Opponent Watch: Week 2

Submitted by Heiko on September 13th, 2012 at 7:37 PM

About Last Saturday:

Air Force 25, Michigan 31

Your wings got helmets.


The Road Ahead:

UMass (0-2)

Last game: Indiana 45, UMass 6 (L)

Recap: A baby seal walks into a club and says, "Ow."

This team is as frightening as: A couple reps with a five-pound dumbbell in the middle of a workout that has so far consisted of bench-pressing an elephant and 60 minutes of CrossFit. Fear level = 1.

Michigan should worry about: Hey guys, I really don’t think we need to worry about this one.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Like for real.

Mike Cox: Is three inches bigger.

When they play Michigan: Key matchup will be me (-7) vs. press box food. “Ermahgerd” over/under is set at 10.5.

Next game: No. 17 Michigan


No. 20 Notre Dame (2-0)

Last game: Purdue 17, Notre Dame 20 (W)

Recap: Well this was underwhelming. Despite having 376 yards of total offense – 324 of it through the air – Notre Dame came away with just 20 points, thanks to a stellar defensive effort from Purdue in the second half. Starting QB Everett Golson (21/31, 289 yards, 1 TD) accounted for both touchdowns, one on a pass to WR T.J. Jones and the other one by himself on the ground. Golson got dinged up sort of maybe late in the game right before Purdue tied it up 20-20, so Brian Kelly brought up Michigan fan-favorite Tommy Rees on the final drive. Rees led the offense to field goal range, and kicker Kyle Brindza drilled it for the win.

Notre Dame’s defense was pretty solid, holding Purdue to 5.4 yards per pass and 3.0 yards per carry. Let’s see how they do against Sparty.

This team is as frightening as: Two unlabeled syringes. One contains a random but hilarious combination of food coloring, ketamine, and recombinant spider DNA, because why not; the other, MMR vaccine, which is completely benign, has zero unintended side effects, is less subject to unfortunate misunderstandings, and is usually recommended for children on or after their first birthday.

Neither of these things has anything to do with Notre Dame's fear level, which I have arbitrarily pegged to be 7.5.

Michigan should worry about: Man I am not looking forward to Michigan playing mobile quarterbacks this season. We love you, Tommy.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Both Notre Dame cornerbacks are true freshmen; one’s a converted wide receiver. Advantage, Michigan? Maybe? Ugh.

When they play Michigan: I’m told there’s a lot of obnoxious cheering in the press box. I will retaliate by eating all their food.

Next game: No. 10 Michigan Staee.


Purdue (1-1)

Last game: Purdue 17, Notre Dame 20 (L)

Recap: Purdue lost as impressively as they possibly could have, I guess. Last year Notre Dame drubbed them 35-10 in West Lafayette. Almost forcing overtime in South Bend therefore constitutes impressive. Things the Boilermakers did well: their defense held the Irish to a dismal day on the ground and sacked Golson a bunch of times. DT Kawann Short is no joke, and the rest of the line isn’t too shabby, either. Things the Boilermakers did poorly: they were unable to keep Perry the torn ACLephant at bay, as back-up/relief QB Robert Marve is now out with his third ACL tear.

Also, they did not win, but not having top CB Ricardo Allen on the last Notre Dame drive is somewhat of an extenuating circumstance.

This team is as frightening as: A large rock.

Purdue is the new Illinois because Illinois decided to be the new Indiana (see below). Fear level = 5.

Michigan should worry about: Purdue’s defensive line. That matchup with Michigan’s offensive line is not looking so hot right now.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Michigan has a bye before this game to figure everything out. Or it could spend the bye devising a horribly overthought game plan.

When they play Michigan: Michigan should probably avoid the interior defensive line, but -- channeling my inner Borges right now -- that would be way too predictable. I-form Vincent Smith all the way. They will never see it coming.

Next game: vs. Eastern Michigan


Illinois (1-1)

Last game: Illinois 14, Arizona State 45 (L)

Recap: Arizona State averaged 5.1 yards per rush for 192 yards total, and their quarterbacks -- yeah they totally played two, because pshhh -- combined to go 23/29 for 318 yards and 3 TDs with no INTs. What? There are several early-round NFL draft picks on Illinois’s defense. My only theory is that Tim Beckman secretly hired GERG.

Time of possession, though -- the Illini (35:16) were all over it.

Note: Nathan Scheelhaase did not play due to an ankle injury. Not that it would have mattered.

This team is as frightening as: Illinois is no longer a rock. It is now sand.

The change was necessary and apt; sand used to be something bigger and better, it's generally there to be stepped on, the best it can do is slow you down when you run through it, and it causes extreme discomfort on certain mucous membranes. None of this is funny to me. My keyboard is wet with tears.

Fear level = 3.

Michigan should worry about: Taisetsu na mono, protect my balls.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: On a serious note, I really don’t think Illinois has any receivers. Last year they had A.J. Jenkins. This year they are eating PBUs.

When they play Michigan: Should make for a fairly pleasant and stress-free homecoming.

Next game: vs. Charleston Southern


Just a dude. Catching a ball.

No. 10 Michigan State (2-0)

Last game: Michigan State 41, Central Michigan, 7 (W)

Recap: QB Andrew Maxwell rebounded to complete 20/31 passes for 275 yards, 2 TDs, and zero INTs. Against Central Michigan. Woo. While the receivers were sort of a mess against Boise, this game has revealed a No. 1 target in Bennie Fowler (8 rec, 99 yards, 1 TD). RB Le’Veon Bell had just 18 carries for a somewhat underwhelming 3.9 yards per average (long was just 8 yards), but scored 2 TDs. Backup RB Larry Caper, on the other hand, is a player to keep an eye on as more of a homerun threat. He had a 39-yard run that gave him 7.3 yards per carry.

Again Sparty’s defense held an opponent to zero offensive TDs. Central Michigan’s lone score came in garbage time when backup QB Connor Cook threw a pick-six.

This team is as frightening as: Still probably a one-trick pony, but the one trick is to kick you until you bleed internally (on occasion they will even do this figuratively). I guess we’ll find out more this Saturday. Fear level = 8.

Michigan should worry about: The Bell-Caper backfield does not bode well for Michigan’s front seven.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: I think their offensive line is overrated. Given Michigan’s defensive front, this is not great consolation.

When they play Michigan: I don’t think Michigan State’s game plan will be significantly different from what they did last year. The good news is Denard’s improved ability to pass will allow Michigan’s offense to move the ball more effectively. The bad news is Michigan’s defense seems ill-equipped to stop Sparty’s run game.

Next game: vs. No. 20 Notre Dame



Nebraska (1-1)

Last game: Nebraska 30, UCLA 36 (L)

Recap: Nebraska played valiantly against UCLA for three quarters but faltered in the middle of the fourth when Taylor Martinez (17/31, 179 yards, 1 INT; 13 carries, 112 yards, 1 TD) got sacked in his own end zone for a UCLA safety. The Huskers were down Rex Burkhead (MCL sprain), but both offenses more or less had their way with each other’s defenses and combined for more than 1,000 total yards. In the end, the ability of UCLA to control the ball on the ground and convert on third down -- Nebraska was a miserable 1 for 11 -- allowed them to grind out the victory.

Going forward, the Huskers should do some soul searching on defense. The 653 yards (309 rushing) ceded is one of the worst defensive performances in recent school history, and since the loss, starting DT Chase Rome quit the team because of irreconcilable differences between him and the coaching staff about playing time. Yikes. 

This team is as frightening as: A pit bull (NTPB) shortly after neutering. Fear level = 5.

Michigan should worry about: Taylor Martinez is still somewhat of a playmaker with his feet. He took a read option 92 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Taylor Martinez’s arm may not be real. He averaged just 5.8 yards per attempt Tyranno-fling.

When they play Michigan: If Michigan’s offensive line gets its act together and stays healthy (please stay healthy), Nebraska will be in for a rough game.

Next game: vs. Arkansas State.


Minnesota (2-0)

Last game: New Hampshire 7, Minnesota 44 (W)


Next game: vs. Western Michigan.


Northwestern (2-0)

Last game: Vanderbilt 13, Northwestern 23 (W)

Recap: Down 10-3 at the half, Northwestern looked like it was going to let a game slip out of reach in typical Northwestern fashion before they were all like, “JUST KIDDING,” and shut down Vandy in the second half. They did to the Commodores what Michigan did to them last year, only less so because they’re Northwestern.

Mighty mite RB Venric Mark broke 100 yards rushing for the go-ahead score, and DE Tyler Scott forced a key fumble to seal the victory.

Do we have a quarterback controversy in Evanston? Maybe. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian split time at QB, with Siemian having slightly more success passing (10/16, 91 yards) than Colter (7/15, 42 yards). I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Wildcats try to have both QBs on the field at the same time down the stretch.

This team is as frightening as: The guy at the poker table who doesn’t really know how to play poker but is winning nonetheless. Fear level = 5.

Michigan should worry about: Venric Mark, man.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Northwestern averaged 4.3 yards per pass. Ew.

When they play Michigan: I will become irrationally excited and scared whenever Kyle Prater (3 rec, 23 yards), steps on the field.

Next game: vs. Boston College.


Iowa (1-1)

Last game: Iowa State 9, Iowa 6 (L)

Recap: So on the bright side … there is no bright side. There’s only pain for Iowa and shame for the B1G. QB James Vandenberg rebounded from an abysmal performance in week 1 to complete fewer than half his passes for 5.6 yards per attempt and 2 INTs. Meanwhile he led the team in yards per carry (2.5).

Iowa did get several turnovers on defense, but that’s to be expected when the opposing quarterback is named Steele Jantz.

Woof, Iowa. Woof.

This team is as frightening as: Someone who thinks leeches are a great way to treat anemia. Fear level = 4.

Michigan should worry about: Borges is totally going to outsmart himself again.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: One of Iowa's coordinators is a broken random number generator. The other is named GERG.

When they play Michigan: The embarrassment of losing to Iowa for the fourth year in a row under these circumstances will cause me to reexamine the meaning of my life.  

Next game: vs. Northern Iowa.


No. 1 Ohio State

Last game: Poverty 0, Ohio State 100 (W)

Recap: Fresh off a victory over evil, Braxton Miller turned in a performance against poverty reminiscent of Princess Diana (but with substance!) and Mother Teresa (but hot!).

Next game: vs. Cancer.


Objects in Mirror:

No. 1 Alabama (2-0)

Last game: Western Kentucky 0, Alabama 35.

Recap: Here is a hypothesis: Michigan > Western Kentucky. Let’s test this hypothesis.

Vs. Alabama…

  • First downs: Michigan – 11, WKU – 14. D’oh.
  • 3rd down efficiency: Michigan – 3/12, WKU – 5/13. D’oh.
  • Rush yards allowed: Michigan – 232, WKU – 103. D’oh.
  • Yards per carry allowed: Michigan – 5.5, WKU – 3.3. D’oh.
  • Total yards allowed: Michigan – 431, WKU – 328. D’oh.
  • QB Sacks: Michigan – 2, WKU – 4. D’oh.
  • Fumbles recovered: Michigan – 1, WKU – 0. Nice.

And that. Is The Michigan Difference.

Next game: @ Arkansas



September 13th, 2012 at 8:39 PM ^

the MGoBlog community should definitely start a fund or take a trip somewhere to save some baby seals. I know we kid about it all the time, but unfortunately that shit actually happens. Sorry to be a buzz kill I just thought I'd throw that out there. How does one have a beating heart and do that!?!

Twin Cities Wo…

September 13th, 2012 at 9:21 PM ^

This team is as frightening as: Two unlabeled syringes. One contains heroin; the other, autism. Fear level = 7.5.

Can we lay off the autism jokes?  I enjoy this board because the contributors and mods are above this kind of stuff

As a parent of an autisic child it is a everyday struggle trying to teach my child to speak. A little undersanding goes a long way...


September 13th, 2012 at 10:56 PM ^

Firstly (and I see Heiko has editted his post to make the reference more straightforward): Heiko MENTIONED autism.  He in no way made fun of people who are affected by autism.  If he was making fun of anyone it's the people who have fraudulently advanced the claim of a link between vaccines and autism... and frankly those people deserve to be made fun of, or worse.


Secondly, I am very sorry that you are affected by autism, but you know what?  We've all got our personal demons and tragedies, and going around asking everyone to tread lightly because of them is just not going to work.  Should Heiko remove his cancer reference in the Ohio section so as not to offend people whose lives have been touched by cancer?  Should he remove the poker reference in deference to those whose lives have been ruined by gambling?  I have a very dear friend whose childhood was ruined by a series of drunken beatings administered by her stepfather... should I complain whenever anyone on the board recommends heavy drinking as a response to a disappointing loss by the football team?



September 14th, 2012 at 11:00 AM ^

I am generally against all forms of PC police - like you said, everyone deals with shit, and if we remove references to things that affect everyone, there is nothing left.

That said, I am with the poster who complained about the reference to autism.  Autism is a disease that has become rampant amongst children and it is devastating.  Jokes about horrible things that severely affect children - think Jerry Sandusky pedo jokes - are just not funny, and in my opinion are generally avoided.

Heiko, no offense to your posting is intended by this criticism.  I must say that I think that your posts are probably the funniest and most entertaining on this site - in particular this weekly column - but I just think that we should avoid references to things like autism.




September 14th, 2012 at 11:05 AM ^

While the most recent data does say that, the scary thing about autism is that right now, nobody really knows what causes it.  Because it is such a life-devastating disease, even though the likelihood that these vaccines cause autism is small, many parents are so frightened that they would rather not risk it.  Not saying that this is rational, but as a parent of two young boys, I can understand both sides of this debate. 

Bottom line - this is a Michigan blog where most of us can go to avoid the heavier stuff in life (except frmo 2008-10 when Michigan fandom was one of the heaviest things imaginable).  Personally, I love the fact that this site is free of things like talk about politics, autism, cancer and other heavy issues.  Because autism is such a sentisive topic to those affected by it, perhaps it is best not to debate it here.


September 13th, 2012 at 9:36 PM ^

" A baby seal walks into a club and says, "Ow." "

This made me laugh out loud in tbe buritto shop.  Got funny stares. 

Then I read: .."A couple reps with a five-pound dumbbell in the middle of a workout that has so far consisted of bench-pressing an elephant and 60 minutes of CrossFit."...and almost fell on the floor.

Great writing Heiko and great weekly. 





September 14th, 2012 at 9:35 AM ^

On one level I know that no two games are the same, and no two teams are the same so comparing two teams against a common opponent is not really a good comparison. With all that said...it still hurt a lot to see that Western Kentucky fared better vs Alabama than we did.

<sigh> that was really just a bad game. I hope to see improvement the next two weeks heading into the Big 10 season.



September 14th, 2012 at 7:08 AM ^

OSU seems to have a bend but don't break (well, don't break too much) defense this season. Both of the "meh" teams they have played have been able to move the ball well between the 20's but OSU's defense has generally stiffened (snicker) when the opponent reaches the red zone.

Unfortunately, it appears that my assertion that Miller was overrated appears to be incorrect. He is still just an "O.K." passer (I know his completion % is high but he throws a lot of ugly passes) but he is every bit as scary as Denard when running the ball (possibly even scarier, if that is possible).

Given the craptastic state of the B1G overall and the even more craptastic state of the Leaders division, I think it is pretty likely that OSU wins at least 10 games this season. Ugh.

Darker Blue

September 14th, 2012 at 8:33 AM ^

Unfortunately, it appears that my assertion that Miller was overrated appears to be incorrect. He is still just an "O.K." passer (I know his completion % is high but he throws a lot of ugly passes) but he is every bit as scary as Denard when running the ball (possibly even scarier, if that is possible).

E-fact: Nobody is scarier than Denard!


September 14th, 2012 at 7:01 AM ^

I chuckled at the baby seal/ club joke. Question: Does that make me a bad person?

I snickered at the Mike Cox growing 3" joke. Question: Does that make me Beavis and/or Butthead?