...BiSB (AKA Bry_Mac, etc.).
I’ll also place actual 1-10 numbers to indicate relative level of infinite fear.
Can we get a quantum physicist and a metaphysician to weigh in on this concept, please?
NOTHING BAD HAPPENED. EVERYONE WAS ON VACATION.
More or less (h/t Seth)
Last game: Minnesota 43, San Jose St. 24 (W); Iowa 23, Minnesota 7 (L)
Recap: The Gophers are probably who we thought they were. They continued their streak of solid-but-unconvincing wins over bad opponents by beating San Jose State 43-24 despite giving up 296 yards passing… in the first half. The Spartans (NTS) totaled 439 yards passing to Minnesota’s 71, but Minnesota outgained them on the ground by over 300 yards and caused three key turnovers.
However, Minnesota’s dreams of mediocrity hit the wall hard last week against, uh, mighty Iowa (see also Noodle, Giant, infra). Philip Nelson came back from a pulled hammy and replaced Mark Leidner, but threw for only 135 yards (5.6 YPA) with two picks.
When asked why he replaced the marginally effective Leidner with even less effective Nelson, Jerry Kill explained that, “A guy loses his job if the other guy’s playing three times better than he was when he got hurt.” Personally, I think this is a mistake. Regardless of who takes the snaps, Minnesota is pretty much incapable of throwing the football, so they’re going to be one-dimensional regardless. If you're going to be one-dimensional, you should probably go with your best personnel in that dimension. And to me, Leidner is more dynamic. Not Denard-style dynamic, of course. More Tebow/Leroy Hoard/Defensive-End-with-an-impressive-fumble-return dynamic. But when you're facing stacked boxes (as Minnesota will all year), you may as well go with the guy who can break a few tackles.
This team is as frightening as*: Minnesota, circa all the years. Fear level = 3
* Author’s Note: In the most recent version of Opponent Watch, I may have replaced all of the fear levels with unreasonable numbers and abstract concepts. The factors that induced this change (i.e. the Akron Yackkening) continue to apply with equal, nay greater weight and force after the near-death experience against the Fightin’ Used-to-be-Pasqualonis. Until Michigan returns to something approaching form, assume all fear levels are “infinity times infinity.” However, I’ll also place actual 1-10 numbers to indicate relative level of infinite fear.
Michigan should worry about: The performance in this game probably tells us how the rest of the year goes. As a result, you’re going to experience the same every snap “oh god what does that three yard gain mean” feeling that you experienced with, say, Western Michigan ’09 or UConn ‘10. This is a terrible way to experience a mid-season game against Minnesota.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: This sets up as a really good matchup for Michigan, especially defensively. Gnashing of teeth and generic FEAR notwithstanding, this should be an ego booster.
When they play Michigan: Move thee away from the nose, Jibreel. Large men comin’
Next game: vs. #17/19 Michigan
Lovely day for a game (AP/John Beale)
Last game: Penn State 34, Kent State 0 (W)
Recap: We probably didn’t learn anything about Penn State in the last two weeks. Penn State beat the Golden Flashes comfortably and outgained them by a bajillion, though Hackenberg struggled (13/35, 176 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT). Allen Robinson didn’t do much for the first time in a long time, but poor weather and blowout-against-Kent-State caveats probably apply.
One encouraging sign from Penn State’s standpoint was the eptitude (that’s the opposite, right?) on 3rd down. Seven of eighteen is worlds better than their previous four games.
This team is as frightening as: How can I still have no idea? I dunno, but I dunno. Fear level = 6.5
Michigan should worry about: If you give Hackenberg a clean pocket and some safe throws, he can probably Good Tommy Rees his way down the field. Penn State’s line seems capable of giving him that pocket, so it’ll be up to Mattison to make him uncomfortable. This will be an RPS game.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Despite recent news about the gradual return of some of Penn State’s previously-eliminated scholarships, Penn State is still short-handed for the time being. They are also still starting a true freshman quarterback who hasn’t seen much in the way of a Mattisonian defense.
When they play Michigan: Probably not this. But if there’s a bad time for this picture, I don’t know it.
Picture is unrelated. Like you care.
Next game: at Indiana
When do helmets become helmetz? At about this point. (Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY)
Last game: Missouri 45, Indiana 28 (L)
Recap: Bummer loss for Indiana, even if it was to an ESS EEE SEE team. They were hanging around until late in the first half, when a touchdown and a pick-six put them down 14 at the half. They never really threatened to make it close again. True to script, Indiana was pretty good on offense (475 yards), but abysmal on defense (623 yards. They gave up 8 drives of 50+ yards, and couldn’t make up for three Nate Sudfeld interceptions despite causing 3 first-half turnovers of their own. Sudfeld was actually lifted for Tre Roberson, who went 8/14 for 148 and a TD (10.6 YPA).
As we mentioned last time, this game was huge for Indiana’s bowl hopes. If they don’t knock off one of Penn State or MSU in the next two weeks, they’ll be squarely behind the 8-ball, which will promptly throw for several scores despite being a billiard ball.
This team is as frightening as: The flu. Probably not a serious threat to you if you're in good shape, but there's always that small chance you'll sh*t yourself. Fear level = 4
Michigan should worry about: Indiana is throwing for a hair under 350 yards per game, 8th best in the country. They can probably keep Michigan in a nickel for most of the game, and Michigan’s corners don’t look unbeatable.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Michigan gets Indiana at home, and on the heels of games of their trip to East Lansing. Sixty minutes of unnecessary carrying-this-pathetic-offense-on-our-backs can take a toll on any offense. Plus Indiana receiver Cody Latimer will be slowed by the weight of the Darquez Dennard still wrapped up in his away jersey.
When they play Michigan: We might see more Tre Roberson, we might not. But truth be told, I don’t think that’s going to matter much. It’s the defense that is Indiana’s problem right now, and it is… problematic.
Next game: vs. Penn State
Last game: Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 13 (L)
Recap: The worst parts about fandom often have nothing to do with games involving your favorite team. Sometimes it means you have to watch terrible football because of the tangential effect on your team. Exhibit A: this game.
If you didn’t watch the game, don’t worry, you already saw it. It was every Michigan State game for the last year and a half. Michigan State’s defense played extremely well, but was not able to make up for a dreadful offense, and as a result they lost a close game. The teams combined for 474 yards (which, coincidentally, was Denard Robinson’s average total yardage against ND in 2010-2011. By himself.).
Many Michigan State fans complained about the officiating, and their complaints were both well-founded and misdirected. They complained about several pass interference calls, some of which were legit, some of which were terrible. But they overlooked the fact that Darquez Dennard was basically an oversized backpack on ND’s wide receivers all day. Exhibit A:
That’s a body-turning jam 15 yards downfield, a handful of jersey for the last 10 yards, and a hand in the chest before the ball gets there, and Dennard never turns his head. This is obvious beyond obvious. This was not called. The refs apparently had no idea what pass interference was, as they just kinda called it randomly. But it goes both ways, and probably worked out as a wash.
Now, if you want to complain, how about the fact that Notre Dame didn’t commit a single holding penalty all game. In fact, they haven’t held anybody in the last four weeks. They’ve only held one person all year, and that was during a throwaway drive at the end of the Temple game, presumably by a backup. What discipline those Irish have. What technique. What absolute body control.
Dantonio did make two really curious decisions in this game. The first was to call a running back pass with RJ Shelton late in the third quarter when the score was tied. The idea of a trick play itself was probably bad, as they were finally starting to move the ball, and the most likely scenario is that you’re just burning a down, with the downside significantly higher than the upside. The bigger problem was that the play was poorly designed and run at an inopportune time; it was on a jet motion with play action behind it, which by its nature keeps the defenders from committing; the handoff took place within a yard of the line of scrimmage, so to create enough room to throw, Shelton had to retreat almost immediately (a dead giveaway); and they ran it with two-high safeties 15 yards off the ball, one of whom was going to have to actively try to not be where that route was going.
The other curious decision was pulling Connor Cook for Andrew Maxwell on the very last drive. Maxwell promptly went 0-3 for 0 yards, and took off running for the sideline on 4th and 20 (he gained 8 yards). Talk about taking a “eh, tough loss but there’s plenty to take from this game,” and turning it into a “QB CAROUSEL YIPEE.”
This team is as frightening as: A Middle Ages-era knight in full plate armor. Slow-moving on the attack, but really sound defensively. He's standing between you and the bridge. HAVE AT YOU... Fear level = 7
Michigan should worry about: Jeremy Langford. Despite the good laugh we all got at MSU’s running back situation, Langford has actually looked pretty good, and the line has given him juuuuuust enough room to have (limited, limited) success. Also, that defense.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Michigan State is showing no signs of recognition that Langford is better than Nick Hill.
When they play Michigan: Don’t turn the ball over and you win this game.
Next game: at Iowa (caution: NSFW)
Last game: Nebraska 59, SDSU (NTSDSU) 20 (W)
Recap: You may remember South Dakota State as the “13 seed that’s gonna knock off a 4 seed” from last year’s NCAA tournament (spoiler: they didn’t). However, they also have a football team, and that football team actually led Nebraska 17-14 in the first quarter before Nebraska ripped off many many points to pull away. Taylor Martinez didn’t play because of turf toe, but backup QBs Tommy Armstrong Jr, Ron Kellogg III, and Henry the VII picked up the slack and let Nebraska to 645 yards of offense.
Of course, the defense did a little sucking. SDSU put up 465 yards, and Jackrabbit running back Zach Zenner ran for 202 yards on 21 carries. Zenner is a quality back, but c’mon, Nebraska. Tackle someone.
This team is as frightening as: Hey there again, 2010 Michigan... Fear Level = 7
Michigan should worry about: That offense.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: That defense.
When they play Michigan: Bo Pelini will yell at something. Probably something that doesn't deserve to be yelled at. Like a fan or a goalpost or a water jug or something. Don't point out to him that he's yelling at a water jug. He'll yell at you.
Next game: vs.
South Dakota State Illinois
Last game: Northwestern 35, Maine 21 (W)
Recap: Hey, look… a Legends team without HUGE GIANT GLARING weaknesses. Think about it:
Northwestern has some flaws, but they have a functional offense, a functional defense, and they haven’t been prone to incomprehensible implosions. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
Northwestern is the second-highest ranked team in the B1G, and they have played most of the season without Venric Mark (who is rumored to be returning this weekend). They are hosting Gameday this weekend as Ohio State comes to Evanston. We live in heady times.
This will be one of those strained allegiances games for Michigan fans. You want Ohio State to win because Northwestern is Michigan’s biggest competition in the Legends. You want Northwestern to win because of all the other reasons. I fault no one for their rooting interests in this game.
This team is as frightening as: An ominous horoscope right before a dentist’s appointment. By habit, you tend to disregard it, but there’s a pretty good chance you’re gonna feel some pain. Fear level = 8
Michigan should worry about: We don’t really have much new information, so we default back to UNSTOPPABLE THROW GOD TREVOR SIEMIAN.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Northwestern doesn’t appear to have taken a significant step forward defensively this year. They’re probably better than they were, but the secondary remains very beatable, and they just aren’t what you’d consider “disruptive.”
When they play Michigan: Ball security won’t be enough here. Michigan will need to score, and score a bunch.
Next game: vs. #4 Ohio State
Last game: Iowa 59, Western Michigan 3 (W); Iowa 23, Minnesota 7 (W)
Recap: Iowa sorta showed a pulse over the last couple of weeks, walloping Western Michigan and thoroughly manhandling Minnesota. Somehow Iowa got away with their “don’t give anyone but your graduating senior quarterback” plan from last year, as Jake Ruddock has emerged as a pretty solid option. He’s not flashy (even by Iowa standards), but he has actually shown a willingness and moderate ability to run. When’s the last time you could say that about Iowa? Brad Banks?
The Iowa defense is statistically quite good, and will get better statistically this weekend because they take on Michigan State. This game may be punishment because the Big Ten was built on top of an old cemetery, but they only moved the headstones. The O/U is 38.5, which is the lowest number of the week. I think it might be the lowest number since the invention of the forward pass. And it still feels a little high. So, as a way of making up for missing last week’s Opponent Watch, I agree to watch this game in its entirety and report back what I saw. No need to expose yourself to… that. And for the love of god, keep children at a safe distance.
This team is as frightening as: A giant noodle. With a sinister moustache. And a hockey mask.
Fear Level = 5
Michigan should worry about: Strange things happen at Kinnick. Remember Borges forgetting how a Denard works in ‘11? Remember Tate forgetting how everything works in ‘09? Remember Michigan forgetting how punt protection works in ‘03?
Michigan can sleep soundly about:
When they play Michigan: Trying to think of something amusing for this section just hurts my head right now. It will probably be a brutal affair, win or lose.
Next game: vs. Michigan State
Last game: Ohio State 76, FAMU 0 (W); Ohio State 31, Wisconsin 24 (W)
Recap: Ohio State played two games. One was competitive. One was… not.
Wisconsin definitely put a scare into the Buckeyes. The difference in the game was that Wisconsin made several big mistakes, and Ohio State played a pretty clean game. Ohio State actually seems like a pretty fundamentally sound team, with one exception: tackling. Hitting is fun and all, but try wrapping up.
In one particularly surprising and gratifying development, Jared Abbrederis made Bradley Roby look absolutely terrible. To compound matters, OSU lost starting safety Christian Bryant to a broken ankle, which is a big blow to their back four.
This team is as frightening as: Clowns. Fear level = 9
Michigan should worry about: Ohio State has won nine of the last ten games against Michigan.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Michigan has won the last one consecutive home games against Ohio State.
When they play Michigan: Let’s play two in a row. What the hell.
Next game: at Northwestern
Last game: Toledo 38, CMU 17 (L), NC State 48, CMU 14 (L)
Recap: Not good. Not good at all.
Next game: at Miami (NTM)
Last game: Notre Dame 17, Michigan State 13 (W); Oklahoma 35, Notre Dame 21 (L)
Recap: Against Michigan State, Tommy Rees unleashed his inner Rex Grossman, throwing the ball downfield at every opportunity (including TV timeouts and during the halftime show). Against Oklahoma, Tommy Rees unleashed his inner Tommy Rees, throwing three picks, including two on his first three plays (one of which was returned for a touchdown).
If you’re looking for a flash of good news in the whole Transitive Property of Football thing, Michigan probably outplayed Notre Dame by more than did Oklahoma. But at this point, you reeeeeally don't want to go down the TPF path. It leads to doom and Towson.
Next game: at Arizona State
Last game: Louisiana Lafayette 35, Akron 30 (L); Bowling Green 31, Akron 14 (L)
Next game: vs. Ohio
Last game: Buffalo 41, UConn 12 (L)
Recap: Michigan apparently cost Paul Pasqualoni his job. BOOM, narrative’d.
Next game: vs. USF
...BiSB (AKA Bry_Mac, etc.).
I’ll also place actual 1-10 numbers to indicate relative level of infinite fear.
Can we get a quantum physicist and a metaphysician to weigh in on this concept, please?
Although not qualified, I was banking on the possibility that the fear factor could at least be estimated by the following:
Fear Factor = (# of turnovers by Michigan)! - (rushing YPC on inside runs)^(avg. yards allowed per snap), all of this divided by the number of called QB keepers.
There are sets with different sizes (cardnalities) that are all infinite. Also, there are two whole different "kinds" of infinity - countable (I can count the points MSU will put up this - and it's unlikely to be infinity but if it was I could still count it) and uncountable (I cannot count how terrible that MSU v. Notre Dame game was - even with infinite numbers, I will still be missing some part of that crap fest).
You're going to be disappointed to learn that the answer is still "infinity."
But if the two infinities you're multiplying are the same size of infinities, then the result is also that same size. Whereas if one of the starting infinities is "bigger" than the other, then the result is the "same size" as whichever one was bigger to start with.
As to what "infinity plus one" means, that leads us into ordinal numbers, which are a different kind of infinity entirely. And at this point, my head explodes too.
(Also, a quick plug for the book Everything And More, by Our Fearless Leader's favorite DFW, from which I learned all this. An easy, enjoyable, and informative read.)
Is basically this, you say a number, and I have to beat you with a higher number, right?
Me: Infinity plus one
You: [pissed off I escalated shit this quickly] blurts out INFINITY PLUS TWO!
Me: You don't realize, that since I called out "Infinity plus one," before you so rudely shouted "INFINITY PLUS TWO!" right in my face, that my "plus one" supercedes your "plus two," hence causing my number to equal Infinity plus three, and so on and so fourth.
*This may not be actual fact, but I have won many arguments this way with my much more mathematically challenged friends.
Fear factor in fandom terms means struggling against teams not named The University of Ohio State University, which is apparently a new constellation in the Ohio universe of world class universities. See Akron, which joined the pantheon of first-time losers to Michigan, but only after this no name (The Zips, afterall) Ohio school couldn't convert first and goal from the one with two plays in the final seconds of their Big House exhibition.
Not sure that either the Knights who say Narduzzi or the purple-clad spread-happy bunch from the onetime doormat and now doorstop along Lake Michigan with the best qb tandem outside Columbus ought to be taken lightly, even in the silliest of suggested possibility. These are real tests.
Agreeably, Nebraska is just defensively offensive until their defense prevents some offense from being very offensive. Hopefully, Big Red hasn't stopped blackshirt bleeding and still hemorraging Pelini rants as well as Maize and Blue points in November. Playing the Huskers after last year's disaster in Lincoln, is like taking your SAT again because you were too jacked up the first time around.
As for Iowa, who wants to go to that Kinnick corn maze a week before a visit from the Evil Empire and their wizard of ID? It's like going to your relative's petting farm and everyone there expecting you to work for food? This will be no easy chore.
Meantime, during the next three weeks while contemplating another bye before dishing up more grumpy Dantonio pie, the TEAM bus heads for bloodlust bro fest along the Red Cedar River erector set levee, while all the good ole boys fueled by whisky and rye, wonder why Cook and Maxwell can't drive an offense in their Langford-propelled Green and White Chevy.
Take solace from imbibing from the Little Brown jug, a juggernaut pace car startup to the B1G season and prelude to a Happy Valley journey and Crimson and clover visit from another Halloween program whose offense is not as scary as their defense.
All in all, you could be 4-0 and feeling like things have been breaking bad --until now.
"Relative levels of infinite fear" - love it
I vote "yes".
+googolplex to you.
This is one of my all-time favorite BiSB quotes. LOVE IT.
Nice work as usual.
Actually....OSU did not officially win all of those games.
Nebraska must be psyched that they're playing two games in a row against SDSU.
Truth be told, I'm not sure who they'd rather face between SDSU and Illinois.
Never gets old.
Michigan probably outplayed Notre Dame by more than.... WHAT?!?!? MUST. KNOW.
sure are awful (5-14).
And Michigan struggled while playing 3 of the 4.
Buck-tooth rodents ahead.
Somebody hold me.
Michigan struggled in 2 of the four.
And the entire team never had a melt down. Shall I refresh your memory?
1. CMU - Demolished a MAC team like M should.
2. ND - Dominated on both sides of the ball. The defense played the perfect game for the gameplan they were instructed to do. Offense and DG played on all cylinders. DG hit NFL windows with regularity.
3. Akron - Full team emotional let down game. Defense probably couldn't get out of ND's gameplan, playing bend but don't break, when in reality, they should have played a much more attacking style defense. I would say this game was 1/2 defense, 1/4 offense, and 1/4 coaching.
4. uCONN - Defense played the best game all year. Period. You have a Bolden (True Soph.) mistake cause a TD, who really probably shouldn't get as much run as he does. The other two TD's are entirely on the offense. uCONN didn't crack 200 yards until their last play. You can most definitely attribute more points we gave up against CMU to the defense, than you can for uCONN.
We pretty much have an interior offensive line issue. DG will clean up his act. He will not have a game anywhere near as bad as the last two for the rest of his Michigan Career. You can mark that up. And out interior O-Line is actually better than last year, IMO. The reason we are making a change right now is because we actually have someone who can make it better. Unlike last year when our best option was a true freshman that we will all be happy RS'd.
FYI, I am not yelling at you. I have been wanting to speak my mind for a while now, on the performance of this team & how our fan base is reacting to it.
It all falls apart at UCONN.
ND was an epic win for the ages as game hangovers go. I kinda actually understand the Akron game. It was probably my worst game as a fan too. All of us still had our heads in the clouds.
If Michigan had come out against UCONN and taken care of business, we'd be back in focus.
But we got exposed against UCONN. Even if our heads were completely in the game. We've got flaws that can't be reasoned away. The O's combination of a leaky line and a QB with the yips is trouble. The D looks OK, but not OK enough to bail out the O.
The Minny game is pivotal. Can the O line show a pulse and DG settle down to at least stop the multiple turnovers? If not, this will be the third game in a row where we will be saying "if you look really really close, it wasn't really quite as bad as it looked".
IMO people have over-reacted to that game. 2 Plays entirely changed the game. If the punt doesn't bounce off Jones' leg, 7 points come off the board. If DG doesn't fumble the QB sneak (or that play isn't called), 7 points come off the board. Then the final score is a lot less sweaty 24-7 victory.
Now, I will give you that it is UCONN and we should have won that game by 35 points at least. I am not blind to the teams flaws, I just don't believe they are as gaping as the fanbase is making them out to be. Mistakes are like fumble recoveries. They are made, but the outcome/result after a mistake can vary in severity. The mistakes the team are making are resulting in the worst possible ways right now. A return to the mean is to be expected.
I am entirely with you on this. Do people really think that last year's OLine was that much better than this? The center was hardly a center, Barnum and Omameh each had strengths, but each had glaring weaknesses. The 2012 line still manhandled weaker opponents, as the current guys did in game 1 this year. They lit up Illinois, Purdue, Minn, Iowa in 2012. Now our tackles are a year more mature. Glasgow and Kalis I think are not dramatically worse than Barnum and Omameh.
A few early drive conversions in both the Akron and UConn games, and the games get out of hand quickly, the cupcake surrenders, and we're all oogling our top 10 ranking. But sometimes shit happens - in this case the shit is endless freaking turnovers.
I am not saying we don't have issues, just that they are overstated. Akron and UConn were as much about psychology as talent. Unfortunately, my bad driving on the golf course is a psychological problem I've never been able to solve.
I hope you're right, but I bet that DG has at least two more games like that this season alone. He turned the ball over in HS and he's continued to do that at the next level. He is who he is.
It would help immensely if we could generate a real running game with the RBs.
Just for reference, the following week after Nebraska let him run for over 200 yards on 21 carries, SDSU's running back was held to 4 yards on 8 carries by North Dakota State.
But he's still averaging 7.5 YPC. And NDSU is actually pretty damn good.
Against MSU, we can sleep soundly about how our defense's ability to keep MSU's offense from scoring googobs of points, but we should worry about how our offense's ability to keep MSU's defense from scoring googobs of points.
Pimpkins, Q Wash, Henry, and Biggs to have great UFR points this week.
Biggs, as in Red Three/Luke Skywalker's wingman?
No way Biggs Darklighter is a DLineman. Maybe a slot receiver.
Bowling Green is not spectacular, but they are in position to win the MAC this year. Akron led at the half. They put together a long drive in the 3rd-4th quarter that resulted in a missed 19-yard field goal that would have made it 24-17 with twelve minutes left.
Closer game than would appear at first glance.
"Northwestern has some flaws, but they have a functional offense, a functional defense, and they haven’t been prone to incomprehensible implosions. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king."
"They say in the land of the blind, the man with one eye is king, well in the land of the skunk the man with half a nose is king!"
because of the Northwestern factor, but also because I really want them to come to A2 undefeated. Nothing more satisfying than ending a Buckeyes perfect season
9 plays, 45 yds, PUNTOSAURUS LOL!
The keys to beating MSU and ohio will be getting the refs who called the STAEE/ND game. If we can rack up 60-75 yards of pass interference penalties against Darqueze and Roby (who did the same thing to Abredaris that Dennard did to ND), we've got a shot.
I thought that losing Heiko for this piece would spell the end of it. You have taken it to another level (no disrespect to Heiko). It is now my favorite regular football post on this blog. UFRs would be the favorite if they had not become so painful to read.
The game in Evanston this week, I hate to say it, but it's a win-win situation. NU wins, OSU loses. NU loses, B1G's rep goes up as does its bid for a NC. Oh, and NW has one more B1G loss than we do.