I take full responsibility for Michigan's loss to Toledo last Saturday. In all my 35+ years as a fan, that was the first game I'd seen at Michigan Stadium. Clearly, I am a jinx.
I did get one picture that seems to summarize things this year - good effort, lots of promise, but blown up and ultimately futile. It's Sam McGuffie's catch on Michigan's last drive, where he gets pasted by the safety.
I was going to offer the DVD I wasted recording yesterday's game to the first Oregon fan who offered me a buck for postage. However, apparently I went all "HULK SMASH!" when I pulled the disc out of the recorder, because the next thing I remembered, I was holding a pile of polycarbonate shards and bleeding from both hands.
(sigh) Back to the basement, I guess. I better straighten up a bit; it looks like I'll be spending a lot of time there this season.
I'd like to thank Comcast and the Big Ten Network for their pissing contest, which meant that I didn't have to watch you-know-what last Saturday. I knew Michigan's defense wouldn't be championship-caliber; I just didn't think it would be exposed so soon.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be in the basement sulking. Perhaps until Carr retires.
I've already said everything that needs to be said about the Rose Bowl, and I'm not talking about the previous post.
Change the names and a few of the numbers from my post after the 2004 Rose Bowl and you've covered just about everything. For instance:
OK, now I'm a believer. USC is all that, and a six-pack, and a bag of chips. You know when your team tanks in a big game, and you think, "Well, they just didn't play like they could?" Generally, there's a reason for that, and it involves the other team. USC owned both sides of the line of scrimmage like nobody I've seen against Michigan since the '02 Citrus Bowl.Of course, that last part should now read "the '04 Rose Bowl," but you get the idea. I was also pretty hard on then-freshman Leon Hall
. . . the one time poor little Leon Hall tried press coverage against Mike Williams, Williams dumped him on his ass.because he eventually developed into an excellent corner. Too bad that A) he can only cover one guy at a time, B) nobody else in the secondary can cover anybody, and C) Leon's going to be playing on Sundays next year. If they don't land Ronald Johnson, teams rushing for less than 40 yards and passing for more than 300 may become a regular occurrence.
No. There are no highlights when Michigan loses.
Michigan 20, USC 17.
Happy New Year.
But I don't think Michigan will win. aOSU, 24-21.
Here's The Charles Woodson Show, also known as "Michigan v. Ohio State, 1997." Woodson had a punt return for a TD, an end-zone interception that killed an aOSU drive, and a long reception that helped set up an Anthony Thomas 1-yard TD plunge. Andre Weathers added a pick-six to complete the Michigan scoring, and Glen Steele had at least two sacks and two other tackles for loss. You'll also see Marcus Ray dumping David Boston (the famous SI cover shot). Enjoy.
Direct YouTube link here.
Forty-eight hours from now, we'll know. To whet your appetite until then, I give you this: scores from the 2003 game.
Direct YouTube link here.
Actually, they've been up for a while; I just forgot to post them here.
I'm real busy this week, so I only had time for one big highlight reel. Enjoy.
I guess those Intarweb rumors about Arrington being suspended and Hart out for the year didn't really pan out. Good thing, too, because Hart had both of Michigan's touchdowns. This should mean clear sailing until Armageddon. YouTubage after the break.
Highlights / key plays:
Better late than never, I suppose.
Highlights / key plays:
Great win against the Nitts. WE OWN... PENN STATE!
Sure you do. Anyway, here's my highlight reel from the 2005 Penn State game:
In case anybody cared, I thought it would be 31-21, so I wasn't too far off. On the other hand, and I know I may be expecting too much, but it sure looks like the D plays a lot softer with a big lead. I know that it could be just because they don't want to give up a quick score, but it's still aggravating to see.
Excuse me - my phone is ringing and the caller ID says "EXPECTATIONS, UNREASONABLE." Highlights after the break.
Highlights / key plays:
I know, it's just sweat, but still. Highlights coming soon.
I have to wonder if this picture:
was taken by this guy?
Small world, huh?
Been running a little thin in the creativity department lately. I've been pretty busy, but that's no excuse, really - I tend to have the best ideas for posts (for a sufficiently broad definition of 'best') just pop into my head when I'm doing something else. For instance, as I was typing "Been running a little thin," it occurred to me that the Mark Foley situation is a lot like the pedophile priest situation - the leadership knew about it but didn't do a damn thing. Actually, they're not quite the same - it's not like the GOP could just arbitrarily transfer Foley to another district...
Anyway. I've been editing highlight videos of Michigan games for three years now, and I recently started uploading them to YouTube, where they're pretty well received, thanks mostly to Brian and the fine folks at MZone being kind enough to plug them for me. It just now occurred to me that there's no reason not to upload some of the choicer highlight reels from years past to serve as appetizers for upcoming games. Towards that end, we have highlights from the '03, '04, and '05 MSU games appearing after the jump.
Lloyd Carr has some choice words to describe the 54-yard run by Mike Hart that officially put the final nail in the coffin Saturday night:
[H/T Johnny of Ron Bellamy's Underachieving All-Stars, who is pretty sure he said "That was a fucking great call!"]
Highlights / key plays:
Desmond Howard against Minnesota in 1990:
A brief history of the Little Brown Jug:
A good effort in what could have been a trap game. I'm especially heartened by how well they were able to stop Wisconsin's power running game, which I had thought might have worn down Michigan's new smaller, quicker DL. Frankly, it reminded me of some of the Rose Bowl games of years past, where smaller, quicker Pac-8 (yeah, that's how far back I'm talking about) defenses would stymie the Wolverines. Videos embedded after the jump.
Highlights / key plays:
I should have posted my new ring tone last Sunday, as that was when I made it out of this Tom Hammond clip (MP3).
Many fND fans have class (more class, for example, than a doofus who calls them "f'in Notre Dame").
Then there's this guy:
Hey, Domerfan, you take Communion with that hand?
Also embedded after the break. In the meantime, enjoy these pictures of Brady Quinn. The first one is after he got picked for (I think) the second time; the second is from one of the umpty-gazillion times he got knocked on his ass.
Update: The first picture is from after Woodley took his fumble to the house. How could I not have remembered that?
Three hours until kickoff. I had this awesome dream last night - Michigan pimp-slapped fND 47-21. Oh, man, I wish. Hey, why are all the pregame shows talking about NFL games?
Heh. Anyway, scoring plays and key highlights are up on YouTube, embedded after the jump. It may be a while before I get the rest up, since I inadvertently clobbered my marker file and will have to spend ANOTHER two hours re-editing it.
Highlights / key plays:
Just wanted to get something on the record before kickoff. I haven't seen anything this week to change my gut feel that Michigan basically has no way to win this game. More correctly, there are lots of ways they could win, but they won't.
It'll be close, but Michigan will find some way to lose, 24-21.
Update: Holy. Living. Fuck. Or, as they say in Sicily: Minchia, Minchia, Minchia (translates roughly as Holy Fuckin' Hellfiring Shit!). In my wildest dreams, I had Michigan winning only by 10. I'm in shock right now. Gonna go get drunk and bask in the schadenfreude of all the Domer fans in my neighborhood. I won't have to say a word.
I wouldn't expect that, after a day where Michigan won 41-17 and didn't have anybody get hurt, I'd be less enthusiastic about their long-term prospects.
After seeing some chunks of both the fND and asuiO games, I'm now almost certain that Michigan won't beat either of them. On the other hand - and also based on this weekend - I'm now no longer certain that they'll lose at least one of @PSU or @Iowa.
(As usual, these are just my impressions. If you want much better analysis, start with MGoBlog)
First things first - they took care of business and I don't think anybody got hurt. I was right to take the points - the line was Michigan by 25, but I figured 14-17. They looked OK, particularly on defense and in the running game. The new aggressiveness on D is refreshing, but it does leave them open to getting lit up on trick plays (and I predict fND will score at least once that way). You can't have everything, though, and I'd rather see this than the death-by-a-thousand-third-and-long-conversions losses we saw last year. At the very least, it's only a matter of time before Woodley decapitates a QB (and am I an evil person for hoping it's Brady F. Quinn?), and that's always good TV.
In a feeble attempt to provide a 'feel-good' story to counter the unmitigated disaster that seems to have occurred in Schembechler Hall (outlined here and here, among other places), I present the riches-to-rags-to-riches story of Grant Bowman (OK, technically it's "practice squad-to-Lehman Brothers-to-practice squad," but that's not nearly so poetic):
On Monday, Grant Bowman was sitting in his office at Lehman Brothers in New York City thinking about what it must be like for his former teammates.And here's a link to a WSJ article about Bowman, from, of all places, SpartanTailgate.com.
He was wishing he could be there with them, wishing he was a part of the excitement surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for Super Bowl XL.
"Forty-eight hours ago I was at my desk just doing my work and being happy about what is going on here, but jealous as can be," said Bowman. "It was great to see the run they were making. I still have a lot of friends on the team. But I am not going to lie, I was jealous thinking it would be great to go, but oh well."
Well, sometimes wishes do come true.
As the day wound down, Bowman checked the messages on his cell phone and was stunned by what he heard.
"I had a call from my mother and agent telling me the Steelers called," said Bowman. "I called my agent and he told me they wanted to sign me to the practice squad. I was like, yeah right, they probably just want to work me out. But they were sincere about it. It was tough to comprehend. I was so far removed from it. It is just great to be here and be along for the run."
And speaking of odd places to have a Grant Bowman sighting, it turns out that A) he's a huge Bob & Tom fan, and B) they liked his story so much that they did a 7-minute interview with him yesterday. As you're well aware, I'm both a huge Michigan fan and a huge Bob & Tom fan, so when the twain meet, I'm there with bells on.
My gift to you this day: the Bob & Tom Grant Bowman interview (2.8MB).
Of course, every college football fan knows by now that Iowa got jobbed by the Conference-USA officials in the Outback Bowl just as bad as Michigan did in the Alamo Bowl - by C-USA's own admission. Maybe some good can come from this, though:
Controversial officiating in the Outback and Alamo bowls, as well complaints from angry Iowans, has prompted the NCAA to agree to discuss how game officials are selected and evaluated.
. . .
Dennis Poppe, managing director for NCAA football, said he personally received "a couple hundred" e-mails in the 24 hours after Iowa fell to Florida.
Poppe said the topic of officiating crew selection and evaluation will be part of spring meetings.
"It will be on the agenda," he said.
I didn't see the game, so I missed analyst Chris Spielman (full disclosure - Spielman's a former Big Ten player), um, discussing the officiating. Some highlights:
With about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Florida’s center is called for holding.and
Spielman: “See, that’s a bad call. That’s a horrible call.”
Jones: “Is that just technique?”
Spielman: “Yeah, that’s the technique that’s taught. I’ve never heard of that one, either.”
Spielman: “The game’s too fast for them (the Conference USA crew working the Outback Bowl).”
With 1:42 left and Iowa in a hurry-up offense, the Gators get caught with too many men on the field — and Spielman interrupts Jones’ play call to shout it out, even while Tate is dropping back to pass.
Spielman: “Florida had 12 men on the field — and the officials missed it.”
“… Again, another missed call by the officials. … The player did not get off the field. There were 12 men on the field. Unbelievable.”
I know a lot of people are sore over the end of the Alamo Bowl. "If only," they say, "Tyler Ecker had just pitched the ball over his shoulder to a wide-open Steve Breaston instead of letting himself get tackled at the 13..."
First of all, you've got to remember that Tyler Ecker is a money man in the last couple minutes of a game (aOSU '03, Minnesota '04) but not the last couple seconds of a game (aOSU '05 and now the Alamo Bowl).
Second of all, so what if he had? Michigan would have won another game on the last play (which would have been the fourth time in 2005), and everybody would just remember that and forget that they lost four times. This would 'validate' an eight-win season, with the four losses being excused by the number of injuries Michigan had this year. Nothing would change in the offseason, and Michigan would go on to yet another three- or four-loss season in 2006 and squander yet another top-five recruiting class. With the kind of talent Michigan gets year in and year out, this string of three-plus-loss seasons (five in a row now) is absolutely unacceptable and shows no sign of changing. Lather, rinse, repeat until Llllloyd retires, then spend five or more years after that trying to get Michigan back where it belongs.
Instead, with the memory of yet another blown fourth-quarter lead for them to suck on all offseason, maybe, just maybe, something significant will change.
It had better.
Apparently the Alamo Bowl folks have been getting an earful about the officiating - so much so that they felt compelled to issue a statement. Long story short - 'it ain't our fault!'
On behalf of the MasterCard Alamo Bowl, we appreciate your watching the game and emailing us with your concerns over the officiating crew.First on the agenda for the next 2006 Alamo Bowl committee meeting - find out who you have to fellate in Indianapolis so you're not stuck with bottom-of-the-barrel refs again. BTW, if that was the best crew the SBC had to offer, they're even more fucked up than I thought.
Let me begin by saying that neither the MasterCard Alamo Bowl nor any of other post-season bowl games has jurisdiction over the officiating crews or the assignment thereof. The NCAA assigns the officiating crews for every bowl game on a formula basis. All eleven conferences have crews assigned to bowl games. The NCAA assigns the officials in an endeavor to get neutral crews and the best crews from each conference. This year, the NCAA assigned a Sun Belt crew for our game.
Per the recommendation of the various conferences, this season the NCAA adopted the use of Instant Replay for bowl games. The conferences agreed that the Instant Replay crews for the games should come from the same conferences as the Game Officials assigned to the game (in our case, the Sun Belt Conference). Additionally, since there are several variations/models of Instant Replay, the Conferences also agreed that all game/instant replay officials working bowl games would utilize the Big Ten protocol/model.Left unsaid here is that the Sun Belt was one of two conferences not to use IR last season, and that undoubtedly contributed to their incompetence (I first mentioned this on Brian's blog).
The NCAA, the Sun Belt Conference and the two participating teams in our game will be reviewing and critiquing the performance of the game and Instant Replay officials as they do following every game. Since the game officials are not within our jurisdiction, I am by way of this notice letting the NCAA and the Sun Belt know of your concerns about the officiating crew’s performance. As part of our annual review process with the NCAA, we will also be providing them suggestions for consideration.Are they taking suggestions from the viewers? 'Cause I could come up with a couple. [H/T Big House Football]
I was preparing a brutal rant about last night's Alamo Bowl (and Michigan's season in general) when I realized that my blood pressure was going up by about a point per word. So in the interest of not having my head pop like an overripe grape, I'll only say this: I'd like to thank the South Texas School For The Blind for providing the officiating crew, and if the replay official was any slower, he'd be riding the short bus to work. I think Lloyd Carr leads Division I-A in 'challenges' (burning timeouts so the replay official can decide 'gosh, maybe I need to look at that one again'). When veteran CFB guys like Herbie and Tirico use phrases like "one of the worst-officiated games I've ever seen" and "to overcome the incompetence of the replay official", you know the zebras screwed the pooch.
But that's the thing. There are bad calls made in every game; some of them hurt you and some of them help you. There is no global conspiracy to screw your team over or promote some other team (something State Pen fans seem to have trouble comprehending). If you take care of business, a bad call (or two, or seven) can't beat you. Michigan led by four entering the fourth quarter ( which was a bad sign in itself - see Vijay's December 8th post) - and led by 11 at one point later on.
They have no excuses. None.
Joey's reaction to a Michigan/Nebraska Alamo Bowl matchup contains the best analogy I've read in a long time:
. . . going to the Alamo Bowl is like making out with the hot girl's not-nearly-as-hot friend. With the hot girl (a real bowl game), you're excited about the experience; you're proud of the accomplishment; your hard work getting to her has been validated; and you're suddenly someone who can expect to be with other hot girls if this hot-girl experience doesn't work out [emphasis added, and my favorite part, BTW]. But with the not-as-hot friend, you're disappointed that you aren't with the hot one; you can't muster the enthusiasm necessary for a premium effort; you're going to be bitter that you made a wrong turn and wound up where you are; you're really not going to feel good the next day about whatever happens; and you're suddenly someone who hooks up with second-tier people.
So if you stretch the analogy far enough, the conclusion is that Michigan fans are pining for Matt Leinhart and Vince Young, who dissed them as New Years dates the past two years.
mgoblog tipped me off to this article quoting Big T1e1n commissioner Jim Delany as saying he thought OSU would get a BCS at-large, Wisconsin and Iowa would get the "New Year's Day" Florida games, and Michigan the Alamo Bowl, when pretty much everybody else thought Michigan would get the Outback nod over Iowa (ESPN was predicting this as late as this morning, but the link's gone from the front page now and I forgot to grab it first).
Delany turns out to have been right on all counts, which means Michigan is playing in San Antonio against... Nebraska. What a great matchup.
It was a lot closer than I expected it to be, but when aOSU got the ball with over four minutes to go, I knew it was over. The distance didn't matter - they could have had a hundred and eighty-eight yards to go and Michigan still couldn't have stopped them.
If they haven't battened down the hatches in Ann Arbor by now, it's too late, because the barbarian hordes from 'Calcutta on the Scioto' (and I apologize to the citizens of the actual Calcutta for the comparison) have arrived for the latest battle in The 100-Yard War. Last year's abominable treatment of the Michigan team by Columbus police at the behest of aOSU's athletic department apparently will not be reciprocated in Ann Arbor.
Too bad. I would have liked seeing cops and drug dogs (aOSU players carrying in bombs? Naah. Carrying in dope? A definite possibility) lined up outside the aOSU team bus as it arrives, and then not searching anybody - just making the team walk by, say, thirty cops and ten dogs on their way into the stadium.
And that would probably be the highlight of the game for Michigan fans, because I don't see any way Michigan wins tomorrow. aOSU's defense is essentially the same one that squished Michigan last year, Henne is worse than he was last year and doesn't have Edwards to bail him out on every badly-thrown deep ball (that is to say, every deep ball), and the defense still hasn't convinced me it can stop a mobile quarterback with good receivers to throw to (Michigan State had four guys doing a 'Hands Of Stone' impression, Penn State had Williams and pretty much nobody else, Iowa was missing two of their top three guys, and Northwestern had, um, who again?). The only two things that give me a glimmer of hope about this game is that Michigan's at home and the team in the spoiler role often comes out on top.
But I don't think that'll be enough this year. An Ohio State University 28, The University Of Michigan 17. PSU takes care of business and finishes the demolition of Sparty's season, and Michigan goes to the Alamo Bowl to clobber the 8th-place team in the not-so-Big 12.
Once again, Michigan won a game it had no business winnning, as Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz suddenly morphed into Lloyd Carr with first-and-ten on Michigan's 15 with 1:10 and 2 timeouts left. I thought Michigan would call a time out to save some clock before Iowa's game-tying FG try, just so they'd have to kick off afterwards, but Carr must have figured if Ferentz was willing to play for OT, so was he (at what is now a 5-0 record in OT games, that's one part of winning close ones that Michigan has figured out).
What's it mean for the rest of the season? Hell, I don't know. I said a couple of weeks ago that I didn't know whether they'd end up 9-3 or 4-7, and the only thing I know for sure now is that they won't end up 4-7. They head to Evanston Saturday to play WAC-leading Northwestern, who has a mobile quarterback in a spread offence, two things Michigan has had a lot of trouble stopping.
OK, I hear you going *cough*MichiganState*cough*. Fine. If they bring the same team to Evanston that they did to East Lansing, they'll be OK. But I still haven't seen the dominant - all game long - performance I've expected to see yet this year (outside of the Directional State games, and those don't really count). That's what I mean when I say I still don't know how good they really are. It isn't like they're a great team that occasionally has a bad outing; it's like collectively they're always betting the under and want to keep the score low (something, it seems, like Lloydball is designed to do). And that's why I said they would lose either the Iowa game or the NU game, and I haven't seen anything to change my mind there.
Of course, the good news is that I'm 0-5 in picking nontrivial Michigan games this year, so odds are I'm wrong.
One of the downsides to writing off a season is that you can't fully enjoy it when your team wins a game they shouldn't. For Michigan's entire final drive against Penn State, I was only about half-engaged because I assumed they'd find a way not to win. I'm not sure why Lynn Henning says U-M knows how to win games late, because there's a reason ESPN Classic shows mostly Michigan losses - Michigan has a decided tendency to lose close games.
So, naturally, I was right in the middle of pontificating that Chad Henne would have Avant open on a fade but overthrow him by ten yards, or that he'd complete a five-yard pass instead, or that he'd lock onto a receiver and get pick-sixed, when I looked up and saw an easy-as-you-please pitch-and-catch from Henne to Manningham to win the game. I just kind of sat there. It's two days later, and it's just now beginning to sink in.
The other thing I'm learning is that I can't pick a Michigan game to save my life; I am 0-5 in non-trivial Michigan picks this year (I consider both MAC games to be gimmees). So I guess you should take it with several blocks of salt that I think they'll still lose to aOSU and either Iowa or Northwestern.
Update: hat tip to Tom for reminding me where I read why it is that ESPNC mostly shows Michigan losses.
I swear I've never been this deep into the season without having a good sense of where Michigan is going. They could end up anywhere from 9-3 to 4-7, and frankly, I think either is just as likely. Right now I'm thinking 7-5, but I'm absolutely not willing to pick any particular game.
They might still theoretically be in the Big Ten chase, which makes it twice as frustrating that they lost Saturday, given that Wisconsin took one of the two losses Michigan needed them to. Now, they still need Wisconsin to lose twice, MSU to lose again, Penn State to lose another game (assuming Michigan beats them), and Minnesota needs to lose twice! I haven't done the deep schedule analysis to determine whether some of those conditions are mutually exclusive, but even if not, that's a lot of pieces that need to fall into place.
For the third time this week, I surfed past a Michigan-Michigan State game on ESPNC where Michigan lost - this time, I was literally just in time to see Eddie Brown tackle* Desmond Howard on what would have been the game-winning two-point conversion in the 1990 game (* The UMGoBlue.COM page says Brown 'cheated,' which he didn't; you always always always interfere with a receiver who's just pylonized you to prevent giving up the game-winner. Best case - it's a no-call; worst case, they get another shot at it. UMGoBlue properly uses the term to describe the 2001 game).
My prediction for today's Michigan-Michigan State game: 38-31 State if Mike Hart is healthy; 38-24 if he isn't. Subtract 10 points from MSU's score for each quarter or significant fraction that Drew Stanton is hurt, because frankly that's the only way I see Michigan winning this game.
Well, there's always the 'sniper in the press box' defense, but that's frowned upon at the college level.
Update: Usually I hate being wrong. Not today!
Update To The Update: And I'd better fucking well see this game as ESPNC's Instant Classic this week.
So a couple of times this week, I was channel-surfing and I stumbled across ESPN Classic showing a couple of old Michigan-Michigan State games. When I mention that they were the 1995 and 2001 games, you'll understand why I didn't stick around (doubly so on the latter after I saw this clip on this forum). I was all ready to fire off another righteous rant (like this one or my comment on this post on Vijay's blog) when I decided to check what other Michigan losses ESPNC was showing this week.
Well, they weren't showing any more Michigan games, but they had recently shown 2 others.
Blog output is way down lately because we've got the customer in house this week, negotiating over requirements and cost estimates, but I wanted to take a second to talk about Saturday's El Foldo against the Badgers (actually, just bloviate some. If you're looking for real analysis, try Brian or Vijay or Joey). It was a total team effort on offense and special teams: the line didn't open big holes, the RBs left the ball on the ground, Henne continued to regress, and Breaston produced more evidence that he isn't a deep threat. Hell, even Avant dropped a ball!
The defense played fairly well, except when they really really had to. The 'Dewey Defeats Truman' award of the day goes to me, for this gem about ten minutes before kickoff:
If we can keep Calhoun from running wild, we'll be fine, because there's no way on this planet that John Stocco can beat us.
Counterpointed by ESPN2 announcer Sean McDonough, about 8:40 Central Time:
Quarterback draw... Stocco... touchdown!
We got beat by fucking John Stocco, who is slightly less mobile than John Navarre. Hell, he's only slightly more mobile than John Goodman!
Michigan may have two engines out and a third on fire, but all is not lost. The talent is there, and Michigan has recovered from awful early seasons before - notably an 0-2 start in 1998 to finish 10-3, 1-2 in 1980 to finish 10-2 and get Bo's first Rose Bowl win, and 0-2 in 1988 to finish 9-2-1 and get Bo's other Rose Bowl win. But they need to get it together doublequick, because Drew Stanton is just dying to see how bad he can carve up M's defense (if he can stay healthy for the whole game), and after that is Iowa at Iowa, where Michigan has had trouble recently.
Win both those games, and the fire's out and they're still in the running for a BCS bid. Lose one of them, and it's an emergency landing New Years Morning in Florida. Lose both, and this Ron White line comes to mind:
"How far can we get on one engine?"The crash site being Ford Field, well before Christmas.
"All the way to the scene of the crash."
Yesterday's planned blogging was wiped out by a catastrophic water heater failure.
I know, that doesn't account for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but I was still in the bunker sulking over Michigan's loss to fND. I think it's actually worse that fND kept trying to give Michigan the game in the fourth quarter, and Michigan kept saying "Oh, no, thank you very much, but you keep it," than it would have been if it were a straight-up domination (e.g., aOSU last year). And yeah, there were some iffy calls, non-reviews, and one-in-a-thousand lucky bounces that fND always seem to get against Michigan, but as a team you have to get yourselves in a position where those kinds of things won't kill you.
One last thing, at least for now. Between last year's Indiana game and last Saturday's game, I'm pretty sure I don't want to see Chad Henne try another sneak for as long as he's wearing the winged helmet.
I'll warn you up front - if you're looking for a serious breakdown of this game, I'm not the guy. Any of the folks on my U-M blogroll would put my analysis to shame. That being said, here we go:
The offense looked pretty good. Avant's SpiderMan-hands mutation continues to pay dividends. The loss of Arrington will hurt, but U-M is ocean-deep at WR so they should be OK there. Kevin Grady is a freight train. Unfortunately, he's going to be a freight train that carries a ball wherever he goes for the next week (the typical freshman punishment for fumbling, particularly near either goal line). Henne looked real good - I reckon his receivers will be sporting a fair number of Elway Crosses tomorrow. Pass blocking was real good, run blocking was OK.
Special teams were decent - Ryan put about every kickoff halfway through the end zone, and he showed real hustle to recover that PR fumble. Rivas' PAT block wasn't his fault (the center got pwned on that play by a bull rush), but his 48yd miss was.
Now the defense.
Next post, please.
It looked pretty much like the defense that played the last four games of '04 - bad pursuit angles, worse downfield tackling, and ANOTHER long TD allowed. If they hadn't pried 5 TOs out of NIU, the outcome would very much have been in doubt. In particular, if they play like that against fND, it will be a long and unpleasant afternoon.
Update: Blogroll seems to be busted at the moment. Not to put too fine a point on it, but when I say "put my analysis to shame," I was talking about posts like this one.
It's getting nigh on football season again, so I've decided to add a blogroll with U-M blogs that I figure on reading regularly this year. I imagine this list will grow as I find more - of course, the nature of using a blogrolling.com script to display it in this post will mean that it's always up to date; I'll still need to put it on the sidebar for future reference.
One of the advantages of a balanced offense is that defenses have to do everything right to stop it, with severe penalties for guessing wrong. Eight in the box? Well, some receiver has to be in single coverage. Nickel coverage? Run the ball.
Michigan was able to stop Cedric Benson and keep Texas' WRs from doing any real damage, and that should have been enough to make the Wolverines' 37 points hold up. But it's important to remember, when you execute your game plan, that your opponent gets a vote, and Texas pretty quickly voted to turn loose Vince Young:
After one series of the 91st Rose Bowl, Texas tight end Bo Scaife noticed a fatal flaw in Michigan's defense.
"They were playing our receivers really solid, tight man-to-man defense," said Scaife. "So tight that we didn't have much room to operate. And they were doing a great job of stopping Cedric Benson."
Scaife was then asked how could it be good for Texas that Michigan was doing a good job defending the Longhorns receivers and the fourth-leading rusher in the NCAA.
"Because the way Michigan was playing, I, we, just knew there were going to be opportunities for our quarterback."
Of course, it would have helped if Michigan had actually been able to tackle the guy once they got ahold of him...
Yes, the BCS is an abomination that must be stopped, but I am thankful for it this year because an old-school Rose Bowl would have seen the Wolverines thrown into the wood chipper that is Southern Cal. And I don't think they would have done any better than Oklahoma did.
OTOH, had Mack Brown not lobbied for Texas, and Cal had gotten the Rose Bowl nod, Michigan would have won, so I guess you've got to take the bad with the good.
If you'd have told me before the Rose Bowl that Michigan's offense would
And that their defense and special teams would
And we all know what happened.
The Michigan-aOSU rivalry is full of stories where one team came entered the game in apparent disarray at the end of a subpar year, and the other came in flying high with a lot at stake. More often than you would expect, the underdog rose up and smote the favorite (although, at least in the recent past, the roles are more likely to be reversed), which of course is what we saw Saturday.
And that's why I'm disappointed, but not too broken up, over Michigan's loss; it's also why I don't hate aOSU as much as I usually do after they beat Michigan.
Or at least I didn't hate them as much as usual in that situation, until I read this. In years past when Michigan went down to Calcutta on the Scioto, they'd just shut off the water in the hotel the team was staying at; now, it's like a scene from 24:
Calling it "disrespectful" and a "violation" of individual rights, Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr lashed Ohio State for its pregame security check of his players and coaches Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
The Wolverines, who lost 37-21 to the Buckeyes, were delayed about 10 minutes when they were surprised with a player-by-player search of bags by officers and police dogs.
That seems pretty harsh, but in this post-9/11 world, I can accept it, as long as they treat everybody - including aOSU teams and EVERY FAN WHO ENTERS THE STADIUM - the same.
Ohio State representative Steve Snapp said all visiting teams this season were inspected.Conspicuous by its absence is any mention of whether aOSU players are inspected. That determination is left as an exercise for the reader. Furthermore, if you take other teams at their word, Mr. Snapp is at best misinformed and at worst lying to us:
"We've had the same security for every team," Snapp said.
Officials from Wisconsin, Indiana and Penn State, which visited Ohio Stadium this season, said players and bags were not searched. Police dogs were used to search the Penn State locker room, but there were no players or coaches present.
But certainly the security forces would use discretion and conduct the search in a dignified manner, yes? Well, no.
. . . the player search was conducted in the open with Ohio State fans watching. The Michigan transporter, which hauls the team uniforms, pads, helmets and equipment, also was searched by police dogs.[Insert pun about the 'explosive Michigan offense' here]
I can't wait until next year's game in Ann Arbor. I'm thinking full body cavity searches on the State Street sidewalk...
Update: OSU continues to deny everything:
But the Buckeyes' associate athletic director for communications, Steve Snapp, told the Free Press that it simply wasn't true that other schools did not undergo the same search.
"The security check for Michigan was absolutely no different than any other school this year," Snapp said.
Snapp said the order for the check was not handed down by the athletic department, but rather by university police and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He also said Ohio State players and coaches were subjected to the same inspection -- something the school has been doing for two years.
And others continue to contradict them:
Carr said a police officer escorting him to the field told him the search order didn't come from security supervisors, but rather from the Ohio State athletic department.
Ted Ginn, babyface killa.
Quick observation about yesterday's Michigan win over Minnesota: Gordie Bell was Michigan's tailback from 1974-5, about whom it was said "he could run for fifteen minutes in a phone booth" (for some reason, I misremember the quote as "he could run for five yards in a phone booth"). The way Mike Hart would disappear into one end of the pile, then fall out of the other end five yards downfield, reminds me a lot of Gordie Bell.
Michigan is a 13.5 point favorite against fND - in South Bend!I know Vegas generally sets lines in order to get a roughly equal amount of play on both sides (they make their money on the vig rather than having more bettor money on the wrong side of the result), but this one looks so out of whack to me that I wonder if it's a sucker bet and the books know something we don't (if so, this line indicates that fND is much worse, and U-M much better, than both looked last week). I'm skeptical, though - strange things happen in Domersville, and fND is the beneficiary far more often than not.
Anyway, Detroit News columnist Bob Wojnowski is always good for a laugh or three, but he's got a real zinger this time:
Now, we see two very uncomfortable head coaches. Lloyd Carr has to pretend Notre Dame is still mighty, and act as if U-M’s 38-0 victory last year never happened. Willingham, on the other hand, has to pretend Notre Dame is still mighty, and act as if U-M’s 38-0 victory last year never happened.
Actually, the Irish have developed quite a chip about the Wolverines. During the summer, players did push-ups in repetitions of 38, to remind them of the score. No word on whether they added another 45 push-ups (points scored by Southern Cal), then 37 (Florida State), then 38 (Syracuse), then 0 (nonexistent bowl game).
Back when I was in high school, Slippery Rock (the coolest college name ever) and Shippensburg State played a football game. Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal, but the 1979 game was played at Michigan Stadium and had 61,143 in attendance, a DII record which stands to this day.
DETROIT — Nearly 10,000 tickets already have been sold for what has been dubbed, “Bash at the Big House”, a potentially record-setting Division II college football game later this year at Michigan Stadium.I may actually go to that game - it'll probably be the only way I can afford to see a game at the Big House...
Michigan Tech will face two-time Division II national champion Grand Valley State in the schools’ final regular-season game at 1 p.m. Nov. 6 in Ann Arbor. Michigan Tech will use its share of funds generated from the game to help fund its football program, which was nearly dropped.
Officials from both schools, in Detroit on Wednesday to discuss the game at a Detroit Sports Broadcasters and Writers meeting, said they expect a crowd of approximately 70,000 at Michigan Stadium, which has a capacity of 107,501.
The Division II attendance record was set at Michigan Stadium in 1979, when 61,143 watched Slippery Rock play Shippensburg.
“This is a dream come true for all of us,” Grand Valley State Coach Chuck Martin said. “We’ve played in three straight national championship games and have had some great games and great memories, but for kids from the state of Michigan to be able to play a game in the Big House is something that’s going to be unbelievable.”
Tickets are $15 plus a $3 handling fee per ticket. Michigan, which keeps half of the profits of tickets it sells, already has sold about 2,000. Tickets can be purchased at www.bashatthebighouse.com or by calling (888) 642-4832.
I think I've found my dream job. Watching old sporting events and cracking on them, kind of like a "Mystery Science Stadium 3000" thing. Unfortunately, somebody is already doing it. On ESPN Classic's "Cheap Seats", comedians Randy and Jason Sklar make fun of old sports footage; for example, one of college football's all-time classic games, 1982 Cal-Stanford (Joe Starkey's call of The Play is one of the best of all time - right up there with Bob Ufer's 1979 U-M - Indiana call [short] [medium] [full 3:00 version (currently broken)]).
So I missed out on a cushy ESPN gig. That's OK - I'll just make my own (.mpg file, 3.6 MB).
OK, now I'm a believer. USC is all that, and a six-pack, and a bag of chips. You know when your team tanks in a big game, and you think, "Well, they just didn't play like they could?" Generally, there's a reason for that, and it involves the other team. USC owned both sides of the line of scrimmage like nobody I've seen against Michigan since the '02 Citrus Bowl. And the weird thing is that I don't even feel all that bad about it. Sure, it always sucks to be me when Michigan loses, but this game was different. USC was like a finely tuned Ferrari on both sides of the ball, and just watching them operate almost overcame my disappointment at Michigan's performance. I'll have more detailed comments later; that is, if I can bring myself to look at the recording again. For now, I'll just give quick reactions to what I thought would be the keys to the game:
I just want to get this on the record before kickoff: Michigan 38, USC 35. Some things I think will be key:
I'm getting pretty tired of USC coach Pete Carroll reminding everybody that USC is the #1 team and that he considers the Rose Bowl the championship game every time he opens his piehole. Like this USA Today story:
"'The Rose Bowl is the national championship game,' head coach Pete Carroll told reporters. 'There's no question about it in our minds. It's not going to be talked about on TV by the other bowl game that way. That's the marketing aspect of it.About once every ten soundbites, he remembers that he actually has to win the Rose Bowl to back up his mouth, and he throws out some platitudes about playing a great Michigan team and blah blah blah. If I were Lloyd Carr, I'd have a 'Best Of Pete Carroll' compilation playing on continuous loop in the U-M team room.
Logic tells you we're the No. 1 team in the country, and if we play a great game and win, we're going to take a trophy home with us.'"
Anyway, I got to thinking about this. If U-M pastes USC in the Rose Bowl, and the Sugar Bowl ends up begin an ugly, error-filled mess, would there be a chance Michigan could jump past the Sugar Bowl winner to finish #1 in the AP? I thought that was overly optimistic, even for a diehard like me, but I've now seen that possibility mentioned online in a source more neutral than The Detroit News - ESPN's Trev Alberts. Alberts, a former Nebraska player and no fan of U-M, said
"The USC-Michigan matchup in the Rose Bowl is intriguing not only because it pits two great teams against one another, but because of the other problems it could cause for the BCS. Say, for instance, the Wolverines crush the Trojans USC while LSU and Oklahoma play a sloppy, low-scoring game after a long layoff. If that happens, there is a real chance the Wolverines could jump to No. 1 in the AP poll and heap on more controversy. "
So far, Alberts seems to be the only one who's saying this. SportsTicker:
"A victory for Michigan would make things far easier for the BCS since it would set up a consensus national title game between Oklahoma and LSU in the Sugar Bowl."AP's Josh Dubow:
"Michigan can make it all moot by beating USC in the Rose Bowl. A Wolverines' win would guarantee an undisputed title for the Sugar Bowl winner, letting the BCS once again escape controversy."Although Colorado coach Gary Barnett recognizes the possibility - sort of - later in the same article:
"'Everyone is leaving Michigan out of this and creating a huge clamor about what might happen,' Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. 'Michigan's a good team. They might win. Let's wait and see what happens.'"Fox Sports' Randy Hill:
"As several big thinkers have pointed out, Perry and the Wolverines could silence much of the caterwauling with a Rose Bowl victory over USC."And those are just the folks who give Michigan half a chance in this game - most places I looked at had it as a foregone conclusion that USC was going to win. Tomorrow I'll go into why I don't think that's nearly as much a done deal as they do.
This was originally supposed to post on November 25. I don't know what happened.
First things first: Michigan smoked aOSU (with the exception of a bit of fourth-quarter drama, it was a dominating performance from start to finish for the Wolverines), saving the BCS from the indignity of having a team with essentially no offense make it to the national championship game. On the other hand, news flash: Ohio State Discovers Forward Pass, Scores Three Touchdowns In One Game. So you never know. But let's assume aOSU had won. The major argument against the Buckeyes (yes, I'm calling them the Buckeyes in this hypothetical situation; after all, they would have earned it) was that they were ranked lower than both LSU and USC by the humans. Wasn't the BCS designed to not rely on the human polls? But I digress.
About that whole 'saving the BCS' thing. Sure, it looks like LSU or USC will end up in the Sooner slaughterhouse, but will they? Let's look at another set of hypotheticals (since my scenario for last Saturday played out so well):
Being a lifetime Michigan fan, normally I would like nothing more than to pound aOSU into rubble, then bounce the rubble. As appealing as that prospect sounds, that is not Michigan's best case scenario. That would be this - and it would probably send the Wolverines to New Orleans rather than Pasadena:
Oh, who am I kidding? Go Blue! Bounce That Rubble!
Executive Summary: Michigan took care of business Saturday, torching Northwestern 41-10. aOSU held up their end of the deal (in true Suckeye fashion, without an offensive TD), beating Purdue 16-13 in OT. It's all set up: Michigan vs. aOSU in Ann Arbor this Saturday; winner gets the outright Big Ten title and (at worst) a Rose Bowl bid. Just the way God intended.
Sure, with MSU's 7-1 start, Spartan coach John L. Smith had picked up the nickname John WWWWWWW-L Smith, but let's not forget that he was hired to beat Michigan and he's now 0-1 in that department. Memo to Spartanfan: this is a bigger game for MSU than for U-M. Both Notre Damn (bageled AGAIN this week! At home, no less! I think Touchdown Jesus was signalling 'Surrender!') and aOSU are bigger rivalries.
Chris Perry paid cash for every one of the 219 yards he gained Saturday; as far as I could tell, he never stepped out of bounds and he got hit hard on just about every carry. I suspected at the time that one of the reasons he got so many carries (besides the fact that MSU couldn't stop him) was that he'd have the bye week to rest; indeed, running backs coach Fred Jackson said as much:
"'He's always asking for 40 carries, and this is when he needed to carry 40 times,' running backs coach Fred Jackson said. 'I did not think he would carry 50 times, but since we had the bye week coming up I thought it would be OK.'"I'm just glad he didn't fumble the ball - tired backs have the tendency to do that at the most inopportune times.
It's a shame that the final score doesn't reflect how much Michigan dominated that game - MSU only had two plays of any consequence: the long touchdown pass and the sack/fumble return. The latter happened when Michigan tried the same counter-bootleg they used for Mignery's TD pass - the same counter-bootleg that Brian Griese used about a hundred times during the '97 season (in fact, I'm pretty sure that all three Rose Bowl TDs were off that play). I wonder if State read the play in advance, or just happened to guess right on pretty much their only blitz of the day. Carr took some heat for the call, but I'm glad he tried that play - it shows he was going for the 'kill shot' that Michigan traditionally seems to have trouble delivering. My biggest regret is that now he may be less likely to go for a kill shot in the future.
I never put a whole lot of faith in the importance of a balanced offense, but the last two weeks has shown me the light. Neither Purdue nor MSU could afford to commit their defense to stopping half the attack for fear of the other half, and they ended up getting killed both ways. It's like Mr. Miyagi said in The Karate Kid:
"Man walk on road. Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk down middle, sooner or later, get squished just like grape."
It's clear now that Michigan has two teams: the one that played against Oregon, Iowa, Indiana, and Minnesota (first three quarters), and the one that played against everybody else. All they have to do is make sure that first team misses the bus, and they'll be fine.
I'm very happy to see that Michigan brought their real team against Purdue, not the fraud that played the first three quarters against Oregon and the last three quarters against Iowa. I know they like to disguise coverages, but I've never seen anything like what they did Saturday - there were several occasions where I counted ten in the box. Guys were moving up and back like some kind of hyperactive chorus line. I know it confused Orton - hell, it confused me!
It was clear Michigan had absolutely zero respect for Purdue's running game - they played with five DBs most of the time and six DBs most of the rest of the time. One of the Michigan network commentators (I think it was Jim Brandstatter, but it could have been Frank Beckman) told a story after the game about the 1980 Purdue game, where then-DC Bill McCartney wanted to play 5- and 6-DB formations to slow down Purdue's passing game (wow, history repeating itself). He talked Bo into it, but was warned, "Dammit, Bill, if they run the ball on us, YOU'RE FIRED!"
The way they played Saturday made me think of the '97 team - crushing defense with an offense that's exactly as good as it has to be (and doesn't make any mistakes). I hear Michigan State runs a similar offense to Purdue's, so that's a good sign (Although I hope they didn't give away everything they have planned on D).
Final Memo to Boilerfan: there is no 'Big House' curse. Being beaten 35-3 Saturday (and by an average of 24.5 points over the last thirty-odd years) is not "being cursed." It's "getting beaten like a runaway circus chimp on a biennial basis."
I'm glad to see that Michigan wasn't hung over from the Minnesota win, and that they were able to take care of business, punishing Illinois as expected, 56-14. I was a little concerned that they'd be looking past the Illini to Purdue and MSU.
Michigan controls its own Big Ten destiny (they play both undefeated teams and hold the tiebreaker over the one-loss team -- Wisconsin -- they don't play), but even if they don't come up Roses, they've still won one championship: espn.com's Best Uniforms Bracket. Although the Denver Broncos beat them in the final round, massive voter fraud was discovered and Denver was disqualified:
"Trailing badly in the final round last Thursday, Denver received 20,000 consecutive overnight votes and 42,500 of the final 50,000 e-ballots cast -- a dubious last-second surge to shame the thousands of dead Chicagoans who "voted" for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election . . ..What we have here is a classic case of 'book smart' vs. 'street smart.' The perp was obviously smart enough to write (or steal) a script that would ping espn.com repeatedly. However, he (and it's always a he, isn't it?) was too stupid to realize that 20,000 consecutive votes for the same team from the same IP address would be a dead giveaway!
When the polls finally closed, the Broncos had rallied to post 137,257 votes, easily outdistancing Michigan's 88,743. However, ESPN.com has discovered that 71,465 of those votes came from one IP address."
What he should have done was have his script vote 20,000 times (or 30,000, or 50,000, or whatever) overnight with a randomly determined vote, skewed (say) 2:1 in his favor. If he'd been a little more subtle about it, they may not even have noticed the same IP address on all the votes! Actually, I don't think spoofing your IP address is all that hard (YMMV. I'm not a network engineer).
And isn't appropriate that this massive vote fraud was perpetrated on behalf of the home of the Cheating 'Dique?
Before I start talking details, let's get another look at that Jug:
Oh, yeah. Get the hell off our stage, Gophers, and take that stupid monkey with you.
And it wasn't an 0-6 monkey, like the media was talking about. It was actually a 1-7 monkey: Florida was #22 going into last year's Outback Bowl; Tennessee was was #8 going into the 2002 Citrus Bowl. Don't give me any crap about bowl games being at neutral sites - if you're a Big Ten team playing an SEC team in Florida, it's an away game! Of course, this is the first time Navarre has actually led them to a come-from-behind win late in the game, the Outback Bowl being more a case of 'grab a second-half lead and hang on'.
Interestingly, he's had more decent comeback chances than you might realize:
And that's where I think the frustration fans have with him is rooted. If he just didn't have the tools, it'd be one thing (and that one thing would be "Bring on Matt Gutierrez!"). He does have the tools - it's not coincidence that he put Michigan in a position to win four of those five games noted above (recall also that he led U-M on a 95-yard drive for a late TD to get it close against Washington). He just couldn't finish the job.
Until Friday night.
But I didn't buy that he could do it when he scored on a 38-yard Transcontinental to give Michigan their first points. I didn't buy it when he took the team 80 yards all through the air and hit Chris Perry for a 10-yard TD on a screen pass (memo to Glen Mason: If you continue to leave Chris Perry uncovered, Michigan will keep throwing to him. 11 catches for 122 yards? Those are Braylon Edwards numbers!). I still didn't buy it when he hit Braylon Edwards full in stride for a 52-yard TD pass. I still didn't buy it when he went 5-of-6 for 50 yards on the next drive, setting up Perry for the TD on a 10-yard draw to tie the game. He'd done all those things before. I still thought he'd find a way not to win the game, maybe by throwing one high and getting it picked off, maybe by three bad throws and a punt.
Now, to be sure, it was the defense that enabled him to keep moving them down the field - once they showed up, that is. Who impersonated their defense in the first three quarters and coughed up over 400 rushing yards? Michigan hasn't had to wear a number like that since Woody Hayes' '68 aOSU team pulverized them. Anyway, the defense finally showed up and did its job - mostly, since they traded a TD interception return for a 52-yard TD by Abdul-Aziz on a quarterback sneak - and Navarre did his.
Not that I wasn't sweating the fact they were going to try to win it on a field goal. Looks like they're finally getting the kinks worked out of that part of the game, too.
<SARCASM>Y'know, I'm beginning to think John Navarre has trouble winning big games on the road.</SARCASM>
That's always been the knock against him, but I thought he'd gotten over it after last year's Outback Bowl, where he played very well and managed not to lose to Florida. And maybe it's no more fair to blame him for the Oregon loss than for last Saturday's loss to Iowa, but the situations were very similar: if you have the ball first down at midfield with over a minute left moving for a game-winning score, y'gotta close the deal! Brian Griese could. Tom Brady could. Hell, even Scott Driesbach could!
So how do you blow a 14-point lead with the #3 overall defense in the country? Not-So-Special Teams, that's how! What the hell was that wide-split rollout punt formation? Carr said it allowed better downfield coverage (about which I am skeptical), but you actually have to get the punt off for that to come into play! Michael Rosenberg of the Freep summed it up beautifully:
"A true freshman placekicker was asked to punt out of an odd formation while rolling to his right -- with an option to run the ball -- on the road in a crucial Big Ten game."What could possibly go wrong?
I originally thought they were setting Iowa up for a fake punt where the snap would go to the middle short man and he would run it up the middle. Then I remembered the lovely job they did on the fake punt against Oregon and I was glad they didn't do it. Then I remembered that they lost to Iowa anyway, and, hell, it couldn't have gone any worse than what they actually did!
After the Oregon loss, I said they should be 10-1 going into the aOSU game. If their special teams don't step up pronto, they'll be at best 8-3 and maybe as bad as 6-5!
Sometimes you can show up to work hung over and get away with it. That's exactly what Michigan did Saturday in beating Indiana 31-17. Poor Hoosiers. This is the third time in a row they've had to play Michigan with the Wolverines coming off an ugly loss. Anyway, the game wasn't that close. It was 31-3 with five minutes to go, and the first-team D gave up just those three points and well under 200 yards. Steve Breaston continued to impress with a punt-return TD and a TD catch, and 10 different receivers had catches. On the minus side, Navarre still didn't look all-the-way recovered from his problems against Oregon, and Chris Perry must have been wearing somebody else's hands--he fumbled again and had a pass go right through his hands for an interception. If they play like that against Iowa, they'll get pasted.
Navarre may hold a few Michigan career passing records (didja know that?), but until he can beat a ranked team on the road (and I mean more than just Florida in last year's Citrus Bowl), I'll still be unconvinced.
What is it with my favorite sports teams and ducks of the Anaheim or Eugene variety? I still wasn't completely sold on the defense, even after the bagel it hung on the Domers (and after their performance against the Spartans, it looks like even less of an accomplishment), and last Saturday's loss to Oregon confirmed a couple of things I was worried about. First, they're vulnerable--even against the run--to teams that can spread the field. The long runs they gave up were almost exclusively in this situation. Second, mobile quarterbacks give them fits. This has been true for as long as I can remember, and I can remember back to Dennis Franklin. In general, pocket passers don't beat Michigan; guys who can move around long enough to bust a receiver loose can.
One positive for the defense--they got pushed up and down the field for 2 1/2 quarters and only gave up 17 points (although it would have been 28-0 (about which more later) at halftime without the blocked FG return), and they were playing as expected at the end. Don't argue that Oregon was just trying to bleed the clock by then; they were still going for points all the way until their take-a-knee possession.
I'd love for Michigan to get another crack at Oregon. I know it won't happen, since it would take both schools winning out and about ten other schools each to lose at least once (and some probably twice), but Michigan played as bad as I've seen them since last year's Iowa game, Oregon (at home) played nearly flawlessly, and U-M still only lost by four. And they had the ball with a real chance to win in the final minute.
About that potential 28-0 halftime score: yes, I think the officials blew the call and Clemens did cross the goal line with the ball, so the score should have been 7-0 Oregon at that point, not 6-0 Michigan two plays later. You know what? Too damn bad. Michigan has been overtly screwed by so many bad calls over the years (what other team has had two teams score touchdowns against them without the ball? (ND 2002) (1979 Rose Bowl)) that it would take one TD-reversing bad call per game for two years to even them out.
This loss shouldn't affect their (outright) Big Ten championship chances - they should be 10-1 when aOSU comes to town, and the two teams they don't play (Penn State, Wisconsin) will almost certainly both have at least one conference loss.
Update: Michigan beat Florida in last year's Outback Bowl.
Back from the UK early with lots to catch up on, but I'd just like to take a moment to note the Grade-A pimp-slapping Michigan laid on Notre Dame. The last time the Irish got beat this bad, U2 wrote a song about it.
Somebody at ESPN Classic has it in for Michigan. They're showing (almost) non-stop classic college football all weekend, and Michigan is in six of the games. But look at the list:
It's not the first time this has happened, either. Last November when Classic aired 'Classic Rivalries - Michigan/Ohio State,' Michigan lost three of the four games they showed (including the 1974 one--again).