who fails upward better: Whitlock, Kiffin, or Brandon?
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
#22 BYU (2-1)
Last week: Lost at #10 UCLA, 24-23
Recap: BYU had the ball down one point with under three minutes left. They had a 4th down with about a minute left. This was their time. They had UCLA right where they wanted them. And then for some inexplicable reason, Tanner Mangum tried to throw a 20-ish yard pass instead of unleashing his inner Mormon Rex Grossman. This inexcusable lack of recklessness led to the ball being picked off, and BYU lost their first game of the season.
BYU actually controlled most of the game; they had a ten point lead in the fourth quarter, and UCLA’s only second half in which they had a chance to take a lead was their last possession, which resulted in an 80 yard touchdown drive. BYU held freshman quarterback Josh Rosen in check for most of the game, by which I mean they stood there while Rosen exploded in a thousand directions. The kid finished with 106 yards on 11-for-23 passing (4.6 YPA) and three brutal picks. Given the way both Boise State and Nebraska moved the ball through the air, I’m tempted to think that UCLA’s failure was mostly of the Freshmen Gon’ Freshmen variety.
Mangum finished with 244 yards passing, but for only 5.2 yards per attempt, his worst average of the year by more than half. He has also showed very little of the mobility he hinted at against Nebraska; in the last two games, he’s rushed for -57 yards on 18 attempts, and is only averaging 1.1 yards per carry excluding sacks.
This team is as frightening as: Still, the thing with the Samoan guy punching you in the dangly bits. Fear Level = 7
Michigan should worry about: BYU held the ball more than twice as long as UCLA (40:37 to 19:23), and ran 44% more plays (88 to 61). These statistics are the mark of a true Capital-F Capital-T Football Team.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: UCLA racked up 296 rushing yards. Michigan likes to run the ball. They call that “synergy.”
When they play Michigan: PLEASE STAY WITH THE TALL MEN DOWN THE FIELD THANK YOU.
This week: @ Michigan, noon, ABC
Maryland (2-1, 0-0 B1G)
Last week: Beat South Florida, 35-17
Recap: Caleb Rowe replaced Perry Hills as Maryland’s starting QB, and was… better? Maybe? I guess it depends on what you’re looking for in a quarterback. Hills has been pretty mediocre overall this year, and Rowe provided a bit of a spark by throwing for 297 yards at 8.7 YPA with four touchdown. And three interceptions. And three fumbles (all of which Maryland recovered). So I guess he provided a spark for both teams. Still, a win is a win, even if it is a win over a bad team.
This team is as frightening as: Small spiders. At first glance, you think "AAAHHH THAT LOOKS LIKE A THING" but then you look closer for two seconds and you're like, "nah."
Michigan should worry about: Punting Will Likely etc.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Maryland is still pretty bad.
When they play Michigan: No punt Will Likely very bad.
This week: @ West Virginia, 3:00 p.m., FS1
[AFTER THE JUMP: Additional opponents of note]
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
UNLV (0-2, 0-0 MWC)
Last week: Lost to #13 UCLA, 37-3
Recap: UNLV has… well, let’s be polite and say that they have some issues. Their starting quarterback, Blake Decker, pulled a hamstring or a groin early in this one. His replacement, Kurt Palandech, went 4 for 15 for 4 yards and an INT. No, that is not a typo. 4 yards on 15 attempts. Overall, the Yes We Are The Rebels Deal With Its were outgained better than 2-to-1 (526 to 237). Their only scoring drive was a four play, zero yard march after they intercepted UCLA’s backup at the UCLA 14 at the veeeeeeery end of the 4th quarter.
This team is as frightening as: A cow being lowered into the velociraptor cage. Fear Level = 1.5
Michigan should worry about: You see… uh…
Michigan can sleep soundly about: UNLV has lost 8 in a row, and are currently ranked #117 in FEI and #123 in S&P+. They are bad at football.
When they play Michigan:
This week: @ Michigan, noon, BTN
[After the jump: a guide for when to punt]
About Last Week
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single Butt. “
~ Lao Tzu
The Road Ahead
Oregon State (1-0, 0-0 PAC-12)
Last week: Defeated Weber State, 26-7
Recap: You’re going to have to resist the impulse to skip ahead to the Indiana and Penn State sections. I know why you’re here. You’re here for the snark. But you must be patient. We’ll get there. And in the meantime, there is some important information between here and there.
It’s hard to draw too many conclusions this early, but Oregon State struggling early with an FCS team that finished 2-10 last year does not bode particularly well for the Beavers to make a shocking breakthrough this year. The Beavs were up 6-0 at the half, and while the defense held the Fightin’ Hibachis in check all game (their only score was a pick-6), the offense, and in particular the passing game, were meh. True freshman Seth Collins went 10-18 for 92 yards (5.1 YPA), but managed to pick up 152 yards on 17 carries. Fantastically-named running back Storm Woods averaged 4.2 yards per carry, and didn’t break anything longer than 8 yards.
This team is as frightening as: 2009 Michigan when Denard was under center. Fear Level = 5
Michigan should worry about: Michigan just got done giving up an uncomfortable number of yards on the ground to a quarterback, both this week and, like, this century.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Michigan opens as a 14 point favorite. No team has ever lost when favored by 14 or more points.
When they play Michigan: Presumably Michigan will provide a stouter test than Weber State. Otherwise… let’s just say I haven’t completely ignored the need to prepare a stock of Emergency Bourbon.
This week: @ Michigan, 12:00
UNLV (0-1, 0-0 MWC)
Last week: Lost to Northern Illinois, 38-30
Recap: Maybe this says more about the state of UNLV football than anything, but that looks like a pretty promising result for the Rebels. Even though they gave up 545 yards (including 360 yards passing at 13.8 YPA), they put up 493 yard, and actually had a 17-3 lead late in the first half. They’re probably still a tomato can.
Side note: How are they “the Rebels?” I’m not even asking in a your-mascot-is-probably-not-ideal-in-the-21st-century way. Nevada wasn’t a part of the confederacy. In fact, they joined the Union DURING the Civil War. They were the exact opposite of a rebel. I’m hard-pressed to think of a less fitting mascot, other than maybe the Utah Jazz.
A thing that makes no sense.
This team is as frightening as: Having gas while on a first date. Odds are, you can avoid the problem. But if you let up at the wrong time… Fear Level = 3
Michigan should worry about: Michigan has struggled to some degree with a cupcake non-conference game pretty much every year since 2006. This is the only cupcake game on the schedule, Popular Mechanics commentary notwithstanding. Therefore…
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Did you read the part where they gave up 13.8 yards per pass?
When they play Michigan: You will spend all week talking about Vegas in a Foghorn Leghorn accent. Your friends/classmates/coworkers will think this odd.
This week: vs. UCLA, 10:30 p.m. At home. Wait… wut?
[AFTER THE JUMP: Turtles and Rocks]
It’s back, ladies and gentlemen. It’s that time. The time that seems impossibly far away when the snows melt in spring. The time on which you try not to let yourself dwell through the summer months, lest it somehow prevent the pot from boiling. You can say it out loud now, without fear that your family or coworkers will think you insane. It’s football season. Say it out loud. "Football season." It’s okay. No one will judge.
As part of the tradition here at MGoBlog, we provide a weekly update on Michigan’s opponents. For very complicated reasons that would take far too long to explain, we call this feature “Opponent Watch.” Most will not be 3800 words, but we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
About Last Year:
Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can't move
Awake but cannot open my eyes...
The Road Ahead:
Last year: 9-4 (5-4 PAC 12), won Las Vegas Bowl over Colorado State
Recap: The Utes had a pretty solid 2015. They put up wins over UCLA, USC, and Stanford, and had Oregon on the ropes early before Kaelin Clay pulled an all-time you see, what had happened was and Utah fell 51-27. Three of their four losses were to then-Top-15 teams (Arizona State, Oregon, and Arizona).
When last we saw them: Utah allegedly made a trip to Ann Arbor as recently as last season. Obtaining eye-witness evidence of this fact is difficult, and those who claimed to have witness it cannot explain significant portions of their experiences. However, from what we can gather from those in attendance it was, quote, “not great, Bob.”
This team is as frightening as: Getting a new car, but the first time you drive it is in downtown rush hour traffic. You’re pretty sure the car is gonna be awesome, but you would have liked to take it for a spin in some easier conditions until you get used to it. Also the car is clinically insane. Fear Level = 8
Michigan should worry about: Michigan has struggled offensively in all three games they’ve played against Utah. In two of those games they scored a combined total of two touchdowns, one of which was a Willie Henry 7-yard interception return. Their most productive offensive game from a scoring standpoint was the one that NICK SHERIDAN started… against the Utah team that beat Alabama to finish undefeated and #2 in the country. Football is stupid and makes no freaking sense. Yay football.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Michigan already played part of a game against Utah in front of more Utah fans than Michigan fans, so there will be a certain comfort level there.
When they play Michigan: If Michigan loses, Utah will be only the second team Michigan has played more than three times (among teams Michigan has played at least once since the Kennedy Assassination) against whom they have a losing record. The only other team? USC.
First game: HARBAUGH COMIN’ UP ON A THURSDAY
[AFTER THE JUMP: 11 more opponents to watch. Wait, is that why they call it…]
Ah, the bye week. Sometimes it interrupts the flow of an exciting football season. And sometimes it mercifully ends the eye-bleeding and cow-rubbing for seven extra merciful days. But either way, the bye week is not simply a void on the calendar. No, no. You are not so lucky. The bye week is the Britta filter of your social life. It catches all of the stuff you’ve been avoiding or putting off. It is your March 31st.
So today, we preview some of your most likely opponents for the weekend. Odds are, you'll be facing at least one or two of these this weekend, so you may as well be prepared.
About Last Week:
Football. Which was somehow worse than this week’s opponents.
The Road Ahead:
Recap: A familiar rival. You have taken on this opponent in bits and pieces over previous weekends, but you didn’t get out there until 11:00 and then you came back in for a drink and the noon games had kicked off and then the Michigan game was on at 3:30 and then DAMN too dark to get back out there. Unfortunately, this has left you in a precarious state in which you still need to rake about 80% of the leaves, and you should probably mow the thing before winter, and your dream of turning that weedy dirt patch in the corner of the yard into, you know, grass, has hopelessly stalled for the second straight season.
This opponent is as frightening as: A standard MAC opponent. It probably won’t be pretty, and you may be left with the impression that you are half-assing it, but you can usually get enough done such as not to embarrass yourself too badly in front of your neighbors. Fear Level = 4
You should worry about: It is supposed to snow. And soon. So if you don’t score early in this one, there’s a decent chance nature will run out the clock.
You can sleep soundly about: It is supposed to snow. And soon. So if you fall behind in this one, who the hell cares it’ll be covered in snow and you won’t have to worry about it until like April. Polar Vortex FTW.
Current Line: Lawn -3
Pile of Papers on the Little Table
Recap: It started innocently enough. There was the renewal notice for Cat Fancy and the coupon for the restaurant you never visit but might visit some time because you have a coupon. So you put them on that little table in the corner of the kitchen or on the desk in the den so you could take care of them later. And now, four months later, the pile has become The Pile. You know there are some medical bills in there, and something sticking out of the pile (like three inches from the top) says “Second Notice.” The pile is a combination of the vital stuff you can’t lose and stuff you probably should have thrown away months ago. Somewhere in there is your passport, your Social Security card, and a spare checkbook. The pile is starting to lean precariously.
The preferred offensive strategy is to isolate the various elements and attack them piecemeal. Sort the pile into three separate groups: stuff you need to do right now, stuff you can throw away, and stuff that can wait but you probably shouldn’t throw away. Put that last subset in a nice neat pile, and put it somewhere where you will remember to take care of it soon. Like the little table in the corner of the kitchen.
This team is as frightening as: Michigan State. You know going in that you are going to face some matchup problems that you can’t solve. At some point, you have to acknowledge that defeat is inevitable, and that your opponent’s superiority is unlikely to lessen any time soon. Fear Level = 8
You should worry about: Seriously, one of these days they are going to shut off one of your services for non-payment. It might be your electricity. It might be Cat Fancy.
You can sleep soundly about: If it ever comes down to it, you know EXACTLY where all of your important stuff is. Is there anything so wrong with having all of your important papers in one place?
Current Line: Pile -7 (and the O/U of remaining pile height at the end of the weekend: 4 inches)
[AFTER THE JUMP – More stuff that is more fun than watching football]
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?]