spoiler alert: i linked this
I'm a life-long Packers fan and grew up with Brett Favre as my hero. He was my role model for sports - playing with passion, for the love of the game, never quitting unless you had a leg cut off, and leaving it on the field no matter what.
Then all this happened. When the drama with the Packers happened last year I felt kind of bad for Favre but completely agreed with the Packers. Part of me died inside - it was as if my childhood love of sports was partially torn away. Here's a brief rundown of that drama:
- Packers had Aaron Rodgers that they had to either get trade or start.
- The Pack told Favre to decide before the draft (where they drafted 2 other backup qb's cause he retired).
- They then gave him another chance a month before camp to come back. If he came back they had to trade Rodgers, if not they had to change their schemes to accommodate his skill set. Favre deep down wanted to go to Minnesota (hence the tampering charges later) and said no thanks to the Pack.
- Right before camp started Favre said he wanted to be unconditionally released so he could go to the Vikings. Pack said dream on. He then said he wanted to come back to the Pack and the team said "well we have another qb you can compete with" which was obvious posturing but take it for what it's worth.
- After all the ensuing drama they said "go to the Jets". Meanwhile Aaron Rodgers did quite well (but the Packers went 6-10 due mostly to injuries on Defense) and the Jets did what they did.
One little note to all this is that most people may not realize that, during Favre's years in Green Bay (especially the earlier ones), the Vikings along with the Cowboys were far and away the biggest rivals. There are many great teams and great games between these teams. Seeing Favre in purple is almost as if Lloyd Carr wore a sweater vest.
I know most of Michigan nation doesn't care about either of these teams, but I'm sure people have opinions about all this. Sound off. I'm personally pissed, somewhat heartbroken, and feel like my childhood hero just exposed himself for what he really is.
Just hope the Pack can beat the Vikings (but that'll be tough thanks to Adrian Peterson and the Vikes #1 defense).
After reading Hannibal's excellent review of Michigan's bad scheduling luck in the Big 10, I was curious to see what the results for our non-conference games would look like through the same lens. Thanks to James Howell and Chris Stassen, all the data required is readily available. In keeping with Hannibal's treatment, I have considered all non-conference games since the Big11Ten entered its current format in 1993. Michigan's game against each team has NOT been subtracted from that team's record, because (1) our game against each team was part of that team's overall level of success that year, and (2) I'm lazy. The only team whose overall win-loss record was likely to be impacted significantly over the course of 16 years just from playing us was Notre Dame; their 6-6 record against us over this span is slightly lower than their net 0.616 success percentage over the same span (success percentage defined as (wins+0.5*ties)/(wins+ties+losses). If I get ambitious, maybe I'll run the numbers again with games against us subtracted out, but I suspect it won't change the conclusions much.So without further ado, here are the numbers:
Team Game score Record 1993-2008 Cumulative
Utah L 23-25 13-0 (1.000) 130-61 (0.681)
Miami (OH) W 16-6 2-10 (0.167) 106-83-1 (0.561)
Notre Dame L 17-35 7-6 (0.538) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Toledo L 10-13 3-9 (0.250) 118-70-2 (0.626)
The Horror L 32-34 13-2 (0.867) 148-56 (0.726)
Oregon L 7-39 9-4 (0.692) 130-65 (0.667)
Notre Dame W 38-0 3-9 (0.250) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Eastern Mich W 33-22 4-8 (0.333) 56-125 (0.309)
Vanderbilt W 27-7 4-8 (0.333) 50-127 (0.283)
Central Mich W 41-17 10-4 (0.714) 83-103 (0.446)
Notre Dame W 47-21 10-3 (0.769) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Ball State W 34-26 5-7 (0.417) 84-100-2 (0.457)
Northern Ill. W 33-17 7-5 (0.583) 81-104 (0.438)
Notre Dame L 10-17 9-3 (0.750) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Eastern Mich W 55-0 4-7 (0.364) 56-125 (0.309)
Miami (OH) W 43-10 8-5 (0.615) 106-79 (0.573)
Notre Dame L 20-28 6-6 (0.500) 119-74-1 (0.616)
San Diego St. W 24-21 4-7 (0.364) 77-110 (0.412)
Central Mich W 45-7 3-9 (0.250) 83-103 (0.446)
Houston W 50-3 7-6 (0.539) 74-113-1 (0.396)
Notre Dame W 38-0 5-7 (0.417) 119-74-1 (0.616)Oregon L 27-31 8-5 (0.615) 130-65 (0.667)
Washington W 31-29 7-6 (0.539) 95-94-1 (0.503)
Western Mich W 35-12 4-8 (0.333) 98-86-1 (0.532)
Notre Dame L 23-25 10-3 (0.769) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Utah W 10-7 5-6 (0.455) 130-61 (0.681)
Miami (OH) W 31-13 7-5 (0.583) 106-79 (0.573)
Washington L 18-23 8-4 (0.667) 95-94-1 (0.503)
Western Mich W 38-21 5-6 (0.455) 98-86-1 (0.532)
Bowling Green W 42-7 2-9 (0.182) 100-83-2 (0.546)
Rice W 38-7 3-8 (0.273) 76-95-1 (0.445)
UCLA L 20-23 6-6 (0.500) 109-83 (0.568)
Notre Dame W 26-22 5-7 (0.417) 119-43-1 (0.616)
Rice W 37-3 5-6 (0.455) 76-96-1 (0.445)
Syracuse W 18-13 7-5 (0.583) 97-92-1 (0.513)
Notre Dame L 20-36 9-3 (0.750) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Syracuse L 28-38 8-4 (0.667) 97-92-1 (0.513)
Eastern Mich W 59-20 3-8 (0.273) 56-125 (0.309)
Hawaii W 48-17 0-12 (0.000) 100-101-1 (0.498)
Colorado W 27-3 5-6 (0.455) 114-81-1 (0.584)
Baylor W 38-3 2-9 (0.182) 58-123 (0.320)
Notre Dame W 21-14 7-6 (0.539) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Colorado W 20-13 10-2 (0.833) 114-81-1 (0.584)
Boston College W 20-14 5-7 (0.417) 120-75-1 (0.615)
UCLA W 38-9 5-6 (0.455) 109-83 (0.568)
Virginia W 18-17 9-4 (0.692) 117-79 (0.597)
Memphis W 24-7 3-8 (0.273) 81-105 (0.436)
Boston College W 23-13 4-8 (0.333) 120-75-1 (0.615)
Boston College W 34-26 7-4-1 (0.625) 120-75-1 (0.615)
Notre Dame W 26-24 6-5-1 (0.542) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Colorado L 26-27 11-1 (0.917) 114-81-1 (0.584)
Washington St. W 41-14 5-6 (0.455) 93-95 (0.495)
Notre Dame L 23-27 11-1 (0.917) 119-74-1 (0.616)
Houston W 42-21 1-9-1 (0.136) 74-113-1 (0.396)
Cumulative opponent records in years we play them: 329-318-3 (0.509)
Cumulative opponent records for 1993 - 2008: 5117-4522-36 (0.531)
The difference in success percentage of only 0.022 here is about a quarter of a game per opponent per year. Whether or not this difference registers as "statistically significant" (I didn't check), common sense tells us that a quarter of a game per opponent is probably meaningless.
So the conclusion is, over the course of 16 years, our non-conference opponents have done, on average, no better or worse in years we've played them than they have over the course of the last 16 years as a whole. Sure, we've played a few teams who were unexpectedly playing lights-out (Utah undefeated last year; 10-2 and 11-1 Colorado teams in the mid-'90s), but we've also hit our share of otherwise decent teams having dismal years (0-12 Hawaii, 3-9 Toledo (granted they beat us, but that's not the point), and a couple of underperforming Notre Dame teams). In the end, it seems to work out about even.
EDIT: Added two games I previously missed.
Justin Boren suffered a knee injury in practice and may miss 3+ weeks while rehabilitating it. The 105 roster for tOhio State appears to have been filled with the return of two players (WR Ray Small and DE Rob Rose) who appeared to be dealing with academic issues that still, reportedly for Small, are not fully handled.
Wisconsin has suspended two likely starters at safety from camp, making their future unclear and a start September 5th against Northern Illinois highly unlikely. Shane Carter and Aubrey Pleasant both have a solid amount of starts and their departure, however short, is a thorn in the side of a team that has faced a lot of criticism for not playing to its potential.
ESPN's pre-season All American list has been released and it features three from the Big Ten (and two from this planet):
- Minnesota wide receiver Eric Decker
- Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman
- Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko
ESPN Big 10 blogger Adam Rittenberg's all Big-Ten team features:
DE: Brandon Graham, Michigan
P: Zoltan Mesko, Michigan
Detroit News fluff piece on Michigan o-line
Hockey player AJ Sturges speaks out about Glenn Winston's reinstatement following a suspension from the team and jail time for an assault last year, upset about the unclear MSU policy regarding the allowance of players with prison records and suspensions back onto teams. Conflicting perspectives ensue.
Penn State cornerback AJ Wallace will likely be suspended for 1-2 games for academic issues.
Iowa cornerback Jordan Bernstine likely out for the season with ankle injury.
If you are placing a bet on who you will think will win the Big Ten, you might want to avoid betting on Northwestern or Minnesota. If someone offers you the under-over on wins, take the under. Is it because of who they lose off of the 2-deep? Is it because of coaching or talent? No.
Why then? It is because they don't play Michigan this year. Now, you might think that not playing Michigan is usually good for your record, but for some reason, history demonstrates the opposite. Michigan has an uncanny knack for playing Big Ten teams when they are good, and avoiding them when they are really really bad. It's almost as if the schedule is made up by somebody who has magical foresight and then purposely rotates the bad teams off of Michigan's schedule. Michigan already has a tough draw by facing Ohio State every year. In addition, our game with Penn State is like a de facto protected rivalry. Because of all of these factors, we have one of the toughest intra-conference schedules on a yearly basis.
Since the Big Ten expanded in 1993, there have been 16 seasons, and 2 teams rotate off of the schedule each season. Do the math, and that means that there have been 32 Big 10 teams that have rotated off of our schedule. Want to take a guess as to how many of those teams have ever won or shared a conference title? The answer -- none. 16 years, and not once has a team won or shared a title in a year where they did not play Michigan. Even though we frequently rotate off the doormats of the league like Indiana, wouldn't you think that just once out of all those times, somebody would have stepped up and won or shared a championship? Nobody has ever won 7 conference games, and only four times has somebody won 6 conference games (1996 Iowa, 1997&1998 Purdue, and 2004 Wisconsin). Since 1993, we are sporting an impressive .727 Big 10 winning percentage, but nobody has ever take advantage of not playing us to go to a BCS Bowl. Nobody has ever even made it to the Citrus Bowl! Only two teams have made it as high as the Outback Bowl (Wisconsin '04, Iowa '08).
Let's compare winning percentages for various programs when they play Michigan against their winning percentages when they don't play Michigan. For this analysis, I am only using Big 10 winning percentage, since non-conference scheduling has so much variation that it can distort the results. For the "did play Michigan" years, the head-to-head game against Michigan is removed from the analysis so that these years can be validly compared to the "did not play Michigan" years.
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .500
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .643
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .354
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .214
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .094
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .440
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .188
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .745
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .458
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .586
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .563
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .316
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .625
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .429
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .156
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .536
Winning percentages in the "did not play Michigan" years: .371
Winning percentages in the "did play Michigan" years: .494
There are a few teams that slightly buck the trend, but that trend is overwhelming. Now I'm not an expert statistician, but a difference in winning percentages of .123 with a huge sample of 8 teams over 16 seasons has to be very significant. Remember in 2003 when we thought we were finally getting a break by having Penn State rotate off of our schedule for 2 years? They went 3-13 in those two years. Ouch. Joe Paterno has never had a losing conference record except for when he has avoided playing Michigan. The differences for Illinois and Northwestern are drastic too. Illinois' conference record when they avoid us is a futile 3-29. Northwestern's is 5-27. We have played all of Kirk Frerentz's great teams from 2002-2004, and other than 2004, we played all of Barry Alvarez's best teams too.
What's the point of all this? None, I guess, except that for some reason, Michigan usually misses teams when they are down and plays them when they are up. Since we don't play Northwestern and Minnesota this year, look for those teams to inexplicably suck.
Their schedule looks like this:
WMU and CMU
FCS Team - Montana State (7-5)
Ohio State (1)
Their OOC schedule is nearly identical to ours. Change CMU to EMU and sub in a slightly worse FCS team and you have our OOC schedule. Their Big Ten schedule is ridiculously in favor of them this year. They don't play OSU and they have PSU, Iowa, and Northwestern at home. Those 4 and MSU were the top 5 teams in the Big Ten last year.
QB: 2 sophs competing for starts
RB: 2 sophs and a senior competing for starts
FB: 2 seniors competing
WR: 3 returning, including Mark Dell and Blair White
OL: Return the Left side and center, A junior and sophomore take over on the right
TE: Return their junior starter
DE: 1 returning starter, 1 junior
DT: soph takes over
NT: returning starter
LB: returning Sam and Mike, 2 seniors competing for Will
CB: 2 returning starters
FS: returning starter
SS: junior taking over
Basically, look at it this way. Their offense is like ours in 2004. Young QB with a ton of good WR to throw to. New running back to fill a workhorse's shoes (ours was Chris Perry).
Their defense is returning 7 starters and filling the other spots with a sophomore, 2 juniors, and a senior. Mark Dantonio was the DC for OSU when they won their NC (only after McGahee blew out his knee). He is going to ride his defense this year for his record.
So, how does this affect Michigan? I think what will happen is Michigan will beat ND. MSU travels to ND the next week and I think they lose a close game. After that, MSU goes to Wisconsin, demolishes them, and then we travel to East Lansing.
(4-0) Michigan @ (3-1) MSU
Michigan on Offense
Our offense should be clicking at this point. However, this will be Tate's first away game and he will probably struggle against a staunch defense especially with 3 of 4 returning DBs. We will need to utilize a lot of quick slants and bubble screens in order to keep Tate from making mistakes. Brandon Minor is going to have to carry this team through this game.With half the DL being replaced, he should be able to get a pretty good YPC going, but I wouldn't expect too many long runs with the extremely experienced LBs.
MSU on Offense
By this point we will know if their offense will go the way of Michigan 2004 or Sparty <Insert Year here>. I think they will be competent enough to put 20 points up each game, but not really blow anyone out of the water. The other unknown here is obviously our defense. Our line is almost completely rebuilt, we still don't know if our LBs will improve from last year, we have two safeties with no starting experience, and we have our third defensive coordinator and scheme in three years. Luckily, we start two 5 star recruits starting as our CBs and a former SS playing as our Sam. That should help us match up against their receivers and force them to take their chances running.
MSU 20 - Michigan 14
Originally, I thought we would win here. I think we still have a chance here (obviously, but i mean a decent one), but I think their defense will overpower us. Tate will have his worst game of the season going 1 TD - 2 INT, and Brandon Minor will have 100 yards with a TD.
MSU Season Prediction
Well, I have already stated I think they lose to ND and then go on a rampage, taking down most of the Big Ten. After us, they travel to Illinois, where I think they come down from their high from beating 2 years in a row for the first time in over 40 years, and Illinois destroys them. MSU the rest of their games except PSU. PSU wins a close game in East Lansing. If MSU doesn't win 3 games in every one of those categories above, I will be shocked at first, but then remember it is Sparty we are talking about.
Summary of Predictions for MSU
6-2 Big Ten
Losses @ND, @Illinois, vs. PSU
MSU 20 - Michigan 14