"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
The 1978 game set up as another in the Ten Year War with the winner going to the Rose Bowl. Bo lost to MSC for the first time since his rookie season, and the first time in A2, as QB Eddie Smith and Kirk Gibson rode roughshod over us. MSC lost their conference opener to Purdue, and ran the table after that, but, were on probation for some irregularities under Denny Stoltz, so ineligible for the Rose Bowl.
It was said that when Stoltz MSC assistants went into the lockerroom after the Ohio high school football all star game, some of the players started singing “Here Comes Santa Claus.”
Having had enough of Friday nights on High Street, another scalper friend and I decide to make the trip, but leave the morning of the game. We arrive in plenty of time to hustle tickets, make some money, and get in for the kickoff.
I have also moved to wearing neutral colors.
Our defense, incredibly, holds the Buckeyes without a touchdown, in their own stadium, against their archrival, for the third consecutive time.
Newt Loken, the legendary UM gymnastics coach, had a son who was on the cheerleading squad. My scalper friend, Jimmy, was friends with him.
Holding a 14 – 3 lead with about 6 minutes left in the game, Jimmy says, let's go down on the field and say hi to Newt's son.
I was skeptical, but, went along.
Times being what they were, pre 9-11, and all, we just drew his attention, and jumped on the field, in the corner by the visiting section at the closed end of the horseshoe.
Jimmy had a camera, and imposed upon junior to take our picture. He suggested that we back off the sideline, onto the field. I mean, literally, on the field of play.
The teams were around the 20 yard line at the other end of the field. We moved about ten yards out from the sideline, and the picture was taken of us with the scoreboard in the background.
I lost the damn picture years ago.
(If anyone knows Jimmy Chu, see if he can get me a copy)
This road trip thing seems to be working fairly well, two trips, two wins, so I go again in 1980. Again, the Rose Bowl on the line. Woody is gone, allegedly fired for punching that Clemson player in the Rose Bowl. But the real reason is, he lost to us three years in a row.
Earl Bruce had taken over and gone undefeated in the 1979 regular season, before adopting conference tradition and choking in the Rose Bowl.
1980 was not a good game for Ali Hadji Sheikh, our excellent kicker. He missed an extra point, and at least one field goal, but, again, incredibly, our defense held them without a touchdown, and we won 9 – 3.
In 1982, the conference schedule was supposed to be round robin, but the Suckeyes said they would not back out of any of their non-conference contracts, and so skipped playing a weak Minnesota squad.
Wisconsin came into the snakepit in the rain and stunned them, 6 – 0.
So, we came in at 8 and 0 in the conference, with Ohio at 6 – 1. The Rose Bowl was already clinched. Had the Buckeyes played and beaten the Gophers, would not have been so, but, their decision. And you know what they have for brains.
It rained most of the game, and we could not get a touchdown this time, losing 14 – 9. But Big Ten champs regardless. We lose, but our 8 - 1 record puts us ahead of the 7 - 1 Buckeyes.
So, I now have four trips, and four Rose Bowls.
The 1984 season being what it was, I skipped the trip that year, not wanting to endanger that perfect record.
1986, we are unbeaten, untied, and #2 in the nation for our last home game. Not worried about retaining the Jug, I am deer hunting in the Upper Peninsula when Ricky Foggie breaks lose for a 4th quarter 25 yard plus run leading to the winning score as the Gophers upset us.
That was the only run of longer than 25 yards that the defense alowed all season.
Undeterred by the loss, QB Jim Harbaugh guarantees a win over Ohio.
I go with a rookie, a friend from freshman year at West Quad Wenley House.
As we hit the border, I put the cruise control on 54. He protests loudly about how long it will take to get their at that speed.
I advise him it will take much longer if we go 56, because we will get a ticket. Does he think all those stories are fiction?
He says, the Ohio plated cars are all going 80 or 85 or 90, whizzing past us.
I say yes, they know they have immunity today.
Sure enough, he counts. Seven vehicles pulled over, all Michigan plates.
Being the pro, I make one trip around the stadium, checking the market, and tell him we can get a single for $50. He says that is too much, he will watch at a bar. I suggest that may be a more dangerous environment than the snakepit, but, he says he can buy beer there.
OK. I pick up a single, and stand at the top of the lower deck around the 40 yard line.
It is a gorgeous day, around 70 degrees. I think Jamie Morris has 26 carries, and Spielman has 24 tackles; they are bumping into each other all afternoon.
McMurtry loses a TD pass in the sun on our first possession, or I think we would have smoked them.
With a 26-24 lead, the Suckeyes line up for a game winning field goal attempt, about 43 yards.
I do not have a good feeling about this, but, all the Buckeye fans are screaming to go for it on 4th and long, with absolutely no confidence their guy can make the kick.
Fortunately, they are correct.
Harbaugh is right, we win, I am now 4 – 1 with 5 Rose Bowls in five trips to Columbus.
We go on to lose the Rose Bowl to Arizona State, coached by one John Cooper. The only blemishes on their record, one loss, and a season ending tie with arch-rival Arizona which put them out of the national championship picture.
In another year, tired of losing to Wisconsin, which is a quote from the Ohio AD, and thinking Cooper is a coach who can beat us, they eventually fire Bruce and hire Cooper.
They should have checked his record in season ending rivalry games, as he never beat Arizona.
And let us all be grateful: we are not Buckeyes.
Inspired by a comment in this morning's diary, I have decided to supplement today’s analysis of the Michigan offense through the last decade of so with some snapshots of the Michigan rushing offense in comparison to the conference average.
The one thing which will undoubtedly strike virtually everyone on this board is something that has been termed rather succinctly “The Denard Effect”, and indeed it is apparently in what would be, by conference standards, an abnormal and abrupt increase in Michigan’s productivity on the ground. Granted, it has decreased this season because of the offense shifting to a West Coast style, offensive line play, Denard’s injury and other factors, but it can be seen here that our ground game has been statistically very good in the conference.
Another thing that is rather interesting to me is the fact that we gave many carries to RBs (and later QBs) most years, but until recently, we have more or less piggybacked the conference average for yards per carry. We were doing more to get the same result essentially, and this is also reflected somewhat when you look at net yards – fairly average until the “Denarding”, if you will.
Someone also brought this up in my earlier diary, but the averages do smooth out quite a bit of individual variation among teams. Indeed, in passing as well as rushing, there are teams with far more interesting stories when it comes to upswings and downswings in productivity than Michigan actually.
Michigan Rushing - Total Carries - 2001-2012 (to date):
Michigan Rushing - Net Rushing Yards - 2001-2012 (to date):
Michigan Rushing - Average YPC - 2001-2012 (to date):
Michigan Rushing - Rushing TDs - 2001-2012 (to date):
Video rendition of http://mgoblog.com/content/picture-pages-one-step. Analysis courtesy Brian.
Currently the B1G and SEC are in a bit of a scheduling crisis as they transition from 10 team conferences to 16 team superconferences. One problem with this is many annual, traditional conference opponents play in a seperate division now, and many rivals go several years without facing each other, even though they belong to the same conference. Another problem is the scheduling of "gimmie games" that occasionally provide miraculous upsets, but are usually guaranteed to be uninspiring blowouts in the hosts favor. As Conferences expand from 8, to 10, to 12, 14, and even 16 teams, and the implimentation of a postseason playoff system is fast approaching, we could end up having no choice but to address these two problems.
Hypothetically: If the B1G expanded to 16 teams, and Michigan continued to play 4 out-of-conference games each year, plus it's 1 protected game against the Buckeyes, then we would never play another cross divisional opponent outside of a Conference Championship game again. We'd play 7 games in our Division, The Game, and 4 games against Western, Eastern, UConn, and Utah, and that makes 12.
It's possible to add another regular season game, maybe 2, to rotate in 7 of the B1G teams we'd otherwise never face on a semiannual basis, but it's highly impractical. Schools like Michigan, with postseason play in mind, look to play a Conference Championship game, and 2, or maybe 3 postseason games every year, if/when they expand it. This already already puts us at a 14-15 game season, adding 1 or 2 more and potentailly playing 17 games for the sake of keeping 4 realtively meaningless ones is just silly, and many B1G matchups would still be rare.
Eliminating out-of-conference play in favor of cross-Divisional play would be an easy solution. Even if we played 1 marquee O.O.C. matchup each year, plus our 1 protected game, we'd be able to rotate 3 of our 7 remaining B1G opponents each season. That'd mean even if we don't play in the B1G Championship Game we'd be guaranteed to face all our Conference members every 3 years, with the possibility of that happening every 2 years, sometimes replaying Cross Divisional opponents in the B1G Championship.
Another reason for eliminating creampuff scheduling in favor of cross-divisional scheduling is that the new playoff system takes strength of schedule into account when picking at-large teams to participate. Playing the likes of Wisconsin, and Penn State is much more prestigious, and would look much better on a postseason resume, than playing UNLV, and BYU instead, not to mention the revenue playing a B1G team generates compared to paying MAC schools a million dollars to come lose to us.
Say in a few seasons LSU has 2 quality losses, but the SEC West in general is having a down year, if they played 4 FCS schools, and only played Missouri and Kentucky, or Vanderbilt, and Tennessee from the SEC East, then their S.O.S. might prevent them from getting one of the few at-large births into the postseason in favor of a, say, 1 loss Georgia, who they could handily beat, but didn't play. Same goes for ND. If they lose to Stanford and USC in a year where they only play the 5 weak ACC teams, play Purdue and a few Big East teams over Michigan and Staee, and schedule Service Academies over the likes of Oklahoma (plus don't participate in any Conference Championship) then any 1 loss team, or 2 loss team with quality wins, will get taken over them for an at-large birth, and they'll be out of the postseason.
It would be in Michigans best interest to play as many of our cross-divisional opponents as possible, not only to enhace our S.O.S. by not playing non AQ teams, but to maintain our ties with all the B1G schools, enhance our S.O.S. over other schools with similar records, and to prevent an at-large spot from going to a cross divisional opponent we didn't play that year. We're already choosing to play Central, Akron, and ND over Penn State, Purdue, and Wisonsin next year, we should at the very least trade 1 of our OOC games for more B1G play, now. Very soon we could be choosing between them and any Leaders Division opponents at all.
the final regular season miniprogram. i had no idea what to do with the Fitz and Denard spots, so i just left them.
Prediction for ohio: The FEI Forecast for this Saturday is ohio 31 – Michigan 20 with a 77% Probable Win Expectation for that team down south. Michigan's offense continues to be excellent (3.92 PPPo) against poor teams (AFA, UMass, Purdue, Illinois, Minnesota, Northwestern, Iowa) but has struggled (0.91 PPPo) against every good team (Alabama, ND, MSU, Nebraska). That team down south is ranked #23 in DFEI. Based on yardage, ohio is ranked #17 in rushing defense but is #77 in passing defense. M is ranked #47 in rushing defense and #1 in passing defense. This game will require the two-headed monster to be in full on beast mode and the TOM to be +2 or better.
Strength of Schedule: Michigan's SoS for Out of Conference games is much harder than the B1G games. This is quite unusual and because of the OOC Strength of Schedule, M is actually doing better in B1G games versus OOC for both offense (3.0 vs. 2.5 PPPo) and defense (1.4 vs. 2.0 PPPo).
Fremeau Efficiency Index: Michigan improved slightly in overall FEI, improved significantly in offense FEI, and declined slightly in defense FEI. In the detailed chart below, GE represents the raw data for FEI before adjustments for opponents.
The S&P Ratings (Also from Football Outsiders) is a play based analysis (rather than possession based) and M is ranked #15 overall, #9 in offense, and #30 in defense. The S&P ratings DO include games against non-FBS opponents (go figure).
The FEI is a drive based analysis considering each of the nearly 20,000 drives each year in FBS vs. FBS college football. The data is filtered to eliminate garbage time (at the half or end of game) and is adjusted for opponent. A team is rewarded for playing well against good teams (win or lose) and is punished more severely for playing poorly against bad teams than it is rewarded for playing well against bad teams.
National Rankings: The rankings for offense and defense are based on scoring (yardage statistics are inherently flawed). These are simply raw numbers without any adjustments for opponent, garbage time, or anything else. The data is from TeamRankings and includes only games between two FBS teams.
FEI Details: Here are the FEI numbers for Michigan and their opponent ( Football Outsiders FEI ).
Points Per Possession: Cumulative PPPo is 2.8 for the offense and 1.6 for the defense. M finished 2011 outscoring opponents by almost a 2:1 margin with PPPo for offense of 2.8 and defense of 1.4. The 2 charts show the raw data for offense and defense with the number of possessions adjusted for "kneel downs" at the half or end-of-game (maximum deduction = 2).
Using Scoring Offense and Scoring Defense National Rankings for the past 5 years (FBS AQ teams only), this table shows the percentage of teams that finish the season with a +WLM and a +5 WLM. For example, teams that finished in the Top 40 in both offense and defense had a 100% chance to be +WLM and an 82% chance to be +5 WLM (9-4 or better).