10/29/2016 – Michigan 32, Michigan State 23 – 8-0, 4-0 Big Ten
stop #7 [Patrick Barron]
Do not be deceived. Michigan delivered an ass-kicking to Michigan State on Saturday. Nobody in the media buys the comeback narrative from MSU. ESPN:
Michigan took the first punch against desperate rival Michigan State and then fired back with haymakers, essentially putting the game out of reach at halftime.
...the Wolverines ran away to a comfortable win. ...Michigan looked really good and gets out of a rivalry game with a two-possession road win that was probably better than the final score indicates.
The only people who care about the particular game theory state that resulted in Saturday's fourth quarter are the perpetually unhappy wing of Michigan fans and desperate Michigan State fans. I regret it mostly because I have to spend time in this column talking about a comeback so cosmetic Joe Tiller would be proud of it.
So I shake my fist at that interception. Michigan's up 27-10, they've ground up a few minutes of the third quarter on their opening drive of the second half, and the floodgates are poised to open. Michigan tries a throwback that is not there; Speight throws his worst pass in a month; Michigan gives up negative yards on seven goal-to-go plays. Then they're on their own four and go get a field goal. Suddenly it is the fourth quarter.
At this juncture Michigan found itself in a position where only a colossal disaster could let Michigan State back into the game. If they just drained clock and made MSU do the same as it tried to score they would win. The game wasn't out of hand to the point where Michigan could run their triple-reverse flea-flicker as a middle finger; it was out of hand sufficiently that putting away the scoring offense made sense. After Michigan went up 20, their final three drives were a Lloydball spectacular:
- run run pass punt
- pass to fullback in the flat, run, pass, run run run punt
- run run run punt
Unlike many applications of Lloydball under its namesake, this made total sense. Michigan's fourth quarter went as badly as possible without a catastrophic mistake and their win percentage never dropped under 92 or 98%, depending on which system you're checking.
The other side was fervently attempting to save face. Their first drive of the fourth quarter 1) featured their running quarterback running, 2) drained the playclock down to ten seconds when the game clock was running, and 3) ended in a field goal attempt.
Michigan State's only goal was to make it look good. Michigan's goal was to win. These two goals combined with some galactically incompetent officiating to get Michigan State very technically within one score, and then Mark Dantonio's attempt to run up the score in a loss backfired spectacularly.
You will reap what you sow.
In the aftermath, Michigan State is resorting to making stuff up. Mark Dantonio explained his decision to go for a fourth-quarter field goal down twenty by saying he wanted to make it a two possession game. He's not dumb enough to believe that or he'd be Tim Beckman, so he's just making his making-it-look-good look good. Meanwhile his quarterback got hit so hard he thinks he plays for Michigan now:
In looking at positives, Tyler O'Connor said a Michigan DL told him, “You guys might not have won the game, but you guys kicked our ass.”
— Luke Srodulski (@lsrodulski) October 29, 2016
Sure he did, buddy. This was right after Khalid Hill got his ass kicked by Montae Nicholson.
— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) October 30, 2016
And Devin Bush got his ass kicked by Chris Frey.
When manballers had to manball their manballiest in this game, Michigan dominated. Fourth and short was a turnover on downs. Back to back goal line stands on the same drive weren't even difficult. Those snaps collectively gained negative yardage.
And what is it about Jim Harbaugh's track record that makes you think this is going to change any time soon? Your best bet is for the Michigan fanbase to collectively become Jed York. Good luck with that.
But, yeah, you've got that punt. Congratulations. Maybe this year you can name the meaningless touchdown with a second left to make it look vaguely competitive. I've got a suggestion: "The Future."
There was a Peppers feature on Gameday:
As always, extensive selection at MGoVideo.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Amara Darboh caught virtually everything that came his way, including a bomb down the sideline on which he was interfered on without a call. He speared a ball Speight sailed for a first down early in the third quarter and generally had his way with anyone MSU sent in his direction.
#2 Jabrill Peppers played virtually every position; he had a rushing touchdown, opened up holes for his teammates as MSU overreacted to him incessantly, and had two TFLs, a sack, and two fourth-down stops on defense. He is totally overrated.
#3 Wilton Speight continued his Rudock trajectory. The interception on the wheel route was real bad and he made some easy things look a bit harder than they should have been by holding on to the ball too long, but he offset those issues with a 10 YPA day.
Honorable mention: Taco Charlton was unblockable until they started tackling him; Khalid Hill had some thumpers; Jake Butt had a couple of nice catches in the #buttzone; Jourdan Lewis is Jourdan Lewis.
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
7: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 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).
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), Taco Charlton(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), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW), 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.
Michigan State's attempt to run it up in a loss backfires spectacularly, giving Jabrill Peppers a chance to demonstrate his 100 M speed.
Thanks for the meaningless points and Heisman boost.
Honorable mention: Khalid Hill thunders Montae Nicholson into the ground; Charlton nails O'Connor and forces an interception at the end of the half; Speight spins away from a sack and nails Darboh downfield; Darboh spears a third-down conversion one-handed; Darboh fights through hella interference to grab a bomb down the sideline.
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.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Michigan State rolling right down the field for a 75-yard TD on their opening drive made me feel rather bad, as if I had just been dropped in a wormhole and came out the other side in the Brady Hoke era.
Honorable mention: Wilton Speight shuts the door on a blowout with that INT, various horrendous calls in the fourth quarter, Stribling getting beat for MSU's first make-it-look-good TD.
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.
[After THE JUMP: Nobody has ever attended Michigan. Strange but true.]
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starts at 1:00
Michigan State: The only college football program that only people who went there would ever have reason to root for, apparently. Also MGoBlog made a really bad blogger stop blogging so yay us! Oh right, the game: Speight’s Rudockian progression. Both teams had beautifully scripted first drives. The Shane Morris QB lead package isn’t working. Peppers as redzone quarterback: regularly 4 yards, but need to throw from it to break tendency.
starts at 25:55
Mostly dominant except State’s first drive was beautifully scripted and late when the holding was turned off and pass interference sliders went to max. Issues mostly missed tackles. Hurst > Godin.
3. Special Teams, Game Theory
starts at 36:44
The last 9 minutes of the game took 45 minutes because red hats—somebody needs to cap advertising or college football will be going the way of the NFL. Brian agrees with Rod Gilmore on end-of-game strategy once.
This was an upset, but lol: Ohio State has a loss—kick six part of an uncharacteristic special teams meltdown. Barrett shut down as a runner.
4. Talking Big Ten With Jamie Mac
starts at 46:06
Ohio State keeps looking more vulnerable—this time their defense wasn’t able to get off the field against Northwestern. Penn State is good when not playing Michigan. MGoBlog readers are unabashed fans of Wisconsin linebackers. Perry Hills has the best QBR in the Big Ten. Best fight songs and mascots in college football according to everyone except MSU’s stadium announcer, who is sponsored by the movie 300, Muscle Milk, and lifeless concrete structures filled with shitty sports fans like you.
- “You Played Yourself”—Ice-T
- “Concrete Schoolyard”—Jurassic 5
- “Mathematics”—Mos Def
- “Across 110th Street”
THE USUAL LINKS
Talk about how the running game got you guys established early. Couple big runs on that first drive.
“Yeah, De’Veon was running really hard. All our backs were going. Both teams had success with the run early. That got us going. Set up quite a few things in the play action game and the passing game, and then our guys made plays.
“Really felt—[turns to SID] who’d you have in here? Saw Wilton. Who else was in here?”
SID: Wilton and Amara.
“Amara! Amara Darboh. [laughs uproariously] Heck of a game. That’s maybe one of his best. Talk about guys making plays, Amara Darboh was really making plays today. And Wilton, another tremendous game by him. You know, the throw he made before the half to Amara on the deep in route, I thought that was especially good after taking a hit, getting knocked down, taking a pretty hard hit and then coming back and throwing that one right on the money.
“Defensively, we made plays. Guys made plays. Three out of four fourth-down were huge in the ballgame. Jabrill getting the—got a fourth down stop and also picking up that conversion at the end, scoring a touchdown. Guys made plays. That’s the way I feel right now. Got the W.”
Jim, you talked about Amara going into the season as being your best receiver, and I think we’re seeing what you saw. Talk about what he’s done in the season to take it up even another level and what you’re getting from him right now.
“Well, his game is at a very high level. Some of the highest I’ve seen of a college receiver. I think he’s well established as a great playmaker and also disciplined in every route that he runs, he blocks, great teammate—he does it all and does it the best he could possibly do. He’s got a lot of god-given talent and great work ethic, et cetera. It was a premier game for him today.”
[After THE JUMP: “A lot of joy. It’s the great thrill of victory. The wonderful, wonderful feeling of winning. Jim McKay, right? ‘The thrill of victory’? Yeah. Good feeling.”]
You reap what you sow.
Facing a fourth-and-goal down 20 points in the fourth quarter, Mark Dantonio went the James Franklin route and called for a field goal. The football gods did not look kindly upon this act of cowardice; Michael Geiger missed the 34-yard attempt.
Dantonio almost certainly regretted that decision when the Spartans cut it to a two-score game midway through the fourth. Instead of having a shot at a miracle, they ran out of time—a Donnie Corley touchdown catch with a second remaining on the clock only brought the deficit to seven. To keep up appearances, or something like that, Dantonio called for a two-point conversion.
This also backfired, and in spectacular fashion. Jabrill Peppers capped a game worthy of a Heisman contender by returning an MSU fumble 98 yards for two points. The subsequent onside kick that didn't matter bounced harmlessly out of bounds, and Peppers got one final opportunity to display his athleticism when, perhaps as an homage to Braylon Edwards, he backflipped following the victory-formation kneeldown.
While it wasn't the blowout most expected, it wasn't as close as the final score indicates, either. Michigan absorbed MSU's best shot on the opening drive, a 12-play, 75-yard march featuring 11 LJ Scott touches capped by a five-yard TD run. The Wolverines hit back by going 80 yards in eight plays with Eddie McDoom's 20-yard jet sweep setting up a three-yard Jabrill Peppers keeper to even the score. They gained the upper hand on the ensuing possession when Maurice Hurst slashed into the backfield to force Gerald Holmes into the unforgiving grasp of Peppers on a fourth-and-one.
From that point forward, Michigan was in command. Two De'Veon Smith touchdowns—one featuring a delighful smashing of Riley Bullough at the goal line—and a Kenny Allen field goal were the result of the next three Wolverine possessions, and MSU could only muster a field goal in the interim; Smith's second score gave M a 24-10 lead with 33 seconds left in the half, and it seemed safe to assume that would be the halftime score.
Tyler O'Connor had other plans, which quickly went awry. Instead of running out the clock, O'Connor heaved a pass towards RJ Shelton while under heavy duress from Taco Charlton, and Jourdan Lewis got his hands under it for the pick. Michigan got off four plays in 27 seconds; Amara Darboh, who had a career-high 165 yards in his best game as a Wolverine, drew a pass interference in the end zone to set up a chip shot Allen field goal as the half came to a close. Suddenly, it was a three-score game.
The 27-10 halftime margin would hold for the entire third quarter due to the goal-line heroics of the defense. In an otherwise stellar game, Wilton Speight made a significant error to open the second half, failing to see MSU corner Darian Hicks while targeting Karan Higdon on a wheel route. Hicks cut off the throw for an interception, and within two plays the Spartans had a first-and-goal.
Michigan State ran seven plays inside Michigan's ten-yard line on that possession, getting second life when Peppers was hit with a pass interference flag on third down. On play seven, Lewis crashed down on a fourth-down pitch to Scott and upended him in the backfield, ending the drive with authority.
After Kenny Allen struck a 45-yarder true to begin the fourth quarter, MSU went into desperation mode, inserting Damion Terry at quarterback on the ill-fated field goal drive, then switching to Brian Lewerke after a Michigan punt. The offense couldn't quite put the Spartans away, however, and Lewerke had a chance to make it a one-score game on fourth down with a little under two minutes on the clock.
The defensive line got serious heat on Lewerke, however, and Peppers cleaned up with a crushing sack. Michigan wore down some clock before MSU's desultory final drive while Jon Falk brought the Paul Bunyan trophy back to its rightful place in the Wolverine locker room.
Michigan State has lost six in a row. Michigan is 8-0 with one rival in the clear and three games to get through before a potential Big Ten East title game. While it took one year longer than any of us wanted, the in-state rivalry is, at long last, as it should be.
It was a blowout until it wasn't, and Mark Dantonio couldn't decide whether he was trying to win this game. Pick a lane, Mark, or get run over. Nevertheless, Paul Bunyan's ugly mug returns to Ann Arbor for the first time in a while.
And of course, you can't have one without the other.