haven't lost.|
|@Penn State||$145||$108||$100||next loss||Going back up again. I'm bearish on PSU though.|
|Ohio State||$217||$181||$165||Now||Crawling up. If M beats Sparty these will bust $200|
Sigh, Rutgers. I'm not even reporting the price because I was watching the same face value ticket at the top of TiqIQ all friggin' week. Nobody's buying, and nobody wants to admit yet that they're not going to get their money back on that thing.
The BYU effect is happening on Northwestern too, since it's both homecoming (so people aren't letting their tickets go) and it's the next home game after a home game everyone wishes they'd been at. That had been trending downward since it's neither a premier game nor that one if you just want to take the whole family to one game (hi Rutgers).
Looking ahead to some road tilts in driving distance, Indiana is on a winning streak and faces Ohio State so let's wait for that bubble to burst. Penn State fans are driving the market for their game and are back to convincing themselves they have an offense. Unfortunately there isn't much on their schedule to trip them up. Army is next and unlike Air Force this triple-option outfit doesn't cut knees away. After that is Indiana. Then Ohio State, Maryland, Illinois, and at Northwestern. I'd wait till they play in Columbus, unless they lose at home to Indiana first.
Minnesota I got some advice from several people in the comments and on twitter. Apparently Gophers fans are not filling their stadium for anything, so treat it like a Northwestern game. If they beat a real opponent maybe get out ahead since you're banking a flight on this. But it still seems like this is a ticket you can get at the game, especially since it's too far away for a guy like to me to decide to go on Friday.
Commodities markets always move with news. Games are like crop reports: everyone recalibrates after. Emotions are a market inefficiency. So are things like Randy Edsall's players meeting without him while he flubs Forrest Gump quotes.
BEST DEAL RIGHT NOW (that I can find on the sponsor's site because let's support people who support us okay?)
I'm bullish on Michigan and Ohio State right now. If either gets a win over MSU then The Game will be a tough one to get into.
The mark on my elbow is still there. It’s smaller now; what once was about the size of a nickel is smaller than a dime, but it persists. I felt the stinging sometime in the fourth quarter and immediately turned to Ace to show him, not because I wanted attention for my accidental self-inflicted narrative device but because this thing on my elbow happened because of that thing that we were watching on the field. I was using the elbow as a pivot point, and so many incredible things had happened for which I needed to quickly cover my mouth to preserve the thin veneer of professionalism over the roiling excitement inside that the skin just rubbed off.
The numbers from last Saturday don’t provide as visceral an experience as what we saw on the field, but they show just as much dominance. Michigan jumped 15 spots in overall S&P+ from 25th to 10th, while the defense moved up to fourth. FEI has Michigan 26th, which is 10 spots higher than they were after week three. F/+ (which combines S&P+ and FEI) has Michigan 16th.
FEI uses preseason projections that includes things like last year’s performance (/shudders) and a five-year FEI rating with diminishing weight until week 7, when they’re dropped completely. You can see why Michigan’s digging out of a hole here. Every week, though, Michigan’s a little closer to shedding the baggage of the past, and that has felt true both literally and metaphorically.
The first three weeks of the season felt like the cold open of a new restaurant; there were kinks expected and, all things considered, the operation got off to a relatively smooth start. Week four was the grand opening; the curtain was pulled back, and the conversation shifted from how much potential the new joint has to how good it is right now. This new place is great. Just remember to keep your elbows off the table.
[After THE JUMP: Less about flesh wounds, more about numbers]