The Pep Talk We All Need

Submitted by SpikeFan2016 on November 13th, 2016 at 1:12 PM

Let's be clear here. Yesterday sucked. It was disheartening to see the offense, special teams, coaching, and run defense all have games ranging from sub-par to disastrous. I'm not here to convince you that any of that didn't happen or isn't concerning going forward. I'm not here to convince you that we will be favorites in the Ohio State game.


But this is still a great team. This still has the potential to be a GREAT season. And, god dammit, we are not going to give up on our team just because we lost by one point in a road, night, trap game. We are better than that. Bailing is for Buckeyes.


So, I have 5 points to remind you why IT IS (still) GREAT TO BE A MICHIGAN WOLVERINE!



#1) Michigan is the only team in the Big Ten that 100% controls its destiny for BOTH the Big Ten Championship and the Playoff. 

  • Literally nothing changes for us. We had to beat Ohio State to accomplish our goals and we still do. It was fanciful to think of other scenarios to get in, but guess what? OSU was never going to lose to the Spartans and an 11-1 Michigan that lost to OSU in Columbus would've been passed by at least one of Louisville and Washington. 
  • Ohio State's Big Ten title hopes are all but dashed. They will likely be in the playoff if they win out by convincing margins, but it's definitely not a sure thing; if Washington slaughters Top 25 WSU and Top 10 Colorado and Wisconsin demolishes Penn State, Buckeyes could be toast. Championships matter. 
  • Penn State may have the best raw odds to win the East, but they don't control their own destiny and would need help getting to the playoff even if they do win out. 
  • Wisconsin controls their Big Ten destiny, and likely their playoff destiny as well, but it's not a certainty like it is for UM. An OSU blowout of UM plus a close Wisconsin win over PSU likely keeps the Buckeyes ahead of the Badgers and Washington would be favored over them too. 


#2) As of this upcoming Tuesday, Michigan will be the only team in the United States with 3 victories over top 10 teams. 

  • Michigan has beaten three top ten 8-2 teams (Penn State, Colorado and Wisconsin), all by margins/statistics ranging from convincing to dominating. On top of that, Michigan is the only contender in America that, if it wins out, will get the chance to play two more Top 10 teams in the regular season. 
  • Alabama has zero wins over teams that are poised to be ranked in the Top Ten this week, and it will likely head to bowl season with that fact still intact. 
  • Ohio State has two Top Ten wins (Oklahoma and Wisconsin). 
  • Clemson has one Top Ten win (Louisville) and has no more opportunities to play even a Top 15 team this season/in the championship. 
  • Louisville has zero Top Ten wins and will not get the chance for one. 
  • Washington has zero Top Ten wins and will only get the chance for one more. 


#3) Seven of the last ten teams to win National Championships have lost a regular season game, including both teams to win the College Football Playoff. 

  • It's really difficult to go undefeated. Urban Meyer hasn't done it at Ohio State (sorry, 2012 doesn't count because they didn't get to face a team in Indy or a bowl). 3/4 of Saban's national championship teams at Alabama had a loss. It's not the end of the world. 


#4) Every contender has had bad games this year, most of which were worse than Michigan's last night. 

  • Alabama was losing by a touchdown at halftime against Ole Miss and only wound up winning by 5 points. 
  • Ohio State lost to Penn State and followed it up with an extremely narrow 4 point home win over Northwestern. 
  • Clemson lost at home to Pittsburgh and should've lost at home to North Carolina State (won in OT after NC state missed two short field goals in regulation). In addition to these two games, 4 of their other wins came by 6 points or less (at home to Troy, @Florida State, at home against Louisville, and @Auburn). 
  • Washington just lost by double digits, at home to USC. 
  • Louisville lost to Clemson, and more importantly, was losing late into the fourth quarter against 2-8 Virginia, a team much, much worse than Iowa in an environment 1/100th as hostile. 
  • Wisconsin and Penn State both lost to yours truly, and had another one on top of that. 


#5) Calm down about Ohio State

  • Yes, we will be underdogs. Yes, it will be hard to win in Columbus. Yes, last year was a PTSD-inducing nightmare. But this is the greatest rivalry in college football. They have had just as many struggles as we have had this year. Overall, our resumes are still totally even. Have some belief. 
  • Last year obviously was horrific for Michigan in The Game. But the people saying "OSU is definitely going to play their best against us, as always!!!"  are wrong. MSU is the rival that does that (including this year), not OSU.
  • 75% of Urban's games against the Wolverines, including both played in Columbus, have seen OSU teams underperform and Michigan teams over perform. 
  • In 2012, a 12-0 OSU team was losing at home to an 8-4 Michigan team at the half, and only managed to escape by 5 points after not being able to score a TD in the second.

  • In 2013, a top 10 OSU team let a previously anemic Michigan offense (which lost in Iowa City) score 41 points and was a shitty 2 point playcall from being defeated by a 7-5 caliber team.

  • In 2014, a 5-7 Michigan team was tied at halftime in Columbus, tied a minute before the 4th quarter started and it was a one score game until there were 6 minutes left in the fourth quarter; this was against an OSU team won the national championship. 

  • In 2015, a previously undefeated team from the state of Michigan went to the far western reaches of the conference in early November, lost to a team worse than Iowa 2016 and then won in Columbus exactly two years later against an OSU team that had blown everyone out in the weeks immediately prior to that game. 

  • Yes, we lost all three, but there is a big difference now: those Michigan teams had nowhere near the talent and coaching this one does. 


Have some hope, there is a lot of football left to be played. There are other threads for the negative stuff, leave them out of here. 


Beat Indiana!

Beat Ohio!






Chalky White

November 13th, 2016 at 1:18 PM ^

What happened last night was basically the Bo Schembechler era. He had many teams that lost one game. One team was 10-0-1. I believe that happened in 5 consecutive seasons. Hopefully Harbaugh can break that chain and keep us from repeating the 80s.

Chalky White

November 13th, 2016 at 3:22 PM ^

What happened last night was also a glimpse into the 90s and most of the 2000s. If there was a playoff back then, I'm convinced 97 wouldn't have been the only championship. That first loss always beat those teams 2 or 3 more times, then they would roll OSU because OSU would assume the team was bad because of the record.


November 14th, 2016 at 12:23 AM ^

It coincides exactly with the final regular season game of his first year. Probably THE win that set the tone for most of the next 5 decades. After his first season of 9-3, we had a five year period with a record of 50-4-1. As big as that victory was, that tie was equally demoralizing. My point is, along with your list there were many other fine teams. 

If this team is the team we think it is, it'll bounce back in a big way Saturday. IN is a good team and not to be taken lightly, but I fully expect the BIG Championship game to be on the line when we square off with the Buckeyes. If that doesn't occur, it won't be due to lack of coaching or effort on the part of the players. 


November 13th, 2016 at 1:19 PM ^

Good read. Interesting stats... Well done. Let's just focus on Indiana for now and we will all discuss/worry about OSU when the time comes. Must bounce back strong vs IU and regain our confidence.

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Toasted Yosties

November 13th, 2016 at 1:21 PM ^

Let's hope last night's loss is a wake up call for this team. It's great to have an affordable loss like that. Recalibrate against Indiana and beat Ohio State. I have zero worries about this team's ability to bounce back.


November 13th, 2016 at 1:22 PM ^

I know Speight didn't have a great game, but boy do I pray he's healthy for next week. IU has a stingy run defense so we will need to gain yards in the air. Luckily, their secondary doesn't seem to be good at all, but there would be tremendous pressure on O'Korn if it's his first start.

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Go Blue Rosie

November 13th, 2016 at 1:34 PM ^

You're right- this IS the pep talk I needed! I was not as doom and gloom as others on the board but it's nice to see the points you've made to reinforce what I thought (hoped) was true.


November 13th, 2016 at 1:35 PM ^

I'm adding a hallelujah only because spell check is here to assist!

Flying home from the game and wondering if watching it in person is a totally different perspective than on TV!?

The defense up 1 td and 2 fgs. I checked and Iowa DOES give out scholarships. And two of those scores were the result (in part) of starting position (kickoff fumble/imaginary facemask). The D is fine.

Speight was off. It happens. Darboh had multiple chances and we didn't connect.

Good teams lose game. Champions lose games. The better team doesn't always win.

"Sports" happens! Some people get that, some don't.

Mojo Hall

November 13th, 2016 at 1:47 PM ^

Overall, if we were to pick which conference game we would lose this would probably be it.  Maybe this is a good wakeup call for the offense and to get running backs other than Smith more involved.  Evans looked great but only got eight carries.  Gaining 2 yards on a 2nd and 10 is a drive killer and that happened all night with Smith.

Bobby Digital

November 13th, 2016 at 1:57 PM ^

The loss changes nothing if we beat Ohio State. If not for the Iowa loss, Michigan may have made the playoff even with a loss against Ohio State. 11-1 with a close loss at Columbus, I'd say a pretty good shot. But oh well, onward.


November 13th, 2016 at 2:00 PM ^

Pretty small shot, actually. 


Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson would be shoe-ins over us. 


12-1 PAC 12 Champion Washington is likely in over 11-1 non-Big Ten Champ Michigan as well, and who knows about Louisville. 


The only bummer from last night (besides losing) is that we may not get the Rose Bowl if we lose to Ohio State. 


November 13th, 2016 at 2:17 PM ^

Thank you Spike. These were many of the thoughts I had last night, nice to see that I'm not alone. Losing just sucks, it's supposed to feel bad... But I'd like to think that the 9 game sample size outweighs the 1. It was a wonky game. As well as Iowa played, I still feel like Michigan beat itself. I'd much rather that with all possibilities still in tact, than to get just completely outclassed by a team. That would diminish hope. Last night, while disappointing to be sure, did not do that. At least for me anyway.

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November 13th, 2016 at 2:25 PM ^

we have. Our DL is suspect especially against pro type ofenses which Alabama plays. We have many good players but the team doesn't merit being in top five. 

Finally, they are not tough enough. MSU punched us in the nose and Iowa basically whipped our rear ends at the line of scrimmage. In short, they need more calluses which may come in a year or two.


November 13th, 2016 at 2:35 PM ^

Our guys will be seething.  They will practice this week with an enthusiam unknown to mankind.  They will maim Indiana with their snarling, angry wolverine teeth and claws!  It will simply be a practice in cruelty for the next week!


November 13th, 2016 at 2:47 PM ^

Last time we had a gut punch moment was against Michigan State in 2015 or I guess OSU in 2015. We responded well to those losses and I have no doubt that Michigan and Harbaugh will rally. Beat Indiana and then prepare for an epic battle against OSU for the right to go to Indy.


November 13th, 2016 at 5:07 PM ^

Appreciate yoour sentiment but disagree with your analysis. We SUCKED at Minnesota after the MSU gut point. We were very fortunate to win that game. I though the MSU loss carried over to MINN and MSU almost "beat us twice".

That said, the scenario is so much different. The MSU loss cost us any outside chance at a playoff run. IOWA - not so much!

Gooooooooooo, BLUE!

Sten Carlson

November 13th, 2016 at 2:53 PM ^

Well said Spike!  Very well said!

It's so hard to maintain perspective when things are going your way.  If this time last year -- after losses to Utah, MSU, and near loses to Minn. and Indiana -- we were told we'd be 9-1 going into the final two regular season games and that we controlled our own destiny with a legit shot at the B10 CG, and the subsequent CFB Playoff, I suspect most people would have taken that in a heartbeat -- considering where we've been in the recent past.

This Michigan team has the exact same flaws that we all suspected that we'd have when going into the season.  However, until last night, the coaching staff and the players have been able to scheme and execute around them.

Is it any surprise that our OL was manhandled by Iowa's DL?  I don't know about you guys, but Iowa seems to have a good DL every year, and they seem to play some of their best football against Michigan -- just like MSU.  Those of you out there who say Iowa sucks are showing your ignorance.  They're not playing up to their potential (for whatever reason) but make no mistake, they've got skill and heart.

All offseason all we heard was OL, QB, LB ... OL, QB, LB ... OL, QB, LB ... well, I have a feeling Ferenz saw the same thing.  Even still, we were 1st down away from winning. 

It'll be fine, and we're right where we need to be -- with our destiny on our own hands.


November 13th, 2016 at 3:09 PM ^

This is a good team that could win 11 when it's all said and done. That will be a very good year 2. We are not elite. We will be, just not yet. At this point, I want a win over IU, and a tight game vs osu, I want to feel confident that we can compete against that system. According to last year, we can't. I want a competitive game that goes to the wire in Columbus. Then I want a bowl win.

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November 13th, 2016 at 3:43 PM ^

I think many people predicted 1 or 2 loss team this year. I have them winning against a Indiana. 11 win season in year 2 is an accomplishment. Beat one of your rivals ✔ Upset Ohio State in OSU would be icing on the season.

O Line has been improved but clearly couldn't handle Iowa. Ferentz out coached Harbaugh and got the most out of his players.


November 13th, 2016 at 3:23 PM ^

They've looked like they've been going through the motions since the MSU game. Big monkey off their back but I feel like they've not emotionally recovered. Regardless, they will be ready for the next two games - no doubt in my mind. This game against OSU will be a battle you can count in it.

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