The Road Ahead:
Last game: Marshall 41, Purdue 51 (W)
Recap: Purdue’s defense gave up 534 yards and 41 points to a middling C-USA team, but this was okay because Purdue had a 42-14 lead going into halftime and ended up with four takeaways on the day due to the fast and loose nature of Marshall’s offense. The Boilermakers were never really in danger of losing, but for argument’s sake let’s go with the storyline that QB Caleb Terbush’s brilliant performance (27/37, 294 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT) saved the day. Who needs Robert Marve when you have Drew Brees under center. Yeah.
(As Ace noted in his FFFF yesterday, most of these were screen passes, so really, credit goes to the skill guys).
Purdue didn’t do much on the ground, where they averaged a little under 3 ypc. Most of their offense was generated by screens and quick passes. If lingering concern still exists about Michigan’s defensive front, it shouldn’t matter much against Purdue. Most of the action will go outside.
Defensively the Boilermakers got papercutted to death. Marshall QB Rakeem Cato (45/68, 439 yards, 5 TD, 3 INT) … well you can just read his stats to see how that went. Unfortunately Michigan has eschewed the dink-and-dunk offense for a Big Boy NFL vertical passing game, so it’s unlikely that Denard will have as much production through the air compared with Cato. But for the amount of hype Purdue CB Josh Johnson and Ricardo Allen have generated over the offseason, that kind of a ho-hum day (although they each did record a pick-six) seems reasonable to believe that there is room to get guys open against them. Again, different offenses, different game plan, but there is room for optimism.
This team is as frightening as: Notre Dame lite. Fear level = 5.
Michigan should worry about: This is the team Michigan will likely need to beat twice in order to reach the Rose Bowl.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: If Michigan can beat them on the road, they can beat them on a neutral site, eh?
When they play Michigan: The same sorts of matchups and opportunities exist against Purdue that existed against Notre Dame: a stout defensive front with key weaknesses behind them and a mediocre offense led by solid but uninspiring quarterback play. Michigan should succeed with a more conservative game plan on offense that emphasizes the ground game (just don’t run at Kawann Short) and easy reads for Denard. Michigan’s defense should take care of the rest.
Next game: vs. Snake Oil Emporium.
Illinois (2-3 overall, 1-1 B1G)
Last game: Penn State 35, Illinois 7 (L)
Recap: This is why you shouldn’t send your assistants to camp out at another school’s parking lot to recruit their players.
This team is as frightening as: Let’s put it this way -- Ron Zook had a way of taking a lump of goldand using it to make paper clips. Tim Beckman is currently taking a lump of gold and turning it into lead. Fear level = 2.
Michigan should worry about: I’m having a hard time finding something that Illinois did well this game. Hmm. Let’s see. Here we go: they’re still really good at catching people at the one-yard line. Illini S Miles Osei caught Penn State LB Michael Mauti at the one after an interception return. This led to a missed field goal.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Illinois allowed two rushing touchdowns to Penn State QB Matt McGloin.
When they play Michigan: Ron Zook will be missed by both fanbases.
Next game: @ Wisconsin
Michigan State (3-2 overall, 0-1 B1G)
Last game: Ohio State 17, Michigan State 16 (L)
Recap: The B1G’s Best Defense gave up 383 yards of offense to Ohio State and a quarterback who “throws like Denard.” This caused widespread despondency among Michigan State athletic department and forced them to reconsider whether it would be worth playing football for the remainder of the season or ever. Pale, bleary-eyed, they looked long and hard past the rhinestones into the mirror before finally they murmured, “I have to go on,” and set the razor blade back into the jewelry box. The sudden realization that the ceiling had not moved from its eight-foot perch since the beginning of the September was at once crushing yet strangely uplifting in its honesty. “Because we lost it all, and nothing lasts forever. I’m sorry I can’t be perfect,” came a whine from the radio as hot and stinging tears of self-pity began to fall unabatedly onto the lilac carpet.
This team is as frightening as: A large rock. Unmoving; immovable.
Fear level = 5.
Michigan should worry about: This whole “no passing game” thing is all an elaborate ruse to throw Michigan off balance. Watch Andrew Maxwell (22/42, 269 yards, 1 TD) complete 70% of his passes for 300 yards and 3 TD’s in Ann Arbor.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: RT Fou Fonoti is out for several weeks and C Travis Jackson is out for the season. Are we allowed to say their offensive line is in trouble yet?
When they play Michigan: Take the under.
Next game: @ Indiana
No. 21 Nebraska (4-1 overall, 1-0 B1G)
Last game: Wisconsin 27, Nebraska 30 (W)
Recap: Not exactly a battle of heavyweights, but Nebraska and Wisconsin played an entertaining game that saw the Badgers give up 20 unanswered points in the second half for a Cornhuskers victory. Nebraska did a good job limiting Montee Ball (90 yards, 2.8 ypc, 3 TD) despite yielding several touchdowns. The Cornhuskers offense struggled in the first half but came back to life in the second after QB Taylor Martinez (17/29, 181 yards, 2 TD) finally settled into a groove passing for two touchdowns and running for another.
Martinez now has 11 TDs to 1 INT on the season. College football is a cruel and unusual institution.
This team is as frightening as: An ostrich that can fly. Fear level =7.
Michigan should worry about: I don’t want to think about it.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Nebraska was the “best” defense on Wisconsin’s schedule thus far and gave up the most points to the Badgers. Wisconsin WR Jared Abbrederis rebounded from injury to record seven catches for 142 yards and a touchdown, so the logical conclusion is that the Cornhuskers can’t defend the deep ball. Right?
When they play Michigan: Bombs awayyyyyy. Just kidding. Don’t do it, Al. Don’t you dare do it.
Next game: Bye.
No. 24 Northwestern (5-0, 1-0 B1G)
Last game: Indiana 29, Northwestern 44 (W)
Recap: Okay, so QB Trevor Siemian (22/32, 308 yards, 1 INT) is now officially the starting quarterback for Northwestern, while former QB Kain Colter is splitting time at tailback and wide receiver. Who called it? This guy. Sort of.
The QB tandem put up 704 yards of total offense against a relatively hapless Indiana squad, who was playing without its starting QB and had to go through two of its backups. (Taunting the Hoosiers by playing two starting QBs was a dick move, Wildcats.) Three turnovers from Northwestern and some plucky Indiana QB play allowed the Hoosiers back into the game, but the closest it ever got was 37-29. For the fourth game in a row, the Wildcats defense held fast in the fourth quarter to thwart the comeback.
This team is as frightening as: Whac-A-Mole, except when you miss it hits you back. Fear level = 5.
Michigan should worry about: Kain Colter.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: Kyle Prater. He’s kind of been non-existent to this point. Makes me sad.
When they play Michigan: Take the over.
Next game: @ Penn State.
Minnesota (4-1 overall, 0-1 B1G)
Last game: Minnesota 13, Iowa 31 (L)
Recap: Just as Michigan showed you can’t win if you punt away your first drive and throw interceptions on your next five, Minnesota demonstrated that you can’t win if the opposite is true -- when your quarterback throws an interception on your first drive and then you punt away the next five.
Gophers QB Max Shortell (20/33, 197 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT) started again in place of the perennially injured MarQueis Gray. His first half was abysmal but he rallied a bit in the second, throwing two touchdowns, to make the score respectable. The real story of the game, however, was that Minnesota simply could not stop Iowa FB Mark Weisman (21 carries, 177 yards, 1 TD) during the first half. Gophers defensive line: stock down.
This team is as frightening as: A restaurant advertising Coke products that has been exposed for actually serving RC Cola drinks. Fear level = 3.
Michigan should worry about: A lot less than a week ago. Minnesota is starting to become who we thought they were.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: My 4-8 prediction for Minnesota is … still plausible. They do not play Indiana … But they do play Illinois. Hmm. Prediction adjusted to 5-7 overall, 1-7 B1G.
When they play Michigan: I will fully support using Manball against Minnesota.
Next game: vs. No. 24 Northwestern
Iowa (3-2, 1-0 B1G)
Last game: Minnesota 13, Iowa 31 (W)
Recap: Nothing screams “Iowa football” like bashing a fullback repeatedly into an opponent. FB Mark Weisman (21 carries, 177 yards, 1 TD) again eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark – he had 155 at the half – to lead the Hawkeyes to a necessary victory over Minnesota and reclaim that pig thing that they fight over on an annual basis.
This team is as frightening as: Pachycephalosaurus, the bone-headed dinosaur that will ram you with its head until it loses consciousness. Fear level = 4.
Michigan should worry about: Getting torn up by a fullback would be so shameful.
Michigan can sleep soundly about: QB James Vandenberg (2 carries, 5 yards, 1 TD) was Iowa’s second leading rusher that game.
When they play Michigan: If Iowa wins again, at least Michigan can say they didn’t get beaten by a team that lost to Minnesota.
Next game: @ Michigan State.
Ohio State (5-0)
Last game: vs. Littering (W)
Next game: vs. High fructose corn syrup.
Objects in Mirror:
Alabama (5-0 overall, 2-0 SEC)
Last game: Ole Miss 14, Alabama 33 (W)
Notes: Alabama trailed an opposing team for all of 15 seconds.
Next game: @ Missouri
Air Force (2-2 overall, 1-1 MWC)
Last game: Colorado State 21, Air Force 42 (W)
Notes: This was a rivalry game supposedly.
Next game: vs. Navy
UMass (0-5 overall, 0-2 MAC)
Last game: Ohio 37, UMass 34 (L)
Mike Cox: 22 carries, 80 yards.
Next game: @ Western Michigan
Notre Dame (4-0)
Last game: Bye
Next game: vs. Miami, FL