Grades: Michigan Reverts Back to Form Against Northwestern

Jason BarczyCorrespondent INovember 16, 2008

Northwestern 21, Michigan 14

Record: 3-8, 2-6 Big 10

Well I'm thoroughly depressed. Anyone else?

In 129 years of football at the University of Michigan never, never, have the Wolverines suffered eight losses.

It happened in the most disheartening way I could ever imagine. Northwestern, of all the teams in the Big Ten, is the team to hand Michigan loss number eight.

And just when Michigan was starting to show vast signs of improvement and being capable of finishing the season on a high note.

It's like that scene in The Godfather 3 when Al Pacino says "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in," and he has a heart attack.

Michigan had put together two solid offensive performances the past two weeks against Minnesota and Purdue.

Then the Wolverines revert back to its early season form and lay a giant egg in the second half.

The defense once again gave up big plays and left the middle of the field wide open, and Northwestern happily exploited it time and again with no adjustments made by Scott Schafer and the coaching staff.

On with the grades before I decide to down a bottle of vodka and use some Xanax as a chaser.


Welcome back Nick "Human White Flag" Sheridan. Last week, against Minnesota, was obviously an aberration and you will forever have the Little Brown Jug to remember.

Sheridan's 8-for-29, 61 yards passing, 35 yards rushing and one touchdown run performance was as bad as it gets at Michigan.

He very easily could've thrown three interceptions but the weather might have prevented Northwestern from catching balls thrown right to them.

After being benched for Steven Threet in the third quarter, Sheridan might as well have had the word Surrender where his name is on the back of his jersey.

Not that Threet was any better. He wasn't by any means. Threet looked like his rain and snow drenched jersey was weighing down any attempt to throw the ball.

His overthrown ball to Mike Massey for an interception could be blamed on Massey though.

Massey had a chance to be a hero on senior day and his last game in Michigan Stadium but for some reason he just pulled his arms down, giving up any attempt to get a hand on the ball. Just shows why Koger's been starting.

It's time Martavious Odoms received some criticism after avoiding it all season (from me anyway). It's 11 games into the season now and the guy can barely hold on to a punt or kick return.

No excuses either that the Florida wide receiver was more than uncomfortable out there in the cold and snow. He better get used to it now. Man up.

But there was a big surprise for the offense on Saturday. Carlos Brown came back in a big way. Just when I thought the guy was all but lost he busts loose for 115 yards on 23 carries.

Still, it was not enough, and if Rich Rodriguez was going to spring Brown as a surprise he should've saved it for the Ohio State game.

Instead he could've played Sam McGuffie who was nowhere to be found. Maybe Brown is on his way out and RichRod wanted to give him a parting gift of playing in the Big House one last time.

Who knows what this coaching staff is thinking anymore.

Offensive Grade: D+


I have to admit it; I was jumping up and down when Stevie Brown intercepted that pass to start the game.

I thought to myself, "Wow, the defense is making so many strides that even Stevie Brown has improved."

I think the picture above perfectly reflects my feelings now.

Michigan's defense was erratic at best in the first half.

First, the Wolverines get an early turnover, then they give up a 21-yard touchdown to a third string running back on a third and 18 play.

Michigan shut Northwestern down the rest of the half but made no adjustments at halftime and got torched in the third quarter.

Ross Lane's 17-yard touchdown grab was disgusting and if that was bad, the 53 yard score by Eric Peterman was an instant gag reflex.

At first glance it seemed Stevie Brown and Charles Stewart are to blame for Peterman's touchdown being that the middle of the field was so wide open, but blame Brandon Harrison for letting Peterman get that open.

Harrison let Peterman go right by him and before Harrison knew what was happening he was 10 yards behind him chasing him with his tail between his legs.

C.J. Bacher looked like what all Big Ten quarterbacks not named Adam Weber have looked like against Michigan this year: All-Americans.

Although that is hardly the case, Michigan has made some bad quarterbacks look really good this year and Bacher is no exception.

Bacher was allowed to throw 17-for-29, 198 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite all that, the defense very nearly got Michigan back in this game. Donovan Warren (who if it wasn't for a whistle happy official might of had a touchdown) almost had the moment I've been waiting for from him, and he should've given the offense all the momentum it needed to pull the comeback.

Defensive Grade: C-

Special Teams

K.C. Lopata just didn't get enough air underneath what should've been a chip shot on a field goal that was blocked by Corey Wootton (who I warned about and he had a block, a sack, and a forced fumble).

Odoms fumbling a punt return was no big surprise, it happens on a weekly basis—all that's left to surprise is whether or not he'll recover it.

Zoltan Mesko was great as usual. I'm putting together his unofficial autobiography right now.

The big hero (if there were any) was walk on special teams ace Ricky Reyes. Well I don't know if he's an ace, but I've never been more confused as to who was scoring a touchdown for Michigan.

Reyes easily scored after red-shirt freshman Michael Williams blocked the punt.

I saw that Michigan hadn't returned a blocked punt for a touchdown since Marlin Jackson did it in 2001 against Wisconsin. 

Michigan almost blocked Northwestern punter Stefan Demos a couple times.

Special Teams Grade: B+



Pat Fitzgerald was saying how he remembered every single detail about beating Michigan at the Big House in 1995 as a linebacker.

I bet he'll file this game in his archives as games to remember right next to that one.

He clearly out coached Rich Rodriguez at halftime by making the proper adjustments and attacking the Michigan defense at its weak points.

While I have no idea what Rodriguez did at halftime other than maybe try drying off. Scott Schafer was right there next in line for the heating pad.

Although, he shouldn't be worried about heating up because he's on the hottest seat in Ann Arbor right now. Schafer continues to disappoint me on a daily basis

Coaching Grade: D-

Final Thoughts

If there was any thoughts out there about beating Ohio State, just forget about it.

It would be the biggest upset of all time in Michigan history. Bigger than App. State, bigger than Toledo, and bigger than the 1969 game where the Wolverines beat Ohio State.

Why? Two reasons.

One, it's in Columbus. Two, Michigan is a god-awful 3-8.

But it's not going to happen so stop mentioning or even thinking it.

What if though? No. No what ifs.

Week 11 Final Grade: C


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