alternate headline: man does job
Growing up, I was not a Michigan fan. I lived in the Chicago suburbs, and I had two favorite college teams: The University of Colorado for football and The University of North Carolina for basketball. I rooted for Colorado because they were my mom's alma mater, while I rooted for UNC because that was where Michael Jordan went, and when you're a kid from Chicago, that's the only reason you need.
The first time I ever watched a Michigan game that I remember was the 1993 basketball championship game, because Michigan was playing UNC. At the time, I was obviously pleased with the outcome of that game.
My life changed dramatically the weekend of September 24th, 1994, when I was 12 years old. The 25th was the day that my dad remarried. Since my stepmom and her family was from Michigan, we all gathered around the television to watch Michigan play Colorado on the 24th. The room's members consisted entirely of Michigan alums and/or season ticketholders with the exception of myself and my dad - my stepmom to be, my stepsister to be, my stepsister's then boyfriend now husband, my stepmom's best friend & husband, and other various relatives and friends from Michigan.
Me being the obnoxious 12 year old that I was, I was rooting on Colorado partly out of loyalty to my mom's alma mater and partly out of wanting to be the contrarian in the room. So when Kordell Stewart heaved a prayer at the buzzer, I went bananas when it connected and proceeded to rub it in everyone's faces the entire rest of the evening.
My new stepfamily realized they didn't want to have someone taunting them every time Michigan suffered a loss in the future, so they promptly began my indoctrination into all things Michigan the following season. I was brought to Ann Arbor for the first of many games before I got to college. It was the 1995 game vs Minnesota where UM won by 35 points. I got to experience tailgating on the Golf Course before and after the game, as well as dinner at Good Time Charley's, on top of my first time inside the Big House. Going to a game annually in Ann Arbor became a tradition, as did going to the games in Chicago every time UM came to play Northwestern.
Once I was in high school and had to start applying to colleges, Michigan was at the top of my list of preferred destinations. I got in to Michigan as well as my safety school of Illinois and Michigan was my clear favorite between the two. My dad, knowing the massive out of state tuition bill that would be coming compared to IL (at the time almost a 90k difference for 4 years), tried to bribe me into going to U of I instead by offering me a new car.
My dad only offered me a new Saturn. As I already was driving a gently used Camry, I turned him down unless he was willing to escalate his offer to a BMW 3 series or a Honda S2000. He declined that, so I was Ann Arbor bound in the fall of 2000.
I've been bleeding Maize & Blue for 17 years now, and I now look forward to indoctrinating my children in all things U of M. The nice thing is I'll be able to get my kids pro-Michigan from birth, as opposed to their teenage years, so they won't have any years missing from their lives as Michigan fans.
Thanks for reading, I just wanted to share as today is the anniversary of a lifechanging day for me.
In the week preceding this game, some random internet poster guy asked what was the worst performance you’ve seen by a QB. I ran screaming from that post, but couldn’t escape the images of Demetrious Brown throwing seven interceptions – SEVEN INTERCEPTIONS!!! - in a game against MSU many years ago. In another post, we learned that Brady Hoke forgot about ND’s first night game in 1982 against UofM. I didn’t forget because I was there and have the emotional scars to prove it. I’ve seen too many weird things happen in M/ND games, like winds coming up out of nowhere to push 51 yard field goal attempts from 5’3” guys with the leg strength of my mom over the cross bar. Or kicking off to a guy named Rocket AFTER he’s already burned you for a kick return TD.
So what happened Saturday night? Denard Robinson arguably had his worst game as a UofM QB, contributing to five of UofM’s six turnovers on the night. Earlier in the week, Peyton Manning, who some call the greatest NFL quarterback of all time, threw three interceptions in the first quarter. So far all of the folks out there saying senior quarterbacks should play better, all I can say is stuff happens, even to NFL legends and future hall of famers.
However, there is a silver lining. What I remember most about the 7 interception game, was the inability of UofM to change plan, to try something, anything different. Against ND, all five of the INTs occurred in the first half. Adjustments were made. Things started clicking; however, the revised plan took too much time, and the defense was not able to get off the field thanks to a misplaced sheleighleigh (sp?) that tripped up J.T. Floyd on a critical third down play. And by the way, thanks a lot, random internet poster guy. Next time, wait until after the ND game to tempt the fates*.
* As a coping mechanism, I either have to blame you or accept that Denard is human, and I’m not ready to do that yet.
Burst of Impetus
- In the interest of saving time, I put this code together:
For i = 1 to 6
- Michigan started grinding out some first downs.
- It looked like if Michigan could just get some points on the board, we’d take control of the game.
- Michigan turned the ball over.
- I absorbed a virtual punch to the gut while that internet meme girl screamed, “Why, why, why?” inside my head.
- Believe it or not, I think the tone for the game was set by that first turnover ND made, and our inability to turn that into points. I think Borges and Denard started pressing too much after that. The sad thing is we could have won a ball-control, grind-it-out, low-scoring, slugfest-type game, but Borges gameplanned for needing to get in the 30’s. The ND/Staee game should have taught us that ND is not winning with offense this year.
- ND was held to 94 yards rushing for on 31 attempts for a 3.0 average.
- Only 14 players show up in the defensive stats. ND only ran 50 plays. Apparently, they didn’t want the ball either.
- Kovacs and Morgan were the leading tacklers with 7 apiece.
- Q. Washington played well and got half a tackle for loss for zero yards. If you wonder how that’s possible, join the club. He did get into the backfield a few times, but didn’t wrap up when he did.
- Taylor had an awesome INT that made me flashback to one of those games we won 38-0. Alas, we couldn’t capitalize on it.
- I have to admit ND’s defense is good. They had 5 TFLs and 4 QHs to our 2 and 1.
Ermahgerd, Desmond "Shoestring" Robinson?
- Last week, I wrote, “Denard had one poor pass/decision, throwing a pick-six, but better he do that against UMass than ND, ‘cause he rarely does that kind of thing, right?” Well, at least we avoided the pick-six. I’ll be expecting a first class ticket to Bolivian in the mail.
- According to Tom Hammond and Mike Mayock (more later) our fourth string QB, Desmond “Shoestring” Robinson, got the start. I kept waiting for the “Denard who owns ND” to show up, but we ran out of time in the 2ndhalf.
- On the 24 yard pass play ND had down to our six, their right tackle started early. Had that been called, it potentially wipes out an ND TD.
- I think the refs missed another holding penalty early in the game where an ND lineman tried to remove Roh’s shoulder pads.
- Penalties were even at 5 apiece. I guess that’s the best you can expect when you are playing on the road against G_d.
Bunches of Funchess
- When I was 16 and learning how to drive, my Dad, trying his best to impart some constructive criticism without being overly harsh, said, “ST3, your driving lacks a certain smoothness.” I think it’s wonderful how Devin Gardner has moved over to WR to help the team, but at this point in his career, I think his route running lacks a certain smoothness.
- On the INT thrown in front of Gardner, why is everyone assuming that was Denard’s fault? He is a senior QB and our all time yardage leader. Gardner is a converted QB playing WR in his 4thgame.
- Roundtree horribly mistimed his jump on the end-of-half hail Mary, probably costing us another turnover, but that play was meaningless. I do worry about what that suggests about Roundtree. He’s great on the quick hitters and underneath stuff, but I still don’t see him getting separation on the deep balls. He had 3 catches for 30 yards with a long of 11.
- You can’t stop the Funchess, you can only hope to contain him, and ND did to the tune of 2 catches for only 11 yards.
I Can Hate Donkeys Again?
- We saw glimpses of the 2011 end-of-season running game. We’ll need more of that going forward.
- Subtracting sack yardage, we did fairly well on the ground. Toussaint averaged 4.5 yards on 13 carries, helped by a 31 yard gain.
- We outrushed ND 161-94.
Special Teams Stuff
- Norfleet continues to get the ball and go Norf and Souf. I like how he gets it and goes.
- I think Brian wasted a bunch of electrons on his punting post this week, as neither team returned a punt.
- Gibbons made two and missed one from the hash. I hate kicks from the hash. If I was a coach, I’d never attempt a kick from the hashmark. The angle just screws everything up.
I’ll Take Bullets for a Thousand, Alex
- In the non-points related aspects of the game, we did fairly well, getting more first downs (19-14,) more total yards (299-239,) and doing better on third down (8 of 15 vs. 3 of 9.) Heck, we only punted once. (/ducks)
- Red zone efficiency or lack thereof was also a big factor. We went 2 of 5, they were 2 of 3.
- Time of possession was odd, we dominated the 1stand 3rdquarters with 11+ minutes each, and ND controlled the 2ndand 4thquarters with 9+ minutes.
- Check out the drive chart. We had 7 drives in the first half, but only three in the second.
Outside the Boxscore
- I updated my “most annoying color men” list and put Mike Mayock at the top of the list. Doesn’t he realize he’s covering a game for television, not radio? For 3 and a half hours he wouldn’t shut up. Take a breather, Mike, and let the game speak for itself every now and then. At the end of the half, he castigated Omameh for making a “dumb play” by hitting someone late. The only problem was, replay showed the ND player launching himself from behind Omameh and ND got the 15 yard penalty. Mike’s response, “My bad.” Yeah, you’re right Mike, you are bad. Fortunately, we only have to listen to him once every other year.
- NBC’s studio analyst for the game was Liam McHugh. Here’s how I think the interview went.
NBC Exec: What’s your name?
McHugh: Liam McHugh.
NBC Exec: You’re hired!
Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here all week.
- Michigan was the better team yesterday and if you remove the ridiculous number of turnovers, they kill the Irish.
- The offensive line looked great all game, giving Denard tons of time and opening up running lanes. Michigan probably could have ridden the O-line to victory easily. They dominated the much-heralded ND front seven.
- Borges went gimmicky far too early, IMO. The Devin Gardner pass was a nice play, but also a harbinger of things to come. The Vincent Smith HB-pass was far too cute. Hopefully looking at the film from this game will lead to more confidence and more straight-forward game planning in BIG season.
- The defense is getting much better up front and controlled the game yesterday. Tackles were spread evenly throughout the team, with the LBs and DTs accounting for a good percentage. No sacks is disappointing though.
- Desmond Morgon and Kenny Demens - They were everywhere hauling down Irish backs. Nice to see the veterans (Kovacs too) leading the defense in tackles.
- Roy Roundtree and Jeremy Gallon - Several key receptions on third down for these two.
- Elliot Mealer - Looked very good opening holes for the run game. Props to Schofield as well for superior protection on passing downs.
- Denard's Feet - Take out the 3 sacks and you get 23 carries for 111 yards, or nearly 5 yards per carry.
- Norfleet - Hard running on returns put Michigan in good field position. Still awaiting the inevitable.
Low pressure system over Lake Michigan and it's accompanying cold front is draped across Ilinois and Missouri this morning. As we go throughout the day, it pushes through South Bend, causing scattered showers and storms-nothing severe, but the stronger storms may produce small hail. The highest probability of storms is along and North of Hwy. 30 (which runs about 25 miles south of the stadium). The chance of storms goes down a bit as we get later into the night, but don't rule them out. Today will be much cooler than yesterday also-highs only reaching into the mid 50s-breezy during the afternoon, and pretty cloudy. Wind goes down for the game, as temps drop down into the 40s.
If you're in South Bend...
Cooler today than yesterday (Friday highs were in the upper 60s), hitting a high of 57 degrees this afternoon. Fog burns off by mid-morning but it's staying pretty cloudy throughout the day, with scattered showers and possible thunderstorms moving through. Little breezy too-winds are out of the WNW in the mid-teens with gusts up in the mid 20s (small trees sway, garbage cans tip over). We'll get rid of the gusts around 5pm.
By 7:30, the winds will have gone down to 10mph (leaves move about), remaining out of the WNW. We've cooled down also, but not by a whole lot-we'll be at 52 for the start of the game. Still pretty overcast, and passing showers and storms are possible.
Mostly cloudy skies with the slight chance of passing showers and storms still hanging on. Temps lingering right at 50 degrees, with WNW winds at a steady 7mph (you'll feel the breeze on your skin, hear the leaves rustle).
Into the upper 40s for the game's end, dropping into the mid 40s by closing time, and hitting a low of 43 by 7am. The small chance of a passing shower continues throughout the overnight hours, and rain chances continue into Sunday-but we'll see a little more sun and get back up into the mid 50s. Winds remain at 7mph out of the WNW, picking up shortly after sunrise Sunday to the mid-teens by afternoon.
If you're in Ann Arbor...
Reaching the low 60s this afternoon, with westerly winds at 15mph, gusts up around 20mph. Mostly cloudy and showers and storms moving through during the day, with small hail (around 1/2" diameter) and gusts to 30mph with the stronger storms (storms themselves will move west to east at about 30mph). By the time the game's over, we're looking at partly cloudy skies and just a slight chance of rain, light winds out of the WNW, at 46 degrees. Dropping to 43 degrees for closing time if you're out celebrating that win!
Christina Burkhart is a meteorologist for NBC/ABC in Traverse City, MI, and temporarily for NBC25 in Flint/Saginaw, MI. She grew up in Ann Arbor and associates Saturdays with Michigan football. Go Blue!!
Early in the week at the JCB, I posted about the Big 10's shifting odds as pointspreads for some of the future conference showdowns are being moved now that we have a few weeks of evidence. And calling what the Big 10 has done so far as evidence is pretty dang kind. But, hey, all these games in question deal with conference head to heads, so we're all in this equally sucky peer group together guys.
I buried the part about Michigan in that post, figuring we would talk about it more in depth over here. The simple fact is on their future Big 10 games listed on the board, people are either betting against Michigan or the oddsmakers are moving the lines against the Wolverines as insurance against a lot of Anti-Wolverine action. The Purdue line, which opened at UM -8.5 was down to -6 a week ago and has lowered even further to -4.5 as of today. Will it be the first of two games against Purdue this year? Who knows.
Michigan opened as slight favorites against Nebraska and Ohio State when the Golden Nugget first released lines back in June. By the time the season began, those lines had shifted and favored roles reversed with Nebraska -2 and OSU -3. They've continued to move in that direction during September. Nebraska is now -4 over Michigan. As for the OSU line, the Buckeyes were already up to - 6 a week ago and now its all the way to OSU -7.5. Yep, everyone is buying the Urban Revolution, and the Wolverines are now catching a full touchdown and a hook for The Game.
Why are people betting against Michigan? Let me try and count the ways: Their best runningback is their QB. Their top targeted WR was their backup QB and just moved to that position. Their other dangerous weapon so far in the passing game is a raw true freshman who hasnt dont anyhing yet against legit BCS competition. Their leading tailback from a year ago hasnt really got his legs yet and was suspended earlier after a serious run in with the law this summer. Denard made a bad play against UMass, GASP! Their right tackle's best position might be left guard. Their left guard should be their center, but he cant execute a shotgun snap. Their most talented player on defense has been lost for the season to an ACL tear. The rebuilding on the defensive line looks a bit wobbly so far. An overachieving D from a year returned seven starters, yet half the time the lineup is more freshmen and first year contributers than anyone else. Fans were excited to have good group of three returning linebackers who played well a year ago, but two of them are steadily losing snaps to true freshmen. And, Michigan got blown out by Alabama, which obviously means the Wolverines arent any good and might as well close shop for the fall. The team relies too much on one of the best players in college football. I dont know how you can win doing that.
So Michigan has problems. But some of those are hyperbolic. And others are areas of improvements where Michigan really still does have high ceiling potential this year. Others are fatal flaws. But, like, have you seen the rest of the Big 10? You think Michigan has problems. And thats my bottomline on these future odds. Catching points against Nebraska and OSU, two teams Michigan's offense worked over a year ago and whose own defensive issues still havent appeared to be solved? Sign. Me. Up. We'll see how the first half of the conference season plays out, but I'll take Michigan's offense, their defensive personnel and defensive scheming against all comers, especially if you're going to give me points.
The same goes for the big Notre Dame game this week, where Michigan is currently listed as 5.5-point underdogs. I dont have any new, creative ways to explain how titlted to the underdog this series is, so how about I just vomit up the numbers and move on. The Underdog is 23-5 ATS, but as impressively is 16-11-1 straight up, meaning they've won outright more than they lost. Notre Dame hasnt covered in this series as chalk since 1982 and hasnt won period in this series as chalk since 1988, the 19-17 Reggie Ho game where Michigan at least covered the 2.5 closing number. The only times in the last 20 years where the road dog failed to at least cover in a Michigan-Notre Dame games were the two 38-0 Michigan beatdowns in 2003 and 2007. Michigan is 10-1 ATS in this series as an underdog, with a 7-3-1 straight up record in those games. In most years, the underdog in this contest ends up playing its best game of the season.
Looking for something more rational than mere series history? I can do that. ND's front-7 is good looking, equipped with a lot of 4- and 5-star recruits finally blossoming as players and together as a unit. They dominated MSU a week ago. But the Wolverines come with a more talented, proven offensive line, even if the unit is far from fully gelled. That front-7, however, can only mask the inexperienced and patchwork secondary for so long. MSU could not take advantage of that because they're totally rebuilding their downfield threats and are at program low ebb at the WR position. Michigan isnt vintage Maize and Blue with their flankers, but they have more than enough proven and obvious up-and-coming targets to take advantage of the obvious weak spot of the ND Defense. Oh, and, is Denard Robinson still on the team? Let me check. Hmm. It says here he is. That gives Michigan the best player in this game, one whose been able to max out on all his powers against this team in his two previous starts. Michigan hasnt played a truly bad game on offense against the Irish since 2005, and I will be disappointed if they dont give us a bit of a showcase tomorrow night. Besides, it's Denard's 22nd Birthday on the 22nd. If that's not a sign, then I dont know what is. Michigan will have trouble with ND's offense. I fully expect Cierre Woods to have a really good game. But I am not sold on their redshirt freshman QB making his fourth career start. Mattison will have a trick up his sleeve for the kid. Notre Dame went 1-for-14 last week on 3rd conversions, yet still won and coverd as 6-point dogs. Yet, would you say, the Irish played all that well? I didnt think so and now they come back a week later, against an equally challenging foe as a week ago, but are now almost a touchdown favorite. I dont like that situation for any team. The Irish will still score their points, but I expect Michigan to go blow for blow with them and, at the very least, cover the spread. I'll have a full card of picks up at the JCB later in the day, and Michigan will be on there. Book It.
I wanted to spend some time breaking down the listed props for the game. However, as far as player props go, none are currently being listed. We'll probably see the various online books release those later tonight or tomorrow morning. I'll throw something together in the forum when they do. There are a few team related props already on the board, so let me breeze through those before signing off.
Michigan, Total Points Over/Under 22....This total is pretty low considering Michigan's history against Notre Dame. The Wolverines have scored more than 22 points in 12 of last 18 against the Irish, averaging 26.27 points per game. The number has been ticking upward in the series most recent matchups with Michigan averaging 33.16 points per in the last six games with Notre Dame, including five finals of at least 28 points. In Denard Robinson's 29 starts as UM QB, the Wolverines have scored more than 22 points in 23 games. Shall we talk about Notre Dame's team total being set at 27 points? I'd rather not ponder our young, flawed defense's ability to contain Notre Dame for the the purposes of this prop bet. On one hand, in the last 18 games between these two, the Irish have scored more than 27 points just six time. On the other hand, three of those occurrences are in the last four seasons, when they avergaged 30.5 points. But they've only gone 1-3 in those games. Insert Nelson Munz laugh here.
Longest TD Scored Over/Under 47.5 yards........This became a personal favorite of mine during Michigan games in 2010. The marriage of the explosive Denard Robinson with the crappy Rodriguez/GERG/Tony Gibson minus all the points defensive philosophy proved quite lucrative on the longest TD of the game props. This prop cashed on the first play of the marathon 132-point Illinois game on the Roundtree catch and run. It won on the famous Denard run to the house in South Bend. Of course, i reared its head in losses oo, like the The Edwin Baker home run job for MSU's first score in the Spartans win. The only thing I remember from the Penn State debacle is Kevin Koger's 61-yard TD reception, everything else from that night is not sitcking with my memory thanks to a catatonic state fueled by beer, whiskey and, uh, well, other things. It hit regularily, but, of course, the yardage needed wasnt as low as this weekend's prop. By the end of the season, this number was being listed in the low 60s. No worries, Jordan Hall and the Bucks got that covered on a 85-yard kickoff return score. Ok, enough of that. You get the point. We won a lot of money on Michigan games that year, we just needed to be creative about it. Getting back to the prop in this weekend's game. There's been a TD of more than 47.5 yards in two of three Michigan games so far this season. In the Denard Era, we've seen a TD of at least this length in 17 of 29 games. The defensive improvements in the wake of the Hoke/Mattison hirings have slowed the roll, however. After seeing touchdowns of at least 48 yards scored in 10 of 13 games in 2010, we've only seen it seven of 16 since.
Enjoy your Saturday of college football. Go Blue! Beat The Irish!
THE KNOWLEDGE shall use the bye week next week to congratulate all the winners of THE CHALLENGE 2012.1 and this current edition 2012.2, and award them the status of Protege of the week. At that very time, THE KNOWLEDGE shall also talk about the state of the future and of the Big Ten
THE CHALLENGE 2012.2 is now open. Correctly predict the score of the Michigan-ND game to be the POTW
THE KNOWLEDGE shall now provide some comments and pointers to the game to aid in the predictions
Before the Alabama game, everyone knew Michigan would lose, and they were correct - although not regarding how lopsided the score would be (the combination of oversigning and referees playing for Alabama made it worse than people assumed). THE KNOWLEDGE did not debut THE CHALLENGE that week because the pointers would have demoralized the fans
This week, everyone predicts a loss to ND as well
It may be worth remembering that THE KNOWLEDGE has revealed a 2 loss season for Michigan. THE KNOWLEDGE has not yet mentioned whether that second loss will be in the Big Ten regular season, or in the postseason, or out of conference
Just that there is another loss this season
That loss will not happen this week
Pointers to the game:
- Michigan will win
- Notre Dame will lose
- Michigan's defense will yield many yards to the ND run game
- Michigan's passing offense will bamboozle ND