Opponent Watch 2017: Week 3

Submitted by BiSB on September 21st, 2017 at 9:57 AM

About Last Week:

It took a while to get there, but in the end, things worked out okay.

The Road Ahead:

Purdue (2-1, 0-0 B1G)

Last week: Won at Missouri, 35-3

Recap: Oh. Okay then. So we’re doing this.

Purdue beat the HELL out of Mizzou on Saturday. They outgained the Tigers 477 to 203 (5.7 YPP to 3.9), gained 26 first downs while allowing only 10, and held the ball for 43:43. They were up 21-0 less than five minutes into the second quarter and never looked back. They also forced three turnovers (or, more accurately, thrice they asked politely for the football and thrice Missouri handed it to them in a commemorative display case with the date and game time engraved on a little faceplate).

Fortunately, this is not an SEC-related blog, because I would have a lot to say about Missouri. Most of it would involve a thesaurus.com search for “feces” and “fornication.” But for Purdue’s part, they looked like a real football team for the third time in three weeks. As far as I can tell, this is the first time Purdue has gone three straight weeks without losing by double digits since a three-game winning streak at the end of 2012.

Purdue does have a weird sort of quarterback situation going on, with both David Blough and Elijah Sindelar getting significant run. Blough got pulled in this game for what were apparently performance-related reasons despite being 16 of 18 for 152 yards.

This team is as frightening as: Global thermonuclear war. The odds are pretty low, and the threat largely went away in the 1990s. But you can see how it could happen. Probably by accident, of course, but… oh man, what if. Fear Level = 5

Michigan should worry about: The last time Michigan won its first road game (when that game wasn’t against Rutgers) was 2013, when they baaaaaaarely beat a really bad UConn team.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Purdue has one sack through three games, which is dead last in the country. They’re averaging 2.7 TFLs per game, which is dead last in the country.

When they play Michigan:


Next game: vs. Michigan, 4:00 p.m., FOX (Purdue +9.5)

Michigan State (2-0, 0-0 B1G)


Last week: Bye

Recap: No recap. Bye.

This team is as frightening as: Outlook hazy. Try again later. Fear Level = 6

Michigan should worry about: Look, this is a week in which I don’t have to think about Michigan State, so I’mma take that opportunity and jump on it like Michigan State defensive back jumping on a cab driver who refuses to take me from where I started to the same place he picked me up from (but only after gently setting my burrito on the ground, of course).

Michigan can sleep soundly about: And if you insist that I discuss it, I shall spit in your face like you just wrote me a parking ticket while I was purchasing some delicious, delicious Noodles & Co.

When they play Michigan: Soon but not yet.

Next game: vs. Notre Dame, 8:00 p.m., FOX (MSU +4)

[After the break: more words... BUT WHICH ONES?]

Indiana (1-1, 0-1 B1G)

Last week: Game vs. FIU cancelled

Recap: No recap. Hurricane.

This team is as frightening as: Man, I used to get so excited to come up with stuff for Indiana. It was like, “Indiana is like an angry barista riding an amish-style buggy being pulled by a triceratops” or something. Now they’re just another team. This saddens me.

For now, Indiana is “traveling in a passenger car in moderate traffic.” Low but non-zero chance of real but unspectacular injury and or property damage. Fear Level = Some

Michigan should worry about: Having lost 21 in a row to Michigan, Indiana is clearly due.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Indiana is second-to-last in the country in yards per carry, ahead of only Florida State (who, because of weather, has played only game so far… against Alabama). But they are also second-to-last in the Big Ten and 108th in the country at 6.3 yards per passing attempt. 

When they play Michigan: Don Brown vs. Mike DeBord.

Next game: vs. Georgia Southern, 3:30 p.m. (IU -23)

Penn State (3-0, 0-0 B1G)

Last week: Beat Georgia State 56-0

Recap: Penn State’s schedule is, to put it as tactfully as I can, absolute and boundless butt. Just butt as far as the eye can see. Taking their games against Penn State out of the picture, Pitt, Akron, and Georgia State have combined for the following:

  • A 27-point loss to Iowa State
  • A 38-point loss to Oklahoma State
  • A loss to Tennessee State
  • A 7-point win over Youngstown State
  • A blowout win over Arkansas Pine Bluff

I guess Pitt isn’t completely their fault (the Panthers are usually not awful), but if Penn State has one loss at the end of the year, they probably shouldn’t expect a whole lot of sympathy from the Committee. Franklin himself admitted Pitt isn't any different than Akron. In fact they're all Akron. Akrons as far as the eye can see!

Please don't take this to mean they just beat Akron by 8 touchdowns; Georgia State Akron is way worse than Akron.

This team is as frightening as: James Franklin with two timeouts in his pocket. How do I use these things? Do I use them both at once? Can I subdivide them? And what is that series of numbers that is counting down? I’M SO CONFUSED. Fear Level = 8

Michigan should worry about: Same thing we say every week, Pinky.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: The last time Penn State outgained Michigan in a game on a yards-per-play basis was 2009.

When they play Michigan:


Next game: at Iowa, 7:30 p.m., ABC (PSU -12.5)

Rutgers (1-2, 0-0 B1G)

Last week: Beat Morgan State, 65-0


You did it, guys. You did it.

Rutgers snapped their pretty-long-but-I’m-not-going-to-bother-looking-it-up-because-Rutgers-so-we’ll-estimate-eleven-game losing streak by taking down the Morgan State… Bears? Maybe? Google says yes, Bears. That I will look up. Because I have nothing against Morgan State. But the amount of Rutgers in my browser history would make Ted Cruz uncomfortable.

I didn’t watch this game. I don’t even know if it was televised. Box score says that Rutgers punted on their first two possessions, and then ripped off six straight touchdown drives. Rutgers threw for 8 yards per attempt, which is the first time they’ve done that since 2015.

The bad news for Rutgers is that the winnable games on their schedule are quickly evaporating. Before the season, you could look at Illinois, Purdue, Maryland, Indiana, and maaaaaaaaaaaaybe Michigan State as teams Rutgers could have a prayer to defeat. Now it’s looking like that list is quickly simmering down to an Illinois reduction.

This team is as frightening as: Plato said that “Courage is knowing what not to fear.” Rutgers gives us all courage. And for that, I appreciate them. Fear Level = 2

Michigan should worry about: Rutgers’ defense is possibly competent. S&P+ has then at 25th in the country. They’re especially stout against the run, with the 15th best success rate in the country.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Football requires points to win.

When they play Michigan: NJ.com will unleash a scathing op-ed about the pens in the press box.

Next game: at Nebraska, 3:30 p.m. (Rutgers +14)

Minnesota (3-0, 0-0 B1G)

Last week: Beat Middle Tennessee State, 34-3

Recap: The boat is fully in motion. I repeat: the boat is currently being rowed. MTSU isn’t exactly a world-beater, but they did knock off Syracuse on the road last week. And Minnesota beat them handily to move to 3-0.

Once again, the Gophers decided that passing was either unsportsmanlike or witchcraft, as they ran the ball 47 times and threw only 18 times. The problem is that they don’t seem to do either particularly well. Conor Rhoda has taken over the QB position full-time over Demry Croft, but he lacks Croft’s mobility, so Minnesota’s offense feels primed to struggle mightily against better defenses.

This team is as frightening as:

Fear Level = 5.5

Michigan should worry about: Minnesota is doing a good job limiting big plays defensively. Their IsoPPP numbers are good against both the run and the pass, and they’ve only allowed five plays of 20+ yards through three games.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Despite playing three very bad run defenses, Minnesota is only averaging 4.12 yards per carry. They have gotten almost no explosive plays out of the run game. Only 7.7% of their carries have gone for 10+ yards (second-worst in the conference), and they have only 2 carries of 20+ yards. For comparison’s sake, Michigan is at 13.3% and 8 runs of 20+ yards.

When they play Michigan: Michigan vs. Imitation Michigan (with Michigan getting a two year head start) seems like a good situation.

Next game: Bye

Maryland (2-0, 0-0 B1G)

Last week: Bye

Recap: No recap. Bye

This team is as frightening as: As frightening as a team who you beat by 56 points less than 12 months ago could possibly be at this stage. That’s good for a Fear Level = 6, I suppose.

Michigan should worry about: Maryland leads the conference in points per game, yards per play, yards per pass, and yards per carry. That’s, like, all of the offense.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: November is a long time from now, so we have time to repurpose our Air Force and Purdue panic.

When they play Michigan: Michigan gonna have to score some significant points.

Next game: vs. UCF, 3:00 p.m., FS1 (Maryland -3.5)

Wisconsin (3-0, 0-0 B1G)

Last week: Won at BYU, 40-6

Recap: Like the Lost Army of Cambyses II that was swallowed by the Sahara desert 25 centuries ago, Bucky wandered into a strange, dry land this weekend. Unlike the ancient Persians, though, the invaders from Wisconsin brought sufficient Busch Light, and they returned victorious to tell the tales of the bizarre lands to the west.

Wisconsin outgained BYU 491-179, and Alex Hornibrook finished 18 of 19 for 256 yards (13.5 YPA) and 4 TDs. BYU is pretty bad.

This team is as frightening as: Changing the light bulb in a quarter-mile-tall tower. Just because it’s dangerous doesn’t mean it’s not monotonous as hell, and vice versa. Fear Level = 8

Michigan should worry about: After their third straight blowout win, Wisconsin is second in the conference in scoring margin.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Like Penn State and Minnesota, Wisconsin is 3-0 primarily because they have been able to exploit their opponents’ biggest weakness: football. Michigan will hopefully be prepared for this tactic.

When they play Michigan: Wisconsin has only allowed touchdowns on 25% of their opponents’ red zone opportunities. This… uh… may be relevant.

Next game: Bye

Ohio State


Last week: Beat Army, 38-7

Recap: Academy football treated Ohio State only marginally better than it did Michigan for most of the first half, but the Buckeyes eventually pulled away comfortably. OSU averaged 8.4 yards per carry and 8.5 yards per pass. J.K. Dobbins rushed for 172 yards on only 13 carries. Ohio State still has some offensive identity issues, but they have playmakers

Defensively… triple option, so, shruggie. But if it makes you feel better, Army’s triple-option is worse than Air Force’s triple option, and the Black Knights (who struggled to move the ball against Buffalo) rushed for 4.5 yards per carry, while the Falcons only managed 3.4 yards per carry.

Ohio State remains last in the conference in yards per pass allowed.

This team is as frightening as: A silverback gorilla with a bad hangover. If he got his crap together he could probably crush you without much effort, and even in his current state he’s pretty formidable. But he’s just kinda off his game, and instead of rampaging, he's just kind of swatting people away. Fortunately for them, things tend to work out well for gorillas in Ohio. Fear Level = 8.5

Michigan should worry about: Despite playing two real defenses (Oklahoma and, yes, Indiana), OSU is averaging 6.23 yards per carry, which is 3rd in the Big Ten and 11th in the country. They seem to have realized that, like Karan Higdon, J.K. Dobbins is better than Mike Weber.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Whoa now champ let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

When they play Michigan: Why can’t we just live in the here and now?

Next game: vs. UNLV, noon (OSU -39)

Objects in the Rearview Mirror

Florida (1-1, 1-0 SEC)

Last week: Beat Tennessee, 26-20

Recap: I’m not big on government censorship. But the fact that they put this game on national TV, and just LEFT IT THERE, is an affront to parents who are just trying to raise their kids to stay away from a life of credit card fraud, Yeti coolers, and Butch Jones. This game was basically the Janet Jackson nipple thing. Except for three and a half hours. And with Peter Jackson instead of Janet.

In a way, we got lucky; we were almost subjected to even MORE of this filth, thanks in part to some of the worst dang clock management since the last time Brady Hoke was in charge of such things. With the score tied at 20, the Gators let 22 seconds tick off the clock – with two timeouts in their pocket – leaving them with just nine seconds left from their own 37. And of course, Tennessee responded by basically not defending deep.

This was a terrible football game that was only good because of how bad it was. The score was 6-3 Florida going into the 4th quarter. Florida took a 10-point lead with just over 5 minutes left, but spent that lead faster than Jim McElwain in a sharkhouse on payday.

For Michigan, this was a good result. For humanity, this game will be one of the primary reasons cited by the aliens for why humans can no longer be trusted with Earth.

Next game: at Kentucky, 7:30 p.m., SEC Network (UF -3)


Last week: Won at Miami (NTM), 21-17

Recap: Speaking of football games of which polite people shouldn’t speak, Cincinnati overcame a 17-6 deficit with under five minutes left in the game to stun Not That Miami 21-17. The whole sequence was quite something, and I suggest you watch:

  • Cincinnati drove 75 yards for a touchdown
  • Miami returned the ensuing kickoff to their OWN FIVE YARD LINE because the returner forgot how things work.
  • Miami gets to 3rd and 2, but loses five yards to a delay of game because they intentionally ran the clock down but no one actually bothered to call the damn timeout.
  • Miami threw a pick-six on the next play.
  • Miami drove down to the Cincinnati 20 in like 30 seconds, but stalled.

The state of Ohio is bad and they should feel bad.

Next game: at Navy, 3:30 p.m., CBSSN (Cincinnati +11)



September 21st, 2017 at 2:08 PM ^

Found the video on another YouTube channel - my God that is some depressing football broadcasting. Miami's homecoming game crowd was sad, the announcers sounded like they were calling a golf game, and the play calling and clock management at the end was horrible.

Shop Smart Sho…

September 21st, 2017 at 2:19 PM ^

By inserting Jason McIntyre into MGoBlog, you've probably given the servers one of those antibiotic resistant STDs that are floating around Jersey.

I didn't realize anyone with a functioning prefrontal cortex followed that sentient douchebag on twitter anymore. Is he still stalking teenage girls on facebook and threatening to publicize private details of their life if they won't give an interview?


September 21st, 2017 at 3:18 PM ^

I do remember posting a board topic years ago that linked to a post there about RR's second team, I think.  I said it perpetuated this narrative that RR ran some dysfunctional, terrible ship because the Freep wanted to make a story out of stretching.  The author came by here multiple times to call me out and complain about trying to discuss a point.  I basically stopped reading the site after that because the stories were pretty basic and if they are that thin-skinned and you write on the internet, it's probably not the best source of daily sports info.

Shop Smart Sho…

September 21st, 2017 at 4:40 PM ^

I'm honestly surprised that someone who writes here would be following that piece of shit. Brian tore him a new asshole years ago at the Blogs With Balls Conference. 

They had a Michigan grad writing for them for years, Ty Duffy, who every horrible, and true, stereotype of Michigan fans. 

I read and commented at that site for years, even to the point of moving on with the commenting group to a new, commenter-run site when they switched to facebook comments.

Frieze Memorial

September 21st, 2017 at 2:50 PM ^

After writing many successful humorous things most writers start "trying too hard" and their humor seems forced as they try to top their previous efforts.

I don't know how you avoid this, but congratulations!


September 21st, 2017 at 3:55 PM ^

This piece is funny as shit. Literally too funny. I'm at work, sitting on the can waaaaaayyyyyyy too long trying to read it all. And even though I can hear my boss within ear shot, i can't help but start cracking up out loud about three times during this. Soooo funny. Too funny.
Thank you for contributing to making the world a better place.


September 23rd, 2017 at 1:21 PM ^

Funny article.  Thanks for the link.

When I first moved to San Francisco years ago, I remember going to a bar at 9 am to watch a noon start game.  There was a mother and daughter at a table near me there at 9 am too.  Both with Wisconsin sweaters, splitting pitchers, watching Wisconsin play.  Hahaha.  That sight, so funny.