The second worst thing about the Big Ten expanding to 14 teams (worst: Rutgurs, Obviously) is that there is simply not enough room on the schedule to spend a lot of time facing off against the other half of the conference. Even with the upcoming 9-game conference schedule there are a number of teams that aren't going to seem very familiar when they roll into Michigan Stadium once a decade. None of this is news, exactly, but when I sat down to figure out when the soonest I could invite my Purdue graduate friend to see our teams play at Michigan Stadium (answer: Literally never.), I realized just how bad some of the gaps are.
For the younger folks that don't remember when the helmets were made out of leather, tickets cost a nickel, and Michigan played Minnesota every year, here is an introduction to the teams of the Big Ten West.
Illinois Fighting Illini
Who are they? Michigan's greatest rival. Wait, what? That's what I'm being told.
When did we last play? 2012 at Michigan. Michigan won 45-0. Mostly because Denard did what Denard does.
When will we play next? 2016 @ Michigan.
Gap between games: 4 years
Gap between games at Michigan Stadium: 4 years.
Worst Part: You bought that Blue-and-Orange "Muck Fichigan" t-shirt, but it's only going to be relevant once in your entire college life.
Best Part: It's cool man. You're gonna wear it to every game anyhow.
Who are they? IOWA! Idiots Out Walkin' Around!
When did we last play? 2013, at Iowa. Michigan lost 24-21, thanks to a furious rally led by some guy named Jake Rudock. Never heard of him.
When did we last play at Michigan Stadium? 2012.
When will we play next? 2016 @ Iowa.
When will we play next at Michigan? 2019.
Gap between games: 3 years
Gap between games at Michigan Stadium: 7 years
Bold Prediction: There's, like, a 85% chance that Kirk Ferentz's desiccated corpse will still be coaching the team when we host them in 2019.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Who are they? That school that can't seem to get the Block M quite right. Come on, guys. Even Missouri can do it.
When did we last play? 2014, at Michigan. Michigan lost, I guess? I don't really remember... I was drinking that year.
When will we play next? This year, at Minnesota.
When will we play next at Michigan? 2017.
Gap between games: 1 year.
Gap between games at Michigan Stadium: 3 years
Best Part: fewer matchups gives school officials more time to figure out where to keep putting scores on the Jug.
Worst Part: Fewer opportunities to quote Bill Murray's gopher-killing lines from Caddyshack.
Who are they? One of the most storied programs in college football history, woo'd away from the Big 12 to join the Big Ten, where they've cranked out 4-loss seasons like clockwork.
When did we last play? 2013 at Michigan. Michigan lost 17-13, rushing for -21 yards on 36 attempts. Devin Gardener will be telling his therapist about this game. Not now. When he's ready.
When will we play next? 2018 at Michigan.
Gap between games: 5 years
Gap between games at Michigan Stadium: 5 years.
Bold Prediction: We're going to miss the entire Mike Riley era.
Who are they? A nice little school outside Chicago that lets Michigan play a home game there now and then.
When did we last play? 2014 at Northwestern. Michigan won 10-9. Aka The M00N Game.
When did we last play at Michigan Stadium? 2012.
When will we play next? 2015 at Michigan.
Gap between games: 1 year.
Gap between games at Michigan Stadium: 3 years.
Best Part: With Harbaugh v. Fitzgerald, probability of sideline antics exceeds theoretical maximum
Worst Part: some poor soul's going to be in charge of putting together a "highlight reel" of last year's game to play on the jumbotron before this one.
Who are they? I remember... faint visions of long ago. A stupid mustache, and a giant drum. It doesn't make any sense, I know.
When did we last play? 2012 at Purdue. Michigan won 44-13.
When did we last play at Michigan Stadium? 2011.
When will we play next? 2017 at Purdue.
When will we play next at Michigan? not scheduled through 2019.
Gap between games? 5 years.
Gap between games at Michigan Stadium: 9+ years
Bold Prediction: We're going to miss the entire Darrell Hazell era. And the entire next era too. We'll be be on board for the Danny Hope Comeback Tour, though.
Who are they? Pretty much the only good team in the entire Big Ten West.
When did we last play? 2010 at Michigan. Wisconsin won 48-28 as the wheels came off the Rodriguez era.
When will we play next? 2016 at Michigan.
Gap between games: 6 years.
Gap between games at Michigan Stadium: 6 years.
Best Part: watching Wisconsin bleed head coaches to side- or down-grade schools is always entertaining.
Worst Part: they're still going to go to the Big Ten Championship 2 out of every 3 years.
In the aftermath of yesterday's game, I've seen a number of people claim that Shane Morris was "perfect" in his limited playing time. True, he was 0 for 2 passing, but both throws were dropped by their targets. I wanted to break down each passing play and see if his throws were as good as advertised.
The situation: 2nd and 7, ball on the Miami of Ohio 34
The play: Morris rolls out to his left...
...and throws to Keith Heitzman, who is fifteen yards downfield and five yards from the nearest defender:
The ball arrives precisely at the area directly in front of Heitzman's chest where one generally prefers to catch things.
Unfortunately, he fails to do so, and the ball passes through his arms, and bounces off this thigh.
CONCLUSION: Excellent throw to wide open receiver, pure drop.
The Situation: 1st and 10, ball on Miami of Ohio 23
The Play: Morris rolls out to his left again:
I'm pointing out these rollouts because I've seen some people claim that Shane Morris demonstrated a better pocket presence than Devin Gardner. Not so: two passes, two rollouts. Pocket presence: UNDEF.
Morris fires deep to Jehu Chesson in the end zone, who has a couple steps on the defender. Note the separation in this frame.
However, the throw is a bit behind, and Chesson has to put on the breaks. The defender closes the gap, and as the ball arrives, he has one arm on Chesson's back, and brings the other down, brushing off his face mask and settling in between his chest and his arms.
As he falls to the turf, Chesson actually does have the ball secured between his bicep and his forearm, but the impact with the ground jars it free to fall incomplete.
CONCLUSION: This throw was not terrible, but neither was it perfect. It was a bit behind the receiver, which gave the defender the time to close the gap and make a play, which he did well. A more accurate throw would have given the defender no chance.
On the day, Shane Morris had one excellent throw to a wide open receiver who dropped the ball, and one slightly off target throw which forced the receiver to try and bring it in with a defender in his face. It would be foolish to try to draw any sweeping conclusions from two pass attempts, but at a minimum claims of "perfection" should be put to rest.
Michigan’s upset bid against Ohio State came up just short when Devin Gardner’s pass on the two-point conversion attempt was intercepted, leaving us with a disappointing 7-5 record on the regular season. This was not the first time Michigan was one play away from victory this season. Consider:
We had two attempts to make a game-winning field goal in overtime against Penn State but couldn’t.
We had the ball 58 yards from the end zone down by 4 points with two minutes left against Nebraska, but couldn’t pick up a first down.
We had the ball at the Iowa 39, down by 4, with 2 minutes left, but Devin Gardner fumbled.
If you change just one play at the end of these games, Michigan could by sitting at 11-1 right now and looking for a BCS bid. (MSU would unfortunately still be representing the Legends Division in the Big-10 Championship Game). On the other hand, Michigan escaped with some narrow victories this season as well:
If Michigan hadn’t stuffed Akron on two plays inside the 3 yard line, we would have lost.
If UConn could have managed a touchdown on their final drive, we would have lost.
Against Northwestern, If Brendan Gibbons had missed his field goals at the end of regulation or in overtime, we would have lost.
Just as easily as Michigan could have finished the season 11-1, we could be 4-8 and prepping ourselves from another episode of our least favorite reality TV show, Dave Brandon’s The Process. That’s a huge spread. I wanted to see how it stacked up to previous years. I’m looking at all the games in which just one late-game play could have changed the outcome.
Actual record: 7-5 (Bowl pending)
Best case: 11-1
Worst case: 4-8.
Range: 7 games
Actual record: 8-5
Best case: 10-3
Worst case: 5-7 (no bowl)
Range: 5 games
One play from a win: Couldn’t score go-ahead touchdown with 5 minutes left against OSU. Gave up touchdown with 11 seconds left against South Carolina.
One play from a loss: Stopped Air Force’s final drive to preserve 6-point win, kicked game winning field goal against MSU, Robinson to Roundtree bomb sets up tying field goal and overtime win against Northwestern.
2011: Hoke’s First Season
Actual record: 11-2
Best case: 12-1
Worst case: 8-5
Range: 4 games
One play from a win: Couldn’t score on 1st and goal from the 3 against Iowa (although Iowa let by 8, so a two-point conversion and overtime would have still been needed)
One play from a loss: Michigan gains, loses, and regains lead against Notre Dame all in last 72 seconds. Ohio State’s final drive ends with interception. Gibbons OT field goal beats Virginia Tech.
2010: RichRod’s Last Season
Actual record: 7-6
Best case: 7-6
Worst case: 4-8 (no bowl)
Range: 3 games
One play from a win: none(!) All 6 losses were by minimum of 10 points.
One play from a loss: Robinson scores with 27 seconds left against Notre Dame. Robinson scores with 17 seconds left against Indiana (had been tied). Michigan beats Illinois in triple overtime.
Actual record: 5-7
Best case: 8-4 (plus bowl eligibility)
Worst case: 3-10
Range: 5 games
One play from a win: OT loss to MSU, two-minute drill fails while down by 2 against Iowa, tying two-point conversion fails against Purdue.
One point from a loss: Forcier to Mathews gives Michigan lead with 11 seconds left against Notre Dame, Michigan takes lead with 2 minutes left and then intercepts Indiana’s last chance.
2008: RichRod’s First Season
Actual record: 3-9
Best case: 7-5 (plus bowl eligibility)
Worst case: 2-10
Range: 5 games
One play from a win: two minute drill fails down by 2 against Utah, game-tying 26-yard field goal misses against Toledo, Purdue drives the field for go-ahead touchdown in final minute, two minute drill fails down by 7 against Northwestern.
One play from a loss: Wisconsin’s game-tying two point conversion fails with 13 seconds left.
2007: Carr’s final season
Actual record: 9-4
Best case: 10-3
Worst case: 6-7
Range: 4 games
One play from a win: game winning field goal blocked against App State
One play from a loss: Penn State’s 2-minute drill fails with M leading by 5, MSU’s 2-minute drill fails with M leading by 4, Tebow goes 0/4 on Florida’s last chance drive.
Actual record: 11-2
Best case: 11-2
Worst case: 10-3
Range: 1 game
One play from a win: none (M/OSU was close, but never just one play away)
One play from a loss: PSU’s 2-minute drill fails with M leading by 7
Actual record: 7-5
Best case: 12-0(!)
Worst case: 4-7 (no bowl)
Range: 8 games
One play from a win: M’s two minute drill fails against Notre Dame, Wisconsin scores go-ahead TD with 24 seconds left, Minnesota kicks game-winning field goal with 5 seconds left, OSU scores go-ahead TD with 24 seconds left, Michigan’s desperation lateral-fest ends one lateral short of a touchdown against Nebraska.
One play from a loss: Michigan beats MSU in overtime, Henne to Manningham with 1 second left beats PSU, Michigan beats Iowa in overtime
Notes: This season’s record of 7 games decided in the final minutes is something we’ve not seen for 8 years. Those critical of Brady Hoke may compare this year’s 7-5 record to the 7-6 season that got Rich Rodriguez fired. However, it’s worth noting that unlike this year (where every game went down to the wire except MSU), the 2010 season featured losses by 10, 10, 17, 20, 30, and 38 points. A better comparison may be the 2005 season (known then as “The Year of Infinite Pain”) in which 8 of the games went down to the wire, including all 5 of the losses. Those looking for reasons for optimism may be reminded that the year following that, Michigan recovered and only a narrow loss to OSU (plus politicking by Urban Meyer) cost Michigan a spot in the National Championship game.
I'm 31. This means that unlike Mark May (Age 53) and Skip Bayless (Age 61) I have never known a time in which Michigan and Notre Dame were not playing each other, apart from the occasional two-year break. It also means that I don't know who Bubba Smith was, but I'm reasonably certain he never played for Michigan.
Like many of you, I was astounded to learn that the Michigan-Notre Dame series is not a rivalry. Wikipedia claims it is, but then wikipedia also claims there is such a thing as "Puppy pregnancy syndrome", a psychosomatic illness in which the victim thinks that "shortly after being bitten by a dog, puppies are conceived within their abdomen." So now I don't know what to believe.
I've always counted Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame and maaaaaaaybe Minnesota as Michigan's rivals. The thing is, when I was growing up Notre Dame was the only team that was really a threat. Minnesota has beat Michigan twice since I've been born. Michigan State has always been and will always be Little Brother, even if a nasty Michigan coaching transition gave them the upper hand for a few years. Ohio State is undoubtedly Michigan's greatest rival, but my football brain was congealing during the John Cooper era in which Ohio State was more of a cartoon villain. Sure, they were menacing and evil, but at the end of the day they almost always got what was coming to them. Notre Dame was different, though. They were good, like the Buckeyes but without the hilarious tendency to choke games away. As often as not, a game against Notre Dame was going to end in tears, and that made the victories all the more sweet.
Here are my personal top memories of the rivalry that never was.
#8: Rocket @#$%ing Ismail, 1989
Hey, I didn't say they were all going to be GOOD memories, did I?
In 1989 the college football world was centered at the Michigan-Indiana border. #1 Notre Dame faced off against #2 Michigan at Michigan Stadium. I was only 7 years old but I knew this was a big deal. Things went pretty well... except some dude named Raghib "Rocket" Ismail returned two Michigan kickoffs for touchdowns, and Notre Dame won 24-19.
#7. Remy Hamilton Drills It, 1994
There's a special feeling of dread when your team needs to attempt a last-second, do-or-die field goal. There's so many things that could go wrong. A bad snap. A bad hold. A bad kick. A block. A sudden gust of wind. But when Remy Hamilton lined up for a 42-yard attempt with Michigan down by one point, he drilled the cleanest kick you could ever hope for. And he knew it, too. Watch the video. Foot hits ball at 0:17. Kicker and holder are in celebration mode not one second later, even though the ball still has a few more seconds of flight time before it makes it to the uprights.
#6 and #5: Thirty Eight to Nothing, 2003 and 2007
By the turn of the 21st Century, Notre Dame had fallen on hard times. In spite of Returning to Glory in 2002 and 2005, they had a nasty penchant for losing seasons. That did not stop their fans' (or the pollsters') belief in Notre Dame's divine right to a vastly inflated preseason ranking. It fell to Michigan to introduce reality, and we frequently did so, most notably with a pair of 38-0 beatdowns, in 2003 and 2007. 2006's 47-21 beatdown (aka the "Brady Quinn for Heisman" game) wasn't bad either.
#4: Tate sees Cover Zero, 2009
After enduring by far the worst football season I had ever witnessed in Rich Rodriguez's first year, 2009 started out with promise. After slapping around WMU the week before, Michigan settled in for a slugfest with Notre Dame. Michigan would win it 38-34 with a short touchdown pass with 11 seconds left, but it was this earlier play that really sticks in the memory. True freshman quarterback Tate Forcier found a hole in the Notre Dame defense on 4th and 3, and scampered straight up the middle 31 yards for an untouched touchdown. Finally we were starting to see how the Rodriguez offense worked! All we needed was our quarterback for the next four years to keep his head on straight and for the defense to be something better than terrible...
#3: Denard Robinson is to Midfield and They'll Never Catch Him, 2010
Denard Robinson's name appears in a lot of recordbooks. One of them is Notre Dame's. See: Longest run from scrimmage in the 83-year history of Notre Dame Stadium. Once again the game would be won by Michigan 28-24 on a short last-second touchdown, but it was this 87-yard run that is the lasting memory of the day.
#2: Under the Lights, 2011
In 2011, in the first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium, Michigan defeated Notre Dame, scoring the winning touchdown on a screen pass to Vincent Smith with 82 seconds left. In 2011, in the first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium, Notre Dame defeated Michigan, scoring the winning touchdown on a deep pass to Theo Riddick with 30 seconds left.
In 2011, in the first ever night game at Michigan Stadium, Michigan defeated Notre Dame, scoring the winning touchdown on a pass to Roy Roundtree with 2 seconds left. It was the craziest end to a football game I've ever seen. It was the craziest end to a football game not involving the Stanford Marching Band that I've ever even heard of. I nearly put it at #1 on my list, but not quite...
#1: Desmond Howard makes The Catch, 1991
The 1991 game was won by Michigan 24-14, which means it wasn't as close as most of the others on the list. This one play, though, left such an impression on my 9-year-old mind that it has not been topped since. To this date, when my wife asks for my opinion on interior decorating, I tell her what we really need is a floor-to-ceiling mural of The Catch. She hasn't gone for it yet but I'm still fighting the good fight. On 4th "and a foot", nursing a 3-point lead, Michigan did the most un-Michigan thing you could imagine. Elvis Grbac pump faked, then lobbed the ball into the endzone. When the ball was in the air, Desmond Howard was bracketed in double coverage. When the ball came down, his impossibly outstretched arms were there to cradle it. Touchdown.
Thank you to all the youtubers who posted the above videos, many of which are members of Mgoblog.
This diary is an attempt to answer the following question:
Can the results of the Michigan/Notre Dame and Michigan State/Notre Dame football games be used to predict the results of the Michigan/Michigan State game?
State plays Notre Dame before we do this year. I thought that was unusual, but I wanted to see just how unusual it was. From there, I thought it would be interesting to compare the results of the games between the three teams on any given year, and see how closely related UM's and MSU's performances against Notre Dame can be matched to their performances against each other.
I decided to look back at the last 20 years in which Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame all played each other. In 2000 and 2001 MSU played ND but Michigan did not. In 1995 and 1996 neither MSU nor UM played ND. Therefore the data spans from 1988 from 2011 with a few gaps in between.
|Year||First||ND-UM Result||ND-MSU Result||MOV Diff||UM-MSU result||MOV|
|2011||UM||UM-35 nd-31||ND-31 msu-13||22||MSU-28 um-14||-14|
|2010||UM||um-28 ND-24||MSU-34 nd-31 (OT)||1||msu-34 UM-17||-17|
|2009||UM||UM-38 nd-34||ND-33 msu-30||7||MSU-26 um-20 (OT)||-6|
|2008||UM||ND-35 um-17||MSU-23 nd-7||-34||msu-35 UM-21||-13|
|2007||UM||UM-38 nd-0||msu-31 ND-14||21||um-28 MSU-24||4|
|2006||UM||um-47 ND-21||nd-40 MSU-37||29||UM-31 msu-13||18|
|2005||UM||nd-17 UM-10||msu-44 ND-41 (OT)||-10||um-34 MSU-31 (OT)||3|
|2004||UM||ND-28 um-20||nd-31 MSU-24||-1||UM-45 msu-37 (OT)||8|
|2003||UM||UM-38 nd-0||msu-22 ND-16||32||um-27 MSU-20||7|
|2002||UM||ND-25 um-23||nd-21 MSU-17||2||UM-49 msu-3||46|
|2001||n/a||DNP||msu-17 ND-10||MSU-26 um-24*||-2|
|2000||n/a||DNP||MSU-27 nd-21||UM-14 msu-0||14|
|1999||UM||UM-26 nd-22||msu-20 ND-13||-3||MSU-34 um-31||-3|
|1998||UM||ND-36 um-20||MSU-45 nd-23||-38||UM-29 msu-17||12|
|1997||MSU||UM-21 nd-14||msu-23 ND-7||-9||um-23 MSU-7||16|
|1994||UM||um-26 ND-24||nd-21 MSU-20||3||UM-40 msu-20||20|
|1993||UM||nd-27 UM-23||ND-36 msu-14||8||MSU-17 um-7||-10|
|1992||UM||ND-17 um-17||nd-52 msu-31||21||UM-35 msu-10||25|
|1991||UM||UM-24 nd-14||ND-49 msu-10||49||um-45 MSU-28||17|
|1990||UM||ND-28 um-24||nd-20 MSU-19||-3||msu-28 UM-27||-1|
|1989||UM||nd-24 UM-19||ND-21 msu-13||3||um-10 MSU-7||3|
|1988||UM||ND-19 um-17||nd-20 MSU-3||15||UM-17 msu-3||14|
First notes which team (MSU or UM) played Notre Dame first that year.
HOME TEAMS are in bold. Each series alternates sites yearly, and the three series are synced up such that each team has one home and one away game. Rather well done on the part of whoever made that work.
MOV Diff is the difference in margin of victory of the two Michigan schools over Notre Dame, with MSU's MOV subtracted from Michigan's MOV. A higher number means Michigan did better against Notre Dame than State did. A negative number indicates State did better against ND. Example:
1997: UM defeats ND 21-14: MOV 7. MSU defeats ND 23-7: MOV 16. MOV Diff = 7-16 = -9.
MOV is Michigan's margin of victory over Michigan State in the UM-MSU game. A negative number indicates Michigan lost
DNP means the teams in question did not play each other that year.
* This game gets an asterisk because it was BULLSHIT. That is all.
I PROCESS INFORMATION BETTER GRAPHICALLY THAN I DO TEXTUALLY DO YOU THINK MAYBE WE COULD HAVE A SCATTER PLOT?
HEY THAT'S TRENDING UPWARD
Just barely. It's more like a shotgun blast than a linear trend.
- When Michigan outperforms State in MOV Diff, Michigan beats State 69.2% of the time. When Michigan does NOT outperform state in MOV Diff, Michigan beats State 57.1% of the time. That's a slight correlation.
- When Notre Dame splits its series against Michigan and State, the team that beat Notre Dame is the team that wins the UM/MSU game exactly 50% of the time. That's zero correlation.
- When Michigan comes out on top of the split it goes on to beat State 60% of the time. When State comes out on top it beats Michigan 33.3% of the time. Overall Michigan has beaten State 62.% of the time.
- When Notre Dame beats both Michigan schools, Michigan beats State 77.8% of the time, and when Notre Dame loses to both, Michigan beats State 60% of the time.
- MOV Diff and MOV are within two touchdowns of each other 9 times out of 20. The other 11 times they are further apart. The most extreme disagreement was in 1998 when Notre Dame beat Michigan by 16, then fell to MSU by 22... but then Michigan beat State 29-17.
BULLET POINTS THAT ARE SORT OF FUN BUT NOT DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE ORIGIONAL QUESTION
- Michigan's Head-to-Head record against Notre Dame since 1988: 10-9-1
- Michigan State's Head-to-Head record against Notre Dame since 1988: 10-12. State's actually 10-5 against ND since their 1995-1996 break; before that MSU hasn't beaten Notre Dame since 1986.
- Michigan's Head-to-Head record against Michigan State since 1988: 15-9**
- State playing ND before Michigan does is indeed highly unusual: it's only happened once in the last 24 years - in 1997. That's right: Every time MSU plays Notre Dame before Michigan does, Michigan wins a National Championship.
- Since Overtime began in 1996, the UM/MSU game has gone to overtime three times, the MSU/ND game has gone to overtime twice, and the UM/ND game never has.
**but one of those losses was BULLSHIT.
YOUR STATISTICS ARE BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD
Pretty much, but I spent all this time making the graph and there hasn't been a new diary in two days so I'm posting it anyhow.
SUPPOSING FOR A MOMENT THAT I TOOK THESE STATS SERIOUSLY WHAT CAN I EXPECT?
Well, first of all since we're playing Notre Dame after State does: National Championship. I mean, it's right there in the data. Apart from that, if State beats Notre Dame and then Notre Dame beats us don't panic - of the 3 times that's happened in the past 20 years we've gone on to beat State twice anyhow. Likewise don't get too confident if Notre Dame beats State but loses to us. Don't put a lot of stock into the Michigan schools' respective margins of victories in the two games against Notre Dame - more often than not, it turns out to be meaningless when Michigan and State take the field against each other.
Michigan and Ohio share four mutual opponents. The goal of this diary is to examine our respective performances against these opponents, and in doing so attempt to predict the winner of next Saturday's game.
When we played them:
At MSU. Michigan started with an 80-yard, 10-play touchdown drive and then proceeded to punt on 8 consecutive drives before a second too-little-too-late score. Michigan State's offense wasn't a juggernaut but it was good enough for three scores, and Denard's pick-six sealed the game. MSU 28-14.
When they played them:
At Ohio. By the fourth quarter, the play-by-play announcers were considering ritual suicide in the press box in this abomination of a football game. Ohio managed 178 net yards, 62 of which was on the final drive. While MSU's defense looked dominant, their offense seemed determined to keep Ohio in the game, offering up two interceptions, two turnover-on-downs, and a missed field goal. The 10 points they did manage seemed like an insurmountable lead, even after Ohio managed a desperation touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. MSU 10-7.
Our game was played in a trash tornado. Ohio let Joe Bauserman, the human trash tornado, attempt 14 passes (although he did complete half of them and led their one touchdown drive). Ohio still had all the Tatgate and Related Naughtiness players suspended.
Michigan State made both us and Ohio look bad. Ohio came closer by final outcome but both games were ugly. In Michigan's favor, we had to play on the road. In Ohio's favor, they had to play without players that have since returned. I'm calling this a PUSH.
When we played them:
At Michigan: Ill-advised interceptions were the only thing stopping Michigan's offense as we racked up 535 yards and 34 points (plus a safety for 2 more). Purdue scored on their first drive and then spent a lot of time punting until some 4th quarter drives against Michigan's prevent defense made the score look a bit closer than it actually was. Michigan 36-14.
When they played them:
At Purdue: Purdue had 10 points before Ohio had 10 yards, and then hung on for dear life as Ohio clawed its way back. Ohio was poised to complete the rally and take the lead for the first time when it scored a touchdown with 1:22 remaining, only to see the extra point blocked. In OT, Purdue's touchdown trumped Ohio's field goal. Purdue 26-23.
Ohio had all of their players except for WR DeVier Posey back, and QB Braxton Miller by this time had several games of experience under his belt. Ohio played Purdue on the road while we got them at home.
Home field advantage is not nearly significant enough to detract from the fact that Michigan beat Purdue handily while Ohio seemed evenly matched against the Boilermakers. Advantage, MICHIGAN.
When we played them:
At Illinois. Michigan got about 17 different monkeys off of our collective backs with this convincing win on the road. A bevy of first-half miscues were the only thing that prevented this game from being over by halftime, because Illinois failed to mount a drive of more than 5 plays or 28 yards until late in the third quarter. By the time Illinois found its offense Michigan had found ours as well... and ours was better. Michigan 31-14.
When they played them:
At Illinois. Illinois out-gained Ohio 285 to 228 as Ohio went 1 for 4 passing for the entire game, but Ohio got touchdown drives of 12 and 22 yards thanks to Illinois turnovers. Those scores plus an opening field goal was enough for a victory. Ohio 17-7.
Ohio still had two players suspended, I believe (honestly for Ohio games "suspended players" should be its own category in the box score). If you are the kind of person that believes that Momentum is a mystical force that acts on sporting events rather than the product of mass and velocity, you will put emphasis on the fact that Illinois was on a six-game winning streak when they played Ohio, but a 3-game losing streak when they played us.
Ohio needed a heavy dose of Illinois mistakes to earn a 10-point victory. Illinois needed a heavy dose of Michigan mistakes to stop us from going up by five scores. Advantage, MICHIGAN.
When we played them:
At Michigan. Do I really need to write this paragraph? MURDERED HUSKERS FROM HELL TO BREAKFAST. IF ANYONE FINDS TAYLOR MARTINEZ'S TEETH PLEASE RETURN THEM. I think that about covers it. Michigan 45-17.
When they played them:
At Nebraska. Ohio had a 27-6 lead until Braxton Miller was injured and Joe Bauserman was forced back into action. His 1-for-10 passing explains why Ohio didn't score any more points, but not why Ohio's defense gave up 4 touchdowns and 289 yards in the last quarter and a half. Nebraska 34-27.
Ohio had to deal with home field advantage. They had the Tatgate crew back but were still without the Related Naughtiness guys. Michigan didn't get to play the Michigan Fergodsakes video on the scoreboards until halftime, after which it went from a one score game to a blowout. I think that's Very Telling (TM).
The caveats are legitimate but Ohio's defensive collapse cannot be ignored. I don't think this is as significant of a win for Michigan as it at seems at first, but never the less it's advantage, MICHIGAN.
Three of the four mutual opponent comparisons favor Michigan, and the other is a push. Ohio has been growing stronger as the season goes on and their players have returned from suspension, although this has not translated to better results. Michigan has been growing stronger as well as the coaches learn what the players can and cannot do and the players benefit from the instruction of competent staff, and we have blowout victories in three of our last four games to show for it. I can't promise a victory on Saturday, but if performance against mutual opponents means anything at all, we should be able to win the day.