The first matchup, where the rubber meets the road. This is clearly a huge battle of strength vs strength. If Michigan is going to win on Saturday, they have to find success in the running game. With some unique elements to Michigan's running game, there is at least the potential that they could provide a real challenge to the stout Wisconsin rush defense.
Michigan O: +3 (20)
Ignoring what appears to be a major outlier in the Illinois game, Michigan's rush offense has had their three best Big 10 performances over the last three weeks. In fact, if we selectively choose those three games, Michigan's run offense averages out to a spectacular +7.2, which if maintained over the course of the season, would be good for third nationally behind Georgia Tech and Nevada. Now that is obviously being very selective, but at the same time, there is nothing in the other 8 games that indicates Illinois was anything but an outlier and Iowa, PSU and Purdue have all been very solid games.
Wisconsin D: +3 (15)
This is a Wisconsin defense that essentially has not had a bad day of rushing defense all year. With that said, you can see that their overall value is highly inflated because MAC and WAC teams can't stop Northern Illinois and Fresno State on the ground and Wisconsin could. In the Big 10, Wisconsin is a good but not great +1.1, good for about 5th in the Big 10. Don't get me wrong, this is a very good run defense, but some of the numbers can be a bit misleading.
There is a huge challenge and what I believe to be a real opportunity for Michigan on the ground. If Wisconsin wins here, game over, if Michigan wins here, game on.
Pass OffenseNeither team has stood out here as either exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.
Michigan O: +1 (49)
Michigan's pass offense appears to be headed in the right direction. Against Illinois and Purdue Michigan posted its best passing performances since September. +3 and +5 are good but not great numbers, but Michigan's offense will need to find points and opportunity wherever it can and a third straight game in the +'s could come in very handy.
Wisconsin D: +0 (56)
It has been a very mixed bag in pass defense for the Badgers this year. A great game against Purdue and host of other solid performances have been tempered with last week's dreadful showing against Indiana and poor games against both Iowa and Minnesota. The Fresno and State games both netted out in the middle, but even those games featured quite a few yards, TD's and interceptions.
There will be no easy wins on the offensive side of the ball for Michigan this week, but Wisconsin has demonstrated that their defense can produce a wide range of outcomes, opening the door for Michigan to look good until...
Rush Defense...uh oh.
Michigan D: -2 (103)
This one doesn't look so hot. Still sitting in the triple digit national rankings after the debacle at Illinois, this is not the opponent to have an off day against. Because...
Wisconsin O: +3 (13)
Playing the selective game here, as well, if you remove the Iowa game Wisconsin is averaging about +6.5 in the those four games which is right where Michigan has been removing its bad game. The only difference is that Michigan has to face the very good Wisconsin rush defense and Wisconsin gets to face something less than that.
Best case scenario here is probably a Penn State like performance where Wisconsin gets 150-200 yards but it takes 40+ carries to get there.
Pass DefenseThis match-up is nearly identical to the Michigan pass offense in that both teams are decidedly average.
Michigan D: +1 (41)
This has been the one metric that has never felt quite right this year. The feeling is that surely this unit is much worse than 41st nationally. I have looked into this a lot and come up with a couple of ideas. There are a couple of things coming into play here. #1, started the year with a very strong September, putting up a big number against Western, holding our own against ND's 6th ranked passing game and then going 0 TD's 4 INT's over the next 3 games. #2, Warren's pick 6 against Iowa dramatically changed that game score. #3 and I think this is the biggest. The game of football is changing and tilting towards the pass. Performances in the past that would have seemed poor, are now closer to average as the passing games have evolved and a play calling balance shifts more towards the pass.
Wisconsin O: +0 (54)
Since the blowup against Michigan State in the Big 10 opener, Wisconsin has been on a bit of a rough stretch through the air. They have had a 2/7 TD/INT ratio and averaged nearly -3 over the last five games.
I don't consider anything a sure thing the way Michigan's pass defense has looked lately, but this is a Wisconsin team that doesn't show any major indications of being able to greatly exploit it either.
PaceThis will be another battle of contrasts as Michigan takes its 12.1 possessions a game against a Wisconsin team that has kept its games under the 11 mark.
TurnoversWith the exception of throwing picks, Wisconsin has been about as average as they get in the turnover department. Overall the point impact (not turnover margin) of turnovers for Wisconsin has been -4, 69th nationally. They have a higher volume of both picks thrown and caught and are right in the middle on both fumble categories.
Special TeamsMichigan should have a decided advantage over the mediocre special teams of Wisconsin. If Olesnavage can regain his form and put last week out of his mind, Michigan should have the advantage of two solid kickers. With the exception of Michigan's kickoff return, don't expect a lot to happen on the other units as both punt teams outshine the oppositions return units and Wisconsin hasn't been great on kickoff return themselves. Stonum should have the opportunity to keep plugging away, however, as Wisconsin has one of the poorer kick coverage units in the conference.
PredictionsWisconsin 35 Michigan 27
Wisconsin's rushing game and a bit of home field advantage provide the difference. There appear to be opportunities for Michigan to close the gap, but the gap between these teams right now is very real. Has the potential to be a very interesting game.
Penn State 35 Indiana 13
Illinois 24 NW 21
Ohio St 17 Iowa 7
Purdue 28 Michigan St 31
AUGUSTA, Ga. –The Augusta Sports Council announced today that University of Michigan fifth-year senior punter Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg HS) is one of 10 semifinalists for the 2009 Ray Guy Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate punter. This is the second straight season that Mesko has been selected as a semifinalist for the award.
Mesko and Iowa’s Ryan Donahue are the only representatives from the Big Ten Conference. Following are the other semifinalists: Drew Butler (Georgia), Peter Caldwell (Utah State), Desi Cullen (Connecticut), Johnny Hekker (Oregon State), Chas Henry (Florida), Jeff Locke (UCLA), Rob Long (Syracuse) and Matt Reagan (Memphis). Mesko, Donahue and Henry are the only returning semifinalists from last season.
Mesko leads the Big Ten and is sixth nationally in punting with a U-M season record 45-yard average. He has helped the Wolverines lead the conference and list second nationally in net punting (42.4 avg.). Mesko has been extremely proficient in all phases, with 15 punts over 50 yards, 15 fair caught and 13 downed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line. He has punted 43 times for 1,934 yards, including a 66-yard season long punt against Western Michigan.
Mesko has already been named to the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team and is a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award and the Danny Wuerffel Trophy. He was a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by the National Football Foundation, and is a candidate for Academic All-America honors after being selected CoSIDA Academic All-District IV first team last week.
A national voting panel will trim the list to three finalists, who will be named on Nov. 23. The 10th annual award will be presented live on ESPN during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show on Thursday, Dec. 10. The winner will be honored at a banquet by the Augusta Sports Council and The Augusta Chronicle in late January 2010.
In last week's games, Maryland lost to NC State 38-31. But not so fast my friend. Maryland scored one TD on an INT and another on a kick return, and added a field goal late. Still, a decent showing by the Terps, for the Terps.
Utah State and Hawaii had an arena football-like game. Hawaii won 49-36 and put up almost 700 yards of offense. So neither game was particularly awful. In the User Contribution Bowl, CSU lost to UNLV 35-17. CSU had 424 yards to go with those 17 points, so they win the "Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing" award of the week.
This week is a veritable Super Bowl of bad games. So, rather than just drawing names out of a hat, there will be actual analysis (before drawing names out of a hat). As Brian pointed out, we're treated to Syracuse v Louisville in the "Hey Look, Basketball Has Started" bowl. Both teams are 3-6, neither team has a win in conference. Syracuse has played 3 Big 10 teams, including beating Northwestern. Louisville's wins consist of Southern Miss, Indiana State, and Arkansas State. Louisville's offense/defense is ranked 74/62, but much of that must come from weak competition. Syracuse is ranked #93, and Louisville is #88, for a total of #181. The game is at Louisville, FWIW.
The winner for lowest total ranking of the week is VMI v Army. VMI is #224, Army is #143, total of #367. Army has crazy offense/defense rankings at 116/12. I don't know what to make of that. Land mines in the end zone? VMI is in a whole other galaxy. Losses to Costal Carolina, Stony Brook, and Liberty? Don't forget that Sagarin only ranks down to #245.
In major conference action, UCLA plays Washington State. Washington State's offense is ranked one slot ahead of EMU, and defense is one behind Florida International. UCLA has beaten K-State and Tennessee, while WSt. has been creamed by everyone but Southern Methodist. But, UCLA's offense is only ranked #98, so who knows. UCLA has been rotating QBs, which is never a good sign.
Speaking of Eastern, they play for the "Michigan Directional School" award against Western. Both teams have defenses ranked in the +100s, so look for lots of points. Eastern is winless, and don't look for that to change. (For those of you keeping score, Central has beaten Western and Eastern). Total ranking of this game is #291, mostly from Eastern's #179 ranking, but Western's #112 helps.
Like I said, it's a trainwreck of a week, and I can't even get to Kentucky v Vanderbilt or Tulane v Rice or San Jose St. v Utah St, et cetera et cetera.
Expected Points - Offense
|Offense||G||Exp Pts||Act Pts||Diff||Drives|
Wisconsin is playing at a slower pace and therefor not generating all of the opportunities are, but in terms of out-gaining expectations, they are #1 in the Big 10 at +4.3 on the season. Michigan is still leading in expected points per game, due in large part to their Big 10 leading 12.1 possessions per game.
Expected Points - Defense
|Defense||G||Exp Pts||Act Pts||Diff||Drives|
This is the ugly flip side to the offense's high pace, high drive count strategy. Lots of points faced by the defense. Michigan's defense is forcing more points and more drives than any other Big 10 team. The high expected points number is not solely due to the drive quantity either. Michigan's defense is killed on field position. Michigan, on average, faces a drive worth 2.05 points, 4% higher than the Big 10 average and second highest overall. The difference between Michigan and Ohio State (the lowest per drive average start at 1.83) is worth nearly a field goal a game and almost 35 points over the course of the season. If Michigan and Ohio State had identical defenses and faced the same number of drives against the same teams, Michigan would give up nearly 35 points more over the course of the season because of the field position difference.
This weeks matchup pits 2 of the top 3 offenses in the Big 10. Both teams are led by the clear cut top two rush offenses in the conference while featuring solid but not spectacular (the Big 10's specialty this year) passing games.
Wisconsin comes into Saturday's a distant fourth in the Big 10 in total defense while Michigan sits in the middle of the pack. Iowa, Ohio St and Penn St continue to dominate the overall defense ranks, all three sit in the top 12 nationally.
Michigan comes in second just behind Ohio State in the overall special teams ratings. Michigan continues its strong showing in a number of categories with top 30 rankings in Punt (9), Kick (16) and Punt Return (32).
|Team||Fum Lost||Int Thrown||Fum Forced||Passes Int||Total|
Fumbles. Fumbles. Fumbles. Michigan is in the middle of the pack on defensive interceptions and one Denard Robinson possession away from leading the Big 10 in fewest interceptions thrown (as measured in value lost). The turnover problem has nothing to do with interceptions and everything to do with fumbles. It appears that we have upset the Angry Michigan Hating Fumble God. There are only two Angry Fumble Gods who hate their teams worse than Michigan this season, Nevada and ironically enough, West Virginia, who never had a fumbling problem when RR was there. Michigan is 114th and 113th nationally in fumbles and fumbles recovered.
The Big 10 has established its home at the bottom of the BCS auto qualifiers this year, and its not even close with 5th. The problems can all be attributed to the offenses, as the Big 10 is almost a full point behind the next lowest Big 6 conference. The defense looks a bit better as the 1.8 average ratings is good for third behind the two dominant conferences, the SEC and Big XII.
This football season has not progressed the way THE KNOWLEDGE envisioned it
There are many people here that are extremely unhappy, angry, heartbroken etc
THE KNOWLEDGE, however, is not easily swayed by emotions. THE KNOWLEDGE is merely shocked that his predictions did not come true for this season
However, THE KNOWLEDGE does not live in the past
THE KNOWLEDGE lives in the future
Onto the main point of this post
Due to yet another poor season, the head football coach will be fired and a new coach will roam the sidelines in 2010
At Notre Dame
more details on the new coach at the end of this post
COaching changes are coming to Michigan as well
A few of the assistant coaches will be let go by the end of the year, and they have started interviewing potential replacements
THE KNOWLEDGE cannot reveal their identities at this point because it will compromise their seasons at their respective programs
However, THE KNOWLEDGE will happily reveal the new HC at ND
because this has already been finalized
Charlie Weis will be officially fired after this week's loss at Pittsburgh
they many only announce it to the public at the end of the season, but all the paperwork has been drawn up to give Weis the pink slip after the upcoming loss this Saturday
Most people this it will be Brian Kelly or Jon Gruden that is the next coach after Weis
but these people are wrong
THE KNOWLEDGE has concrete evidence that the new coach will the one that got away from Michigan in 2007 due to the actions of his former boss Carroll
The current Washington HC Steve Sarkisian
As can be seen in the first post of THE KNOWLEDGE under this new handle, the prediction that Sarkisian will be the new HC at Michigan was what shot THE KNOWLEDGE to fame, although THE KNOWLEDGE had made a previous prediction that English will become HC at EMU (that largely went unnoticed)
Sarkisian didn't become HC at Michigan, but unfortunately for Michigan and the rest of ND's oppoenents, he is the new HC at ND
When this news becomes public in another month
THE KNOWLEDGE shall soar
and leave every doubter in a trail of dust
PS: Michigan will win the Motor City Bowl this year