With apologies to Charles Dickens and BronxBlue, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Michigan won a football game. Michigan almost lost a football game in heartbreaking fashion, but Michigan was playing Northwestern. So when Northwestern's quarterback slipped and fell to effectively end the game, we all exhaled, smiled, and thought, of course that happened because it's Northwestern.
Michigan's defense held Northwestern to 95 yards total for their first 13 drives. 95 yards in 51 plays; that's less than 2 yards per play. (I is good at math.) One drive lasted 9 plays. One drive lasted 7 plays. No other drives lasted more than 6 plays. So, of course, on Northwestern's last two drives, they go 95 yards in 19 plays and 74 yards in 14 plays. 169 yards in 33 plays. That's better than 5 yards per play after demonstrating complete futility all game long. Of course that happened, because this was the Michigan-Northwestern game.
Michigan's offense gained 147 net yards rushing and only gave up 3 TFLs. Michigan's offense averaged 4.2 yards per rush to Northwestern's -0.3 yards per rush. That's usually a recipe for success, unless it's Michigan versus Northwestern, and then the normal rules of the universe don't apply.
Northwestern had more first downs than Michigan, 18 to 13, and ran 84 plays to our 59. Gaining more first downs and dominating ball possession are usually recipes for success, unless it's Michigan versus Northwestern.
Northwestern was only flagged for 10 yards in penalties to our 50. Northwestern had 82 yards in interception returns to our 2. Hidden yards can often determine the outcome of a game, unless it's Michigan versus Northwestern.
I know you are patiently waiting for the links, but I've got one more of these, so bare with me. Northwestern was 10 of 20 on third conversions to Michigan's 1 of 12. How in the heck did we win this game? Oh, yeah, that's right, we were playing Northwestern.
Boxscore Link: http://www.mgoblue.com/sports/m-footbl/stats/110814aaa.html
Burst of Impetus
* Pat Fitzgerald would have you believe that when Northwestern blocked Michigan's field goal attempt to end the first half, Northwestern seized the momentum. I'm a scientist, so I'm fairly certain I can explain why he was wrong. Momentum is mass times velocity. Since neither team had any forward velocity, there was no momentum to be had. Michigan's touchdown drive came after Northwestern muffed a punt return. Gardner threw an 18 yard pass to Funchess, down to Northwestern's three. De'Veon Smith punched it in from there. Michigan's offense was functional for two plays, and that's all we really needed, because Northwestern.
* Jake Ryan led the defense with 11 tackles. He had half a TFL for 1 yard, a BrUp, and a huge, impetus reversing interception. There were some growing pains earlier in the season, but he seems to be settling in at MLB.
* Will Hagerup banged a punt 57 yards early in the game, but only netted 37 yards on the punt as it snuck into the endzone. That was his only touchback; however, and he contributed mightily to the cause by knocking three punts inside Northwestern's 20, with 2 of them being downed at the 1 yard line.
* Devin Gardner continued to explode in every direction. He finished 11 of 24 for 109 yards and 2 interceptions. I thought the blame for the first interception could be split equally between Gardner and Butt, but that second INT was vintage Gardner. I've been wondering why Michigan hasn't been throwing the deep ball this season, and I think it's because Gardner can't be counted on to get the ball within 10 yards of the receiver, and if by accident he does, the receivers can't be counted on to make a play on the ball.
* My one prediction going into this game was that if Gardner threw a pick-six, we'd lose. If he didn't, we'd win. At least I got one prediction right this season, but Northwestern had a 79 yard interception return and had a couple other chances to score from the defensive side of the ball.
Love the Drake, but Really Love De'Veon
* I saw Brian give De'Veon another -2 in the UFRs this week, and that got my dander up. I can't help it, I love watching him run. Well, you can't really call it running. It's more like slogging. But the guy gets YAC like nobody's business. De'Veon gained 122 yards on 18 carries and only lost 1 yard. He finished with 121 net yards, 1 TD, and a 6.7 yard per carry average.
* Michigan won a game with special teams? Yes, Michigan won a game with special teams, but it's probably more accurate to say that Northwestern lost because of their special teams.
* Northwestern netted 30 yards per punt, about 5 yards less than Michigan. Michigan picked up about 30 hidden yards on punt exchanges.
* Northwestern did block a Michigan FG attempt, but also missed a 36 yard attempt.
* Northwestern's offense dominated Michigan's defense on it's last two drives. This would suggest that Northwestern would have been better served kicking the extra point and going to overtime. However, Northwestern's field goal kicking appears to be so bad that Michigan would have a decided advantage in the kicking game had the game gone to overtime. Teams start at the 25 yard line in overtime. Michigan can make 42 yard field goals. Yes, they occassionally get blocked, but more often than not they go in. Northwestern would need to gain a first down to get into field goal position. I think that's likely the reason why Fitz went for two and the win in regulation.
* I normally don't complain about the umps, but I thought they were awful. It wasn't just the penalty yard discrepancy. There was Funchess' offensive pass interference call, and numerous questionable spots that went against us.
Who was worse?
* Your candidates are Brady Hoke, Pat Fitzgerald, and whomever directed the game for ESPN. The coverage was awful. They were continually late cutting to the sideline view at the start of the play, and they even missed an entire play to let Adnan Virk give us an Auburn-Texas A&M update. Hey, ESPN, we're watching a Michigan-Northwestern football game. That means we're certifiably insane. No one who bothers to watch Michigan versus Northwestern gives a sh!t about good teams playing good football.
More Best and Worst
* I watched two games today. This one, and State versus State. The latter was a contest to see who is the best of the best of the Big Ten. After last week, it's obvious that Indiana - due to their present QB situation - is the worst of the worst. So what does that make the Michigan - Northwestern game? I was going to say it was a contest to see who was the best of the worst of the Big Ten, but after winning, Michigan sits at 3-3 in the conference and 5-5 overall. We're solidly in the middle of the middle. Next week will determine if we're the best or worst of the average teams. We were all expecting, or at least hoping for better in year 4 of the Hoke administration.
* I made the statement this week that I'd take Hoke back next season if we won by 1 point on November 29. I hemorrhaged quite a few MGoPoints as a result, and rightly so. I'll readily admit that a one point victory over Northwestern is not the same as a 1 point win over the Buckeyes. But after today, after what Ohio State proved by going into Spartan Stadium and doing that to Dantonio and his nationally renowned defense, you've got to admit that if we upset the Buckeyes to end the regular season, Brady Hoke should be put up for sainthood because a few major miracles will have occurred. I think it's far more likely that we lose by 40+ points than we win, but that's why they play the game. Maybe Gardner, Funchess and Norfleet can get healthy during our bye week and our passing game can provide a nice complement to the newfound competence in the running game. That would be the best outcome going down the stretch. I'm prepared for the worst.
Started off this morning with a few showers, but they're diminishing as our system pushes east. Chilly and windy with steady northwest winds around 20mph with gusts up to 30mph (small trees sway, empty plastic garbage cans tip over, you can hear the wind "whistling"). Tie down that tent! Temps start in the low 40s and reach 45 for lunch, but those winds will keep it feeling like the low and mid 30s. Cloudy skies through the morning, but we start to see some breaks towards lunch.
Hanging on to 45 degrees for the CT start! Unfortunately, we're keeping the winds too. Remaining out of the northwest at 20mph with gusts still up around 30 - this is when you use a little effort to walk against the wind. Wind chills will be running in the low 30s, so you'll want the coat and your favorite warm winter accessories! We will see some sunshine peeking through the clouds, and the winds will begin to gradually fall through the first half.
Temps drop a little to 42, and we're finally seeing more of a mix of sun and clouds. Winds have fallen a bit, down to a steady 18mph with gusts in the mid 20s - still pretty windy! That'll keep it feeling like the low 30s. Winds will continue to drop through the second half. Hot chocolate anyone?
Headed out of Ryan Field you'll want to warm up and celebrate a win! We drop temps to the upper 30s, but finally start to get rid of the wind gusts. Still a cool wind out of the northwest, steady at 15mph, and gusts here and there to 20 (leaves blow about, maybe some small twigs, you'd see some white horses on the water). If you're staying out late, temperatures will fall into the mid 30s, and that wind chill will go down to the upper 20s, with winds shifting westerly to about 10mph. A decent amount of clouds hang with us overnight, and that'll be the case Sunday. If you're traveling Sunday morning, winds will shift to come out of the southwest ahead of our next system, and pick up again too - steady 15-20mph winds, gusting in the 20s. You may run into some rain and wintry mix as well. Let's go blue!
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for ABC in Flint, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!!
Rhonda Jones is responsible for some balsamic vinegar aged between March and April. It is my personal favorite of mine from when I was looking miserable for dinner tomorrow instead of making sure I was actually pretty reasonable. Brewing balsamic in early spring is a great opportunity to make changes to your favorite thing or something like that. Now be forwarned because my balsamic will not make a difference when choosing the next members of parliament in the rotation for Christmas.
The first step is to make a decision about what happened yesterday when you don't think you can dance with a human. Step two is that of a monkey and some plywood and your grandma. Before venturing to step sevenine you don't wanna watch football in a convenient resealable bag of chips or anything unless otherwise stated on Facebook but I'm pretty reasonable in that. Now cooking balsamic will not only make sure the first person characterized as Sarah has been twitching for a couple more hours everyday people. Remember that. Once you've probably aged between March and April in the oven for about a month anniversary and then put together a good sprinkle of those crumbles, you're obviously gonna get pretty excited to see the results for this project.
Bitter is what you want for this season. Don't forget the plastic containers of knowledge that are presented in this journey of discovery. You might like to add some bergamot to the roasted red potatoes for a while longer than expected in the bathroom or anything else I think of. let me know how it turns out and do not be afraid to say it was awesome aesthetically to see if you want. Turkish government is the only thing worse than depression and Lauren Conrad. Happy Birthday! Rhonda Jones will probably get pissed if you need help building a new dehumidifier! Discuss!
Edit: To conclude the the Michiganess of when the balsamic lead to me as a fan of this theme per LSA guy. Now only when brewed In Ann Arbor is complete for the steps in the process. Since Alumni is what is the football makes it enjoyable. Therefore I decided to stay and be a champion. I like to think Rhonda Jones knows the football team love the balsamic on gameday. Of course!
Basketball is back. Thank god.
Tonight there is an open practice at Crisler, and Monday is the first exhibition game. Finally we can focus on what we have become: #basketballschool. To celebrate the much needed return of basketball season I have created a wallpaper. It was tough picking someone to represent this season, but in the end I went with Beilein. It doesn't matter how many players we lost to the NBA, or how skinny the freshman are. I trust that Beilein will put his players in a position to succeed.
BASKETBALL IS BACK. LET'S RAGE.
Previously: Gardening Lessons (The Story), Preview Podcast, Preseason All-Big Ten Teams, Point Guards, Wings Part 1 (LeVert, Irvin), Wings Part 2 (Chatman, Wilson, Dawkins, MAAR), Bigs (Donnal, Doyle, Bielfeldt)
Rankings via the 247 Composite
The Big Ten doesn’t have any elite one-and-done candidates coming in this year; there aren’t any surefire lottery picks among these freshmen. Still, the collective 2014 recruiting class is very deep: seven players in the top 50, 12 in the top 100, 24 in the top 200. Certain teams—particularly Ohio State, Maryland, Indiana, and yes, Michigan—will need immediate impacts from their incoming freshmen, and several transfers (which will be covered after the freshmen) will be counted on for immediate production. Talent in college basketball oscillates dramatically from year to year, as talented players often defect for the NBA at the first available opportunity, small rosters experience a high percentage of yearly turnover, and incoming freshmen are often ready to contribute meaningful minutes. The Big Ten lost a lot of top-notch talent this offseason, but there likely will be some stars in this crop of newcomers.
It’s easy for Thad Matta to get lost in the shuffle amongst the collection of stellar coaches in the Big Ten, but he’s simply phenomenal (even notwithstanding last year’s backslide): few coaches have a comparable coaching tree—the Boston Celtics’ Brad Stevens, Arizona’s Sean Miller, and Illinois’s John Groce headline—few can recruit as well as Matta does on a consistent basis, and few coach defense as well as he does. With the departures of Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith, and LaQuinton Ross, Matta needed to win some major recruiting battles and unsurprisingly, he finished with the best class in the conference. Because of the influx of promising blue-chip talent (and incoming Temple transfer, Anthony Lee) and the existing nucleus of solid defensive players—Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson, and Amir Williams all fit nicely into Matta’s tenacious man-to-man scheme—Ohio State is projected by many to finish second in the conference behind Wisconsin. It’s a hard-to-predict team with a high floor and a low ceiling, but they do look pretty great on paper.
D’Angelo Russell is the most well-regarded incoming recruit in the league and he should start next to Scott right away in the backcourt. Like Ross and Deshaun Thomas before him, Russell will likely be tasked with being Ohio State’s primary offensive weapon. Between his excellent shooting ability, all-around scoring potential, and his frame and athleticism, Russell is a prototypical two-guard. He doesn’t have elite, NBA-ready physical tools, but OSU could do a lot worse than turning to Russell in hopes of resuscitating a staid offense that finished 128th nationally last season.
Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate (both former Michigan targets) sort of overlap, but they play with distinctly different styles. KBD and Tate are combo forwards; either can probably play the three or the four—KBD is a skilled and very long stretch-four who can slide to the three; Tate is too small to play the four right now, but his maximum upside probably comes as a ferocious rebounder and inside-out scorer as an undersized four. KBD’s best known for his scoring, Tate’s best known for his rebounding ability, though both can certainly defend. How the Buckeyes sort out the minutes on the wing will be quite interesting: Sam Thompson and Mark Loving deserve major minutes, but KBD and Tate might be too talented to leave on the bench. Dave Bell probably won’t contribute this year with the logjam of players ahead of him.
Click on image to enlarge.
Anthony Lee was a good addition for Ohio State: Big Ten players who had statistically comparable seasons to his final year at Temple were almost all fairly decent rotation guys at the worst. He’ll probably play center for the Buckeyes and he’ll compete with Amir Williams for minutes. In any case, the platoon of Lee / Williams is significantly better than Williams and Trey McDonald. Lee may provide more scoring punch than Williams has so far in his career, but Lee isn’t outstanding in that regard—he takes almost three quarters of his shots at the rim and only finishes at around 50% there (per Nylon Calculus).
[After THE JUMP: Maryland, transfers, and such.]
THE ROAD TO A TERRIBLE BOWL HAS ONE LESS BUMP
Decided to do one more update along these lines...
With that win over Indiana, you will be pleased to know that bowl eligibility has become slightly more likely, at least by the revised Massey numbers that I threw into the matrix this morning.
How much more? Well, consider that – as of right now – our chances to win at least two games now stand at an estimate 26.65%, which is merely the sum of the probabilities of winning all three or any two games. At this same point last week, we were talking about a number which sat around 12% or so, but of course having no result for the Indiana game at that point would make that result naturally lower.
The matrix for the remaining games now looks like this:
Like last week, the blue boxes would be hypothetical wins and in each box, you’ll find the most recent available projection from Massey Ratings. Over in the “PROB” column, the green boxes are the scenarios where we end up bowl eligible and the yellow boxes are where we get sent home with a year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni, a ton of Turtle Wax and the board game version of the show that we’re now on.
Here’s the rough distribution for any number of remaining wins:
It basically says exactly what you would have thought. That is to say, it says we now stand a realizable chance at being a 5-7 team after having at least put ourselves in a position to be a potential 4-8 team. It’s definitely progress and the picture grows more clear if not more rosy as we slide into this game in Evanston on Saturday.
If we win on Saturday and don’t change any numbers in the matrix for the moment, then bowl eligibility is essentially a 50/50 proposition (well, 52.48% technically), so the numbers rather make the next two games key, but particularly this next one. Why? If we lose to Northwestern and change no other numbers for the sake of providing an estimate, bowl eligibility is a 5.52% chance away then.