if you seek an image of the most Wisconsin OL ever, enter here
Hurray, that's the poll hurray. If you're interested, you can see all the individual ballots here.
Ohio State, #1 everywhere else, is also #1 in the BlogPoll but its margin is much smaller; South Florida takes 26 first place votes to OSU's 35. LSU maintains five, and Arizona State(?!) picks up one.
Elsewhere, we have a very AP moment as we drop Cal well behind Oregon after the Bears' loss to Oregon State, Hawaii continues its undeserved march up the ranks after an overtime victory over San Jose State, and USC, oddly, continues its plummet after a win, albeit an ugly, close one over Arizona.
Michigan -- gulp -- returns at #25.
Wack Ballot Watchdog:
- The LSU five: MGoBlog, Hey Jenny Slater, SMQB, Bruce Ciskie, and Cal Golden Blogs all stick with LSU, Ciskie after I berated him over IM for 45 minutes. The Arizona State outlier is Boi From Troy. More on him later.
- The poll's most negative LSU voter, Corn Nation, places them twelfth, a full six spots behind a team, South Carolina, LSU beat by 12, and two spots behind Virginia Tech, who they beat by 41.
- I said anyone who put Hawaii in the top ten should be horsewhipped; we have two horsewhipees. The very slightly less egregious is Eagle In Atlanta, ranking Hawaii #6. Meanwhile...
- My Opinion On Sports has Hawaii #3, then compounds this by putting Virginia Tech #2. An atrocious, unjustifiable ballot in so many ways: LSU again well behind two teams it beat, Hawaii #3 ahead of, well... nearly everyone.
- Boi From Troy ranks USF #14; Frank McGrath puts them #12.
- BFT also has Oregon #2, Michigan #12, USC #6, and a bunch of other random stuff that makes little sense, especially when the deltas are taken into account.
- EDSBS leaps Cincinnati up seven spots after a loss; when asked about this Orson said "I'M FORTY! I'M A MAN! PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS AN ERROR IN YOUR TONGUE-LASHING SECTION."
Now on to the extracurriculars. First up are the teams which spur the most and least disagreement between voters as measured by standard deviation. Note that the standard deviation charts halt at #25 when looking for the lowest, otherwise teams that everyone agreed were terrible (say, Eastern Michigan) would all be at the top.
Ballot math: First up are "Mr. Bold" and "Mr. Numb Existence." The former goes to the voter with the ballot most divergent from the poll at large. The number you see is the average difference between a person's opinion of a team and the poll's opinion.
This week's Mr. Bold is, as you might imagine, Boi From Troy. Second: MOOS. Hang your heads in shame, for your ballots harm us all.
Mr. Numb Existence goes to Double Extra Point (ballot), which wins this award so often it's freaky. Other things DEP likes: white bread, vanilla ice cream, and the Ford Taurus. If that makes them sound racist, that's not the intent. Boring is what we were looking for. Boring.
Yeah, they won it again this week. Are they trying for this? Do they look at chocolate ice cream, shudder, and then say "I'll stick with vanilla, thanks". (Again, we're looking for "boring".) It seems pretty easy to try for a weird ballot -- just stick Hawaii in the top ten and diss LSU -- but consistently coming down with the least weird ballot is some kind of parlor trick.
Next we have the Coulter/Krugman Award and the Straight Bangin' Award, which are again different sides of the same coin. The CKA and SBA go to the blogs with the highest and lowest bias rating, respectively. Bias rating is calculated by subtracting the blogger's vote for his own team from the poll-wide average. A high number indicates you are shameless homer. A low number indicates that you suffer from an abusive relationship with your football team.
The CK Award did not inflict pain this week because its winner, Dan Shanoff and Florida, had a bye. This week Boi From Troy wrests the award away from Dan -- not on the list at all -- right before USC plays... uh... Notre Dame. #&*$! There isn't a dire annoying-pundit-based college football poll award on the planet that can propel Notre Dame to victory against USC. Maybe Florida, squaring off with dangerous Kentucky, will go down.
(Note: it's a good thing BFT used his Trojan-biased random number generator this week, else the MZone would have won this and I would have to kill them.)
The winner is Jonathan Tu, who one-ups Saurian Sagacity by leaving USC completely out of his poll. Saurian Sagacity's own total omission of Florida from their ballot can't compare; they narrowly finish second. I believe Tu's winning margin of -12.46 is the highest score ever recorded in this category.
Same 1-2, though both have started including their teams in their ballots, bringing down the winning margins considerably.
Swing is the total change in each ballot from last week to this week (obviously voters who didn't submit a ballot last week are not included). A high number means you are easily distracted by shiny things. A low number m
eans that you're damn sure you're right no matter what reality says.
MOOS is Mr. Stubborn.
Two minor changes: OU and Kentucky both down two; Kentucky to acknowledge SoCar's win over them.
Quick! To the time machine! Oh, the above picture would have been awesome four years ago. Now it's just like "hey, creepily tan Skeletor likes Michigan."
Jebus. WolverineHistorian is banging these out about as fast as I can link them. Here's 2002 Michigan State (the 49-3 game that was the deathblow to the Bobby Williams era):
...and 1977 Ohio State:
...and the most ridiculous catch of Jason Avant's career:
...and the immortal Buffalo Stampede game:
Obiiiiiiii. Little news from Carr's Monday press conference save the release of a depth chart that still features Obi Ezeh as the starting middle linebacker despite John Thompson's apparent return to health. Minor, rumored to be out for the year, is also on the depth chart.
What happened to Wisconsin? Hell if I know, but SMQB highlights one of the more bizarre occurrences in this year rife with them:
Whatever the circumstances, 438 yards and 38 points to Penn State is an embarrassment for a team that still considered itself a darkhorse mythical championship contender as late as two weeks ago. The Badgers' run defense over the last three weeks:
So the performance against Penn State was actually something of an improvement.
Great galloping Gilloolys. And this from a team that returned five of their excellent 2006 front seven, plus a defensive-minded coach with a terrific track record. There is no rational explanation for the crapfest that has been the Wisconsin run defense over the past few weeks.
One other item: Bret Bielema punted from the PSU 36 this weekend... with 18 seconds left in the half. What the hell is Penn State going to do with the ball at their own 36 and 12-15 seconds left? Other than kneel and flee to the locker room? Bielema, thy name is meathead.
Hart4Heisman, as advertised during the Purdue game, is up and going.
Elsewhere, the proprietor of the Joe Cribbs Car Wash, a displaced Auburn fan, took in the Purdue game. Relevant section of the JCCW's Arkansas review:
I spent the first part of last Saturday at the Big House watching Michigan blast hapless Purdue, and one of the things you can't help but notice is just how much Wolverine fans care about Mike Hart. Whether it's the endless stream of "20" jerseys, Hart t-shirts, the cries of joy when he spun off the back of a defender and scored on what appeared to be a lost play, the cries of anguish when he left the game with a limp and appeared on the JumboTron grimacing as his ankle got the once-over.
It occurred to me that perhaps not since the outpouring of admiration and respect Auburn fans offered Campbell, Cadillac and Ronnie, and Borges in 2004 have we cared about our players or coaches in anything approaching the kind of fashion you see here in Ann Arbor regarding Hart. I know as an SEC fan I'm supposed to never admit envying anything about a Big 10 program under any circumstances, but yeah, I was jealous.
I just bought a Hart jersey. I think football jerseys look ridiculous on non-football players, but... well... yeah.
Aftermath. Miles didn't get the opportunity to shake Rich Brooks' hand after the Kentucky loss, so he sought him out the next day:
"I thought out guys played their butts off," Miles said. "If I thought there were tired or showed lack of effort, or if in any way there was a hangover, I would have told you, O.K. I don't believe that. I believe that we played our tails off. Kentucky played awfully well. And we need to improve. There are pieces of our team that we need to get better at. If we can do that, we'll be right in the hunt. I like my team, I'm proud of my team. We finished second today."
Much more Michiga
n-y than those intemperate offseason comments.
(A note on that third OT strategy: yes, he called rock. Obviously the first down call was fine, as it gained six yards. Second down... eh. Third down I think it's acceptable in that situation because you know you have two downs for the first. Fourth down... well. Given Flynn's performance thus far in that game -- awful -- and the fact you were playing Kentucky and rolling over them, I think it's eminently defensible.
No one playcall is right or wrong. Things have a certain percentage chance of working; they work or they do not. It's like poker: only a long sequence of decisions can be critiqued. Some things are obviously unwise and can be criticized -- running stretch plays on third and short, attempting to bluff a bad player -- but it makes no sense to criticize borderline stuff in a vacuum. (Also, we don't know how much influence Miles actually had on that playcall. He's obviously content to let his coordinators coordinate; that may have been Crowton's decision.)
The thing that excited about the Florida game was the aggressiveness on fourth down that clearly demonstrated that Miles had an excellent grasp of game theory and won the Florida game. Calling a run or a pass on fourth and two is a nitpick, especially given the relative vectors of the LSU pass and run offenses. Noting that Miles understands something most coaches do not and that bodes well for his future school is not.
The way Miles coached against Florida was obviously right, but the end of the Kentucky game was not obviously wrong. Sometimes you lose. As long as coaching malpractice does not factor in it's best to look at the whole picture. The way the Kentucky game went down doesn't change my opinion except incrementally.)
Circle gets the square. Michigan put in an excellent performance in the Icebreaker, beating BC and losing narrowly to Minnesota. Western College Hockey has thoughts, as does Yost Built. Both are fairly sanguine about Bill Sauer's performance, which... like... what? His save percentage was awful both nights, he allowed guys to set up camp in the crease without so much as a pokecheck, and he foolishly strayed off the near post, screening himself and allowing an easy short-side goal to a Minnesota player. I spent most of the game between wincing and livid, cursing the gods of mono.
The rest of it? Highly encouraging. We're about to find out that Kevin Porter was almost entirely a creation of TJ Hensick but Michigan hasn't played as intelligently as this in a long time. Youth and enough depth to mak the threat of a benching very real will keep everyone on their toes, working hard.
One brief analogy: 2006 Michigan State Spartan hockey :: 2006 St Louis Cardinals.
Editorial Opinion: Slow again.
Some notes on official visits: the header of the above-linked article on TX S Keanon Cooper says that, unsure of Michigan's interest in him, he canceled his scheduled official and went to Kansas State (which was "all right," the recruiting trip equivalent of "it reminded me Nanking during the Japanese occupation"); Michigan got back in touch and rescheduled the trip.
Meanwhile, TN CB/S JT Floyd did make a visit this week, but this one was unofficial. The article above is just a few stats and pictures; nothing of note.
And then: McGuffie. The Matrix got shelved with an ankle injury in a season-opening loss, came back gimpy and managed 78 yards on something like 16 carries in another loss, and then blew up. Over the past two weeks he has over 500 yards and 10 touchdowns playing behind a nearly all-new offensive line in Texas 5-A.
Result? Scout moves him up into the top 50 and gives him a fifth star. Rivals, updating a couple weeks earlier, shoves him down to #197. Go figure.
McGuffie was also in the news for an unusual reason, as he was directly mentioned in several of Dennis Franchione's super secret emails:
One entry begins: "TOTAL MUM ON THIS: A certain highly-regarded prospect who has committed to Michigan showed up at practice Saturday wearing a USC cap, for which he took a lot of 'guff.'
The prospect is Houston Cy-Fair running back Sam McGuffie, one of the state's top recruits. He is referenced three times in the released newsletters.
Said newsletters are here if anyone wants to peruse them. There are hundreds of pages... so not likely. Since Franchione is so, so fired after this year I don't think we have much to worry about from A&M.
That's pretty much it. One speculative note: Steve Pederson getting canned probably means Bill Callahan follows him out the door sometime soon. This will probably not net Michigan anything. Jonas Gray was kind of pissed at the way Michigan recruited him and apparently had an "athlete" offer only, whatever that means. I don't know where a 5'10", 210-pound guy plays other than running back, and Michigan has two. Anyway, even if Gray opens up his recruitment it's doubtful he looks at Michigan. NE OL Trevor Robinson, a onetime Nebraska commit, re-opened his recruitment to include Michigan and Notre Dame but the scuttlebutt is the family is Husker through-and-through and if anything the potential departure of Callahan only increases the chances Robinson will recommit.
Please take the previous paragraph for the speculation it is, by the way. No sources on this one.
New Returning feature! Who's dead! Who's almost dead! Who has a mysterious illness that mysteriously forces them to mysteriously not play! Updated regularly! If you have any tenuous speculation/corrections/updates email or leave a comment! Too many exclamation points(!)!
This week's changes: So fresh and so clean for 2007.
|RB||Hart||sprained ankle||Purdue||DTD||probable||Long, Jamo, Warren all guarantee he plays.|
|RB||Minor||sprained ankle(?)||Purdue||year(?)||doubtful||Prognosis much grimmer.|
|RB||Grady||torn ACL||preseason||year||out||small possibility he might return late if team really needs him|
|TE||Massey||knee||NW||year||out||probably torn ACL.|
|OL||Mitchell||knee||PSU||~1 week||doubtful||Carr: "may be another week."|
|OL||Ciulla||knee||PSU||DTD||probable||Saw some time late against Purdue.|
|LB||Thompson||undisclosed||pre-NW||DTD||probable||Carr says will play against Ill.|
Exited the list: --
Almost Off: --
Editorial Opinion: Michigan's in decent shape at this point in the season pending the healthy return of Hart. Most teams probably have it worse.
Obviously, LSU #1 is something that requires justification. This is it: I do not subscribe to the mentality that who you lose to and when should be most of the assemblage of a poll. A table:
|Wins Over Top 25||#10, #13, #14||#12, #16||None|
|Wins Over Other .500+ Teams||Mississippi State||FAU, UCF||Purdue, NW|
|Losses||@ UK, 3OT||None||None|
The first and most obvious conclusion: AP and Coaches #1 OSU has no claim to that spot. They have played no one. The second, debatable issue is USF or LSU. I value LSU's triplet of wins minus a loss to an apparent top-ten team more than USF's pair of ugly, grinding, turnover-filled and frankly ill-played victories over Auburn and WVU. I believe their resume is better even considering the loss, and they remain static.
- I'm actually pretty content with the top ten.
- Auburn jumps up after an ugly win against Arkansas because 1) Kansas State keeps proving itself a better win, 2) USF keeps proving itself a better loss, 3) I can't keep Auburn behind Florida when Auburn has the head-to-head without some powerful reason that I can't find in Florida's play.
- As the season moves on and WVU continues playing no one, teams steadily move ahead of them. With UL and Rutgers tanking, they have precious little opportunity to move up.
- Anyone who puts Hawaii in the top ten this week should be horsewhipped.
- Hey... Michigan. Weird.
- Question: what should I do with Arizona State? I haven't seen them much, just bits and pieces, and am completely in the dark about how good they are.
Mike Hart's teammates fully expect him to play this week.
Michigan defensive end Tim Jamison guaranteed that Hart, who appeared to hurt his right ankle in the first half Saturday against Purdue, would be on the field for the 24th-ranked Wolverines when they play Saturday night at Illinois.
Offensive tackle Jake Long agreed.
"There's no doubt in my mind he'll play," Long said Monday.
Carr, ever circumspect, declined to confirm that. Given statements from Jamison, Long, Warren, and Adams, plus the unconcerned visage above after the Purdue game, I think we are in the relative clear as long as he doesn't tweak it. Knock on wood.
Wheeeeee for continued complete lack of coverage.
Michigan's game against Minnesota is scheduled for 3:30 on ESPN Classic. Awful. ESPN is showing the Breeder's Cup, which is a frickin' horse race that takes two minutes, for six hours that day, and ESPN2 is showing a Busch series race. Even when we're not on the BTN we're on an obscure channel few people get. Classic was moved to the digital expanded tier on Comcast recently.
Those complaining about the BTN should remember the Ball State game last year and this fiasco before leveling criticisms. (Not that there aren't criticisms to level, mind you, but the situation was rapidly heading towards this over the past couple years.)
10/13/2007 - Michigan 48, Purdue 21 - 5-2, 3-0 Big Ten.
Is it better if the opening two weeks of the season were a prelude to enormous disappointment or a soul-crushing aberration? After brief consideration the answer is obviously the latter, but the lingering effect of The Horror and the post-apocalyptic Oregon game has, unfortunately, put a damper on what should be a time to celebrate an emphatic win. We finally get what everyone envisioned when they put on their nightcaps August 31st and dreamed sugarplum dreams of the season ahead, and the result? Mostly "aaargh, this reinforces everything I already thought."
Hey, don't ask me, ask the MZone:
This team has had seven chances to look impressive this year. They're 1 for 7 so far. Even in baseball, that's a horrible average. Their best wins before Saturday - Penn State and Notre Dame - had as much to do with their opponents' incompetence than Michigan's superior ability. Games against patsies Northwestern and Eastern Michigan were struggles far longer than they should have been. And let's not forget the first two games as much as we would like to.
Well, that's... mostly depressing. And then there's this guy from the open thread:
Wow, this game makes me so pissed about the first two weeks of the season.
Well... yeah. There is no Michigan fan out there who saw the game or even just the score and didn't have a momentary what-if spasm about missed field goals and unspent timeouts and the whole Oregon fiasco.
The deranged are still there. Those deranged in the opposite direction -- not cited here, as said lifeforms tend to exist exclusively in the true believer zones of premium message boards -- have erased all memory of the systemic flaws this coaching staff exposed for the nth time and are not thinking about possible pratfalls hence. Both are annoying genres of person to interact with, as they typically resort to sarcasm instead of acknowledge that things are not perfectly bad nor perfectly good, deny that they think things are perfectly bad or good when challenged on their continual optimism or pessimism, and imply that anyone who thinks differently than they do is either an idiot or a greedy child.
But to be in the middle is to be bored, lazy, lackadaisical. Yay we beat Purdue by lots. Boo we fell out of the national championship picture before October for the ninth time in ten years. Yay we beat Penn State. Boo we were crushed by running quarterbacks. Yay we're probably going to play Ohio State for the Big Ten. Boo Tressel will eat our babies. It's hard to get excited either way once the immediate flush of "oh my God we don't suck" passes.
It's nice not to suck. It is. But we've seen this script before. It ends poorly. To get excited is to be vulnerable; caution and forced boredom is the order of the day. I am buying a beret and some urchins to smash upon my tummy. I will watch some reality television and complain about the weather. I may remark on the fact that the urchins these days don't taste as good as urchins used to. No quality in these urchins.
It's a front, but it's a useful one. Otter Lucy is holding the otterball for Otter Charlie Brown; get back to me in November to see whether we rush towards the cliff, hopes aloft, in 2007.
- Shawn Crable takes some great pictures:
- Attn Joe Tiller: escaping with a 27 point loss does not maintain your dignity.
- That said, can we please recover an onside kick? That's four straight we've failed at, which has to be approaching an NCAA record.
- More special teams hijinks: huge returns for Purdue followed by a kick out of bounds and then the failure to even pop the ball up to the 30. It's depressing that Michigan has to kick off like it's a high school team.
- KC Lopata, on the other hand, looks like a completely uninspiring but largely accurate kicker, which I will take.
- Does Carr hate Tiller or something? The starting offense was in for way longer than anyone expected and Michigan actually punched in a couple of late touchdowns to push the score out to a prodigious margin. Every year, the Sporting News quotes some anonymous Big Ten coach who trashes every other program, saving special venom for Carr and Michigan. This is always Tiller -- TSN caveman Tom Dienhart and Tiller are BFFs. Maybe Carr's just tired of it?
- Henne's PC had one interesting comment in it: early on, Purdue was doing a you-check-we-check thing on defense that confused some playcalls. This was probably the cause of the two ineffective Hart runs that led to Michigan's first punt.
- The parabolas that drop directly into the waiting arms of Mario Manningham returned. I missed them so.
- Until Carlos Brown's touchdown explosion, I was convinced we were going to suuuuuck at running back next year. Minor hasn't made a yard the offensive line didn't get for him all year save for his spectacular truck job on a Notre Dame safety; Brown had spent most of his time either fumbling or running directly into the backs of his offensive linemen. Both have been disadvantaged by the mop-up situations they find themselves in, but McGuffie will have a major opportunity, IMO.
- Ciulla saw the field late; is he healthy enough to play? Will he be healthy enough for Illinois? Is the Schilling-Ortmann right side a voluntary decision?
Game column coming.
The finale. WolverineHistorian has put together a highlight reel from OSU 1989, Bo's last home game:
Ha ha. Horrible quality, but this is the ND spoof AD SNL ran this weekend:
Sweet fancy fortune. The statistically inclined will look upon this as potential bad news:
Michigan entered Saturday ranked third nationally in forcing turnovers.
And the Wolverines weren't intimidated by facing one of the Big Ten's most prolific offenses Saturday, producing four more takeaways to push their season total to 23 in a 48-21 victory.
("Most prolific" against awful teams, sure, but whatever.) Michigan is now second only to Cincinnati in takeaways -- the Bearcats have 25. The theory around these parts has always been that there's very little a defense can do that consistently produces turnovers other than rush the passer. Michigan's done that extremely well -- 9th in sacks at 3.43 -- but even three and a half sacks a game can't explain 25 turnovers with almost half a season left to go. Michigan's remarkable turnaround* on defense is partially due to fortune. Against teams that can pass block, things will look considerably more grim.
One potential mitigating factor: despite having Mike Hart, Michigan has already lost eight fumbles via a combination of backups with oily hands, Mallett-related snap pratfalls, and the occasional blindsided quarterback.
*(And it has been pretty remarkable. Since Oregon, the first string D has given up 0, 9, 16, 10, and 7 points. Purdue's TD drive was five yards; Penn State had a field goal drive that started at the Michigan 35.)
Hey, buddy, leave some for the fish.
Jim Carty grumbles about Lloyd Carr's latest outburst of crotchety old-manness:
Hard to understand why he would be after whipping up on Purdue and Joe Tiller 48-21, but University of Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr was particularly cranky Saturday afternoon, especially toward our own beat writer, John Heuser.
At one point Carr accused John of asking too many questions, which would be understandable if, you know, the point of a press conference wasn't to ask questions.
Michigantailgate.net says NSFMF(!):
First off, I did not hear Carr say that Heuser was asking too many questions. It was more like "Is there anyone else who has some questions?" after Heuser machine gunned nine consecutive questions without stopping during the press conferenceâ€“possibly more. Maybe Heuser ought to just take his turn when asking questions instead of dominating the press conference scene . . .
This is accurate, as anyone who viewed MLive's own video of the PC knows. The reason Heuser got cut off is because he 1) asked a million questions all right in a row and 2) pressed Carr for injury information he was not going to give out like four times straight. If Carty is mystified about Heuser's treatment it says more about Carty and the media's thin skin than Carr.
Baseball? Yeah. A commenter pointed out this ESPN article from the summer that slipped by my radar. A uniform start date goes into effect this year, rosters are going to be much smaller, and scholarships can be no smaller than 0.25. The former will definitely help Northern teams; everyone seems crabby about the last two changes.
Etc.: The Michigan library has put together a Bo exhibit that starts the 19th.