Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Michigan's camp is going on right now. It's happening as you read this. There are photos. You have to believe me.
2015 ONT/TN QB Michael O'Connor w Gardner, Borges via Maize and Blue News
Things are… well, probably not happening very much since Michigan's already got 21 commitments. Touch the Banner put together a list of the various attendees if you want to know who's scheduled to be there. A couple of the more interesting 2013 names:
Darren Carrington - WR - San Diego (CA) Horizon: Carrington is a 6'2", 187 lb. quarterback and wide receiver. He's the son of former San Diego Chargers safety Darren Carrington, who played in their Super Bowl loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He received an offer from Michigan last week, so his main reason for camping would seem to be for seeing the campus and meeting the coaching staff. (Highlights here.)
Caleb Day - ATH - Hilliard (OH) Darby: [Day] is a 6'0", 188 lb. athlete who could play lots of positions in college, including running back, wide receiver, cornerback, or safety. Michigan hasn't offered yet, but he really seems to be hoping for one from the Wolverines. He does, however, have offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio State, and several others. Day looks a little too stiff to play cornerback at a big-time program, but I could see him fitting in at any of those other positions. Michigan has bigger fish to fry at running back (Jordan Wilkins, Derrick Green) and wide receiver (LaQuon Treadwell), and they're pretty set at safety. However, Day could be a backup option at any of those positions and reminds me of a slightly less skilled Dymonte Thomas.
TN RB Jordan Wilkins is mentioned above and is tentatively scheduled to be in this weekend, something we know thanks to David Dawson badgering Wilkins on the twitter. He looks like Michigan's best shot at a blue chip-ish tailback with Ty Isaac out of the picture and Derrick Green looking like a serious longshot. That's not a good shot since the kid nearly committed to Auburn last week, mind you.
As of today the top sleeper name appears to be NC CB/S Channing Stribling, who is a gerund fan and wisp of a man from Butler High School, the alma mater of rather good Michigan safety Jamar Adams. Webb on him($):
How this kid is such a relatively obscure prospect while playing for such a powerhouse program is a mystery. Standing 6-2 and maybe 165-pounds, this Tar Heel State product is extremely fluid (despite his length), and possesses quickness that belies his size. Though not a blazer, he has good football speed. Furthermore, he has really good leaping ability and ball skills. Some schools might be scared away by his slender frame and lack of elite top end speed. Others, meanwhile, might see pure potential… a youngster that could become more explosive once he adds more muscle to his slender frame.
Might be one to watch as it seems Michigan is looking for one more guy in the secondary.
In less positive news, Cass Tech DT (and Illinois commit) Kenton Gibbs hasn't made it in and probably won't thanks to an injury. That makes it unlikely he ends up getting the offer he wants. Maize and Blue News notes that John Runyan Jr, a 2015 kid, was in attendance.
Camp continues all week.
Hey, look, it's OH LB commits Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray.
For whatever reason, this photo reminded me of Gerry Dinardo showing up to Michigan practice in 2008 or 2009 or whatever and saying something vaguely like "usually when you go to Michigan you know it, but if you took away the helmets you would think I had recruited this team." I don't think that's going to be the case in 2014.
2014 Caremeter Update
The caremeter might kick into overdrive—or at least drive—this week what with camp. These days camp is for rising juniors, and Michigan's got a bucketload of them coming in. The vast majority of the kids listed on the TTB post are 2014 players. The spot to watch is probably linebacker, what with all three Cass guys, IL LB Clifton Garrett and IN LB Gelen Robinson fighting for what looks like a limited number of spots. Michigan will graduate only Cam Gordon and Mike Jones next year, and that's only if both of those guys get fifth years.
The headliner Sunday($) was actually 2015 kid Michael O'Connor, that 6'5" Canadian QB who's transferring to a toity private school in Tennessee to up his level of competition. He's still waiting on an offer from Michigan but already has an MSU offer and made the usual positive but non-committal noises($) after his camp experience yesterday.
Meanwhile in non-camp activities, 2014 OH LB Michael Ferns took a visit over the weekend and seemed BLOWN AWAY(!, also $) by the experience. TomVH caught up with him to get a telling quote:
"I heard Ann Arbor is a great place, and getting up there, being in town, everything was great," he said. "I don't want to say too much, but (the visit) was a 10. I was shocked by the whole deal. It was really good."
And here's the de rigueur locker-room-and-gloves shot:
Sam Webb relates that Ferns went home($) afterwards instead of visiting Michigan State as planned, because obviously. He's planning to get out to Notre Dame, then shut it down for a while; with Penn State and Ohio State previously thought to be front-runners this is going to be a knock-down, drag-out Midwest power fight.
Michigan's also offered 2014 IL OL Jamarco Jones.
Even More Things About SMSB
Josh Helmholdt has a list of under-the-radar prospects he caught at the camp with a mention of MI WR Jack Wangler (yes, that Wangler):
WR Jack Wangler, Royal Oak (Mich.) Shrine Catholic: Wangler has put a lot of work in this off-season with his Maximum Exposure teams, going head-to-head against some of the top defensive backs in the country. Wangler is always going to be a possession receiver; but his speed is coming along, and he has been timed as low as the 4.5 range for the 40-yard dash. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Wangler is a physical receiver and a technician when it comes to route-running.
CB Jourdan Lewis, Detroit Cass Tech: Some of the best one-on-one matchups during the event involved Lewis - on both sides of the football. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Lewis is going to Michigan to play cornerback, but he is also a BCS-caliber wide receiver prospect. Lewis is so quick with his cuts that he creates instant separation from defensive backs, and he also has great hands. Both attributes also serve him well at the cornerback position.
QB Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle: Morris led a solid group of quarterback prospects at the event but clearly stood out as the top player at his position. The Rivals100 prospect is really in control of his game right now, and his passes are coming out of his hand beautifully with velocity and accuracy. He was told by Michigan quarterbacks coach Al Borges, who was working the event, to throttle it back some on day one, but overall Morris varied his speeds well during the event.
The Five Star Challenge, Rivals's tastefully-named rival to the Opening, will also feature a number of Michigan commits and targets. So many that Michigan is named one of five teams to watch for this thing along with Auburn, Alabama, USC, and Texas. As the header says: nice company.
Details of Michigan commits and targets:
Michigan currently has the top recruiting class in the Rivals.com team rankings so it is no surprise that it has several commits in action at the Five-Star Challenge. Three future Wolverines -- linebacker Mike McCray, athlete Jourdan Lewis and offensive lineman David Dawson -- will be on the North squad, while offensive tackle Chris Fox will suit up for the West. Lewis is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the Midwest and will prove his versatility by playing cornerback. Dawson has also seen his stock take off this spring, picking up a ton of offers even after committing. McCray is ranked as the No. 55 overall player in the country and will attempt to prove he belongs in the discussion with Reuben Foster, Jaylon Smith and Matthew Thomas as five-star linebackers. Wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, defensive end Malik McDowell and defensive end Da'Shawn Hand are also big Michigan targets.
If McDowell Is going to establish himself a five-star sort he'll have to keep pace with the Hands of the world, and this is probably the only opportunity he'll have this year. Also of interest will be how McCray and Fox do. Fox hasn't hit the camps much and Rivals is considerably higher on McCray than others. Rivals even has a video featuring a Fox matchup with yes-that's-really-his-name Auburn DL commit Dee Liner:
I know. I can't believe that's his name either.
FL WR Alvin Bailey, a four-star slot type who would be a change of pace from Michigan's coming horde of long-limbed 6'3" guys, popped up on Michigan's radar around the time his teammate Leon McQuay III named his odd top three featuring Michigan, USC, and Vanderbilt. Bailey hasn't gone on any visits yet but he wants to get things over with within a month, so he's visiting a bunch of places. His goal($):
"I am planning to go to Michigan, West Virginia, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia, South Carolina, and that is about it," Bailey said. "I will probably start taking those trips in the next couple weeks."
After taking those trips, the Rivals250 prospect is hoping he will be ready to select his future home.
"I want to make a decision after I visit those schools," Bailey said. "I want to decide around the end of July probably."
That constitutes a tentative top six for Bailey. If McQuay was already in the boat there'd be reason for optimism here; without it that's a heavily Southern list. It's going to be hard to get him above the Mason-Dixon line.
Tremendous says a reliable source relates that CA WR Sebastian Larue is close to a decision and has a top three of Michigan, Oklahoma, and USC. He hasn't visited, so that's unlikely to go Michigan's way if it does come.
Etc.: 2015 Cass Tech QB Jayru Campbell has insanely early offers($) from Notre Dame and Alabama now. 2014 MI QB Chance Stewart gets a Wisconsin offer($). Iowa offers Cass Tech LB Deon Drake($). McDowell isn't going to camp at OSU($). Michigan makes Eddie Vanderdoes's top 15. Woo? Nebraska offers and lands a longsnapper. It's longsnapper madness.
Somewhere in Ohio right now is a printer watching helplessly as thousands of beaming Denards drain their most expensive ink pots. They are Buckeyes, and acted like total Buckeyes at times, probably because to a Buckeye a few months of going to bed with this image on your mind is excruciating:
You are not a Buckeye, and therefore to you it is beautiful. It is Hail to the Victors 2012. It's 8 1/2 inches wide, 10 3/4 inches tall (a good bit larger than HTTVs of yesteryear), and 128 pages long. It is a production of MGoBlog. MGoBlog staffers wrote it, edited it, produced it, published it, and took most of the photos in it. Our regular apparel partner, Underground Printing, is the one distributing it. More importantly, MGoBlog readers supported it through an astoundingly generous response to our KickStarter campaign. There are no ads in it (this time), just a sponsor page at the end to recognize the folks most responsible for this book existing longer than the company that used to publish it.
You can have it. It's $12.50 plus shipping (
I think that's $3.00 EDIT: S&H is $4.99 and tax is $1.05, so $18.54 total to get it mailed) and will be put in mailboxes starting June 30. There are plenty to go around. Consume!
Here's how it happened: By about last August last year, frustrated that the old publishers still hadn't paid us or the rest of the contributors for the 2011 book, I approached Brian with the concept of taking HTTV indie. I've been in the publishing business and Brian never lost the contacts that made HTTV a flagship series since 2007. We figured how many copies we sold in years previous, what it would cost to produce it ourselves, and whether we could, at minimum, afford to cover our expenses plus pay back last year's contributors for last year. That concept became deadly serious when it turned out the reason the old publisher wasn't paying anybody was because they were folding.
The Kickstarter was Brian's idea. It took some time for us to come up with a number, finally settling on $20,000, a little less than half of our projected expenses ($44k – which turned out to be close enough), figuring if we have enough to cover up-front expenses we can sell enough to make up the rest; if we raised less, oh well it wasn't going to happen. The kickstart was finally posted in late March. This is when the thing went from omigod I hope our wives are cool with five-figure debt, to omigod you guys! You guys, who committed to your copies so fast if I didn't know better I'd think Mattison was telling you it'll make you a Baltimore Raven. In a day we met our funding goal. In two days we'd doubled it. In a week we had broken even on the whole thing. In the end you did this:
I'll save you the details of what came next, except to say captioning is like trying to write the great American novel using Twitter, and there was a point when we realized every article was 25% too short because our page size had changed. Also there are two typos that will haunt me forever, and a few Easter eggs for longtime MGoReaders to find.
Here's what you bought yourself, by which I mean here's a preview of what we put in this actual physical book which you can own and put on the coffee table or bathroom rack or read on planes and other places cheap Internet cannot travel:
- LETTER FROM THE EDITOR by Brian Cook. Non-randomly selected words/phrases from the last sentence of each paragraph: Real Talk, fergodsakes, millennium, dysfunctional, song.
- THE TEAM, THE TEAM, THE TEAM, by Brian. A 30-page, position-by-position look at the 133rd Michigan Football squad, with depth charts, last year's stats, predictions, and a few record books that might be rewritten this year.
- RECRUITS TO KNOW, by Brian. Doesn't include some of the guys who made it into the position previews. Ojemudia's laser eyes are tame when compared to those of RJS. It was short on space so if you don't like anything from Ringer to Houma, that was me.
- THE ENEMY, THE ENEMY, THE ENEMY, by Jerry Hinnen of CBS Sports, and MGoBlog's Ace Anbender (Notre Dame) and Heiko Yang (Ohio State). This is a 24-page, team-by-team preview of the 2012 schedule, with extra pages devoted to rivals (not you, Minnesota) and other big games (not you, Illinois). For OSU I enlisted editing assistance from Ramzy Nasrallah of Eleven Warriors, who set us straight on a few things and was ignored on others. Unfortunately Brian's intro page had to be cut from this so maybe we'll post that later.
- TULIPS, REAL ESTATE … SEASON TICKETS, by Michael Elkon of Braves & Birds looks at Michigan's rising ticket prices and donation demands versus a home spate that sees every directional MAC school more often than Wisconsin or Penn State, and poses the obvious: where does the bubble burst?
- SOME OF PART OF THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY, SORT OF, by Craig Ross is a response to John Bacon's Three and Out and the closest we'll probably ever come to a Lloyd-angle view of those events.
- THOSE WHO STOOD, by Seth Fisher, is my saccharine retelling of the careers of Team 132's most prominent seniors while assessing their ultimate place in Michigan history.
- CONFIDENCE MAN, by Chris Brown of Smart Football and Grantland takes us into the mind of a Mattison to discover how, over the course of one season, he managed to turn Michigan's defense into a Michigan defense (TM), by focusing on playing Michigan's defense.
- PREDICTING PERFORMACE by The Mathlete of MGoBlog uses the best predictors known to stats to guess at the performance of M's 2012 offense, defense, and overall difficulty of the entire schedule.
- FOURTH DOWN AND NOWHERE TO GO by jamiemac of Just Cover Blog is a discussion on the astounding level of play Michigan got last year on its 3rd and 4th and short situations, how this was secretly just as important as turnovers in how the season went, and whether it's repeatable for 2012.
- HARRY WHO AND '32 by Greg Dooley of MVictors takes us back to Gerald Ford's sophomore season, a time when the NCAA made as much sense as the Big Ten's postseason priorities, and an athletic little quarterback named Harry Newman led the Wolverines to a National Championship.
- THE HUMAN HURRICANE: FIELDING YOST is a long excerpt from John Kryk's next book. The book is on the Point-a-Minute dynasty; the article is the part about how Yost got to be the man who made it.
- HAIL TO THE ROUNDTABLE between Cook, Fisher, Ross, and Dooley discusses the current staff, the defensive turnaround, breakout players, Hokeisms, fusion cuisine, and 2012 predictions.
- COMIC SECTION: CHARLIE'S FIRST MICHIGAN GAME by Six Zero of The Blockhams
Plus the roster that was sent to print before I could confirm Gardner's # change was the real deal, and a cover and back cover and section images designed by MonuMental, and a table of contents that I wrote and sent off before I realized we could add 4 more pages and thus which erroneously says the Sponsors Page is on the inside back cover when it's actually just the last right-side page of the book. And the Sponsor Page. About that…
Upchurch | Because they bent over backwards, get it?
The following appear in the back of the book (not on the inside back cover like it says in the table of contents) for going far beyond a pre-order and a t-shirt during the HTTV Kickstarter. If you know any of these folk you should walk up to them at a socially awkward moment and sing Muppets in celebration of them (don't do this):
|816 Hill ~Class of 2002||Jonathan Giroux||Ken Mickey|
|Andy and Ken Anbender||David Glasser||Mike Curtis Agency-
Farm Bureau Insurance
|Zac Barry||John Granger||Milty|
|Alexander Bash||Nikki Guglielmo||Edward Mitchell|
|Joe Beaulieu||Jason G Heitman||Mike O’Byrne|
|Jeff Becker||Kirk Hemmen||Paul|
|Scott Bishop||Greg Henchel||Pharker|
|Jonathan Borman||Steve Higgs||Jeffrey M. Raab, LSA ‘96|
|Brooks||Drew Hill||Walt and Connie Reebel|
|Ben Davis and||Peter F. Holland||Josh Rockey|
|Christie Brown||Tom Hoover||Joshua Ruland|
|Cory S. Brown||Kyle Hubbard||Safran Family|
|David Callahan||Nathan Isenberg||Brad Schafer|
|Brian W. Callahan||William and Claire||L. David Schenk III|
|Carey Family||Johnson||Brian Shull|
|Scott Childers||Captain Cory Kastl/
Cadet Garrett Kastl
|Damian P. Silver|
|Michael Cromwell||Andrew Kim||Frederick Cogswell|
|Jerry Current||Matt Kramer||Simmons IV|
|Matt Duane||Donald J. Kunz||Malcolm T. Simpson|
|Eric Dunn||Adam Lanseur||Bo Snyder|
|Chris Eagle||Kevin “ILL” Legel||Hariharan Sundram|
|Joseph Eichhorn||Matt Lenhoff||Ben Swihart|
|Epic Win Apparel||Mark Liinamaa||Jeff Taepke|
|A. Espinoza-Diaz, CoE ‘98||The Linn Family||Jeff Timberlake|
|Joseph Fix||Lud, LSA ‘05||Jason Tolbert|
|Dana S. Fletcher||Kelly Lytle||Trueblueintexas|
|Will Fluharty||Greg Macklem||Bill Weiner|
|Alan M. French||Evan Makela||Eric M Wilfong|
|Crew Gary||Bob Manza||Rahul Yaratha|
Hawaiian War Chant Level (they gave more, and thus get quotes):
Arthur: Harbaugh, you owe my brother $25.00.
Jeff Baiocchi: Go Blue!
Michael A Barton: F--- the bigger boat! Get more ice and rye, a lot of rye, Drapers coming over.
Matt Candler: Go Blue!
Dahman Law: Dahman Law, unabashedly supporting the legal and blogging interests of Wolverines all across enemy territory, and soon in Michigan. Check us out at dahmanlaw.com.
Jonathan Gaines: “Dad, is it weird that I pity Sparty more than I hate Ohio?”-teenage daughter after 2011 Big Ten Football Championship game. -WFBlue
Michael Hacker: Hacker Bros. BBQ. You can’t drink all day if you don’t start in the morning.
Don Hubbard: Go Blue!
Scott Jacobs: S. Jacobs LSA ‘92
Bob Kennedy: Go Blue!
Jerome Lim: Go Blue!
Jamie MacMillian: JustCoverBlog.Com, providing college and pro football commentary, breakdowns and analysis since 2009. Your 2012 football season wont
be the same without us on your reading list
Jonathan McDonald: I firmly believe this publication will equip Michigan fans with an unprecedented decided schematic advantage. Go Blue!
JP: JP Gaztambide... Puerto Rico en la casa. VAMOS BLUE!!!
Steve Reynolds: Keep that UM fandom growing, Angela!!
Some additional names need to be mentioned here. Courtney Fathers of CorkBoards, our art monkey who held out hope of actually sleeping in the month of May way longer than we thought she would. Eric Upchurch, who provided most of the photographs for the book, and who blew most of what we paid him on special equipment he believes can capture the entirety of a Denard smile without the glare. To other contributing photographers in order of appearance: Drew Hoover of Bama's student newspaper, the Crimson White, Communications Specialist 1st Class Chad McNeeley of the U.S. Air Force, the University of Notre Dame Athletics Department, Shotgun Spratling of Neon Tommy, Daryl Quintaig of Illinois student newspaper The Daily Illini, Mark Boomgaard of Spartannation.com, Derek Tam of NU Intel, "Proud Buckeye" James D. DeCamp, and the University of Michigan Bentley Library. And a special thank you to the players, coaches, staff and fans of 133 Michigan football teams for remaining steadfastly worthy of so much ink.
We're going to try again next year, probably with another Kickstarter, wholesale distribution, interior ads, and I expect 1,000% more Devin Gardner.
Brian Santa, Ace and I thought it would be great if we could go to this game. We promise to be extra good this year.
Offense line matters. Toward the end of last season it became increasingly clear that you could use trench matchups (O-line vs. D-line, D-line vs. O-line) as a heuristic for how teams would do against each other. Which is to say that it wasn't a great year for the league's skill positions.
Nebraska was an outlier. Coming into the season the Huskers were the B1G's version of Virginia Tech. They were loaded at every skill position save wideout, but they were relatively mediocre on the lines, particularly on offense. Their issues became pronounced on defense early in the season when DT Jared Crick got injured against Washington and on offense later in the season when injury robbed them of their starting tight end and a guard or two.
By the time they got to Michigan they were doing things like this:
screencap via BWS
And then all of a sudden it didn't matter that they had a speedy running quarterback and a bulldozer of a tailback. The Wolverines defense could choke them to death three yards behind the line of scrimmage every other play.
Nebraska finished fifth in the conference in yards per game (379.9 ypg, 66th nationally) and fourth in scoring (29.2 ppg, 49th nationally), which was disappointing given the preseason advertising. Part of that comes from the intangible aspects of transitioning into a new conference, but a lot of it had to do with the fact that their offensive line wasn't very deep or very good even though they got by decently in the Big 12 where teams generally sit back on defense and try to outscore you on offense.
The point is the Huskers are going to have to recruit a lot more big uglies if they want to gain elite status in the B1G. So far they haven't really done that,
|#5 Nebraska - 8 Commits|
but I guess it is still only June.
Obligatory Taylor Martinez shotput Youtube clip:
If you ever want to know how to throw like this, grab a football and pretend there's a foot-long string connecting it to your ear.
The actual preview part.
I would get the presser transcripts done so fast if I were there.
Nebraska's B1G debut in 2011 didn't go completely according to plan. They lost three conference games -- at Michigan and at Wisconsin in spectacular blow-outs and vs. Northwestern in game that even Brady Hoke couldn't believe happened. Other than that they had the singular highlight of clobbering Michigan State. They also beat Ohio State, but I'm sure Huskers fans talk about what happened during that game the way Michigan fans talk about what happened during the Sugar Bowl.
If the Huskers want to prove that their are truly of the B1G elite as they were billed to be, they need to put on a more convincing show and reach Indianapolis this season. They need their defense to stop underachieving, and in addition to to keeping their offensive line healthy, they need their offense as a whole to learn how to deal with adversity. Nebraska was frankly underwhelming on defense last season despite the number of star players, and their offense crumbled often on the road whenever they fell behind in the count. Much of that can be attributed to problems in leadership and coaching, so whether or not Bo Pelini is worth his paycheck, his evaluation period begins now.
- Sept 1, Southern Miss
- Sept 8, @ UCLA
- Sept 15, Arkansas State
- Sept 22, Idaho State
- Sept 29, Wisconsin
- Oct 6, @ Ohio State
- Oct 13, WIFEDAY
- Oct 20, @ Northwestern
- Oct 27, Michigan
- Nov 3, @ Michigan State
- Nov 10, Penn State
- Nov 17, Minnesota
Another part of the problem last year was the scheduling -- Nebraska's B1G slate was ... shitty. The Huskers played all five of the Bigs: Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Ohio State, three of which were away games. No other B1G team faced more than four upper tier teams, even if you count Nebraska itself as one.
The matchups don't get any softer this season, but Nebraska will benefit marginally by having just two of those teams on the road and eight home games total. A well timed bye after Wisconsin and Ohio State should help the Huskers regroup for the bulk of the conference schedule.
Even with a visit to UCLA in week two, I see Nebraska sweeping their nonconference opponents. They'll likely lose to Ohio State and one if not both of the Michigans, but any more than three or four B1G losses would be highly surprising.
This schedule is as favorable as: Swimming 1000 yards, downstream.
X's and O's, Jimmys and Joes
"What was that?" "Idunno I've never seen that before."
Style: Spread/option, but a lot more option than spread.
Key losses: backup RB Aaron Green (105 yards, 4.4 ypc, 2 TD) , WR Brandon Kinnie (257 yards, 1 TD), C Mike Caputo, LT Yoshi Hardrick, RT Marcel Jones.
Top returners: QB Taylor Martinez (56.3%, 2089 yards, 13 TD, 8 INT), RB Rex Burkhead (1357 yards, 4.8 ypc, 15 TD), RB Ameer Abdullah (150 yards, 3.6 ypc, 3 TD), WR Kenny Bell (461 yards, 3 TD), WR Quincy Enunwa (293 yards, 2 TD), TE Ben Cotton (189 yards, 0 TD), TE Kyler Reed (257 yards, 1 TD).
Nebraska's offense was a lot like Michigan's offense last year -- frequently unstoppable on the ground, temperamental through the air -- but not quite as good. Like the Wolverines, the Huskers were adjusting to a new offensive coordinator with a second-year starting quarterback who was equally capable of breaking open the game or inciting a fan to break his TV screen on any given play.
Not much will change going into 2012. The offensive line may get better, which would allow Nebraska's talented and experienced backfield to do some fancier stuff, but the backbone of their offense -- option -- will be predicated on whether Taylor Martinez makes the right reads and decisions. Lots of offseason fluff has been devoted to his throwing mechanics and accuracy, which is silly. The bread and butter of the Huskers offensive identity is the option run game, and that's equal parts athletic talent/skill and decision-making. So far Martinez hasn't proven himself to be that good at the latter.
The good news for him is that Rex Burkhead, the quintessential workhorse that Nebraska can always feed the ball to from the I formation when all else fails, returns at tailback. The Huskers should be mindful of his mileage, though. 38 carries against Iowa was cool last season, but after Cody Green's transfer, Nebraska a high ankle sprain away from being Iowa.
On the "needs improvement" list: receivers. None of the Huskers receivers were that good last season, and it's pretty safe to say they won't be unearthing any new talent this fall. Again, because of the nature of their offense and the play-action potential, it may be unnecessary, but preventing opposing safeties from sucking up against the run every play would make things a lot easier.
This offense is as frightening as: A musket. Fear level = 6.
No. 94 Cameron Meredith
Key losses: DT Jared Crick, LB Lavonte David, CB Alfonzo Dennard, S Austin Cassidy (61 tackles, 2 INT)
Top returners: DT Baker Steinkuhler (25 tackles, 2 sacks), DE Cameron Meredith (56 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 INT), DE Jason Ankrah (17 tackles, 1 sack), LB Will Compton (69 tackles, 1 sack), LB Sean Fisher (21 tackles), CB Andrew Green (38 tackles, 1 INT), S P.J. Smith (33 tackles, 1 INT)
Nebraska's disappointing defense in 2011 was much weaker against the run (158.5 ypg, 64th) than expected. They suffered from the loss of DT Jared Crick, who tore his pectoral muscle against Washington and eventually sat out the remainder of the season after Ohio State two games later, but to be honest, they were underwhelming even before that happened.
Against the past they fared okay (192.2 ypg, 19th), but you can mentally adjust that for how good you think B1G passing offenses were last year.
This season they lose the stars -- Crick, David, and Dennard -- but return a solid squad. Cameron Meredith was impressive last year and should continue to trend up. There's not much to say about anyone else.
Perhaps the most intriguing development for this defense was the hiring of defensive coordinator John Papuchis to replace Carl Pelini prior to the Capitol One bowl. Papuchis was the D-line coach under Bo Pelini while he was defensive coordinator at LSU during the 2005-2007 seasons, the last of which ended with a national championship. The reuniting of the Papuchis/Pelini duo should rejuvenate the Huskers defense, and with a full offseason of coaching, there should be tangible results in 2012.
If anything, it adds some oomf to recruiting, which means that Nebraska could be very good in a few years.
This defense is as frightening as: a 12-year-old kid who wets his bed, is cruel to small animals, and likes starting fires. You are a 28-year-old woman who reminds him of his mother. Fear level = 7, trending up with time.
Loses ball in 3 ... 2 ...
Key losses: No one important.
Top returners: K/P Brett Maher (44.5 ypp, 19/23 FG), KR/PR Ameer Abdullah (29.3 yards/kickoff, 7.1 yards/punt)
They should be really good! When they're not fumbling kickoffs.
I would bring my fancy camera and take sweet wide-angle photos. If I were there.
Record: 9-3 overall, 5-3 B1G.
Against Michigan: Lincoln is a difficult stadium to play in, and Michigan has been pretty bad on the road, so I'll give Nebraska the edge for that. Without a Mike Martin ragdolling backup offensive linemen, the Huskers will probably put up more points than they did last year. Going out on a limb here -- if Michigan wins, it'll be really close, like 27-24.
Their chances of winning the B1G are as good as: Swimming 1000 yards, downstream, in a race vs. Michael Phelps, who has just donated blood.
|Clayton, OH – 6'0", 220|
|Scout||3*, #35 MLB|
|Rivals||3*, #17 ILB, #24 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #23 ILB, #32 OH|
|24/7||3*, #20 ILB, #21 OH|
|Other Suitors||Illinois, Iowa, Cincinnati, West Virginia|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim.|
|Notes||Nephew of former MSU running back Javon. Dad played at Iowa.|
When your last name is Ringer and you live in the middle of Ohio, football is your destiny. Kaleb Ringer's dad played for Iowa. His uncle is near-great MSU tailback alum Javon. His two older brothers were high school stars who play for small colleges, and his youngest brother is a rising middle-schooler who will play for Northmont when the time comes.
So it's no surprise that Ringer's recruiting timetable was accelerated. As a ninth grader he was already being listed at 5'11", 209, and running impressive 40s at camps. Max Preps named him a sophomore All-American. He became a captain his junior year. And Ringer was open about his Ohio State fandom, leading to some absurdly overhyped expectations from the locals…
Ringer is the real deal...could be that Ohio has the top LB in the country 3 years in a row (assuming DePriest keeps that title on Scout). Yes, he could be that good if he keeps progressing.
…that spread to Duane Long ("Hashmark to hashmark it is hard to not pick Ringer. He is physical and a physical specimen.") and even the recruiting sites early on. His coach expected he'd be a nationally-pursued guy:
"We've had a lot of good linebackers and he's potentially going to be the best one," Schneider said. "(OL) Zebrie (Sanders) was a big recruit and went to Florida State, and nationally he's the biggest guy I've had here. Kaleb I'm sure will be the same way. People are talking about him and he's got a couple offers so far. When September 1 hits, I expect a lot more to pop up."
When Ringer committed in mid-April, only Scout had gotten a set of rankings out. He was a four-star and the #8 MLB. His lineage came with capital-e Expectations.
For a variety of reasons, those expectations soon faded into a profile of a three-star linebacker who's around the 25th-best inside linebacker in the country and not amongst the top twenty kids in Ohio. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious of which is his size. He's listed at 6-foot-even or 6'1" everywhere, just an inch taller than was being claimed for him when he was in ninth grade. He's stayed about the same weight, too, and for a guy with a reputation as a between-the-tackles thumper that might be a problem.
While there is some disagreement about his ability to cover and get sideline-to-sideline, "thumper" appears to be the leading archetype. Touch The Banner:
He's a thick kid who can drive runners back into the hole and stop their forward momentum. He stays low and drives through ballcarriers. He also seems to do a pretty good job of wading through the trash to find the ball. However, the criticism I've heard most often - and something I agree with - is that he lacks a great deal of speed and athleticism in the open field. Ringer is not a naturally gifted, fluid athlete. He's your quintessential thumper. Typically, a kid his size would end up at WILL, but I'm not sure he has the athleticism to do what a weakside linebacker would need to do.
ESPN has a similar take($):
Ringer is a tough customer, displaying very good playing strength as a run stopper. Has the size and athleticism for the inside linebacker position at the major level of competition. The strong wrap tackling skills we see should prove beneficial as a special team's coverage player. … We see good lateral movement to the edges however his playing speed in long pursuit gets challenged. When this prospect does step up his playing strength is obvious; does a nice job working through traffic, demonstrating the ability to maintain backside leverage. … We see a player with some playing speed limitations however one who plays with the motor and intensity necessary to make game changing plays.
Dissent comes from Allen Trieu, who lists speed as a positive and praises Ringer's range:
He may not wow you with the eye test, but put on the film and he's all over the field making plays. He's very solidly built, has a nose for the football and has legitimate sideline to sideline speed. He's also physical and can take on blocks. I have to see more of him in coverage, but he's a kid who could end up leading a team in tackles for several years in college.
Scout's Dave Berk's evaluation emphasizes a gritty tenacity and etc:
He shows tenacity in everything he does, and pursues and tackles downhill. He bolsters his run-stopping skills with the agility, quickness, and ability to drop back in coverage. He needs to add muscle mass, but, when he does, look out. He will be a good. The first thing you notice when watching Ringer in action is his ability to make plays. He shows gritty toughness with a hitter’s mentality from the middle linebacker spot. Kaleb is not afraid to mix it up. He does a great job of filling gaps and stopping the run. His ability to run from sideline to sideline and to do so with good angles makes him even more of a defensive weapon.
Why Scout dropped him from the #8 to the #35 inside linebacker is a mystery given that evaluation.
Rivals was all over the place in the three articles that scout him in any serious fashion. A Nike camp evaluation($) declared his "serious cover skills" and "hustle through the agility drills" were the most impressive aspects of his game while a take from Mike Farrell($) at the same camp says he's "a bit stiff at times, but has quick-twitch ability, can turn and run, and is very physical." An earlier game evaluation($) from Greg Ladky lists "lateral movement" as his main weakness. Rivals will sit in a corner arguing with itself for the duration.
Given the rankings I'm inclined to believe the less-optimistic aspects of the scouting reports above. Ringer did suffer through an injury-plagued senior year that may be partially responsible for his drop on Scout, but the other sites ranked him about where he ended up from the start.
But we've got more than that to go on after Ringer enrolled early and participated in spring practice. Hoke:
“He had a great spring. He had over a 3.0 (GPA). He did a great job from the academic side of it. He did a nice job of learning the defense. He was awesome. I think he can be in the mix (for playing time).”
He had one of those problems in space on the spring practice videos…
Play 7: Gardner makes a read, doesn't like it, and takes off. Kaleb Ringer can't quite get off a block fast enough to bring Gardner down.
…and also made a little impression in the spring game:
Kaleb Ringer had an impressive track-and-tackle on Hayes in the open field off a dumpoff. Next play he whiffed a tackle on Toussaint (I think it was him).
By showing up, getting good grades, and finding himself immediately in the second-ish unit he's cleared some hurdles between high school kids and playing time. It also gave some of the people who tell me things a chance to repeat the fact that Hoke and Mark Smith really like the kid, probably because of the gritty tough hardnosed bit.
Etc.: On committing to M:
“Of course you’re going to get that stink-eye look,” said Northmont High School’s standout junior linebacker on Tuesday.
“Like, what? You’re going to Michigan? But my parents, family and friends were very supportive. That helps in the process.”
Javon is not a fan of Kaleb's decision.
Per Ringer himself, Ohio State's lack of an offer wasn't about his play($):
He loved Ohio State, but on his fourth visit to Columbus, then-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell told Ringer that Ohio State hadn't offered him yet, "but it had nothing to do with football."
This pissed Ringer off and may have accelerated his decision to commit to OSU's main rival. If the issue was academic, it was taken care of quickly enough for Ringer to enroll early and notch a 3.0 in his first semester. If it was something else, it wasn't significant enough to put off a Michigan program that seems to be avoiding even slight character issues. Maybe Luke Fickell hates ringer tees.
Why Sam Sword? Sword was a quintessential two-down middle linebacker who was mean in the hole and not so great in coverage. He's listed at 6'1", 244 on his NFL profile, which is around the size Ringer should end up after the requisite time in the weight room. The concern is that the Swords of the world are dinosaurs in an environment of slot this and spread that.
If Sword's before your time, more recent linebackers Ringer might remind you of include Johnny Thompson and current MLB starter Kenny Demens, though I think Demens is surprisingly good in coverage for a guy who looks like a cube of muscle. It doesn't seem like that's expected out of Ringer.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Ringer apparently ceased going to camps after a Nike one between his sophomore and junior years and then got injured for most of his senior season. However, he was a guy on everyone's radar early and it's not like Ringer's offers defy his rankings.
Variance: Moderate. Injury makes him more of a wild card, but not a true boom-or-bust guy like Taco Charlton.
Ceiling: Low. Lack of growth leads you to believe he may be close to topped out physically and he doesn't have the pedigree of the other guys in the class. Seems like he's a two-down guy.
General Excitement Level: Low. As always, sorry but some guys have to get that designation. The only not-touted linebacker in a four-LB class—the one who seems like he's fighting with Joe Bolden—is that guy.
Projection: Early enrollment and status as a linebackery tackling guy could see him forego a redshirt to play a bunch of special teams despite the linebacker depth chart being three-deep at both spots he could reasonably play. If he's not needed on special teams, a redshirt is very likely.
From there, it's the same story detailed in the articles on Ross and Royce-Jenkins Stone: the two ILB spots are going to be a war for the foreseeable future, one Joe Bolden has a pile of tanks ready for. Ringer is unlikely to be the strongest candidate at WLB, so Ringer will either have to hope Bolden isn't as good as everyone thinks he is or can't stay healthy if he's going to get serious playing time.
Hey all. Before we get started, a reminder: Its been 566 days, and counting, since Ohio defeated Michigan in football.
Technically, the offseason is officially OVAH. How so? Because now we have a full(ish) board of games to bet on thanks to the esteemed Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas releasing well over 100 games of the year lines back on Monday. This has become an annual tradition for the casino's sportsbook and, for me, it tells me two things: One, hurry up and get your summer on because pretty soon it will be football season, and, two, it's time to start studying up on these teams and getting them down cold because if it's football season, that also means it's gambling season. For full analysis on the games on the Nugget's betting board, bookmark the JCB. We'll be looking into these throughout the summer. And while we havent produced any posts yet on the subject, we do have a killer Wisconsin preview on the blog this week as well as daily Euro Cup 2012 coverage. For now, lets focus on the five games involving Michigan. Here are the lines as they opened and later adjusted as action came in, with a full breadown following:
|Opponent||Opening Line||Current Line|
|vs Alabama||Bama -12||Bama -10|
|at Notre Dame||ND -1||ND -1|
|vs Michigan St||UM -6||UM -6|
|at Nebraska||UM -2||UM -1|
|at Ohio State||UM -3||Pick 'Em|
WE HAVE A DIFFERING OF OPINIONS: NEBRASKA, OHIO STATE
What jumped right off the page for me is the fact that the Golden Nugget installed Michigan as road chalk in both the Nebraska and Ohio State games. The Nugget's opening line called for Michigan -2 at Nebraska and -3 at Ohio State. This is in direct contrast to the spread projections put forth by Beyond The Bets, which we discussed in the MGoForum last week.
To review, BTB did spread projections on all the scheduled college football games for the upcoming season. Per their numbers, Nebraska was -3 vs Michigan and OSU was -4 vs the Wolverines. In both cases, the first actual betting line was nearly a full touchdown different from the BTB projections. Of the 111 lines the Nugget released, a handful differed a point or two from those BTB projections, but very few had a different team favored which was the case with these two Michigan games. I caught up with Behind The Bets in an email exchange to get their take on the differing opinions on these games. Home field played a big role in their initial numbers and it was revealed that their numbers pegged OSU to be upwards of a 6-point favorite, but given Michigan's bounceback season in 2011, new found skill at defense and rivalry game intensity, BTB felt it more prudent to project a smaller number. They think the Bucks are the best team in the Big 10:
We power rated Ohio State as the best team in the Big Ten. Obviously, the Golden Nugget disagrees and - to some extent - it's apparent that Las Vegas wiseguys do, too. Otherwise, it's likely that the line in the Michigan-Ohio State matchup would have moved from Michigan -3 to Ohio State being favored. At some point, it very well could, and the guess here is that Ohio State will be at least a three-point favorite by kickoff. But that's the great thing about making opinions in June: They aren't exact, we all have different ones, and it makes for some great discussion.
Dont loook too deep into their power rankings calling OSU the league's best team. For one, its only summer. We're all speculating at this point. But more importantly, very little separates the teams at the top of the league. BTB forecasts a conference race thats too close to call. In their rankings, Michigan is just a point behind OSU, and there's a minuscule 3-point difference between OSU, the highest rated team, and the fifth-rated team, in this case MSU. BTB said that Michigan, Wisconsin and Nebraska are basically dead even in their ratings, and if the Cornhusker game was in Ann Arbor this year, their spread projections might have listed the Wolverines as 5- or 6-point chalk.
One of the themes in past summers in the wake of early betting lines being released was that Books couldnt throw numbers on the board to stop people from betting against Michigan. Whether it was Michigan being an unknown commodity in the wake of coaching changes in 2008 and 2011, or, frankly being a known stinky commodity after losing years in '08 and '09, nobody seemed interested in backing the Wolverines. That might be shifting and seeing the Nugget install the Wolverines initially as road chalk in the Nebraska and OSU games is an example of that changing mindset. The public loves betting on stars and few shine as brightly or are as popular as Denard Xavier Robinson. BTB expects the Wolverines to be a public darling most of the season.
Expect Michigan to be a heavy public team all season long - no different than USC, another storied program who has a Heisman Trophy hopeful at quarterback. And again, the Mattison factor can't be underestimated. The days of watching Greg Robinson's Swiss Cheese defense are over, and Michigan fans can again expect to see the defense make great second-half adjustments and keep them in games they otherwise have no business winning.
However, early action, at least on the Nebraska and OSU games, shows that the early bird gamblers are still going against Michigan. The OSU line was immediately bet down to a pick 'em and enough Cornhusker action was lured in to shave a full point off the Nugget's original line from UM -2 to UM -1. Living in Ohio, I can tell you that word is going around about a pick 'em line for this year's The Game, and I received a handful of texts and emails from Buckeye friends wondering if I was ready to bet them. The answer to that is No. I suspect the Bucks will have a really good season this year. And that come game week, Michigan will be catching a field goal. The smart investor will wait for those points to materialize, so dont pull the trigger just yet.
As for the Nebraska game, I'm a bit more bullish on Michigan and the current line than I was at first blush. When I broke down the 9.5 regular season win total prop for Michigan at the JCB, I wasnt very confident about any bigtime road game, admitting I couldnt even give a lean to a Michigan win in Lincoln. Since then, however, I've done soemthing radical. I rewatched last years game. I have new found Michigan confidence. I had forgotten just how much Michigan dominated the game and worked over Nebraska's allegedly vaunted Black Shirt defense. I recall the game getting out of hand in the second half thanks to some quirky turnovers by Michigan, but if this game was scored like a boxing match, it would have been a rout, all rounds to the Wolverines. It was the best four quarter game Michigan put together all season. Fitzgerald Toussaint was a beast. Michigan's offense was unstoppable. And the Nebraska offense, led by Tyler Martinez, generated no offense without the help of turnovers or after the game had long been decided. You know the woodsheds that Michigan seemed to end every season with under Rodriguez? It was like that, but with the good guys being the bully. After rewatching last year's game, I could buy the Wolverines being the slight chalk that the Nugget has made them. I think people are as unsure as ever on Nebraska. And nobody is interested in laying many points with them and Martinez. If you want my advice, go ahead and take Michigan against Nebraska. But hold on to your money until game week for OSU and wait until Michigan is catching points.
THE MONSTER OPENING GAME: ALABAMA
The online sportsbook 5Dimes got a jump on everybody with this game, releasing a line of Alabama -7 in the dead of winter. Sharps pounded Alabama on that line and eventually the line grew from Bama as one touchdown favorite to two touchdown favorites. To be clear, this wasnt a case of constant, daily action coming in against Michigan, making the line -8 one day, then -9 the next and so on. It was more of a shock and awe type of thing than anything else. That opening line of -7 got so much one side action that the book pulled the line, went back to the drawing board and rereleased it as -14. They seemed to have a found a fair number for the middle of the offseason, but, in the last month, a slow trickle of Michigan money came streaming in, and 5Dimes knocked the line down to 13.5, then to 13 and just before last weekend all the way down to Alabama -12.
When the Nugget released their much ballyhooed lines on Monday, they agreed with the latest 5Dimes shift and hung a Alabama -12 number. And in a sign that BTB's intimations that Michigan could be a public play this year, money did come pouring in on the Wolverines. The line at the Nugget currently sits at Bama -10. However, back at 5Dimes, where the online didnt get the hyped injection of action like the Nugget got on Monday, the line remains -12. So, if you want to bet Michigan and the points, go over and do it at 5Dimes while you can still get an extra two points. You know what I am thinking? I am wondering how sizeable the demographic is who has Alabama -7 on that very early 5Dimes line, but also has Michigan +12 on the Nugget line, or even +13 or +14 on the 5Dimes re-release. I want to watch this game with that crowd. Otherwise, I'm probably going to sit this one out.
I honestly dont have a true feel for exactly how Michigan will fare in this game. I do know that last summer I figured only a miracle could keep the Wolverines in this game. But their performance, especially on defense, a season ago, has at least given me a flicker of real hope in this game. I am not reassured that Alabama has to replace a lot of defensive parts, but it still will be athletic, fast and talented. And still coached by Nick Saban. It's easy imagining them choking Michigan the way similarly frothed defenses from MSU and Va Tech did to the Wolverines a year ago, despite the Renaissaince season. And the Tide's offensive line might be a mismatch going against the inexperienced and unproven Michigan defensive line. This might be the worst matchup for Michigan's defensive line to be playing without stalwarts up front Mike Martin and Ryan Van Bergen for the first time in years. Eddie Lacy and Jalston Fowler will handle the rock for Bama now that Trent Richardson is in the NFL. They have just theee 100-yard games between them, but I wouldnt be surprised if one of them pops over the century mark in this one, taking advantage of Michigan transition up front. I cant shake the feeling that this game may just take the form of the recent Bama/Penn St matches from the last couple of seasons. Bama strangled those games in their favor, slowly, but surely pulling away for 24-3, 27-11 wins, covering the spread in each. Michigan at least has a much more capable offense than Penn State ever did coming into those games. The playmaking ability of Robinson alone might be enough of an offensive counterpunch for the Wolverines to, unlike PSU, stay in the game and make the Tide sweat in the end. That might not sound like the most optimistic assessment, but a year ago at this time, I figured Michigan would be lucky to stay within three touchdowns of the Tide. #Progress
THE UNDERDOG SERIES: NOTRE DAME
I really dont have any new ways to present this well known factoid of the Michigan-Notre Dame series, so I'll just say it. This is an underdog series, with the dog logging a 21-5 ATS mark and actually winning the series outright on the real scoreboard by a 13-12-1 count. I always say the underdog in this series usually ends up playing its best game of the season. On the current 4-0 SUATS run the dog in this series is riding right now, you could for sure that say the 2008 Irish squad and the 2009 and 2010 Michigan squads didnt play better games or earned bigger wins in those years than what they accomplished in the annual grudge match between these historic programs. You'd be hard pressed to find an annual series that tilts so strongly to the underdog. Clemson-Georgia Tech in the ACC gives it a run for its money. Both games are ones that I will always play the underdog in, no questions asked. Sometimes its that easy to pull the trigger.
I know some partisan Michigan fans will grumble at the audacious lack of respect oddsmakers are giving the Wolverines here by making the Irish the favored team at home. But I want to Wolverines to be the underdog all the time in this matchup. Nothing good really comes from being chalk in this series. The Irish havent covered as chalk in this series since 1982, while the Wolverines have only covered twice as chalk in this series during my adult life. At least Michigan has some history of winning, but not covering in this series like in 1997 and 1999, but those were major escape jobs from our heroes.
The Irish are always a tricky team to handicap. Other than this Michigan game, the Irish are either eye opening dogs--catching double digits against USC and Oklahoma--or do-a-double-take heavy chalk, such as laying 10 points against Miami. Wise guy bettors have long loved Brian Kelly, but so far in two seasons in South Bend, he hasnt rewarded that faith with a great record against the spread. The Irish perpetually seem to be overvalued more than any other team in the early going of college football seasons. The money quote from Kegs 'N Eggs Adam from the above link:
There were also other games later in the season posted, and Vegas is taking plenty of Notre Dame action, again, because they are Notre Dame. The Golden Nugget clearly likes this team and are making lines that stretch beyond protecting themselves against public betting. That’s not the first time we’ve seen that happen, though.
Yes, we have seen it happen. In fact, it's become a little bit of a cottage industry for me (and the JCB, natch) to spend every September betting against the Irish before people realize just how overrated they are and how skewed the lines are as a result. Did you know that Notre Dame is just 32-31 straight up in the month of September and before since Lou Holtz left town? Well, now you do. That nets out to 27-35-1 against the spread, so betting against the Irish on the blind during the opening month of the season has turned a decent profit since 1996. As chalk, they are especially good money burners during the first month of year, logging just a 12-23-1 ATS mark during this stretch. Basically, they have been annual slow starters since Uncle Lou left town and have failed to cover the spread two out of every three times they've been September chalk since then. With the Irish laying 13.5 to Navy, a single point to Michigan and likely to be chalk against Purdue, you'll make money by betting against them in these games if past history is any indication. And even though they've covered the spread the last couple years against MSU, you could probably add in MSU -2.5 to the Fade Notre Dame Early profit mix. It's a Fall Tradition like no other.
THE GREEN ELEPHANT LAYING IN THE WEEDS: MICHIGAN STATE
The Michigan State Spartans, the current program Waterloo (please, no mail from Iowa. kthnxbai). I brought this up last week, but I am inclined to take the points here and side with MSU. I've been picking MSU to at least cover, if not win, pretty much the entire time during their nifty little historic winning streak over Michigan. I feel Michigan is finally ready to win this game and have just the right circumstances to do that this season--game is at home, senior QB, seemingly extra focus finally being put on this game and so on. But will they? I cant see them doing so in anything other than a close fight that goes right down to the gun.
I have a betting paranoia on taking a team thats favored by a decent amount while trying to snap a noteworthy losing streak against Foe X. A great recent example was last year's OSU game where Michigan won, breaking a 7-game losing streak to the Bucks, but failed to cover the closing -8 line. Yes, I realize there was a shaky replay call that overturned a Michigan touchdown late in the game, keeping them from opening a 10-point lead. But that wasnt the last play of the game. And part of my anxiety in these spots stems from situations like that, even if the TD is granted. There is plenty of time for a worthless late score and back door cover. The dreaded Prevent Defense burns chalk bettors every week with late scores. Given how fast OSU scored some of their TDs that afternoon, you cant say that replay was the difference between covering or not. The back door cover would have been in major play. I'm convinced that had the TD stayed on the board, Michigan would still need to recover an on-side kick to finally clinch a victory.
Getting back to this MSU game, I just dont think more than field goal really should separate these teams this year. And as far as that back door cover scenario, Michigan would need to be up more than 13 points in the fourth quarter to avoid the back door threat. I dont see that happening. We'll see how this line evolves between now and October, but right now I would take those points to the bank.