There are three more scheduled chances to see this Michigan team before the cruel passage of time and Hoke’s redshirting policies rip it apart. Then we’re into the murky waters of the postseason, about which I am learning as I go since that’s out of the realm of my experience.
INSIDE THE MINDS OF IOWA FANS
Night road games against an opponent who’s already conceded, well, we’ve been there before. Let’s check in on the zeitgeist among this week’s commodity holders. BHGP is responding sharply to market trends.
However Go Iowa Awesome is where the guys who made BHGP live now. What are they saying?
These hawkeyed vikingers were brave enough when they could hit undefended monasteries on the Northumbrian coastline. But trapped in a tonne in the middle of Mercia with Alfred’s retooled fyrd bearing down, the likelihood of a saga-worthy victory seems dim. You can’t just surrender—you came too far and have too much pride for that. But even a modest danegeld—you know, to cover some of that 10-year boone you granted to mediocre Halfdan—looks pretty good right now.
ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND SECONDARY TICKET MARKETS
|@IA||$85||$151||$195||$189||$145||$106||$101||$89||at game||they losing|
|IU||$65||$40||$55||$57||$55||$65||$78||$75||NOW!||last chance for history|
|@OSU||$250||$282||$275||$311||$349||$298||$320||$289||at dips||M fans targeting|
I ended up calling the Michigan State market pretty closely, and this game is following some of the same patterns, minus the upcharge for the rivalry. As with that game, if you’re going to Iowa, the cheapest way to get in would be to look online on the way and find someone happy to have you stop by en route to take their tickets off their hands.
I would expect them to stick closely to face. All the upcharges are gone, but it’s a night game and that means a lot of older Iowa fans selling and quite a few younger non-season ticket holders making this the one game they’ll attend this year. There will be some available at the stadium, and I’m guessing plenty in the vicinity of $60-$70 of the print-at-your-hotel variety on the online market.
Weather won’t be a factor.
Except it’s cold, which is expected.
IS IT OKAY TO PRETEND TO BE A HOME FAN TO GET SEATS TO A ROAD GAME?
I got asked this on twitter. It’s dishonest. Dishonesty is bad.
But, so: we did this a couple of weeks ago. I ended up getting a ticket for MSU from someone who thought he was selling to a fellow Spartan. On one hand, I felt bad. On the other hand, the drunk Spartan sitting behind us kept putting his feet on my seat and his knees in my back long after his wife urged him to stop. He was “taking a poll” of every Michigan fan in his vicinity as to whether they went to Michigan, and quizzed me mercilessly on the layout of Mosher-Jordan before finally clapping me on the back and saying “okay I believe you went to Michigan, unlike these Walvy clowns.”
Another Spartan patted me on the back as he was leaving early in the 4th quarter and told me to “enjoy it now because Trump’s going to deport your ass.” If the unwitting seat-seller would rather have these two back-patting paragons of society in the stadium than a Michigan fan, he can have a two-point conversion gif.
WHEN TO BUY INDIANA?
They’re on their way up (toldyaso!) because we all just walked out of that stadium realizing Chris Wormley is a once-a-decade level kind of player we’ll only get to see in the Big House one more time, and he’s like the 4th or 5th thing on that list. Indiana doesn’t suck, but I don’t think Hoosiers are driving this market. I think Michigan fans are realizing they aren’t going to have another opportunity to be there for this.
WHEN TO BUY OHIO STATE?
It’s dropped below $300 for singles, despite the Nebraska blowout, which has Buckeye fans thinking they can still get to the national championship game this year and erased some of the doubt from the Penn State loss. But you can get two singles in a section and make it work.
I kinda want to see what happens at MSU, but State is such a tire fire right now and Michigan fans could be so pumped after an Iowa road win that you might want to bite the bullet and jump now. I think they may get to $250, which is the standard for this game on the secondary market, but under $300 for the greatest Game since 2006 is worthwhile.
Tickets come down before E-tickets.
Some of the resellers don’t do this but on Saturday morning you can go on TiqIQ and find some inexpensive non-E tickets. Reason is obvious: they don’t want to go to the game to sell them, and it’s too late otherwise. This can be a pain, especially if you buy tickets that are out of the way to pick up. On the other hand they can be a steal on Saturdays, and for a night game you actually have the time to go get them.
BEST DEAL ON THE SPONSOR’S SITE RIGHT NOW
Think of three friends from college you haven’t seen a game with since. Row 1 by the pylon has its ups and downs. You might think Chris Evans is McDoom when they run him on a jet sweep on the south side of the field. You also might have a better view than someone on the sidelines when Evans goes out at the 1 yard line, so unlike Harbaugh, when they fail to overturn it you can keep your hat.
As you may have noticed in today's game column, I'm trying a new format for GIFs: gfycat, which load faster, have much better quality, and allow you to do stuff like speed up or slow down playback if you click through. I hadn't switched over before because uploading and tagging was cumbersome; now the program I use has integrated that entire process. Today's post mostly features the old format as I do a test run with a few gfycats. If all goes well, I'll do the complete switchover next week. Feedback is encouraged.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the Maryland game in GIFs.]
11/5/2016 – Michigan 59, Maryland 3 – 9-0, 6-0 Big Ten
It actually wasn't any of the deep shots that really caught my attention. It was a slant to Darboh. Play action, linebackers suck up and recover, too late. Wilton Speight fired a rifle shot into Darboh's hands that allowed him to continue without breaking stride. I thought oh no, I have to say this is happening, because that was approximately the sixth eyebrow-cocking throw of the afternoon.
So. This is happening. Here is that column I couldn't write earlier this year. I am writing it now, after three games in which Speight has averaged 12 yards an attempt, after various stats have rejiggered themselves into eye-popping arrangements three-quarters of the way through the college football regular season, after Jim Harbaugh asserted that Jabrill Peppers wasn't the only Michigan player who deserved your Heisman consideration and was met with thoughtful recalibration instead of laughter.
You've seen it with your own eyes on spins out of the pocket and inch-perfect deep balls as Speight continues to refine the high school version of himself into a cross between John Navarre, Ben Roethlisberger, and a production of Swan Lake staffed entirely by bears. At one point Speight scrambled for a touchdown and did some sort of insane flying ballerina move as he crossed the goal line.
wheeeeeee this is fun I didn't know I could move faster than a koala
Your eyes are like "did I just see that" and your spleen is like
I DON'T KNOW!
YOU'RE THE LOOKING PART!
I JUST SIT HERE AND GET NERVOUS SOMEONE'S GOING TO PICKLE ME!
because spleens are like that man. Just venting, like Jim Harbaugh failing to get an extra yard on review after picking up second and thirty-four.
BALDERDASH [Eric Upchurch]
Since your eyes are clearly not up to the task of confirming or disconfirming what the hell is happening at the most important position in football, here are some numbers. They are rather optimistic given that said eyes spent half the season worrying Speight was going to sink Michigan when crunch time came around:
- Speight's 8.9 YPA leads the Big Ten by almost a half yard and is 11th nationally.
- His 15-3 TD/INT ratio is second in the Big Ten to JT Barrett (21-4).
- His passer rating is now five points clear of Perry Hills for best in the league and is 14th nationally.
- He's fifth nationally in ESPN's QBR metric, which accounts for rushing yards and SOS.
- S&P+ now has Michigan's passing attack third(!) in the country.
That latter measure filters out garbage time and attempts to adjust for schedule strength. For that to be an improvement on the raw numbers is rather something. A major reason is that they've played S&P+'s #3 (Wisconsin), #8 (Colorado), and #15 (Penn State) defenses. They got lucky with Penn State's linebacker issues, but Michigan kept Garrett Sickels in check just fine during that game and he was rampant against OSU.
Speight was again mostly clean in this game but hardly noticed pressure except to spin out of it and make something productive of it, whether it was a bomb to Chesson or a seven-yard scramble that is probably still ongoing or finding the guy who blew the protection for a first down. His receivers certainly help. But this was a game where he lost a fifty-yard completion to an offensive pass interference call and still posted ludicrous numbers.
Is Wilton Speight elite? I don't know, man. This is a considerable improvement from "lol no" before the bye week and is trending in a spectacular direction. His last 72 attempts are elite, and with every game he moves towards a simple "yes." This is the second straight year a Michigan quarterback has muddled around for half a year before an exponential explosion in competence.
In addition to all the other ways Jim Harbaugh is a difference maker as a head coach he has this. There is no better quarterback coach in football. Every one of his charges exceeds expectations. Often when he or they move on the player in question never recaptures his form. Is Wilton Speight elite? Ask again later. Is Jim Harbaugh elite? Cumong man, that's not even worth asking.
This team no longer feels like an elite defense with an offense scraping by, a la 1997. With Speight dropping bombs on all comers, it feels like... I have no idea. No Michigan team in my experience has spent an entire season bombing everyone they come across. Michigan has three top fifteen wins and the only reason any of those was within three scores was Kenny Allen having a miserable day against Wisconsin. You'd have to go back to the 70s to find a Michigan team that can end almost every game it plays in the first half.
Bo never managed to complete his task, because his quarterbacks were never state of the art. Jim Harbaugh emphatically does not have this problem. Ohio State? Bring 'em on.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Wilton Speight had the greatest first half in the history of Michigan football quarterbacking, per statistics and Jim Harbaugh. He finished with an absurd 15 yards an attempt and is now the Big Ten's clear leader in passer rating and YPA; he also ran(!) for a touchdown that he finished with weird ballerina flair(!!!).
#2 Jourdan Lewis never gets on these lists anymore because for the most part nobody is trifling with him. A hat tip to Maryland for multiple shots down the sideline resulting in 3 PBUs, zero completions, and one uncalled OPI.
#3 Taco Charlton almost literally does not show up in the box score. He got a half sack and no other tackles. Do not let this color your opinion of his game: dude was on fire, repeatedly hammering into the backfield when Maryland ran inside and getting pressure on just about every dropback only for his friends to clean up most of it.
Honorable mention: Jehu Chesson had a breakout game with 112 yards; Jake Butt is now Michigan's all-time leader in receiving yards from a tight end; Deveon Smith managed 6 YPC with a long of 14, which is super hard to do; Maurice Hurst was a constantly disruptive presence; Ben Gedeon had three TFLs and did an excellent job on the edge.
10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland), Taco Charlton (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers),
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU), Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
The throwback bomb from Peppers to Speight to Chesson was entirely unnecessary, entirely awesome, and caused a purported journalist to descend into a hissy fit.
Also a great throw on a route that's not as open as it could have been on a trick play.
Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Either Channing Stribling whiffing on a reverse he'd put himself in great position on or Mike McCray getting juked and edged by Lorenzo Harrison, because both of those incidents confirmed issues from the Michigan State game and indicated a weakness in this defense.
Honorable mention: Maryland breaks the shutout with a field goal; Speight turfs a bubble screen to Peppers that would probably have scored; Michigan gets stuffed on fourth and short; that one time they almost punted.
PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs
Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
[After THE JUMP: Happy Maryland fans.]
Jake Butt, De’Veon Smith, Delano Hill
Jake, just talk about what [the TE receiving yards record] means to you and how Wilton’s been playing here down the stretch.
“Yeah, Wilton had an unbelievable game again today. He just keeps coming through for us when we need him most extending plays, breaking tackles, and then finding guys downfield. He’s doing a hell of a job for us, and it’s great to see [from] Wilton because without him—you need a great quarterback to succeed the way we are and Wilton’s doing a great job for us.
“As far as the record goes, it’s hard to even take in. At such a historical program like this, to be up there as the number one guy—and I want to get the touchdowns and receptions now, too, but I just want to give credit to my teammates more than anything, honestly. It’s a collective effort. It’s not a one-man record, it’s a collective effort: the O-line, the receivers, the running backs, the coaches, the defense, special teams. It’s not a one-man job, so credit to those guys.”
Kind of going off that, ‘The team, the team, the team’ attitude is starting to really show itself more and more as Jim’s been here and as you guys continue through the season. Today’s another effort. De’Veon, when you look around at the guys in the locker room after the game, what’s that moment like? What is that signal that ‘Guys, we got this going and we’re really rolling right now.’ Do you feel that way?
“Definitely. We all believe in each other. We believe in our defense, and I know for a fact when I look in my huddle I believe in every single one of those guys and they believe in me. It’s just a great feeling, and after we get a win we go in there and high five each other, give each other hugs…there’s no feeling like the feeling we have right now, and I’m not going to take it for granted.”
[More after THE JUMP]
1 hour 19 minutes
The reason we can put out so much audio content now is it’s paid for. The show is presented by UGP & Moe's and frankly would not be happening without them; Rishi and Ryan and their people have been huge MGoBlog supporters from the start.
Our other sponsors are also key in the expanding empire: thanks to Homesure Lending, Ann Arbor Elder Law, the Residence Inn Ann Arbor Downtown, the University of Michigan Alumni Association, Deo Bookkeeping, Michigan Law Grad, Defensive Drivers Group, Tailgater Concierge, and Peak Wealth Management.
starts at 1:00
Breaking NCAA’14. Rudockening update: should Speight be in the Heisman conversation? Somebody sent a lot of bear hug film to the league office: Illinois appreciates the solid. ASIASI-ASI! Butt passed Mandich. Khalid Hill needs to start taunt-tweeting.
starts at 25:29
Fix tunnel screen defense, Stribling’s tacking and McCray in space seem to be the holes in this defense. Hill had a great game not even counting two gift interceptions. Hurst on the second line is like Datsyuk on the second line. Medical redshirts.
Special Teams and Gimmicky Top Five: Favorite Irrelevant Plotlines of this Season
starts at 39:16
Michigan didn’t punt, perhaps because that would only get Man at Pro Football Focus Whose Family Was Murdered By a Punter’s wrath to turn on Michigan’s all-three-phases man. If Jim Harbaugh was in jail, would he read the entire dictionary?
Talkin Big Ten with Interrupting Ja—
Michigan State loses with dignity to Jeff George Jr. When holding calls are turned back on Smoot isn’t blockable by MSU OL. Iowa’s checks are too easy to pick up; Hawkeyes have punted on 14/21 drives in last three games. Joe Moorehead seems like a good hire for Penn State, who could be a New Years Day Six team. Indiana shot themselves in the foot repeatedly to keep Rutgers in it.
starts at 52:43
Glad Armstrong is okay. Curtis Samuel is gang good.
“Getting Nasty”—Ike Turner & the Kings of Rhythm
“Am I Expecting Too Much?”—Allen Toussaint
“Come On! Feel the Illinoise!”—Sufjan Stevens
“Across 110th Street”
THE USUAL LINKS
Might be a broken record, but might that have been Wilton Speight’s best game, and could you talk about how he extended plays by sliding around in the pocket when he needed to?
“Yeah, that was…statistically, and just the eyeball, that’s the best half of football I’ve ever seen a Michigan quarterback play. I think the statistics back that up. Yeah, moving and throwing and accuracy and extending plays, all of the above. I don’t know how you play better than Wilton did. I think there was one throw that wasn’t a great throw. That was it. Other than that, it was a perfect game as a quarterback and that’s really tough to do.”
This team continuing to roll. How much more enjoyment do you get out of seeing these guys as the season progresses and you see the execution as it is each and every week?
“I enjoy it a lot. I really felt that the week of practice we had was outstanding, and then you, when you have a week like that where it seems better every week and the practices are really sharp and crisp, then you want to see that again on gameday. You feel like if you’re good in practice you’re going to be good in the game, and I thought our guys were great in practice this week and then they were great in the game, so that, get a lot of enjoyment from that.”
De’Veon Smith went over 100 yards. I know you talk a lot about liking how hard he runs. How’d he look to you today?
“He looked great. He really did. He was one of the big factors in our team’s success. We didn’t punt again in the ballgame. I don’t know if we’ve done that in the season—maybe one or two times. But it was, a big part was him. The yards he got after contact were real eye-opening, and he’s so tough to get down. Three touchdowns, but extending drives and contributing. We had a lot of first downs today, and he contributed to that in a big way.”
Clearly the scoreboard reflected it, but what was it like for you to coach against DJ Durkin, your former defensive coordinator, and what were the emotions that went into it?
“The normal emotions. Definitely a friend. Watch what he’s done at Maryland, he’s doing a fantastic job. And what he did for us, what he did for our football team—he was a great contributor to our ballclub.”
[Hit THE JUMP to find out what offended Harbaugh’s football sensibility and the football gods themselves]