At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
Hello again. How are you? I missed last week due to some minor health stuff and the Dave Brandon stuff. But I have returned with my usual moderate vigor. Did you miss me? I missed you. Let's never be apart again. Except, like, at night. And most of the time during the day.
About Last Week:
A long, long time ago, long before I was my current quasi-respectable self, I used to enjoy my weekends with the occasional adult beverage. And one evening, I found myself in a state of imbibedness in which I had lost most of my reasoning capacity and fine motor function. To give you an idea how far gone I was, I attempted (apparently, according to witnesses, for several minutes) to light a cigar with a flashlight.
And in that state, I recall being deeply amazed by an acquaintance in our group. We’ll call him Dave (because his name was Dave). Dave was an adult who knew how to handle his alcohol, and we didn’t have medical or real safety concerns about him. He was just hammered beyond all reason. He was so drunk that despite the fact that I was in a mental place where I had forgotten how fire worked, I was concerned and amazed about HIS level of intoxication.
Indiana is Dave. Michigan is currently black-out drunk, but they can still recognize someone who is even drunker. Pull yourself together, Dave.
The Road Ahead:
Northwestern (3-5, 2-3 B1G)
Last game: Lost at Iowa 48-7
Recap: Saturday’s action should have served as a blunt rejoinder to the argument that a 6-6 season should save Brady Hoke’s job. The pile of derp Michigan would have to scale is so meager, it barely qualifies as a hill. It’s a “knoll” at best. Maybe, MAYBE it could be a mound if you squint hard enough. Michigan had a path to six wins that did not include a single win over a top-50 team. If the current rankings hold, Michigan will have had eight games against teams ranked 48th or worse in FEI, including SIX at home.
Nowhere is this the awfulness of Michigan’s schedule more apparent than four hours west in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern, once touted as a potentially tricky opponent, has crumbled into a heap. Since beating Wisconsin (which, can we talk about THAT for a second?), they have lost increasingly lopsided games to Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Iowa jumped out to a 24-0 first quarter lead, which by my calculations should never ever ever ever ever ever happen ever ever. Iowa gets like two possessions per quarter. Giving up 24 points defies all everything.
This latest porcupine massage of a performance saw Trevor Siemian and backup Zack Oliver combine for 75 passing yards (at 3.1 yards per attempt) and -45 yards rushing. That means on 30 passing plays or QB runs, Northwestern put up 30 yards.
I suppose I should mention at this point that Northwestern is favored by most of the advanced statistics folks to beat Michigan.
This team is as frightening as: A team that has, through 8 games, had three offensive plays of 30 yards or more. And is somehow still a coin flip against Michigan. Fear Level = 5
Michigan should worry about: Michigan has not won a road game since defeating the University of Chicago 2-1 in 1913. They are not favored to win another road game until their matchup with the University of Mars, tentatively scheduled as a second half of a home-planet-and-home-planet in the year 2136.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Trevor Siemian’s YPA numbers have fallen in every game since the start of conference play, from 7.0 to 6.3 to 5.4 to 4.4 to 3.8. Meanwhile, Northwestern’s points per game allowed has Increased in every game, from 6 to 14 to 24 to 38 to 48. So, according to the ironclad rule that all trend continue forever, Siemian will throw for 3.1 YPA and Northwestern will give up 58 points. Science.
When they play Michigan: Michigan will defy science and not score 58 points.
Next game: vs. Michigan (NW +2), 3:30 Saturday, ESPN2
[AFTER THE JUMP: Awwww, Y U NO slap hands?]
Nice job picking a QB, Ace. Here's your reward.
While re-watching the M-PSU punt-fest my brother made an interesting comment: "It's amazing what's happened to two of the best quarterbacks in the conference." If you ever again need to point to something to show that the offense means more than the quarterback, this Big Ten season has that in spades. What it doesn't have is an answer to the question: who IS the best QB in the conference?
I have no idea. Of guys I expected big things from, Braxton Miller (injury) and Tre Roberson (transfer) didn't make it out of the preseason, Gardner played his way behind a true sophomore who obviously couldn't play, Hackenberg's been a tackling dummy, and when I got down to Cook my Sparty slappy brother shook his head and declined the nomination.
Lower down, Sudfeld is now out for the season but he wasn't world-beating before. C.J. Brown, true to form, has been keeping pace just behind Gardner; a wrist injury against Indiana has ceded snaps to Caleb Rowe. Nebraska and Iowa aren't getting anything more than mediocre from their 2nd year guys. Trevor Siemian is not a throw deity of any sort. Etling hasn't been good enough for Boiler fans to stop mentioning that Michigan stole Bellomy(!). Wisconsin's QB situation has been awful. Illinois thought they had something when transfer Wes Lunt was picking apart bad defenses, but he broke his leg, which is apparently 4-6 weeks these days.
Everybody's played only a few real opponents, and everybody's been a product of his offense so stats are only a little useful. Last year ESPN's Dean Oliver rolled out his "QBR" metric which is based on Mathlete-like expected points on a 100-level scale; 50 is average. Mouseover the headers for clarification (explanation here):
|PLAYER||Pass EPA||RUN EPA||SACK EPA||PEN EPA||TOTAL EPA||ACT PLAYS||RAW QBR||TOTAL QBR|
I pulled the raw QBR in each game to plot it against Football Outsiders' S&P+ so you can see the individual performances in context. Gardner's games are labeled and Michigan's remaining opponents are shown.
[after the jump: trends, discussion]
[Ed-Seth: Hey look everybody, something that's not that thing. Jamiemac of Just Cover Blog and the MGoPodcast was dragged out of quasi-retirement for a weekly thing on lines, tips, and expectations, and Draft Kings’ offered to to sponsor it. How it works: we identify a Draft Kings fantasy game (could be NFL, CFB, CBB, etc.) to commune in, followed by Jamie’s discussions on odds of relevance to you. This week we're playing for… /raises pinky One MILLION dollars.]
THIS WEEK’S GAME: ONE MILLION DOLLARS!
Yeah it's NFL this week, because DK has $1 million out there for the winner. That's enough money to actually have a say in Michigan's athletic department. Or you could blow it on funny hats.
- $2,200,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $1,000,000
- $27 entry fee.
- Top 15,500 are paid.
- Starts on Sunday, October, 5th at 1:00 EST.
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots. 8 players and 1 defense.
- Roster Format: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 Defense.
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
It'll be a big pool, which is why I (still Seth)'ve got home run threats all over my roster. Here's Jamie:
THIS WEEK’S CHALK
If you've been following my ups and downs over the years, you know I love taking road dogs the week after they've been upset as double digit favorites. This theory has led us to covers—and outright wins—in each of the last two weeks. We had Iowa +7 over Pitt in Week 4, a week after the Hawks blew a game to rival Iowa State and last week we were on Missouri plus the points over South Carolina. A week after inexplicably losing at home to Indiana, the Tigers went into South Carolina and nipped the Gamecocks 21-20. Aint college football, fun?
Good news? We have three options this week. The bad news? One of them is Michigan, catching 3.5 points at Rutgers. Alright, that might qualify as terrible news. I realized midway through the Minnesota second half that UM would be in this spot and immediately decided to cancel this system for a week. There's just no way I'm betting on this team.
[Jump for the Pitt Trick, and every M opponent looking good]
[Ed-Seth: You all know Jamie Mac, he of Just Cover Blog and the MGoPodcast, and expert on sports betting. I was at his tailgate last week for the Miami (NTM) game, and between Draft Kings’ offer to to sponsor it and Jamie’s somewhat impaired state at the moment, I was able to convince this legend to come out of writing retirement.
So here’s how it’s gonna work (for now): we’ll have a weekly spot where we identify a Draft Kings fantasy game (could be NFL, CFB, CBB, etc.) to commune in, followed by Jamie’s discussions on odds of relevance to you.]
THIS WEEK’S GAME: CFB $10K REDSHIRT [$1,000 TO 1ST]
I like Jake Butt [and HSR’s groovy image]
- $10,000 prize pool.
- $2 entry fee. Entry is free with your first deposit.
- $1,000 1st Place prize.
- Starts on Saturday, September, 20 at noon EDT
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots.
- Roster Format: 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
THIS WEEK’S CHALK
Everyone has eliminated the Big Ten from playoff contention. I am not here to argue against that, although I am in the firm camp of letting the rest of this month and October play out before putting any serious thought into what the true pecking order should be. But keep hope alive Big Ten fans. You can still bet on some of your teams qualifying for the first ever college football final four. Here are the current odds on Big Ten teams making that postseason field.
|Odds of Michigan in the CoFoPuff this year are running about even with the likelihood that the world will apologize. [Upchurch]|
Ohio State: Yes, +400; No, -600
Michigan State: Yes, +500; No, -800
Wisconsin: Yes, +600; No, -1000
They actually have Michigan listed on this board, but there aren't any odds. Talk about a tease. What does it matter anyway. Michigan isn't making any Final Four this season. Well, at least not in football.....
GAMES OF THE YEAR UPDATED LINES
Everyone who knows me, knows I love to track the lines of the Games Of The Year that are released way back in something called June by various Las Vegas and offshore sportsbooks. Let's take a minute to compare the lines for the remaining Big 10 games that were on that board. We've got three data points: opening lines from June, lines on the day the season started and lines as they stand today. It's time for a chart, with some quick thoughts afterwards.
[After the jump, updated lines and Jamie’s tips on who to draft around the league]
The sun had risen, though it was hard to tell through the lingering haze and dust. It all seemed so surreal; they had so recently stood beaming with pride, assuring the peasantry that the claiming of Rutgersland and the conquering of the Turtle People had ensured our long-term security. We had been told that our leaders had won the kind of Lebensraum that would see us through the coming ages. When was that? Had it been a day? A month? Surely it could not have been so long ago.
Some would argue whether the Big Ten had ever really existed at all; that even before The Weekend, the “conference” was merely an idea. A fleeting notion. A foolish homage to the time of 22-personnel and punting from the opponent’s 35 yard line. But whatever it had been, it was no longer. Reports were sketchy, but from all indications the destruction was similar throughout the realm. The borders had been shown to be merely transitory, and the defenses illusory. This was surely not the last incursion, but did it matter? What more damage could be done than had already been done?
Big Life. Big Stage. Big Ten.
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
Miami (NTM) (0-2, 0-0 MAC)
Last week: Lost to Eastern Kentucky, 17-10
Recap: The good news for Miami was that they outgained Ohio Valley Conference team Eastern Kentucky 445-280. The bad news was that they turned the ball over six times, including three interceptions from Tommy Hendrix. This runs Miami’s losing streak to 18 games.
This team is as frightening as: A team that has a full compliment of 85 scholarships available, plays a MAC schedule, and hasn’t won a single football game in the last 18 tries. Fear Level = 1.5
Michigan should worry about: Andrew Hendrix is throwing for 338.5 yards per game…
Michigan can sleep soundly about: …at 6.7 yards per attempt. Against Marshall and EKU. Also, if you believe silly superstitions like “reviewing game film,” you should probably feel pretty good.
When they play Michigan: A crowd of “100,000” will get to witness a comfortable, boring win over a terrible opponent.
Next game: at Michigan (-34), 3:30 Saturday (BTN)
[AFTER THE JUMP: Combative dromedaries are the best dromedaries]
I agree with these men, whatever they happen to be saying. Would you like your Gallon touchdown in… Italian or something?
Les Miles is in a lot of trouble, unless he isn't in any. Sports Illustrated has published the first of five articles detailing NCAA malfeasance at Oklahoma State initiated during the Les Miles era and continuing today. This one is about players getting money from boosters—a lot of them:
In separate interviews seven other former Cowboys told SI they received cash payments; 29 other OSU players were named by teammates as having also taken money. Those payments, which stretched from 2001 to at least '11, were primarily delivered three ways: a de facto bonus system based on performances on the field, managed by an assistant coach; direct payments to players from boosters and coaches independent of performance; and no-show and sham jobs-- including work related to the renovation of Boone Pickens Stadium -- that involved at least one assistant coach and several boosters.
The moral outrage here is all gone…
One or two standouts bought a new car or expensive jewelry, team members say, but the vast majority of the players used the extra cash to purchase everyday items -- food, clothing, tickets to a movie. "There were some athletes who were almost starving," says Carter. "Wherever the money came from, they were like, Yeah, I'll take that."
…but flagrantly violating NCAA rules is, you know, not good. And if you're wondering why so many dudes are breaking omerta here; we may find out at the end of the series, which promises an article on:
One of the selling points of college football is that it changes lives, that young men have their character and fortunes enhanced by taking part in the sport, even if they remain on campus for only a short time. But in the past decade, player after player has been driven out of Stillwater, returning to worlds they had hoped to escape. Some have been incarcerated, others live on the streets, many have battled drug abuse, and a few have attempted suicide. COMING IN NEXT WEEK'S SI/ONLINE SEPT. 17
That does retain outrage.
I'm surprised, but not that surprised. Miles has left a trail of sketchy events in his wake that get overwhelmed by his nuttiness. I may have been 100% wrong about Hoke during the last coaching search, but at least I was right about Miles. Again, it's wonderful to look at Brady Hoke and know that he will neither choose a dumb punt nor turn purple on the sideline nor have a massive cadre of discontent former players who hate him so much to take him down.
Side note: I feel really bad for Brian Phillips. Squinky's revenge. I may feel less bad when Oklahoma State gets a warning squint from the NCAA.
You oughta have excellent medical insurance. Purdue football in two articles. One:
Purdue safety to play vs. Indiana St. with two broken hands
It's not unusual for a college football player to wrap up a broken hand and play with it, particularly for a big game. But Purdue safety Landon Feichter is preparing to play for his Boilermakers' home opener against Indiana State Saturday with two broken hands.
Purdue safety Landon Feichter breaks leg
Feichter was forced to leave Saturday's game in the first half with a leg injury and coach Darrell Hazell confirmed on Saturday night that Feichter had suffered a broken leg.
It's just a flesh wound.
The moral of the story is if you see Purdue football coming towards you, punch it in the nose and run away. Purdue football will have a broken nose, but won't be able to tell.
Jeremy Gallon presents. Okay, official Michigan tumblr, okay:
Gardner knows this is going on, and enjoys looking at the back of his own head.
So that explains it. Via Doug Karsch, Jeremy Gallon describes his game:
"That was a great performance. After the game, I asked him, 'How tall are you, and how tall do you play?' He said, 'I'm 5-8 and a half, but I play like I'm 5-9.'
Now is not then. Orson found this. It is Greg Robinson:
THE BEAVER IS OUT! THE BEAVER IS OUT!
This man was in charge of our defense. He is a weirdo who sets everything on fire. How does that guy get hired by anyone to do anything more complicated than clean gutters?
Saying a quarterback reminds you of Erik Ainge of Tennessee can be good and bad. It's good, because he's mobile, physically gifted, and often fearless. It's bad because sometimes that means Evil Erik Ainge, the one who threw interceptions when the team could least afford it. Gardner sort of reminds me of Ainge. Tommy Rees, however, might BE Erik Ainge, using a warm body as a spiritual proxy to replay his career in an alternate historical line.
Accuracy issues largely put aside, Gardner's main issue is Reesin' it too often.
Yes. Throw it to Dileo. From Michigan Monday:
Drew Dileo had three catches for 18 yards out of the slot, including the final touchdown of the game on a nice option route that left a defender reminiscing about where Dileo used to be and no longer was.
Get this man the ball.
LAZERS. Stewart Mandel:
That No. 17 Michigan beat the comparably ranked No. 14 Irish is not especially surprising. That it rolled up 41 points on a very talented Notre Dame defense, however, is eye-opening. In particular, quarterback Devin Gardner put all questions to rest about what Michigan's offense will look like post-Denard Robinson. It looks really darn explosive, primarily because Gardner -- who wore No. 98 this week in honor of 1940 Heisman winner Tom Harmon -- has asserted himself as a laser-armed passer.
…Gardner's skills were never more evident than on his last touchdown pass, which came on second-and-goal from the four-yard line with 4:18 remaining. With Notre Dame pass rushers Stephon Tuitt and Prince Shembo coming at him full bore from opposite sides, Gardner set his feet and threw a perfectly placed dart to receiver Drew Dileo in the end zone.
Probably not a rivalry. This is on the official Notre Dame football blog:
That Notre Dame was struggling against Michigan made me feel that void much more acutely than I would had we been winning, or even struggling against another opponent.
But this was Michigan.
I was shaking in the aftermath of the two fourth-quarter pass interference calls, completely enraged. “I can’t remember the last time I was this pissed,” I texted my dad, who replied, “2011.”
Oh, yeah. 2011.
Etc.: Michigan moves into BCS bowl projections. MVictors has everything you need to know about the Harmon stuff. USF dude impressed with M-ND. Gardner and Gallon postgame. NDMSPaint does Eminem. Northwestern QBs were rather good against Syracuse. Stuffing the Passer. Go. Partake.