Opponent Watch: Week 13 Comment Count

Heiko November 29th, 2011 at 3:40 PM

I said I would write a final opponent watch to recap the season. This is not it. I'll have that one next week.

About Last Saturday:

Bad guys - 0, Good guys - a billion


(more after the jump)

Objects in Mirror:

Western Michigan (7-5, 5-3 MAC)

Last game: Akron 19, Western Michigan 68 (W)

Recap: I think I missed this last week: Western Michigan QB Alex Carder separated his throwing shoulder against Miami (NTM), so he ended up sitting out against Akron. In his stead, backup QB Tyler Van Tubbergen -- sweet name -- completed 19 of 21 passes for 252 yards and six touchdowns. He also added seven carries for 60 yards and another score. The Zips aren’t exactly competitive; they’re 1-11 on the season and 0-fer in conference play, but holy pants. You still have to work for those numbers, even against a scout team.

Next game: The Broncos have finished their regular season and are 3rd in the MAC-West division.

No. 22 Notre Dame (8-4)

Last game: Notre Dame 14, No. 6 Stanford 28 (L)

Recap: If you ignore the points, Notre Dame’s defense held Stanford QB Andrew Luck and the Cardinal offense in relative check for much of the game. Horrific turnovers however proved once again to be as much a part of the Irish’s identity as three-leaf clovers and butterscotch pants. Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees threw an early interception, lost a fumble, and suffered a bruised rib before getting permanently benched. Backup dual-threat QB Andrew Hendrix gave the offense a spark in the second half by running zone reads and speed options effectively, but it was nowhere near enough to overcome a three-score deficit.

If Brian Kelly can adapt his passing spread to a running quarterback, look to Hendrix to be the future starter. Both he and Rees seem to have the “it” factor that QB Dayne Crist doesn’t, but Hendrix stands alone with minimal “derp” factor. Even his one interception looked well executed.

Next game: The Irish have finished their regular season and have no ranking.

Eastern Michigan (6-6, 4-4 MAC)

Last game: Eastern Michigan 12, Northern Illinois 18 (L)

Recap: Eastern Michigan put forth a valiant effort but fell to a Northern Illinois team playing for the division championship. Regardless, the Eagles put together their first non-losing season for the first time since forever. Kudos.

Next game: The Eagles have finished their regular season and are 4th in the MAC-West division.

San Diego State (7-4, 4-3 MWC)

Last game: San Diego State 31, UNLV 14 (W)

Recap: San Diego State RB Ronnie Hillman returned from injury to rush for 192 yards and two touchdowns against UNLV. The Aztecs spotted the Rebels a 14-0 lead at the beginning of the second quarter but went on to score 31 unanswered points.

Next game: Fresno State

Minnesota (3-9, 2-6 B1G)

Last game: Illinois 7, Minnesota 27 (W)

Recap: Six weeks ago, who could have guessed that Minnesota would end up on the winning side of a Non-Game-Of-The-Week against Illinois?

Next game: The Gophers have finished their regular season and are 6th in the B1G Myths division.

They are not the worst team in Big Ten history, however, because Second Half 2011 Illinois is. (In the underachieving category, at least)

Northwestern (6-6, 3-5 B1G)

Last game: No. 14 Michigan State 31, Northwestern 17 (L)

Recap: Northwestern trailed Michigan State 17-3 at halftime, and despite putting up some points in the second half, they were never really in this game. Think Michigan at Illinois.

Next game: The Wildcats have finished their regular season and are 5th in the B1G Tall Tales division.

No. 14 Michigan State (10-2, 7-1 B1G)

Last game: Michigan State 31, Northwestern 17 (W)

Recap: See above.

Next game: No. 15 Wisconsin

Purdue (6-6, 4-4 B1G)

Last game: Purdue 33, Indiana 25 (W)

Recap: Indiana led for most of the first half until an 81-yard Raheem Mostert kickoff return set up the Purdue tying score. Then the Boilermakers field-goaled the Hoosiers to death to win (and forever engrave a goofy score on) the Old Oaken Bucket, in the process they became bowl eligible for the first time since 2007.

Next game: The Boilermakers have finished their regular season and are a whopping 3rd in the B1G liters division.

Iowa (7-5, 4-4 B1G)

Last game: Iowa 7, No. 20 Nebraska 20 (L)

Recap: The inaugural “Heroes” game was a defensive struggle that Iowa lost because they couldn’t convert any third downs. Hawkeyes WR Marvin McNutt got shut down by Huskers CB Alphonzo Dennard, and the Iowa defense got pounded into submission by Nebraska RB Rex Burkhead, who carried the ball 38 times for 160 yards, one touchdown, and a record-breaking 29 white guy synonyms, similes and metaphors for toughness.

Next game: The Hawkeyes have finished their regular season and are 4th in the B1G Fables division.

Illinois (6-6, 2-6 B1G)

Last game: Illinois 7, Minnesota 27 (L)

Recap: Oof.

Next game: The Illini have finished their regular season and are 5th in the B1G 13373125 division.

No. 21 Nebraska (9-3, 5-3 B1G)

Last game: Iowa 7, Nebraska 20 (W)

Recap: See above.

Next game: The Cornhuskers have finished their regular season and are 3rd in the B1G … wait for it … division.



November 29th, 2011 at 5:01 PM ^

Hoke isn't the type to care, if he's true to his word, all indications so far being that he is.

My smug is more directed at all the naysayers who talked our ears off about how Michigan "has yet to play a real team".  Before the season Notre Dame was considered a legitimately talented team, projected to win about 8-9 games. . . they were, and they did.  Oh, but their story HAD to change as soon as they played Michigan, because the narrative was that Michigan is a fraud.  ND was suddenly nobody; after all, they'd just lost to South Florida and Michigan.  ONE MONTH later critics were still insisting Michigan was stuck in preseason.

Michigan didn't play too many seriously intimidating teams this year (yes the B1G is weak), but the meat of the schedule was respectable.  Actually it's remarkable how bleh the schedule was.  I'd usually expect a schedule to turn out being one third tough, one third decent and one third cupcake.  Nine out of the 12 teams Michigan played* were "decent".  Any ranked team should beat any of the first six schools Michigan played and for the most part they did, but for fark's sake people were crapping on Michigan's schedule back when Alabama was playing Kent State and North Texas, not Arkansas or LSU!

*Exceptions are Michigan State (good), Nebraska (good) and Minnesota (bad).


November 29th, 2011 at 3:52 PM ^

Pretty impressive in retrospect - we only played (and of course, beat) one team with a losing record.  The absence of a D-II (aka FCS) team from the schedule is refreshing as well.


November 29th, 2011 at 4:03 PM ^

I've never understood the scheduling of FCS teams.  If you somehow manage to lose you look horrible, and if you win you look like you just beat an FCS team.  There's really no benefit.  Why not just schedule low level D1 teams for your warmup games like we did this year?


November 29th, 2011 at 6:40 PM ^

I'm clearly not voicing this question well.  We do not get more money by playing an App St. vs. a CMU. So why do it? If we lose it looks worse if it's an FCS team.  If we win it looks better if it's a D1 team.  We do not get more money with one vs the other.  So where is the benefit of playing an FCS opponent? 

San Diego Mick

November 29th, 2011 at 4:08 PM ^

I saw Brian write it on an earlier thread and on many others as well,. I checked the abbreviation dictionary and they didn't list it.

Sorry to have to ask a seemingly dumb question, I just want to understand what I'm reading, thanks.



November 29th, 2011 at 4:21 PM ^

Season: 81-62 (.566)

When UM played them: 41-23 (.641)

Record after we played them: 40-39 (.506)


Often thought of this back in the Navarre days when teams seemed to be regulary 4, 5, 6 - 0, or 5, 6, 7 - 1 when they played us, only to have a downslide after we finished with them.


November 29th, 2011 at 8:09 PM ^

It's more than that. I'm not sure how much more, but given the quasi-tournament nature of college football's regular season, there's clear psychological pressure to continue a downward spiral after a deflating loss. Eg us after the Horror, Wiscy after Sparty this year, etc. I'm not sure how much of an effect that pressure has. But it's non-zero. The opportunity cost of practice time spent by coaches working against that psychological pressure is one way to quantify it, I suppose (not that practice time breakdowns are available for us to chart... can you imagine if they were?).


November 30th, 2011 at 10:39 AM ^

...but English is a defensive minded guy, and Illinois defense is already decent enough...well, statistically better than the offense.  I think they need someone to open up their offense a little more, not that English is incapable, but he is more of a defensive guy.


November 29th, 2011 at 5:52 PM ^

If the offense was playing well we would have taken IA. Overall, this was a great first season for Brady Hoke, his staff and his players. It is nice to see a 10 win season again!