Opponent Watch 2014: Week 10

Submitted by BiSB on November 7th, 2014 at 11:14 AM

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…

Bell Gif

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



November 7th, 2014 at 1:01 PM ^

You are right, but I wasn't commenting on you, just what was happening around your program.  You came to a Michigan fan board to post shit about Maryland, I am a Michigan fan who grew up in Maryland and decided to make fun of psu for how much losing to Maryland bothers you all.


November 7th, 2014 at 1:50 PM ^

you're right.  The blog is so dead.  Even when Rich Rod was pretty much a lame duck there was still good healthy in-fighting about whether he was getting hosed, when to fire him, who to hire, etc.  This is really a boring place right now.  The "underrated movies" thread was the most interesting thing to happen since Brandon got fired. 


November 7th, 2014 at 1:46 PM ^

and i won't discount the possibility of UMd giving PSU a lot of trouble in the years to come. franklin & staff still have a lot to prove before i'm willing to feel comfortable with the direction of the program going forward. recruiting stars don't mean much if you can't put it together on the field. i'm willing to give them some slack until the depth's back up to the limit. i don't discount the possibility that he busts. and by the way, i was NOT a fan of the shit-talking he did in maryland and jersey during the spring. i'm interested in substance, not flash.

i won't get into the other garbage...suffice it to say that i am not a paterno-worshipper in any regard. i'm embarrassed by the vocal lunatic fringe our fanbase has developed. but such is life, and beyond my control.

UM is my second team (PSU undergrad/MS, UM PhD (soon, anyway)) so I just wanted to come by and root Blue on to victory against the terps. That's all.


November 7th, 2014 at 1:54 PM ^

us a particularly confusing time.  A good portion of the Michigan fan base is actively rooting for the team to lose so we can fire this guy, the remainder fall into two camps - too old to care that much and "when does basketball start." 

Now that Brandon is out the Maryland game is just "that game we don't get to boycott anymore" and really nothing more.


November 7th, 2014 at 2:04 PM ^

i don't see it happening, but i guess that's why they play the game. i thought we'd get absolutely destroyed up at wisconsin to close out last year, but we pulled the upset. I give Dantonio & Co enough credit to think that they'll come in and take care of business though. They're a tough team.

Where do you guys stand when OSU and MSU play each other? Do you tend to pick a side, or is it more #teammeteor?


November 7th, 2014 at 1:59 PM ^

All sounds good to me and you seem like a good dude.  I just get annoyed because the guys who were out there to shake hands and the seniors on the team had been partially recruited by Franklin.  I think they took the shit he was saying personally and while not shaking hands wasn't the right way to respond nobody is mentioning it when talking about the handshake and it plays a role.  


November 7th, 2014 at 2:08 PM ^

and you're probably right, the media didn't give play to that side of the story. i can understand why their guys (and edsall) would come in with a chip on their shoulder. well, they got a victory; we'll see where it goes from there.

i'm old school enough to believe that you do your talking through your play on the field. this isn't an excuse, but i think franklin was still acclimating to working in an environment where he doesn't need to make outrageous statements to get the fanbase to care. he hasn't been running his gums so much since then, and he shouldn't. hopefully it stays that way.


November 7th, 2014 at 12:08 PM ^

I also have a friend named Dave that I had a similiar experience with. He's from Buffalo, though, so probably not the same Dave. But man can he drink. That night it was an entire bottle of gin followed by countless beers and he couldn't remember where he lived (we were in his home). Pull it together, Dave. 


November 7th, 2014 at 12:44 PM ^

While the not shaking hands things was petty it was because more than just the fight pregame.  Franklin had been making comments the week before that they should just shut down MD since the state of Marland belonged to PSU which is stupid and disrespectful coming from a coach but even more stupid and disrespectful coming from a coach that helped recruit a lot of the upperclassmen on that team.  Obviously it is a one sided rivalry but they last played 20 years ago.  The fact that the big ten fined Marland for it is a joke.


November 7th, 2014 at 1:07 PM ^

I mean there wasn't anything dirty during the game.  I would rather my team not shake hands with another team than shake hands and play dirty like msu did a couple years back.  I don't agree with the decision to not shake hands and think it makes Maryland look bad but them getting fined for that but not "60 minutes of unnescesary roughness" is putting the emphasis on the wrong parts of sportsmanship. 


November 7th, 2014 at 1:52 PM ^

is a critical part of the game. It's acknowledgement that the people on the other side are fellow human beings and that you're not there to kill each other but to hold a fairly trivial sporting event. I realize that half of America is too hopped up on goofballs to get this, but it still needs to remain in place.


November 7th, 2014 at 2:05 PM ^

See this is what I think is wack.  A fake show of sportmanship by shaking hands before the game should mean more than the actual actions during the game?  I don't care if you shake my hand if when I turn around you punch me in the back of the head.  I'd rather you not shake my hand and then have a straight boxing match or whatever, the metaphor fell apart and you get the point.  Edsall shook Franklins hand afterwards, Maryland apologized and said it was the wrong thing to do but nothing they did on the field during the game was dirty.  MSU had players intentionally twisting helmets after a player was on the ground (so did lewan) and faced no penalty.  Actions are more important to me than the show of "sportsmanship" that a forced handshake before the game implies.


November 7th, 2014 at 2:13 PM ^

LIghten up already.  Have you ever seen two boxers stare each other down pre-fight and then not bump gloves?   It's called psyching out - either yourself or the other team.  Fellow human beings?  What else would they be?   It's cool to see something rise to that level once in a while.  Yes, if all teams were playing like MSU, twisting helmets and ankles, etc, perhaps that would be a sign of something to change.  But IMO you're focusing on the wrong expression of sportsmanship. 


November 7th, 2014 at 3:34 PM ^

I guess if the entire team voted for the captains to do that, you could go with the "entire team" thing. Was that reported and I missed it? In any event, I would point to instances of full team brawls (not the handbags at 6 paces that happened here) as worse. The Miami - FAU game is a recent example to point to.

Full disclosure: I live in MD these days AND I really don't like Penn State, and that predates their kid touching era.


November 7th, 2014 at 2:00 PM ^

tang in the air--a je ne sais quoi (tf)--last week's game held out the promise of some eventual upward trajectory and actual self-confidence for this team. Especially Devin Gardner. If we now have a running back, too. . . ? Whoa, Nella. I'll bet we see more of it tomorrow. Michigan 33, Heading Southeastern 11.


November 7th, 2014 at 2:04 PM ^

Refs on the field is such an archaic thing.  They get a few calls right here and there but for the most part, the refs are there like clowns at a rodeo.  With today's technology, you could have the same number of guys up in a booth with various camera angles using whistles over the loud speakers, reviewing plays like we see them real time on tv but even better .  That OSU "interception" is a great example. If reviewing close plays under the hood is so effective, why not the whole game?   They get in the way all the time anyway, interfering on pass routes and run plays regularly and they blow reviews left and right.  What's the purpose of having them there?

And they'd have the ability to catch the dirty play a la MSU as well instead of waiting for a complaint to issue before reviewing.

Wishful thinking that effective officiating would actually stand for something beyond checking for pre-game handshakes.