Deep In The Night I Heard The Pealing Of Bells

Submitted by Brian on October 12th, 2015 at 12:24 PM

10/10/2015 – Michigan 38, Northwestern 0 – 5-1, 2-0 Big Ten

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[Bryan Fuller]

It was one fan, maybe two or three, in the south endzone. He or she or they wrote themselves into a corner of Michigan lore with one of the simplest chants in sports. It's the one that gets deconstructed into the letter D and the outline of a fence at NFL stadiums across the country. It is about as unique and special as "Seven Nation Army" at this point, but life is all about timing.

I have been to every Michigan home game in the last 18 years and I have never heard that. It is alien, the kind of thing I recoil from because it represents the melting of our special Michigan snowflake.

And holy shit, man. The little pin-pricks all across your scalp; the tremor in the hands; the flush of sweat; the welling of tears manfully suppressed. I could not participate myself. I was too gob-smacked to do much of anything at that moment. Michigan was up 38-0 with time about to expire. It was 4th and 17. If you had asked me to draw a card from the deck at that moment I couldn't have managed it.

Since the podcast started I've looked at a lot of lyrics from songs I love, and on the page they're flat nothings. This was the inverse of that. Two syllables; one word; and yet, poetry. 

----------------------------------------------

This is it, already. The building process turned out to be a single offseason of four-hour practices and competition over everything from starting positions to the most elegant mashed potato sculpture at dinner. Brady Hoke may not have been able to point his team in the right direction given two tries, but he could recruit, and the fruits of his labors have been honed molecule-thin by a man who can get hat-displacingly angry up a billion points in the second half.

Michigan fans were dying for this. Barely anyone left until deep into the fourth quarter, and there were still enough people ready to run through a wall with 29 seconds left, enough people to rattle the press box and send electricity up your spine.

The recent Harbaugh-to-NFL flare ups caused Michigan twitter to once again latch on to the pant leg of anybody who dared assert that Harbaugh would ever leave the confines of Ann Arbor (save for road games, of course). In the aftermath, media members got rabies shots and quietly conferred about how Wolverines fans are low key the most annoying on the internet.

They are not wrong. We take after our mascot: outwardly innocuous, secretly vicious bastards with a pipe-crushing grip. Anyone threatening the precious will be verbally berated until they give up in exhaustion. After the last eight years in the wilderness even the thought of a diversion enrages.

I emceed the Alumni Association's tailgate on Saturday, and I heard an awful lot about how things have changed in just a year. Indeed they have. I went back to the game column after game six of 2014, in which I meditate on the mournfulness of the Kids In The Hall's theme song and embed their "Each Day We Work" sketch. This was the entirety of the bit about football:

Football happened, in the usual way.

That described a loss to Rutgers.

In that column I talked about how the most appealing bit of Kids In The Hall was always that theme song, titled "Having An Average Weekend"; I went back and listened to it, and now I think that song is genius. It filled me with a sense of contentment and optimism. That's an average weekend, just a year after things were so bad they spawned the first and only Wolverine Revolutionary Popular Front.

An average weekend ends with a stadium full of people exhorting Michigan to finish burying their opponent, with two syllables ringing through the nation's biggest stadium, once again full to the brim. With belief.

[Fuller]

Let those who would stand in Michigan's way come.

[Note: Alejandro Zuniga clipped the chant first but the sound quality wasn't what I wanted so I reproduced it.]

HIGHLIGHTS

HARBAUGH

Maize and Blue News has the Harbaugh presser and also the players.

AWARDS

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this will end badly for you son [Fuller]

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Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

you're the man now, dog

#1 Jourdan Lewis had a spectacular YOINK pick-six in addition to generally being Jourdan Lewis. Gypsy seems real good with him currently.

#2 Jabrill Peppers annihilated the option several times, had 3 PBUs when tested in coverage (though one of them should have been an INT), laid the final block on Jehu Chesson's kickoff return, got the key block on Lewis's INT return, and fair caught all manner of short punts, saving Michigan dozens of yards of field position.

#3 Jake Rudock was efficient and capable; called into action on the ground he left a Northwestern LB in the dust on a play reminiscent of Tate Forcier's "I Saw Cover Zero" touchdown.

Honorable mention: All DL were excellent but Henry and Glasgow in particular stood out. Jehu Chesson's KO TD was more scheme than magic but dang he is fast and added a few nice plays on O. De'Veon Smith only had eight carries but had the entire Northwestern secondary on his back for one of them. AJ Williams led the team in catches and blocked well.

KFaTAotW Standings.

6: Jourdan Lewis (#1 UNLV, #1 Northwestern)
5: Chris Wormley(#2 Utah, #1 Oregon State)
4: Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU, #2 Northwestern)
3: Jake Butt (#1 Utah), De'Veon Smith(#2 Oregon State, #3 BYU), Ryan Glasgow (#1 BYU), Desmond Morgan (#1 Maryland),
2: Ty Isaac(#2 UNLV), Jabrill Peppers(#2 BYU), Maurice Hurst (#2 Maryland).
1: Willie Henry (#3 Utah), AJ Williams (#3 Oregon State), Channing Stribling(#3 UNLV), Blake O'Neill(#3 Maryland), Jake Rudock(#3 Northwestern)

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

Jehu Chesson wins the game in the first 15 seconds.

Honorable mention: Ridiculous Lewis pick-six.

WGIBTUs Past.

Utah: Crazy #buttdown.
Oregon State: #tacopunts.
UNLV: Ty Isaac's 76 yard touchdown.
BYU: De'Veon Smith's illicit teleporter run.
Maryland: Jehu Chesson jet sweeps past you.
Northwestern: Chesson opening KO TD.

imageMARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.

This week's worst thing ever.

USA-Mexico. Seriously, I got nothin' from the actual game.

Honorable mention: Blake O'Neill's second touchback. I guess one of those third and fifteen conversions?

PREVIOUS EDBs

Utah: circle route pick six.
Oregon State: Rudock fumbles after blitz bust.
UNLV: Rudock matches 2014 INT total in game 3.
BYU: BYU manages to get to triple digit yards in the last minutes of the game.
Maryland: Slog extended by deflected interception at Houma.
Northwestern: KLINSMANN OUT

[After THE JUMP: this week's ways in which Harbaugh out-schemed his opponent, Happy Iowa Rudock, John Baxter's first BANG, and more defense defense defense.]

OFFENSE

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This Rudock you can win big things with opposite this defense. Jake Rudock had his best game at Michigan, a 17/23 performance that saw him nail a ton of short to moderate length throws and move around to find his dumpoff when that became necessary. 7.8 YPA and no turnovers is going to win Michigan every game they play from here on out except maybe OSU.

This was, to pick an example not entirely out of nowhere, a Brian Griese type of game. Michigan's leading receivers were two tight ends and De'Veon Smith; the longest completion to a wide receiver was a five yard drag route that Chesson stretched to 27 after the catch.

Remember that this was an excellent pass defense with terrific corners. Michigan's gameplan completely removed them from the equation. Aside from one errant pass to nobody in particular in the first half, neither cornerback was even tested in coverage. Every completion was to an open guy.

The only slightly frustrating part of Rudock's performance was a second-half tendency to sit too long in the pocket and take sacks. This was similar to the BYU game, in which Michigan raced out to a huge lead and then coasted to the finish, with Rudock eschewing downfield shots in an effort to keep a clean turnover sheet.

Identifying a weak spot. A change: his week's most obvious coaching wins on offense came on pass plays. Michigan ran four in routes on which the slot receiver would almost but not quite block the guy nominally over him and the outside receiver would cut to the interior, suddenly very open.

All of those were completed for significant yardage, and after the first couple it was clear that Harbaugh and company had IDed something in the way Northwestern was running its coverages that would make those wide open consistently.

Also a clear win: the first big catch of the game. Michigan ran what looked to be a waggle and then Jake Butt turned his crossing route to a corner away from the (false) rollout; he was Oh Wide Open and Michigan was a yard away from their first TD.

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Piesman candidate? [Eric Upchurch]

Finally, the big Kerridge rumble saw Michigan shuffle Kerridge just to the right of Rudock; on the snap Northwestern's linebackers all flung themselves at the point of attack that configuration implied. Kerridge popped out the backside to find nobody on the second level. Remember when shuffling fullbacks were a frustrating giveaway? Not anymore.

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[Fuller]

Tailback by absurdly large committee. Non-sack carries: Derrick Green 12, De'Veon Smith 8, Karan Higdon 8, Jake Rudock 3, Sione Houma 3, Joe Kerridge 2, Jehu Chesson 2, Drake Johnson 2, Ty Isaac 2.

Part of this was injury. Smith missed last week's game and was shelved as soon as things got out of hand in this one, which was quickly. Drake Johnson is "working through something" according to Harbaugh. He was healthy enough to get a couple carries but they are clearly worried about tweaking something and turning whatever his issue is into a longer-term problem.

Another part was Ty Isaac's fumbles last week. It's a long road back from that.

Another bit was offensive frippery. Michigan incorporated some zone read. That was effective, and probably would have been more effective if Rudock had kept another couple times when it seemed like Northwestern had nobody for him. The fullback dives and Chesson's end-arounds are also filed here.

Finally, Higdon. I'm not going to complain about taking the redshirt off of him. He got a significant number of carries in an important game, and he might be needed going forward given the questionable health of a number of Michigan's backs. Meanwhile, Michigan is gunning for important things all of a sudden. That feels like taking the redshirt of Caris LeVert during the Trey/Tim Final Four year—if he can give you anything it's worth it.

Flimsy Higdon eval. Compact, fast guy. He got chopped down a lot on edge stuff that saw Northwestern flash into the backfield, but he did have one silky cut after he got loose that helped him pick up nine yards.

Most of the plays that didn't work were Northwestern jumping an edge play, not anything he did wrong.

Upgrading "Chesson is kinda like" references to Steve Breaston. Chesson had a 66-yard touchdown on which he juked a safety out of his shoes last week; this week he turns on the jets on the kickoff return and had an excellent weaving end-around that picked up a first down, plus a catch and run on a drag route on which he outran a DB to the corner. His athleticism is becoming a real asset, and he's got some shake to him. He is also spindly and not currently great at making plays downfield, but he brings quite a bit to the table anyway.

Tailback renaissance. There (probably) won't be many complaints about tailbacks missing holes in the UFR this week, as it seemed like each and every guy to get a shot did something well. De'Veon Smith trucked several different guys, including four on one theme-establishing run on which Nick Van Hoose should have had to buy a ticket. Higdon cocked eyebrows with the above run; Isaac got the edge on that pitch counter.

And Derrick Green looked great. He still goes down to ankle tackles too much but at least in this game he showed off his impressive physical ability; he looked better than he'd ever been on the final touchdown drive.

I'm holding off on declaring these guys fixed forever, but the week to week improvement here is encouraging. And, I mean, Thomas Rawls is adding data to our pile of evidence that Fred Jackson tailed off badly at the end of his tenure.

The line. I haven't talked about the line much this year because the individual performances don't jump out at you. This line doesn't have a star. Nor has it had a particular weak point since Utah blew the guards out of the water. Ben Braden's doing okay; pass protection is generally good but Cole had issues against Ngakoue.

They're all solid. So they kind of go without comment a lot.

DEFENSE

This section is kind of short. Everything dominant, Justin Jackson gets 25 yards on 12 carries, Michigan forces another team that really doesn't want to throw to throw a bunch, etc. Having an average weekend.

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LOL NOPE [Upchurch]

Hello. My name is Jabrill Peppers. You ran an option to my side of the field. Prepare to die. Have to wonder WTF Northwestern was thinking with the speed option stuff they were running. For one, Thorson is very bad at it right now. Most of the time he pitched the ball way early, allowing Michigan to string the play out without anyone taking the QB. And at least two of them were directed at Jabrill Peppers; on the first he executed his now-trademark blaze around the inside of the guy trying to block him for a TFL.

It's good that they tested him, though, if only to reinforce the fact that doing so is a very bad idea.

Hello. My name is Willie Henry. You are not a bear. Prepare to die. Northwestern really didn't want guys looping around Michigan's defensive tackles to get free runs at the quarterback. Unfortunately their solution to this was to turn those tackles free once the guy to the inside on the stunt tried to get to the looper. Henry and Glasgow were in Thorson's lap much of the game, with three sacks and plenty of hurries between them. (One was a coverage sack.)

PFF continues to grade Michigan games and has identified a couple of important factors on the D: incredible depth on the DL and how they are just killing it on stunts.

Michigan’s defensive line is the story of this one. The defense, as a whole, gets credit for the shutout, but it was really this superb line doing all the heavy lifting. Just looking at the top performers list below gives you a pretty solid indication of what I’m talking about. Five different linemen graded at +2.5 or above. Mind you, only four defensive lineman see the field at one given time. That’s utter domination. Michigan may very well be the best team at executing stunts in the entire country. The power and speed with which they can attack both sides of a stunt was too much for the Northwestern line to handle, and I only saw a few stunts all day that the Wildcats’ line was even able to pick up.

As a bonus all of Michigan's DL graded out positively in their system, with Glasgow leading the way.

By the way, if Henry's day grades out in UFR like I think it will he will be the fifth Michigan DL to hit double-digits this year. That is insane.

Hello. My name is Jourdan Lewis. /stabs. I mean, go ahead with whatever you're going to do, opposing offenses.

Just don't try to explain it.

Welcome to the defense, Royce Jenkins-Stone. I think he played every snap until Michigan started rotating in the deep backups. I didn't think he made much impact but PFF had him Michigan's #4 performer on the day, just behind Lewis. If I find a similar impact for him in UFR that will be a very reassuring thing.

Slants and underneath stuff and crosses are there. Michigan made it hard for the most part but there are holes you can poke in the coverage if you get enough time. Connor Cook will be a drastic upgrade from everyone Michigan has faced since Travis Wilson (although Tanner Mangum is now tearing it up—he's completed just under 70% of his passes for 8.1 YPA the past two weeks).

SPECIAL TEAMS

BANG! I made a joke last week that Northwestern's tendency to kick off short would be helpful the one time they kicked off, and now that joke is the most accurate thing I've ever said. Jehu Chesson ripped off a 96 yard return on the opening, sole Northwestern kickoff and that was that.

That return was far from random chance. It looked like Michigan knew that Northwestern would try to put it on the sideline away from Peppers and set up a return designed to exploit this. Michigan slid their entire return to the left and actually pulled two guys around like it was a power play.

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Chesson started directly upfield before breaking out to the right, where nobody was. Northwestern helped out a little when one of their cover guys got out of their lane, but I don't think he would have mattered. Chesson broke to the sideline with a wall, and with his speed that's game over. Michigan actually lost that double team block to the bottom right of that shot; Peppers blasted him to seal the TD.

This was a plan, one that worked perfectly, and after a bunch of narrow misses John Baxter has his first game-breaking play as Michigan's special teams coach.

The last guy to do that was on the sideline, by the way. Tyrone Wheatley was some kind of fast.

That kind of KOR is what I'm trying to distinguish the Chesson one from. It wasn't a plan, it was just a thing that happened.

A very polite fair catch. Yes, Ace is making a supercut of all the Peppers ball-placements after his fair catches.

Incrementing kicker confidence levels. Kenny Allen's 47 yarder was right down the middle and would have been good from 52, maybe 55. That's his first hit from outside 40 and another step towards kicker confidence. We are moving past competence… a little.

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[Upchurch]

Almost part 2. Michigan seemed a whisper away from another big special teams play on the field goal, as you can see. I wonder if the pressure caused this kick to go wide—and how many on-target kicks get returned to sender. Michigan also just about put guys in the shield into the punter several times.

Touchbacks. Rats. Blake O'Neill had his first two touchbacks of the year. One was on a bullet that only crossed the goal line after it had traveled 59 yards. The other hit near the sideline and bounced wrong. We are processing his deportation papers currently.

MISCELLANEOUS

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[Bryan Fuller]

Alumni cheer: the best. I emceed the Alumni Association's homecoming tailgate on Saturday, and the alumni cheerleaders tore down the house. People absolutely love them; so do I. Are their numbers limited somehow? There seem to be fewer of them these days and guys from the 70s and 80s aren't among them. Does anyone know what the deal is there? I'd hate for that institution to fade away.

TUBES. Welcome back, tubes.

Ryan Van Bergen is the villain in a Jason Statham movie.

That is all.

Halftime. I am of two minds about the band's halftime show. On the one hand, it was stirring enough to get a major reaction from the crowd after its completion. As The Hoover Street Rag said, "Ode To Joy" was a bit on the nose but I was feeling it anyway. The concert speakers were a smart addition; I felt the audio was more present in my section than usual.

On the other hand, the annual homecoming show is the best. I want the guy with the knives and the other guy with the fire and the alumni cheerleaders and "you can't have one without the other." I'm guessing the New York Philharmonic thing could only be done this weekend—they are in town—and the payoff here was excellent. I do not want the traditional homecoming to go away.

A new thing I like. In the third quarter the cheerleaders got up on the wall and started waving their hands around in coordinated ways.

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EVERYBODY IS HAPPY [Fuller]

People on twitter report that this is "the rollercoaster" and is a frequent feature of high school games they have attended. I cant' say I've ever come across it in college, and it looked terrific and felt really fun, so let's steal it and keep it and pretend we invented it. That's what we did with Yost Ice Arena, so it's already a tradition.

We talked about this on the podcast some, but in this game it felt like the athletic department was going in the right direction as far as the in-game stuff went. The above was cool; the scoreboard announcements are less intrusive; they absolutely nailed their video packages this year. I'm not the biggest fan of the James Earl Jones one's writing—it says a lot of "we're the best" stuff that's best left implied—but it's got frickin' James Earl Jones. Meanwhile this year's version of "The Team" gives me chills and the Ufer-themed band intro can and should stay forever.

The music is still too prevalent and loud. It especially bothers me right before kickoffs because there's a thing that people do with the waving of the hats and going "OHHHHHHHHH" that I think is slowly getting phased out so Special K can hit us with "Sandstorm." But in general the peripherals are improving.

Jehu Chesson has the best disappointed dad face. OKAY OKAY I'LL CLEAN MY ROOM AND GET A-PLUSSES

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[Upchurch]

GEEZ

Targeting. I am not surprised Ross's did not get overturned. Fair or not that kind of hit on a defenseless receiver is right in the heart of the rule. I don't think he meant to do it, but I don't have a problem with it.

Reversing the earlier call on Rudock was nuts, though. Rudock goes to ground and gets hit direct helmet to helmet by a guy who had time to relent. Consistency.

HERE

Best and Worst got bumped on Sunday. Inside The Box Score:

A.J. Williams, Receiving Threat
* A.J. led the receivers with 4 catches for 48 yards. Exhibit A in the case for Harbaugh's coach of the year nomination is this stat line. He takes guys that Brady Hoke struggled to put in positions to succeed and makes them significant contributors to the team. Other examples include Braden, Clark, Poggi, Houma, and Strobel. And the list just goes on and on. And he knows how special teams are supposed to work.
* Rudock spread the wealth again among 7 receivers. 7 passes went to TEs, 7 went to WRs, and three went to Smith.

Opponent Stock Report:

This is Michigan.  That's how I felt after / during this game.  And not even Carr or Moeller's Michigan which many years lost 3-4 games, and almost always a wtf game.  I am talking Bo's Michigan.  Excellence in 2 of the 3 phases (special teams, defense) and "boring" but good in the 3rd phase.  Yes please.

After depressing the hell out of me last week, Iowa 2014 Jake Rudock resurfaced.  For an entire game.  For the first time this year.  And it pleased me.  (stroke-cat-on-lap.jpg).  If this Jake never leaves us this year uhh... you guyz... this is a 10 win team.  Umm... maybe 11.  Guyz?

ELSEWHERE

Numbers and rankings and oogly boogly oh my. Michigan stays third in S&P, and they have a tighter grip on that ranking this week. Their defense is #1; their offense is 46th. Both of those numbers seem about right. The drill-down stats are ridiculous. It has Michigan a 68% or better favorite in every remaining game, and it's Penn State that looks the most dangerous.

An oddity: Northwestern flew up 17 spots in this week's rankings. They are aided by the 4th-toughest schedule in S&P terms; their D is still fifth. As always, take computer rating a lot like recruiting rankings: they mean something but not everything.

FEI remains more skeptical than S&P but has moved Michigan up to 11th, in a sandwich between OSU and MSU.

Vegas has Michigan 10-to-1 to win the national title, which is insane even in the context that bets like that are always sucker bets.

Blog things. Hoover Street Rag:

Homecoming is a chance to tell yourself a story about the past, even if it's, if not a lie, not the whole truth.  You leave out the parts of those four years of your life that you'd rather forget and focus on the good stuff.  If you do think about the bad stuff, you either frame it as a growth experience, or look back in bemusement.  That class you probably should have gone to more often to get a better grade, well, it taught you the importance of actually showing up for your job on time, every day.  That time that the dude puked all over your back as you were leaving S'keeps on the opening night of the NCAA Tournament?  Well, at least your jacket was GoreTex and it washed right off.  That girl that you went out with during your senior year from Northwestern?  Well, it helped you learn who you were as a person.

In reality, it's not that much different than being a Michigan football fan.

Sap's Decals:

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Typically the Special Teams Champion gets also-ran, ho-hum coverage – not anymore!  I’ve played on enough teams and watched enough football to realize that the truly great teams end up getting contributions from different players each week.  Saturday against Northwestern was a classic example.  In recent weeks I have mentioned how the defense may have set the tone early in the game with an INT, or how the offense may have set the tone by dominating and driving for an early score.  Well, Jehu Chesson sent a message that hasn’t been sent since Tyrone Wheatley returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown against Houston in 1992.  We’ve all seen how masterful Coach Baxter has been with these Special Teams in the first six games.  They are starting to look quite special indeed.

 MVictors:

Derek Jeter for Nerds.  Word is that LeVar Burton has a junior daughter at U-M, and he was on prem Saturday.  Below he spent a few minutes in the booth with Brandy and Dierdorf (left).  The last officer on the Enterprise to visit Michigan Stadium was Patrick Stewart visit during the 2006 Ball State game:

LeVar Burton and Patrick Stewart - Michigan Stadium

I can't unpack this metaphor accurately because I don't actually want to figure out things about the Yankees, but this is probably more the catcher from those teams since Geordi held everything together with spit and duct tape.

Also can we please get Michael Dorn? This is a Klingon defense, man. Worf onsite would be righteous. 

Genuinely Sarcastic:

When Jim Harbaugh first arrived, many fans wondered who would be the first Big Ten coach to fall into his crosshairs; who would be the unfortunate target of the first verbal jab, the first shot across the bow? Meyer and Dantonio were the obvious choices; James Franklin was a darkhorse.

I'm of the firm belief that it's never going to happen. When he was in San Francisco, Harbaugh's closest thing to a "confrontation" was the energetic handshake with Jim Schwartz, followed by Schwartz freaking out. Even the feud with Pete Carroll was confined to the football field. At Stanford, Harbaugh took aim at both Michigan and Carroll in an attempt to build some buzz about Stanford, then one of the worst D-1 programs in college football. Anything to get people talking. He knew he would have to back up his bravado, and he did.

At Michigan, not only is such talk unnecessary, but it would be tiresome, after listening to Brady Hoke talk tough and never deliver. I also believe Harbaugh views such things as being beneath him in his position as head coach at Michigan. I believe that Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Head Coach, makes every move under the belief that the ghost of Bo Schembechler is looking over his shoulder. He conducts himself as if Bo is watching in judgment, and to get into a war of words in the press with an opposing coach is not something a Michigan coach does; Bo would never approve of such lowbrow behavior in public.

Sideline tantrums he's totally down with, though.

Touch The Banner:

De’Veon Smith looked the best I’ve seen him. Until he left the game gimpy and did not return, I thought Smith (8 carries, 59 yards) looked like the best form of himself I’ve seen. Of course, he has had some nice runs over the past couple years, and he really wore down Oregon State a few weeks ago to the point where he was trucking defenders left and right toward the end of the game. But from the opening snap, I thought Smith was in rare form. He made some nice cuts – which is sometimes an area of weakness – and he was bowling over some supposedly fresh defenders on a good defensive unit.

Big House Blog. Maize and Blue Nation. Cumong, GSI. "Michigan's entire defense can't win the Heisman Trophy, but maybe it should."

i[1]

[Chris Morris/ESPN]

Other things. ESPN's "Drawing Conclusions" is consistently brilliant and finally we're relevant enough to feature. Gameday! Helmet sticker:

By blanking Northwestern in a 38-0 victory on Saturday, the Wolverines have now gone three consecutive games without surrendering a single point. That is an astounding feat that had not been accomplished by an FBS school since Kansas State in 1995. Northwestern was held to only 38 yards rushing on 25 carries, and the passing game wasn't particularly good, either. The Wildcats completed 15 of 33 passes for 130 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Michigan, which now leads the country in scoring defense, has outscored opponents the past three games 97-0. Dating back to Week 2, the score is 160-14.

Baumgardner grades:

WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS: B+
Hello, A.J. Williams. The best day of his career, by far, and a true example of a player who has seen his career jump-started by Harbaugh's coaching staff. Williams -- who was rarely ever considered a passing option during his first three years on campus -- was Michigan's leading receiver Saturday: Four receptions for 48 yards. Jake Butt made a big play (32-yard catch) and still leads all Big Ten tight ends with 22 catches on the year.

Niyo:

De’Veon Smith says it’s all starting to make sense now, from the punishing, four-hour practices back in March and that now-fabled undersea adventure in August to the daily fights over the most trivial — and basic — tasks with his teammates. Such as who can get to the dinner table first.

“We just compete at every … little … thing,” Michigan’s junior tailback said Saturday as he tried to make sense of this apparent reversal of fortunes for the Wolverines’ football program.

Hinton:

Speaking of best-case scenarios: Even the most die-hard, pie-eyed, front-pew believers in the messianic power of Jim Harbaugh couldn’t have imagined the sleeping Wolverine awakening with such ferocity in such little time.

Lewis is an All-American. Feldman. Clammin' up as the beast that feeds on disrespect comes to town. Another shell-shocked coach. Quinn.

I love Graham Couch:

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — This was among the best wins of Mark Dantonio's tenure at Michigan State.

You get worried that when Drew Sharp retires or is torn apart by an angry mob that you won't have any newspaper guys to kick around. Then the "Alex Carder is the best QB in Michigan" guy announces himself out of nowhere—and he gets a better gig! Manna from heaven, Graham Couch is.

Let's get way ahead of ourselves talk. Playoff? We're talking about playoff?

Michigan: After a 38-0 drubbing of previously undefeated Northwestern on Saturday, Michigan is making its case for the best team in the Big Ten. Jim Harbaugh has the Wolverines ahead of schedule and playing some of the best defense in the country.

We're talking national title contender? Michigan opens –3 against MSU, line quickly jumps to 7. It has settled at –6.5.

49ers point and laugh. Not petty at all.

Comments

HenneGivenSunday

October 12th, 2015 at 1:25 PM ^

Apparently I wasn't the only one letting the profanity fly in the south end zone then. I feel very guilty that someone had to ask me to cool it.. The atmosphere was so damn electric though (in my defense). Best damn home crowd I've seen in a long time.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

M Fanfare

October 12th, 2015 at 1:25 PM ^

The traditional homecoming halftime isn't going anywhere, this was just a unique opportunity to team up some of the best amateur and professional musicians in the world.

However, if you wanted to see the traditional homecoming halftime stuff on Saturday, all of it was performed during the postgame concert.

stephenrjking

October 12th, 2015 at 1:26 PM ^

I thought about posting a thread about the defense chant, but figured Brian might mention it and make my thoughts superfluous.

And I agree with Brian: in my 35 years, it's one of the coolest crowd moments I can remember at Michigan Stadium. Reasons:

1. It was spontaneous. No scoreboard or announcer or even an organized cheerleader.
2. When I first heard it, I thought the fans were saying something like "Beat State." Understandable, but also predictable. Then I realized what it was. "Perfect," I thought. It wasn't worrying about next week, but a great moment to enjoy in the now.
3. Related, what a perfect moment shared between team and crowd: end of the game, starters still in, crowd still there. Both embodying the fierce mentality of the coach to compete at everything. Unified in purpose, in a 38-0 game, to finish a shutout.
4. Sounded really loud from home. What a moment.

J.

October 13th, 2015 at 12:44 AM ^

But I do have to give a minor neg to the crowd; at least once, toward the end of the first half, I heard the dreaded "Over-Rated" cheer.

I mean, I'll allow that it could be true.  But I'll also posit that maybe, just maybe, Northwestern was properly rated, one of the top 15-20 teams in the country -- and simply not in Michigan's league.  Let's credit Michigan for making Northwestern look bad, not suggest that they were never any good in the first place. :-)

readyourguard

October 12th, 2015 at 1:30 PM ^

And holy shit, man. The little pin-pricks all across your scalp; the tremor in the hands; the flush of sweat; the welling of tears manfully suppressed. I could not participate myself. I was too gob-smacked to do much of anything at that moment. Michigan was up 38-0 with time about to expire. It was 4th and 17. If you had asked me to draw a card from the deck at that moment I couldn't have managed it.

That spontaneous, organic celebration of this nature is indelible on the psyche.  You never forget something like that.   I pray it happens again this Saturday, only I will not supress any tears should it occur.

MeanJoe07

October 12th, 2015 at 1:32 PM ^

Harbaugh goes 6-6  at least with the 3-9 team a few years back.  I think he can take a bare cupboard and cook gourmet.  This year he has ingredients and my mouth is watering.  Too bad I only eat one kind of leaf.  Damn it all.  HARBAUGH.

markusr2007

October 12th, 2015 at 1:34 PM ^

I was impressed with two things about MSU:

  1. Spartans have a killer cast of receivers in Aaron Burbridge, Macgarrett Kings, RJ Shelton. They all made huge catches in this game, especially Kings.   Rutgers seemed to have MSU on the ropes with multiple 3rd down and longs that night, with good DL pressure, only to watch these guys pull down monster catches for 1st downs and keep drives alive. They have experienced TEs in Price, Lang and Lyles. MSU had 357 yards passing - the most yardage and most throws by Connor Cook in any game all year.
  2. LJ Scott.  Big. 6 foot, 233 lbs. The kid is built like Herschel Walker, 6.2 YPC and has as many TDs as Devontae Booker (6).

On the negative side, MSU was walking wounded before Rutgers game.  Jack Allen's ankle injury looked horrible.    No. 2 tailback Madre London got banged up too.   Jack Conklin (knee) dressed for Rutgers, but didn't play. I believe he will return to start for the Michigan game.

Michigan State
Date Pos Player Injury Status
10/11/15 OT Jack Conklin Knee "?" Saturday vs. Michigan
10/11/15 RB Madre London Ankle injured last game, "?" Saturday vs. Michigan
10/10/15 DB R.J. Williamson Bicep "?" Saturday vs. Michigan
10/02/15 DE Montez Sweat Suspension out indefinitely
09/19/15 CB Vayante Copeland Neck out for season
09/07/15 DB Mark Meyers Suspension out indefinitely
08/13/15 LB Ed Davis Knee out for season

Source: http://www.donbest.com/ncaaf/injuries/

 

Asgardian

October 12th, 2015 at 1:59 PM ^

Connor Cook (QB1) was hobbling. L.J. Scott (RB1) was "hampered." Madre London (RB2) left the game with injury. Josiah Price (TE) didn't play, again.

Jack Conklin (OT) was available for emergency duty, but didn't appear. Kodi Kieler (C) played, but was also hobbling. Jack Allen (OG) was helped off of the field late in the game.

Lawrence Thomas (DL) left the field with injury. And Darian Hicks (DB) was injured and didn't return.

That doesn't even include Ed Davis (LB), R.J. Williamson (DB), Vayante Copeland (DB) or Dennis Finley (OT) who are all out long-term. That's 13 different contributors injured.

Source - The Only Colors (SBNation MSU Blog)

alum96

October 12th, 2015 at 2:09 PM ^

First lets be clear that Rutgers is a bad team defensively.  Its ranked near 100. In fact the best defense MSU has faced is Air Force.  Oregon likewise is ranked near 100 and thats when MSU had a better OL.

LJ Scott is the real deal and there is a reason Urbz was trying to flip him for months on end.  He will be a handful the next few years.  That said the OL + RB is a symbiotic relationship and MSU OL is not creating the holes Langford was running thru for 2 years.  And its not going to change in a week.  Scott will have to earn his yards in smaller holes. Nor has MSU's OL faced a rush D anything like UM has.  Not even close.

Conklin was dressed and could have gone in for "emergency" duty but they didnt send him in, so he is hurt despite practicing.  Kielier played but looked like hot garbage at times and is not near 100%.  Allen got hurt on the last drive.  So their OL is not the OL we expected a month ago.

As for the WRs they made some good catches.  Cook made some nice plays and has a NFL arm and no memory (he makes derp plays and immediately comes back with a 30 yard pass on the money)  But those were a bunch of RS FR Rutgers had out their in the DB ranks.  And they sold out to get to Cook constantly leaving those guys exposed.  I dont mind that strategy because you are Rutgers and you pick your poision.  But I think UM will be able to get pressure with just the front 4 (or with blitzes of 1 or 2 people). 

With hobbled OL guys and UM surely saving blitzes for this game specifically I think Cook is going to face a lot of pressure and we need to do that.  He is prone to errors along with great NFL level throws.  We just dont want anything over the top.  His completion rate is 60% on a good day but he beats you with big throws.

Burbridge is good but not Lippett level in explosion.  Kings has the explosion but is a smaller slot guy.  Shelton is not that good - the MSU Fan base wanted him moved to corner last week.  Lewis will be on Burbridge - I am sure the 2 have known each other for years in Detroit.  Stribling or Clark on Kings will be a key.

I just want to stress again MSU O has not played anyone on D this year.  4 of the 6 defenses they played are ranked like 80 to 110.  The other 2 are like 50-60. 

We can say the same shit they say to us the past few years when we roll in with an offense that works vs crap defenses but then they totally demolish our offense. Shoe is now on our foot.  The wildcard being Cook's play of course.

MottNP

October 12th, 2015 at 1:35 PM ^

The James Earl Jones video I agree is a bit much--but I must admit o get a really big smile every time I think of it being played with Sparty in house this coming Saturday

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

RagingBean

October 12th, 2015 at 1:44 PM ^

Posts like this/games, where you can feel that joyful and encompassing feeling of victory and comraderie make me want to cry. It's like being a 10-year-old watching Woodson run back that punt against Ohio State all over again. KEEP THESE FEELS COMING!

Wolverine fan …

October 12th, 2015 at 1:47 PM ^

are entirely different after a Wolverine win, especially after another ass-kicking shutout of a ranked opponent. I drink my coffee with a smile on my face and am thankful that I have found this blog.

A couple of the Buckeye fans come by my desk to discuss Michigan football pretty regularly throughout the season, and their tone has changed dramatically over the past few weeks. The Bucks continue to look mediocre in almost every way, and Michigan looks better after every win. The fear is real. They were all high-fives and chortles this time last month, and brushed off my suggestion that the Va Tech game should have troubled them for a few reasons. Most of which regarding their players shit-talking via twitter after an unimpressive win against an overmatched opponent. Combine that with a pedestrian Joey Bosa and a defensive secondary that is missing tackles and giving up yards, along with a QB controversy and there is real concern. Good. At least they will (somewhat) shut up for a while.

I Don't have any Spartys to talk to, but I don't think I'd bother with them anyhow. All I would need to see is a custom made "chip on my shoulder/disrespect" t-shirt to know there isn't any point in speaking to them.

matty blue

October 12th, 2015 at 2:30 PM ^

i'm pretty sure he waved to the sideline after his last carry - i think someone rolled over his leg a little bit on the tackle, although it didn't look serious and he wasn't favoring it too bad.  i think we looked at him (and the scoreboard) and told him to have a rest.

he was the first to greet green at the sideline after his touchdown, fwiw.

Reader71

October 12th, 2015 at 1:59 PM ^

I still think the best cheer I've ever heard in the Stadium was "Beat Ohio!" in 2011 at the end of the Nebraska shellacking.

I think I might die of spontaneous human ejaculatory combustion on the 28th of November, 2015.

defcow

October 12th, 2015 at 2:03 PM ^

Excellent write up! My excitement for this coming Saturday is more than I've had in too long. Also let's try our best to keep Lewis and Henry on the down low, shall we?

growler4

October 12th, 2015 at 2:11 PM ^

Well, there have been times during the RR and Hoke years where we have been teased, but a sustained resurgence never materialized. I truly hope that this rather incredible start is not a mirage.

Yet, seeing the adjustments and wrinkles - you get the feeling that this staff is just really, really good and that they can take advantage of Hoke's proficient recruiting.

Utah has a helluva good team, but I really feel as if the MSU offense is far and away the best we'll have faced to date this season... and Cook will certainly be the best QB. A real test for our defense.

As for homecoming, I thought the halftime show was fabulous. Yet, I missed all of the old cheerleaders, especially those who do wonderful routines/tricks with the batons. No one does that anymore...

Finally, I thought the atmosphere was great ... electric. I love being there for big games. The end, trying to preserve the shutout ... just stirring. Seeing how happy those kids were, with Durkin jumping around like a lunatic after they did it, and the players running over to the student section after mid field handshakes ... found it hard to keep from getting a little emotional. Just so happy for them after the last couple of years.

markusr2007

October 12th, 2015 at 2:15 PM ^

Regardless, some history will be made.

Michigan State (6-0) @ Michigan (5-1)

Michigan is 1-6 vs. Spartans since Lloyd Carr left in 2007.

During Carr regime, Michigan was 10-3 vs. MSU, including 6 straight (2002-2007)

Last six Michigan football coaches Elliott, Bo, Moeller, Carr, Rodriguez and Hoke all lost their initial season contests vs. the Spartans. Osterbaan was last coach to beat MSU at first try, 13-7 in 1948 (MNC year), but MSU was not a Big Ten team yet.  Can Jim Harbaugh break the first season curse vs. MSU?

Iowa (6-0) @ Northwestern (5-1)

Kirk Ferentz is 2-4 at Ryan Field since 1999. In general, Northwestern football has been bad news and a consistent thorn in Iowa's side over the years. The last Iowa win at Northwestern dates back to 2007. The most infamous Ferentz defeat has to be the 2010 game when 13th ranked 7-2 Iowa lost 17-21 at Ryan Field.  Somehow even after getting blanked by Michigan, Northwestern seems poised for another upset.

Ohio State (6-0) @ Penn State (5-1)

We'll find out how "dangerous" Penn State really is.  Probably not very.  Penn State hasn't beaten Ohio State at home since 2005. 

Mgrad92

October 12th, 2015 at 2:14 PM ^

The "rollercoaster" cheer was one the student section used to do when I was there 1988-92. Also "rowboat" and "popcorn." The most popular, tho', was when the pep band would come around and ask the crowd what they wanted to hear. I remember being taken aback by looking over and seeing a big, burly obvious nonstudent bellowing at the top of his lungs from the upper rows: "BUULLLWWIINNKKLLE! BULLWINKLE!"

2427_Couzens

October 12th, 2015 at 3:43 PM ^

But I seriously do not remember the rollercoaster one.  I have very fond memories of rowboat and popcorn though.  Maybe I always picked that time to go to the bathroom.  Or more likely have accidentally killed the braincell with that memory with the drinking that the last 8 years of football caused!

The FannMan

October 12th, 2015 at 2:31 PM ^

Watch the NW coaches.  There is one dude who goes from fist pumping celebration to arms out WTF just happened.

Also, Fitz is yelling at the ref about Peppers' block because he thinks the ball was caught and its a late hit.  

(OK, maybe the best part was the six points, but its not like we needed them.)

Prince Lover

October 12th, 2015 at 2:41 PM ^

I'm glad you wrote Brain because it was all I could to do to not choke up.
I was telling my dad and aunt about it after the game about how I've never experienced anything like that before, then I heard Lewis being interviewed by Doug Karsch and he mentioned how cool it was after the game, I texted my dad and aunt all over again telling them j wasn't the only one who thought that it was a special moment.
Go Blue!!!

blueak

October 12th, 2015 at 2:45 PM ^

with his comments concerning A.J. Williams. There is no better indicator of the influence that Harbaugh has had on this team than the sudden emergence of Williams as a weapon.

gwkrlghl

October 12th, 2015 at 2:55 PM ^

I mean, I know I can pick return left right and center in NCAA 14, but that's the first time I've ever seen one be diagramed like that and actually work so successfully.

I be like dang

The FannMan

October 12th, 2015 at 3:11 PM ^

When I read Brian's summary, I thought no way. Then I looked at the picture, and sure as shit - two guys pulling with Peppers as a lead blocker - (and what a lead block it was.)

Edit - Cole (I think) was one of the guys pulling.  He put his guy on his ass!  That should be a helmet sticker.

RuebenRileyonRye

October 12th, 2015 at 4:01 PM ^

For all the years I've been visiting this site, it finally nice to see this side of Brian again. The angry and irate Brian is entertaining and helped me and my fandom deal with the last eight years but I really enjoy this.

BlueinLansing

October 12th, 2015 at 5:50 PM ^

reminded me that coach was fired for possible NCAA infractions while the school was being sanctioned by the NCAA.  One of the first schools to avoid the death penalty in the post-SMU phase of NCAA penalties.

 

This was before the internet but it would have been fun had it been around then.  Jenkins was accused by former players of showing a porn film during a team meeting.