— Purdue Sports Turf (@PUSportsTurf) October 4, 2016
A little on the nose there, God. Let's check in with goings-on in West Lafayette:
Purdue Football is Literally Being Sucked Into The Earth
It is either a busted pipe or a hellmouth opening to end our misery
It is strongly implied that Hammer and Rails would prefer the latter.
What is your favorite color?. It's coming up: a visit to Cable Subscribers Stadium.
ANN ARBOR – Facing fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh kept his offense on the field.
He also provided an assist by waving his arms to quiet the Michigan Stadium crowd, and they obliged, just before Khalid Hill plunged into the end zone to cap the Wolverines' opening drive in a 49-10 win over Penn State two weeks ago.
Crowd control is just one benefit of playing at home, which the No. 4 Wolverines (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) won't have for the first time this season when they travel to Rutgers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) for Saturday's 7 p.m. kickoff.
A valiant attempt to inject some interesting into a game with a four-touchdown spread, but that stadium will be half Michigan fans. Michigan won't get its first real road test until the Michigan State game, and, uh... I am not going to put some #disrespekt on it just yet. Suffice it to say that that doesn't seem like quite as high of a mountain five weeks into the season.
The gently rising foothills that will take us to The Game. S&P+ likes us. S&P+ does not like Michigan State and Iowa, and hoo boy did Bill Connelly hear a lot about that latter this offseason. With both those teams underperforming even the modest expectations placed on them by fancystats, Michigan's journey to Football Armageddon II looks downright likely. Absurdly so, in fact.
Michigan is a better than two-touchdown favorite and 87%+ to win all of those games except the trip to Iowa City. OSU has a near-identical closing stretch, with the part of potential spoiler played by Wisconsin.
MSU? Well, if those numbers hold they'll be striving for something all season.
Probability of finishing 11-1 or better: 0.0%
Probability of finishing 6-6 or better: 44.7%
This is going to go well. Immovable object, meet a breathy gasp:
Rutgers can't throw the football
And with Janarion Grant out for the year, there aren't many great options to catch it either. The Scarlet Knights have basically had a pitiful passing attack all year. But last week against Ohio State had to be rock bottom. Rutgers was just 3 of 16 for 33 yards. As a team, the Scarlet Knights are completing 47.4 percent of their passes.
I wonder if we'll see this at some point. Per a Harbaugh interview on 97.1 last week, Jabrill Peppers is inventing new ways to football:
"We put a different play in with him yesterday in practice. Then he got it in the meeting and he left, went back to the defensive meeting and came out to practice," Harbaugh said Thursday on 97.1-FM. "He was a running back and his assignment was to block. But he blocked and then he went out for a route. He got his blocking assignment done and then he continued out into a route. We threw it to him, which was not the design, but from now on -- and we've been running this play for 10 years -- (it will be).
"In 10 years, we've never had a back who got his blocking assignment done (on that play) and got into the route at the same time and he did it the first time like that was the way the play should've been run for the last 10 years. That's the kind of stuff he does. It breaks the mold darn near every time he does something."
We'd have to see Peppers actually get a touch to do so, grumble grumble.
An interesting thing on "team opens at X". Last week I told people that Michigan opened at –9 and moved to –10.5. This turns out to not be accurate. These days most people are hitting up Vegas Insider for their odds, and what happens is one obscure online sportsbook getting out in front of the pack:
Lots of people bet online even though it’s super illegal, and that’s probably where Vegas Insider is getting their info, and that’s what Joe Truthteller means by “Vegas.” You are kind of right:
It’s mostly blank spaces on that chart, too. The only major sports book offering anything is on-the-nose-named BetOnline, which rushes to get their lines out before anyone else each Sunday. ...
BetOnline knows they are taking a major risk by offering super early lines, which is why they ramp down the maximum bets until the other (sharper) line originators have a chance to chime in. ...
The main reason I object to referring to the BetOnline number as the opening line, however, is because every single week, the same annoying pattern plays out. BetOnline will release a relatively weak line on many games. A few hours later, the major Vegas originators will weigh in with sharper lines that differ by maybe as many as six points. Twitter people will then talk about how “sharps have pounded the line down to X” or “Vegas has moved the line already.”
A quick shift in the odds is an early line that is superseded by the heavy hitters. Michigan really opened at –10.5 and stuck there, but you could get a small bet in at a dubious online casino at –9. The end.
This week in targeting roulette. Penn State's Curtis Cothran got the boot for a hit almost identical to Branch on Morelli minus about half the force:
I don't see helmet contact, but I can see how the officials did on the Curtis Cothran ejection. It's very close. pic.twitter.com/L2cq9B0hyt
— Greg Pickel (@GregPickel) October 2, 2016
That was upheld despite an apparent lack of helmet to helmet contact. Meanwhile Malik McDowell was ejected for making sure his helmet was well out of the quarterback's strike zone:
This is the hit that got Malik McDowell ejected from the game ... Unbelievable.https://t.co/mE0WTGCNyN
— Rob Donaldson (@DraftCharge) October 2, 2016
Sometimes you can't win: Cothran hit with his eyes on the target and got booted. McDowell seemingly went out of his way to keep his head down and got booted.
I've seen some assertions that the McDowell hit was indeed targeting because McDowell lowered his head like that (and hit the guy with his shoulder), but the rule seems to specifically state that targeting requires a hit to the head:
No player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent (See Note 2 below) with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder. This foul requires that there be at least one indicator of targeting (See Note 1 below).
It then goes on to clarify what hits to the head are covered by this in note 1, where the crown of helmet thing comes in:
Note 1: "Targeting" means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. Some indicators of targeting include but are not limited to:
- Launch—a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make forcible contact in the head or neck area
- A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground
- Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area
- Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet
I guess the fourth bullet point here does not mention the head and neck, therefore any contact with the crown is targeting, and that's why McDowell got booted? If so that's some terrible wording. It should probably be a similar penalty with its own definition, because lumping what McDowell did in with a rule otherwise very specifically about whacking people in the head is bound to cause confusion.
Etc.: Early NHL draft rankings include four Michigan players and commits. The Supreme Court will not hear the O'Bannon case, leaving both sides disappointed. The NCAA has been declared in violation of anti-trust laws but the 9th Circuit decision leaves everyone in limbo. Trevor Siemian! Still happening! Trying to find OSU weaknesses. Indiana's win over MSU was not a fluke. Minnesota focused on taking out the most dangerous part of PSU's team. Basketball media day takeaways.