will be michigan's highest pick in a while
I am sorry to post my weekly recap late and in half-assed form, but life is hectic right now. I definately have even deeper appreciation for what Brian and others do to keep their blogs up and running. Kudos.
So that was a game that both gave me and cured my heartburn. I watched just about every play except for the last 4 minutes of the first half (how in the world we had two interceptions and only gave up 3 points???!) and the 3rd down roughing the passer play (was creating a super-pizza). Obviously we stunk, and then magically we didn't.
- RichRod is a great coach. This win firmly cemented this for me. This team had no business getting off the mat to fight for this win. He is a great, great leader.
- Our defense was impressive all day. Twice facing a short field, the Badgers had to settle for FGs. It really shows what our D can do when given 27 yards to defend instead of 15 as in the ND game.
- I think Wisconsin is a good team and that our run defense is really improving.
- I know this isn't much by way of analysis but I have no time for more.
Hats Off!!! Awards:
- Mike Barwis - Our team finally came through in the end because they were in much better physical condition. While Wisconsin's cheese eating fatties tired, our guys looked strong all game long.
- RichRod - While I have deep respect for our previous three coaches and I believe that they too would have lead a comeback, none of them (with the possible exception of Bo in 1969) had to pick up a team playing as bad as Michigan played in the first half. Just wow. I will never count out a RR lead team again.
- Johnny Thompson - Great concentration on that int and then what a run into the endzone. After seemingly causing so many problems against ND (thank you Brian for UFR), he is now a hero in one of Michigan's top all time wins. Hats Off!!! to you sir.
- Brandon Graham - Dude was a monster out there. Might have saved the game forcing that fumble when Wisky looked ready to score with 3 minutes left.
- Brett Bielema - It seemed to me that he changed his gameplan to readily, almost in panic when Michigan scored their second touchdown. The Badgers came out throwing and gifted us Thompson's int-TD immediately. I have no doubt that this guy can coach, but RR just pwned him. Plus not using Beckum and Clay more of the game seemed strange.
This team has serious problems ahead. I really don't think we can take much from this performance going forward except this: Michigan will be better conditioned than the opponent almost assuredly and always have a shot at winning. Illinois is winnable next week as I don't see their defense stuffing us as well as Wisky's did. Juice may cause problems with his feet, but I can feel the M Defense's confidence grow. Threet will have more confidence himself after a full game of not being yanked no matter how badly he was sucking. He may return to ND game form and if so, I see a win. This game gave us a legit shot at a bowl game and hence, a successful season. I now believe we can beat anybody left on the schedual, but I am still only seeing 7-5 overall.
I'm still giddy about Saturday. What a comeback, what a game, what a win!
I did get some texts from friends after we were up 27-19 asking the same question I was thinking: "Don't you wish we had kicked that PAT after the 3rd TD?" If we kick the PAT, we're up 21-19, then after the subsequent TD would have been up 28-19 leaving Wisconsin needing a TD and a FG.
This is a major pet peeve of mine. I'd like to know what people's thoughts are about going for the two-point conversion. Here's my view:
1) In general, unless there is less than ~7 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, don't go for two.
2) Exception #1: You are down so much that the only possible chance you have is multiples of 8. e.g. There is 1:15 left to go in the third quarter and you're down 24 points. If you score, go ahead and try for 8 each time.
3) Exception #2: The weather is so bad you might not ever score again. e.g. Notre Dame two weeks ago: We are down 28-17 for part of the 2nd quarter and all of the third. If we had scored a TD late in the third quarter, I might have gone for 2, to get us within 3. (Alas, that never ended up being one of the things we had to wrestle with that day...)
So once you've got less than half of the fourth quarter to go, pull out your chart that tells you whether or not to go for it; otherwise, kick the PAT, take your point and move on. I understand that this one is somewhat philosophical. Sort of like how some coaches will never take the FG off the board even if the penalty would give them a first down. Or deciding whether to double or just hit your 11 against the dealer's ten. Maybe the important thing is just being consistent.
Obviously, nobody knew Threet had the 58 yard run in him, or that we'd go score the next TD. And if we'd gotten the 2, AND the subsequent TD and PAT, then the game would have been REALLY out of reach. Still, it is still frightening that we were a penalty and some great D-line pressure away from OVERTIME yesterday.
In my 30+ years as a UM fan, I've had my share of disappointments: The Miracle at Michigan, The loss at Oregon, the UT and USC Rose Bowls, A Thomas fumble against NW, etc, etc.. I always thought it was some higher power's hate for any team I support. Yesterday, before the half, I was sure that was the case.
I remember last year I would titter like a schoolgirl watching Notre Dame highlights and think to myself "How could any team be THAT bad?". Before the half, and the whole Notre Dame game, UM was THAT bad. I realized that this year was going to be tough, but this is a bit much. My support for the team never faltered, but doubt started to creep into my mind. When Matthews fumbled, I was pretty sure that I had done something wrong in my life that I was being punished for. The red hot fire poker that always seems to touch the side of my stomach when UM is losing started to hit the Kelvin scale. I was on the liveblog, and the comments were starting to turn from WTF to outrage(note: kudos to moderators for keeping out the very negative ones).
During halftime, the realist in me knew this game was over: 19 points down, -7 passing yards, and an offense that was a impotent as Hugh Hefner. The other half of me(read: drunk) was saying"it's only 19 points, and the D is playing pretty damn good. Cue Lloyd Christmas: "So YOU'RE SAYING THERE'S A CHANCE!!!"
I can't remember the last time I actually jumped as high or ran a complete lap around my house like I did when Thompson ran that pick back. My neighbor actually came by tio see it everything was OK, because she heard "someone screaming like a maniac" It's 20 some odd hours later, and I still have the "I just got laid. Twice." smile on my face.
I watched the Minny and MSU comeback games, and they were great, but those UM teams were expected to win. This one was different. This team was abominamal vs ND, and looked hapless in the first half. This win is more special to me, because these guys were dead, and didn't give up(hats off to the D and Shaffer).
All is quiet on the gastrointestinal front today.
There were no expectations. We came into this game expecting a loss, hoping to be competitive. Michigan came out flat. The fumbles were over and over and over again. Why the hell can't somebody hold onto the ball!!!!????? By halftime it was apparent that this was not to be. Threet was in a daze. WTF was he doing in the first half? He was rocking Tacopants all over the field.
Halftime was great. The MMB had this bad ass Ferris Bueller performance wherein the band leader, Cody, was playing the part of Ferris. He was sick and couldn't go to the game. After that they went into this elaborate rendition of the movie:
- They faked the "sausage king of Chicago" part of Ferris Bueller by having Cody say his name was Jim Tressel..complete with a fake Jim Tressel guy in the background (sweatervest and all).
- They had Lloyd hold and "Save Cody" sign and they showed an old man wearing a"Joe Pa" shirt.
- They had the whole segment wherein Cody (or Ferris) runs home to beat his parents, complete with jumps and the crazy music and Cody shaking hands with some chicks.
- Cody runs onto the field and leads the band in The Victors (complete with Cody touching his head to the turf minus the hat!!)
At this point I said jokingly to my wife "That was so great, I almost forgot how bad this game is. You know what??? I bet you Cody is the catalyst to a come back!!" Just after that I talked to my buddy in Florida. He's a big Michigan fan. I told him, "you wait, Rich Rod will change things up, Michigan is going to tear it up in the second half."
BOOM....4 wide, the rest of the way. Threet was a changed man. They started to move the chains. 1st down, 1st down, 1st down.................TD to Koger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The energy in Michigan Stadium was building.
The D played as hard as I've ever seen. They would not give an inch. They just beat the ever-loving hell out of Wisky's QB, RB's and their OL. Holy shit that D was dominate!!! Wisky couldn't do shit but punt.
Then you have Steven "Pat White" Threet busting a run by the Defensive End for like 70 yards!!! The boy has wheels! I've never felt such electricity in Michigan Stadium!!!! The crowd was unreal!!! We were lucky, all the lame ass nancy bitch ass fans had left!!! F THEM!!!! We love Michigan Football and we were staying to the end!!!!!!!!! OH GOOD LORD THANK YOU FOR GETTING THOSE LAME ASS BITCHES OUT OF THERE!!!!! WHAT A CROWD!!! Once those A-holes that hate Michigan left, we were subject to one of the best crowds in the history of Michigan Stadium. In the 500th game!! On top of all the excitement Johnny F'n Thompson gets a pick six!!!! I was jumping all over the stands, I think I hurt my hip.
The crowd was great! The team was unstoppable. If you booed those kids today, shame on you. You suck balls, and you're a total ass. There was no quit today in those kids, despite you dickheads and your booing. I wasn't about to quit on my team, and I cheered them the entire game. If you booed Steven Threet, then f you. You're an ass, and don't bother coming to any other games because you suck and we don't want you. Michigan Football will survive without your negativity.
Alright, sorry. I'm just so pumped about that game.
At the end of the game, I'm thinking, holy crap, Michigan just beat a team coached by Lloyd Carr! Didn't they? I love Lloyd, he's a great guy, a great coach. But, I couldn't help but feel like if Lloyd had a 19 point lead, he would play the game EXACTLY like Wisconsin did, wouldn't he?? It felt GREAT to be on the other side of that coin. I kept thinking that Wisconsin was playing scared. They had no pulse out there, Michigan sucked the life out of them and it couldn't have been sweeter. I just couldn't help but think that Wisconsin's performance reminded me of the Michigan of old.
BUT.....The Michigan of new is still the Michigan of old. Somehow, someway, I knew they were going to be competitive. The tradition of this program, built off the yells and screams and leadership of guys like Yost and Crisler and Bo, somehow permeates everything that happens. And therein lies the beauty of Rodriguez. He has maintained this tradition, this undying believe in victory and honor and the Michigan way. It was shown today. It was proven today. Michigan Football is more than just one play, one fumble, one coach. It's everybody, from you, to me, to Coach Rodriguez, to Bo. It's real. It's tangible. It's inspiring, and above all it will not quit, it will not die, it will not bow down to you boo bird bitches. I love Michigan Football, and today's game is every reason why and more.
The offense started to move the ball when it passed to set up the run. Traditionally offenses rush to loosen the defense for the pass. In passing to set up the run, RR sort of abandoned his spread-option/zone read, for a more traditional offense that worked on this particular day. That worries me. He knows the personnel he has and seems a little stubborn. He transitioned to a more traditional scheme at halftime. Admittedly halftime is the time to make adjustments, but IMO it was obvious well before the half that an adjustment was needed and his failure to adjust is attributable to wanting to win his way. He faces a tough decision - if he continues to use a more pro-style offense we'll probably see more success and slow the transition to a fulltime spread-option/zone read team. If Threet succeeds fans will insist on keeping him as the starter even if RR wants to use a more mobile qb next year (Beaver or Forcier), who is more suited to RR's scheme. I think using a greater mix of pro-style formations gives us a better chance to win this year, but I'm not sure RR wants to do it that way.
Many who've conersed with me in the UM blogosphere know that I have a bit of a gambling problem that peaks during the college football and basketball seasons. Some of those folks have encouraged me to post picks and more pointspread information. I am not that comfy with posting picks as I dont want to be perceived as a tout and I am uneasy about people just following along. Its an adrenaline rush when its my money, but its stressful when I know it involves others. But, I've long held that gambling is a hobby of mine. So is writing. Combining them on this blog with pointspread thoughts on our Big 10 games once league play begins seems like a good compromise. I hope to have fun with this. However, let me offer a couple caveats:
1.) I am putting dough on these games, but in most cases it will be less than my usual bets as some of these games I wouldn't be interested in if not for this column. I'm nothing more than a $50 or $100 per play kind of guy, so make your guesses as to how much less I am going on these, unless stated otherwise.
2.) I am sticking to the Big 10. I dont think readers, nor the proprietor of this blog, would like me promoting my "50/50 chance lock of the year in the sun belt conference." The Big 10 gives this some relevancy for the blog
3.) Blindly following plays may be hazardouse to your wallet. Please dont forget that. With that out of the way, here we go:
Minnesota at Ohio State. Line OSU -18.5, O/U 47: I am a believer in the improved Gophers. They're running Brewster's spread offense with efficieny with just two turnovers on the year and TO ratio of +11. Last year, they were among the country's worst in that department. They went a dominant 4-0 in OOC play after going 1-3 against the same level of compeition last season. The key is are the better off to give the Bucks a game in Columbus today? I think they are, to an extent. Ohio State is still making themselves over in Tyrelle Pryor's image. They are a work in progress, but I think we can see some offensive explosion from them today as Pryor gets more comfortable and Beanie Wells returns. They're avergaged 19 ppg in their last three games and they could double that against the shaky Gopher D. But, I think Minnesota is going to some damage today. There's something not right about this OSU D so far this season. They seem vulnerable and have had a hard time getting opponents off the field this year. Minny comes with more weapons and a better QB than, say OU or Troy did. I think Weber can make plays downfield and get this team into the endzone more often than those clubs did. If the Gohpers can break even in the turnovers, I think they make this a fourth quarter game. However, OSU remains a big play D and I can see a Marcus Coleman acrobatic pick here and a Lauranitis touchdown there turning this into a rout. I feel strongly the winner of this game will score into the 30s and the loser has an excellent shot of sneaking into the 20s. The winner is OSU home games has averaged 35.5 ppg in the last 17 games at the Horseshoe.
Pick: Over 47
NW at Iowa. Line: Iowa -8, O/U 42.5. There was a time where I would not think twice about putting big money on the Hawkeyes at home. They had been on a 24-8-2 ATS streak at Kinnick Stadium, but are just 5-9 there since the start of the 2006 season. The bloom is off this money making rose. The Cats are actually 6-5 straight up versus Iowa in their last 11 matchups, which is indicative of the fact that Wildcat coaching staffs over the years have always keyed on Iowa as a rivalry game. They won 21-7 on this field two years ago. Northwestern is better than they were two years, while Iowa is worse. Bacher has struggled so far for the Cats and what was expected to be a pretty good offense has been clunky. I dont really expect it to start humming on the road against a gutty Iowa defense, but I think it will still outplay the Iowa offense thats in worse shape and has identitiy issues at QB. In addition to taking the points, I have the total as well. How in the world are six touchdowns going to be scored in this game?
Pick: Northwestern +8, Under 42.5
Michigan State at Indiana. MSU -8 O/U 51. I hate taking road chalk. Its a recipe for disaster. However, I dont see any way that IU stops the Ringer train this afternoon. Ball State dominated them on the ground last week, so you gotta think MSU can just gash the Hoosiers all day with the power run. IU was scared of Nate Davis at QB last week, so they overcompensated their gameplan. At least thats the meme coming out of Bloomington. I dont even think if they focus wholly on Ringer that that would work or slow Sparty's roll in this one. Despite some interesting individual talent on the D, IU is nothing more than an average MAC team on that side of the ball, especially in its front seven. MSU will push them around all day and a conservative gameplan from D'Antonio keeps this from getting out of hand. Still, I see MSU winning with a score similar to last week's effort. They win by double digits.
Pick: MSU -8
Purdue at ND. Line: ND-1, O/U 42.5. I know, its out of conference, but I will include those frm here on out because there's not that many of them. Besides, this is a nifty little NW Indiana rivalry. I've attended several of these games and one thing I've learned is that Purdue has a close resume to Michigan's as far as Murphy's Law striking them down when they square off with the Leprechauns. Not a huge fan of Purdue's program as they really haven't done anything in several years. Heading into the year, they were only 3-16 straight up against teams that eventually went to a bowl game. Two of those wins came last year against Central Michigan, with the second being the actual bowl game. This year, they've lost to likely bowl team Oregon, but beat likely bowl team CMU again. I just cant take this team to win against a team I believe is bowl caliber, even if it is just Armed Forces Bowl caliber. Throw in the fact this game is on the road in a place where they've only won once in their last 15 tries and I am reluctantly on the Irish this afternoon.
Pick: ND -1
Wisconsin at Michigan. Line: Wisco -6, O/U 42. One of my personal rules is to always take Michigan when they're an underdog. In the last 10 years, UM is 13-7 ATS as an underdog. Hey. 65 percent is something to look for when wagering. But, these numbers get better. Since this is not the WLA and the maestros of propaganda can not censor these numbers, I'll say, UM is 1-4 ATS as a dog against OSU in that stretch. So, they are 12-3 ATS against all other comers as a dog this decade. Those are numbers I will gamble on. As far as breaking this game down, ask this: Is Michigan better off heading into this game than they were last year going into Madison? Heart and Soul Hart was in street clothes, Henne could not move his arm, giving way on the third possession to Mallet, who strung together one of the five worst QB performances in the history of the school. The D and coaches yawned their way through the game like an NFL Week 17 game when you have the playoffs clinched and a postseason game the following week. I think mentally and physically this team is much better prepped to play the Badgers and I dont think Wisconsin is really any better than they were last year. Threet may make some mistakes and bad throws, but Everidge can match those numbers. As long as UM doesn't crap down its pant leg in the opening sequences (man, I wish I could gamble on how many times I will utter that phrase this season), I dont doubt they'll be there with a chance to win in the fourth quarter. Hey, I'll be at the game, betting on the home team, what can go wrong?!?!?
Pick: UM +6
Illinois at Penn State. Line: PSU -15, O/U 55. When this line came out over the summer, Penn State was an 8-point favorite. This line has ballooned because of the dominating efforts of PSU. I think that line is inflated purely on public perception alone and not on what really will transpire on the field. I still feel like the Illini have playmakers all over the place on defense and their front will be by far the most physical team PSU will have played. I think the young QB Clark can be coaxed into making mistakes and the power running game that has walked all over the likes of Temple and Coastal Carolina will find the slogging much tougher today. Juice led his team to a win in the Horseshoe last year, so I think he can make more than enough plays today to keep this one close. The Illini are 7-1 ATS as a dog in Big 10 play in Juice's starts. I'll ride that today.
Pick: Illinois +15
Thats my Big 10 card for the day. A couple of totals, two road dogs, a road favorite, a home dog and a home favorite. There's a little bit of everything in the grocery bag, lets hope it holds a winning record. The OSU over and UM pick will be regular plays on my regular card. Illinois might be as well, depending on how the day goes. The rest are just small, for fun plays. Flaming is allowed if these picks go down in flames, by the way.