really should have used this for the bowl game post
That is a large spread. Michigan is favored by 6.5 against FSU. S&P+ has Michigan by 11.8 and with a 75% shot at victory. Other lines that are already up: Wisconsin –7.5 against WMU and PSU +7 against USC.
S&P+ lines for other Big Ten games:
- OSU-Clemson: OSU by 4.9.
- Wisconsin-WMU: Wisconsin by 8.
- Iowa-Florida: Iowa(!) by 4.6.
- USC-PSU: USC by 3.4.
- Nebraska-Tennessee: Nebraska by 1.1.
- Utah-Indiana: Utah by 1.9.
- Pitt-NW: Pitt by 5.1
- Washington State-Minnesota: WSU by 0.5.
- Maryland-BC: Maryland by 0.1.
- Michigan State-Dignity: Dignity by 35.
I thought a sure consequence of four Big Ten teams getting pulled up into NY6 bowls would be the rest of the conference getting set on fire, but S&P+—which was 56% against the spread this year—thinks almost everything is a tossup at worst. I did not know that the Big Ten would lose the Citrus (which is LSU-Louisville, yes please) if they got the Orange, but they rather sensibly do.
Good to see that the bowl revamp has added flexibility and created a bunch of good matchups.
Cole also plans to return. As of yesterday:
Center Mason Cole, speaking to reporters Sunday evening, suggested that he will return, though the junior was hesitant to commit to anything.
"Not right now," Cole said of thinking about the NFL. "I'm focused on this next game and getting the win. I'll take a look at everything, but as it stands now, I'm definitely leaning towards coming back."
Chris Wormley volunteered a return for Maurice Hurst as well. Both guys will be critical starters on next year's team should they follow through on those statements. (Hurst had previously said he'd be back.)
So we've got that going for us, part zillion. Per PFF Michigan is the best team left out of the playoff and one of the top four overall:
All four of the teams that will be in this year’s playoff rank in the top five of PFF’s cumulative grades for 2016. Alabama ranks first, Washington second, Ohio State fourth and Clemson fifth.
The No. 3 team in the country? The Michigan Wolverines. ...
In particular, when looking at a team that could match up best with top-seeded Alabama, the Wolverines appear to be one of the best candidates. They rank third in PFF’s run-defense grades, second in pass-rush and 12th in coverage – giving them a defense that could go toe-to-toe with Alabama’s and perhaps put enough pressure on Crimson Tide’s freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts (more on him in a bit) to spark an upset.
They seem to think that Clemson should be favored over OSU, with two bullets talking up Deshaun Watson and talking down OSU's pass protection. We've got that going for us, too.
Peppers stock. Also in PFF things, Jabrill Peppers took a tumble in their latest mock draft:
When targeted in coverage this season, he has yielded receptions on 20 of 26 targets and does not have a single pass defended when he is the primary defender (his lone interception against Ohio State was a case of him being in the right place at the right time off a pass tipped in front). He also lacks the size to consistently take on and shed blocks going forward, as the majority of his impact plays this year have come when he has been unblocked.
PFF has always had him in the 10-15 range right next to Lewis and not a top 5 pick, so this isn't a huge tumble. I'm still confused by those pass completion numbers. Namely where any of them came from. I'm sure Peppers has been targeted more than the two times I remember, but 26? I don't know where that comes from.
On the postseason. I've been saying this for ten years and will say it until they destroy the dream by going to 8 teams: a 6-team playoff is the best one available most of the time. Six teams emphasizes the regular season since there are home games and byes up for grabs; it keeps the field sufficiently constricted so that make-weights are extremely unlikely.
This year, I assume that the committee made some changes to the rankings to give the appearance of deliberative thought when there was none. That makes the six-team playoff deeply weird:
1. Alabama vs 4. Washington / 5. Penn State
2. Clemson vs 3. OSU / 6. Michigan
Clemson jumped OSU, and that did not matter. PSU jumped Michigan, and that did not matter. The former was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference; the latter was a meaningless admonishment to win your conference. If Clemson or Washington did not win their title games I wonder if they would have had the cojones to put PSU in over a team with the same record who beat it 49-10.
Anyway, in a six-team world I bet a dollar the committee finagles it such that there is not an immediate rematch of M/OSU—or leaves a third Big Ten team out entirely.
This is bunk. There is an enormous Bloomberg article on officiating out there that I keep seeing, because it purports to show that there is a class of "protected blue bloods" that get favorable calls. Oddly, it leads with Florida State getting hosed against Clemson—which one is the blue blood?—and then hits their thesis statement:
“This is an incestuous situation,” says Rhett Brymer, a business management professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He spent more than a year parsing almost 39,000 fouls called in games involving NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the 2012-2015 seasons. His research finds “ample evidence of biases among conference officials,” including “conference officials showing partiality towards teams with the highest potential to generate revenue for their conference.”
Refs are partial towards teams "with the highest potential to generate revenue." In other words, good teams. They throw fractionally fewer flags on those teams:
Brymer’s data suggest something more insidious. Across the 3,000-odd regular-season and bowl games he studied, a bit less than half of the fouls called were what he terms “discretionary”—holding, pass interference, unsportsmanlike conduct, and personal fouls like roughing the passer. Refs were on average 10 percent less likely to throw discretionary flags on teams that enjoy both strong playoff prospects and winning traditions. Brymer calls these teams “protected flagships.”
There is a less than insidious explanation: avoiding penalties is a skill. Flagship teams are more likely to have firebreathing truckzillas; Purdue is more likely to have a peasant wielding a pitchfork. In such situations the penalty scales are naturally out of balance; news that Purdue gets 14% fewer "discretionary" calls than OSU fails to move hte needle. That seems about right. This is immediately proposed by the NCAA's national coordinator for officiating and then largely ignored.
About 3/4ths of the way through the thing we get the big reveal:
While earning his Ph.D. at Texas A&M, he came to sympathize with Aggie fans who believed that all close calls favored the University of Texas. “I reached a breaking point,” Brymer says. Weary of fans whining about refs without empirical evidence, he decided to see if he could find any. “At least I’m bringing myself peace,” he says.
Yes, but think of all the bloggers you're forcing to write skeptical items in their link roundup pieces.
Prepare to be asked whether you went to Michigan. The Ringer's Kaite Baker got into Michigan football this year, which was fun until it wasn't.
Harbaugh isn’t for everyone, but to me, he’s like a combustible acquaintance: As long as you never get tooclose, you can sit back and just let the theatrics endlessly entertain you.
But it’s possible I’m getting too close. The past few weeks have been a rougher ride, a mere glimpse into the tumultuousness of a typical college football season. Winning the national championship seems like an impossibility: Just getting the chance to try requires a constantly evolving team of near-children remaining close to perfect over the course of a 12- or 13-game season. (NFL teams, meanwhile, can barely squeak past .500 and still win Super Bowls.) Even in a post-BCS world, the scope and sprawl of FBS football means that it will forever be hostage to subjective decisions by conflicted parties.
Having been kicked in all available places, Baker is probably hooked. Welcome! Here is your pillow to scream into.
Maybe he is Mark Ingram except fast. Thomas Rawls blew up:
He carried 15 times for 106 yards (7.1 yards per carry) and two touchdowns as the offense exploded, scoring on eight of 11 possessions. In the first quarter, Rawls found a cutback lane and hurdled into the end zone for an 8-yard score. In the second, he showed his big-play ability by outrunning defenders for a 45-yard touchdown.
On the one hand, Fred Jackson recruited the guy. On the other, he got three carries as a junior and transferred. Mike Cox getting drafted and having a cup of coffee was one thing; Rawls turning into Marshawn Lynch 2.0 is quite another. He's the most successful Michigan NFL running back since at least Tim Biakabutuka and he'll pass the effective but constantly injured Biakabutuka in a year or two if he remains hale.
Etc.: Purdue has apparently hired WKU coach Jeff Brohm, which isn't the worst idea. Here's this Pat Forde article on how Jim Harbaugh fits right in there I forgot to link two weeks ago. ND Nation never stops winning even if the team does. Punt John Punt on the Wilson firing.
“Hi, my name is Jim Harbaugh. Thanks, Mr. Wahl [Ed. A-Orange Bowl communications director]. Uh, sorry I wasn’t able to get on the call earlier. I was on a plane. Thanks for coming back at this time. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer.”
Being at the ‘86 game against FSU in Ann Arbor—I believe that was your senior year—you won by two. I just remember it being probably one of the worst officiated games I ever saw. What do you remember about that ballgame?
“What was the final score? I don’t remember the final score.”
20-18, you won.
“Oh, it was two points? Okay. I just remember how great Deion Sanders was. That was what stood out in my mind. And Coach Bowden, he was really cool. I remember running and scrambling, I scrambled left and went back to the right toward their bench and ended up having—probably ran almost eighty or ninety yards one way to the one side then all the way back to the other side, and I got thrown out of bounds. I just remember him being cool and giving me a smile, a pat on the back, and he said something. But my coach that year, Bo, and Coach Bowden were coaches in the Hula Bowl, so I got to know him a little bit better at that point, too. Those are the two things that stick out most in my mind from that game.”
You would have been in the NFL, but did you watch that ‘91 game?
“Yeah, I remember not seeing the entire game. I do remember watching it. FSU won that one. Back-and-forth, intense game.”
It was 51-31, I think.
We just talked to a few of the players and they were bringing up the Christmas Camp you guys did last year and doing that again this year. Given the fact that you guys were aiming for the playoff spot and came up a little bit short, is there any concern making sure those guys are still motivated and still willing to put in the work here for a few more weeks?
“Um…well, I know I am. I know I’m motivated and ready to put in the work, and looking forward to it.”
[After THE JUMP: Florida State, one last statement on officiating, and great memories of coconuts]
I wanted to get this up ASAP for you guys since it tends to fill up: the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan just finalized this year’s bowl tour, and let us announce it here at the same time so we can fill it with MGoReaders. Deets:
You’ll be gone Wednesday, December 28 - Saturday, December 31, it starts at just under $2k, and they offer both an air-inclusive and land-only options. Pricing (per person) based on double occupancy is $2,949 for the Champions Tour (air) and $2,049 for the Victors Tour (land only). They offer other options for single, triple, quad and child, as listed on their website.
The CHAMPIONS TOUR is everything below (including the charter airplane). The VICTORS TOUR is land-only, and includes everything below except the flight and deluxe motor coach transfers.
- Round-trip charter air service from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
- Round-trip deluxe motor coach transfers from the airport to your hotel
- Luggage handling and porterage at the airport and at the hotel
- Three nights’ deluxe accommodations
- Welcome reception
- Daily buffet breakfast
- University of Michigan Orange Bowl Pep Rally (tentative)
Plus the complete game-day package:
- Escorted deluxe motor coach transfer to and from the pre-game party and game
- Game ticket
- Pre-game tailgate party
And other goodies:
- Optional tours, outings, and excursions
- Custom Alumni Association souvenir package
- Document packet, official bowl tour name badge, and lanyard
- Alumni Association hosts and escorts
- Dedicated alumni information and hospitality desk at the hotels
Get ye to http://www.umalumni.org/athletics/michigan-bowl-tour-tailgate/orange-bowl/ as soon as possible. Like…yes, let your spouse know you’re doing it first, but harangue until you get an answer. It’s not like you get to see this team again.
Zero surprise here once the championship games fell the way they did. Game is on the 30th, not the 1st, since the 1st is a Sunday this year; it's at 8 PM at whatever they're calling the place the Dolphins and Hurricanes play this week.
FSU is 9-3, 5-3 in the ACC, with wins over Ole Miss (which had a terrible record but was still top 20 to advanced metrics, USF (10-2), Florida, and Miami. They lost to Clemson and UNC narrowly, and Louisville somewhat less narrowly.
S&P+ has them 9th in the country, with the #6 offense and #18 D. An adjusted sack rate of 85th projects to be a problem for the FSU offense against Michigan. On the other hand, monster DE DeMarcus Walker and his 15 sacks rather loom on the other side of the ball. S&P+ has Michigan a 12-point favorite on a neutral field; dunno how neutral the Orange Bowl is given this context.
M's best post defender? It's, uh, in the eye of the beholder. [Marc-Gregor Campredon]
After Wednesday night's Virginia Tech game, I sat in on John Beilein's postgame presser, attempting to fill out my game recap by transcribing quotes as Beilein talked. I stopped dead, however, at this quote, because I had just watched the same game and came away with a very different take:
“Scoring points wasn’t as big as trying to stop them. Right now, Mark [Donnal]’s a better defender. In defense of Moe [Wagner], Moe’s been sick all day, didn’t feel good. He was doing alright taking the ball to the basket."
What follows is a more thorough examination of Michigan's post defense against Virginia Tech than is necessary or easily digestible, but I spent an entire day compiling these numbers and video clips, so you will read this and like it*, dammit.
*you will probably not like it, sorry.
I began by looking at the points per possession numbers on both ends of the court with each center on the floor. The results:
OFFENSE TOTAL: 28 poss, 30 pts (1.07 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 27 poss, 29 pts (1.07 PPP)
OFFENSE TOTAL: 28 poss, 33 pts (1.18 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 27 poss, 36 pts (1.33 PPP)
OFFENSE TOTAL: 7 poss, 7 pts (1.00 PPP)
DEFENSE TOTAL: 7 poss, 6 pts (0.86 PPP)
DJ Wilson had two defensive possessions at center: a post stop and two free throws allowed after one of his fouls going for an offensive rebound.
While small sample size caveats abound, this matched the eye test both from this game and this season. The defensive numbers stood up to further scrutiny; the offensive numbers, which surprised me, did not. Non-Donnal Wolverines shot 6-for-13 on three-pointers when he was on the floor; Donnal added a three-point miss himself and didn't assist any of the six makes. Michigan made only 3-of-10 threes when Wagner was out there, and he assisted one of the makes. There wasn't a difference in the quality of the attempts; if M had shot 30% from three with Donnal on the floor like they did with Wagner, Donnal's offensive PPP in this game would've been 0.96.
[Hit THE JUMP for video and analysis, if you dare.]
Apparently the Pac-12 championship is tonight. Is this new? Have I never watched the Pac-12 championship before? I'm very confused. I thought I'd tell you in case you are unprepared for a Friday game.
AL S J'Marick Woods, a wobbler, ceases wobbling:
"It was really hard to make my final decision because I like Arkansas a lot, but I am picking Michigan," said Woods. "I just prayed about it and the Lord showed me signs. I feel good about my future as a Wolverine."
He's an early enrollee so this should be a definitive end to his recruitment. There are two visit weekends before the dead period and afterwards he'll be in Ann Arbor. Kind of get the feeling the Arkansas/Mississippi State dalliances were manufactured to provide his school with an excuse to do some hat stuff.
Keeping Woods is important with Michigan's need at safety and the lack of other names on the board at the spot; Scout makes him sound a lot like Jeremy Clark:
Woods is a defensive back with great length. He is lean and will need to add weight to his frame when he gets to the next level. He could get a look at cornerback, but he is likely a free safety in college. His length is an asset in coverage and recovery.
I'll take another Clark.
All hands to the tweet decryption stations
Michigan's coaches are on the road this week, visiting anyone and everyone they're still recruiting. CA OL Aaron Banks lives in El Cerrito, California, and this may or may not mean anything.
I have an emoji for this.
- Harbaugh finally got his latte after like 15 minutes
- Clash of Royale Strike level up
- Banks is announcing for Michigan on the 9th.
- Harbaugh's making telescopes? And selling them for profit? I guess?
It's times like these I wish Michigan had a TOOT TOOT ALL IN FOR THE GOVERNOR wink wink commit thing, like many schools do. Just a few hours prior to the above tweet, Lorenz reported that Michigan had little idea what Banks would do. Reports that Banks was not a take appear to be incorrect.
FWIW, Brice Marich hears that the in-home with Banks "went excellent and was very informative too."
Dominate the hyphens
Michigan's quest to dominate the state of Hyphen continues unabated after their setback with Brelin Faison-Walden. Next up might be MI DE Deron Irving-Bey, who is set to announce at the Army game. With just two visit weekends left before the dead period and one official visit in the books, some tea-leaf reading is possible:
- His list of six is really a list of four. He's visited Tennessee, plans to visit Maryland this weekend, and has been on the MSU and UM campuses many times for unofficials. Syracuse and Cincinnati are window dressing.
- Webb reports that he'll take an official to Michigan for their huge December 9th weekend. That should be his last in person recruiting contact before his commitment, since the dead period starts the 12th. In a dead period you can only interact on the phone or by text.
While you can't entirely rule MSU out since he's familiar with the program, Michigan is perceived to lead and gets the last crack. Also he has a hyphen in his last name.
Linebacker board static
Sorry for leaving FL LB Jordan Anthony off the recruiting overview post on Wednesday. That was an oversight only; Michigan is still expected to get him. That does rather complicate things in the projected class, which had MS LB Willie Gay on it and then did not when I inserted Anthony.
Despite that omission, Gay remains very high on Michigan. Per Lorenz, Partridge stopped in on Tuesday and Gay said it went "better than I would have ever thought," which is kind of a weird statement and also very encouraging. This is still in "believe it when I see it" territory. If Gay schedules an unofficial back to Ann Arbor, then I will start thinking it's happening. I remember Fletcher Cox and will not discount Mississippi State for an instate kid, ever.
Meanwhile, MI LB Antjuan Simmons decommitted from Ohio State, making that one guy's article about Meyer's recruiting coup look a bit silly. Do not expect Michigan to get involved. Simmons still appears salty about Michigan's lack of enthusiasm early in the process. Even after he started looking around and must have had an inkling that he was not going to end up in Columbus, his twitter feed was... uh... aggressive about Michigan.
This is mostly disappointing because I wanted this screenshot to be a wall of block Ms:
Seven out of eight wouldn't be bad. Webb's hearing Arizona may be Simmons's landing spot, which would be something. Notre Dame is also a strong contender.
NJ LB Drew Singleton will be at The Big Recruiting Weekend.
Rutger is fine, it's just the S that makes it a problem
Webb reports that the parents of TN DT Rutger Reitmaier are in Michigan's corner, and with Oregon in flux they will have a great shot to flip him. Reitmaier's dad has been on campus more than some committed recruits:
The elder Reitmaier made his way to campus for a game weeks before his son came up for an official visit. It gave dad an opportunity to spend some quality one-on-one time with Harbaugh. They built on that when the entire Reitmaier family came up for Rutger's official visit a few weeks ago.
A recent OSU offer may be the main competition if Reitmaier follows through with a visit.
Why the Herbert wobble is a thing
“I want to play right away," he said when asked what he's looking for in a school.
“Miami says I can come in and play right away, Florida says that I can come in and play, and Michigan says that I have to come in and compete with [junior tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty] and probably another tackle [current Michigan commit Joel Honigford].”
It is unrealistic that Miami and Florida don't have guys at least on JBB's level. If Herbert's takeaway from those two competitors is "I should go to another school," that sounds like the kind of reason that's not the real reason. He's the only guy in the class I think is a serious threat to voluntarily decommit.
Edges of the board still active
Marich also reports that CT CB Brandon Sebastian plans a mid-January official and that AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao has tentative plans to official at some point during that month as well. That's good timing for Michigan, as a lot of questions about who will and will not be in the class will be resolved by the time either guy gets around to making a decision.
Meanwhile, chaos at Oregon has seen a number of their top prospects decommit or Explore Their Options; delightfully named OL/DL Popo Aumavae is one of them. He's setting up a suite of visits and he'd like Michigan to be one of them.
Obligatory Najee Section
Tom Van Haaren puts a not-at-all-completely-arbitrary chance on CA RB Najee Harris flipping:
Committed to: Alabama
Chance he flips: 50 percent
Toughest competition: Michigan
I like that number. It is a high number. Lorenz reports Harris will follow through on his plan to visit Michigan for The Big Recruiting Weekend. Like Irving-Bey, that should be the last in-person crack anyone gets at him before he enrolls early. (Or commits, in Irving-Bey's case.)
Matt Wenzel interviews MA RB commit AJ Dillon, who missed a chunk of his senior season with a broken leg. He's taking some visits but it doesn't seem like a serious situation:
Dillon, who said he would have considered enrolling early at Michigan but his school doesn't allow it, will take his first of five allotted official visits to Boston College this weekend and then go to Ann Arbor the following week. He's also considering visits to Nebraska and Iowa, but nothing is arranged yet and he's still firmly committed to Michigan, which he's been watching from afar all season.
"I was really impressed with them, they're still doing great."
A Notre Dame visit would be something to watch out for given Dillon's family ties; I doubt that Nebraska, BC, or Iowa have the recruiting mojo to flip Dillon without an external bombshell named Najee.
Happy trails to TX LB Baron Browning, who committed to OSU. GA WR Jeremiah Holloman isn't really a happy trails since Michigan hasn't been on his list since shortly after his decommit almost a year ago, but if you're curious he just committed to Georgia.
Keep an eye on the FAU job. Bruce Feldman reports that Mario Cristobal is a candidate; if he gets it that would greatly aid Michigan's chances with Alex Leatherwood.
Brandon Brown lists the various guys who plan to enroll early. I was not aware of a couple of these names. For the record: JaRaymond Hall, Donovan Jeter, Corey Malone-Hatcher, Ben Mason, Benjamin St-Juste, Jaylen Kelly-Powell, J'Marick Woods, Donovan-Peoples Jones, Ambry Thomas, Tarik Black, Cesar Ruiz, and Najee Harris all plan to enroll early. Michigan should have room since they'll have a ton of guys who want to get done with school this semester so they can prep for the NFL draft.
FWIW, Brown has also dropped a couple hints that Rivals will give Solomon a fifth star when their next re-rank comes out. That would be a second; Scout gave him one after the first few games this year, and reports that CT WR Tarik Black denied that he ever named Alabama his top school.
Jedd Fisch visited FL WR Mike Harley in-home. Harley is a WVU commit who's probably flipping somewhere; Michigan was involved just before he went off the board.