The Downgrade

Submitted by Brian on September 7th, 2009 at 1:34 PM

navy-ohio-state illinois-missouri

Michigan's chances for a decent-to-good season increased radically over the weekend primarily because they came out and dominated a decent MAC opponent and proved that they're way less incoherent than they were last year. But the performances of future Michigan opponents also helped out considerably. Notre Dame did better than most expected, but the rest of the schedule:

Ohio State faced a potentially tying two-point conversion attempt with two minutes left against Navy, causing We Will Always Have Tempe to drag out the late-era Lloyd Carr comparisons:

I'm not saying Jim Tressel is Lloyd Carr, but... what separates Lloyd Carr in say, 2002 or 2003, from Jim Tressel right now? This is a line of thought I've been seriously following for the better part of a year now. I'd like some input from Michigan fans on this.

Here's my input: that's way hasty. Hasty or not, Ohio State scraping by Navy (they out gained the Middies by just 21 yards) makes The Game seem like way less of a longshot.

Iowa. DocSat on the bizarre Hawkeye opener:

I-AA Northern Iowa slightly outgained Iowa overall and matched the Hawkeyes at 5.1 yards per play in a 17-16 loss that featured the weirdest ending of the day. Iowa finished with 87 yards rushing, 100 yards below its 2008 average on the ground; starting running back Paki O'Meara finished with 16 yards on nine carries (1.8 per) on a long gain of five yards.

UNI had two field goals blocked in the last minute, by the way, after recovering the first one. (Which I thought was an automatic turnover, BTW. Is it not? UPDATE: a helpful reader points out the relevant rule:

If a blocked field goal is in or behind the neutral zone, it is treated like a fumble and can be advanced by either team. Beyond the neutral zone, a blocked kick is treated like a punt or missed field goal and can be advanced only by the defense, unless a defensive player fumbles the ball, after which an offensive player can advance it.


Illinois was totally humiliated by a Missouri team debuting a freshman quarterback. Missouri outgained Illinois by over 100 yards and Juice Williams got yanked. Illinois did lose Benn and the starting tailback to injuries in the second half. None of that explains 37-9.

Three of Michigan's four expected wins did nothing to disprove those expectations. Indiana barely scraped by I-AA Eastern Kentucky 19-13. Eastern lost to Army by 13 and Delaware State lost to some random I-AA team.

The Non-Disastrous

Purdue, Michigan State, and Penn State all handled business against overmatched opponents. Wisconsin let Northern Illinois back in their game and, after failing to recover a NIU onside kick, let the Huskies down to their 36 before closing the door on 4th and 3. The Badgers did outgain NIU handily, so I'm not sure how much of a concern that is for UW.

Those teams saw their stock remain approximately constant—Purdue may have seen it increase. Three of the toughest games on Michigan's schedule now seem considerably more attainable. I'll take that and the Notre Dame box score any day.



September 7th, 2009 at 1:47 PM ^

As long as you recover a blocked field goal behind the line of scrimmage, it's fair game for the offense. If it's fourth down, they need to advance it past the first down marker. If it's 1st down (as it was for Northern Iowa), it's basically nothing more than a wasted down, which typically ends the half/game.

The Man Down T…

September 7th, 2009 at 4:11 PM ^

You make the great defensive play and the fullback grabs it and gives them a first down off of your block. Too funny. Couldn't have happened to a better team than ND too. Thanks for the video. That was great.


September 7th, 2009 at 2:53 PM ^

Past the line of scrimmage a blocked field goal can be recovered by the kicking team, just not advanced -- unless it's touched/fumbled by an member of the receiving team, in which case it is a live ball and can be advanced.

I can't remember exactly, but I think that the blocked kick was on the field between the line of scrimmage and the first down marker, which might explain why the Iowa players were avoiding it. They might have (correctly) thought that if they touched it, the ball could then be advanced... but they might not have considered the fact that if the kicking team recovered the ball, it would only be second down and they'd still have time left on the clock.

Of course judging by Ferentz's reaction they might not have known that the kicking team could recover the ball, either.

You'd sort of expect this type of situation to come up in college OTs more often, since teams routinely kick FGs before 4th down.


September 7th, 2009 at 4:56 PM ^

I thought the rule was the same as for punts: if it doesn't cross the line of scrimmage, the kicking team can recover and advance, but if it does cross:
* if it's first touched by the kicking team, it's dead at that spot and the defense takes over;
* if it's first touched by the defense but not possessed cleanly, it can be recovered by the kicking team but not advanced;
* if it's first touched by the defense and a player has clear possession then fumbles, it can be recovered and advanced by either team.


September 7th, 2009 at 1:48 PM ^

Brian, it does seem confusing in the post Leon-"Don't touch the dam* ball!"-Lett era, but this is a diff case. It was 1st and 10 when UNI tried their first field goal and UNI recovered it with the ball never going past the line of scrimmage. Thus, it was second down for UNI. If a) the ball went past the line of scrimmage, b) Iowa would have successfully covered it, or c) it was 4th down, the game would have been over.

This is akin to the situation more people are probably familiar with -- when people say you should try your last-minute field goal on 3rd down (as opposed to 4th down), so if there is a bad snap, you can just jump on it and try it again.


September 7th, 2009 at 1:50 PM ^

Bauserman went 3-for-5 for 36 yards, was sacked once and ran once. He was only in for one drive (4:49 off the clock), which ended with a successful field goal. So, he didn't drastically downgrade the production of the OSU offense by any means.

West Texas Blue

September 7th, 2009 at 1:55 PM ^

Illinois has reached their ceiling. Zook has infused that team with talent, but he's a terrible coach. How he could lose to a completely rebuilding Mizzou squad when he has a loaded offense with a senior QB is beyond me. Looks like their new OC hire isn't looking good so far. Considering that we play Illinois on the road, glad to see they're in just as much disarray as Oregon.

Blue Durham

September 7th, 2009 at 2:06 PM ^

One game isn't much of a sample size.

They have another 10 games to play before the game in AA. They will be a completely different team by the time of the game. By that time the Navy game will look like ancient history, just like last year's game against Ohio University.

Although we may have gone from a 1 in 4 shot to a 1 in 3, I still don't like our chances much.


September 7th, 2009 at 6:51 PM ^

The second half was treated more like a scrimmage, they dialed everything back a lot, and got some guys in purely for the experience and to have game film on them. I'm sure the coaches aren't too eager to tip our hand to ND, ya know?

Tim Waymen

September 7th, 2009 at 2:05 PM ^

What an ending. It was really funny, because I was talking with my dad (OSU alum and fan) and we were both worried for the Big 10. At one point during the second half I said to him, imagine if this potential FCS upset of a ranked Big 10 team is dashed the way that a prior one was cemented: a blocked FG. Lo and behold, UNI started to make its last-minute drive. I jumped when I saw that the first attempt was blocked. But then they were reporting that UNI could get a second chance. I said, so much for that, but maybe they'll block it again? My dad was like, no way, a blocked FG is rare as it is, but two in a row? We were both amused by that second block.

Cool story, Hansel!


September 7th, 2009 at 2:06 PM ^

Shock, I'm not saying that he's going to move the ball as well as Pryor, but rather that you can't blame only scoring 31 against Navy to Pryor sitting out a drive. It cost the Buckeyes a maximum of 4 points.

Compared to Pryor, I think the guy sucks, and if he had to play for an extended period, rather than just a scripted series, the Buckeyes would be doomed.


September 7th, 2009 at 2:20 PM ^

I was about 2-3 hours away from posting a Diary on how the big 10 teams fared with many of the same links and info.


Maybe I will see if wants it.


September 7th, 2009 at 2:47 PM ^

And I'm surprised to not see it discussed here - is that they were completely looking ahead to the USC game this week. It does not by any means *excuse* the extent of their performance against Navy, but it very well may provide an explanation for it.

Brian posted the results of recent Michigan games against MAC-ish teams, and there was a 34-26 victory over a mediocre Ball State team in there, which was a situation where Carr treated the game damn near like a bye week. (In fact, it wasn't that long ago - there's probably a UFR of the game somewhere on the intertubes, with all of Brian's analysis).

While it's *VERY LIKELY* that the Navy game is an indicator that OSU is simply not as good as most of us thought they were, it is possible that they will prove to be as good as we thought; they may have just completely overlooked Navy.


September 7th, 2009 at 3:55 PM ^

The game was a thing of beauty; you even had noise. Don't want to sound like a naysayer, but before we jump on the bandwagon together, I'd like to wait one more week. Next week should tell us tons. The WMU game was a perfect storm of sorts. Hype from the first game of the season, the RichRod issues, new stadium (huge difference from last year). If we win next week, I could easily see at least eight wins, barring injury, with an outside of nine in the W column. Don't see us getting by PSU or OSU no matter, unless they should have their QB's go down. We are thin on D and young on most skill positions.

Without being captain obvious, it was so nice having a QB with accuracy after last year's disaster. Speed kills, and do we ever have some. Go Blue!


September 7th, 2009 at 6:16 PM ^

IIRC, we got up to a large and comfortable lead, and then Carr pulled the first- and maybe-second stringers in the 4th Q so as not to pile it on his good buddy Hoke, and he had to put the first stringers back in late in the game to preserve the victory. I thought Lloyd was a damn good coach, but one thing that really bugged me was his propensity to take the foot off the pedal too early in the games when we had a lead. If we got behind by more than a touchdown, then his football personality changed completely on offense to one of aggressive, almost reckless abandon, and with the talent we usually had he pulled his ass out of the fire many times.


September 7th, 2009 at 6:23 PM ^

Seeing OSU struggle against Navy actually wasn't too shocking. Many times over the years, Tressel's teams have barely gotten by horrible teams. Their national championship team in 2002 went through that several times. And who could forget that game where they needed a 99 yard interception returned for a TD to beat a bad SDSU team by 3 points? As much as it pains me to admit it, that game against Navy means nothing. However, I'm very curious to see how they do against USC.

Illinois and Iowa were the most shocking to me. This was the year that the Illini were finally supposed to beat Missouri. But 37-9? Maybe our winning streak in Champaign won't be in as much danger as I thought. Iowa looked awful. They should have lost to UNI.

Sgt. Wolverine

September 7th, 2009 at 6:46 PM ^

I saw something similar happen in a high school game last year, except it resulted in a touchdown. Dexter blocked a Chelsea field goal, but all the Dexter players backed away from the ball, just as the Iowa players did; an alert Chelsea player picked up the ball and ran the 20-some yards to the end zone. The refs had to confer to talk about the call, but they got it right: Chelsea got the touchdown.

That's why I know that rule now.


September 7th, 2009 at 10:43 PM ^

Looks like Ohio State's "reload" on offense this year isn't as automatic as is usually the case. With only four starters back on offense, I think they will have trouble scoring against the better teams and may be in for a sub=par year.

Texas Buckeye

September 8th, 2009 at 10:41 AM ^

Navy will likely go on to win a lot of games this year. They were 8-5 last year and won a bowl game... I could ask how that compares to UM but won't. ;-)

Besides... while I'll grant you that UM looked good, especially your new QB, I would temper the enthusiasm until after the ND game... since, as good as UM looked (and they did look very good), I think ND may have looked even better with an experienced QB.

As I do with all B10 teams playing out of conference I want you to win this Saturday so quit obsessing about us and worry about how to stop that ND offense!

There will be time enough to worry about Mr. Pryor and the Sweater vest... but you are no good to us as a crappy 3 win team... so get focused Michigan people as I can assure you we are getting focused on those super human dudes from Southern California.


Shock G

September 8th, 2009 at 10:49 AM ^

Too early to truly upgrade or downgrade the Bucks. Tressel kicks the field goal to go up 18 and the game is done IMO.

Don't forget, the Buckeyes never trailed and lead by as many as 15 with 6:00 to go in the 4th. It's not exactly like Navy is N. Iowa or any other FCS team.

I do, however, think, teams that can operate a run-based spread, ala Michigan, will implement some of these wrinkles against the Buckeyes.