Trace McSorley breaks the pocket
We've been here before haven't we [Eric Upchurch]

Punt/Counterpunt Penn State 2018 Comment Count

Seth November 3rd, 2018 at 8:33 AM


By Bryan MacKenzie

On paper, today seems to favor Michigan. The Wolverines are about an 11-point favorite in Vegas and an 8.5-point favorite in S&P+. Michigan has won 7 of the last 8 matchups in Ann Arbor, including a 49-10 drubbing in 2016. Penn State hasn’t put together a complete performance since Kent State in Week 3, and still has James Franklin mashing the controller on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Michigan has strung together seven consecutive statistically dominating performances.

Michigan has spoken openly about a desire for revenge, and I can think of few things in this world as terrifying as having Don Brown circle my name for any reason. Michigan probably gets Tarik Black back. They might get Rashan Gary back. And with Rutger and Indiana on the schedule in the next two weeks, Michigan had the whole bye week to focus almost exclusively on this matchup. This felt like a Michigan victory, and possibly like a Michigan blowout.

But then I remembered the headband.


Eric Firestine, Daily Collegian

Yes, that is correct. Trace McSorley’s headband. It’s the headband he wore last year when he threw for 282 yards at 10.8 yards per attempt. It’s the headband he wore while rushing for 76 yards on 11 carries. It’s the headband he wore while accounting for 4 total TDs (3 rushing, 1 passing) and leading Penn State to a 29-point win. And it is the headband that will curse Michigan this week.

You see, Michigan has historically struggled with guys who wear headbands. Don’t believe me?

[After the JUMP: What’s on your head gets in your head]


Max Petrosky, Daily Collegian

Saquon Barkley – Barkley rushed for 108 yards and 2 TDs last year. Granted, if you exclude his one 69-yard touchdown on a busted assignment, Michigan held him to 39 yards on 14 carries, and to 166 yards on his other 44 career carries, but still. They all count.


Joey Bosa – Bosa was the #3 pick in the 2016 NFL draft, but only after dominating the Wolverines. Bosa recorded 3.5 sacks against Michigan his three seasons, one of which broke Jake Rudock in half. In doing so, he led Ohio State to a 3-0 record against Michigan, two of which were in Ann Arbor.



Chris Frey: Frey promised to lock Michigan in a woodshed in 2016, and carried through on his promise, making 9 tackles in Michigan State’s extremely dignified 15-point victory over the spread.


Braxton Miller: Miller was 2-1 as a starter against Michigan, and aaaaalmost pulled off the upset in 2011. In his three years, he threw for 9.6 yards per attempt, and averaged over 100 yards rushing per game at nearly 6 yards per carry. He accounted for 9 TDs against only two INTs.



Vic Viramontes: A one-time Michigan commit, Viramontes had the most Harbaugh highlight tape of all time. He was a quarterback/fullback/linebacker. Vicious Vic had Michigan bloggers positively giddy about the prospects of a chess piece that had the ability to move like a bishop, a knight, a ledgerman, and Sonic the Hedgehog. He then decommitted, ALMOST recommitted… and then went to Cal and then left for Minnesota and is now a linebacker at Riverside C.C. so it probably wouldn’t have worked out… but we’ll always wonder what that headband could have done at Michigan.


Jim McMahon: Among the most notably headband-wearing athletes of all time, McMahon’s Chargers defeated Jim Harbaugh’s Bears 24-7 in the third week of the 1989 NFL Preseason. This game actually led to a feud between Harbaugh and Mike Tomczak, because of course it did.


Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal: Since 2004, Roger and Rafa have won a combined 36 grand slam titles. Michigan hasn’t won a single grand slam title in that time.


Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston: Okay, maybe this is a bad example.

Still, the vast majority of the evidence here points towards a tough afternoon for Michigan. We’re only lucky that the weather will be relatively warm for this time of year, thus preventing even more head-warming apparel. Penn State 24, Michigan 20





By Internet Raj

The summer after my junior year of high school, one of my best friends became a salesman for Cutco, a brand of cutlery and kitchen accessories. Like most high school or college students, my friend had been actively seeking a part-time job to help finance his Natty Ice and Taco Bell consumption. Cutco’s advertisement promising an ambiguous “sales” position that paid “$18 per hour” was enough to entice him. Odds are you either know someone who has sold Cutco knives or have been a target of a Cutco knives sales pitch yourself. In any event, you would know that my friend’s story likely did not end well. It did not.

Cutco began as a perfectly legitimate enterprise when it was founded in 1949 by Alcoa and Case Cutlery. In 1985, however, Cutco was acquired by “Vector Marketing Corporation”, a company whose very name is so hollowly seedy that if you told me it was one of Rick Pitino’s money laundering shell companies, I would have believed you. Vector transformed Cutco’s sales channel into one driven by directly marketing cutlery to customers through in-home demonstrations and “independent sales representatives” like my friend. My friend was forced to purchase his cutlery sales kit from his own pocket and the promised “$18 per hour” turned out to be limited only to customer referral appointments. Ultimately, he stuck with Cutco through the summer, made one depressing sales call after another, and finally quit with the humbling knowledge that he had not only been grossly exploited but that his entire employment had been cash flow negative.

At best, Cutco can be described as a “multilevel marketing scheme.” At worst, but perhaps most accurately: a “scam.” It has been years since the word “Cutco” has even crossed my mind, but something I have been observing over the past few weeks bears such a striking resemblance to the sleazy cutlery brand, that I simply cannot shake it from the deep recesses of my consciousness.

And then of course Urban pulls out the biggest one to stab whatever program he’s coaching in the back after he leaves it in shambles.


James Franklin is making $4.8 million this season under a contract that escalates each year through the 2022 season, wherein he will earn $6.3 million. Much like my friend, a shiny advertisement from Vanderbilt caught Penn State’s eye and they’ve been paying hefty sums for it ever since. Sure, Franklin led the Nittany Lions on a remarkable run in a 2016 season that culminated in a Big Ten championship (it should not be forgotten, however, that Franklin also benefited from a generational talent at running back and a maestro at offensive coordinator, both of whom have since departed). At the same time, though, Cutco knives themselves can be perfectly adequate (albeit grossly overpriced) tools for certain functions. For instance, one particularly popular sales demonstration of the brand’s kitchen shears touts their unique ability to cut through a penny. But that doesn’t make the company selling them any less dodgy.

A Cutco product shown destroying money for no reason with uncanny ease, but still not as proficiently as James Franklin’s contract.

Recently, what exactly has James Franklin achieved at Penn State other than managing close fourth quarter games with the level-headedness of an Elon Musk tweet storm? Just this season, he’s iced his own kicker, called an inexplicable run up the middle on a do-or-die 4th-and-5 with under a minute to go and—my personal favorite—attempted to call an unnecessary timeout after a change of possession.


Not the first time Penn State intervened to stop someone from blowing the whistle.

Is James Franklin a sleazy con artist whose faux-bravado press conference rants bear striking resemblance to a power-hungry vice principal delivering a ten-minute screed at a middle school assembly that Tamagotchis have been banned? It’s probably too early to tell, but I have a feeling Penn State has already bought their own bald-headed version of Cutco knives. Later today, Michigan will pick up the phone, listen to a lazy pitch about free blade sharpening for life, and promptly slam the phone back on its receiver only to angrily shake its fist in the air and grumble something about the failures of the “Do Not Call List.”

Michigan 38, Penn State 1 Sad Field Goal


Other Andrew

November 3rd, 2018 at 8:52 AM ^

I sold Cutco the summer after my senior year of high school, with an attitude rather similar to Raj’s friend. While the company’s marketing is based on a bit of a scammy approach (get young adults to sell cutlery to their friends’ parents and their parents’ friends), I must defend them a bit here.

1. Aside from the overly optimistic hourly wage advetisements, they were honest about the expectations. You have to buy the sales kit (somewhat discounted). You start at only 10% comission, but sell enough and hang in there and it grows all the way up to 50%. (Very few hang in there, but again, they’re clear about the rules.)

2. The job made few requirements on my time. One or two team meetings per week. This was perfect for an 18 year old during summer.

3. I did gain skills which continue to help me 25 years later.

4. The knives are good. That sales kit is still pretty much all we use in my home to this day. A good investment on its own.

Why do I mention this? Raj’s attack on my long-ago employer now has me worried that Michigan will lose. That’s totally irrational. (Kind of like assuming cutting pennies in half make for a good sales pitch. Raj makes some good points.)

Benoit Balls

November 3rd, 2018 at 11:28 AM ^

I went in for the sales pitch and bailed for $6 an hour under the table landscaping gig.  I was already thinking things seemed a bit "too good to be true" and then we hit the end of the meeting.  There were about 25 prospects in the room, and they said they were going to call each of us in the managers office to tell us if we were "selected" or not, and only 4-5 of us would be.

Of course I was selected. Im sure everyone was. But it was that bit of shady that really threw off the spidey sensors and I decided I was better off going with something concrete, like a guarantee of 7-4 for $6 an hour. 


November 3rd, 2018 at 2:33 PM ^

I remember they used to put "Call Wolfman" in their employment ads to make them seem hyper-cool back in the 90s.

I called, went to the initial meeting, and sat there in stunned disbelief. "Who the fuck would fall for something like this?", is what I was thinking. They asked me if I saw an opportunity, and I said I saw a bunch of soulless, middle-aged vampires trying to (censored for our younger viewers). Walked out and thought nothing about them again for 30 years.

Fast forward 30 years. My wife informs me that one of our daughters friends works for "cutco cutlery" and wants to make a sales pitch to her just for the visit money he gets. I sighed. Inevitably, we now have an overpriced cutco knife. I hate that knife. But, it does cut like a (censored for our younger viewers).


November 3rd, 2018 at 9:09 AM ^

I can think of few things in this world as terrifying as having Don Brown circle my name for any reason.

It is expensive and painful to legally change yor name,but this would be one of the things that would make it worth it.

Great installments in a great series.  Thanks to both of you for providing it.


November 3rd, 2018 at 9:24 AM ^

For me, the last time I could honestly say with a straight face and with genuinely supportable evidence that UM football is prepared to and CAN run the table post-October, is 1998.  Some may say mid-00's would be more accurate but to me there was something shaky on one side of the ball or the other that had me doubting.  I believe we're In for an epic Michigan home stretch to the '18-'19 season with some instant classic wins along the way as everything comes together.

Basement Man

November 3rd, 2018 at 9:43 AM ^

I'm sorry, internet raj, but your writing is such a poor attempt at irreverence that it is always just tl;dr get right to the score.

there is only ONE Brian. Leave the writing to Him.


November 4th, 2018 at 10:18 PM ^

Hello Basement Man,

I made a cursory review of your account posting history.  Please read the FAQ before returning to posting.  It is full of helpful advice for a new poster such as yourself.  This account has been blocked and you will have to start another one to return to posting.  Have a great night!



November 3rd, 2018 at 9:49 PM ^

The most obvious fact exposing you as an idiot is that there are other epic writers here that give Brian (who is indeed quite skilled) more than a run for his money as a writer - such as BiSB.  Only a complete, utter fool would say the writing here should be left solely to Cook.  Your attempt at trolling failed miserably.


November 3rd, 2018 at 9:55 AM ^

What if our starters all come out wearing headbands?  Does that negate the curse?


Just kidding.  The headbands are trembling with fear.  Revenge Tour 2018!  Go blue, 31-13.

You Only Live Twice

November 3rd, 2018 at 10:29 AM ^

Brilliant, guys!  

Cutco knives and Kirby vacuum cleaners... ah, memories (fortunately not first person experience)

Don't be afraid of headbands, because Penn State won't look as good as their ranking after today.



November 3rd, 2018 at 12:08 PM ^

One of the best parts of game day is reading this stuff! Loved today’s.

Incidentally, I bought two Cutco spatula spreading knives in the 80s from some kid I felt kinda obligated to buy from, and still use them daily. Weird company, but pretty good knives. Kind of like Franklin; weird dude, but pretty good coach.

However, whether headbands, knives, or weirdness are employed won’t matter. A focused Michigan squad fearing no one wins today, 42-14.


November 3rd, 2018 at 11:47 PM ^

Welp, Internet Raj, we will henceforth pay particularly close attention to your predictions. Very impressive. Though I don't think the sharpest of coaching minds in the drawer would have saved the Nits today.