Preview: Northwestern 2013

Preview: Northwestern 2013

Submitted by Brian on November 15th, 2013 at 1:42 PM

Other stuff here: Ace FFFF: Offense(!), Defense(!)


WHAT Michigan vs Northwestern
WHERE Ryan Field
Evanston, IL
WHEN 3:30 PM Eastern
November 16th, 2013
THE LINE Northwestern -3
WEATHER mid 50s, cloudy, rainy
20 mph winds
why am I going to this


Two teams will play a football game.

Run Offense vs Northwestern

After last weekend it doesn't seem like the opponent matters here. Be they Alabama or an irregular unit of limbs blown off in World War I, eleven entities set in opposition to the Michigan rushing offense will bludgeon it with whatever is handy until it lets out a final wet squeak and collapses in a pile of hypocrisy and charlatanism six inches from its starting point.



But I suppose we have to evaluate. Northwestern's rush defense is middling at best, clubbed for 248 and 286 yards by Ohio State and Wisconsin but able to hold Northwestern in low-scoring games against Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska. Those opponents all piled up 150-ish yards with Nebraska approaching 200 themselves but they required piles of carries to do it: 49 for Minnesota, 41 for Iowa, 50 for Nebraska. Sack adjusted YPCs start out ugly and then are mostly respectable:

  • OSU: 5.3
  • Wisconsin: 6.4
  • Minnesota: 4.3
  • Iowa: 3.5
  • Nebraska: 4.8

As of last week, Northwestern was just about dead average in the Big Ten at giving up sack adjusted yards on the ground with 4.7 on the season. They didn't play last week, so that holds. They're just flat middling.

The catch, of course, is that all of the teams they've played so far with the possible exception of Iowa can, you know, run the ball. Forward. Michigan patently cannot.

This is the point at which I say things like enormous outliers, no one's had back-to-back negative rushing games since 2008, things are bound to turn around, it just takes a little bit of elbow grease and derring-do. And I do kind of believe bits of that. At some point Michigan will try to take the ball forward on the ground and do so. Northwestern's not that much better than Indiana statistically and Nebraska was… well, it was a series of unblocked blitzes that Michigan never found an answer to.

At some point the dam has to break, at which point a sickly green trail of algae feeding on the broken dreams of Michigan fans will charge forward for three yards a carry. Is that going to be this game? If they want to do it this year, that would be advisable.

Key Matchup: You versus Your Liver. You hate your liver and want to drown it; your liver feels the same way about you, buddy.


Hokepoints Reviews Fourth and Long

Hokepoints Reviews Fourth and Long

Submitted by Seth on November 5th, 2013 at 10:59 AM


Previously in this space: The excerpt. Bacon Q&A with Brian and readers.

So there was a new Bacon book this year. We need to review this book. I'm going to do this with the expectation that you have either read it already or are going to. You should. It is a Bacon book. You are reading MGoBlog; either you are a person who appreciates Bacon or else a visiting Sparty looking for more trolling fodder, in which case help yourself to the board where I promise you there's plenty. Or better yet, read some Bacon—you're in the Big Ten; this concerns you too. And he says the Red Cedar is nice.9040891

This is not a negative review, even though I have a tendency to focus on the "needs work" aspects—I'm the guy who walked out of The Return of the King after five years of unmitigated Peter Jackson man-crushing and complained that there were too many endings. So apologies to John U., who's higher in my esteem than Mr. Jackson and just about everyone whose quotes aren't emblazoned on a wall somewhere, for the plurality of minuses below.

The book is available wherever they sell books these days. Amazon links: Kindle, Hardcover. I bought it on Kindle.

More Bacon. Ever since Bo's Lasting Lessons, the chance to devour a new Bacon book has been somewhat of an event around these parts. As a Michigan fan it would be tough to follow the unparalleled access and insight into the Rich Rod program accomplished with Three and Out, specifically because that unvarnished snapshot was so starkly antithetical to Dave Brandon's meticulous staging of his Michigan show: You knew at the time that no true journalist would be allowed to see behind the bunting again, so it should only come as a mild disappointment that there is little about the Michigan program in this book that you didn't already know.

Fourth and Long: the Fight for the Soul of College Football is four unequal looks at four 2012 Big Ten programs, or four and a half if you count a mini-treatment that Michigan State and Mark Hollis receive as host of an Ohio State road game. In order of detail:

The Kindle X-ray. The next 20 keywords, in order, are Mike Zordich, Ohio State Buckeyes, Dave Brandon, Matt McGloin, Pat Fitzgerald, NFL, Joe Paterno, Nebraska, Wolverines, head coach, Wisconsin, Ohio, Rich Mauti, Jordan Hill, Denard Robinson, Chicago, Spider Caldwell, and Dave Joyner.
  1. Penn State from the point of view of its players, former players, coaches, and equipment managers as they find themselves taking the brunt of the Penn State Awful Thing, and the NCAA's and PSU brass's callow responses to it.
    ======HUGE GAP======
  2. Michigan from Bacon's own point of view of its fans, as those fans interact with Brandon's corporate-itude.
  3. Ohio State from the P.O.V. of Urban Meyer as he goes from win to win trying to get Zach Boren to like him, and
  4. Northwestern as the paragon of virtue.

Bacon set out, as is evident from the title and made clear throughout the book, to examine these four schools from different points of view (players, AD, head coach, and president, respectively), and use the findings to determine if any of the Big Ten's current models for college football are sustainable for college football in general. In it he consistently finds players and fans who "get it" while the people in control seek new and better ways to milk it.

But he could only use what he got from each school. With Ohio State the access was mostly restricted to Urban on game days. He brushes against tatgate but doesn't get into the cars or any other "everybody knows, nobody can prove" things—you have to appreciate that Bacon will never accuse somebody without proof (especially considering he's an avowed Michigan fan talking about Ohio State) but it's really hard to talk about college sports and the competitive problems therein without admitting there are relative bad guys. The Gee quote—"I hope he doesn't fire me!"—is in there in reference to the bloated role of college football head coach in America. The closest he comes to pointing out OSU's exceptionalism in this regard is when addressing the carrying off of Tressel after last year's Game:

"The Buckeyes do not run a renegade program, but they once again demonstrated they don't seem to care if their actions make others think they do."

This isn't a complaint; Bacon handled a sticky situation about as well as he could. With Northwestern he got some key interviews, particularly with Pat Fitzgerald, but no warts (this could be because they don't have any).

With Michigan Bacon was outside looking in, so he used some of the Bacon-usual suspects—Carty, the dueling barbershops, the public comments of James Duderstadt and Don Canham, Brian Cook of MGoBlog, etc. There's also an inside look at the Mud Bowl, and most interestingly, a candid interview with Michigan's band director about Send-the-Band-to-Dallas-gate. I was more intrigued by the comments made by Bill Martin on the corporatization of NCAA football, which I'll come back to. The whole Notre Dame saga is covered. Except for the band's comments most of this is old news to you.

The result is a book that's 52% about Penn State trying to survive 2012, with a bunch of stuff thrown in about some other schools and corporations to underscore a point made clear without leaving Happy Valley.

[After the jump: it's just, like, my opinion man.]

Unverified Voracity Catches Up

Unverified Voracity Catches Up

Submitted by Brian on September 3rd, 2013 at 5:12 PM

Note: some of this is very old, because last week was not good for UVing things.


Anybody in the world who had anything to do with this stopping: I hate you.

Other hype video. Old Hat put the new one up.

As mentioned in the game column, a large improvement on last year's. Old Hat's videos have been the one consistently good thing about the Stadium Atmosphere Buzzword Utilization Reframing.

Fig things. Just figgin' my things. You've probably seen this, but if not:


Now you have.

Well is it or isn't it. Brian Kelly adopts AD's talking points, calls Michigan a "regional" rivalry, makes ND Nation squee, gets so much pushback from people pretending that Michigan-Notre Dame has been going on since the Dark Ages that he recants at his next press conference.

A stupid media kerfuffle but one that indicates how central Michigan-Notre Dame is to college football and how wrong it is that the series is ending.


Northwestern corner Dwight White

A major loss for nerds. Northwestern starting corner Daniel Jones is out for the season with an injury suffered in the Cal game. This is Northwestern, which is always putting together its secondary out of remaindered Hello Kitty plush toys, so the result was about what you'd expect:

Next up for the Wildcats is Dwight White, a redshirt freshman who got more or less torched by Cal's Jared Goff in his first game as a Wildcat, allowing a 52-yard touchdown grab to Cal's Chris Harper as well as several other big plays. He'll have to learn on the job, and fast, if Northwestern wants to avoid further 450-plus yard passing performances as the year goes on.

Looks like it'll be another haywire season for the Wildcats. Say what you want about Northwestern, but gotdayum they play some fun games. They can even make MSU watchable. Maybe.

At least watch it for the intro. MGoVideo has unearthed a copy of the 1994 Purdue game, which apparently wasn't televised but was available on something called the "Michigan Video Ticket," which cut out all the huddles but did include a play by play guy who can't pronounce Remy Hamilton's name:

1994 Michigan at Purdue by mgovideo

You are probably thinking "Wheatley and Biakabutuka at the same time. /drool" I am too.

In even more vintage recordings, a 1927 newsreel from the Detroit News detailing the graduation losses suffered:

More in a similar vein: Oosterbaan honored by Muskegon, Michigan beats Chicago in front of 57,000 road fans (both teams apparently wore the same uniforms), Michigan beats Navy, and Michigan goes down to Minnesota, "Giants of the North." Last one contains an aerial shot of Michigan Stadium back in the day. Michigan had a player named "Pucklewartz" at the time.

Speaking of Oosterbaan, here's Jake Ryan with his godson:


Just don't yank around seniors' numbers and we'll be cool, legacy jerseys. Not that you are actually sentient, legacy jerseys. And don't think about getting sentient, either. I've seen Terminator.

Cutting the cord, part 60 or something. ESPN is negotiating with Apple and others to provide the whole package to internet providers, no cable or satellite required. That would be an enormous shift. I wonder how much it would cost? Some cable analyst said 30 bucks a month, but that was under a basic assumption that 80% of cable viewers would drop it—dubious, to say the least. The mothership is six bucks a pop, but the rest of the package has minimal value outside of ESPN2.

Stauskas throwing down. Game, blouses:

Wow, this is old. Yeah. I told you.

Combo forward search continues. Michigan target Devin Robinson released a top five that does not include the Wolverines. He was probably Michigan's top target after Looney dropped them, so now the field opens up. Ypsi's Jaylen Johnson visited recently and is improving his offensive game; Aussie import Jonah Bolden just popped up on the radar and claims to be a Michigan fan from way back.

Meanwhile, if you're still holding out hope for Luke Kennard, I wouldn't. He just made another visit to Lexington on a "spur of the moment decision."

The Process. A decision-making flowchart:

  1. Decide to do something for a tiny amount of short-term revenue without regard to your brand.
  2. Wait until the decision reaches the internet.
  3. Panic as half of internet rolls its eyes at the stupid decision and the other half invades Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork, rants at you.
  4. Hastily reverse decision.
  5. Blame the internet for overreacting, make nonsensical argument that it leapt to conclusions.

This has happened three times in the last month. First it was the field goal nets, then the seat cushions, then the giant noodle. I'm not sure what's more worrisome: the lack of foresight in the decisions themselves or the open contempt for people who don't like those decisions. The seat cushion thing was especially rich, as the department blamed the internet for thinking that a policy stated in bold on the official site was the official policy of the University of Michigan. That is not leaping to conclusions. There is not even a conclusion to draw. It is a fact.

Etc.: Here's Notre Dame-Temple if you want to check out Saturday's enemy. Bruce Feldman interviews Devin Gardner. Expanding Tom Hammond head. Every Play videos seem dead but here's some other guy putting together everything Gardner did from Saturday. Michigan Monday. Brabbs on his kick to beat Washington.

Monumental has wallpaper. Catching up with Michigan's departures.