About Last Week:
Penn State ran so much stuff that ALMOST worked.
The Road Ahead:
Wisconsin (4-0, 1-0 B1G)
Last week: Won at Michigan State, 30-6
Recap: This game wasn’t quite as lopsided as the score would indicate. The two teams finished roughly equal in terms of total yards and yards per play, and neither team could run the ball. Seven of Wisconsin’s points came off a 66-yard fumble return for a touchdown. The big difference in this game was the quarterbacks. Wisconsin got a sufficient level of quarterback play. Michigan State didn’t. That was the ballgame.
That’s not to say that Alex Hornibrook was fantastic. He was okay-to-good. He threw for 195 yards at 7.5 yards per attempt with a pick (albeit on a last-play-of-the-half Hail Mary type object), a lost fumble, and a 1-yard touchdown pass. He has a rather notable lack of arm strength; on the last play of the first half, Wisconsin had the ball on the MSU 37, and Hornibrook didn’t get the ball anywhere near the end zone. He struggled at other times to push the ball downfield with velocity.
That said, he managed the game well, hit the open receivers, put some balls into tight windows, and generally avoided mistakes. He looks much more comfortable than the guy he replaced, Bart Houston. Is it because Hornibrook has a better last name? Maybe. Probably.
This team is as frightening as: Bald Bull. A real opponent, but this ain’t Tyson. Fear Level = 8
Michigan should worry about: Michigan struggled up front with a 3-4 defenses in the UCF and Colorado games.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Wisconsin scored plenty in the Akron game. In their other three games, they have scored six offensive touchdowns. Those drives averaged a start on the opponent’s 47 yard line. It is unlikely they can string long drives together against Michigan’s defense. And Wisconsin ALSO ranks towards the bottom in the country in offensive explosiveness (#114, per Bill C)
When they play Michigan: Michigan wins.
This week: at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., ABC (Michigan -10.5)
[AFTER THE JUMP: The path looks clearer, with one terrifying exception]
About Last Week:
Life comes at you fast.
The Road Ahead:
Penn State (2-1, 0-0 B1G)
Last week: Beat Temple, 34-27
Recap: Everyone joked all off-season about Penn State getting a shot at a revenge game against Temple. Based on their reaction to beating a mediocre Temple team by a touchdown, Penn Staters didn’t seem to understand that we were doing so in a mocking sense. Then again, this shouldn’t be terribly surprising. After all, self-awareness has never been their strong suit.
Flowers, signs and balloons outside the stadium by where the Paterno statue was. pic.twitter.com/tMNYihUUSC
— Eric Adelson (@eric_adelson) September 17, 2016
This tidbit didn't make it into my Paterno column. Someone thought quoting MLK would a good idea on this billboard? pic.twitter.com/CahyEqlNkG
— Juliet Macur (@JulietMacur) September 17, 2016
From a football standpoint, Penn State had a mediocre day, largely because of the fact that the entire team exploded. Saquon Barkley missed much of the game with an ankle injury. Nyeem Wartman-White busted up his knee early, and will miss the rest of the season. This is on top of the fact that Jason Cabinba and Brandon Bell both missed the game with injuries, and their status going forward is unknown. The offensive line remains healthy, but continue to be not good (they were held to 3.1 yards per carry, though they did not surrender a sack).
This team is as frightening as: A team that has incurred the wrath of an angry Olmec deity by holding a ceremony to honor that deity’s nemesis, and the angry deity for some reason doesn’t buy the argument that “we weren’t honoring Xtapolapocetl, we were honoring all of the people who PLAYED for Xtapolapocetl.” Fear Level = 4
Michigan should worry about: Getting too close to Penn State whilst said Olmec deity is exacting his revenge.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Penn State is 9 of 33 on third down, which is 117th in the country. Michigan’s defense has allowed conversions on 4 of 38 third downs, best in the country.
When they play Michigan: Burn it all.
This week: at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., ABC (Michigan -19(!))
[AFTER THE JUMP: Several movie references that date me]
Author’s note: Last week featured some BAD football in the Big Ten. Michigan’s opponents played Pitt, North Carolina, and a pile of broken pottery and assorted dishwasher parts. We get paid off this week, though; Michigan State plays Notre Dame, Ohio State plays Oklahoma, Iowa plays North Dakota State, and (for fans of the Saw movie franchise) Rutgers plays New Mexico.
About Last Week:
Physics: fun for the whole family.
The Road Ahead:
Last week: Beat Idaho State, 56-7
Recap: Colorado did unspeakable things to Idaho State on Saturday. Really grizzly stuff. They held the Bengals to 96 total yards, including 61 yards passing on 41 attempts. That’s less than 1.5 yards per pass. I couldn’t remember if I’d ever seen a number that bad, and then I remembered that Eastern Michigan once threw 18 times for 4 yards against a MAC school. So, I guess it COULD be worse. But barely.
Offensively, Colorado scored touchdowns on seven of its eight first half drives. Quarterback Sefo Liufau racked up 384 total yards despite only playing one half.
Idaho State is bad. It’s as if beating Simon Fraser University in their opener 47-3 wasn’t worth anything. On the other hand, Colorado might be good.
This team is as frightening as:
— Colorado Football (@RunRalphieRun) September 13, 2016
A team that is moderately creative, but lacks the execution to spell “Axel Foley,” Olive Oyl,” or “Willy Wonka” correctly. Fear Level = 5.5
Michigan should worry about: There’s a chance Colorado can sneak in under Michigan’s radar.
Michigan can sleep soundly about:
— Colorado Buffaloes (@cubuffs) September 12, 2016
When they play Michigan: No tip up. Down. Knock down.
This week: at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., BTN
[AFTER THE JUMP: Into the Pitt]
About Last Week:
The Road Ahead:
UCF (1-0, 0-0)
Last week: Beat South Carolina State, 38-0
UCF’s 13-game winless streak came to an end in resounding fashion as they demolished South Carolina State. They outgained SCSU 466-223, and Justin Holman threw for 193 yards and two TDs at 6.9 yards per attempt.
This team is as frightening as: If you don't have something nice to say... Fear Level = they have a great personality
Michigan should worry about: Becoming complacent based on a massive superiority in size, speed, scheme, and overall football ability.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Despite being ostensibly a spread-to-run team, UCF only averaged 3.7 yards per carry against SCSU.
When they play Michigan: Hey, it’s football.
This week: Into the maw.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Everybody wins! Well, almost.]
Welcome back. After spending most of last week riding the struggle bus through blunder country, we return this week to examine the meat of Michigan’s schedule. The opponents in the back half of the season are of a much higher quality and level of consistency. Let’s take a look.
Wait… but you JUST said…
Hey, I know how this looks but IT WILL GET BETTER.
Yeah that’s what you said last week and now you’re leading with Illinois and we’re supposed to OOOH and AHHH like you just made the six of spades jump out of a rabbit’s ass and juggle flaming chainsaws
Look, I don’t make the schedule. Now do you want to hear about Illinois or not.
Does anyone ever want to hear about Illinois?
What if we throw in some suddenly-relevant Tim Beckman memories?
As you were.
Last year: 5-7 (2-6 B1G)
Recap: We won’t talk much about the football, because I promised Bolded Alter-Ego above that we wouldn’t dwell on this stuff. Sufficed to say that it was bad.
The Illini managed to make a competent-adjacent hire when by bringing in Lovie Smith. Smith isn’t quite the exciting new name, but he is an alum [EDIT - apprently he is not an alum. I just made that up] who might ignite a sense of “care somewhat” among the Illini fanbase. I have doubts about his ability to translate his game to the college level, but he’s a solid, reliable coach, and honestly, how much worse can it get?
When last we saw them: Michigan beat Illinois 45-0 in 2012, which still didn’t fully wash the taste of RichRod’s defenses surrendering 45, 38, and 65 points to the Illini in three consecutive years. Still, even with that, Michigan has won 41 of 47 against Illinois dating back to the beginning of the Bump Era.
Crootin’: Somewhat unsurprisingly, the situation recounted above was not conducive to an elite recruiting class. Illinois landed 25 commits, but only two were composite top-1000 (yes, that is the correct number of zeros), and none were in the top 700. Arguably their best recruit was Dele Harding, who you may remember as the guy who committed to Michigan because Dave Brandon got fired. 2016 rank: #71; 5-year ranking: #60
This team is as frightening as: A guy named “Lovie.” Fear Level = 3.5
Michigan should worry about: Dawuane Smoot continues the Illinois tradition of the Outstanding Defensive Players On Bad Illini Defenses, picking up the torch from the likes of Whitney Mercilus and Corey Liuget. Smoot is a natural pass-rusher, and possibly the best defensive end in the conference. Michigan’s left tackle situation is in flux. This could be problematic.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Poor Damn Mikey Dudek tore another ACL. Keep that man away from fork lifts. Also the defense loses everyone and probably will be bad. And Michigan gets a bye week leading into this game.
When they play Michigan: Illinois has a defensive tackle named “Chunky Clements.” I just thought you should know that.
Promised Beckman Memories:
First game: vs. Murray State, 3:30 p.m., BTN.
[AFTER THE JUMP. No I’m cereal this time, we’re getting to the good teams]
Greetings friends! We have been apart too long. Sorry, I meant to stop by for the thing, but I got busy and couldn't make it. Hope it went well. So, whatcha been up to?
As you may remember, every week we take a spirited jaunt through the Michigan schedule in an attempt to forage for useful information and hate-berries. The latter are plentiful. We just hope to scoop up a bit of the former in the process.
There has been no football yet, so for the next couple of weeks we're just going to take a quick overview of 2015 with a dash of a preview of the coming season. I also threw in some crootin' info, because what the hell. The bad news is that the first half of this preview is gonna be bleak. Not for Michigan, mind you. It's going to be a Bonus Area for Michigan, in which they will likely get to E. Honda hundred-hand slap the hell out of this lineup of old hatchbacks. But in terms of interest... yeah. Notsomuch.
About Last Year:
"Fans have a constitutional right to expect success and have high expectations" ~ James Joseph Harbaugh
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step" ~Lao Tzu
"That step better not be to the inside, son." ~Jehu Chesson, I'm assuming
The Road Ahead:
Last year: 3-10 (0-8 MWC)
Recap: As usual, Hawaii was outstanding. Temperatures remained almost exclusively in the 80- to 90-degree range. Diverse inhabitants, flora, and fauna. The Hawaiian culture is distinctive, yet each island has its own particular character. Really a must-see.
Oh, the football team? No. No no no. My bad. The football team was an abomination. 120th in the country in F+ rating. Purdue-esque offensive yards-per-play numbers (rushing, passing, and total) despite being in the Mountain West. Their only wins were against UC Davis, UL Monroe, and Colorado. They were outscored 463 to 229. It is no wonder Hawaii decided to pull the plug on the Norm Chow experience after three and a half seasons yielded an 11-39 record (with a 4-28 record in the MWC). Their new coach is some guy. His team will be bad for at least as two weeks, which is as long as it will matter for Michigan fans.
The good news for Hawaii is… uh… **shuffles papers**… ah, yes, here it is. They have a good punter. Rigoberto Sanchez averaged over 45 yards per punt last year. And… well… did I mention the weather?
When last we saw them: Michigan is 2-0 against Hawaii all-time, with a 17-point win in 1986 and a 31-point win in 1998.
Crootin’: Keep scrolling, champ. 2016 rank: #104; 5-year ranking: #100
This team is as frightening as: A gentle ocean breeze. Fear Level = 2
Michigan should worry about: Hawaii will have a game under its belt before they play Michigan. Only one team will be working through the first-game kinks and jitters, and it won’t be the Rainbow Warriors.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Sleep. Literally. Hawaii has to fly to actual damn dingo-ate-my-linebacker Australia (a 10+ hour flight) to open their season against Cal. Then they fly back to Hawaii (another 10+ hour flight). Then they fly to Michigan a couple of days later (another 9+ hours in the air), then they play Michigan at noon Eastern, which is 6:00 a.m. Hawaii time. So, you’ve got a group of gigantic humans who don’t fit in airplane seats to begin with, you’re asking them to spend three half-days in the air through eleventy six time zones in the week and a half before the game, and then asking them to play a Harbaugh team before their bodies think it is time for breakfast.
When they play Michigan: Hawaii’s quarterback might ‘accidentally’ Moxon their Athletic Director six or seven times during the game.
[AFTER THE JUMP: It doesn’t get much better]