So Michigan and Penn State knock helmets this coming weekend for the 15h time, with Michigan holding a 10-4 edge in victories. The two teams did not meet until Penn State's inaugural Big-10 campaign in 1993. An important off-field meeting occurred, however, in 1968 between officials of the two programs that would set the course of history for the Michigan program.
As is well known, following the retirement of Bump Elliot at the conclusion of the 1968 season, Atheltic Director Don Canham sought a bright young coach from outside the program that could change the stale culture of Michigan and help fill the half-empty Michigan Stadium. He offfered the job to Joe Paterno. Paterno was finishing his 14th year at Penn State and third as head coach. According to Penn State lore, Paterno turned down Canham. According to Don Canham, Paterno asked if he could think about it until after the bowl season. Canham replied that he needed a coach right away, thanked Joe, and hired Bo Schembechler. The rest, as they say, is history.
But what would have happened at Michigan if JoePa had taken the job? How different would the next 40 years of Michigan football have been? Would Paterno still be coaching Michigan today?
First, I think that under Paterno the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry would never have reached the fervor and intensity that it did under Bo. Paterno was an East Coast guy, playing and coaching at Brown before arriving at Penn State. He was used to rivalries with Boston College, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse. Certainly the Michigan-OSU rivalry predated Schembechler, but the fact that Bo was Woody's disciple and his chosen successor for the head coaching job at Ohio State moved the rivalry to a higher and much more personal level. It's hard to imagine that same degree of personal rivalry/hatred would have occurred between Woody and JoePa.
Second, I wonder if Michigan would have had as much success under Paterno. This is hard to evaluate, because they coached different players and played different teams. Penn State and Paterno made a living off of beating the likes of Boston College, Syracuse, Pitt, West Virginia, and Maryland. Penn State played few Big-10 teams prior to joining the league in 1993. They got pummeled by MSU in 1966, but that was a national championship team. They beat Iowa five straight times in the 1970's, but also lost to Iowa in 1976, 1978, and 1983; the 1970's era Hawkeyes were not very good football teams that Michigan beat rather handily. PSU also lost to Wisconsin in 1970, and OSU in 1976 and 1978.
Finally, had JoePa experienced the same down period that he did at PSU in 2000-2004 (overall record 26-33) would he had survived at Michigan? Interesting questions, none of which really matter today but all of which may have been important had Joe given Canham a different answer in 1968. As a Michigan fan, I can say that, while I am sure JoePa would have been very successful at Michigan, it would be hard to top the last 40 years of the Bo/Mo/Carr/and now Rodriguez eras. And I am very happy that RR is our coach now and hopefully for a long time to come.
Go Blue! Beat Penn State and JoePa!
Now, granted, I'm not a very smart man. I'm an easy going redneck-type. I use duct tape a lot for things like fixin' my radiator, reparing a a crack in my windshield and hanging Christmas decorations. So take this with a grain of salt.
I use to be a Rivals member; three weeks or so if my memory serves me correctly. I didn't like the forums too much as they talked a lot about things that just weren't pertinent to Michigan football. Maybe is was just me, but I just couldn't justify 50% of my monthly pay check to talk about the Detoit Lions.
So I moved on to GBW, or as some like to call it, Go Blue Wolverine. It seemed to me to be a pretty good community. A lot of good, hard working, blue collar folk like me. So, I stuck with it for a while but began to see that it was a little too cult-like for me.
Seems to me there were only a few posters who would throw random posts together and were worthy of POD (post of the day for the novice) nomination. At first I guess it didn't bother me so much, but as time went on I started to question the worthiness of the POD nominations.
I think at this point in my diary it might be helpful to give an example.
coachBT: in order to beat msu here are the 3 things that have to happen...
1) we have to contain their running game.
2) we must have more rsuhing yards than msu.
3) I can't stress this enough, we must score more points than msu. If you look at past games with the spartans, 99% of the time the team that scored more points won the game! Coincidence? I don't think so.
random poster: GREAT POST!!!!!!!!! POD!!!!!!! Thanks coach!
random poster: This is the reason I pay my 9.95 a month. Thanks coach.
ripnice: I make a lot of money.
random poster: Thanks coachbt! You are the man.
erocwolverine: if i was msu and there was a lot of time to prepare for michigan and it was there and a lot of people was going to pass if it was there was too. visit me on my michigan blog cause it was a lot of fun.
random poster: couldn't have said it better myself coach! Damn good post.
willisdick; anyone disagree with your post coach you just let me know cause i'm one tough m'fucker. oh, and i clean carpets.
ripnice: good post willis. did you get my message? ;) Did i ever tell you i make a lot of money?
random poster: coachbt is the best. I was going to post the same thing coach but I could never get my message across like you do. POD!
bdabney: Oh boy! Gonna be a board meltdown of epic proportions. Maybe we should just let this thread slide on down the board.
SKWDCOP: Dick Dickameyer says he'll take a mich visit, www.dickdickameyervisitsmichiganandotherteams.com
bdabney: maybe i should start a poll on who agrees with you coachbt. Better not, could be a major board meltdown.
jls: still don't understand why RR didn't recruit Tavon Austin. No excuse for that.
Suame: my crystal balls says good post coach. I'm a sparty grad but I hate sparty football; all though I do like Dantonio and the sparty program and everything about sparty football. But I digress, can't stand the fuckers.
coachBT: tomorrow I will post about why it's important to tackle the oposing team.
random poster: can't wait coach!!!!!!!!!
random poster: I can see it now, another POD coach!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
ripnice: i make a lot of money.
Anyway, you get the picture. Now I'm not saying there's anything wrong with rivals or gbw. Just not my cup of tea.
Thanks for listening.
Some days ago, I made a first attempt at visualizing some of Brian's famous Hennecharts. After some feedback (thanks all) and some links to old data (thanks Misopogon), I now try again. Here are "Hennegraphs" for Tate so far this year, Threet from '08, and Henne from '07.
and Henne '07:
And finally, Henne in the near-championship year '06:
Some explanations: I took Brian's suggestion to center at 0, pushing "good" events to the left, and "bad" events to the right. Slight adjustment: I moved "Marginal" all the way to the left (it is neither good or bad, but made slightly more sense on the left instead of centered in the middle, as we will see in below).
Recall also that bars that are not fully colored in represent screen passes (which Brian has started accounting for lately).
Also on the Hennegraph: Brian's metric of effectiveness, the Downfield Success Rating (DSR). The Tate '09 graph shows how this is calculated: DSR is the number of (Dead On + Catchable) throws divided by everything else except for Marginal and Pressure. Thus, it is the left blue part (ignoring marginal all the way on the left) divided by the blue part + right red/orange/yellow (ignoring pressure all the way on the right).
I also present the DSR percentage on the right of each bar, as well as the total number of attempts, and graphically depict the DSR number on the left in a dotted red line.
Putting all of this together made me realize the simple genius of what Brian is doing here. Instead of judging a QB by a simple number such as "percentage of passes completed" or some odd QB rating, he is simply analyzing each throw and qualitatively judging them in isolation of whether they were caught or not. Thus, DSR is an excellent replacement for "Completion Percentage" if you are just interested in measuring how well a QB is throwing the ball.
Hope you enjoy. As always, comments are welcome, and thanks to Brian (and Misopogon!) for the grading and the data; any errors, of course, in the Hennegraphs above are mine.
As the observers here are aware, THE KNOWLEDGE likes looking back at the past, even though the primary area of expertise of THE KNOWLEDGE is accurately predicting the future
thus, THE KNOWLEDGE will briefly look back at the Iowa game and then accurate predict the result of the PSU game
THE KNOWLEDGE does not concern himself with trivial predictions such as the DSU game
therefore, towards the end of this excellent diary, you will see the earliest prediction of the PSU game result
last week, on these very pages, THE KNOWLEDGE had predicted that M shall narrowly defeat Iowa
however, a -4 turnover margin and bad refereeing calls swung the game by just a few points and thus, Iowa won by 2 points
stunning the entire world that the prediction of THE KNOWLEDGE had missed two straight times
the magnitude of this catastrophe was so large as to spawn earthquakes and floods in faraway lands
however, this shall not happen again
the predictions of THE KNOWLEDGE shall once again prove to be extremely accurate
and thus, we move on the PSU game
Michigan will easily defeat Penn State 34-21
when this result comes true, THE KNOWLEDGE shall soar again
and leave every doubter in a trail of dust
THE KNOWLEDGE shall not retrun next week, but will be back the week after
My original diary: http://mgoblog.com/diaries/realistic-2009-prediction
Midway through the season, I can see that calm objectivity is helpful in making predictions, and now can see that its equally helpful in keeping things in perspective during the whirlwind of emotions in a college football season.
Looking at the predictions, I'm 5/6, with my one incorrect prediction being a win against Notre Dame when I expected the Irish' offense to outscore us. Without Forcier's heroics, I would have been correct. Looking forward, my fear of Illinois' offense seems unwarranted, while my dismissal of Purdue as a threat seems hasty. I stand by my prediction of an upset at home against Penn State, as well as my predictions against Wisconsin and Ohio State.
The point? We're still on course for a 6-6 or 7-5 regular season record. So if we do end up there, keep a level head and understand the progress we've made this season and don't be THAT GUY that complains about a late season collapse. Rodriguez has this team on track, and Michigan will be kicking ass with him at the helm for the forseeable future.
(Note: Just got the morning lines. Everything held steady, but the NW/MSU O is 51.5. So that's what I have. Heading to Ann Arbor right now. Go Blue!!!!)
Here we at the verge of another Big 10 football weekend.
It's mid-October. The autumn air is crisp. The colors have changed. Football is in the air. And, like always, it's an October showdown at the Big House between Michigan and, uh, ah, ahem, Delaware State? Is that right? Are you sure?
Ok, scratch that. On a day with big games dotting the landscape, Michigan welcomes a school from the mighy MEAC where they will play in front of a single day crowd larger than the combined capacity of the rest of their season.
The real competition tomorrow will be between the MMB and DSU's band dubbed The Approaching Storm. This one is anybody's game, and I look forward to this halftime moreso than ever before. But, it's rare that the MMB is the underdog, so we're rolling with the local Bando's. Well, if I can hear them, that is.
We joked on the MGoPodcast about a hypothetical pointspread in this one. Make no mistake, there is a real spread. Michigan is favored by 35.5 points. I want be touching this one in the Diary or anywhere else.
Many folks are probably saying, "what are you talking about, they dont do lines for games with FCS schools?" You could not be more mistaken. Several offshores do indeed put lines out for game spitting FCS and Bowl Subdivision against each other, not to mention a full board of games within the FCS and Division III ranks. 5dimes.com is one such place, and that's where the -35.5 line for tomorrow's classic comes from. Place your bets accordingly. Actually, places like 5dimes are greeat come Decmember when those levels of football begin their playoffs. We're out of college football at the level we enjoy, but there are plenty of December weekends with small school playoffs going on. And, you can gamble on them all the way. It's 50/50 that the Just Cover Blog will be a part of that. We'll have to see how the rest of the season goes.
To that end, here's another installment of Big 10 Picks. Our season record is 21-14, which is not too bad, except we've been running in place for three weeks in a row. Last week, we were 3-4, with that Wisconsin side and over being swing results the wrong way. Down 18, with a 16.5 spread and needing just a two points for the Over to hit, Brett Bielema skipped a field goal to get his team to within two scores. Instead, he sent the offense back out there to convert a fourth and long. They did not. A made field goal there is the difference between 5-2 and 3-4 record last week. Sometimes the line between profits and losses can be depressingly thin. But, those are the breaks.
Let's get it on this weekend. Five league showdowns, some big spreads and inmportant games in Madison and Bloomington that will shake up the pecking orders at both the top and bottom of the standings. And, as always, blindly following my plays may be hazardous to your wallet.
Northwestern at Michigan State, noon, ESPN2. Lines, MSU -14, O/U 51.5
Michigan State seems to have steadied the ship after a three-game losing streak in September nearly derailed the season. Now comes the hard part for Sparty: maintaining consistency. Can they navigate the rest of their schedule without any of the lapses in concentration that have become the identity of the program? Mark Dantonio's teams have suffered those lapses at a lesser rate than past MSU regimes, so I give them a pretty good shot at getting through the rest of their slate without more disasters.
But, doesn't this game with Northwestern just smell of Sparty letdown? Two weeks removed from a season-saving win over bitter rival UM, coming off a big road win against Illinois, the Spartans now host little old Northwestern in the sleepy nooner slot on the schedule. They have a huge night game at home next week against Iowa. I wonder if the Cats have MSU's full attention.
Northwestern has looked ragged at times this season, but they're still 4-2 and likely headed to another bowl game. The defensive issues that plagued them in September seemed to have been fixed a bit in recent weeks, in large part to better health. MSU, with the top ranked passing attack in the league, will be a formidable test. Offensively, QB Mike Kafka has stepped up his game passing the football and also remains a top threat for Northwestern running the football.
Actually, both teams are good at moving the ball in the air and mediocre at best at stopping aerial attacks. The Cats struggled to stop Syracuse and did surrender yards in chunks the last two weeks despite giving up just a total of 27 points. MSU, meanwhile, got torched by ND and Wisconsin and nearly saw the Michigan game escape them thanks to fourth quarter passing downfield. I dont see either defense locking the other offense down.
Northwestern will hang around in this game. They might not be a brick wall on defense, but they are good ball hawkers and have forced 20 turnovers. MSU is a young team. They're vulnerable to the turnover, and the Cats are just potent enough to take advantage when they do snare a takeaway.
Frankly, I am not sure these programs, as they sit now, are two touchdowns apart as this spread suggests. In the last 50 Big 10 games, NW is 25-25, while MSU is 23-27 and the clubs have split their ten head-to-head meetings. MSU won in Evanston last year, continuing the trend in this series that has seen the road team win outright four straight times and earn covers in seven of the last eight meetings. The Wildcats have covered four straight in East Lansing with outright wins a double digits underdogs in each of their last two trips to the E.L.
Also, the Spartans have been money burners at home, going just 9-19 ATS as home in recent seasons.
The Pick: Northwestern +14, Over 51.5...........MSU wins, but closeer than the experts think. I think NW will continue getting turnovers, which could set up scores, and that Kafka will be just enough of a running threat to keep the Spartans pass rush honest. As for the Over 53, the last seven games between these teams has averaged 65 points with the loser averaging 25 points. We're sticking with our theory that when certain teams take the field in the Big 10, the Over is the play. Here goes another one as I like both of these offenses to outperform the defenses.
Ohio State at Purdue, noon, BTN. Lines, OSU -13.5, O/U 46
This game will be blowout city. A Purdue team that specializes in inventing ways to lose now faces the premier progran in the leage. Look out, cub scout.
When the Boilers aren't handing the ball over (they have 20 giveaway this year), they're committing killer penalities. There is no way you can endorse such a sloppy team, even at home, against the league's most dominant defense. The Buckeyes will plant Purdue QB Joey Elliot into the ground enough to shatter his confidence. And, a playmaking pass defense will score points for the second week in a row.
Offensively, the Buckeyes are less than ideal. They won this matchup last year without scoring an offensive touchdown. Terrelle Pyror is confounding fans with his lack of progress. The running game is struggling to find a home run threat in the post Beanie Wells era. But, you know what? All those ills are at ease in this one. Purdue is just the right defense to get it going against. The Boilers rank in the bottom half of the country in nearly every defensive category. They are 100th in points allowed, giving up more than 30 points a game.
Here's the deal: I dont think Purdue can get more than two scores in this game. While the Bucks lack a dominant spark running the football, they have enough horses in the stable to march through a Boilers defnese that's 87th in rushing yards allowed. The Bucks O averages just under 30 points per game, while the PU D gives up a smidge more than 30 a game. I am pretty confident OSU gets more than 30 in this one.
Is it worth mentioning that Ohio State is 16-4 ATS in their last 20 stabs as a road favorite? I think so. There's something about this Buckeye program right now, where they take no prisoners and play more loose and free away from the judgemental eye of a home crowd that demands perfection.
The Pick: OSU -13.5.......The Buckeyes win this by more than to touchdowns, with the final being in the 31-14, 34-10 ballpark. Purdue has yet to be blown out this year. They wont be able to say that when the sun sets on Saturday.
Minnesota at Penn State, 3:30, ABC. Lines, PSU -17.5, O/U 46.5
I made my feelings known about Penn State in this week's MGoPodcast with Brian and Tim. Penn State boosters, send me your hate mail, but.......this might be the most overrated team in the country right now. Just E-pinion. With a little dash of No Sugarcoat.
They have piled up some guady numbers, but against who exactly? Nobody, that's who. It says something about the slate you've worked against when a home game with Minnesota is your second hardest foe by the middle of the season. The one team with a pulse that they have played from a BCS league, they lost at home to Iowa 21-10. They could not move the ball across the street after the first quarter. Could not protect their QB. Turned it over a lot. And the alleged premier defense could not stop the Arron Robinson/Brandon Wegher combo running the football. I'm not so sure this team is worthy of being ranked. I make the case that at least four (Iowa, OSU, MSU and Wisco) league teams are better than PSU this season.
We'll see if they show me up tomorrow. I think they have a hard time shaking the Gophers. I talked last week about hisotric bugaboos for UM and OSU. Minnesota has played that sort of foil to the Nittany Lions. They've won four of the last six matchups outright. and are 5-2-1 ATS against PSU the last decade.
Minnesota is a decidedly average team. But, here is what I like. The defense bends and even breaks a few times. But, they are very physical at the line of scrimmage, are good at getting QB pressure and are ballhawkers. This is one of the best in the Big 10 at generating turnovers and when they do, they are excellent at turning the D into offense and scoring on INTs and fumbles. I dont trust Dayrrl Clark. I see him throwing a few mistakes, with one of them being returned for direct points.
On offense, I like the Weber to Decker combination to do damage in this one. Illinois is a bad team and yet they almost thrw for 300 yards on PSU and Arrellious Benn nearly had 100 yards in receiving. As explosive as he is, there has not been a more consistent, smooth or tough combination in the league than Decker to Weber the last few seasons. I see 120 yards and a score for Decker against an untested secondary that's less talented than past years.
None of this is to say that PSU wont win. Hardly. They get it done in the end, but Minnesota will play just well enough and the PSU flaws, which have been masked on account of poor competition, will be exposed enough to make this a close game.
The Pick: Minnesota +17......the Gophers are 9-4 ATS the last couple years in Big 10 play. The Gophers keep this within two touchdowns and if they do maintain their usual ID as a ballhawking, scoring D, then the game will be decided by single digits. Want a real best bet, however? Get down on UM +5.5 over PSU. That's the line right now for next week. You wont need the points, but Book It anyway.
Illinois at Indiana, 7:00, BTN. Lines, Illini -3, O/U 54
Sometimes, it's not who you pick, but who you pick against.
Ladies and gentlemen, your 2009 Illinois Fighting Illini.
I dont have enough space to diagnose all that ails the Zooker's Ship these days. But the offenses are many. And, not going away. They dont know who their QB is, have no offensive identity, cant stop a cab on defense and, well, ahem, they are still coached by Ron Zook. This has the look of a team that has quit.
Right now Illinois cant block up front. That's trouble against the Hoosier's active defensive ends and linebackers. The Hoosiers were embarassed by their performance at Virginia last week. They talked all week about making a statement at home to right the ship. They have a perfect foe to make that statement against. Indiana will kill Illinois all day with their midrange passing attack. Ben Chappelle and the Pistol O of Indiana ends up having its best day of the season.
The Pick: Indiana +3........I was burned by Illinois early in the season, but since have made that back by betting against them since the calendar turned October. I'll keep fading them until proven otherwise. I said two weeks ago, this was your last place team. Money meet mouth.
Iowa at Wisconsin, noon, ESPN. Lines, Wisco -2, O/U 46
The biggest game of the week in the Big 10 is both the hardest and most dangerous for me to handicap. I say dangerous because I remain bitter at the way the Wisconsin game went down last week and how both my bets on the Badgers and the Over went down in flames thanks to sloppy QB pla, porous blocking and questionable coaching moves as Wisco attempted to shave the deficit in the fourth quarter. It left such a bad taste in my mouth, that I remain a bit prejudiced against the boys in Madison.
Do I have to guts to take Bucky Badger again? Or do I recklessly fade them, even though they return home where they are always a tough out? In the end, it comes to this: Wisconsin is unranked. Iowa is not only ranked and undefeated. Yet, it's the Badgers who are favored. To quote famous Indiana Univeristy Coach Lee Corso, somebody knows something, and I am going with that somebody.
At the end of the day, the magic dries up for Iowa. Statistically, they dont look pretty. Heck, they dont even look like a winning ball club. But, they beat you up, never quit and find a way to get things done. Unlike Penn State, the Badgers have more offense to put the Hawks on their Heels. Unlike Michigan, the Badgers are playing this game at home, not Kinnick Stadium, and they have not been as prone to giving up the dagger play on D as the Wolverines. It all adds up to a big win in Madison and fifth quarter like no other.
I remain steadfast in my belief that Jonathan Clay is the best running back in the Big 10. Michigan's offensive line took over the game last week and Wisconsin's is as good, but bigger. They will lean on the Hawks and Clay will bust out big, with two long scoring runs. And, I am giving Scot Tolzien another chance. I've said numerous times that he has been as much an upgrade at the QB position as we've seen in the league. Then, he spit the bit in Columbus last week. I dont think the Iowa pass rush will swarm him the way the Scrlett and Gray did last weekend. I remain in love with this offense. It might be the best in the Big 10. They had little trouble scoring until last week. And even against the mighty Buckeyes, the Badgers moved up and down the field and were in rythmn most of the way until disaster struck. But, that was Tolzien's first road start. He will bounce back at home and help the Badgers outscore the Hawkeyes tomorrow.
On the other side of the ball, the Hawks dont do any one thing well. They had issues with the Michigan pass rush last week. Stnazi is an INT machine and has thrown a pick-six in three of the last four games. At times, he is in control of the offense, but no QB in the Big 10 is more prone to WTF moments than this kid. It's hard not to see a new round of Stanzi Ball rear its head tomorrow. The Badger D is a whole new unit from last year and despite the departure of star power seem to be a better unit than last year.
This will be a fun game. A rivalry game. For Iowa, an undefeated season is on the line. For Wisconsin, they will be favored in every game from here on out, so they're bucking towards a double digit win campaign. I expect this to be one of the best games of the day. It's an even matchup, but the Badger have better skill players and a QB that's playing a bit better.
Badgers hit the 30 mark for the fifth time this season. Iowa will put up points to. In the end, a final drive spurred by the legs of Clay and a big catch by All Toon will lead to the game winning points in a 31-28 win
The Pick: Wisco -2, O46.....Listeners of the Podcast are doing a double take now. I did say Iowa earlier in the week, but I also said I would revisit the game. We taped on Tuesday. The scars from Saturday were still open. Besides, Tim and Brian are pretty smart, right? I'll blame them if it goes awry. See, and you all thought I wasn't addict enough to point fingers and place blame elsewhere. You have no idea who you are dealing with.
There you go. To sum: NW +14, NW O 53, OSU -13.5, Minny +17.5, IU +3, Wisco -2, Wisco O47.