(Guess what? I published a book this offseason. It’s about baseball. The Cubs. The White Sox. And that one time they played each other in the World Series. Check it out. It’s only available via Amazon Kindle right now, but a print on demand option is coming soon)
Jabrill Peppers leads the nation in tackles for loss and punt return yards. We all knew that. But I liked typing that out. And reading it over and over and over……
How has the unique start to his season impacted the Heisman race? His odds to win the trophy have fallen from 25/1 to 20/1. There were seven players with shorter odds than Peppers in the preseason. There are still five players ahead of him now. Two players, Lamar Jackson and Greg Ward Jr., have jumped ahead of him on the board. Ward Jr. has gone from 35/1 to 18/1. Meanwhile, Jackson is now the overwhelming betting favorite at –225 after starting out as a 50/1 three weeks ago. Below is a list of the top-6 betting favorites and their opening preseason odds.
|Candidate||Current Odds||Preseason Odds|
|Greg Ward Jr.||1800||3500|
I like the steadiness of McCaffrey. He started 6/1 and remains 6/1. Other notable odds not seen above: Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield started the season at 10/1 with the fifth shortest odds available. Today, he’s not even listed on the updated betting board. Had we made this chart a week ago, Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and Deondre Francis would have both been in the top-6. However in the wake of the Noles beatdown at the hands of Louisville, both have dropped. Francis began the season as a 60/1 shot, but was down to 12/1 a week ago after his hot start. Like Mayfield, he is no longer on the betting board. Cook remains in contention, although his odds have been falling all season. He opened at 8/1, was 12/1 a week ago, and today you can get Florida State’s star tailback at 33/1. For perspective, San Diego State tailback Donnel Pumphrey is just ahead of him at 25/1.
[Hit THE JUMP for things more interesting than Heisman odds]
(Guess what? I published a book this offseason. It's about baseball. The Cubs. The White Sox. And that one time they played each other in the World Series. Check it out. It's only available via Amazon Kindle right now, but a print on demand option is coming soon)
What a great Saturday of college football this weekend. For the first time in history, the top-3 ranked teams in the AP Poll go on the road to play a fellow top-20 team on the same day. Will it be Shakeup Saturday? Or Separation Saturday? I'm guessing a little from Column A and a little from Column B.
The B1G is right in the middle of it. Ohio State at Oklahoma is one of those three top-3 games, along with Florida St-Louisville and Alabama-Ole Miss. But also Michigan State and Notre Dame renew hostilities after a two season cease fire. Both teams are ranked, eyeing playoff runs and always seem to play tight, crazy games. Toss in unranked Nebraska favored and hosting mighty Oregon and there are three bigtime showdowns in the league this weekend. And the undercards all offer something interesting to watch, even if it's ineptitude. Looking at you, Northwestern. Ten of the league's 11 games this weekend involve games between FBS schools. The only game with an FCS squad is actually intriguing with that level's 5-time champ and regular giant killer North Dakota State going to Iowa. What's better is three things I dislike watching about the conference, Minnesota, Purdue, and the Indiana Defense, all don't play. It should be fun. Let's breeze through the schedule before this week's picks.
FOR DEGENERATES ONLY
[The rest of the lines, after THE JUMP]
Despite nailing the one pick from opening week made here. And even though we added a winner on twitter Friday night. I'm here offering an early season mea culpa. I boldy predicted every B1G team's Over/Under on wins last week but with the upsets in the Wisconsin and Northwestern games two of them already look like dead meat. That's the problem with making a lot of bets and picks. You always end up making dumb ones. I wonder if there's an app for that? Let's look back and see what happened.
My take on Wisconsin was their offensive line was too young and not quite good enough yet, especially in light of last year's performance and the Voltz injury this summer, to stand up against the monster defensive fronts they were slated to face during the season's first half. So of course they go out and beat LSU in the opener as 13.5-point underdogs.
[Jonathan Daniel - Getty Images]
Starting an offensive front with four redshirt sophomores, a Division III transfer, and a combined 21 total collegiate starts--not to mention bringing in redshirt freshmen off the bench when needed--the Badgers outplayed the LSU defensive front in the trenches. The final numbers do not look great with just 3.2 yards per rush. But the tailback combo of Corey Clement and Dare Ogunbowale rushed for 130 yards on 30 carries. There weren't any truck size holes. There weren't any vintage Wisconsin showstopping big runs either. But they held their blocks just long enough to give their tailbacks room to move forward for decent gains. Toss in seven critical catches by tight end Troy Fumagali, six for first downs and a seventh for the final chunk of yards before the game winning field goal, and the offense had enough gas to move the football against the Tigers.
Had they converted more than 3.2 points per scoring, a bugaboo from a year ago, they would have won going away. Ditto if QB Bart Houston doesn't throw a pair of killer interceptions resulting in a swing of 10-14 points. Luckily, LSU's Brandon Harris trumped those tosses with an even worse pick on the Tiger's potential game winning drive clinching the game for the Badgers.
That pick was also a big blow to last week's Under 7.5 wins pick. There are still plenty of challenges ahead, and Wisconsin still has four games they'll be an underdog in before the end of October. They will need to lose all of those for us to have any shot at this one.
Despite the LSU outcome, the lines have moved against the Badgers in three of those games. They're now catching more points in games against Michigan, +12.5 up from 11.5; Ohio State, +7.5 up from 6; and Iowa, +4, up from +3.5. Their first big game of that run is in Week 4 at Michigan State. While that game looks like a toss up now, especially in light of the Spartan's weak effort against Furman in their opener, the line hasn't budged and is still MSU -3.
[Hit THE JUMP for sense in a senseless world.]
Again. Congrats to softball, which won their umpteenth consecutive regional. Their super-regional against Missouri is this upcoming weekend. Wolverine Devotee has assembled the relevant information:
2 Michigan will host 15 Missouri in the NCAA Ann Arbor Super Regional next weekend on May 28-29.
- Game 1- Saturday, May 28 (3pm/ESPN)
- Game 2- Sunday, May 29 (Noon/ESPN)
- Game 3 (if nec.)- Sunday, May 29 (3pm/ESPN)
Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 8:30am for season ticket holders and to the general public on Tuesday at 8:30am.
You will not get tickets if you don’t already have them.
Awww yeah. Jane takes the 1986 Hawaii game and adores it:
10. When people tell you they want to see "Schembechler-style" football they mean they want to see a football game that looks sort of like the Battle of Verdun. Typically, the people telling you this will have a carefully-guarded recipe for seven-layer dip. I have no problem with any of this.
11. 27-10 is the score of a game in which one team is much better than the other team but doesn't really want anyone to know it. Like, you score 3 touchdowns but then, "whoa, let's not get cocky."
12. 27-10 is kind of the most Michigan score of all.
Expectations. Many people are expecting a good season from Michigan this year but this might be a tad much:
— Johnny Detroit (@Johnny_Detroit) May 23, 2016
7 to 1 are the second best odds on the board behind Alabama at 6 to 1. This is not a power poll, many of which have Michigan around #5. Like this one from PFF:
It’s all about the defense at Michigan, as they’re poised to be one of the nation’s best. They return the nation’s top-graded cornerback in Jourdan Lewis as well as two of the top three graded interior defensive linemen in Chris Wormley and Maurice Hurst. It will be on the offense to find a way to score points, but the majority of the offense returns and the results of their wide-open quarterback race – led by Wilton Speight – will determine just how far this Michigan team will go.
That’s a power poll. The betting lines aren’t. Those take Michigan’s iffy schedule into account. They’re also a collection of sucker bets that has less predictive power than a weekly line that sharps mostly control. (It also emphasizes how incredibly unlikely Leicester City was: you can bet on Navy or Air Force to win the national title at 1000 to 1. Leicester was infamously 5000 to 1.) But the expectations: they are out there.
About that defense. PFF details why they expect Michigan to have one of the best ones in the country again:
2. Their pass rush should be excellent…
As good as Henry was for Michigan last season, he was only the fourth-most efficient rusher on the Wolverines’ defense. Chris Wormley and Maurice Hurst formed the most efficient interior pass-rushing duo in the nation, with Wormley ranking first among defensive tackles in pass-rush productivity (45 total QB pressures, including seven sacks) and Hurst ranking third (30, including three). Hurst only saw 418 snaps last season, so the ability of both he and Wormley to stay productive and on the field will be critical to the Wolverines’ defensive success.
On the edge, Taco Charlton ranked sixth among 4-3 defensive ends in pass-rush productivity, generating 41 total pressures including six sacks.
Charlton did that in relatively scanty playing time as for much of the season he was splitting SDE snaps with Wormley. Only in the last few games did he end up starting at WDE. He could break out in a huge way with incremental improvement and a clear starting role.
PFF also offered up a couple of glimpses into their database that I don’t think we’d seen before, since usually the only hard numbers we get are from the top end. On Michigan’s departures:
The Wolverines only had one player drafted at all – defensive lineman Willie Henry, who went to the Ravens in the fourth round. That’s not to say they don’t have to replace some very productive players. Henry was PFF’s No. 34 interior lineman, LBs Desmond Morgan and Royce Jenkins-Stone both produced at a high level (linebacker in general is a bit of a question-mark position for Michigan), and SS Jarrod Wilson ranked No. 29 at his position after grading well in both run and pass defense.
I didn’t think RJS was that productive—not bad, but not great, either. And Wilson’s ranking is very boring, as is appropriate. A couple departures are omitted, one due to injury early in the year, the other… not due to injury.
Why does there have to be a seamy underbelly? Waco police and Baylor have conspired to keep a series of serious crimes by Baylor players out of the public eye. One of many:
In one case from 2011, an assault at an off-campus event in Waco ended with three football players being charged and Baylor and Waco police discussing the incident. Waco police, according to documents, took extraordinary steps to keep it from the public view "given the potential high-profile nature of the incident." According to a police report obtained by Outside the Lines, Waco's investigating officer asked a commander that "the case be pulled from the computer system so that only persons who had a reason to inquire about the report would be able to access it." The report was placed in a locked office.
This is bigger than the football program. The Title IX “Dear Colleague” letter that we became familiar with when Brendan Gibbons was belatedly expelled from the university is very much in effect at Baylor despite its private status, and there are a pile of accusations that the university has been operating like it’s still 1950 in this department. That could lead to serious repercussions for Baylor as a whole.
Via GTP, Chip Brown is reporting that Art Briles may be safe despite the fact that his teams seem to have a ton of bad behavior going on:
Multiple sources connected to Baylor told HornsDigest.com football coach Art Briles has a better chance of keeping his job after the school’s rape scandal than BU president and chancellor Ken Starr.
The sources said Starr will probably be reassigned to a position in BU’s law school as a result of the failed leadership displayed after multiple rape claims made by female Baylor students against five BU football players all but went ignored…
Briles, who has taken an irrelevant football program to two Big 12 titles in the last three years (including a bunch of new athletics facilities), is sometimes referred to by Baylor brass as “Moses.”
Brown titles this piece “Starr—Not Briles—Will Be BU’s Fall Guy,” which is wrong. A fall guy is someone who takes the hit for something that wasn’t his fault. Scott Shafer was a fall guy for Rich Rodriguez. Here, Ken Starr is certainly responsible for massive failures and should be booted. You could make an argument either way for Briles, but it’s indisputable that Title IX stuff is above his paygrade. (Uh… figuratively.)
"If you don't (release the findings), it's going to look like you're hiding something given all of these allegations that are now out there," he said. "There's just been so much of it. All of that (Shawn) Oakman stuff. Now this."
And this is a salient point:
"These guys kept playing?" the coach said. "The message you're sending is, 'This isn't a big deal.'" … "This is a guy (Briles) who prides himself in being a players' coach and coaching his team like a high school team. It's really hard to believe that he didn't know about any of this stuff."
Michigan would still have Logan Tuley-Tillman on the roster if they acted like Baylor evidently has. The goings-on in Waco make Michigan’s participation in Baylor’s camp a dubious proposition. We’ll see if it continues as scheduled—Sam Webb mentioned there was some discussion of it but they still planned to go forward with it.
Still, this is more a story about Waco police corruption at the behest of Baylor’s administration more than it is a football coach. Someone’s head has to roll and unusually it look like the—or at least a—correct one will. Whether or not Baylor actually changes as a result is very much in question.
Praise to a sensible thing. More details on Big Ten hockey’s revamped playoff format have emerged, and they are equally devoid of neutral sites:
The tournament would be played over the course of three weekends and feature three best-of-three quarterfinal round series, two single-game semifinals, and one championship game. All games will be hosted on campus of the highest seed.
I assume they meant “higher” seed, not “highest” seed, FWIW. While I’d prefer best two-of-three to continue throughout the tournament, that change is close enough to what I’ve been advocating since Big Ten hockey started existing that I’ll take it. It’s more hockey, and a much much better environment for it. I assume the single game semis and finals are for TV purposes—the league can say we have these three games at this time and televise it without having to worry about if-necessary games. There would seem to be no other reason to have the above format.
While the story linked above seems to assume that the Big Ten will stay at 7, the format will obviously accommodate an eighth team without much disruption. Arizona State’s announcement they will join the NCHC means that particular bad idea is off the table, so the options are 1) swing for the North Dakota fences, 2) wait for a Big Ten school to add hockey or 3) take Miami, I guess.
BTW the comments here are 90% Minnesota fans bitching about Big Ten hockey…
Wow, it's been 24 hours since I thanked the Big 10 for ruining college hockey. Thanks Big Ten!!!!
…and one North Dakota fan trolling. My favorite is the guy that imagines Minnesota has leverage:
Cleaning up this mess is Coyle's first priority as AD. We need to force ourselves out of this debacle and back into regionalized hockey as soon as possible. He needs to play hardball like Alvarez played hardball in forcing Minnesota to accept this terrible idea.
They’re gonna make Minnesota hockey great again by playing hardball. That’s the ticket.
Etc.: Manuel on scheduling. Manuel on Harbaugh. Ian Boyd on how teams protect their matchup nightmare TE when he’s not a killer blocker. Relevant to our interests. Conference distribution numbers show the SEC and Big Ten on par, at least temporarily. Billy Donlon, defensive coordinator.
HEALTHING UP WOO
Jake Ryan came back before he was injured. Are we moving Jake Ryan's timetable up? I… maybe?
There are rumblings about the first Big Ten game, which would be crazy.
When you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks. When you have four, math implodes. Michigan State's nominal starter put up 4.1 YPA in their latest closed scrimmage and their true freshman went 10 of 14 for 240 yards, so a two-way quarterback battle is now a four-way one:
"At the beginning of the scrimmage it was a three-horse race," Dantonio said Monday. "And at the end of the scrimmage, it was a four-horse race."
While you are fretting about uncertainty at guard and safety at least Michigan's quarterback battle is "who wants to get Devin Gardner sandwiches?" Also, Michigan is starting Taylor Lewan at left tackle instead of a former walk-on. LeVeon Bell ain't walking through that door.
Related: in weird news, Hoke told the Michigan insider that Shane Morris was held out of Saturday's scrimmage because they wanted to rest him. Uh?
Meanwhile in Iowa. An open practice(!) leads BHGP to conclude that redshirt sophomore Jake Rudock is likely to throw two-yard hitches on third and seven for the Hawkeyes. Rudock was a three-star out of star-studded Florida powerhouse St Thomas Aquinas a couple years back.
Other bits from Iowa City:
- Sounds like depth is at a low ebb on defense.
- Greg Davis has spent most of the offseason smoking opium and drinking absinthe, so Iowa's now a no-huddle shotgun team.
- True freshman tailback LeShun Daniels is going to play, because he is an Iowa tailback. He is scheduled to be raptured up midseason. Weisman and Damon Bullock also return.
From the comments:
"It looked like a modern-day college football offense."
This… wait, so… but… I can’t… so wait, you mean…. but that’s…. that’s just…. um…. but…. I don’t…. wait, what?
In West Lafayette. Rob Henry is named Purdue's starter, which is amazing because he's a redshirt senior. I don't know if I've ever experienced the opposite of the Brooks Bollinger Eighth Year Memorial Season effect, but it seems like Henry should be much younger. Playing at Purdue == premature aging. Thus all the ACL tears.
In South Bend. The Irish lose Danny Spond to migrane issues. He was a returning starter at the Irish equivalent of SAM.
Another angle. Gardner posted his slant touchdown to Joe Reynolds to instagram:
Johnson is young for his grade, and you know Beilein keeps an eye on that stuff. His coach reports that now that Johnson has "shown a lot of maturity" in the classroom that Michigan is getting more interested. His mom used to play at Wisconsin, but other than that connection it seems Michigan is the local favorite:
“I’ve really got to dissect the program and the way they play (more), but I love Michigan. I’m from Michigan and any time I turn the TV on, if Wisconsin is not playing and Michigan is, I’m rooting for Michigan. It is just a matter if it is going to be a fit for Jay. (It’ll be about) where I feel that Jay is going to get the most development, the most growth, (and has) the people who are going to get on board with Jaylen’s dream, as well as him being an asset to the program.”
Johnson's going to take all five officials, but probably won't use one on Michigan because he's, like, 10 minutes away. Iowa State, Louisville, and Oregon have been scheduled already.
Old school. Newsreels from mgovideo. This, the 1943 Brown Jug game:
This from the 1964 Purdue game, narrated by a very, very boring man.
There's also a half-hour of the 1936 Minnesota game.
It just had to happen to us. This Football Study Hall piece attempts to rank coaching performance relative to recruiting success by taking star average and comparing it to F+, one of those fancy holistic statistical measures that tries to smooth out schedule strength and takes MOV into account. Your #1 recruiting outperformer is the 2012 Kansas State Wildcats.
Of local interest: #2 is… 2007 West Virginia. 2006 West Virginia is 10th. Michigan hires that guy, and that guy turns in the 19th-worst performance of the decade. Cumong, man. No other coach appears in the top and bottom 40. The only other coaches with multiple years in the top 40 are Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino, and Brian Kelly, with Chip Kelly an honorable mention since he was the OC for Mike Belloti.
BONUS: this study makes Rick Neuheisel look like the worst coach of the past ten years. Three of his four UCLA teams finished 12th through 14th-worst, and many of those below him are outfits like Washington State and Colorado, teams whose recruiting profile doesn't really cover how terrible they are.
Etc.: "Forecast: Good." Not so good: David Terrell's situation. More Darboh stuff. I'm not sure if this is the best acronym for a college basketball team right now. IN SG James Blackmon Jr. on Michigan. On the 1977 OSU game.
wait, what? – Caleb TerBush
Yikes. Michigan is a mere three-point favorite against Purdue this weekend, which seems mighty narrow to me. I may be assuming that Denard Robinson does not turn the ball over five times, which Vegas is not. Boo 2012 Notre Dame game, boo.
Purdue's coming off a not-as-close-as-you-think game against Marshall in which they led 42-14 at halftime before yielding three touchdowns in the first 18 minutes of the second half and allowing the Herd to get within ten points. They traded touchdowns in the final 12 minutes, and that was the final margin. Marshall's lost to Ohio and beat Rice in two OTs; they've got the worst scoring D in the country at the moment, and they outgained Purdue by 91 yards. If Michigan only wins by three I'll be expecting bad things the rest of the season. Purdue QB Caleb TerBush was ineffective against ND (8 of 19, 79 yards, 1 TD/2 INT) and was pulled for a considerably better Robert Marve. Marve won't be available.
So what I'm saying is that at first blush I don't like the spread, which makes me feel both sad and alarmed because it's the best predictor available. I would like to avoid posting this at any point over the weekend:
Beyer's back. The most newsy bit of the press conference:
How’s your team’s health?
“There ya go. You know, I think Beyer will be back. Brandon Moore will be close. He’s getting better.”
“Richard is better. Uh there’s one more, too.”
“Hop’s fine. Devin’s fine. They all practiced last night. Yeah Ricky Barnum was a little -- sore shoulder. He was fine last night. So with the guys who aren’t out for the year, the rest of them are okay.”
“He was better. He ran around last night and he feels much better.”
Beyer was walking around in an air cast after his injury and I was a little worried he might be laid up for a long time, which would have been bad. The options at WDE were a major target for ND and didn't do so well. Beyer at least gives them another option at the spot. Clark makes more plays you notice, but I'll bet a nickel Beyer is less likely to get caved in and give up the edge.
Also, feel free to infer that Brink is out for the year from the above.
Also also, this:
Are you worried that Denard is what he is, i.e. not improving in your system?
“No. Not at all. I mean, he’s our quarterback, and he’s a damned good quarterback. I didn’t say that, so don’t write that. No we’re very comfortable and we’re very confident in him. … I know you’re going to write that.”
“Daggone it. My mom’s going to read that and get mad.”
She doesn’t think you swear?
“Why don’t you just ask a question.”
And you're fired and you're fired and you're fired. Extreme media hostility isn't just for Los Angeles anymore:
Tuesday, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier finally spoke with his media after two days of giving an opening statement and then refusing to field questions.
What has Spurrier so irked? Apparently columnist Ron Morris — again.
Ron Morris is a columnist at The State in South Carolina and has become Spurrier's nemesis. Last October, Spurrier called out Morris for something he wrote in the spring regarding then-basketball player Bruce Ellington and how Spurrier persuaded Ellington to play football.
This time, according to Saturday Down South, Spurrier seems to be mad about a Morris column that questioned playing quarterback Connor Shaw against UAB. Shaw, who has been nursing an injured shoulder he suffered in the season opener against Vanderbilt, injured the shoulder again against the Blazers.
The excerpt from the column that follows is pretty tame (also: dumb). Spurrier is accused of a "poor decision" to play Connor Shaw with a dinged shoulder, which he re-injured in the game. The column is just another tossed-off nothing (Shaw was 20 of 21 against Missouri), but apparently this business goes back a ways. Be chill, OBC.
Meanwhile, a local news station axed the guy's weekly segment, causing free speech rabbling.
Meanwhile in local media situations. Meinke is writing articles based off of his viewing of Inside Michigan Football. Interesting ones, even. Here's Mattison on Morgan defending that goddamned counter draw:
Mattison said he was most impressed by Morgan's discipline, specifically citing one counter draw play on which the sophomore could have pursued the ball, but elected to stay home as he was taught.
The play came back to him, and he made the tackle.
"We gave him that play probably four times in practice, and every time we gave it to him, we said, 'Desmond, you've got to stay home. You can't help on that sprint anyhow,'" Mattison said. "Well that same thing has happened before and he would go running and try to make the play because he's a young guy eager to make plays.
"All of the sudden, in this game, he became more of a veteran."
And Mattison on Raymon Taylor:
"Raymon has really improved," defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said this week on the Inside Michigan Football radio show. "He has been thrown in the fire. If someone would have said to me at the beginning of the year, 'Will he be starting against Notre Dame?' I don't know if I would have said yes.
"(But) I was really proud of him how he played. He knows he's got a lot of things he has to get better at, but one thing he didn't do was shy away from anything. He competed."
I'm not sure you can do that. In yet another NHL draft ranking, Chris Peters tackles prospects 26-50. D Michael Downing and F Tyler Motte show up, FWIW, but I'm most intrigued by this construction:
49. Tyler Motte - C - U.S. National Under-18 Team (USHL) - 5-9, 190
When at his best, he's an offensively dynamic talent. Good speed, solid strength despite a smallish frame, and good finish around the net make him an intriguing prospect. Motte has had a problem with consistency, which he has a whole season to prove isn't a problem anymore.
Lloyd Carr feels you, Mr. Peters. Also, yes please 5-9 kid good enough to be a second rounder. Needs moar tiny scoring machines at Yost.
Nice concourse. Wow:
That's quite a difference from last year. Also the zambonis have studded tires now. Yost Built is back to posting, BTW. The Blue/White game scheduled for next Sunday will be a start-studded even thanks to the NHL lockout.
Etc.: UMHoops previews Jordan Morgan and Matt Vogrich. AP Mealer article is everywhere. Trey Burke is a third-team All-American to the Sporting News. Baumgardner on Burke. Weinreb on Holgo and the WVU-Baylor game. Michigan hasn't sucked after byes.