Opponent Watch 2017: Week 2

Submitted by BiSB on September 14th, 2017 at 9:59 AM

About Last Week:

The Road Ahead:

Air Force

Last week: Bye

Recap: No recap. Bye.

This team is as frightening as: Showing up to a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, but when you get to the third round they’re like “SURPRISE, this round is going to be Chinese Checkers instead of basketball.” Fear Level = 6

Michigan should worry about: The triple option is a different beast. An evil beast. One that should be avoided at all costs, DAVE.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: This is the game where having a Bryan Mone is reeeeeeeeally gonna come in handy.

When they play Michigan: Pray for all the knees.

Next game: at Michigan, noon, BTN


Last week: Beat Ohio, 44-21

Recap: I don’t mean to alarm anyone, but Purdue is doing stuff.

Yes, I know Purdue has done stuff in the past. But the stuff they did was mostly cruel and tragic. Now they are doing stuff that is cheeky and fun. No. I’m not kidding.

Purdue is averaging more yards per play than either Ohio State or Michigan (or eight other Big Ten team, for that matter). David Blough is averaging 10.5 yards per pass, which leads the conference by nearly 2 full yards. It’s weird, y’all.

This team is as frightening as: That longshot celestial/geological/meteorological event for which the evidence is starting to mount. The only issues is that we don’t know yet if we’re in a disaster movie. Like, there’s a reason the higher-ups always ignore the scientist in disaster movies. It isn’t that the leadership is full of idiots. It’s that Jenkins has made cockamamie predictions in the past. He’s got that reputation. It isn’t like “Jenkins, the calm, measured scientist who has made a number of prior accurate calls and usually follows protocol has never been in a fist-fight with the Director, has put together a briefing we should probably see.” Jenkins is nuts. That’s why THEY. JUST. WON’T. LISTEN. TO. MEEEEEE: because he’s is almost always wrong.

Almost always. Fear Level = 4

Michigan should worry about: Purdue has scored 72 points in the first two weeks under Jeff Brohm. Guess how many times they scored 72 points in a two-game stretch under Darrell Hazell? Go ahead. Guess. You’ll never gue… yes it was zero. Okay, maybe that wasn’t as tricky of a question as I thought.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Purdue is still giving up the second-most yards per play in the conference, behind only Nebraska. And many of those plays are big chunk plays.

When they play Michigan: This is technically a road game, but it may as well be considered a neutral site game.

Next game: at Missouri, 4:00 p.m., SEC Network

[Might as well hit THE JUMP, if only to save your knees]

Michigan State

Last week: Beat Western Michigan, 28-14

Recap: I’m compelled to go somewhat easy on Michigan State this week, for two reasons. The first is that at least twenty Spartans are spending their bye week to go down to Houston, Texas to help out in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. This is a very cool thing; getting college kids to surrender downtime is tough enough, and college athletes have much less downtime than most students. All trolling aside, kudos to them.

The second reason is that I have no earthly idea what to make of Michigan State right now. Their secondary is a mess, and is letting receivers run eeeeeeverywhere…


Yeah these happened again

…but Michigan State LEADS THE CONFERENCE in yards per pass allowed (3.9 YPA) and completion percentage allowed (37.9%). They have serious issues running the ball, but they are 3rd in the conference in rushing yards per game. Your guess is as good as mine at this point.

This team is as frightening as: When you have so much DISRESPEKT that you briefly forgot about the DISRESPEKT. Fear Level = 5

Michigan should worry about: All of a sudden, Brian Lewerke can run. He’s Michigan State’s leading rusher, and is averaging 10.7 yards per carry (excluding sacks). He had a 61 yard touchdown in this one on a read keeper. He’s not “fast”-fast; he moves in a manner that reminds one somewhat of a slightly faster Steven Threet.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: MSU has an LJ Scott problem. Scott had one 44 yard carry on a 4th and 1 when WMU sold out. Excluding that run, he’s got 32 carries for 81 yards. That’s 2.5 yards per carry. Against MAC competition. In fact, Gerald Holmes started this game over Scott.

When they play Michigan: They might make this a night game against the advice of everyone who has ever been to one of these things.

Next game: Bye


Last week: Beat Virginia, 34-17

Recap: Indiana’s got themselves a good ol’ fashioned quarterback controversy.

Richard Lagow started the game, but after going 3 of 10 for 24 yards (that’s bad), Indiana turned to Pocket-sized Peyton Ramsey, who promptly went 16 of 20 for 173 yards (8.7 YPA) and 2 TDs.

Beyond the quarterbacking tomfoolery and the blowout win, though, was a continuing picture of the slow and inexorable demise of #ChaosTeam. Indiana ran the ball 41 of 71 plays at 2.7 yards per carry (about 3.9 YPC after sacks are removed). They couldn’t even replicate the same kind of rushing performance that William & Mary put up against Virginia the week before.

Through two games, Indiana is averaging 1.88 yards per carry, and has exactly 2 carries of 10+ yards. Every other Big Ten team has at least six. They are ahead of two teams in the country in this regard: Florida (who has only played one game, against Michigan) and Florida State (who has only played one game, against Alabama).

This team is as frightening as: The very late Roman empire. They’re wearing the same uniform as #ChaosTeam, they still have vague institutional memories of #ChaosTeam, and they occupy much of the territory #ChaosTeam used to occupy. But instead of invading foreign lands, they are playing defense and trying in vain not to be surpassed by their neighbors. Fear Level = 5

Michigan should worry about: Those two big outside receivers, Simmie Cobbs and Donovan Hale.

Michigan can sleep soundly about:


When they play Michigan: There’s a decent chance that Indiana is going to try to out-Michigan Michigan. That seems like a poor strategy.

Next game: vs. Florida International, 3:30 p.m., BTN

Penn State

Last week: Beat Pitt, 33-14

Recap: This game didn’t matter.

Do you hear me, Pitt?


Anyway, Penn State defeated…

Did you say something, Pitt? No? Oh, sorry. I thought maybe you said something. Okay, back to barely noticing you.

Penn State defeated Pitt 33-14 in a game that was closer than the score would indicate. Pitt actually outgained Penn State (though Penn State was better by more than 2.0 yards per play), and while time of possession is a dumb stat, I don’t recall ever seeing a team get out-possessed by more than 16 minutes (38:20 to 21:40) and still win the game. Penn State’s offense, as is often the case, was basically Saquon Barkley and the guys who stay in the same hotel as Saquon Barkley. Barkley had 133 yards on 18 touches (7.4 YPP). The other 34 plays netted 179 yards (5.2 YPP).

After the game James Franklin did his very best to call attention to the fact that he wasn’t calling attention to the win:

I think the Sad Field Goaler doth protest too much. Next thing you know he’ll be singing a song about he doesn’t give a damn about the Whole State of Pennsylvania West of Altoona.

This team is as frightening as: A team that wants a cookie for beating a really bad Pitt team. Fear Level = 8

Michigan should worry about: Barkley until further notice.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: A week after giving up 9.7 yards per pass to Youngstown State, Pitt held Trace McSorley and company to 5.9 yards per pass.

When they play Michigan: The fun is in trying to guess HOW James Franklin will screw up a clock management situation.

Next game: vs. Georgia State, 7:30 p.m., BTN


Last week: Lost to Eastern Michigan 16-13


Image result for curious george astronaut

This is not the monkey’s fault

As the father of two young children, I watch a great deal of Curious George. The traditional interpretation of George is that of a mischievous monkey who continually gets himself into trouble. In fact, in Hungary, the show is known as “Bajkeverő majom”, which translates to "Troublemaker Monkey.”

But I have come to believe that the show is really about the adults *around* George. The Man in the Yellow Hat is a negligent guardian who puts himself, George and everyone around them in constant danger. Oh, you let a monkey pilot a space shuttle, and it went to shit? And then you made him a train master, and the schedule got messed up? Oh, maybe because HE’S A GODDANG MONKEY.

I guess what I’m saying is that if you put your hopes in Rutgers football after their brief moment of competence against Washington, that’s on you. Don’t blame Rutgers for being Rutgers. Blame yourself for expecting them to be Not Rutgers.

This team is as frightening as: Scurvy. A real threat in the 19th century, generally marked by lethargy and overall weakness, and when it makes an appearance in modern society it makes people stop and wonder what in the hell went wrong to allow such a thing to occur. Fear Level = 2

Michigan should worry about: Kyle Bolin was named PFF’s Big Ten quarterback of the week, on the strength of his… uh… 44.7% completion percentage, 5.2 yards per pass, and 2 interceptions against no touchdowns.

Dammit PFF, this is why you don’t put Curious George in charge of your algorithms.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Eastern Michigan was 0-39 all-time against Big Ten teams. They were winless in their last 59 against major conference teams, a streak dating back to the Reagan Administration. Eastern Michigan outplayed Rutgers AT RUTGERS.

When they play Michigan: At least those cannon dudes can do nothing from the comfort of their own homes.

Next game: vs. Morgan State, 3:30 p.m., BTN


Last week: Won at Oregon State, 48-14

Recap: Minnesota sat on Oregon State.

The Gophers ran 66 plays on Saturday. 58 of them were runs, and went for a total of 253 yards. Demry Croft completed 7 of his 8 passes for 158 yards, 127 of which went to Tyler Johnson. Oregon State is bad. I don’t think Minnesota is good.

This team is as frightening as: Sure, you may win big. But when you win big LIKE THAT, you remain…

Fear Level = 4.5

Michigan should worry about: Tyler Johnson followed up his big Week 1 performance against Buffalo with a 31.8 yards-per-catch performance against Oregon State.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Johnson’s emergence would be better if he wasn’t the ONLY receiver out here doing anything. He has more than two-thirds of Minnesota’s receiving yards. Freshman Demetrius Douglas has 7 catches for 40 yards, which is an impressively bad ratio. No one else has caught more than two balls.

When they play Michigan: Oh please let them wear these helmets.


Next game: vs. MTSU, 3:30 p.m., BTN


Last week: Beat Towson, 63-17

Recap: We don’t need to discuss this one too much. It was never close; the score was 21-0 after 9 minutes. It was never competitive; Maryland outgained Towson 9.89 yards per play to 4.29 yards per play. Maryland faced only 6 3rd downs all day. Kasim Hill averaged 10.2 yards per pass, and the Terps averaged 10.2 yards per carry.

This team is as frightening as: Look, Maryland is in the "Sarcastically Frightening" line. If you wanted them addressed in the "Seriously Frightening" category, you're gonna have to wait in the yellow line and fill out Form 10-C. We'll be back to you with an approval or denial within one to two weeks. Fear Level = 6

Michigan should worry about: Ty Johnson picked up 124 yards on FIVE carries. He’s averaging over 15 yards per carry thus far.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Johnson averaged huge numbers against bad competition last year as well, but didn’t fare as well against real teams. Let’s wait to see him at Minnesota in two weeks, at OSU in 3 weeks, and at Wisconsin on October 21 before we panic TOO much.

When they play Michigan: Someone please give Mike McCray some spinach. He’s gonna need to have himself a game.

Next game: Bye


Last week: Beat FAU, 31-14


This team is as frightening as: We don’t know. And we aren’t going to know for a while. Because Wisconsin’s schedule is starting to look even more like trash than it did at the start of the season:


BYU is 0-2. Northwestern just got Grayson Allen’d by Duke. Nebraska’s defense is abysmal. Illinois may be the worst team in the conference. Iowa just needed a miracle to beat Iowa State in overtime. It’s possible that their toughest game is either Purdue or Maryland. Fear Level = /throws dart at dart board

Michigan should worry about: Crappy competition or no, Jonathan Taylor looks quite good. He leads the conference at 155 yards per game and is 3rd in the conference at almost 8.9 yards per carry. His 64-yard touchdown against FAU was a particularly impressive display of vision, power, and speed.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Taylor was committed to Rutgers as recently as October of last year, and that ish doesn’t just wipe off with a shower and a clean set of clothes. No, sir. It stays in your system, lying dormant. It may not resurface for weeks or months. Maybe even years. But, like the virus that causes shingles if you’ve had chicken pox, THE RUTGERS IS ALREADY INSIDE YOU.

When they play Michigan: Wisconsin is going to be 10-0.

Next game: at BYU, 3:30 p.m., ABC

Ohio State

Last week: Eviscerated by Oklahoma, 31-16

Recap: Ohio State’s defense struggled against Oklahoma, but that was largely the result of Baker Mayfield being a warlock. Ohio State’s defense seems susceptible to witchcraft, but that is probably true of most defenses.

The real issue with the Buckeyes is the offense, though it’s hard to put your finger on exactly what is wrong Zach Smith. The running game remains effective, but the passing attack Zach Smith can’t seem to get into any sort of rhythm. JT Barrett’s threw for only 5.2 Zach yards per Smith attempt, and less than 10 yards per completion (Zach which actually marks the fourth time in the last five games that OSU has dipped under 10 yards per catch Smith). Ohio State’s receivers are struggling to get any separation downfield, giving Barrett no real options WIDE RECEIVER COACH ZACH SMITH.

I’m baffled.

This team is as frightening as: A Bond villain. All the resources in the world, usually a few deadly assassins, and the means and desire to conquer the world in the name of evil. But through some nonsensical refusal to address an obvious weakness in their sinister plot, they remain vulnerable where they should otherwise be lethal. Fear Level = 8.5

Michigan should worry about: #Zone1 through #Zone5, and #Zones7+

Michigan can sleep soundly about: No matter what, this will still have happened.

When they play Michigan: Still just murder and death all around.

Next game: vs. Army, 4:30 p.m., FOX

Objects in the Rearview Mirror


Last week: Game vs. Northern Colorado cancelled due to Irma

Recap: Florida missed their cupcake game due to the hurricane, and now have to jump straight from their Jerryworld mauling to a rivalry game against Tennessee. The good news for Florida is that Tennessee surrendered approximately 2,000 yards rushing against Georgia Tech in the opener, which should allow the Gators to surpass their current season-high of 11 yards.

Next game: vs. Tennessee, 3:30, CBS


AA Forever

September 14th, 2017 at 10:14 AM ^

as it did at the start of the season. After watching us last week, and after watching teams like Maryland and Purdue, there are very few games left that aren't potentially at least a struggle, if not a loss. And this is without us having suffered any significant injuries yet.

Everyone Murders

September 14th, 2017 at 10:18 AM ^

At first I thought the picture of Mike DeBord was of him holding a football, which did not make much sense off the practice field.  A closer examination showed that he was supporting is right moob - and I applaud him for the thoughtfulness.

It's been said before, and will be said again - this is one of the top two or three regularly recurring columns on this site.  Well done as always.


September 14th, 2017 at 10:22 AM ^

Let's see how good they are after more game film is available.  Purdue was a mystery the first couple of weeks.  People knew the system Brohm would bring, but they weren't sure about how he would use certain players in his system.  Now that more film is out there, I believe we'll have them scouted well for our game.

By time we play Maryland, we'll know all about their team thanks to games against OSU and Wisconsin.  I trust the staff to have a game plan to shut down their offense.

It still comes down to our offense.  We won't face a quality defense until PSU and then when we finish up against Wisconsin and OSU.  If our offense limits the mistakes, we'll be double digit winners in all the other games.


September 14th, 2017 at 10:31 AM ^

I watched the Ohio-Purdue game and a few notes: Ohio got blown out because thers CBs are terrible. One of the CBs is a white dude that is neither gritty or deceptively athletic. Solich downloaded Purdue's offense at halftime and outplayed/outscored them in the second half. Both of Purdue's QBs shoot laserbeams, but their WRs are not good. They drop more passes than I've ever seen at the D1 level. Finally, if Purdue wasn't able to beat up on Ohio's undersized DL, this game would have been competitive.


September 14th, 2017 at 1:26 PM ^

Not sure why Purdue ran a trick play againts Ohio.  I get that it's on film now so future opponents will need to be prepared but it also seems like they ran it because they felt they needed to in that circumstance.  I'm not concerned.

Futhermore, there are still thousands of tickets available on Purdue's ticket site for the Michigan game.  Ross-Ade is going to be damn near 50% maize and blue.


September 14th, 2017 at 1:46 PM ^

When you're a new coach at a traditional underdog program, getting some early program momentum can go a long way to future success. Even if it was against just a MAC team, that trick play probably got the most positive attention for Purdue in a decade or so*. Brohm might still get crushed by the big boys in the near future, but he'll provide at least a few fun moments if you buy season tickets. Can't say that about the last couple coaches. 

*I'm thinking about Twitter here. Has any positive Purdue football moment been retweeted as much as the video clips of that play in the history of Twitter? I doubt it. 


September 14th, 2017 at 11:04 AM ^

Just saw that AF lost to Hawaii at home last season in 2OT? Wow. Pretty sure AF was better last season, as well. I know it is only one game, but Hawaii looked like a high school team last year in week 1.



September 14th, 2017 at 12:41 PM ^

put too much stock in a game last year and how that will translate to us playing them Saturday. They are a solid team that runs their offense like clock work and it causes nightmares for defenses every week.

I just want to get through this game with a nice win and no injuries. If we do that I will exhale for the week and look forward to playing teams with a normal offense.


September 14th, 2017 at 2:54 PM ^

They hit a really rough stretch in October last year, mostly through the fact that Romine(backup QB) wasn't much of a running threat and had a BAD passing day against Hawaii to boot.  As a result the Offense couldn't build up long drives to keep the D off the field.  The Hawaii game last year was just weird throughout and regulation eneded with Air Force's normally supremely reliable kicker missing a gimmee field goal.  



September 14th, 2017 at 11:22 AM ^

Can we just still say EMU is still winless against Big Ten teams?  I mean, I know we don't do childish nicknames around here, and believe me I am completely all for that, but Rutgers deserves every Buttgers they ever get.


September 14th, 2017 at 12:07 PM ^

I'm not sure what qualifies as a major conference team.  The Spartans were in the PCAA that year (precursor to the WAC).  They also beat Northern Illinois, which was an independent.  Prior to that... they didn't even play a D-IA OOC game most years.  They beat McNeese State out of the Southland in 1977, which was the last year before the I-AA split (but hardly a power conference).

And, their program started in '75.  I was really hoping that the answer was going to be the Reagan Administration when he was governor of California.  But, alas...