...says Denzel Valentine of Big Ten Tourney favorite MSU, which is 5-7 in its last 12 games. Cumong, man.
A referee makes an arbitrary approximation of the spot of the football as Kain Colter is brought to the turf. A couple of guys dressed like crossing guards then take out an extremely precise ten-yard chain. The referee, staring at the football like it's the bottom line of an eye chart, determines that the play has resulted in a first down by the smallest of possible margins. For all intents and purposes, the game is over, decided by an educated guess made at breakneck speed.
Football is the worst.
The contest continues, however, and Michigan sells out against the run for a stop. For a moment, it looks like Jeremy Gallon could provide a miracle as he briefly breaks free after fielding a line-drive punt, but he's tackled at the 38.
18 seconds remain. No timeouts remain. Little hope remains.
But then the backup quarterback hucks the football to the impossibly-skinny senior receiver, improbably left in single coverage, and this wisp of a man somehow bats the oblong projectile out of the air and controls the ricochet, an absurd feat of concentration and athleticism that brings 110,000 despondent humans screaming to their feet in elation.
Football is the best.
From that point, victory feels strangely academic given the prior proceedings. Brendan Gibbons, Keith Stone cool, splits the uprights from 26 yards out for the tying field goal. Three plays after Devin Gardner finds Roundtree again to give Michigan first-and-goal on the opening overtime possession, he fakes a give to Fitz Toussaint, breaks contain, and lopes into the end zone unimpeded. Northwestern can only get within two yards of that blasted first-down marker on their subsequent series before Kenny Demens stonewalls Tyris Jones in the hole on fourth down.
The stadium erupts, again hopelessly in love with the greatest game known to man. Michigan 38, Northwestern 31, football forever.
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Ken “Sky” Walker
In days gone by, Northwestern vs. Michigan was akin to David vs. Goliath. But unlike the biblical contest, David always ended up as road kill. Mighty Michigan would score 50 – 70 points easily. Cheerleaders did so many backflips off the stadium wall, they’d be throwing up by the end of the game (the wall was lower then). A good portion of the crowd did so too, having consumed amazing quantities of cheap wine. But nothing beat lugging a quarter barrel tapper up Hoover and being rewarded for your efforts with admission to the stadium. (Yes boys and girls, it’s true!). Ah, those were the days…
More often than not, the Wildcats were the homecoming opponents. Like Christians being served to the lions for the pleasure of all the ‘old blues’. The perennial purple patsy, Northwestern never got – nor deserved - any respect. “Why are they in our league?” and “We need to find a replacement for them!” were frequently-heard utterances. But things changed, as they are bound to do, and the boys from Evanston started getting just a modicum of respect.
Current Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald was part of that, playing on a ranked team that beat the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, a mind blowing occurrence if there ever was one. And then they did it again the next year in Evanston. Any mystique held by Michigan was at an end. I don’t think Michigan football has ever been the same since. There are those that claim the Wildcat victories those years were a result of a former Michigan coach joining the Northwestern staff and giving them all of the Wolverines’ plays. True or not, I can’t fault Northwestern for taking advantage, but I can sure blame Michigan for not anticipating this and tweaking their game plan a bit.
You can bet that the Wildcats aren’t going to be intimidated by playing in the Big House. This team plays in front of home crowds that are routinely outnumbered by the opposing team’s fans (That’s got to hurt). The fact that the Wolverines are only a 9½ point favorite at home, tells you the odds makers aren’t real confident in Michigan’s ability to handle Northwestern with any ease. They’re coming off a bye week, so they’ve had time to prepare for both of Michigan’s likely QB starters. Their own Kain Colter is also a dual-threat and a more accurate passer than either of Michigan’s quarterbacks.
The Wildcats are trying to win back-to-back games in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1934 & '36. They are the ranked team in today’s contest, yet they are the underdog. It seems to be a perfect setup for them to make Michigan’s already underwhelming season, one for the dumpster.
Michigan 20 Northwestern 23
By Nick RoUMel
How do the 24th ranked Wildcats feel about playing Michigan? 1000-yard rusher Venric Mark was quoted on Northwestern’s official website, "I'm excited but I'm not overly excited right now." Which led me to wonder, what does it mean to be overly excited?
Urban Dictionary defines “over excitement” as “being too excited about a minuscule idea, activity or item. Example: “Hey! Look at this new video game I got! OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WOW OH MY GOD THAT'S AMAZING. HOLY COW. CAN I TOUCH IT?”
Symptoms of over-excitement, according to www.calmdownmind.com, include being overly talkative, fidgety, and impatient. For a football player, this might involve overrunning a tackle, biting on a fake, or—like Maurice Gholston—attempting to twist Denard Robinson’s head off like a bottle cap.
In Punt’s case, over-excitement is betrayed when he bolts upright from his La-Z-Boy, sloshing his Long Island Iced Tea, and swearing at the TV over a Michigan one-yard loss or an opponent’s first down. (Punt also tends to get over-excited when he’s driving, and other drivers change lanes too quickly or fail to signal. But I digress.)
Without proper self-discipline, a superior team like Northwestern might betray over-excitement by celebrating a victory over a lesser opponent, such as Michigan. In Venric’s case, I suppose he does not want to be overly excited about such a small achievement. He may consider that a “miniscule activity” not worth celebrating.
The author of the URL cited above, the calm and contemplative “Sen,” believes over-excitement can be overcome only by a long and time-consuming process of discipline and self-awareness. However, I would suggest that Venric Mark may find freedom from over-excitement in another, swifter fashion …
… when Michigan kicks his purple-clad ass halfway across Lake Michigan.
MICHIGAN 31, NORTHWESTERN 17
UFR coming fiveish. Sorry for the delay.
Bo + DKR + Keith Jackson. Self-recommending, from before the 2005 Rose Bowl:
The Trouba hit. Here it is:
Keep your head up. I guess that's a point of emphasis and stuff, but a few years ago that's just a bad spot to put yourself in.
Michigan takes on State this weekend; Yost Built previews. Rutledge gets the start tonight; Trouba and Serville return to the lineup.
Predictorama. Blogs say things!
- Who Are You And Why Do We Care predicts Michigan 31-17 in unnecessarily tiny font. Fouad agrees, as does The Big House Blog.
- The MZone goes with 31-24, Michigan.
- TTB says 38-20, Michigan.
- Maize and Go Blue says 28-17, Michigan.
- Northwestern's Scout guy says 31-23, Michigan.
- BWS goes with 20-17, M.
- Maize and Brew says 20-18, which is like a score I would predict.
- Maize and Blue Nation goes with 32-13.
- Tremendous goes 30-23.
- Three of four SOP folk predict a Michigan win with one holdout who always picks Northwestern to win and one guy talking soccer.
Talkin' Wildcats. I do the Q&A thing at Lake The Posts…
LTP: Finish this sentence. Northwestern wins on Saturday if they prevent __________ from ___________
MGB: Michigan’s linebackers from flowing to the ball. Given the pass offense NW has–Nebraska is NU this year, remember–if Northwestern is going to put up enough points to win it’ll have to be on the ground, and Michigan’s linebackers are flowing clean thanks to a bunch of Mattison slants. Get to them and you’ve got a chance.
…and Sippin' On Purple:
Northwestern is "ranked". Michigan "isn't." Should they be? Do you like the fact that you played two still-undefeated teams in non-con play?
Mgo: No. No Big Ten teams should be ranked, and in fact anyone who votes for a Big Ten team should be put under house arrest. Indiana may go to the Big Ten championship game. QED.
I like playing ND. Check that: love playing ND. I hate those guys. I love going to Notre Dame Stadium, and am immensely depressed the series is coming to an end so ND can play Stanford for some reason. And Purdue! Come on man. They're good this year, but that series is a bedrock of my Michigan fandom.
Playing Alabama in Dallas sounded like a good idea when it was scheduled. By the time the game rolled around it was clear that it was not.
Denard in the NFL. Rotoworld takes an interesting look at the kind of things Denard might be able to do in the NFL:
When I watch Robinson run (and the way Michigan uses him), I can't help but think his best role would be to start out as a returner and as a situational running back. He's listed at just 6'0/197 pounds, but has a thickly built lower body. The Michigan offense has taught him to make the same types of reads NFL runningbacks are taught. He's totaled over 200 carries the last two seasons, and he was the entire foundation of their run game in 2010 - totaling 256 attempts for 1702 yards (6.6 YPC) and 14 touchdowns. He has a tendency to get upright, but he's a tough and patient inside runner who reads and sets his blocks up well, hits cutback lanes with authority, and has the speed to do damage in space. …
Highlighted in green, the playside linebacker moves Michigan's tight end into the backfield. The strong safety has filled hard off the edge, and the two inside linebackers are scraping hard playside. Instead of allowing the defense to string the play out, Robinson takes advantage of Alabama's pursuit, planting his outside foot, re-directing, and hitting the crease swiftly.
Denard gets skinny through the trash in the cutback lane. He leans and squares his shoulders through the tackle, which allows him to pick up an additional three yards.
Much more at the link.
More Ferns. Tom Rinaldi is just warming up for this guy:
They're not moving it. Dave Brandon will not let the whole playing at Rentschler Field thing die:
"We continue to have discussions with UConn to see if there isn't a better plan," Brandon told a small group of reporters Friday shortly after speaking at the Michigan Sport Business Conference at the Ross School of Business. "Anything's possible.
"It's totally in their control. We're trying to provide them with as much persuasion as we can, in the form of financial benefits for them to move that game to a bigger stadium."
This is not happening. The Connecticut legislature put a bunch of money into that stadium and it is now losing more money than projected; they will freak out if the Michigan game, a guaranteed sellout, is moved.
Michigan is paying BYU and Colorado 1.3 million to come out, BTW. The gap between that and 900k, 1 million dollar snackycakes is incredibly small.
Wait what? I missed this when it happened, but apparently the Orange Bowl is now going to be a potential destination for Big Ten teams that miss out on the Rose:
The Orange Bowl matchup in the new playoff era has been finalized multiple sources told CBSSports.com on Wednesday.
The ACC champion will play the highest-ranked team among Notre Dame and available teams from the SEC and Big Ten beginning after the 2014 season.
This is a problem for the Pac-12 and Big 12, who want access to more than one big bowl but the problem…
"TV doesn't want it," said one official intimately involved in the process.
Etc.: Jeopardy does CFB names. Lloyd Brady profiled by ESPN. "Deal with it Jesus" is amazing. Stubhub wins over season tickets this game; by end of year it will be a better deal, I imagine. A report from an alternate universe. Slippery Rock preview. Delany talks big about Big Ten scheduling, but which he means Ohio State scheduling. And MSU, I guess. Dump these divisions already.
|WHAT||Michigan vs Northwestern|
Ann Arbor, MI
12:00 PM Eastern
November 10th, 2012
|THE LINE||Michigan –9.5|
|WEATHER||dry, partly cloudy, around 60|
Yeah, that line swung hard from a –13 open. Denard uncertainty, or just bettors all looking at that and going "ah yup Northwestern," as was Michigan fans' instinct? Probably both for a four point move.
Run Offense vs Northwestern
So… after last week I don't even know man. Here's Northwestern's Big Ten performance to date:
I've gotten a vibe of sunny optimism from Northwestern fans about the run defense with their blogs and our Q&As and whatnot; the numbers don't really show it until the Iowa game. Penn State yeah but I think they only did okay there. Zach Zwinak put up 122 yards on 18 carries, 4.3 per; Matt McGloin had seven carries, two of which I've slashed out as sacks; the other five just about have to be scrambles. But even so they're only around 4, 4.5.
Meanwhile, a Denard-less Michigan just put up 4.0 YPC against awful awful Minnesota, garbage time excluded, and 4.7 garbage time inclusive. Without Denard the run offense's limitations are ruthlessly exposed. So it depends on the availability of the man who is Denard, about which we know nothing. Michigan is flirting with offensive line changes…
To prepare for Northwestern, Hoke has emphasized physicality in practices this week. On Wednesday, Hoke recycled a phrase he hasn’t used in quite some time. He said he could “hear” football, a term he favors when his lineman are hitting up to his standards.
Still, Hoke said he wouldn’t make a decision on Burzynski or Miller until after Thursday’s practice.
“Those guys have gotten some reps with the ones some, but we’ll see,” Hoke said. “I can’t tell you until we finish, and we don’t really finish until Thursday, where everybody’s at from a mental standpoint.”
…ten games into the season. That is not good. Barnum, Mealer, and Omameh—Omameh to a lesser extent—have all taken turns getting run plays blown up, and the tight end play has been erratic at best. Kwiatkowski has been pretty good; the other two guys have not been. The running backs have not been generating yards themselves.
Everything is a disaster and Denard is averaging 7.2 YPC without even bothering to adjust for sacks. Gardner could paper over some of that with his legs, but Michigan wisely avoided deploying them much since getting Gardner dinged would mean walk-on Jack Kennedy enters. That is not likely to be good eats.
So… yeah. At this point Michigan isn't likely to find the secret, so it's about the quarterback getting a numerical advantage and running the veer—Michigan's single consistently successful run play—and only Denard can do that because if Denard is not in the game Michigan cannot risk getting their QB injured. Predict that.
As for the Wildcats, they are functional. They crushed their crappy nonconference opponents (Syracuse, Vandy, BC) on the ground and have hung in against the non-Indiana(!) sections of the schedule. I'd normally dismiss crushing Iowa's run game after AIRBHG blew everything up, including two Hawkeye OL starters, but… yeah, can't. Because of the blocking.
Key Matchup: Michigan Interior OL versus Block Somebody. Right? I mean, right.
[Hit THE JUMP for more BIG TENNNN offense]
About Last Saturday:
Jug Half Full - 35, Jug Half Empty - 13
Tom Olmscheid / AP
Get well soon.
May I suggest a bacta tank?
/ runs away giggling.
The Road Ahead:
"This big?" / "No, THIS BIG."
No. 24 Northwestern (7-2 overall, 3-2 B1G)
Last week: Idlecats.
This team is as frightening as: A guy who shows up to a fight armed with only a Maglite. Except it's not a Maglite. It's a lightsaber. And he is Luke Skywalker. Fear level = 10.
Michigan should worry about: Northwestern possesses the best wide receiver in the world. His name is Kyle Prater, and you don't know this because they have been keeping him a secret. They have been saving the surprise. Michigan has no idea what's coming.
But I do.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: There is no shame in getting beaten by a player who is so elite that his presence at USC violated the laws of competitive fairness, which forced him to transfer to a small liberal arts school in Evanston and wear purple for the rest of his life.
When they play Michigan: Prater will have 12 catches for 170 yards and four touchdowns.
Next game: @ Michigan.