I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Action since last rankings:
11-1-10 Iowa gains commitment from Nick Law.
11-3-10 Nebraska gains commitment from Charles Jackson.
11-5-10 Ohio State gains commitment from Conner Crowell.
|Big Ten+ Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# Commits||Rivals Avg||Scout Avg||ESPN Avg|
Rivals rankings are on the "RR" scale, which is on a scale from about 5 to about 6.1. Unrated prospects are given a 5.1 rating, on par with the worst of any Big Ten commit last year. Scout is on the 5-star system (unranked players earn star), and ESPN uses grades out of 100 (unranked is 40 or 45).
|#1 Ohio State - 18 Commits|
Buckeyes pick up Conner Crowell, whose recruitment was a serious battle, despite lack of accolades.
|#2 Notre Dame - 17 Commits|
|George Atkinson III||S||CA||5.8||4||79|
Scout's re-rank bumps Koyack down to 4 stars.
|#3 Nebraska - 16 Commits|
CB Charles Jackson joins the Huskers.
|#4 Michigan State - 16 Commits|
Nothing new for MSU.
|#5 Michigan - 12 Commits|
No change for the Wolverines. The Illinois win might help solidify some of the current commitments, though.
|#6 Indiana - 22 Commits|
|#7 Wisconsin - 18 Commits|
AJ Jordan loses his fourth star in Scout's re-rank, but Jake Keefer picks one up.
|#8 Iowa - 16 Commits|
Ray Hamilton is stripped of his fourth star in Scout's re-rank.
|#9 Northwestern - 13 Commits|
No change for Northwestern.
|#10 Minnesota - 15 Commits|
Surprising that Minnesota has held onto their entire class so far.
|#11 Illinois - 17 Commits|
No change for Illinois.
|#12 Penn State - 4 Commits|
They have to get some commits sooner or later, right?
|#13 Purdue - 7 Commits|
Rouse drops to 2 stars on Scout. AJ King goes from 2-star to completely unranked.
The good, the bad and the ugly, presented without comment.
|RedZone - TD||78.05%||2nd|
|RedZone - Score||87.80%||27th|
|3rd Down Conversions||48.31%||21st|
|4th Down Conversions||66.67%||21st|
|Pass Eff Def||144.29||101st|
|RedZone Def - TD||69.23%||101st|
|RedZone Def - Score||87.18%||92nd|
|3rd Down Conversions Def||43.94%||95th|
|4th Down Conversions Def||70.00%||108th|
|Punt Returning (Yds/Ret)||6.00||95th|
|Kick Returning (Yds/Ret)||20.84||78th|
|Punt Return D (Yds/Ret)||12.13||95th|
|Kick Return D (Yds/Ret)||19.77||27th|
|Pts Responsible for||150||13th|
|Pts Responsible for/g||16.67||10th|
Big Ten Hits Michigan With Personal Foul
Game Overshadowed By Further Penalties Under Rodriguez; Holding, Pass Interference Also Suspected
BY MICHAEL ROSENBERG, FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
The University of Michigan football program under Rich Rodriguez has been accused by Big Ten Conference officials of numerous violations of the NCAA rulebook during the Wolverines' game against Illinois on Saturday, the Free Press has learned.
Some of the allegations were confirmed during the game by the officials themselves. When reached for comment, referee David Witvoet said, "Holding. Offense #77. Ten-yard penalty; repeat third down." The Free Press identified #77 as freshman offensive lineman Taylor Lewan. Lewan appeared to be unaware of the rules in an earlier media interview, saying he was sometimes flagged for excessive blocking and, "I don't even know if that's a rule."
The NCAA rulebook reads,
"Holding or illegal obstruction by a teammate of the ball carrier or passer applies to Rule 9-3-3-a: The hand(s) and arm(s) shall not be used to grasp, pull, or encircle in any way that illegally impedes or illegally obstructs an opponent."
But perhaps more troubling is the allegation of a personal foul that occurred during the course of the game. Though Rodriguez has said in the past that "we don't coach our players to do that," the infraction, again confirmed by Big Ten officials, occurred in the third quarter of the Illinois game. Personal fouls are considered a major violation of the NCAA rulebook.
In addition to those penalties already confirmed by the conference, Rodriguez's program is suspected of several other rulebook violations, accused by Illinois players who remain anonymous so as to protect them from possible repercussions. On one play, during which there was contact between a Michigan defender and an Illinois receiver, the pass fell incomplete and the Illinois player was seen waving his hands in a manner that suggested a penalty flag should have been thrown. Several parents of Illinois players - who will also remain anonymous to protect their sons from repercussions - confirmed the accusation, holding their hands to the back of their heads in disbelief.
When reached for comment, Rodriguez appeared calm. "We need to be more aggressive at times and that time it paid off," he said.
Michigan won the game, 67-65.
However, with the program already on probation following the NCAA's confirmation and validation of an earlier Free Press investigation that resulted in the heaviest-ever NCAA sanctions against the Michigan program for earlier violations already committed under Rodriguez's watch, Athletic Director Dave Brandon may finally have no choice but to fire his embattled coach. Brandon and President Mary Sue Coleman could not be reached for comment. But a clause in Rodriguez's contract allows him to be fired for violations of the NCAA rulebook, and with Rodriguez already on a short leash it is thought that Brandon and the Michigan brass have already had discussions regarding his termination.
(Diarist Note: For the Pick-4 players out there, just a reminder to get your picks in. We’ve got you covered at the JCB for the college football and soccer weekend. My own picks post will be up by sunup. Cheers!)
Let's get into the question of the day. Why in the world are the Michigan Wolverines favored by three points against the Illini?Have people not been watching? What's the deal, allegedly sage--and very, very, very rich--oddsmakers? Somebody has asked this question in a forum thread almost every day this week. I wont pretend to know what's truly going on behind the scenes, but here are a few thoughts as to why Michigan remains chalk, despite a defense that gets as many stops as the Washington Generals.
**Professional bettors don't and never will trust Ron Zook. For an entire decade, the Florida Gators, especially in the Swamp, was their meal ticket. Ron Zook tore all that down. They love to fade him when he's a favorite. Flipping this line to Illinois +3 would bring way too much big money in on Michigan. Despite how bad Michigan has been in recent weeks, that's a risk they don't want to take. This line forces the anti-Zook wiseguys to lay chalk with something they equally loathe, a team with a bad defense. The oddsmakers don't have the best hand, but they're raised the stakes with Michigan as the favorite in hopes to split the anti-Zook crowd.
**Beware the team on a streak. In either direction. Want a pro tip? Look around for teams that have either lost or won four in a row against the number. If it's a 4-game winning streak, bet against them. Its hard to cover five weeks in a row. Conversely, if they've failed against the spot for 4-games in a row, bet on that team since its hard for a team to biff so much that they cant cover in five games in a row. Find any betting handbook or advice text and somewhere within the copy you will be instructed to follow this. I've seen books penned by fancy suit wiseguys whose faces are all over gambling shows like Pro-Line tout this as the cornerstone of your should-be profitable strategy. Make no mistake, there is a demographic of professional sports gambler that, regardless of circumstance, will follow this rule to the letter. Guess who has lost four games in a row to the spread? You probably don't need to many clues. Yep, our Meeeeechigan Wolverines. Oddsmakers aren't about to give those fools who put 10 grand or more per game on systems like this any sort of head start by giving them points and Denard Robinson.
**Speaking of Denard, you may have heard of him. The public loves him. That's driving the line, for sure. But the public also isn't blind. They've seen the Michigan offense turn somewhat clunky the last month and they know all about the bad defense. But Michigan is still a really good bet to outrush most teams they play. And that's a key factor in setting this line. Want another pro tip? Look for underdogs who stand an excellent chance at outrushing their opponent. Dogs who eventually do outrush the favorite cover a lot. It's something I wish I had numbers on. Maybe the JCB Research Team can get on that this offseason? But the numbers I saw years ago had this solidly in the mid-60 percent range, with the success rate escalating based on just how much said dog outrushed their favored foe. It's why Paul Johnson is an excellent underdog coach. I've heard people quip around here that Illinois should be favored by close to a touchdown. Hey, I don't disagree, but if the Book puts a number out there like Michigan +4 or +5, they would get flooded by sharp money out this underdog outrushing their opponent theory. So, they make them slight chalk to confuse the issue those fawking bastadges. By the way, three times this season the underdog in the Michigan game won the rushing battle. They were also 2-1 ATS.
**Vegas likes giving out free money. They win so much, sometimes they like to hand out gifts. For close-to-home examples, I present you Oregon +7 against Michigan in 2007 and last winter on the hardwood with Wisconsin as a pick 'em at Crisler Arena. Ok, obviously this isn't the case, but this does scream free money, right? A perusal of my two favorite all-purpose gambling forums doesn't reveal a ton of folks backing Michigan, the Illini are the best bet of the week for many and at least one offshore has 83-percent of the action on the Illini. Rum punches for everyone in Antigua, I guess, if Michigan covers the spread.
Count me in as one of those folks flipping for that bar bill if the Wolverines come through. I've never been one for the progressive fade plays. I do love hunting for outrushing underdogs, and, frankly, who is to say we don't have one in this game? The Illini are good at rushing and stop the rush. A mini-MSU. How did that go for the Maize and Blue? Mostly, I subscribe to my own theory, one that some of you mathletes may hate because it involves nothing more than the simple eye test: Don't bet chalk with sucky defenses. No sugarcoat. A team with a defense this bad cant be relied upon to win games, let alone cover them as chalk. Michigan's best days ahead the rest of the year against the number will be when they're getting points and another Denard or Tate led comeback comes back short on the scoreboard, but enough to nab the back door cover. So, I am taking Illinois +3. I might even invest in the Over 57. My official card for the day will be at the JCB before sun-up tomorrow. But, the Illini will be on it. There is literally no way Michigan covers this spread. Sorry.
ON THAT UPLIFTING NOTE I AM SURE YOU WANT SOME FAKE OVER/UNDER PROPS TO TRACK TOMORROW AND YOU'RE IN LUCK BECAUSE HERE THEY ARE, YIPEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wait, I really owe you a little candy after saying mean things and picking against Michigan. How about a fun trip down memory lane. I’ve linked, courtesy of course from Wolverine Historian, highlights from the classic 1989 Michigan-Illinois game. The programs had a tense relationship in the 1980s in the wake of the Gary Moeller hiring and firing three years later by Illinois. I don’t know if Bo ever forgave the institution for that. He took it out on them in 1981 with a 70-21 curb stomping at Michigan Stadium. Michigan was throwing touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. The clubs played bitter, heavy hitting, and chirpy affairs in 1982 and 1983 with each team winning once. The 1985 game ended in a 3-3 tie and Schembechler believed he and his staff failed the team in preparation for the day and gave an impassioned speech to the team, breaking down in tears telling them how much he loved them. Michigan was a buzz saw the rest of the year after that. Phil Webb scored a TD in the final minute for a Michigan win in 1987, the Wolverines ran up the score again in 1988’s 69-13 and sewed up the 1988 Big 10 Title with a decisive rout over the Illini in 1988. The 1989 clash again proved to be a major swing in the Big 10 race. Illinois literally poured their season into beating Michigan and getting the Rose Bowl berth denied to them by the Wolverines the year before. I wonder if Bo knew this would be his last game against Illinois because he was especially feisty. Vada Murray (name drop) told me that Bo actually had the team charge right through the Illini’s warm-ups as they took the field, nearly causing a riot on the field. That Bo! Anyway, enjoy the highlights.
Rushing Yards: Michigan -35.5 over Illinois
This is a great matchup of Big 10 rushing attacks. It's the 8th ranked Michigan rushing offense, the best in the Big 10, and Illinois 24th ranked rushing offense, 4rth overall in the league. The Wolverines are powered by budding All-American Denard Robinson. The Illini counter with Mikel Leshoure. Robinson is the nation's second leading rusher with 160 yards per game. Leshoure cracks the top 25 at 97.25 yards per game. Denard is off back to back 100-yard games, but Leshoure has been bottled up recently, having only topped the 86-yard mark once in his last five games, averaging "just" 4.03 yards a carry in those contests. You would think this line would be higher, but we have to adjust for the fact that Michigan's better rushing numbers will be tested against the 26th rushing defense in the land. Illinois allows just 117 yards a game on the ground. While Michigan counters defensively with a respectable 57th in the country against the run, it's hard to wash the memories of last week when Evan Royster dominated the Wolverines. Like Leshoure, he came in struggling a bit and the Wolverines defense proved the correct tonic. Then there is last year's nightmare against the Illini when the Orange and Blue flattened Michigan to the tune of 377 rushing yards. Leshoure tallied 150 of those yards and was one of two tailbacks to go over the century mark. Michigan's pass defense has everyone salivating, but don't expect Illinois to stray to far from their running identity. Nobody on the edge for Michigan can contain Leshoure. Expect chunks and chunks of yards to be gained just on quick pitches to him while he outraces everyone in pursuit to the corner.
As a Michigan fan, I fear this kid going berserk more than I do Scheelhase and the passing game. Leshoure is a third-year back, a three-star recruit and the 28th overall rated running back, per Rivals in the 2008 class. He went to high school in Champaign and chose the hometown school over scholarship offers from Wisconsin, Missouri and Boston College, among others. He, along with Scheelhase who is coming off his own 100-yard a week ago against Purdue, have helped the Illini outrush seven of eight foes this year to the tune of 76.9 yards per game. Only Ohio State has outrushed the Illini this season. Michigan is going to need a healthy Mike Martin, the continued development of Kenny Demens as a run stuffing LB and somehow figure out how to keep Leshoure from getting to the corner and flat outracing everybody to prevent being gashed in this one.
As for the other side of the ball, Michigan has also outrushed seven of eight foes (only MSU outgained them on the ground), but their margin has been over 125 yards. Denard Robinson’s lowest output of the season has been 99 yards. The Wolverines have to deal with the load upfront that is Corey Liuget. With 7.5 TFLS and 3 sacks, he's bucking for some all-conference honors, but so too are the three interior offensive linemen from Michigan-David Molk, Patrick Omammeh and Steve Schilling--who will assigned at various times throughout the game to block him. Then, there are the linebackers. The Illini starting trio of Marquez Wilson, Ian Thomas and Nate Bussey might be the best starting LB unit the Wolverines have faced this year outside of MSU. That's a 5-star, 3-star and 2-star recruit from the 2007 recruiting class. All are multi-year starters, but Wilson, who seems ticketed for the NFL draft in the spring despite one year left, sat out all of last year with a neck injury. He was the 5-star of this group and his return to the lineup has been the driving force behind the improved play this year from the Illini D. So, Illinois has a high performing LB unit, anchoring one of the league's better defenses, all brought in during the 2007 recruiting cycle. Michigan? The defensive recruits from that class still on team include Ryan Van Bergen, Troy Woolfolk, Micheal Williams, Brandon Herron and, I suppose, James Rogers. Edge: Illinois. Of course, that has little to do with this rushing prop. Keep tabs on this. Underdogs chances of covering the spread skyrocket when they outrush the favorite. As long as Michigan is ahead in this statistical battle, I wont be super nervous about our chances. Both teams have won the rushing battle in almost every game they've played. Cue the something's got to give cliché.
Illinois Passing Yards: O/U 230.5 yards.
Man, this number seems low, doesn't it? I am a bettor, not a bookmaker. However, this is where I would set the number. This is way more of a pillow fight between the Illini passing offense and the Michigan passing defense than the PSU match was supposed to be. Damn, at least I hope so. But it truly is. We have the 111th ranked Illini passing offense versus the 117th ranked Michigan passing defense. Throw the records out when these unit clash, please. At least Penn State's passing offense was ranked in the second third of the nation, albeit towards the bottom in that category and goes for over 200 yards a game. Illinois only averages 143.1 yards per game through the air. Of course, we know that number isn't safe or in play when going up against the Wolverines who yield 290.5 a game. Here's why I think this might be a better matchup for Michigan than last weekend, or, frankly, most of other games this year. We focus way too much sometimes on who the QB is they're going up against. If an alleged walk-on can light up Michigan, then so can Scheelhase for Illinois, who actually has 4-star bonafides, per Rivals. Sometimes we miss out on the fact that its as important to judge to receivers running all over the field matching up with the secondary. In this regard, I don't know if Scheelhaase has weapons to use. I know the Illini's wideouts do not compare to most of the sets Michigan's had to guard in Big 10 play. Penn State, Iowa, MSU and Indiana all have at least five guys in their pass catching rotation that go for over 11 yards per catch. Illinois? They only have one, AJ Jenkins. He has a nice 13.2 yard per catch average, but more than one quarter of his production came from the second game of the season against FCS foe Southern Illinois. Surely Michigan has a pass defense better than the Salukis, right? Wait, don't answer that. Regardless, nobody outside of Jenkins who averages at least one catch per game goes for double digit yards per catch. This might be just the right group of wideouts to keep from going bonkers. Everyone else Michigan has played in the Big 10 has had at least one, if not two, players in the top-100 in the country in receiving yards per game. Illinois does not. This total is right at the midpoint between their two yardage numbers, then I added a little because, well, the original number look obscenely low. Whoever wins this taffy pull, may win this game.
Second Quarter Score: Illinois -5.5 over Michigan
Forget wondering why Michigan is favored to win this game, why are they even favored to win the first half? They are -0.5 (meaning a tie goes to the Illini) for the first 30 minutes of the game. It's screaming for Orange and Blue money. After all, the Wolverines haven't had an intermission lead against any of their Big 10 foes. They were tied against Indiana, but down 7, 14 and 18 points respectively to MSU, Iowa and Penn State. The culprit? Try a dismal second quarter, where the Wolverines have been outscored 92-57. Good grief. Michigan actually has outscored its opponents in the three other quarters, but their second quarter sputtering's have really come back to haunt them. A year ago, they won the second quarter 101-86, but struggled putting up points in the second half. The latter hasn't been a problem this season, but the wheezing towards the halftime break, combined with the defense giving up touchdowns like its job, has really put the team in a hole. They've only scored 3 points in their last two second quarters, have been outscored by at least a touchdown in the second stanza of every Big 10 game and have lost 5 second quarters in a row. In fact, the only second quarter they have won this season was against Notre Dame, by a 7-0 score and needed a run-of-the-century from Shoelace to manage that. How about Illinois? They've outscored teams in the second quarter 74-29. Gulp.
Total MGoForum Threads About Jim Harbaugh: O/U 6.5
For the purpose of this play, we start the clock at 12:01 am Saturday and will run in through the following midnight. A 24-hour cycle. Stanford's Fighting Jim Harbaughs play the ABC primetime game this week. He's already on the minds of just about every Michigan fan. And we all love to talk in the MGoForum. This is actually a serious thing to count. Back in MGoBlog's Haloscan days we didn't have an MGoForum, but in 2007 you could not go a Saturday during the season without scrolling through dozens upon dozens of comments on how every possible future UM coach was doing that day. I figure if the Michigan game goes south, that ought to generate at least a couple Harbaugh threads. Who knows how many will sprout up during the Cardinal's game? In the first quarter, he'll run a zone read with Luck to pick up a first down, and Dahblue will start a thread. In the second quarter, his team will get stuffed on a third and short, and Bouje will start a thread. Harbaugh was one of my favorites growing up, so I might just start a thread for the hell of it because I remain a fan. Who knows, maybe we'll talk about how he's Tom Crean's brother-in-law and the bizarre circumstances that might put both in charges of programs I love. When the Cardinal begin taking over the game, a couple threads will pop up wondering how come lowly Stanford is so good and powerful Michigan is so bad. If the Cardinal choke the game in the end, we'll have at least three threads demanding that he be taken off our 'want' list. It's going to get ridiculous. There will be repetition. Threads will get deleted. But those count towards this total, so mods, please keep track even as you take threads down. Accuracy and wagered MGoPoints are at stake.
With that, I'll sign off. I have dinner plans for the night and somehow have to get my picks post up on the blog. Enjoy the weekend, folks.
Washington DC running back Malcolm Crockett (5'11", 180 lbs, 3 star) is currently committed to Cincinnati, but that isn't stopping him from visiting Michigan this weekend. He'll be taking an official visit to take a closer look at what Michigan has to offer.
Malcolm's coach, Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said, "Michigan hasn't stopped recruiting him. He's never really been to any schools, so he's going to take some visits and see what happens. Michigan was his first offer ever, so he likes them still."
Tony Dews is recruiting Crockett, and doing a great job as usual. "Tony (Dews) has been recruiting him for awhile now, and he's done a really nice job. They're recruiting Malcolm as a running back, he's more of a downhill runner that will break tackles than the elusive guy," said Abdul-Rahim. "Our offense is more of a pro-style this year, but we ran mostly spread last year, so the Michigan coaches saw how he could fit into their system from last year's film."
Part of Crockett's appeal may be his versatility, as he also plays defensive back for Friendship Collegiate Academy.
A side note to Crockett's recruitment is that Michigan has also offered his 2012 defensive line teammate, Eddie Goldman. The 6-foot-4, 307-pound defender is being recruited by everyone, and has already racked up around 36 offers.
Note: If you find this even marginally funny, please tell me and I will continue them for the rest of the season.
I was going to create a Choose Your Own Adventure for this whole season, but then I realized the team was 5-3 and trying to rewrite history is better left for crappy movie adaptations of good books and romantic comedies. So starting from last Saturday’s loss to Penn St., you and YOU ALONE are in charge of how this season ends!
(okay, not really, but this is totally epic sounding. In fact, the only impact I’ll have on this season is if UM loses to Purdue, at which point I will recreate the following clip, but with GERG in the role of Will Ferrell.)
You are standing in front of your TV, mouth agape as a walk-on QB playing in his first game for PSU helps to shred UM’s defense along the way to a 41-31 loss in Happy Valley. Your wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/husband has gone into the other room to “check my e-mail” and “see about going out to brunch” with her/his parents on Sunday. Your dog, a loyal companion through it all, has spent the last hour trying to rest at your feet but is constantly interrupted by your loud and profanity-laced mood swings as the second half of the game played out. The chances that he will chew apart one your shoes while you sleep is approximately equal to the 3rd-down completion percentage by PSU this evening.
With the night still young, you have a couple of options. If you…
A) Give in to your growing ennui and curl up in the fetal position on the couch and watch reruns of Say Yes to the Dress with your wife/girlfriend, GOTO ENNUI.
B) Rage against the world by grabbing all of the alcohol from your refrigerator, including that novelty six-pack of Thanksgiving-style beer your uncle gave you in 2008, and dump it all into a bucket and chug away, GOTO BLINDER.
C) Fire up the laptop, jump on mgoblog.com, and go through every new Board and Diary post and blanket agree/disagree with the sentiment, GOTO ADDICT.
After watching the third straight episode with the “cliffhanger” about whether the girl will be able to afford her dream dress (hint: she can, even though it “totally” breaks her budget), you realize there is more to life. You look into your loved one’s eyes, see a bright and beautiful future filled with laughing children, romantic trips, and unicorns with rainbows for horns, and a hint of a smile slowly creases your lips. Then you remember J.T. Floyd giving a 15-yard cushion on 2nd-and-21 and scream out in agony “Why GERG why?” and fall into a quivering, whimpering heap.
12 hours later, you are wearing the same clothing as the night before and are sporting a very not George Michael 5 o’clock shadow while sitting across from your parents-in-law in a “cute” bistro in town. You chew on a piece of toast, and it tastes like sadness; your mimosa burns your throat like a million suns of despair; your eggs benedict are a little runny. GOTO WEEK-ILL.
Named after the effect it has on the imbiber, you guzzle this concoction until all you see are stars and that small purple elephant in a sweatervest that seems to pop up more the past few years. You then walk into the kitchen and proceed to have a nuanced and passionate discussion with your blender about how the 3-3-5 defense simply is not a suitable base formation for a defense with a below-average secondary and linebackers who have trouble maintaining their gap coverage and tackling in space. Later reports to the nursing staff at the hospital by your loved one characterize this conversation as “a bunch of grunts, cackling, and arm-waving like Steven Tyler during a live performance of ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’” followed by you head-butting the refrigerator and suffering a concussion. You are placed on the “physically unable to perform” list for home chores and the doctors suggest you turn to watching “something less stressful, like the UFC or dress shows” on the weekends for the rest of the season. THE END.
After dis/agreeing with every poster who calls for RR and/or GERG to be fired and questioning why you are still a fan for 4 hours, you go to YouTube and watch highlights of the New Math game against MSU until you pass out on your keyboard and begin to drool. At least that is your excuse you give the next morning for why this clip was playing in a loop when you were found in the morning. GOTO WEEK-ILL.
By Wednesday you are feeling better about the past weekend, as the cool fall air, left-over Halloween candy, and flood of rationalizations lead you to believe that the PSU game was an aberration of sorts.
- “Maybe McGolin is just a good QB. You know, he almost beat out Boldin to start the year. Plus, Martin was out for most of the game.”
- “It was a night game in Happy Valley, and there was some questionable officiating.”
- “The position changes are going to take time to fit in.”
- “JoePa just wins footbawwww Gameshesh at Penn STTAAAATTTTEEEE!!!”
The degree to which your mood has lifted is highlighted by your complete non-reaction to the news that JT Floyd will be out for the season due to injury. You think, “eh, I guess it doesn’t really matter who gives a 8-yard cushion to a receiver on 3rd-and-3. Might as well be a freshman.” Also, you take solace in the fact that the Angry Michigan Hating Secondary God is running out of victims, so it will hopefully move on to another team soon. Just to be safe, you stop by Bed, Bath, and Beyond on the way to work to pick up extra candles for your shrine to Charles Woodson, Leon Hall, and Ernest Shazor.
Your spirits are further lifted when the NCAA report is released on Thursday effectively eviscerating the Free Press’s hackneyed expose against the UM program and exonerating RR and the rest of the staff for what amounted to some extra stretching and someone watching practice who shouldn’t have been there. Against your better judgment, you visit the Freep website to see if they are printing a mea culpa. To nobody’s surprise, Rosenberg and the paper are sticking to their ridiculously misguided and hollowed-out guns.
This reminds you of the text-based adventure game Zork, in which Rosenberg is the troll standing in front of the bridge that you are trying to cross. After a number of syntactically-correct but apparently illogical commands such as “Show truth about non-countable hours” and “Question whether anonymous sources are disgruntled former players”, you would have simply turned off the game and went back to playing ColecoVision version of Frogger. Today, you just say “whatever” and figure you’ll never visit the site again unless Drew Sharp publishes something REALLY dumb. You expect to return in 3 days.
After sifting through the various Illinois previews that all point to UM losing the game, you realize that UM has been a favorite and lost, and upset as a dog, so you steel yourself for 400+ yards of rushing by the Illini and hope Denard and Co. can keep pace.
A) Believe that UM beats Illinois, GOTO ILL-WIN.
B) Believe that UM loses to Illinois, GOTO ILL-LOSS.
Scheelhaase throws only 8 passes all game (completing 6 for 150 yards and 2 TDs) and the Illini rushing attack eats up the UM defense. On the 8th missed tackle by Cam Gordon that lets a player get loose for another 10 yards, you yell to no one in particular that this game could not possibly get worse. Your significant other asks what quarter it is, and you realize there are 8 minutes left in the 1st half. Michigan keeps it close, but in an all-too-familiar script, UM falls behind early and the defense can never get off the field without giving up points. UM loses 44-30, and the pilot has definitely turned off the “Do NOT Panic” sign in the cabin. GOTO PUR-WEEK.
UM rushes out to a quick 14-0 lead as Denard houses runs on the first two drives after the defense records two (!) straight stops, one a punt and the other a fumble by Leshoure in the red zone. The Illini’s run defense, highly-ranked coming into the game, proves to be no match for the midline and the simple zone read as run by a Dilithium-infused QB. The Illini are also not helped by their head coach, who reminds people why he was fired by Florida and nearly canned by his current team by never throwing the ball even though UM puts 9 guys in the box. Illinois threatens throughout the game, though, and even ties it late at 31, but a 45-yard bomb to Junior Hemingway (!) gets the offense into the redzone, where Vincent Smith (!!) drives it home for the game-winning TD. UM fans across the globe let out a collective breath as the team becomes bowl eligible, making everyone a little sad when they realize how this used to be a foregone conclusion. GOTO PUR-WEEK.
Coming off an emotional home game against Illinois, all the talk turns to the Boilermakers and resident Village People Motorcycle Guy*stand-in Danny Hope’s decimation of a once-proud program. Coming off two straight losses to the Boilermakers (and unfortunate theme during RR’s term as head coach), UM will be looking for revenge in West Lafayette. As you guessed it last week but still is a shocker, but Drew Sharp AND Michael Rosenberg have disparaging things to say about the UM program and Rich Rodriguez. Combined, the articles include about 2.5 factually correct statements and/or opinions. Few people notice, though at least one brand-new MGoBlogger creates a post about it just so that people can rant. People scream “groupthink”, and we all tell them to shut up or else we’ll all neg-bang them.
All week fans hear about how bad Purdue is on offense and defense, how they have one of the worst offenses AND defenses in the conference. UM fans know that such stats mean nothing when playing UM’s defense, but spirits are still high. Based purely on the rate at which Purdue has been losing QBs this season, the starter for the game will be a true Sophomore Mechanical Engineering student named James Sampson who led his dorm team to the semi-finals of the Purdue Intramural Flag-Football playoffs. Despite the near-certainty that he will throw for over 250 yards and have a 3:1 TD:INT ratio and the game is on the road, this still looks like a near-certain win for UM. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, Danny Hope is still the coach.
A) Believe that UM beats Purdue, GOTO PUR-WIN.
B) Believe that UM loses to Purdue, GOTO PUR-LOSS.
Sampson does not disappoint, giving a shout-out to his ME peeps after his 3rd TD pass puts Purdue ahead to stay, despite a late UM drive to tie that ends with the incredibly predictable blocked 30-yard FG. All the custom-fitted cups in the world cannot protect you from the metaphysical dong punch that racks your body after this loss. Alcohol barely numbs the pain, but the dream of prehistoric otter-sized ennui setting in is the only release you seek. GOTO BLINDER.
Bowl hurdle overcome as well as a very rare road win, you are quietly content that UM will play beyond the OSU game. Beating Danny Hope 51-21, RR lets loose a trademark kinda-smile and GERG actually receives a complement in the press conference for “only making the walk-on look like an All-City QB out there.” Sunday is the most beautiful day of your life. Your breakfast tastes better than any meal you and I have ever tasted, members of the opposite sex seem particularly attracted to you. Your dog seems genuinely happy to see you when you walk into the room, not the faux interest-if-you-have-a-treat veneer it usually puts on. All is right in the world, and you prepare yourself for the next two games believing that UM is back on track, or at least no careening off the tracks into a school full of baby bunnies.
TO BE CONTINUED?
* Little known fact, his name is Glenn Hughes. Thanks Wikipedia!