Hello again. How are you? I missed last week due to some minor health stuff and the Dave Brandon stuff. But I have returned with my usual moderate vigor. Did you miss me? I missed you. Let's never be apart again. Except, like, at night. And most of the time during the day.
About Last Week:
A long, long time ago, long before I was my current quasi-respectable self, I used to enjoy my weekends with the occasional adult beverage. And one evening, I found myself in a state of imbibedness in which I had lost most of my reasoning capacity and fine motor function. To give you an idea how far gone I was, I attempted (apparently, according to witnesses, for several minutes) to light a cigar with a flashlight.
And in that state, I recall being deeply amazed by an acquaintance in our group. We’ll call him Dave (because his name was Dave). Dave was an adult who knew how to handle his alcohol, and we didn’t have medical or real safety concerns about him. He was just hammered beyond all reason. He was so drunk that despite the fact that I was in a mental place where I had forgotten how fire worked, I was concerned and amazed about HIS level of intoxication.
Indiana is Dave. Michigan is currently black-out drunk, but they can still recognize someone who is even drunker. Pull yourself together, Dave.
The Road Ahead:
Northwestern (3-5, 2-3 B1G)
Last game: Lost at Iowa 48-7
Recap: Saturday’s action should have served as a blunt rejoinder to the argument that a 6-6 season should save Brady Hoke’s job. The pile of derp Michigan would have to scale is so meager, it barely qualifies as a hill. It’s a “knoll” at best. Maybe, MAYBE it could be a mound if you squint hard enough. Michigan had a path to six wins that did not include a single win over a top-50 team. If the current rankings hold, Michigan will have had eight games against teams ranked 48th or worse in FEI, including SIX at home.
Nowhere is this the awfulness of Michigan’s schedule more apparent than four hours west in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern, once touted as a potentially tricky opponent, has crumbled into a heap. Since beating Wisconsin (which, can we talk about THAT for a second?), they have lost increasingly lopsided games to Minnesota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Iowa jumped out to a 24-0 first quarter lead, which by my calculations should never ever ever ever ever ever happen ever ever. Iowa gets like two possessions per quarter. Giving up 24 points defies all everything.
This latest porcupine massage of a performance saw Trevor Siemian and backup Zack Oliver combine for 75 passing yards (at 3.1 yards per attempt) and -45 yards rushing. That means on 30 passing plays or QB runs, Northwestern put up 30 yards.
I suppose I should mention at this point that Northwestern is favored by most of the advanced statistics folks to beat Michigan.
This team is as frightening as: A team that has, through 8 games, had three offensive plays of 30 yards or more. And is somehow still a coin flip against Michigan. Fear Level = 5
Michigan should worry about: Michigan has not won a road game since defeating the University of Chicago 2-1 in 1913. They are not favored to win another road game until their matchup with the University of Mars, tentatively scheduled as a second half of a home-planet-and-home-planet in the year 2136.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Trevor Siemian’s YPA numbers have fallen in every game since the start of conference play, from 7.0 to 6.3 to 5.4 to 4.4 to 3.8. Meanwhile, Northwestern’s points per game allowed has Increased in every game, from 6 to 14 to 24 to 38 to 48. So, according to the ironclad rule that all trend continue forever, Siemian will throw for 3.1 YPA and Northwestern will give up 58 points. Science.
When they play Michigan: Michigan will defy science and not score 58 points.
Next game: vs. Michigan (NW +2), 3:30 Saturday, ESPN2
[AFTER THE JUMP: Awwww, Y U NO slap hands?]
Maryland (5-3, 2-2 B1G)
Last game: Beat Penn State 20-19
Recap: Oooooh, we got a badass over here.
Despite being 1-35-1 all-time against Penn State, Maryland did their best stake-in-the-ground impression at the start of their epic matchup. Fortunately for Maryland, Penn State is much worse at football than, say, Michigan State, and the Terps were able to kick a last-second field goal to pull out a 20-19 win.
Stefon Diggs was suspended for Maryland’s next game (against Michigan State) for the pre-game fight that preceded the no-shake thingy depicted above. Diggs is reportedly also suffering an abdominal injury that could extend beyond that. If so, that will throw a wrench in the works, though Maryland still has about three dozen receivers.
This team is as frightening as: The anti-#ChaosTeam. Maryland is firmly in the bottom-middle portion of the conference. They smoked the bad team they played (Indiana), got smoked by the two good teams they played (OSU and Wisconsin), and played close games against the meh teams on the schedule (Iowa and Penn State). They’ve finished about as expected all year. Unfortunately, they are favored over Michigan. So… Fear Level = 7
Michigan should worry about: Maryland is 2nd in the conference with 25 sacks for a league-best 200 yards lost.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Once you factor out that sack yardage, Maryland has one of the worst rushing defenses in the conference, surrendering a sack-adjusted 216 yards per game at 5.01 yards per carry.
When they play Michigan: Last shot at bowl eligibility. Prepare the tiny flags for glory.
Next game: Bye
Ohio State (7-1, 4-0 B1G)
Last game: Beat Penn State, 31-24 (2OT), Beat Illinois 55-14
Recap: Last week Ohio State beat the unholy confused-by-shiny-objects testicles off of Tm Beckman and company. So let’s talk about the week before instead.
Right up until the last snap of the Penn State game, the transitive property of football was on a knife edge. So while you may be disappointed in the outcome, be pleased that the Universe at least held onto SOME strained bits of its structure. Ohio State jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead, largely as a result of a hilariously blown call on an “interception” by Vonn Bell…
Seems legit (h/t @11W)
…and a missed delay of game call on a field goal by Neurnberger. But Anthony Zettel picked off a slant on a zone blitz drop early in the second half, and eventually Penn State tied the game on a 31 yard field goal at the end of regulation. Joey Bosa eventually ended things by hitting Christian Hackenberg with Akeem Lynch on 4th down in the second overtime, but it certainly wasn’t a rapturous performance by Ohio State.
This game demonstrated the difference between an “exciting game” and a “good game.” Because while the game was close and the Penn State crowd was loud and engaged, this was most certainly not good football. The teams combined for 533 yards, in a game that included two overtimes. They combined to put up 3.39 yards per play (for comparison, the Michigan/Penn State sand-pounding competition yielded 3.76 yards per play). JT Barrett, partially hampered by a sprained MCL, only threw for 76 yards on 19 attempts, though he did add 20 carries for 75 yards.
This team is as frightening as:
Who knows, but probably very frightening. They’ve put in a couple of clunkers, but the odds of them dropping a clunker to That Team Up North (especially THIS That Team Up North) are reeeeeeally slim. Fear Level = 9
Michigan should worry about: Ohio State leads the conference in TFLs at 7.88 per game, and has allowed under 4 yards per carry in every game other than the season opener (and that was against Navy, so it barely counts).
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Maybe Ohio State’s starters will get diarrhea or something.
When they play Michigan: And gout. And possibly a major sinus headache.
Next game: at Michigan State (OSU +3.5), 8:00 Saturday, ABC
Objects in the rearview mirror:
Appalachian State (3-5, 2-2 Sun Belt)
Last game: Beat Georgia State 44-0
Recap: Georgia State is now Peter Gibbons, pre-hypnotism:
When you get outgained by the #122 team in the country (according to FEI) 567 to 62, you have hit a rock bottom that the script writers to “Armageddon 2: Armageddon” would find wildly implausible. They were outrushed 469 to 8, with every single Mountaineer who recorded a carry (including Simms McElfresh) outrushing the entire… uh… Georgia State Mascot’s team.
App State has now won back-to-back games by a combined 97-14.
Next game: vs. UL-Monroe (ASU -4.5), 3:30 Saturday, ESPN3
Notre Dame (7-1)
Last game: Beat Navy 49-39
Recap: Want to know how a team can be 7-1 with its sole loss coming in the closing seconds to the undefeated defending national champ, and still not be within a 6-iron of the college football playoff? Take notes. The Irish are putting on a clinic. An ugly win over Purdue. An uuuuuuuugly win over 4-loss Stanford. Trailing North Carolina in the 4th quarter. Trailing Navy in the 4th quarter. Hell, getting outgained by Michigan.
Navy had their chances, but couldn’t come up with the onside kick they needed with about 4 minutes left, and Everett Golson iced the game away with his sixth touchdown of the game. It’s usually foolish to try to take much away from Service Academy games, though, so let’s move on, secure in the knowledge that the [relative] sanity of the CFB system will probably keep Notre Dame at home.
Next game: at Arizona State (ND +2.5), 3:30 Saturday, ABC
Miami (NTM) (2-8, 2-4 MAC)
Last game: Lost to Western Michigan 41-10
Recap: You just got trounced by Broncos that row boats. That can’t be fun.
Next game: Bye
Utah (6-2, 3-2 PAC-12)
Last game: Lost to Arizona State 19-16 (OT)
Recap: Despite getting outgained 444 to 241, Utah had a number of chances to win this game, and in fact took it to overtime before a missed 35-yard field goal doomed them. Had Utah pulled this one out, it would have set up a very interesting matchup this week against Oregon. It’s unlikely Utah would have been in the top 4 had they run the table, but they would have been on the fringes of the conversation. Now, notsomuch.
As it turns out, Utah’s offense has been pretty awful this year. They are averaging 5.08 yards per play, which is 105th in the country. They haven’t even sniffed 5 yards per play in the last six games. In Pac 12 play, their quarterbacks have put up a fantastical 4.4 yards per pass for 115.6 yards per game. And now they have lost Dres Anderson for the year. The defense, on the other hand, has been pretty decent. They are 17th in the country in yards per play allowed. Take THAT, preseason expectations.
Next game: vs. Oregon (Utah +8), 10:00 Saturday, ESPN
Minnesota (6-2, 3-1 B1G)
Last game: Lost at Illinois, 28-24 (Yeeeep), Bye
Recap: Minnesota had a bye this week. Which was probably good, as they could use the opportunity to sit quietly and think about what they did the week before. Minnesota lost to Illinois. There is no way to shine that turd.
Next game: vs. Iowa, 12:00 Saturday, ESPN2
Rutgers (5-4, 1-4 B1G)
Last game: Lost at Wisconsin 37-0
Recap: Remember Gary Nova? Remember how much we all made fun of Gary Nova this offseason? You, know, Wrecking Ball video and whatnot? And remember how he threw for 404 yards and 3 TDs at 10.4 yards per attempt against Michigan?
Yeah. Turns out we were right about him. We were just wrong about Michigan.
In four non-Michigan Big Ten games, Nova has averaged 146 yards passing at 6.37 yards per attempt with 1 touchdown and 8 picks. In this one, he finished with 46 yards on 15 attempts. When you factor in sacks, Rutgers went 29 yards forward on 18 Nova passing attempts.
On the bright side, Rutgers can wrap up bowl eligibility against Indiana next week, which means that Rutgers will wrap up bowl eligibility next week.
Next game: Bye
Penn State (4-4, 1-4 B1G)
Last game: Lost to Maryland 20-19
Recap:The pre-game Thoroughly Polite Dust-up with Maryland notwithstanding, Penn State is really hard to watch right now.
- They have yet to crack 300 yards in a conference game.
- They are last in the conference in tackles for loss allowed with 8.38 per game (125th in the country).
- They are last in the conference with 3.75 sacks allowed per game (124th in the country).
- They are last in the conference at 2.29 yards per carry (126th in the country)
- They are 13th in the conference at 4.52 yards per play (ahead of only Northwestern in the B1G and 120th in the country).
I could keep going, but it seems cruel at this point.
Ladies and gentlemen, Michigan's best win.
Next game:at Indiana (PSU -6.5), 12:00 Saturday, BTN
Michigan State (7-1, 4-0 B1G)
Last game: Bye
Recap: No recap. Bye.
Next game: vs. Ohio State (MSU -3.5), 8:00 Saturday, ABC