Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.
By Heiko Yang
Prior to the season, I predicted that Michigan would beat UConn 14-6. This drew a lot of ire from readers, so I backed off because sometimes it’s not worth arguing with anonymous masses. Devin Gardner is great! UConn blows! Fine. Here’s a box of pom poms.
But the stars have aligned in a such a way that I have no choice but to stand by my original prediction.
Michigan is going on the road for the first time all season, and it just finished putting on a dazzling display of turnovers to the smallest crowd in Big House history or something like that. If I know Brady Hoke and Al Borges, that can mean only one thing on offense: run the ball from under center until Jack Miller gets a rash. There will be a lot of iso’s. There will be a lot of power runs. There will occasionally be plays where Dennis Norfleet does something really cool but gets tripped up at the line of scrimmage and falls forward for a one-yard gain because that’s about how tall he is.
The understated beauty of this kind of offensive game plan is the cruel efficiency with which it kills game clock. If Fitz Toussaint can keep up his three yards per carry and get tackled in bounds, going 75 yards would burn through an entire quarter. In manball terms, that would be perfection.
On the other side of the ball, Michigan’s default strategy is to slowly back down the field -- just toying with the opponent, obviously -- until it can use the boundaries of the end zone as an extra defender. Cover zero, all-out blitz? That's what you think, but there’s definitely a safety in there, and his name is Goal Post. He strongly suggests you kick a field goal.
If executed effectively, the result of Michigan’s game plan is clear: a four-possession game in which Michigan scores two touchdowns and UConn kicks two field goals.
I’m sure you can do the rest of the math yourself.
Michigan 14, UConn 6
By Nick RoUMel
Last week’s scare notwithstanding, there is little to excite the imagination about today’s tilt with the Huskies. Heiko essentially mailed in an extended math problem, and my contribution will be even less relevant. I’m not even going to write about football. Instead, I am going to cash in my 20-year punch-card, and exercise my prerogative to write about baseball.
And here are a few reasons why I don’t burn for the grand old game as I did as a youngster:
Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. Jackson has the third highest career batting average in baseball history at .356; Rose is the all-time hit leader with 4,256. Both were banned from baseball and are not in the Hall of Fame. Evidence that Jackson conspired to throw the 1919 World Series with 7 teammates is scant and disputed. He batted .375, hit the series’ only home run, committed no errors, and threw out a runner at the plate. Rose, who sprinted to first base on every walk, bet on his own team and pissed off the Commissioner. If you visit the Hall of Fame, you’ll see Rabbit Maranville - but not these two guys.
Bob Prince and Ernie Harwell. Prince was to my hometown Pittsburgh Pirates as Harwell was to the Tigers. Each suffered a stunning firing - Prince after 28 years in 1975 due to “personality conflicts;” Harwell after 30 in 1990 for a “new direction.” I gave up on the Pirates when Prince was fired - one reason I don’t get too excited over their renaissance this year.
The Braves and Indians. At least the Atlanta Braves finally got rid of “Chief Knock-A-Homa,” the guy in left field with the feathers, war paint and teepee; but they still have the name and the “tomahawk chop.” The Indian’s grinning Chief Wahoo logo? There is no defense. Even Business Insider calls it “uncomfortably racist.”
Sabermetrics. I was a statistics nut as a kid, but I draw the line at things measuring things you can see: hits, homers, and basic division that gives us the batting and earned run averages. But pencil-necked computer geeks have decided to tell us what really matters. For pitchers it’s the “quality start.” That’s at least six innings and giving up no more than three runs; which means if you go nine, give up four runs, walk nobody, fan 13, and win, that’s not quality. But what really gets my blood boiling is “WAR.” They’ve tinkered with this formula at least three times and I defy even a hard core fan to tell me what it is, other than how many games a pencil-necked geek thinks a player is worth above his theoretical replacement. For example, looking at the Tigers’ 2013 WAR, Max Scherzer is deemed more valuable than Don Kelly …. at the plate.
Sportswriters. This sanctimonious bunch (MGoBlog excepted) are essentially burning witches on the PED issue. One refreshing exception, Peter Pascarelli of ESPN, says “This holier-than-thou attitude from some writers who think they're keepers of the game is getting old; we'll never know for sure who took what and when or how much it helped or hurt.” These writers’ heroes are from the 60’s and 70’s, but they have forgotten that Jim Bouton wrote in “Ball Four” that half of his fellow major leaguers at that time were taking every drug they could to dull pain or improve performance.
Nor do these writers have the guts to go after the greedy owners, who bail on fans use public funds to finance their businesses. This is because they might lose their precious press passes.
Like Counterpunt, the Wolverines are hopping mad. The poor Huskies don’t stand a chance:
Michigan 41, Connecticut 14