Someone asked if we could borrow last week's weather for this week - if only! It's going to be a raw day, no question about it. We have high pressure to the north, a stationary front along the coast, an upper level low over the SE U.S., and then of course Joaquin to the south as well. Being smooshed between a couple of systems will keep us in breezy NE winds, and that upper low is helping to bring some of Joaquin's moisture on up for more rain. I'd wear a couple layers and a poncho!
If you're traveling...
Rainy & windy! We actually have a flood watch through Saturday morning. Estimates show 2-3+" of rainfall overnight, and with another good 1/4" possible in the morning, be careful of ponding on the roads. I also wouldn't wear the nicest shoes, since there'll be plenty of puddles and mud around! You're probably going to want the hot coffee heading out the door too - temps will be in the low 50s to start our Saturday. Winds will remain up, steady in the upper teens (leaves and papers blow about, small branches sway) and there will be gusts into the low 30s (you can hear the wind whistle, it's hard to use an umbrella).
56 degrees to start the game. Cloudy skies with a pretty good chance it'll rain at some point in the first half. Good news is, showers look to break up a lot after lunch, so although they're still relatively likely, we may catch a break. Winds remain high, up around 17mph with gusts into the low 30s (empty garbage cans tip over, big trees sway).
Anyone up for hot chocolate? Up a degree by the half, but we're going to keep the gray skies around, and still have a decent chance for showers. The positive side to a little rain is there doesn't look to be much lightning - ok, ok, I know that's not super awesome news, but we gotta take what we can get out of a day like this! Winds haven't budged.
Topping out in the upper 50s in College Park - a day below normal for them (go figure, nice weather returns this coming week). More scattered showers are possible throughout the rest of the day and overnight, but they do taper off quite a bit into Sunday. We stay in the mid 50s temperature-wise through the rest of the night, with NE winds staying up at 20mph, gusting in the low 30s. Go blue!
If you're staying home...
A gray day with scattered showers passing through. We're going to struggle to hit 50 degrees today, and we'll spend most of the day in the 40s. Breezy for us here too, with winds out of the ENE around 20mph, gusting to 30mph. We lose the gusts around dinner-time, but keep steady NE winds at 15mph into the late-night. Temperatures will remain in the mid 40s through the evening and overnight. Grab the jacket if you're headed out to watch the game!
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for ABC in Flint, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!
Somehow, we’re already a full third of the way into the college football season and with league play starting for the Pac-12 and Big 12, opportunities for notable non-conference results have dwindled to a precious few (mostly the rivalry games held between the ACC and SEC East). From now on, we’ll be covering the world of college football on a league-by-league basis.
Even though there were quite a few byes across the conference, the Pac-12 still had the most important games of the weekend. College football’s Week Four was headlined by a trio of intriguing Pac-12 contests; unfortunately, they were mostly a disappointment for the unpartisan viewer – by halftime of those three games, the road teams (UCLA, Utah, and USC) were routing their hosts (Arizona, Oregon, and Arizona State, respectively) in impressive fashion. The three winners on the evening are now the favorites in the potentially excellent Pac-12 South – interestingly, a league with supposedly unparalleled parity (especially in the South) has more definition in its title race than many other conferences.
[Hit the JUMP for more on the college football world]
Hi, I'm Eye of the Tiger. You may remember me from such defunct diary series as "Reading the Tea Leaves," "Zone Blocking Zealot" and "Yet Another CC Roundup!" With the new era starting here in Ann Arbor, I'd decided to start a new diary series--I just couldn't figure out what it should be. Then it hit me: power rankings! Only, I wanted to see what happened if you tried to eliminate biases based on past performances (i.e. last year) or preseason hype. And I wanted to take my own biases out of the equation as much as possible. So I came up with a methodology for a results-based ranking system:
1. All teams are scored on their results this year, and nothing else.
2. A baseline score is derived by associating results with numerical values, as follows:
- 2 – win over “good” team
- 1 – win over “solid” team
- 0 – win over “not good” team/loss to “good” team
- -1 – loss to “solid” team
- -2 – loss to “not good” team
[Note: "good," solid" and "not good" are also performance based, using the same methdology. That means I looked at every team that any Big 10 school has played and tried to score their performances across 4 games. Yes, it took a long time. And was kind of boring.
Notes on categories: "Good" means scoring highly on this scale, and is highly correlated with top 25 deisgnations in major polls and advanced statistical rankings (S&P, FEI, FPI, etc.). On this scoring system, it generally means any team scoring 1.5 or higher. "Not good" generally means any team scoring -1.5 or lower. "Solid" are the teams between 1.5 and -1.5. There aren't many of those in the Big 10 right now, but there are across all of the FBS. As the season progresses, at least a couple Big 10 teams now classified as "good" will end up reclassified as "solid." Possibly one or two of those now classified as "not good" will as well.
Also of note: designations may also change week-to-week. Oregon, for example, is classified as "solid" due to its losses to MSU and Utah; Utah is classified as "good" due to its wins over Michigan and Oregon. If Oregon were to finish the season 10-2, while Utah slid to 8-4, that would likely reverse--and affect Michigan and Michigan State's scores ex post facto.]
3. A place of venue weght is added:
- 0.5 - road win
- 0.0 - home win/road loss
- -0.5 - home loss
4. A margin of victory weight is added:
- 1.0 – large win over “good” team
- 0.5 – large win over “solid” team/small win over “good” team
- 0.0 - small win/loss over "solid" team; large win/loss over "not good" team"
- -0.5 – large loss to “solid” team/small win/loss to “not good” team
- -1.0 – large loss to “not good” team
[Note: "large" win is defined as a win by 20 points or more. This is a fairly arbitrary number, but one that seems--to me, at least--to be a reasonable indicator of a blowout.]
What's Being Measured
The purpose here is to rank teams according to what they've accomplished and not according to residual biases from preseason and/or the previous year. However, it does output some results that buck the conventional wisdom, and are largely a function of differences in schedule. That is to say, if two teams are both 4-0 and team X played better opposition than team X, it will be ranked higher--regardless of whether team Y is considered to be a more capable squad. These rankings thus do not predict who will end the season "best," just who has done the "most" in the tiemframe covered.
Planned Posting Schedule
I plan to update these power rankings either every 2 or 4 weeks--depending on how much time I have (which, between commuting to two jobs, marriage, parenting, actually watching football and writing freelance on the side isn't very much). But enough about that...
4 Week Rankings
1. Northwestern (4-0, AP #16): 3.5
Well there's one surprise! But if you think about it, it shouldn't be that surprising. After all, Northwestern may not be the most talented or heralded team in the Big 10 right now, but they've accomplished the most: beating a good Stanford team at home and a solid Duke on the road (a close win against Ball State is the only blemish). If you take away preseason hype and previous year bias, they have the best resume in the conference.
2. Ohio State (4-0, AP #1): 2.5
Last year's champion has taken care of business, with two victories over solid teams (VT and NIU), but doesn't have a victory on par with Northwestern beating Stanford. It won't get that opportunity until November 21, when it travels to East Lansing.
3. (tie) Michigan State (4-0, AP #2): 1.5
Michigan State's win over Oregon looks much less impressive after their dismantling by Utah, and the polls are likely overrating the Spartans. Meanwhile, injuries are starting to take their toll. But this is still a good team by Big 10 standards--they should end with a winning record in conference play.
3. (tie) Michigan (3-1, AP #22): 1.5
The loss against Utah is no longer working against the Wolverines, while the shellacking of BYU accounts for all of Michigan's points. Upcoming games against Northwestern and Michigan State will show us how far we've come in Jim Harbaugh's first year.
3. (tie) Minnesota (3-1, AP NR): 1.5
Another surprise for me--I don't personally find Minnesota all that impressive, but the loss to TCU doesn't really hurt them, while the road win over Colorado State scores well.
6. Iowa (4-0, AP NR): 0.5
A lot of people are wondering how good Iowa is. This system isn't terribly impressed so far. If they beat Wisconsin, though, that's another story...
7. Wisconsin (3-1, AP #19): 0.0
Wisconsin looked respectably enough in the loss to Alabama, but has only played cupcakes since--a fact that keeps its score low.
8. Indiana (4-0, AP NR): -1.0
For the record, this is as bad a score as a 4-0 team can get. Fall back to Earth imminent.
9. Maryland (2-2, AP NR): -2.0
I expected Maryland to grade out worse than this, frankly. But they are clearly trending downward, and with a hurricane and "weather-proof" Michigan team both coming to town this weekend, the death spiral may come fast.
10. Illinois (2-2, AP NR): -2.0
I'd say the same thing about Illinois, but a shockingly easy schedule could help the Illini stay in fighting distance of bowl eligibility, if not quite make it.
11. Penn State (3-1, AP NR): -2.0
The system doesn't think much of the Nittany Lions, and neither do I.
12. Nebraska (2-2, AP NR): -2.5
It's more surprising to see how badly Nebraska fares. I mean, they are not exactly good, but I'd still expect them to beat Maryland, Illinois or Penn State. Losing to BYU and failing to blow out Southern Miss at home hurt though...
13. Purdue (1-3, AP NR): -4.5
Purdue is bad. If they don't pull off a major upset or two, Hazel will be out of a job before the season ends. Apparently they think they have a plan for Michigan State. Somehow I doubt it, but okay.
14. Rutgers (2-2, AP NR): -5.0
- The mean score for all 14 Big 10 teams is -0.6 and the median is -0.5.
- The range is 3.5 - -5.0.
- There are 6 teams with positive scores, one with a score of 0 and 7 with negative scores.
- Michigan will win
- Rain will come
- Shutout will not happen
- Michigan will win
- NW will find offense highly difficult
- Michigan will find it slightly less difficult
This is my weekly feature to look back at summer previews, get egg on my face, look over what Michigan did, and then project the rest of the year as we get more real time data. Last week's taking stock report can be found here.
Prelude: I did season previews on most UM opponents - I skipped UNLV and Rutgers out of boredom, and OSU out of fear. The rest are below
Someone commented last week that this piece is narcissistic to which I reply "stay thirsty my friend and thank you!"
Let's begin with a look back at my summer comments about BYU with the caveat this included Taysom Hill at QB.
(not Taysom Hill)
I opened my BYU preview with:
While I will not point to BYU as much of a "make or break" game in 2015 because Harbaugh >>>>> Hoke and I expect UM to actually improve as the year goes by (novel concept around these parts the past 7+ years) this is one of 3-4 games that will swing UM anywhere from a 6-7 win team to a 9-10 win team. It also happens to fall into the same slot as last year's Utah game and again UM should enter no worse than 2-1 (UNLV, Ore State, @Utah). So it's a big game that the casual UM fan will count as a "very probable" win but serious CFB fans will see as a very problematic game. Frankly if Hoke was coaching I'd mark this as a near sure loss as I have this game tied with Minn as the 4th toughest on the schedule. #Harbaugh
And ended with
Maybe it is oversimplying the bazillion words above but I see this game as QB v QB. If Taysom Hill has a great day I don't see UM winning. If he has a bad day, UM has a great chance. If Taysom Hill has a "normal day", Jake Rudock* needs to have a great game. UM needs to prove it can contain a dual threat QB, it can stop a strong rush offense and its pass defense has improved from 2014. Jake Rudock* is more than capable of carving up BYU's secondary. But he needs the OL to provide time, and he need some semblance of a running game to keep BYU from cheating to the pass all game. A secondary receiving threat not named Darboh or Butt emerging (Canteen? Ways? Cole? Chesson?) would be a big help for this game.
BYU will be going through a hell of a gauntlet traveling to Nebraska and UCLA and hosting a very good Boise State squad. You can look at this either as a pessimist or optimist - UM will have time to test some things and get players experience post Utah but will they be ready to match the intensity BYU will constantly forced to have through September? Will BYU stay healthy after playing two P5 teams and a top non P5 squad? Will they be mentally exhausted with the travel by then?
I expect a high scoring affair in the 30s as both defenses have areas to exploit and the opposing team has weapons to exploit those holes. I expect a lot of exasperation from UM fans as Hill makes "stick save" types of plays all day. If Rudock* has a 250+ yard passing type game I expect a game decided on a FG in the last minute - either way. Last line was UM favored by 6ish; it seems smart to take those points and expect a nail biter.
So in retrospect this was a somewhat useless preview because so much of my commentary revolved around Taysom Hil vs UM defense. UM did not need to prove it could contain a dual threat QB because one was not there. (yee haw!) Jake Rudock was more than capable of carving up this BYU pass D - well for a half anyhow. The OL did provide all sorts of time. There was more than semblance of a running game. Still no secondary receiving threat after Darboh and Butt - but at this point outside of MSU and OSU there probably is not a great need for one based on calibar of future opponents.
I mentioned the BYU gauntlet could either prepare them well for this test or exhaust them. It looked like the latter. But it also prepared BYU for the rest of their schedule which lightens up considerably from here. Not that we care.
It was interesting that the line in late summer was pretty much the same line before game time once it was confirmed BYU's NT was out.
So I'll consider this my first real "miss" in terms of previews - the other 3 games sort of went in line with expectation. I hate being wrong. Except in this case.
These were my views of the matchups this summer, again with caveat of Hill.
UM rush off v BYU rush def - Adv: BYU. UM's rush offense was solid vs MAC teams or when Drake Johnson ran late in the year. Otherwise it was mostly a meh year. And that was with a QB who was a running threat. While Rudock* has some mobility he is not going to have DC's game plan vs the run like Denard or Devin. So it means UM needs to be able to run using you know... running backs. A lost art here since Molk's 2011 squad. BYU has a UM like rush defense that does not give up big plays and UM hasn't done well against top 20ish rush defenses in years.
UM pass off v BYU pass def - Adv: UM. For UM to win this has to be a big win. Jake* needs a 250+ yd game IMO and the OL needs to have a good game in pass protect. Which shouldn't be TOO difficult considering BYU basically has 1 sack threat. Darboh needs a big game, Butt needs a big game and someone not named Darboh or Butt needs to emerge for balance in the pass game. BYU will score so UM needs to match that - and it's going to have to come via the air.
BYU rush off v UM rush def - Adv: BYU. This one is tricky because UM generally had a nice rush defense in 2014 when NOT playing badass rush offenses. Then Minn comes to town and makes UM rush defense look like tissue paper. MSU ran basically at will (I think they only threw 4x in the 2nd half). So let's compare to Minn. While Cobb was a better running back than Williams is, Hill is way better than Mitch Leidner. And BYU actually throws to non tight ends. Realistically speaking, Taysom Hill will probably be the best running back on the field that Saturday. So my worry here is how exposed the "stout" rush defense is when actually playing teams that excel at running. And with a QB who runs 7.4 yds per carry you have to give this to BYU. UM also lacks speed on the edges in their linebackers IMO outside of James Ross so I fear Hill getting outside the hashes and breaking off a 40+ type run. Or two.
BYU pass off v UM pass def - Adv: BYU. Pass defense was UM's worst unit last year. Peppers is there now but he is still a young pup and could be tasked with spying on Hill all game. The linebackers are going to be busy tasked with the run game and containing Hill as well so this is going to open up seams and the DBs will be asked to do a lot in relative isolation Until they prove they can (outside of Lewis) you have to be concerned.
Advantage BYU on rush D was wrong. UM imposed their will - esp in first half - and it was a sight to behold. Yes BYU's bad ass NT was not in there but still I think even he would have been ground up eventually the way the team was playing.
Advantage UM on pass O was correct but Jake didn't even need 250 yds since there was not any offense from BYU. BYU indeed had little pash rush as assumed. Darboh had a good game, Butt was quiet outside of 1 catch but Hill had 2 nice receptions and Bunting, Poggi, and Williams contributed 1 each so we'll consider that "Buttill".
I gave BYU rush O an advantage due to Hill's dual threat ability only not due to their RB. Without Hill it was moot. Same issues with pass offense - Hill would have been a composed 25 year old 18th year senior who had seen it all, instead we got a freshman who played like one even if 22 years old. That is not to take anything away from the defense which was stellar.
Turning from the summer preview, I wrote this in last week's preview and "ha ha!" caveats apply!
BYU has big play capability thru the air. Magnum is not super efficient - but has a huge arm. BYU's WRs are very tall - but so are Clark/Stribling. The run offense is TBD - was the UCLA breakout a case of UCLA not having a good run D or a case of BYU finding a new weapon? I am leaning towards BYU finding answers at RB because UNLV put up good yardage on UCLA on the ground but once Decker went out at QB (hurt) UNLV basically only ran. And Virginia was held to under 100 yards by UCLA on 34 carries. That said the run game is not where I expect the defense to be hurt - it's through the air. This will be one of 4 aerial attacks of any measure we should face this year (unless Hack comes back from the dead).
On the other side of the ball you beat BYU thru the air, not on the ground. Paul Perkins is probably one of the best players in the country no one talks about. If he played in the SEC he'd be right behind Chubb and Fournette as a top 3-4 RB in the conf and talked about a lot. So BYU giving up 200+ yds to him is more a case of Perkins being good along with a stout OL than BYU sucking. BYU had a top 25ish rush D in 2014 and did well vs both Nebraska (37 carries, 126 yds) and Boise (31 carries, 64 yds). They generally suck in pass D - atrocious in 2014 and this year began with giving up 319 yds to Tommy Armstrong and 300 to Finley of Boise. Rosen sucked but that's a true freshman QB doing what true freshman phenoms do a few times a year as a freshman. So we need Rudock to be a horse in this one as BYU will get points. Going to be a tough game - real tough.
It was not a tough game. We hurt BYU thru both the air and ground. BYU did not hurt us at all. BYU acted sad. BYU wanted to go home by the middle of the 2nd quarter. It was glorious.
A Look at Michigan
The first half had a look of a playoff team playing a middling non P5 team. It was amazing. More of that please? Jake Rudock circa 2014 returned for the 1st half. That is all we will need for 5 of the remaining 8 games IMO. Jake Rudock circa 2015 decided to show up in the 2nd half. I didn't like that as much. Jake got away with a few poor decisions that in other weeks were INTs and if the announcers were even close to correct Jake missed a lot of opportunities in the 2nd half as he looked tentative again. That was not great to see as you hoped the 1st half would give him loads of confidence. It didn't matter for this game but as you project the rest of the year you want to see more consistency. That said, at least we saw hope in the 1st half performance. Final #s were 14/25 for 198 with a TD toss and Jake had a few nice scrambles in there as well. Distribution if you are curious were 6 to WRs, 6 to TEs, 2 to RBs. With the type of offenses UM is going to face for half the conf schedule that is going to be more than enough, especially the 0 TOs. (but again there were some close calls)
Good Smith returned. Maybe he needs to be the starter only in even weeks (week 2, week 4, week 6) and go with Ty on odd weeks? Smith suffered an injury late - was not sure why he was in at that point but sounds like he will be back soon enough. I doubt we really will need him next week. Isaac got very little play this week as they tried to get Green on track - to no avail. 10 carries for 28 yards after Smith had pounded BYU into submission and softened them up - sigh. Green feels MAC bound in 7 months.
That defense though! Wow. Last year a lot of Mgoers clinged to the NCAA stats of "#7 defense" as the official NCAA stats look at nothing more than average yards given up per game. When you look at the quality of QB play (and thus passing yardage) in the conf vs most others (exl ACC) it explains a lot of those inflated stats of many Big 10 defenses. The advanced stats showed UM to be 35th to 40th nationally which "felt" a lot more correct.
This year? It feels like a top 10 defense in any realm - and I expect the advanced stats to support it when they become relevant in a few more weeks. The DL and DBs always have an important synergy - when one plays well it helps the other. When both play well - watch the f*** out. That was what happened Saturday. I am curious what Ryan Glasgows UFR reading will be because in the 1st half he looked like Mike Martin reborn. And BYU's OL is not some garbage outfit. Dude manhandled some punks and penetrated like (redacted for softball that's what she said prose). Wormley was generally quiet and we're still waiting for that breakout game from Henry but this is the beauty of this line - every week it seems like different guys show up. I believe Hurst had some really nice plays in this one too.
Then you go back to the secondary - Stribling had a great game as best as I could tell without UFR abilities. With eraser Lewis on one side, if Stribling can even be an "above average" Big 10 corner you have the holy grail of any defense - 2 really good CBs. It was almost a shame that by the beginning of the 2nd quarter, Mangum was in full yips mode as I would have liked to see other guys like Clark and Peppers tested in space but these are first world problems of the highest order.
The LBs were generally quiet as there was almost no intermediate passing game (no surprise as BYU throws to WRs 90% of the time) and the DL was cleaning up so much very little got to the second level. Until the garbage time drive BYU had 90 yards. Amazeballs. All this defense was missing is creating turnovers - this has been true through 4 games. But damn that was an awesome defensive effort and seeing development of individual players makes the heart warm.
If the defense continues to play like this, 9 wins becomes a floor even with "I'm having a hard time channeling 2014" Rudock. The offenses of Rutgers, Minn, Northwestern, and Maryland are so pedestrian even UNLV Rudock can suffice.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY RANKINGS
Basing games on WHEN they are played and WHERE this was my general view on degree of difficulty for each opponent coming into the year and adjusted weekly, Again this is not how good the team is in a vacuum but how they match up vs UM.
Look folks, slots 4 thru 7 are very difficult for me here. I feel like all these teams could be placed in a grab bag and they all pose sort of the sam level of difficulty but in completely different ways. These are the remaining swing games in the schedule.
|Week 4||Week 3||Week 2||Week 1||Preseason|
|11||Oregon State||Oregon State||Oregon State||Oregon State||Oregon State|
- Utah (+2) - Well who saw that score coming? While the data is too new for me to utilize, S&P+ had Utah's unadjusted offensive stats showing the team as one of the 15 least explosive offenses in the country (a fact shared by Oregon State, and UNLV) thru week 3. Uhh, that's going to change this week. Now keep in mind Eastern Washington destroyed Oregon's defense in Eugene too - while MSU's (at home) did not. But larger point - I thought Utah's offense was incapable of such fireworks. And with a pretty darn solid defense this makes Utah a very tough out if they continue to play offense anywhere near that level. To a degree I think this was a snowball effect game - Vernon Adams was totally ineffective with his finger and we saw why the back QB is the backup QB and they handed the job to Adams after 3 weeks on campus. All that said, you win by 42 on the road in the conf vs anyone who is not of Purdue or Colorado level - it means something. At this point I'd have Utah as a top 10 team nationally. A very interesting game vs Goff and top 20 Cal is next - let's see if there is a hangover and if Utah's defense can shut down that explosive Cal offense. The Pac 12 south should continue to be an amazingly entertaining division with USC, UCLA and now Utah apparently at the top of the heap with ASU (sad face) and Arizona looking like pretenders.
- Indiana (+1) - Indiana continues to surge up the rankings! 2 spots in 2 weeks! Mostly because Rutgers and Maryland are crap teams and Indiana has a scary RB and competent QB. Sudfeld had a pretty quiet week in Indiana terms but Howard continues to rumble thru defenses as a massive workhorse (33 carries). Wake Forest is not a good team coming off a 3 pt loss to Army but of the "crap teams" Indiana seems the most dangerous. I guess. Indiana held Wake Forest to 24 pts which in Indiana terms is a shutout.
- MSU (-1) - To a degree I still think MSU is mailing it in but they have faced an interesting array of half decent QBs in 3 of the first 4 games. The way to beat MSU is thru the air so they cannot play 842 guys in the box. So they have actually faced teams with QBs who can spread them out. Sadly the QBs at CMU and WMU are probably better than most MSU will face in the Big 10 conference. If playing in the Pac 12 or Big 12 with their super cool aerial attacks this defense might be leading MSU to a 8-4 type of season. But that's the benefit of Big 10 footbawl! In the 2nd greatest rivalry of MSU football, CMU was only down 17-10 game until MSU scored a bunch late. MSUs run defense constantly put CMU in long third downs .... that CMU convered on thru the air. CMU could not run on MSU (2.1 ave) - shocker. MSU also blocked 2 field goals. The 2 years of no real injuries "reversion to mean" continues to hit the team as their star LT Conklin exited in the 2nd quarter. Still TBD on his status but with Purdue and Rutgers next on the docket he can rest a few weeks if its not serious and be back for UM. If he is gone for a longer period of time that would mean both starting tackles are out. MSU still looks like a good team that can beat a lot of teams even when it is not playing well - which to me, is a sign of a talented roster. But like a lot of Carr era teams it seems to not be playing up to talent when facing mediocre opponents. Is this a top 5 team? Doesn't look like it - but still a top 15ish team with only 3 tests left on its schedule. Cook was mediocre again and does not look like he has taken any measurable steps up from 2014 Cook. The run game did pick up but this was the Chips. Right now I am feeling a lot better about UM D vs MSU O esp if both their tackles are out for the game. I still have a lot of concerns about UM O v MSU D since trusting Rudock to rip apart that secondary would take a big leap of faith. But this game looks a lot closer on paper now then it did 3 weeks ago.
- Minn (-1) - Minnesota plays Northwestern next week and I am happy for that because it will at least give me clarity on how to rank these 2 teams. Both had uninspiring weekends and both seem built for UM to beat in a grind it out battle. Both are built similarly with parallel strengths and weaknesses. Minn beat the Ohio Bobcats late in a close one. Ohio is not terrible but their 3-0 record coming into this game came against Marshall and 2 creampuffs. Minnesota was their one "road payday" game. Leidner actually had a very unLeidner stat line (22/32 for 264 .. and 8.2 ave!) Rodney Smith and freshman Shannon Brooks formed a potent 1-2 punch at RB. But Ohio did a decent job of running on Minn and their QB also had a decent game. This is a very winnable game for UM but I need to place someone at 4 in my DOD rankings and Minnesota won the coin flips.
- Maryland (-1) - I wrote this last week about Maryland QB Caleb Rowe "He has a big arm and takes big risks so he is INT prone." So yeah about those 4 INTs. Poor damn Maryland is going to go to their 3rd starting QB vs Michigan as Rowe joins Perry Hills on the bench and Ok State transfer Daxx Garman (4/9 86 yds 1 TD 1 INT) jumps to the head of the class. Garman was wholly mediocre at OK State and with the lack of talent around him at Maryland should continue that trend nicely. On the plus side Brandon Ross actually had a decent run game but most weeks he is usually just Brandon Ross - i.e. mediocre. He averaged 3.8 ypc vs USF and 1.8 vs Bowling Green. UM's defense should swallow him whole and if kind spit him out in less than 3 pieces. Now West Virginia is one of those mid tier teams found in other conferences that can put up 40+ on you when all is clicking and thus upset the teams at the top of the conf on any given week. The Big 10 doesn't really have teams like this hence if you are really good in the Big 10 it is difficult to be upset. Unless it's 10-9 to Minnesota. As for Maryland, this is a horrible team and I feel bad for Will Likely. BUT DONT KICK IT TO WILL LIKELY OUT OF COMPASSION. Maryland is 2-2 after finishing the "easy part" of their schedule - next they play UM, OSU, PSU, Iowa (who put up 62 last week), Wisc, and MSU. Well at least you still have basketball Maryland.
- OSU - Wake me up in a month. OSU's offense is still not playing that well and still beating meh teams. The defense is looking good but again level of competition caveats.
- BYU - I didn't move BYU down despite being destroyed because again - on any given Sunday are they that much different than Northwester, Minnesota or PSU. I don't feel like it. It looked like a team out of gas with a QB that was lost. I still can see this team with 8-9 wins by end of year and their close game at UCLA still carries weight.
- Northwestern - I can sort of copy and paste the Minnesota comments here. That said Ball State looks worse on paper than Ohio but who knows. Ball State lost by 33 to Va Tech and beat EMU by 11. Which is almost like losing to EMU. Much like Leidner at Minn, freshman Clayton Thorston actually had a good game after derping around for 3 weeks (18/31, 256 yds - 8.3 ave). That's - count em - 2 Big 10 QBs who threw for 8+ per this week! Justin Jackson had his normal splendid game and NW probably mailed this one in a bit. Much will be revealed next week when Minn and NW should play a scintillating 7-6 affair.
- PSU - Hackenberg is alive! My main worry for PSU aside from a good defense is Hack prob has 3-4 games in him this year where he looks like a promising NFL draft prospect. This was one of those games (21/35, 296 yds - 8.5 ave). Wow that makes 3 - count em - 3 QBs in the Big 10 who threw for over 8 yds. That might be a record for the past decade. So in a strange twist, PSU has been riding its run game the past 2 weeks and as Hack showed up the run game disappeared. San Diego State held them to a 2.1 average. And San Diego State is not good. They lost 35-7 to Cal for example. PSU's D held them to about 250 yds total. Not as cool as 105 yds but what can you do. So again - is there much different btw PSU, Minn, NW, or BYU - on any given day they pose the same challenge just in very different ways. Night game in Happy Valley will add some degree of difficult but it is difficult to move PSU at this point. PSU plays a weak Army squad then has a tricky game vs Indiana, before heading to the Horseshoe. Let's see if there is an upset alert with Indiana coming in to town.
- Rutgers - Rutgers beat possibly the worst P5 team over the past decade - Kansas. It means nothing. Rutgers ran 58 times. For 312 yards. But it's Kansas so just LOL and move on. Janarion Grant is to kickoff returns what Will Likely is to punt returns. So after Michigan's many TDs vs Rutgers, I'd advise to NOT KICK TO JANARION GRANT.
- Oregon State - Oregon State looked halfway decent for a quarter or so at home vs a sleepwalking Stanford team that is still sort of a mystery. Kevin Hogan was allowed to throw 14 times all game. There was no need for a 15th. Hell there was probably no need for a 8th. I like OSU's staff and in due time they will be a quite solid team. I still expect a lot of pain this year but maybe as their dual threat QB gets some experience they can upset a team or two along the way. I'd truly enjoy it if one of those teams was Oregon. Jordan Villiamin also looks like a fun player that I wish was in a UM uniform. OSU has a bye this week but then has the easy part of their schedule with the flying Rich Rods, followed by Washingon State and Colorado. Maybe a win or two is in that group. it gets a lot tougher from there. Maybe in due time OSU can pass Rutgers - goals are important.
- UNLV - UNLV put up 80 pts on some horrid FCS team that lost by "only 52" to Boise State. Therefore UNLV > BYU. Or something.
So the outlook is less sad then last week as Iowa Rudock was found for a half. And the defense went from "is it that good?" to "it's that good." Unfortunately even Iowa Rudock locks in on his 1st read a lot, tends to hesitate, and throws a lot of near picks...when not throwing an actual pick. For half the remaining games even generic Rudock is more than fine. It might also be fine vs PSU and Indiana - depends on how the defense plays those games. Main thing is not to do that turnover thing Jake. Please.
The lack of explosive offenses in conf really plays to UMs strength and should allow it to play a low risk offense itself. 4 of the next 5 weeks showcase offenses that on a good day usually hit 20 - Maryland, Northwestern, MSU, Minn, Rutgers. I'd be very disappointed for anything less than 3 wins in that group and 4 should be "probable" at this point. 5 would be swell.
Knock on wood but Michigan has avoided the injury bug that is starting to hit a lot of teams - some of these teams just ahead on the schedule and most without the depth of an OSU or UM.
We said last week BYU was one of the 4 "swing" games left on the schedule and if we split those 4 we are in danger of a 7 win campaign. A split now seems extremely unlikely and 3-1 at least a floor. That gives you 8 wins with realistic "upset" chances (if good Jake comes to town) against the 2 top teams left.
DON'T KICK TO WILL LIKELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
[Ed-S: Bumped from the diaries. He writes these every week after the games so if you like it look out for it.]
Why do we keep these?
In my last ItBS diary, I alluded to the fact that I would be traveling to Michigan during the week for a family wedding. Unfortunately, my travel plans had me flying from Detroit to Dallas during the Michigan-BYU game. But never fear, I taped the game, avoided social media all day long and watched the game last night. What a game it was; I'm definitely glad I made the effort to avoid any spoilers.
As this was my first trip back home since my dad passed away over two years ago, I expected this trip would not be a normal one. There were plenty of private moments, but as my dad was a big Michigan fan, there were some things that happened that might be of interest to this blog's readers. If you just want to read the normal post-game boxscore analysis, skip ahead to the link. If you want to read about why football matters, or at least, why it matters to me, read on. The next few paragraphs speak to why, as Jim Harbaugh says, football matters. It's the bigger story, if you will.
My dad was a collector. He collected Michigan football programs and ticket stubs. The first thing we would do when we got to the stadium was find the program vendors. Dad would buy two programs and carefully wrap them in black plastic garbage bags to protect them from the elements. He would tuck those into his Michigan bag that kept his binoculars (and unlike many Michigan fans, he actually put binoculars in his binocular case) and his radio and earphones. He would get two programs every game because at the end of the season, he would give one complete set of that season's programs to, I believe, the UofM alumni association of Lansing to raffle off for their scholarship fund. The other set of programs he kept. He made it to most of the away games. On the rare occassions where he couldn't go, he'd ask a friend to get him a couple programs. On Friday, my brother and I decided to keep those programs, at least for the time being.
My dad had a dream of one day displaying all of the ticket stubs on a wall in a Michigan room in the house. He never got around to doing that, but we still have all those ticket stubs. Nothing would get my dad more upset than when a ticket-taker would rip the ticket in half, instead of tearing it off neatly at the perforation. Dad would even separate 3/4 of the stub from the ticket to make it easier for the ticket-taker. Phil Hartman played a character on Saturday Night Live called, "The Anal Retentive Chef." That was my dad.
[After the jump: Be careful, his bow tie is really a camera]