Frankly, this game was borderline catastrophic, and we're damn lucky to come out of it with a win and no injuries. But enough about that, already. I'm genuinely puzzled as to why we continue to schedule these supposed 'cupcake' teams when we have almost NOTHING to gain and everything to lose by playing them:
1. Michigan has a long and troubling history of 'playing down' to teams that we are superior to on paper, and this tendency has been disastrous in the past. We always seem to let inferior teams hang around for far too long.
2. Our opponents, on the other hand, usually consider the game against us their figurative BCS Championship game, and they bring everything to the table.
3. We tend not to be very motivated for these games - the team doesn't have that 'fire', the fans aren't really into it, and a lot of people get lulled into a sense of complacency. The discrepancy in enthusiasm can make a big difference on the field.
4. The nature of the game forces us to play conservatively and use 'vanilla' schemes, lest our upcoming opponents glean information from our playcalling or the game film.
5. We don't derive much, if any, value from playing these games. A big win? Meh, we were supposed to win. A close win causes a great deal of concern. And a loss? Absolute (and well-deserved) pandemonium. And don't forget the possibility of potential season-ending injuries, as well.
These games are strategically unwise for the program. Win, and nobody blinks or really seems to care. But poor play leads to narratives like, "UMass put up 37 on Michigan?" If we really want to progress as a program and regain our status as an elite team, we need to start playing elite teams like Alabama rather than 'cupcakes' with nothing to lose.
We may lose. In fact, we may get our asses kicked - but who cares? It's better in the long run to know if we can hang with the best of the best or not, and we actually learn from the experience. What if we somehow managed to keep, say, a team like Alabama close? That's good for the program - it helps recruiting, it gives us a national stage, and we can learn a ton from the experience.
You may not agree with me - and that's fine. But you have to at least start to question the merit of scheduling these teams when it's unclear how we benefit from the experience.
"Coach Mattison told me what the Ravens were about, what he thought," Beyer said. "He definitely encouraged me. I hold his opinion in high regard."