Opponent Watch 2018: Week 9

Opponent Watch 2018: Week 9 Comment Count

BiSB November 1st, 2018 at 12:17 PM

About Last Week Two Weeks Ago

In the middle of the 4th Century BC, a couple of generations after the Gauls sacked Rome, the Kingdom of Macedonia was on the rise in modern-day Greece. King Philip II had forged the Macedonian Army into one of the most feared fighting forces in the ancient world; it was essentially the army that his son, Alexander the Great, would eventually use to conquer the mighty Achaemenid Persian Empire. Having conquered or subjugated much of the Classical World, Philip turned his attention to the city-state of Sparta.

The Spartans were known to be both ferocious and petulant, and their reputation likely forestalled many would-be invasions. After an escalating war of words, Philip sent a threatening note to the Spartans which said, “you are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city.” The Spartans replied simply: “If.” It is unknown whether they were intimidated by this Spartan brashness and bravado, but neither Philip nor his son Alexander ever attempted an invasion of Sparta.

Fortunately for Ancient Sparta, Don Brown wasn’t born for another 24 centuries.

The Road Ahead

Penn State (6-2, 3-2 B1G)

Last week: Beat Iowa, 30-24

Recap:

This was performance art, and no matter how I try, I won’t be able to convey the majesty with words. Like the Grand Canyon, if one could somehow fumble the Grand Canyon. It was #M00N, directed by Michael Bay. It was Alice in Wonderland, but less logical. It was the Total Eclipse of the Heart music video with a scoreboard.

It was awesome.

Here is a (non-inclusive) list of things that happened:

Penn State's faint Big Ten East hopes remain alive for another week. But at what cost to the game of football? It's too soon to tell. 

This team is as frightening as: Unexpected football to the groin.

You think you’re ready for it, and you think you can probably defend against it. But. Fear Level = 7.5

Michigan should worry about: KJ Hamler. He had another big return this week, running one back 67 yards to the Iowa 31 immediately after a pick six. He’s second in the Big Ten in kickoff return average, and that is in addition to his 18.4 yards per catch as a receiver.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Over the last three weeks, Trace McSorely is averaging 6.2 yards per pass attempt and 4.7 yards per carry. Plus, he tweaked his knee last week and briefly left the game, so he might be playing… sorely.

When they play Michigan: This game sets the stakes for The Game. Lose, and The Game still probably decides the winner of the Big Ten East. But win, and… well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Next week: at Michigan, 3:45 p.m., ESPN (PSU +10.5)

[AFTER THE JUMP: A detailed discussion of Rutger's struggles.]

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Opponent Watch 2018: Week 8

Opponent Watch 2018: Week 8 Comment Count

BiSB October 25th, 2018 at 9:00 AM

About Last Week

In the year 390 BC, in the earliest days of the Roman Empire, Gauls from the north invaded the Italian peninsula. They defeated the Romans at the Battle of Allia, and then conquered and sacked Rome. As a ransom for the return of the city, the Gauls demanded 1,000 pounds of gold from the Romans. The Romans agreed.

According to Livy, when it came time to weigh out the gold, the Gauls brought a large scale and a series of weights. The Romans thought the scale and weights were rigged, and they complained to Brennus, the long-haired chieftain of the Gauls, that they were not being treated fairly. Brennus heard their complaint, withdrew his sword, dropped it on the scale with the other weights (adding to the amount of gold the Romans had to bring), and declared “Vae Victis.” The most common translation is “woe to the vanquished.”

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A more modern translation, though, might be “hold this L.”

The Road Ahead

Penn State (5-2, 2-2 B1G)

Last week: Won at Indiana, 33-28

Recap: This game was supposed to be the oasis in the middle of Penn State’s march through a tricky middle portion of the schedule. Instead, the Nittany Lions trailed in this game late in the third quarter, and never managed to separate themselves from a team whose only conference win was over Rutgers by 7. Trace McSorley was almost the entire Penn State offense; he was responsible for more than 75% of Penn State’s 73 offensive plays (36 passes, 16 carries, 3 sacks). That makes 3 straight games where McSorley has been responsible for >70% of plays. He only hit that number twice all of last year.

Penn State has, as an English soccer announcer would say, lost the plot a bit. For the fourth straight week, they’ve turned in a performance that was more head-scratching and less defensible than the week before.

  • They struggled with Illinois for three quarters, which, okay but they won by 39 points so how mad are you gonna get lol.
  • They blew a lead to Ohio State, which, okay but Ohio State is pretty good.
  • They blew a lead to Michigan State, which, okay but fumble luck and weird Sparty shit happened and maybe Michigan State is secretly good.
  • They nearly lost to Indiana, which, okay but… uh… the thing is… hey did you see that Purdue game?

This is not the ideal trajectory for a team that is only now hitting the crux of their schedule. They have consecutive matchups with Iowa, Michigan (on the road), and Wisconsin. They may already be out of the Big Ten East race, but one more loss would certainly do it.

This team is as frightening as: A pancreas. Not 100% sure how it works or what it does, but a bad one killed my pa, so maybe don’t screw around with it. Fear Level = 7.5

Michigan should worry about: Since Don Brown arrived in Ann Arbor, Penn State is the only team to exceed 6 yards per play against Michigan, when they racked up 8.3 YPP last year.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: The fact that Don Brown isn’t sleeping well.

When they play Michigan: Two stops left on the Revenge Tour.

Next week: vs. Iowa, 3:30 p.m., ESPN (PSU -6)

[AFTER THE JUMP: More discussion of ancient Gaul, probably.]

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Opponent Watch 2018: Week 7

Opponent Watch 2018: Week 7 Comment Count

BiSB October 18th, 2018 at 12:17 PM

About Last Week

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If he says "left foot, maize" I'm in real trouble here (Fuller)

The Road Ahead

Michigan State (4-2, 2-1 B1G)

Last week: Won at Penn State, 21-17

Recap: lolwut?

We use the phrase “Peak Sparty” around here a lot, and in a lot of contexts. Indeed, perhaps we overuse it. But if “unranked Michigan State team fresh off a ten point home loss to a bad Northwestern team defeats the #8 team in the country on the road and does so in a fashion that sees them DROP two spots in S&P+” isn’t Peak Sparty, it is only because no prominent MSU player was suspended for the first half of the first play of the game for his involvement a pending RICO case.

I won’t say Michigan State was lucky. That would be a homer-ish thing to say. I would not deign to impugn Brian Lewerke’s 47% completions, or Michigan State’s 1.5-yards-per-play-worse-than-Penn-State performance. I will, however, not-so-subtly gesture towards Bill Connelly, who says that Michigan State was lucky:

Michigan State had a turnover margin that was +4.1 ahead of where national averages suggest it should have been. As each turnover is worth approximately five points, that means the Spartans enjoyed about a 20- to 21-point boost thanks to turnovers luck. In a four-point win. I swear, that happens every single time Sparty plays PSU, Michigan, or Ohio State, doesn’t it...

This was the result of the fact that (1) Michigan State fumbled four time and recovered all four, (2) Penn State fumbled once and lost it, and (3) Penn State defended 16 of Brian Lewerke’s passes, which is an outrageous number, with only one pick. And this isn’t just nerd-theory: Penn State dropped a gift of an interception that would have sealed the game.

This game also featured the most Michigan State drive of all time:

  • Brian Lewerke run for 11 yards
  • Run for 4 yards
  • Incomplete pass
  • Incomplete pass
  • Fake punt for 26 yards
  • Run for 3 yards
  • Halfback pass for 36 yards to the 1 yard line
  • Run for no gain
  • Run for no gain, fumble, recover own fumble
  • Run for no gain to set up 4th and goal but Penn State commits personal foul to get a new set of downs after an MSU player poked a Penn State player in the eye Three Stooges-style
  • Run for 1 yard touchdown

81 yards of grit, determination, empty calories, Harry Potter spells, and chicken entrails.

This team is as frightening as: I… have no idea. Usually Michigan is the team onto which Sparty drops the Alpaca Dominating Mediocrity Out Of Nowhere performance. Respect Level = Yes

Michigan can sleep soundly about: After holding their first five opponents to about 26 rushing yards per game at 1.3 yards per carry, Michigan State allowed Penn State to accumulate 205 yards at 6.4 YPC.

Michigan should worry about: More that 60% of those yards came on two big carries by Miles Sanders. The other 30 carries went for 2.6 YPC.

When they play Michigan: I respect this opponent and the things they choose to do and be. Those things are worthy of respect and admiration and additional respect.

Next week: vs. Michigan, noon, FOX (MSU +7)

[AFTER THE JUMP: More respect. Also Rutger.]

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Opponent Watch 2018: Week 6

Opponent Watch 2018: Week 6 Comment Count

BiSB October 11th, 2018 at 2:01 PM

About Last Week

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Some kick returns go better than others (Upchurch)

The Road Ahead

Wisconsin (4-1, 2-0 B1G)

Last week: Beat Nebraska, 41-24

Recap: Bizarro Wisconsin replaced Regular Wisconsin so smoothly that we barely even noticed.

After finishing an average of #10 in the country over previous six seasons in S&P+ defense and #12 in yards per play (and never finished worse than #21 in either metric), Wisconsin is currently the #55 defense, and I ranked #100 in yards per play allowed. Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s offense – which hadn’t had a top-40 season in the past three years – is one of the best in the country.

Wisconsin gained 7.4 yards per play against Nebraska in their second-most efficient conference outing of the past 3+ seasons. They also allowed 7.62 yards per play, their worst number since the 59-0 Big Ten Championship Game loss to Ohio State in 2014. Over the last three games, Wisconsin has face the #106, #75, and #67 S&P+ offenses (BYU, Iowa, and Nebraska respectively), and ceded more than 7.1 yards per play over that stretch.

This team is as frightening as: Bizarro Wisconsin. A rude, craft beer-swilling Big 12 team. Fear Level = 7.5

Michigan should worry about: Alex Hornibrook has cut his interceptions way back this year; through five games and 114 attempts, he has only thrown two picks.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Wisconsin’s offensive line has allowed more pressure than one would have expected, but it is the defensive line that has the real pressure issue; they are #115 in the country in sack rate and are tied for #119 in sacks per game, registering only five sacks on the season.

When they play Michigan: Shea Patterson with time against a wounded secondary, you say?

Next week: @ Michigan, 7:30 p.m., ABC (UW +7)

[AFTER THE JUMP: More stupid analogies]

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Opponent Watch: Week 5

Opponent Watch: Week 5 Comment Count

BiSB October 4th, 2018 at 10:11 AM

Hello, friends. Sorry I missed you last week. I tried to call, but it went straight to voicemail. Anyway, evil forces set upon me from realms where men dare to tread last week, which happened to coincide with the end of the fiscal quarter, so I couldn't do the thing. As my way of apologizing, please look under your seat. I have left a gift for each of you.

About Last Week

Michigan won and this is a binary win/lose sport so no need to look any deeper.

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Barron

The Road Ahead

Maryland (3-1, 1-0 B1G)

Last week: Beat Minnesota, 42-13; Bye

Recap: Maryland had a bye this week, so the Minnesota game was the last piece of evidence we will get about Maryland before they play Michigan. And this latest piece of evidence was weird. Really, really weird. How does a team that scored zero offensive points and average 3.75 yards per play against Temple turn around and score 35 points (on 10 drives) and 8.47 yards per play against Minnesota? I suppose it’s possible Minnesota is just that bad, or that the Temple game was just a blip… but I don’t think you can write a coherent narrative of Maryland’s first four weeks that doesn’t contain at least one shrug emoji.

This team is as frightening as: Plinko, but where the $0 spots are replaced with “kick in the junk.” Fear Level = 6

Michigan should worry about: Maryland still has one of the most explosive running games in the country: they are #3 in the country in S&P+ marginal explosiveness and #6 in IsoPPP, and they lead the country in carries of 20+ yards against FBS competition. Maryland also has the #1 and #2 backs in terms of yards per carry: Anthony McFarland is averaging 10.78 YPC, and Ty Johnson is at 7.50 YPC.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Remember how Minnesota made Michigan’s offense look last year? Yeah, they might not be the best barometer

When they play Michigan: Don Brown was born forged out of assorted scrap iron and push brooms to stop spread-to-run teams like Maryland.

Next week: @ Michigan, noon, ABC (Maryland +17.5)

[AFTER THE JUMP: additional things]

Wisconsin (3-1, 1-0 B1G)

Last week: Won at Iowa, 28-17; Bye

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Abandon all hope, ye who enter here (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Recap: One look at Iowa’s schedule for this year told you last week was gonna be How-The-Hell-Did-Iowa-Do-That Week at Kinnick. The game where Kirk Ferentz turns in his Risk cards for extra armies, and places them immediately in his Oceania stronghold. Or where he takes his remaining vacation day for the year to organize the garage and basement. Where he pushes all his chips onto the felt and then stands on a 7 when the dealer is showing a face card, only to have the dealer bust.

Well, Wisconsin survived Kinnick… barely. They trailed Iowa by three with under one minute left, and needed an 88-yard drive to take the lead. But both Michigan and Ohio State fans can tell you that a four-point win at Kinnick is plenty. But then Wisconsin added an end around touchdown FROM A TIGHT END to bump the gap to 11 points. Because Big Ten.

This team is as frightening as: Regular Wisconsin, which is a downgrade from Mildly Impolite Wisconsin. Fear Level = 8

Michigan should worry about: The running game remains extremely efficient, and Jonathan Taylor has cracked 100 yards every week.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: By itself, you could just chalk this last game up to Kinnick. But if you lump in the BYU game, it looks like Wisconsin may not be the polite Midwestern steamroller we expected.

When they play Michigan: Lotta big guys.

Next week: vs. Nebraska, 7:30 p.m., BTN (Wisconsin -21)

[After THE JUMP: an exclusive look inside the mind of Frames Janklin]

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Opponent Watch 2018: Week 3

Opponent Watch 2018: Week 3 Comment Count

BiSB September 20th, 2018 at 12:27 PM

About Last Week

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We went like this, he went like that. I said to Hollywood, "Where'd he go?" Hollywood says, "Where'd who go?” (Barron)

The Road Ahead

Nebraska (0-2, 0-0 B1G)

Last week: Lost to Troy, 24-19

Recap: At the risk of breaking character, this one isn’t quite as bad as it looks, for two reasons. First, while it is tempting to say, “lol, TROY,” the Troy Trojans of Troy (We’re From Troy!) were 11-2 last season with a win over LSU. In 2016 they were 10-3 and played Clemson to the wire. They're not a powerhouse, but they are real team. The second reason is that Adrian Martinez was out, and Nebraska had to turn to walk-on Andrew Bunch. Bunch is nowhere near the runner Martinez is; he rushed 7 times for 28 yards (sacks removed), and his running limitations meant that Troy could play the pass more honestly.

This one also could have gotten ugly, and didn’t. Troy was up 17-0, and Nebraska managed to fight back to 17-13. They also responded to what looked to be the knockout blow (a Troy touchdown drive with under 7 minutes left to give the Trojans an 11-point lead) with a 75-yard touchdown drive of their own.

That all said, Nebraska is 0-2, and were apparently only saved from being 0-3 by a freak lightning storm that averted the wrath of Akron. And with a brutal remaining schedule (they have road games against Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa, and their other crossover game is against Michigan State), S&P+ predicts them to end up with about 3.7 wins this season.

This team is as frightening as: The Star Wars Trilogy. Decent, but overrated because of their name. Recent reboots have been widely panned. Their fans think that it is the greatest thing ever, but simultaneously that everything about it is being handled improperly at all times.  Fear Level = 6

Michigan should worry about: Michigan has pass protection issues, and Nebraska registered 7 sacks against Troy, bringing their total to 10 sacks through 2 games.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: lol, TROY.

When they play Michigan: If Martinez plays at (or near) 100%, this will be interesting. If not, this will be much more comfortable. For us. Not for Andrew Bunch. It will be decidedly uncomfortable for Andrew Bunch.

Next week: @ Michigan, noon, FS1 (Nebraska +18)

[AFTER THE JUMP: #CannonInTheD is dead. We discuss in a measured and reasonable tone.]

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Opponent Watch 2018: Week 2

Opponent Watch 2018: Week 2 Comment Count

BiSB September 14th, 2018 at 9:52 AM

About Last Week

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Come back. We can be friends. (Fuller) 

The Road Ahead

SMU (0-2, 0-0 AAC)

Last week: Lost to TCU, 42-12

Recap: SMU and TCU were delayed by lightning, and when the game did start, it was in conditions that could best be described as… soup-like? Is "brothy" a word? Anyway, hilarity ensued.

SMU actually took a 9-0 lead on the yakety-snap safety, and was down only 14-12 at halftime. But even when the game was close, it wasn’t competitive. After SMU put up 108 yards on their first two drives, their next twelve possessions totaled 6, 0, 0, 1, -2, 31, -4, -10, 10, -2, 13, and 1 yards, respectively. That’s 44 yards, or 3.7 yards per possession.

SMU has now lost their last three games – their first three under Sonny Dykes – by an average of 31 points, and have given up at least 42 in each game.

This team is as frightening as:

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Fear Level = 2

Michigan should worry about: SMU QB Ben Hicks can’t POSSIBLY continue to play this poorly. Pre-Sonny Dykes, he completed 58.7% of his passes at 7.8 YPA with better than a 3-to-1 TD/INT ratio. In the last three games, he’s at 51% and 5.1 YPA, with 3 TDs and 3 INTs.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: SMU is dead last in the country in offensive plays of 10+ yards per game. Through two games – one of which was against North Texas – they only have 13 such plays.

When they play Michigan: Poor damn Carl Grapentine in the second half. “The tackle is made by… uh… number… okay, who the hell is that?”

Next week: at Michigan, 3:30 p.m., BTN (Michigan -35)

[AFTER THE JUMP: words, and occasional pictures]

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Opponent Watch 2018: Week 1

Opponent Watch 2018: Week 1 Comment Count

BiSB September 6th, 2018 at 12:13 PM

How're the hams DH? [Bryan Fuller]

About Last Week

We have met the Rock. And he is us.

Image result for opponent watch mgoblog

The Road Ahead

Western Michigan (0-1, 0-0 MAC)

Last week: Lost at Syracuse, 55-42

Recap: The good news for Western Michigan is that the offense put up absolutely massive numbers. They accumulated 621 total yards, including 379 passing. The Broncs averaged 9.70 yards per play, which was the 3rd-best performance of any team in the country, behind only Nevada (who played Portland State) and Oklahoma.

The bad news was that it was almost entirely in garbage time. They fell behind 34-7, allowing 4 touchdowns and 2 field goals on their first 6 defensive drives. Despite receiving the opening kickoff, they ran exactly four offensive snaps in the entire game when the score was within one possession. Syracuse started pulling starters, and Westerndid make the game somewhat interesting, cutting the gap to 34-28 and 41-35, but both times Syracuse scored like 12 seconds later.

This team is as frightening as: People telling you how safe air travel is from a not dying 'standpoint.' Sure, they're usually right. But even if you don't actually crash, there are a lot of possible outcomes that are disagreeable on the scale from 0 to DEATH.  Michigan might win this game, but still walk out like "yeah, that could have gone better." Fear Level = 3

Michigan should worry about: A week after surrendering a number of big shots downfield, Michigan gets a Western team that ran 4 plays of >50 yards against a Power 5 defense.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: A week after playing a defense that was good, Michigan gets a Western defense that is not good.

When they play Michigan: Dammit it would have been nice if this was Week 1.

Next week: @ Michigan, noon, FS1 (WMU +27.5)

[Hit THE JUMP for some sincere encouragement that comes off as insincere]

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Opponent Watch 2018: Preview, Part 2

Opponent Watch 2018: Preview, Part 2 Comment Count

BiSB August 22nd, 2018 at 8:53 AM

A few notes:

  1. NASHVILLE FOLKS: A reminder that I will be at the Nashville UofM Alumni Club’s preseason kickoff happy hour this Thursday from 5:00-7:00 at Frisky Frog’s. I will talk football and life, two things I am not good at but have watched others do for many years.
  2. This is the second in a two-part preview of the slate of Michigan’s 2018 opponents. You can find Part 1 here.
  3. h/t to Hockeybear for the header image.
  4. You have something in your teeth.
  5. Because there is no Iowa, The Rock will be assigned after Week 1.

Wisconsin

Last year: 13-1 (9-0 B1G), lost Big Ten Championship Game to Ohio State, Beat Miami (YTM) in the Orange Bowl 34-24.

Recap: I keep waiting for Wisconsin to do something.

Be bad at something. Be amazing at something. Have a fantastic protagonist, or a devious antagonist. Experience an amusing scandal (not, repeat NOT a scandal like the current Quintez Cephus thing). Have your large coach get too sensitive about a naked doppelganger schtupping a shark. SOMETHING.

No, instead, Wisconsin just keeps doing the same shit year after year. Double-digit wins. Efficient but largely milquetoast offense featuring a bellcow running back following a mammoth wall of plump yet deceptively mobile white dudes. Just enough ball-throwin’ to make native Wisconsinites uncomfortable. Stout defenses ostensibly led by a cavalcade of prettyboy linebackers but really anchored by three down lineman who could have occupied the entire Persian army at Thermopylae and sent the other 297 dudes home. Fat kicker. Big Ten West champs. Lose in the Big Ten Championship Game.

Last year, they were extra Wisconsin, which is somehow both more and simultaneously less on-brand. The defense took a step forward from “pretty good” to “on par with the best in the country,” and the Badgers went 12-0 in the regular season… before they lost the Big Ten Championship Game. Because Wisconsin.

When last we saw them: When Wisconsin had the ball, the two teams played a fantastic, competitive football game. When Michigan had the ball… Wisconsin quickly got the ball back. Michigan only surrendered 325 yards (a good chunk of which came after Michigan lost Brandon Peters and everyone kinds knew the game wasn’t gonna end well and the air left the balloon) and 17 offensive points, but only put up 234 yards and 14 points. Michigan still hasn’t won in Madison since 2001.

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Alex Hornibrook: calmer than most would be under similar circumstances (Fuller)

This team is as frightening as: Running out of Pabst. Fear Level = 8

Michigan should worry about: Wisconsin’s Large Adult Son offensive line might be the best in the country.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Michigan has beaten Wisconsin in 6 of the last 7 in Ann Arbor, including 2008, which still cannot be explained by Wisconsin’s greatest scientists.

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Pictured: Wisconsin’s greatest scientist

When they play Michigan: OPE, SORRY MY LEFT GUARD JUST RAN YA OVER THERE. ‘SCUSE ME WHILE MY RUNNING BACK SCOOTS AROUND YA.

First game: vs. Western Kentucky, 9:00 Friday, ESPN

AFTER THE JUMP: We dream an impossible Rutgers dream.

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Opponent Watch 2018: Preview, Part 1

Opponent Watch 2018: Preview, Part 1 Comment Count

BiSB August 15th, 2018 at 10:54 AM

Greetings once again, dear reader! I have missed each and every both of you. It’s good to be back.

Some years we stroll into the new season bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager for another jaunty season of sporting athletic matches with our familiar regional foot-ball opponents. This year, we’re feeling a little more like Robin Williams emerging from the Jumanji board, or Ernest Shackleton wandering into a bar on South Georgia Island saying “IT’S A LITTLE BRISK OUT THERE, FELLAS.”

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What season is it?

This was a rough offseason, both because of the disappointing way the 2017 season ended, and because of the Big Ten Conference’s apparent desire to destroy our faith in the decency of humanity. But the 2018 football season holds great promise, and schools have to be running low on cartoonishly evil schemes by now. So let us begin anew.

I’m sure both of you know this already, but each week during the season we take a look at how each of Michigan’s opponents fared, and what that tells us about Michigan, the road ahead, and the general nature of space and time. This is part one of our two-part preview. Ready? No? Too bad. You’re stuck here, at least until the dice read 5 or 8.

Notre Dame

Last year: 10-3, Beat LSU in the Citrus Bowl 21-17

Recap: I’m assuming you all did the required reading over the summer, so I don’t have to spend any time discussing Notre Dame’s 2017 season or the expectations for 2018. No? Dangit people. Not an auspicious start.

The nutshell version: Notre Dame started off 8-1, with only a lone one-point loss to eventual national runner-up Georgia blemishing their record, and were in fine position to make the CFB Playoff. Then they lost 41-8 to the Miami Fightin’ Turnover Chains and 38-20 to the Stanford Fightin’ Blockchain Technology Startups, and finished the season a respectable but disappointing 10-3.

When last we saw them: Certain rules of math and logic would dictate that, because there were previous games, and because those games took place at non-overlapping intervals, there therefore must be a most recent previous game. But that is not the case here. Michigan and Notre Dame played a series of games, many of which involved Michigan quarterbacks doing hilarious things to Charlie Weis and/or Brian Kelly… and then they just stopped playing. No need to delve much further.

I SAID NO DELVING.

This team is as frightening as:

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Fear Level = 7

Michigan should worry about: Notre Dame returns the majority of a defense that was very good last year.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Brandon Wimbush struggles to, as the kids say, throw the football to his teammates in a repeatable fashion. He completed less than 50% of his passes on the year, and didn’t crack 53% in his final eight games. And given that Notre Dame loses Josh Adams and two Top-10 NFL Draft pick offensive linemen (and with running back Dexter Williams reportedly suspended), Notre Dame may have to rely more on his arm. And early fall camp reviews are not great.

When they play Michigan: Maybe Don Brown will have spent some time over the previous nine months thinking of something fun and interesting. Who knows. Could happen.

First game: vs. Michigan, 7:30 p.m., NBC

AFTER THE JUMP: Several more teams... but you'll never guess which ones.

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