About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
#7 Michigan State (6-0, 2-0 B1G)
Last week: Won at Rutgers, 31-24
Recap: I can’t recall a team ever get ranked #2 in the country, win two consecutive conference games, and land at #7. Then again, I can’t recall a #2 team in the country playing back-to-back nailbiters against the likes of Purdue and Rutgers, so I guess I shouldn’t be shocked.
If I’m a State fan, though, this game is a much bigger red flag than the Purdue game. Michigan State ran out to a 21-0 lead on Purdue, took its foot off the gas, and then when things started to tighten up forgot which one was the gas pedal and which one was the “do a Dukes of Hazzard ramp into a hay stack” pedal. This game was a close contest the entire way, with Rutgers holding the halftime lead after largely outplaying Sparty. Fortunately for Michigan State, Rutgers went Full Rutgers at the end of the game, but the feelings are not warm and fuzzy in East Lansing.
Sparty did outgain Rutgers 489-349, but once again struggled to run the ball, rushing for less than 3.5 yards per carry against the team that surrendered 330 yards rushing to Penn State. And despite the fact that Connor Cook played a hell of a game, the offensive line was on roller skates against a team that is not known for its pass rush. And this was almost entirely before losing their (in my opinion (which is correct)) most important lineman, Jack Allen, to a naaaaaasty-looking ankle injury. He’s listed as a co-starter with 37 other guys for the Michigan game, but he left the game after giving it one play, and he left the stadium in a cart, so who wants odds.
It should also be noted after last week’s heroics that Michigan State has the lowest touchback-on-kickoff percentage in the conference and they give up the most kickoff return yards in the conference. Just sayin’.
This team is as frightening as: A big brother, but after you hit a really sudden growth spurt that puts you a couple of inches taller and a few pounds heavier. It doesn’t mean you’ll win that next fight, but it makes you feel a hell of a lot better about your odds. Fear Level = 7
Michigan should worry about: Aaron Burbridge. He’s second in the conference to Geronimo Allison in receiving yards (on about 61,000 fewer targets), and has more than triple the receiving yards of anyone else on Michigan State’s roster.
Check out Burbridge’s stats compared to the rest of State’s receiving corps: (via Bill Connelly):
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Jourdan Lewis is… well, you know. The thing at the top of the page.
When they play Michigan: Well hello there, Natural Order of Things. Have a seat right over there. We’ll be with you in a moment. Can I get you something to drink?
This week: @ Michigan, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
[AFTER THE JUMP: If I told you it would spoil the surprise and you wouldn’t hit the jump]
[ed-Seth: According to advance stats…HEY, EYES UP HERE! Yes, you. You think I didn't notice your focus was drifting down to the—?
I mean it. You'll get to that rib meat soon enough. First let's give some credit to the people responsible for the layer of redness: Stubb's, whose outgoing CEO reads this space and had the idea to give us money to put Joe from MMMGoBluBBQ in it.
Okay, NOW you can gawk, because this recipe holy cow...]
I've been waiting for a big week to cook these monsters and I couldn't wait any longer. I think this constitutes a big week, right? These Dinosaur beef ribs are a SHOW STOPPER for sure. As I told Seth yesterday, I still have the "meat sweats" and it's 3 days later, but I'm not complaining. You may have to check in with your local butcher to secure a rack of these as they are not typically found in the meat department at your local grocery store. I call them Dino Beef Ribs, but they are known as Beef Plate Ribs to most butchers. When done, these taste exactly like burnt ends of a brisket. This is the probably the most flavorful cut of beef we will make all season. Yabba Dabba Doo!!!!!
- Dino Beef Ribs (Beef Plate Ribs) 6-7 lbs per rack
- 2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
- 5 TBS Stubbs Beef Spice Rub
- 2 TBS Pepper (Coarsely Ground)
[After the jump: YEEEEEAAAABBAAADABBBAAADOOO!!!!]
“How ‘bout those Cubs, huh? Is there a real Cub fan in here? I wore No. 14 growin’ up. I mean, Ernie Banks is the greatest player ever! How ‘bout those Cubs! What do you think? What’s up? What can I help you with?”
Talk about Ryan Glasgow as a pass rusher and how he’s stepped up into that role this year.
“Well, I think all the guys up front have tried very hard to use their technique to do what fits them, you know? A lot of people when they talk about pass rush, they see all the fancy type things the NFL uses and all these different type of moves. Well, some people aren’t built for that, and what these guys have embraced is moving the pocket [and] doing what’s best for them and what’s best for the defense.
“And sometimes to be a good pass rusher you have to be selfish, where you don’t really care about rush lanes and things and you kind of just say, ‘Man, I’ve got to get to the quarterback cuz getting to a sack is everything.’ But there aren’t many sacks, so the big thing is you’ve got to stay in your rush lanes and try to get to the quarterback or put stress on the quarterback another way, and I think our kids have all tried to embrace that philosophy.”
These kids developed right along, but are even you surprised at three straight shutouts?
“I don’t look at shutouts. I think what you look at is you try to play the best defense you can and do what you’re supposed to do and everybody be on the same page, and then good things will happen. Sometimes shutouts go hand in hand with special teams, hand in hand with offense and it’s not always just the defense that gets that shutout, it’s the team. There’s been some great things done special teams-wise and offense-wise that’s allowed us to play defense and play what we have to do.
“We just go out every game trying to play as hard as we can with great effort, try to eliminate big plays, and try to make sure that we play with great effort and I think that’s what our kids are trying to do.”
Connor Cook’s been pressured but he’s only been sacked four times. Is he getting rid of the ball quickly? What’s the key to getting to him?
“Yeah, he’s a very good quarterback. He gets rid of the ball quick. He sees who the receiver should be by the coverage very well, and I think that’s a lot of him as a quarterback getting rid of the football.”
[After THE JUMP: Breaking down Glasgow’s sack, talking stunts, and Jake Arrieta: defensive end?]
Cackle with knowing glee if...
Michigan State entered the Rutgers game with a banged-up offensive line and it showed; star left tackle Jack Conklin didn't play—and the "available in an emergency" caveat seemed dubious at best given the score and the success of RU's D-line—while Kodi Kieler, the normal starting right tackle, struggled mightily in his first game back from injury, not looking nearly 100% as he was in and out of the game at left tackle.
Then Rimington-caliber center Jack Allen, who'd slid out to left tackle when Kieler was on the bench, got rolled up on late in the game; his status for Michigan is very much in doubt, possibly even more so than Conklin or Kieler.
Rutgers dominated up front against MSU. Michigan's D-line awaits. This could be a real good time.
Personnel. Seth's diagram once again requires GIF form, this time to represent the myriad possibilities on State's O-line, which are helpfully mapped out at The Only Colors [click to embiggen]:
Now with D-line rotation.
Spread, Pro-Style, or Hybrid? Hybrid. MSU went with a lot of two-wide ace and I-form on first down, almost always to run the ball, and when that didn't work they'd go into the gun and usually add another receiver for second and third downs.
Basketball on Grass or MANBALL? Mostly zone stuff.
Hurry it up or grind it out? State tried to tempo Rutgers exactly once and had a run get blown up at the line. Otherwise, they were content to huddle up and grind it out.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]
Upon Further Review is sponsored.
New logo. That's very exciting. Got a house on it and maybe some larger buildings behind it, may be on the periphery of a nice town like Ann Arbor where you can buy ramen at 11 PM if that becomes necessary, albeit while wearing pants. You could live in one of those if you had a mortgage.
Wait a second… I have an idea. You could get one. From Matt. He's got a ticket offer going for a Michigan football or basketball game. If you're buying a home or refinancing, he's the right guy to call.
FORMATION NOTES: This is Joe Bolden as the deepest guy and dropping 15-20 yards back before the snap.
"5-0 nickel LB-S"
M ran this a half-dozen times, usually against empty formations. The presumed goal was to get a DB in man coverage instead of a LB. Northwestern could not depend on enough time in the pocket to test Joe Bolden or Ben Gedeon as centerfielders.
Early Michigan ran fronts that were essentially regular even nickel fronts that had the buck off the line in a two point stance:
"Nickel even off"
That adds more flexibility in coverage, I guess? M shelved it after the first couple drives.
And they often showed a front with five guys on the line:
Most of the time this featured the two guys on the end stunting inside the guys further inside.
PERSONNEL NOTES: Standard rotations at DL. I thought I saw a bit less Godin this week but they have six guys, all of whom play a lot. IIRC, Jenkins-Stone got every snap at buck until the last two drives when Michigan mixed in guys like Watson and Pallante. Lawrence Marshall got in then.
Ben Gedeon got a meaningful drive in the first half. Not sure if that's just trying to work him in or actual Bolden displeasure. Morgan did not come off the field. Ross got maybe a dozen snaps before his ejection; Allen Gant replaced him for a snap or two after.
Secondary lacked Stribling and was the usual Clark/Peppers/Lewis/Hill/Wilson combo, adding Thomas in dime packages.
[After THE JUMP: Durkin donut #3]
"Eyes up!" English shouts to Michigan's defensive players.
After giving brief instructions, the defensive staff leaves the room as the lights are turned down.
Captain Shawn Crable points to the door, signaling for a visitor to leave, too, so that the defensive players can be alone for a ritual they've done for more than a decade under the well-read Carr.
"I've never been in there, but I know they recite one of Rudyard Kipling's poems," English says while waiting for an elevator.
"Do you still know it?" English asks graduate assistant coach Glen Steele, who helped Michigan win the 1997 national championship as a defensive end.
"The strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack," Steele says, ending the passage without hesitating in an elevator.
Ask any guy who played defense for Michigan since 1997 and they'll know this poem. Seriously.
How this works again:
- Readers predict the final score of a designated game by placing a guess in the comments, preferably in the format of [M score][hyphen][Opp score], for example "41-0" or "35-0 Michigan", or "28-0 Go Blue", or "42-0 Harbaugh!" etc.
- The three guys who read this part holler at people who post in a different format
- First person (by timestamp) to post a particular score has it.
- If you got it right, I contact you for an address by your MGoBlog account email, and you give me some time to get that to you.
- If nobody got it right or I don't hear from the winner(s) we push it to next week or let it go.
About Last Time:
This Week's Game:
We've all been starting our sentences with "With all due respect to the tremendous job…" for a few years now, haven't we? Michigan will try to end that sentence (ha!) against Mark Dantonio's legendarily stingy defense which isn't as bad as it looks in the secondary because they've really just been saving everything for this game. And the greatest quarterback of all time, Connor Cook, and the best player in Michigan even though his teammate who went to Michigan is now in the NFL Aaron Burbridge. And that offensive line which is just pretending to be hurt to lull Meatchicken into a sense of security. We are meatchicken. They are Michigan State! Show some due respect.
Also Dairy Store ice cream—if you could call it ice cream because according to my little brother*—there's some law that a substance that uses that much cream does not even count as ice cream it's just frozen yumminess. Seriously no sarcasm: Dairy Store.
And on the Line:
I personally requisitioned this shirt after meeting most of the 2002 secondary's depth chart and they all knew it.
* [I was born in 1979, my brother 1981. I don't think they let you change that.]
One entry per user. First user to choose a set of scores wins, determined by the timestamp of your entry (for my ease I prefer if you don't post it as a reply to another person's score--if you do it won't help or hurt you). Deadline for entries is 24 hours before the start of the game. MGoEmployees and moderators exempt from winning. The algorithm finds the winners as it chooses. The algorithm is self-correcting. The algorithm consistently runs power. The algorithm locked Rutgers out of Jersey. The algorithm shows no disrespect to the greatest university in the history of Ingham County.