Michigan Football Looks Ahead. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Volume 4
I took a week off to kind of digest what happened last weekend. It was a lot to swallow.
So far this season 5 FBS schools have fallen to FCS opponents or, as TMQ's Gregg Easterbrook puts it: "Division I-AA cupcakes hired to assure big-deal programs an auto-victory."
Michigan enters the AP top 25 after defeating Notre Dame for the for second year in a row. Michigan's young starting quarterback enters the Heisman talk for the second year in a row as well.
Penn State got absolutely demolished by Alabama while Ohio State held off the Hurricanes in the Shoe.
A couple of weeks ago I previewed the Big 10 and what I thought would come of this season for each team. So far, I haven't been disappointed. Let's narrow down the field a bit and take a look at Michigan's remaining scheduled opponents.
Not much has really changed here. Ohio State still looks like they should be able to handle everyone they play. The unfortunate thing is that we're never really going to know just how legitimate Miami is since everyone left on their schedule is pretty much garbage with the exception of maybe North Carolina who is shredding everyone through the air despite their lack of a running game (ranked 80th overall).
We'll know more about Ohio State when they travel to Madison October 16th. Until then, expect them to look big and scary.
Speaking of looking big and scary, Wisconsin is rolling right along this season and shouldn't have too much trouble with the Sun Devils at home despite the loss of Nick Toon. Did I mention my boy Steven Threet (yeah, that's right) is starting for ASU and already has 630 yards passing in two games? I almost miss him. Almost.
Michigan should be able to score enough points to be annoying but I don't like their chances of stopping John Clay even a little bit.
Iowa is doing pretty much what is expected of them. They've played two pretty bad teams in Iowa State and Eastern Illinois and, even though they didn't put up gaudy SEC vs. Nobody University numbers, they won soundly and without question. Tomorrow's game against Arizona should be a great test for Iowa, facing the 10th ranked passing offense and a defense that's only allowed 8 points in the first two games.
Michigan came within 2 points of, essentially, the same Iowa team last year. I look at this game two ways: Iowa doesn't seem to be playing Stanzi-ball anymore. In fact, Stanzi looks pretty darn good. Bad for the Wolverines. The other way I see it is that Iowa is not going to see anything remotely like Michigan's offense (read: Denard Robinson) all season and could get caught off-guard. This will be Michigan's biggest game before "The Game" at the end of the season.
It will be especially interesting to see how Michigan State fares against Notre Dame. They had a shaky start against Western Michigan but then found their rhythm and handled both of their opening games. If Michigan State struggles offensively against Notre Dame, I'll start feeling a little bit better about that match-up.
MSU hasn't really started to open it up through the air yet, electing to throw only 38 times compared to Michigan's 62. If it's not broke then it shouldn't be fixed but I feel like Notre Dame will force Cousins to go to the air more this week and we'll see if the preseason hype about MSU's passing attack is deserved or not. So far Cousins is throwing with 57.9% accuracy for 2 touchdowns and 1 interception; modest numbers at best. It's still early though and this game could go either way for Michigan as it usually does.
I'm really torn at where to put Penn State at this point and time in the season. It's really hard to punish a team for losing to the #1 team in the country but, at the same time, PSU got stomped. It wasn't pretty by a long shot but I still don't feel like they're a bad team. They're hovering in the "Meh" zone right between Good and Bad. If Royster can start doing work and take some of the pressure off Freshman Robert Bolden then Penn State should be fine.
If not, I feel like this is a very winable game for the Wolverines. The secondary should have had enough time to mature and if Obi Ezeh stops over-pursuing every play action that's called his way Michigan should be able to stuff the PSU offense.
There isn't really a team I would feel good about putting in here. Almost all of Michigan's remaining opponents are either too good to go here or almost laughable. Penn State may earn their way into this category pending their performances against their next two cupcakes.
There really isn't any sort of data I can pull from Indiana since they had a week 2 bye and their opener was against Towson (what?) whom they absolutely demolished. Chapel looked good although it's hard not to when you're essentially paying a small school to lose to you. More on Indiana to come.
It would appear that maybe Robert Marve bought into his own hype a bit too much. He already has 3 interceptions in two games although he appear to be fairly accurate, completing 71% of his passes. Unfortunately for the Boilers, the coming of Marve apparently does not hail the rebirth of the Purdue football program. Michigan should have no trouble here providing everyone stays healthy to that point in the season.
Illinois looked like it might resemble a relevant team in the first half of the Arch Rivalry game against Mizzou until Zooker had a talk with his players at halftime and convinced them they should go back to being awful again. Even though they won against Southern Illinois (Woohoo!!), I don't predict they'll fare much better this season and I'll bet money that a repeat of last year against Michigan doesn't happen.
I would really like to be able to pull up data and something relevant on UMass other than their wins of William and Mary and Holy Cross but it seems that nobody compiles sta --- wait --- there we go, I found some on their athletic page.
It looks like UMass's QB, Senior Kyle Havens was a pretty legitimate threat through the air against Holy Cross, throwing for almost 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. I don't see Michigan having any sort of trouble putting points on the board but it could be messy if Havens is as good against FBS opponents as he is against W&M and Holy Cross. Let's hope this doesn't continue the trend of BCS Conference schools dropping to FCS opponents.
Bowling green has recorded two losses on the season and has to face a Marshall team that gave West Virginia a scare last week. If, for some reason, BGSU comes out and crushes Marshall I'll get a little worried but I just don't see it happening.
Bonus Material and, in case you cared, my opinion.
Unless you've been living in a hole the past week, everyone is talking about Denard Robinson. He could be the first player to bust the 2k/2k record (no player has ever both passed and ran for more than 2000 yards each in a single season). The Pat White comparisons are almost as endless as the Tim Tebow comparisons.
Here's the thing: we really have no idea how good UConn or Notre Dame are. Week 3 games haven't even been played yet people. We've done this before (See: Michigan 2009). Let's not get ahead of ourselves. Denard is good, maybe even great, but let's at least see how September and October play out before we start putting on our "Shoelace for Heisman" t-shirts.
Michigan's defense grabs 3 interceptions against Notre Dame. Ann Arbor hails the return of legitimate defense.
What? Are you serious?? Michigan won that game for two reasons not named Denard Robinson. The first was Tommy Rees and the second was Nate Montana. The defense looked... how do I put this... "not terrible" against the second and third string QB's. That's barely cause for celebration and praise. As soon as Crist came back on the field it was doom all over again. Had Crist been in for all four quarters Michigan would not have won that. Also, how do you let a tight end burn you for 80+ yards? Just wondering...
I know I've already mentioned it but I just wanted to say it again: Steven Threet is starting for Arizona State. Steven Threet. 51% completion rate, 9 touchdowns, 7 interceptions Steven Threet.
What's crazy is that he actually looks pretty good at ASU. If you can get over the fact that he's thrown 5 touchdowns but also 3 int's in 2 games and look at the fact that he's thrown 630 yards already at 67% accuracy then you have to admit, he might not be as terrible as we thought he was. Maybe it was just the product of a bad system. What's next? I'll bet we see Nick Sheridan start for the Lions next year.
I wouldn't have said it before the season but it looks like Michigan is on its way to an 8-9 win season. As of Week 2, my 50-50 games are MSU and PSU. If Michigan can win in one or both of those on top of the ones they're supposed to win, the Rich Rodriguez boo birds should have to shut up for a while. He's not my favorite coach but I'm starting to see where the program is headed and, I have to say, I think I like it.
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