No Damn Reason At All

Submitted by Brian on November 28th, 2016 at 1:06 PM

11/26/2016 – Michigan 27, Ohio State 30 (2OT) – 10-2, 7-2 Big Ten


[Eric Upchurch]

After all that, the thing that sticks with me is something much more prosaic than the various outrages everyone's going on about. It's third and four in the fourth quarter. Ohio State literally triple-covers Jake Butt; Wilton Speight finds Amara Darboh open on a quick slant. The ball is behind Darboh, tough but catchable. Darboh does not catch it. Michigan punts with five minutes and change left on the clock.

Why did that happen?

I don't know. Nobody does, but very few people tasked with writing about a thing will tell you that. Everyone else will reach for any explanation of remote plausibility, from an injured shoulder to CHOKING like a CLOWN FRAUD. Whatever, doesn't matter. Just as long as there's a reason a thing occurred, we can go on with our lives.

I think that happened for no damn reason at all. Yes, if you replaced Speight with Tom Brady that pass was more likely to be accurate. If you replaced him with Tyler O'Connor, less likely. It is still a simple five-yard throw that is amongst the easiest in the quarterback's repertoire. It is within the capabilities of the QB. Speight probably hits 90% of them, especially on a day where he is locked in. The most likely explanation for why he did not hit that one is none at all. The most likely reason Darboh did not catch a tough but catchable pass is none at all.

There are entire fields of study dedicated to the fallibility of the human brain, which refuses to operate cleanly. (I just put a D into the word "entire" as I was typing that sentence out.) These exist mostly because planes crash into each other and space shuttles explode and not because football happens sometimes, which just goes to show that people have strange priorities.


Speaking of the fallibility of the human brain:

It is hard to take that sort of thing. Michigan had just gotten a flag on a similar, but less severe, defensive holding incident on the prior Ohio State drive. That ended a Michigan drive that had reached midfield; if called correctly Michigan has first and ten at the Ohio State 40.

Later in the game the same pattern would repeat. Delano Hill was flagged for pass interference on third and 14 when he unnecessarily grabbed the waist of Curtis Samuel before the ball arrived; the exact same thing happened to Grant Perry on a third down conversion attempt and was ignored. Again, that sets Michigan up with a first down, this one on the ten in the second overtime. Again it was preceded by a call so similar against Michigan it beggars belief that a flag did not come out.

That's tough to get over. The spot was close enough and chaotic enough that it falls within the realm of the unknowable. An MGoUser who knows what parallax is and went over available evidence with a fine-toothed comb thinks Barrett made it by literally an inch or two. While I thought the spot was wrong I knew they would not overturn it, because they never overturn spots without some sort of egregious his-knee-was-down-ten-yards-ago kind of thing. In isolation that call is, in the cold light of day two days later, too close to have a definitive resolution. If it was wrong it very well could have been an honest mistake.

It is difficult to interpret either of the above incidents as honest, or a mistake. It's difficult to see a standard-issue Harbaugh blowup get flagged in the Game when we've seen the same thing tolerated all year. It's difficult to believe that Michigan's defensive line hasn't benefited from a holding call since the Illinois game.

This is the point at which newspapery types come in with the You Had Your Opportunities To Win The Game, an asinine criticism since that's literally true of both teams in every close game ever played. You can believe that Michigan had opportunities to win they did not take and simultaneously believe that the officiating gave you less than a 50/50 shot in a 50/50 game.

And then you're putting guys out on the field from the state of Ohio who were previously banned from working The Game because of how it might look? What the fuck are you even doing, Big Ten?


[Patrick Barron]

What's that? Counting your money? Right. Well done.


Michigan lost this game. They did so for many reasons.

Their mistakes were punished as ruthlessly as possible. A floating ball goes directly to a defender. A fumbled snap is recovered by the defense. Curtis Samuel escapes a huge loss three times and sets up the fourth down that falls within the margin of error.

They did not take advantage of plays that were there to be made. Speight threw behind Darboh twice; Darboh did not bail him out. Karan Higdon missed a cut on what would have been a huge gain. Smith did not run over a safety prior to the fumble.

They did not get a fair whistle. See above.

All that and it came down to a literal inch. A rivalry classic, and an invitation for a bunch of hooting jackals to hoot some more. As for us on the other side, nothing to do but soldier on in the gray light of morning.



there is another [Bryan Fuller]

Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week

-2535ac8789d1b499[1]you're the man now, dog

#1 Taco Charlton was the most rampant of Michigan's very rampant defensive line, acquiring two and a half sacks and forcing Barrett to move around several other times.

#2 (tie) Ben Gedeon and Mike McCray shut off the Ohio State edge except on a couple plays where Michigan was successfully out-leveraged pre-snap. It was weird to see neutrals on twitter wondering why anyone would run east-west against The Michigan Defense, but they were, because it didn't work. They picked up 19 tackles between them, two sacks, another TFL, and McCray batted down two passes. McCray also forced a sack when he leapt in the passing lane of a third.

#3 Kenny Allen bombed all but one of his punts; he mastered the Ron Coluzzi hard right turn; he had just one touchback, that on a punt that still had a 40+ yard net; Curtis Samuel had just one quickly snuffed return opportunity; he hit a couple field goals; none of his kickoffs were returnable.

Honorable mention: Channing Stribling broke up the only deep shot on the day; OSU decided they were not going to bother with either him or Jourdan Lewis. The rest of the defensive line was terrific all day; the tackles were very good in pass protection against some tough customers. Peppers had a big KOR, an interception, and was also a major part of the edge being closed down.

KFaTAotW Standings.

10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa, #2 Indiana, #1 OSU).
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa).
4: Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland, #3 Indiana), Mike McCray(#1 Hawaii, T2 OSU), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers, T2 OSU).
3.5: De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU, #1 Indiana).
3: Amara Darboh(#1 MSU).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU),  Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU),  Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa), Kenny Allen (#3 OSU).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).

Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week

This week's best thing ever.

It's a goat in a duck costume!

Honorable mention: is that not sufficient


Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.
Indiana: Smith woodchips Michigan a lead.
OSU: Goat. Duck costume. Yeah.


This week's worst thing ever.

The Spot.

Honorable mention: The ensuing play. Speight fumbles the snap; Speight gets hit on the throw and offers up a pick six; Speight throws an INT that is on him; various refereeing malfeasances.


Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.
Indiana: A legitimate drive.
OSU: The Spot.

[After THE JUMP: ~3000 additional words, 43% of which are swears.]




Seemed kind of good, and then very bad, and then kind of good again. Wilton Speight has some pretty odd stats for a guy who seemed to carry Michigan's offense by himself: 6.1 yards an attempt, which is bad. Add in two interceptions and it's very bad. Add in a disastrous fumbled snap and... it is not better. That did not make things better.

One of the interceptions was not his fault. Speight IDed Chesson open behind a picket fence zone and threw it to him; Raekwon McMillian, who got in scot free, intervened before he could complete his throwing motion. It's just crap luck the ball went directly to a defender.

The other INT and the fumble are directly on Speight, with Cole maybe factoring in on the fumble. On the one hand, those lost the game. On the other, Michigan was in position to win it because Speight was calm, accurate, and brave.

No deep shots. Part of the reason Michigan's YPA was so low was a total lack of deep balls. A sail route completion to Jake Butt for 22 yards was Michigan's longest gain of the day, and a fair chunk of that was yards after the catch. I have to assume that was due to Speight's injury. Either he couldn't get the necessary oomph on deep balls or Michigan was loathe to expose him to the OSU pass rush because they feared he would get knocked out.

Just not enough. The one position group that was clearly overwhelmed was the offensive line. Smith and Evans combined to average under three yards a carry, and most of that was on the OL unable to generate much of anything.

This was a Hoke legacy Harbaugh was unable to overcome. Whatever improvements Michigan was able to generate in their senior trio did not get them to All Big Ten levels, let alone All America, with the possible exception of Erik Magnuson. (My opinion: meh, but depending on the NFL scout you listen to he's apparently got a chance.) When Grant Newsome, a true sophomore, got knocked out for the year a true freshman replaced him. There was zero depth behind the starters and that bit hard as Ben Bredeson struggled, as true freshmen tend to.

This was partially bad luck. The nature of Logan Tuley-Tillman's departure could not be predicted. It was partially terrible evaluation. Michigan passed on LSU All-American Ethan Pocic because they thought they were full, then took Dan Samuelson towards the end of the cycle. Samuelson quit football soon after realizing he was overmatched in year two. It was partially a lack of ruthlessness: Chris Fox had a terrible knee injury that made him unlikely to work out in college and Michigan still took him. Fox did transition to a medical scholarship relatively quickly, but Michigan didn't react to his inability to play quickly enough. It was partially crappy coaching, because Hoke.

The tackles pass-protected well, though.

Aaargh. Michigan's offset draw worked to near perfection except for one thing. Higdon did not cut behind Cole.

That's a huge, huge gain otherwise.

Smith did not flatten the fishing village. While we're complaining about running backs, Malik Hooker twice hewed down De'Veon Smith in ways I did not think were possible for a safety. The first turned out to be a game changing play, as it came when Smith busted to the second level on a goal-to-go carry. As he did so I thought "YES!!!" because surely this was a touchdown; surely I had seen sufficient Smith-versus-secondary matchups to know that the two safeties coming in at an angle had precious little chance to shut Smith down without YAC.

And yet, Hooker did. Speight fumbled on the ensuing snap. That tackle is the play of the game, along with all the other ones.


[Patrick Barron]

Perry had a solid day. Grant Perry hadn't had much impact this year, in part due to a mid-season suspension. Against OSU he was open repeatedly and hit for several critical third down conversions. I expect his role will grow considerably next year as Jake Butt's third down skills head to the NFL.




Can't ask for more. Michigan's defense gave up approximately ten points in regulation. OSU had three field goal drives, two of which their kicker missed, and turned first and ten from the fifteen into a touchdown with assistance from a personal foul on Harbaugh. OSU averaged under 4 yards a play.

Confusion even in game 12. Only two things even slightly ground the ol' gears. One of them was Michigan's confusion at various points during the game. OSU motion was all too frequently met with cabinet meetings amongst the Michigan secondary.

A four-man box against an empty set could not have been correct; it resulted in a 41-yard Barrett draw/scramble. Noah Brown was provided a free first down late in the game when Michigan put two DBs over three WRs. A couple other times Michigan did not get aligned; those instances did not have straight lines between tempo and success but there was a definite correlation. Michigan's rampant pass rush was most frequently nerfed when Michigan could not get set up and fire off on the snap.

I spent the first half of this year cautioning about Don Brown's significant year one costs and hoping they would get fixed over the course of the season. They did. Michigan busts dropped to normal levels by midseason, and whatever confusion they suffered they issued as well. That was the case in this game; I still got a bit frustrated at various ??? moments on OSU motion.

The other thing that rankled. OSU's final drive of regulation did not see Michigan solve their problems with aggression. On one level, I get it. You've been dominant, Barrett's rattled, you're up three. It's a situation where caution is called for early. Once OSU hits midfield it's time to get aggressive, especially since Barrett has done so poorly with pressure. Michigan did not amp it up; they rushed four, played zone, and generally abandoned the approach that had seen them dominate three quarters of the game.

I've defended Harbaugh's approach in a number of games this year, and still think the Lloydball stuff from the offense was justified given game contexts. I absolutely do not get Michigan's passivity on the final drive. I mean, I do. I've seen it time and again.  I was hoping for something else.

Mone with a big play. Bryan Mone's hype petered out thanks to an early season injury; when he did play he was unimpressive, which stoked worries for next year. Watching him obliterate an OSU OL to stuff a third and short Weber run was the best and biggest play of his career to date; hopefully he can follow up on that next year.




PUNTAGEDDON. Put Indiana's punter on either of these teams and this is a 20-point game. Instead, Ron Coluzzi battled Ron Coluzzi atop Mount Puntlympus. Kenny Allen averaged 47 yards a kick with a 67-yarder and five punts inside the 20 against just one touchback, that on a super-long punt. OSU got one return in for two yards.

Cameron Johnston matched him with an average of 46 a pop, a long of 60, and one Peppers return for five yards. He also got run into, so he's got that going for him.

I can't wait to see the PFF grades. They might be positive.

They should get rid of running into the kicker. Roughing should stay. Every running into the kicker penalty I've seen is glancing contact that endangers nobody. Most of them feature the punter falling over theatrically. Running into the kicker is like the five-yard facemask penalty they got rid of a few years ago and should meet the same fate.

Jordan Glasgow, special teams, uh, specialist. The aftermath of OSU's fake punt was fascinating, as it quickly became apparent that Urban Meyer told the ESPN crew that they were going to going to run it against a certain Michigan formation no matter what. They got the formation, they ran it, and Jordan Glasgow stoned it. Glasgow set up outside, got off a block, got held, still got off that block, and make a tackle with help from Chris Wormley to turn OSU over on downs.

That was the most spectacular but far from the only excellent special teams play Glasgow's made over the last couple years. He's made a habit of hewing down kick returners. I wouldn't entirely rule him out from playing time on defense next year. 1) Is Glasgow, 2) you don't make that kind of consistent impact on special teams without being able to read a play and take on a block.



Peppers: quite good. His kick return to Ohio State territory after the pick six might have stood as Michigan's play of the game in the event of a win. Jourdan Lewis had a momentarily dangerous but ultimately unsuccessful KOR of his own on the last play of regulation, and for a second there I thought Peppers was running to get in a pitch relationship with Lewis; instead he blocked a guy.


At least we looked good. Can't say the same about OSU's rollerball-ass helmets.



This will console me. Yes.

Harbaugh was wrong about the facemask. Michigan was confused about the aftermath of the Cole facemask call, which ended up as a third and five instead of a first and ten. They were forced to call timeout, and Harbaugh got mad, which eventually ended up in that PF.

In this, at least, the refs were correct. The penalty was a live-ball foul. When it's a live-ball foul the ball is placed where it is after the penalty and then you either give or do not give the first down. If it was a dead ball foul, Michigan would have gotten the ball where Smith went out of bounds minus 15 yards and had first and ten. (This remains one of the oddest rules in football.)

I can only assume that Harbaugh thought the personal foul was something unsportsmanlike after the play because he'd never even thought a screen could see an OL attack the facemask of an opponent. I sure as hell didn't believe it until I saw it.

I don't think Michigan should get in the playoff. They are one of the four best teams. That shouldn't be enough. The committee needs to prioritize making regular season games really count or the whole fury of the regular season descends into a tepid simmer. I fully approve of the focus on championships and hope it would take something extraordinary for a non-champ to get in.

I'd go so far as to assert that Ohio State should not get in over Penn State. If Washington, Clemson, PSU, and Bama win their title games the playoff should be Bama, Clemson, Washington, and Penn State, in that order.


As mentioned, I think Santy's diary on the spot is the best possible analysis of a razor-close call.

Best And Worst:

Worst:  What Do You Think?

I'm broken.  I mean, not in a real sense:  I'm a grown-ass man with two kids, a beautiful wife, a fulfilling career, and my health (largely) still intact.  I don't have to worry about violent uprisings, disease, radioactive mosquitos, or alien invaders.  In the grand scheme of things, I'm doing fine.

But in sports terms, I'm as broken as Jeff Jarrett's guitar.  I guess I should be used to these types of games against OSU, but I'm not.  Games decided by last-second stands, crucial penalties, and terrible officiating are the norm in college sports, but it's only "chaos" when your passive bystander; when it's one of your teams, it's heartbreak.

Sten Carlson tries to offer some perspective:

I am usually not much for "Perspective Posts" after a loss, but in this instance I think it might be helpful.

24 months ago Michigan was sitting at 5-7 overall, and 3-5 in the Big 10.  Let that sink in for a moment ... and if it doesn't, continue reading.

Michigan started out with a hopeful 52-10 blowout of FCS App. St, only to follow it up with an embarassing 31-0 loss to ND in the last game of that storied rivalry.  Following this humilation, Michigan returned home to face the Miami (OH) Redhawks, whom they dispatched 34-10.  Ok, the ND game was an anomoly, just a bad game, we can overcome it, right?  Nope, the Utah Utes march into the Big House and promptly laid a 26-10 beatdown upon our beloved Wolverines.

Just went we thought things could not possibly get any worse, it seemed Hoke (and likely Brandon) had been listening to the fanbase's collective uproar for Shane Morris to replace Devin Gardner, and well ... it did not end well ... a 30-14 loss to Minnesota and of the oldest trophy in college football, Concussion-Gate, and another complete embarassment to the once proud program.

This was rock bottom, right?  Could it get worse than 2-3 and having Concussion-Gate splashed all over the media?  How's about a 26-24 loss to Rutgers (I mean seriously, FUCKING RUTGERS!!!!) in which we make the Scarlet Knights' inept QB look like freakin' Joe Tom Brady Montana as a salve for those wounds?  This HAD to be rock bottom, right?  Sitting at 2-4, and 0-2 in the Big 10, a ray of hope appeared through the clouds as Michigan was (somehow) able to knock off PSU 18-13, in kinda-sorta-not-so-much convincing fashion.  Hail, Hail ... a conference win!

The State of our Open Threads:

Let's start with something that won't shock anyone at all - we reached a season high for "fuck" and indeed, an all-time high for the four seasons that we've been going through this analysis now. No Ohio State game before yesterday, or indeed any game, can say that it resulted in 785 fucks in a game thread. That blows out the previous record, which was the Iowa game a couple week ago. It was also a season-high for shits given at 228, and that is also a high for shits given in the entire time that this analysis has been done. That won't shock anyone, or course - that was the most consequential game we have played in a long time, and I can only imagine the fucks and shits said aloud and off the record. I may have even contributed to the off the record total myself.....a lot.

CFP contenders breakdown. Going to take a lot.


Fuuuuuuuu. Michigan's win expectancy, per S&P+: 83%.

Genuinely Sarcastic has the various ref outrages catalogued. Bill Connelly on the game, if you can go back over it some more. Why the playoff should stick at four. RIP Doug Lesmerises's mentions. PFF grades:

Jekyll and Hyde from Wolverines offense

One of the big questions entering the game was where the Wolverines would generate offensive production from; would they need to play 30 snaps with Jabrill Peppers at quarterback? Ultimately, they didn’t and they exceeded many expectations for their production but came up short in key moments to clinch their victory their performance deserved. Amara Darboh came up with some big catches, including the overtime TD shaking Marshon Lattimore at the line to get open, but he dropped a pair of passes. Similarly, the ground game was nothing more than steady, keeping the Ohio State defense honest but failing to rip off more than one play of ten yards or more. Will this valiant defeat be enough to keep the Wolverines in the playoff picture?

Kyle Kalis and Tyrone Wheatley made the top five with grades of 54. Ugly all around.

Dr. Sap. TTB. Holdin' the Rope:

Never underestimate the rivalry's ability to find that spot, the one that hurts the most. A well-placed nudge to the unsuspecting elicits a yowl, a yelp, a cringing collapse on the floor.

Just when you thought the rivalry couldn't yield a more painful outcome, it did on Saturday, when No. 2 Ohio State bested No. 3 Michigan, 30-27, in double overtime. It was the first overtime game in the history of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry, and thus presented Michigan with a chance to lose in a new way.

When the game ended, I quietly checked my phone for 10 minutes, taking in reactions from around the internet, positive and negative. But, eventually, I wondered if this game was even worth the consternation.

Hoover Street Rag:

In retrospect, they should have gone for two.  Speight wanted it.  It would have met with widespread approbation, win or lose, like a similar decision three years ago.  The defense was gassed because of the offense, led by the wounded Wilton Speight; one that managed five meager yards in the fourth quarter.  They had just found Amara Darboh in the back of the end zone at the end of the first overtime period.  But they did not, putting the game back on the offense and it nearly worked until Grant Perry was mugged on third down, forcing Michigan to settle for a field goal.

Orange Bowl the current best guess as to the bowl game. FSU or Louisville are potential matchups. Same. Embarrassed? Embarrassing would have been 3-9.



November 28th, 2016 at 1:13 PM ^

I understand fully your argument against Michigan getting into the CFP but I wholeheartedly disagree. The reason to take the computers out of it and bring in humans are for various reasons, but the main one was the eye test. Michigan is by far one of the four best teams in America. The College Football Playoff should get the four best teams to play each other or else we have a 41-0 drubbing in a playoff game, a la MSU/Alabama. I truly hope we get in and prove we belong. Here's to wishful thinking. *Cheers*

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


November 28th, 2016 at 1:42 PM ^

I have been pulling hard for Colorado ever since our game with them - not just partly because they brought some of the best visiting fans I've encountered at the Big House (I infrequently get to attend, one game a year or so, so I'm no expert on this, but they were nice and pretty knowledgable.)

But of course mainly because I thought they looked really good that day and I have been convinced that them continuing to look good would eventually end up being important for us.

Now they have a chance to knock off Washington, and muddy the CFP in our favor. They're a TD underdog, so take that for what it's worth. But if UDub loses, and Wiscy-psu doesn't provide a compelling entrant (2 teams we already beat, one resoundingly) and Oklahoma lost at home by 21 to those same buckeyes we were cheated against, who has a stronger claim than Michigan?

Colorado would be a conferene champ in that scenario, but we beat them by 18 pts also! Oklahoma State lost to who again?

So, GO Colorado, VaTech, OK St, and go awful B1G title game slog producing a champ that NO ONE wants to see in the CFP.

That's a lot, but which among them is not at least entirely possible?


November 28th, 2016 at 11:45 PM ^

I don't like the arguement for "you should take the refs out of it" for every game, because when two teams go at it that are very close in coaching and talent close games happen, particularly when the calls are grossly onesided. however, Ok state was playing a middling Mac team, I think in this case it does apply. Similarly, I did not get made at the facemask fall in Iowa because Michigan had a bunch of chances to close it out and should not let it get close enough that a ref's mistake on one call cost you.
But again, ok st, should have never never allowed for that game to be a one score game. Particularly because that was the only bad call against them, unlike Michigan that faced them all game.


November 28th, 2016 at 2:13 PM ^

Well this is simple:

We're NOT 3rd because I refuse to recognize the validity of that rigged contest!

We CRUSHED psu, controlled Wiscy handily, and were blatantly cheated out of that game in Cbus. And I'm not just talking only "The Spot" - nary a holding, offsides, PI called against osu the entire game?!

Highly suspect!!!!!


November 28th, 2016 at 11:52 PM ^

How can you say psu is better when they lost by 40 to Michigan?? Lol. Sure, the lb's were beat up, but that offence could do nothing all game.
I'm tired of talking about the rigging in osu. It is so blatent to everyone that is not a osu fan,or enjoys watching Michigan lose or thinks that no matter what it is one the team for not making playing perfect and the refs can be be blamed.
They had 2 guys from Ohio and osu just so happens to get 6 penalty yards in a 2 ot game. It was rigged.
nuff said.


November 28th, 2016 at 2:11 PM ^

Michigan would have to go in front of not one, but three conference champs to get in. OSU is in the pole position as the first non-champ with a better record and head to head win against us. I want us to be in with all my heart, but it isn't right. If the reverse happened to us, we would be absolutely livid. 

Gucci Mane

November 28th, 2016 at 3:45 PM ^

If OSU makes the playoffs then so should Michigan. The committee has to decide right now how much conference championships matter. I think they should be viewed as any other game and that extra win added to the resume. Including this I still think it's pretty clear Michigan has a top 4 resume. Brian is wrong about the regular season not mattering if conference champions don't get in. In the regular season Michigan has 3 top 10 wins and 2 road loses by a total of 4 points to ranked teams. They are a top 4 team by the eye test, by advanced metrics, and by resume.


November 28th, 2016 at 4:38 PM ^

If OSU makes the playoffs then so should Michigan. 


Officiating aside, OSU has the head to head win on us and only 1 loss, to a probably B1G champ PSU. They clearly have the inside track on us if the committee has to pick one. If Michigan didn't lose at Iowa, I would say we're on equal footing even with the head to head, but alas...


November 28th, 2016 at 9:26 PM ^

because the teams we might get in ahead of LOST TO US.  They had their chances and did not win the games they needed to win.  Wisconsin is in the title game for no other reason than they play in a bad division.  They barely have a better argument than WMU who is also a division winner.


November 28th, 2016 at 9:29 PM ^

he claims allowing non-champs cheapens the regular season when it does exactly the opposite.  The regular season games matter under the current system and they matter even more because you're not just trying to stay ahead of your conference brethren, you're trying to stay ahead of the team right behind you in the playoffs and every single play counts.

It's the reason we have cared about (and watched) Colorado play this year and Hawai'i and UCF fergodsakes. It's why we were glad Iowa crushed Nebraska even though it had no bearing on the conference title.  When your whole body of work counts, everything that's connected to that body of work counts. If conference titles were all that mattered, we'd have clinched teams resting key players, and an anticlimactic regular season like the NFL does.

If all you have to do is win your conference, non-conference games are cheapened to the point of irrelevance.

That both teams are still in contention is because of the nature of the outcome, which doesn't make the game irrelevant. If the game had gone more convincingly in one direction or the other, it would have been an elimination, so the incentives and drama are not removed. A close, controversial loss by the road team was the singularly, extraordinary result the human element is meant to sort out, which is why every single play matters under this messy system.

Saturday's game and every single regular season game matters precisely because of the open, ambigious and connected nature of the subjective process.  

What would cheapen these games is if the playoff gets expanded by more than four or six.  The margin of error just can't get too large.


November 29th, 2016 at 10:38 AM ^

Championships matter.  Conferences matter.  Even at the risk of "cheapening" the non-conference games by incentivizing weak opponents, those games are a small fraction of the overall schedule (especially true for the Big Ten) and are in essense exhibition games.  Look at how the SEC has been with their their nonconference games over the past decade or so: occaissionally some good teams, but for the most part beating up on Sunbelt, Conference USA and FCS teams.  The BCS/CFP overlook it because of their "conference strength", so why should the Big Ten not benefit from the same system?

Besides, any team that claims to be one of the best in the nation should be able to win their conference/division.  This also goes for why two teams from the same division should not be in - clearly one did not not do enough to win it.


November 29th, 2016 at 12:04 PM ^

that's why 8 out of 8 teams to make the CFP so far have been conference champs.  Winning games will get you to the CFP and win you championships.  Highly correlated.  The incentives under the current system are very much aligned with winning championships, because every play matters.  My point is that if ONLY championships matter, then 25% of the schedule for B1G teams wouldn't matter anymore and the other 25% of the schedule against non-divisional teams doesn't matter as much either.  

Wisconsin lost two games against the East but they play in a bad division so they get to go to the conference title game over us and OSU who both beat them and who have the same or fewer conference losses?  What's the difference between their "championship" and WMU's championship? If you devalue WMU's championship because of the circumstances, you have to do the same for Wisconsin. And iff you put Wisconsin in the playoff just because they won their conference, you're saying those two cross-divisional games did not matter.  And that's my point.  Currently, everything matters and that's what makes college football different and the best regular season of any sport.

Also, we did win our division.  We tied at 5-1 with OSU and PSU in the division.  If the requirement is to win your conference, then we have to have the same conference schedules because that's the only way to get a true champion.

FYI, the SEC plays a lot of cupcakes (as does the B1G ten) purely for financial reasons.  More home games equals more money.  That won't change as long as they can pack stadiums against Sun Belt teams without a return trip. That is not a result of the current playoff selection system. They do play some tough games because the committee has all but required it through precedence. Bama played USC, Auburn played Clemson, LSU played Wisconsin, UK played Louisville, SC played Clemson, Florida played FSU, Tenn played VT, and on and on. They probably played more marquee games than the B1G and I would argue those games go away if conference titles are all that matter.  It would just a cash grab of 3-4 home games if there's not a committee to impress.  Teams take a financial hit to schedule one or two of these non-conf games to impress the committee.


November 29th, 2016 at 3:22 PM ^

I never claimed that ONLY conference championships matter, but the committee has already declared in previous seasons that conference championships are given strong weighting.

From their own current website (, they appear to provide a priority list of their factors for judging "comparable teams":

1) Conference championships

2) Strength of schedule

3) Head-to-head

4) Common opponents (not including margin of victory)

5) Other relevant factors

This would indicate that, while not the only factor, it is a very important factor.

As far as Wisconsin, you claim that the West is "bad".  I would instead argue that, while the West is not as good as the East this year, it is still a decent Power 5 division and stacks up reasonably well against some other divisions (SEC East, both PAC 12, ACC Coastal, and the Big 12).  They have some bad teams, but so does the East (RUTGERZ and sometimes Marland/Indiana).  Considering their schedules, for Wisc and PSU to go through with only 2 losses (razor-close for Wisc and severely depleted by injuries for PSU at that time) - that's not too bad.  While true, TO THIS POINT IN TIME, OSU has better resumes than both, Wisc and PSU have another chance for a signature win and to make a statement (the likelihood of doing so is a different story).  OSU is done and all they can do is hope their SoS doesn't slide.

As for WMU, I agree that they should have a chance to be in the CFP.  I think the current CFP system (like the BCS before it) is absurdly unfair and sustains the have/have-not bifurcation of college football.  Unlike BB, when some of these small schools get those once-in-a-generation world beating teams that no one expects, they never get a chance to prove it.  At least Cinderella can show up to the Big Dance.  All that being said, the MAC West does not stack up to the Big Ten West (nor Big Ten to MAC as a whole), so the WMU arguement is moot.

As for Michigan winning the East, sadly we did NOT tie.  The first criterion is overall conference record, not division record.  This means that PSU and OSU tied.  The first tie-breaker is then head-to-head, which PSU wins.  Intradivision record (for which UM, PSU, and OSU would be tied) is the second tie-breaker.  This is outlined in the Big Ten rules (…).  

Regarding the SEC non-conference games, you can debate the motivation and justification for cupcake opponents ad nauseum (easy win vs low SoS, home game revenue vs paying the cupcake, etc.) but it ultimately doesn't matter.  The committee rewards wins against good teams and ignores wins against bad teams.  As you state, their overall non-conference is improving (due to CFP emphasis on SoS), but I would not claim they play better non-conference slates than the rest of the FBS.  All of the teams you cited played exactly ONE real non-conference challenger while almost the entire SEC also played at least one FCS team (and also Sunbelt/Conf-USA cupcakes).  When you compare to other P5 conferences (as a whole) it is no better.

The point remains that conference performance defines a team's position (ND, BYU, and Army aside) and the best way to make that statement is to win the conference championship (which usually requires a division championship as well).


November 29th, 2016 at 4:18 PM ^

"any team that claims to be one of the best in the nation should be able to win their conference/division." means that you think a team has to win their conference to be considered one of the best in the nation which is the playoff requirement. At least, that's the logical conclusion of your statement.

And my point is that with wildly uneven schedules in college football, even within conferences, making a conference championship a requirement does more to hurt the full regular season than it does to help it.  

If that's not what you're saying and that you are only saying it should be heavily weighted, then fine, but that would mean that you are open to a team that can't win their conference to still be one of the four best in the nation.

I don't actually disagree with Brian that PSU should be in ahead of OSU if they win along with Washington and Clemson because I think head-to-head should carry more weight than a sometimes arbitrarily earned conference title, all else relatively comparable.

That's why I don't think that Wisconsin should be in ahead of OSU or even Michigan.  They lost the head-to-heads somewhat convincingly and only get a spot in the title game because of the division they're in.  To your point, yes, the West is comparable with those divisions you listed and if the winners of those divisions also win their conference title games, those teams shouldn't go to the playoff either, except maybe Washingon.  Florida, Colorado, Vtech, OU and OK st shouldn't be in the playoff for the same reason Wisconsin and WMU shouldn't.  They won their conferences, but they didn't perform well enough against the teams they played to be considered top 4 and they were only in their conference title games by default.


November 29th, 2016 at 6:25 PM ^

The key word in that quote is should, I did not say must.

My argument was that the conference champion factor is likely so weighted that there would need to be VERY compelling evidence to overcome it (e.g. Bama loses to Florida this week in a flukey upset; it would be a black mark, but not enough to overcome the entire body of work, which already includes the SEC West title).


November 29th, 2016 at 1:02 PM ^

At some point you turned all snakey there and choked on your own logic, crg. The divisions in almost all conferences are somewhat random, as evidenced by the B1G already having shuffled the alignment only a few years in to having them.

Big 12 doesn't even have the required 12 teams to have them! Pac 12 they just stuck their 2 new teams into one division and called them rivals. Any conference might choose to realign their divisions for any number of reasons at any time (I'm a proponent of swapping Indiana & Purdue to make the West tougher, but let's say Fleck goes to PU, Wilson bails for a bigger gig, the situations could be reversed by 2018).

In any case, calling us 3rd in our division and potentially crowning Wiscy B1G champs when we have the same record and beat them H2H just proves that all this division/conference champ stuff is not what the CFP was designed to do:

Identify the FOUR BEST TEAMS and have them play it off on the field. I've never read their mandate so I can't say whether it does or doesn't say they're supposed to give preference to conference champs, or how they're supposed to choose among conference champs for the 4 available slots?

I do know the spokes guy goes on every Tues and says they're trying to ID the 4 best. Michigan is among those 4, I'm convinced! Whether you think the refs did a great job in Iowa City or Columbus or not, we can make a strong case to be in the "Best 4 teams". 

AS I've posted previously, Colorado can do us a solid by helping that case. VaTech too for that matter. Can't even figure out how the winner of B1G helps or hurts us, so I'm just following my gut and going for Wiscy.


November 29th, 2016 at 3:50 PM ^

I would hate to labeled as "snakey" so let's try to clarify things a bit (if possible):

I would say the divisions in any conference are not random (or even somewhat-random) but are typically a balance between historical program strength and practical geography (i.e. no conference/division spanning 3-4 time zones).  For the Big Ten, the West has several teams that have experience strong runs in the last few decades (UW, Neb, Iowa... Illinois and Purdue in the 90s and Minn before then).  Even their least historically successful program (NW) is still better than the worst in the East (thank you, RUTGERZ).  While the East has UM, OSU and PSU that are normally top-tier, MSU, IN and MD are usually mid-tier at best.  Since these things are long-term cyclical, it can be difficult to evaluate division strength at any given time. Ultimately, whether or not a conference has divisions doesn't matter, but if a team happens to be in a conference division and cannot win it - that does not exactly scream national champion caliber.  

It is true that CFP is not interested in crowning Division or Conference champions.  They want to find the best teams, who almost always earn those crowns themselves.

In a prior post provided a link to the CFP's guidlines on judging "comparable teams", but here it is again (  In it, they clearly state that the first criterion (at least first mentioned) in judging such teams is conference championship, followed by SoS.  While I cannot claim to know what they view as "comparable teams", I would assume something along the lines of top 8 teams.

As far as UM chances, I agree that they COULD match up and beat anyone they play (assuming they need to beat only the opponent and not the officials also).  However, I do not see us getting in unless both UW and Clemson lose (unlikely) and I personally believe the committee is loth to break the usual tradition of having only conference champions play for the national title.  As many recall, the last time that happened was the LSU-Bama rematch from 2011, the outcry to which was one of the tipping points for abandoning the BCS.

Everyone Murders

November 28th, 2016 at 1:17 PM ^

That looked like it might have been partially caused by Cole hiking the ball into his own thigh - i.e., not a clean exchange.  Of course, Speight's left shoulder injury could have played into that also.

In any event, a brutal play in a game where points were awfully hard to come by. 

kevin holt

November 28th, 2016 at 1:24 PM ^

I posited without much response that Cole was reacting to the OSU DL jumping the snap offsides. They did it on the previous two or three plays and no flag. I kind of ignored it because we had positive yardage anyway but I do think that might have caused him, a first year center, to rush the exchange and get his hands up to block the offsides DT. Unless I'm crazy.

Moonlight Graham

November 28th, 2016 at 2:18 PM ^

Pick six happens, it's now 7-3. Peppers returns kickoff to midfield and Speight marches down to K. Hill TD with very little time left in the half. Half ends 10-7. 

Without the pick six, UM is pinned back and probably goes 3 and out if they stay more conservative. Kenny Allen probably gets a good punt off but OSU now has as much time to score as we did. They go down and score a FG or TD themselves (probably FG) and we go into the half either 3-3 or 3-7 instead of 3 points ahead. 


November 28th, 2016 at 4:30 PM ^

if they want these title games to feel like "playoffs" then get rid of divisions for conference title game consideration and make the title game up from the two highest ranked CFP Committee teams in your conference. In this case, it would be a rematch in Indy ... instead of the 3rd and 4th best teams in the B1G from some sort of hypothetical division championship. Head-to-head, UM beat both division "champs" soundly and should be ranked ahead of each in the CFP based upon its entire body of work during the season. Division winners are hypothetical given non-division wins/losses count for the "division champ" qualification.

I say get rid of league divisions and increase the conference games by eliminating out of conference "scrimmages" ... find the two best teams in your conference as confirmed by the CFB ranking at the end of the regular conference season. That would effectively expand the playoffs and better qualify teams for the top 4 and make title games clearly count every year.


November 28th, 2016 at 1:42 PM ^

And I have refreshed the page all morning waiting for this post. This time though, it didn't give me any sense of ease, or comfort at all. This one hurts real bad, I can only imagine what the team feels.

I still think we deserve a spot in the playoffs, that game was stolen from Michigan.


November 28th, 2016 at 11:54 PM ^

One interaction that haunts me is on Samuels' crazy run in OT2, he tried to cut back to his left and Glasgow stood right in his way forcing him to reconsider. But then Glasgow desides to chase and moves out of the way, giving up the open lane to run to 4th & 1. Make the tackle for loss there and I like our chances with a 45-yard OSU FG to tie.

True Blue in CO

November 28th, 2016 at 1:22 PM ^

We will always be despondent about this loss and it will keep us motivated for the future. We still have a great bowl game in our future and a chance to have a top 5 recruiting class. We are in great hands with Harbaugh and we are almost were we want to be in College Football.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


November 28th, 2016 at 2:00 PM ^

I'm not sure why, but I'm not excited about the Orange Bowl at all. I detailed above my scenario for making the CFP, but I think my clear (very distant) 2nd choice would be 2 other B1G teams in, while we go to the Rose. So, Wiscy to win the B1G, Wash, Clem & OK to lose their conference title games.

Maybe we get in, maybe 2 other B1G teams do (which would have the added bonus of not just putting us in the Rose likely, but something to bitch about for the rest of our lives! You know we love that - looking at you Phantom TD; I see you over there Big 10 vote of 1973!!!)