About last week:
British comedy is taking over MGoBlog. Such are the times in which we live.
I know I don’t normally opine on such things. I know I’m usually the snark guy. I just want to speak my piece, and I’ll return to character.
There is a legal concept called res ipsa loquitur, which is Latin for "the thing itself speaks." The idea is that usually when you sue someone, you have to explain what the person did wrong. But there are some times when the thing that happens is so obviously wrong that the blame speaks for itself. If you take your car in for an oil change, and while it's there the car gets pregnant, you don't have to know WHAT the mechanic did wrong to know that he screwed something up.
I've got a dozen specific complaints about the game plan, personnel use, and play calling from Saturday, but I don't need them. Rushing for negative yardage against this defense speaks for itself. This was probably the worst statistical game from the running back position in the history of Michigan football, and came against a team that EVERY OTHER TEAM has found a way to bludgeon on the ground. Does it matter any more whether the problem is one of scheme, specific playcalling, predictability, player prep, or the general bloodymindedness of the universe? Anyone who takes the players available, along with the information available, and produces *THAT* has failed in some fundamental aspect of his job. The details are of secondary concern. Can ANYONE come up with a theory by which the team that entered fall camp could end up where it is without massive, widespread failures by the individuals responsible for crafting an offense? I’m really asking.
Okay, I’m done. On with the snark.
Line of Scrimmage (3-1259, 2-688 B1G)
Last game: Defeated Michigan by 21 yards.
Recap: Two weeks ago, the Line of Scrimmage put up its first B1G conference win. One week later, it scored its first ever home victory. As a result, this week it is riding its first ever winning streak. It’s a good time to be that thin blue line.
The final margin (48 yards) was larger two weeks ago in East Lansing, but last week’s win was far more unlikely and impressive. Saddled with a Nebraska’s defense that was giving up about 200 yards per game on the ground, most expected the imaginary transverse line separating the offense from the defense to be an afterthought. Instead, it stood tall.
The LOS got the goose-egg off its back in 2003, when Oregon held Michigan to -3 yards rushing at Autzen Stadium in Eugene.
This team is as frightening as: Don’t let that .002% all-time winning percentage fool you. This is a shortest-distance-between-two-points on the rise. Fear level = 8
Michigan should worry about: The LOS’s winning streak has been keyed by sacks. Without them, Forward Motion would have squeaked by with narrow wins the last two weeks.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: The LOS is an imaginary line, and therefore has no physical ability to affect the world around it.
When they play Michigan: Watch for the LOS to implement a new non-Euclidian approach, permitting it to attack the running game in multiple directions.
Next game: vs. Poor Damn FitzDevin Gardnerssaint
[AFTER THE JUMP: Actual opponents]
Northwestern (4-5, 0-5 B1G)
Last game: BYE
Recap: In its best showing of the conference season, Northwestern sat at home on Saturday. Unfortunately, that also means they outgained Michigan on the ground and picked up a half-game on the Wolverines in the standings.
The one big piece of news to come out of Chicago-ish is that mighty mite Venric Mark is out for the year. This is bad for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Mark is apparently going to apply for (and will probably receive) a 5th year of eligibility. So we get to face him again next year, probably when Northwestern isn’t a heaping wreck.
In a lot of ways, Michigan and Northwestern are similar this year. Pre-season favorite in the Bo Division who got off to encouraging starts before WATCH OUT FOR THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. Both collapses were led by increasingly confounded offenses
This team is as frightening as: What happens when you push a flaming dumpster into a tire fire? You don’t know, do you? Well, neither do I, though I can’t imagine it improves things for either the dumpster or for the tires. Fear level = 4
Michigan should worry about: THEY WILL BLITZ YOU THROUGH THE A-GAP. Indianarduzzi Jones solved the mystery of the final challenges, and now everyone knows that they can pretty much walk straight through and get to the guy who looks and feels like he’s 800 years old. PLEASE BE READY FOR THIS.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Holy crap, a team that looks more discombobulated than Michigan. Shhh… don’t scare it away. Such things are rare to find in nature.
When they play Michigan: Find me two teams more disappointing than Michigan and Northwestern this year. Or two teams even close to as disappointing as Michigan and Northwestern. And make them play a football game. And then watch it. Doesn’t sound like much fun, now, does it?
Next game: vs. Michigan
Ennui (“Who Cares”, “Records are Stupid” B1G)
Last game: Ennui >9,000, Michigan 6 (L)
Recap: I’d recap last week’s loss, but eh.
This team is as frightening as: That feeling that nothing really matters. Fear Level = Existential
Michigan should worry about:
Michigan can sleep soundly about:
When they play Michigan: Every week. Every week.
Next game: @ Woodbridge High School (Woodbridge, VA)
Iowa (6-4, 3-3 B1G)
Stanzi and Leman approve (USA Today)
Last game: Iowa 38, Purdue 14 (W)
Recap: In a shockingly predictable result, Iowa pistol-whipped Purdue. The Hawkeyes put up over 300 yards on the ground at over 6.1 yards per carry. Jordan Canzeri led the way with 165 yards on 20 carries. Redshirt freshman Austin Appleby saw his first snaps as Purdue’s
poor bastard quarterback, completing 5 of 6 passes for 68 yards and a potential BoilerQuest-busting touchdown. Jake Rudock threw for two touchdowns, and Purdue sucks so I’m done breaking this game down.
This game almost certainly left Kirk Ferentz sad. Iowa only got to punt TWICE, well below Ferentz’s previous career low of, I dunno, probably 8 or 9.
This team is as frightening as: Right now, I’m somewhat envious of the boredom and stability of the Giant Noodle.
Fear Level = 6
Michigan should worry about: Iowa has played 10 games with THREE healthy running backs: Canzeri, Weisman, and Bullock. None of them are fantastic, but the fact that they remain unsmited probably indicates an unfortunate change in the very makeup of the Earth. Like in that movie where the Earth’s core stopped spinning and Stanley Tucci had to restart it using nuclear weapons and a subway car. And if the Earth’s core stops spinning, that would be problematic for Michigan going forward.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Iowa’s most impressive win remains Minnesota, and before Purdue they had lost three of four, with that one win being a home overtime win over winless-in-the-B1G Northwestern.
When they play Michigan: Sigh.
Next game: BYE
Oh God We Have To Play Ohio State (9-0, 5-0 B1G)
Last game: BYE
Recap: Despite the bye, a number of things happened this weekend that might improve Michigan’s prospects for an upset win over Ohio State:
Braxton Miller was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. Rumors are that he refused to shave his sideburns.
Ryan Shazier has been hypnotized to believe he is a giant chicken.
Kenny Guiton consumed too much nerve tonic, and is now suffering with a tricky bout of gigantism.
Adolphus Washington fell into a bottomless pit at the Toledo Mystery Spot.
Bradley Roby was knocked out in a bar fight over the greatest British Prime Minister.
Carlos Hyde was arrested for all of the unsolved crimes in Columbus.
Michigan remains an underdog.
This team is as frightening as: I hear and feel nothing. Fear Level = 9.5
Michigan should worry about: Home games are apparently no longer made of magic pixie dust and unicorns.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: It’ll all be over soon.
When they play Michigan: Please don’t get blown to smithereens…
Next game: @ Illinois
Objects in the Rearview Mirror:
Central Michigan (3-6, 2-3 MAC)
Last game: Ball State 44, Central Michigan 24 (L)
Recap: Central baaaaaaaaaad.
Next game: @ Western Michigan
Notre Dame (7-3 overall)
Never Forget (USA Today)
Last game: Pitt 28, Notre Dame 21
Recap: You want a sentence that will screw with Michigan fans’ emotions in like eleven ways? Well, try this one on for size: ACC Defensive Back of the Week Ray Vinopal intercepted Tommy Rees twice on consecutive passes.
Notre Dame outgained Pitt by more than a hundred yards, but they turned the ball over three times and fell to a Pitt team coming off losses to Navy and Georgia Tech. Rees did throw for 318 yards and two touchdowns, but something tells me that won’t be the focus of Notre Dame fans.
On one hand, this makes Michigan’s season look even worse (because that was totally possible). On the bright side, this game did produce my favorite Brian Kelly quote of all time: “our mantra is you can't start winning until you stop losing”. I’ve run the numbers, and he’s right.
Next game: BYE
Akron (3-7, 2-4 MAC)
Last game: BYE
Next game: @ UMass
UConn (0-8, 0-4 AAC)
Last game: Louisville 31, UConn 10
Recap: UConn has now faced three ranked teams this year. They lost by scores of 62-17, 31-10, and 24-21.
Next game: @ SMU
Minnesota (8-2, 4-2 B1G)
Last game: Minnesota 24, Penn State 10 (W)
Recap: Minnesota scored on all four of their first four possessions of the first half, including touchdown drives of 96, 70, and 74 yards, en route to a 24-10 halftime lead and ultimately a 24-10 victory. David Cobb rushed for 139 yards on 27 carries, which is 112 yards more than one might expect. Maxx Williams only caught two passes, but one was a touchdown, and his 48 yards led Minnesota.
Minnesota has eight wins, which in and of itself is unexpected. But think about this: today is November 14th, and there is a very real scenario in which Minnesota’s game with Michigan State on November 30th could be for the Legends division title. They would need to beat Wisconsin, Michigan State would need to lose to Nebraska this weekend, and Nebraska would need to fall to Penn State or Iowa… but it’s there. Good on ya, Jerry Kill.
Next game: vs. Penn State
Penn State (5-4, 2-3 B1G)
Last game: Minnesota 24, Penn State 10 (L)
Recap: Well Michigan’s loss in Happy Valley is just looking worse and worse. To date, Penn State’s only other conference win is an overtime home win over Illinois.
Allen Robinson broke the Penn State single-season receiving record. He’s currently at 1,106 yards, passing Bobby Engram, though he wasn’t a huge factor in this game.
Next game: @ Minnesota
Indiana (4-5, 2-3 B1G)
This man is a Big Ten coach. (AP)
Last game: Indiana 52, Illinois 35 (W)
Recap: Talk about going by the script. Indiana put up 650 yards… and gave up 612 yards. Illinois actually led this game midway through the 3rd quarter before Indiana scored 31 points in the span of five drives. The Hoosiers did more of their damage on the ground with 371 yards, while Scheelhaase threw for 450 yards. This game featured five punts out of 27 drives. Somewhere the Zooker felt a deep disturbance in the Force.
Indiana is still a longshot to make a bowl game, bit they remain a billion times more fun to watch than other teams that shall remain nameless
Next game: @ Wisconsin
Michigan State (6-1, 3-0 B1G)
Last game: Bye
Recap: Michigan State’s bye week went about as poorly as possible. Their only quality-adjacent win, Michigan, dropped a big ol’ turd, and their only loss, Notre Dame, fell to Pitt. They are currently outside the BCS Top 14. Kirk Cousins is outraged.
Their game with Nebraska this week is basically for the Legends crown. And there was much ennui throughout the land.
Next game: @ Nebraska