Opponent Watch: Week 3 (Overreaction Edition) Comment Count

BiSB September 19th, 2013 at 11:18 AM

About Last Saturday:

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Upcoming Opponents

UConn (0-2, 0-0 AAC)

Mose Fear_thumb[1]

Last game: Maryland 32, UConn 21 (L)

Recap: Mighty UConn put up a valiant effort against the cowardly and unwashed Maryland Turtle-People, but were undercut by intrigue, sedition, and the damn refs. According to the propaganda released by the Maryland-controlled Pravda that is the “Associated Press,” Maryland outgained UConn 501-383. While giving credit to the Huskies for 349 yards passing, they claim that they were held to 34 yards rushing on 33 attempts. This is a lie, as with my own eyes I saw UConn break several long and impressive scoring runs to which the scoreboard operator turned a blind eye.

Verily, once the truth is known and justice is permitted to prevail over deceitful treachery, this team is poised for a glorious emergence. Woe be unto the team that must face this juggernaut at this moment in history.

This team is as frightening as: The all-consuming terror mined from the deepest pits of hell; the dredging up of fears long-since dismissed as figments of a scarred past. We had thought the capacity for such nightmares had been smoothed over by time and the advancement of civilization, only to learn that it was simply masked by a thin veneer, waiting to re-emerge. And while the pantries are not yet empty, the hunger pangs remind us all that we are never more than nine meals away from anarchy. Fear level = 10

Michigan should worry about: Pasqualoni to right of them/ Pasqualoni to left of them / Pasqualoni in front of them / Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with run and pass / For last week they played like ass /Into the jaws of Rentschler Field / Into the mouth of Hell / Rode the seventy

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Nessun Dorma.

When they play Michigan: Michigan is about an 18-point favorite.

Next game: vs. #15 Michigan

[AFTER THE JUMP: So much to fear. And Iowa]

Minnesota (3-0, 0-0 B1G)

Scream Munch_thumb[2]

Last game: Minnesota 29, Western Illinois 12 (W)

Recap: It’s hard to find the will to snark Minnesota for what would generally be considered a lackluster performance. Gopher head coach Jerry Kill was carted off the field after suffering another seizure, his fourth in three years. He is reportedly doing fine, and we wish him the best of health.

Minnesota actually trailed Western Illinois 12-7 late into the 3rd quarter before running off 22 straight points to put the Leathernecks away (on a side note, is there a better mascot name in college sports than the Leathernecks?). Very Stoppable Throw Guy Philip Nelson left the game with a pulled hamstring, and was replaced by redshirt freshman Mitch Leidner. Leidner promptly went 7 of 8 for 105 yards. Minnesota only threw 12 passes the entire day against 49 runs.

This team is as frightening as: A gopher. He does almost all of his damage on the ground, and failed attempts to capture them can result in an entire golf course blowing up. Fear level = 17

Michigan should worry about: This is a game Michigan should win. This is apparently a terrible, terrible sign.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Football no longer makes any sense at all, which means that by the time we get to this game, the things that are previously terrible signs might be good signs again.

When they play Michigan: Don’t lift the nose tackle for an additional 3-tech. In fact, use two nose tackles. Maybe three. Is there such a thing as Cover -1? ‘Cause if so, do that.

Next game: vs. San Jose St.

Penn State (2-1, 0-0 B1G)

Shining Twins_thumb[2]

Last game: UCF 34 Penn State 31 (L)

Recap: You can’t stop Blake Bortles. You can only hope to contain him. The UCF quarterback completed 20 of 27 for 288 yards and 3 TDs and a pick, and the Knights quasi-cruised to a win in Happy Valley. The final score was somewhat misleading, as UCF led comfortably most of the game; they were up by as much as 18, and they had a 10 point lead with under four minutes left when a negative-18 yard punt (!!) set Penn State up on the 25 yard line.

Hackenberg continued to look good, though facing a defense that actually showed different coverages and stuff he appeared more freshman-like than he did facing Ron English and company. This should not be a surprise. The surprise was that UCF put up more yards against Penn State than they did against FIU or Akron (See? Akron might be good (except that UCF won that game 38-7 (still, yards are a better indicator, right? (perhaps, but we’ve nested this thing about as far as we dare)))).

This team is as frightening as: A talented but young and undermanned team that lacks the depth and firepower to compete at the highest levels this year. Fear level = Eleventy-six

Michigan should worry about: Did you know Bill O’Brien once coached Tom Brady?

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Third down. Penn State’s was 2 of 8 on 3rd down in this one, and are currently 4 of 34 on the year. That’s 12%. That’s not good. Get off the field, gentlemen.

When they play Michigan: Conspiracy theories everywhere. The NCAA conspired with al Qaeda to give Lloyd Carr two more seconds even though Bryant Johnson was in bounds and Alan Branch was an illegal robot when he hit Anthony Morelli.

Next game: vs. Kent State

Indiana (2-1, 0-0 B1G)

Last game: Indiana 42, Bowling Green 10 (W)

Recap: This is not the Bowling Green that Denard and Tate mashed to a fine paste in 2010; they are actually projected to finish fairly high up in the MAC. And while Indiana gave up over 400 yards of offense, they did not give up an offensive touchdown. This is probably a step forward for a defense that seemed to be sliding towards Nebraska status defensively. They also managed to roll for over 600 yards of offense with Nate Sudfeld threw for 335 yards on only 17 completions.

At this point a bowl game seems like a reasonable goal. Unless they can steal a win against Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin, or Ohio State,  Indiana will have to find four wins out of games against Missouri, Michigan State, Minnesota, Illinois, and Purdue. IU is a 3 point underdog this weekend against Missouri. This isn’t a must-win if the Hoosiers are going bowling, but it’d go a long way.

This team is as frightening as: a more family-friendly Nebraska. They score a lot of points. They give up a lot of points. But they won’t call you a f***ing f*** who can f*** a f***. Fear level = Commitment

Michigan should worry about: Michigan hasn’t beaten Indiana by more than a touchdown since 2006.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Indiana hasn’t won at Michigan since roughly the Battle of Hastings.

When they play Michigan: Michigan better have that nickel situation figured out by then.

Next game: vs. Missouri

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


Last game: Michigan State 55, Youngstown St. 17(W)

Recap: Wha?

Fifty-five points, all of them from the offense. 8.4 yards per attempt in the air (9.2 YPA for starter Connor Cook).  Four passing touchdowns. 547 yards from scrimmage. Madness, I say utter madness. They even deployed a downfield passing game, which was a smashing success.

The most positive takeaway from this game for Sparty was that they seemed confident that they finally found their quarterback in Cook. He looked like an actual, functional, nearly Big Ten-level quarterback in this one. But how much was this about Cook, and how much was about Youngstown State? Well…

MSU Wide Open_thumb[3]

That’s a shot of MSU’s 3rd touchdown. And that’s a fullback. At the goal line. Without a defender within 15 yards of him. On a play that started at the 12 yard line. This is the kind of throw you probably would have assumed Connor Cook could have made. It’s the kind of throw you probably would have assumed Brian Cook could have made.

Cook DID make a couple of nice throws, but I don’t know how much we learned. Coming into this game, he averaged 2.7 yards per attempt with a 44% completion percentage. The word on Cook is that about once per week in practice he looks like a bona fide starter, and the rest of the time he doesn’t have the accuracy or arm strength to be in any way effective. Think Fulton Reed, but without the upside. 

The defense is really boring to talk about, because they are extremely good and have been facing extremely bad teams. We don’t really LEARN anything, because nothing anyone is doing is working. Notre Dame will probably provide us with out first real data on the #SpartanDawgs.

This team is as frightening as: It’s so hard to say, because they have played three legitimately awful teams and bludgeoned exactly one of them. Fear level = Fear itself

Michigan should worry about: If Michigan State can find even a mediocre offense on a regular basis, they are instantly a contender in the Legends. If they find an average offense, I’d call them the frontrunner.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: …and if my aunt had balls, she could probably start at quarterback for Michigan State.

When they play Michigan: If Michigan gives up 55 points, it might be time to give up on this whole “civilization” thing and start hoarding canned goods.

Next game: at #22/21 Notre Dame

Nebraska (2-1, 0-0 B1G)

Last game: #16 UCLA 41, Nebraska 21,  (L)

Recap: I’ll be honest. This weekend challenged more of my preconceptions than I was willing to part with. But there were two things that I simply assumed as part of the fabric of our very Universe. One was struck a serious blow when Michigan State, like, scored and stuff. I wasn’t ready to see the other one go down. But for 29 minutes, it seemed like it could, nay, would, happen.

For a brief, shining moment it looked like Nebraska’s defensive woes had been greatly exaggerated. With one minute left in the first half, Nebraska held a 21-3 lead on offensive powerhouse UCLA. The Huskers were wearing their black jerseys, and it didn’t look like a cruel mockery of the Blackshirts of old. Sixteen minutes and five touchdowns later, Nebraska trailed 38-21. They surrendered 236 yards in the third quarter alone. By comparison, Michigan State hasn’t given up more than 204 yards in any single game this year. Offensively Taylor Martinez had three TD passes, but only threw for 203 yards on 35 attempts. The running game never really got going, averaging about 3 yards per carry.

The real fun started during the ensuing days. College football legend and program elder Tommie Frazier publicly called for the heads of the entire defensive staff. Bo Pelini, long known for his measured approach to public relations, took the bait and stated that they “don’t need” Frazier. He then called Eric Crouch a “dillweed,” left a flaming bag of dog poop on Tom Osborne’s door, and urinated on Bob Devaney’s grave. The next day, someone released a tape of Pelini in 2011 saying some not-so-nice things about the Nebraska fans (language is NSFW):

Somewhere Bill Callahan sits in a wicker rocking chair, takes a long sip from his Arnold Palmer, and smiles. These things are much more fun from the outside looking in.

This team is as frightening as: Starting to feel a lot like 2010 Michigan, yes? They've reached the Wisconsin game ahead of schedule, I'd say. Fear Level = Zombie Apocalypse

Michigan should worry about: Year after year, Nebraska keeps getting bailed out by fate or the refs at crucial points of vital games. Last year, it happened against both Michigan AND Michigan State. We’ll keep track of this for you, but thus far they haven’t entered that particular cheat code this year (unless you count the BS holding call at the end of the Wyoming game, but I don’t).

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Nebraska’s defense looks as bad as it does, and they haven’t left Memorial Stadium. It’s hard to imagine them picking up the pace on the road.

When they play Michigan: Elbow pads for Devin. Lots of elbow pads.  And wrist pads. Maybe some bubble wrap. And maybe lay some egg crate foam on the field in any areas you think might be the site of a particularly violent tackle.

Next game: vs. South Dakota State

#18/16 Northwestern (3-0, 0-0 B1G)

Scary Part_thumb[1]

Last game: Northwestern 38, Western Michigan 17 (W)

Recap: Elsewhere in “things my brain probably couldn’t process properly,” Western Michigan actually played Northwestern pretty evenly for most of the first half. The Broncos actually led 10-7 in the 2nd quarter, and were within 4 points with about 2 minutes left in the 1st half before Northwestern hit the gas pedal, remembering that horses don’t have gas pedals (I know I know, neither to wildcats, so shut up). As usual, Northwestern attacked primarily on the ground game (averagine 6 YPC), with Treyvon Green and Kain Colter both surpassing 100 yards.

Through three games, has Northwestern been the most impressive team in the Big Ten? Discuss amongst yourselves.

This team is as frightening as: A poor man’s Ohio State, but smarter and with more professional-looking resumes. Versatile offense, talented but somewhat porous defense, solid coaching staff. These guys are gonna be serious players in the Big Ten West once that becomes a thing. Fear level = Heights, small spaces, drowning, spiders, snakes, needles, social situations, germs, clowns.

Michigan should worry about: Northwestern is doing all of this without Venric Mark. Add that tiny open-field monster into this offense, and things could get interesting in a hurry.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: When is the last time Venric Mark was actually healthy? 

When they play Michigan: Still looking like a battle for the Legends division.

Next game: vs. Maine

Iowa (1-1, 0-0 B1G)

Last game: Iowa 27, Iowa State 21 (W)

Recap: Oh, good. Just what the world needed. A game with twice the Iowa. Huzzah.

Iowa had a 27-7 lead more than halfway through the 4th quarter, yet Iowa State actually had the ball with a few seconds left and a chance to win the game.   Mark Weisman carried the ball 35 times, bring his season total at 85 carries. Damon Bullock has 40 carries. Neither of them has been struck by lightning or contracted corn-flu or anything. THIS SEASON MAKES NO SENSE. 

This team is as frightening as: A giant noodle. But with a sinister moustache. 


Fear Level = 7.5

Michigan should worry about: Potential letdown games are a big deal. A very, very big deal. DO YOU HEAR ME? THINGS HAPPEN, MAN. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Surely Michigan has learned its lesson about letdown games. And don’t call me Shirley.

When they play Michigan: We have to go to that god-forsaken place with the terrible juju and the pink locker rooms again this year, don’t we? Good lord, why don’t they tear that place down? And by “that place,” I mean Iowa writ large.

Next game: vs. Western Michigan

#4/3 Columbus Crew (Not that Columbus Crew) (3-0, 0-0 B1G)

Jigsaw Puppet_thumb[1]

Last game: Columbus Crew (NTCC) 52, California 34 (W)

Recap:  Kenny Guiton and company outgained Cal 608-503. From this, we can glean that (a) the offense was good, and (b) the defense was not. This follows a subtle pattern developing in which the Buckeye offense has been good, but the defense has not. If this continues, the offense will have a good year, and the defense will struggle.

This team is as frightening as: Not particularly frightening. Why do you ask? Fear level = defending a 3rd and goal from the 1-yard-line with the game on the line against Akron.

Michigan should worry about: The Buckeye’s offense being good could pose a problem for Michigan’s defense, which has shown vulnerability in recent years to offenses that are good at offense.

Michigan can sleep soundly about: Maybe when Braxton Miller comes back, there will be a quarterback controversy because now they have TWO really good quarterbacks and oh lord this isn’t going to help the sleep.

When they play Michigan: The key match-ups will be Ohio State’s offense against Michigan’s defense, as well as Michigan’s offense against Ohio State’s defense.

Next game: vs. Florida A&M

Objects in rearview mirror:


Central Michigan (1-2 overall, 0-0 MAC)

Last game: UNLV 31, Central Michigan 21 (L)

Recap: UNLV is not good. Central Michigan is even more not good.

Next game: vs. Toledo

Notre Dame (2-1 overall)

Last game: Notre Dame 31, Purdue 24 (W)

Recap: There are two ways to look at this game. The first is that maybe the Big Game Hangover is a real thing, and as a result both Michigan and Notre Dame struggled against inferior opponents the week after UTL II. The second is that maybe Michigan and Notre Dame both actually suck, and therefore were both exposed simultaneously when playing other opponents who weren’t similarly overrated.

I like the first explanation better. We will likely get at least some information on ND’s status this weekend, as they take on…

Next game: vs. Michigan State


Rick's American Cafe

September 19th, 2013 at 11:29 AM ^

It looks like you took one joke (Michigan played poorly against Akron), and managed to ruin an entire article by running that joke into the ground, instead of actually providing meaningful analysis of Michigan's opponents...


September 19th, 2013 at 12:01 PM ^

Yeah, I agree, this article infuriated me.  Not only for being such poor quality, but also for not wasting enough of my time with more pertinent wasteful, yet useful, information. I felt compelled to waste more of my time commenting to display my displeasure, instead of actually working.  Thanks for making me hate my life a little bit more for realizing I actually chose to read this article in the first place.



September 19th, 2013 at 11:43 AM ^

If Michigan wins handily against UConn this weekend then all will go back to normal. If they struggle again, then panicking and running around screaming will be what the rest of my weekend consists of.


September 19th, 2013 at 11:45 AM ^

UConn undercut by sedition.  That tasty tidbit, my friends, is highly intellectual humor.  I doubt you see that kind of thing on many other sports websites.  Great stuff, Bryan!

EZ Bud

September 19th, 2013 at 11:59 AM ^

Bravo. The UConn section had me spitting up my coffee. "This is a lie, as with my own eyes I saw UConn break several long and impressive scoring runs to which the scoreboard operator turned a blind eye."


September 19th, 2013 at 12:15 PM ^

just obliterates all the other fears mentioned completely. This is because there is no greater horror in the universe than he.

Except maybe when he's covering golf events or horse racing, it's not bad, but even then man.....


September 19th, 2013 at 12:28 PM ^

you get three or four games into a college football season. That kinda makes it fun. 

Sign Me,

Still hoping ND runs MSU into the astroturf and totally unclear why everyone else isn't


September 19th, 2013 at 12:29 PM ^

Here's the thing about OSU defense....Cal only averaged 3.6 yds/rush and 7.0 YPA passing....which paints a much better picture than "gave up over 500 yards".  Cal ran 90 plays.