Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Holidays

I've been on vacation all week. Might get back to some blogging early next week when I'm back in town.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Part One?

Wow. What a game. It's not often you see the most hyped regular season matchup of all time and it actually lives up to the billing. 42-39? That was a hell of a game. I hope both defensive coordinators are busy fixing some major holes this morning because those offenses were rolling.

But back to the point on everybody's mind this morning: The Rematch.

Before the game, I stated I hoped their was no rematch. I still feel that way. Michigan had their crack at OSU and lost. Unfortunately, they lost a nailbiter on the road. I am forced to ask myself, who should Ohio State face in a bowl game? While I don't think it would be fair to force them to play Michigan again, the BCS says it should be the second best team in the nation.

And that leads to the question, who else is better than Michigan? They just took the best team in the country to the wire in their own house. If it was played in Ann Arbor, they probably win. Has USC been better? They got beat by crappy Oregon State and taken to the wire by Washington and ASU amongst other lesser teams. Notre Dame? Umm, please see the 47-21 smackdown earlier this year that the Wolverines handed out to the Irish. Florida? Maybe, but they have yet to be impressive this year with close game after close game. Arkansas? I think a 5 TD loss pretty much knocks them out of the equation.

The only fair thing for Ohio State would be to award them the national title tomorrow. But that's not going to happen and there is a very good chance they will face Michigan again on January 8th.

UPDATE: Michigan remains #2 in the BCS ahead of USC and Florida.


Friday, November 17, 2006


One Perfect Season.
One Rivalry.
One Game.
One Moment.



Glenn E. Schembechler. 1/1/29 - 11/17/06. He was Bo. It's only 2 letters, but never has a nickname more aptly fit a coach. He was the meanest SOB on the field and in the lockerroom you'd ever want to meet. You did not want to get in his way when he was making a point. But he also taught young boys how to be men and how to succeed in life. He was the face of Michigan football for a generation. He took a once storied program and shot it full of life and took the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry to another level when he squared off with Woody Hayes in the 10 year war.

On the eve of the biggest Michigan-Ohio State game ever, Bo and Woody will now have the best seats in the house. The timing of Bo's death is just unreal. Yesterday, he addressed the team for one last time before they headed off to Columbus. I cannot even begin to analyze how this affects the game tomorrow. It's so far past "win one for the gipper". Bo was still an active part of the Michigan football family and had an office in aptly named Schembechler Hall.

Rest in Peace, Bo, and Go Blue.

I'd be remiss if I didn't include a few of my favorite Bo quotes...

"A Michigan man is going to coach Michigan" - Bo's proclamation when Bill Frieder agreed to take the Arizona St job prior to the 1989 NCAA tournament. Out with Frieder, in with Steve Fischer, and hello national title.

"205 lbs of twisted, hardened blue steel" - How Bo described himself after collapsing a few weeks ago.

There are also some phenomenal articles on Bo getting posted around the web. The Detroit Free Press has two outstanding ones including the best I have ever seen from perennial doom and gloomer Drew Sharp. Mitch Albom's article is a thing of beauty. Bo will be in everybody's thoughts and prayers tomorrow.


It's Christmas Eve

Words cannot accurately describe how much anticipation I have built up for the game on Saturday. It's insane. I have absolutely no idea how this game will play it. It is the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. Both teams have been unbeatable this year and rolled to 11-0. OSU has been prettier, but Michigan has a more impressive resume of opponents.

The two juggernauts rocketing on a collision course all season long are finally about come together in one glorious afternoon of football at the 'Shoe.

Michigan-Ohio State is a big deal every year. It's a big deal if they have a combined record of 15-5. This year it is 22-0 in what is likely the biggest regular season game in the history of college football. Think about it.

  • The Biggest Rivalry in all of sports
  • The first time two teams from one conference have been 10-0 in over 70 years (and they are both 11-0)
  • The first 11-0 v 11-0 conference matchup in the history of college football
  • Guaranteed spot in the MNC game for the winner
  • Possible MNC spot for the loser (though it should be noted I am not in favor of that)
What's not to like? Troy Smith will win the Heisman with a big game. Michigan's D, meanwhile, is looking to dispose of him like Brady Quinn. Chad Henne and Mike Hart are a phenomenal tandem. Ted Ginn and Mario Manningham are two of the biggest big play threats in the country. David Harris and James Laurinitis are two of the best LBs in the nation. Malcolm Jenkins and Leon Hall are two of the best corners in the nation. Alan Branch and Quinn Pitcock are two of the best defensive tackles in the nation. LaMarr Woodley is the tasmanian devil at defensive end. Hell, you could probably make a combined team from the Wolverines and Buckeyes that would top any conference's best in the country.

This game could go any number of ways. Troy Smith could once again dazzle and lead OSU to an easy victory. Michigan's defense could pummel the OSU offense. Mike Hart might go off for 200 yards. Mario Manningham could put on a show like he did against Notre Dame. Tressell might beat Carr again. Carr might win his second national title.

The only thing I know is that the entire world of college football will be tuned in to watch. Should easily be the most watched regular season game in college football history.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ohio State-Michigan Game Notes

From the greatest production of the MGoBlue website on a weekly basis, some highlights from this week's edition of Game Notes.

  • The Wolverines hold a 57-39-6 advantage in the all-time series and have compiled a 6-4 record in the last 10 meetings between the two schools.
  • U-M has a 27-21-2 record in Columbus and is 21-20-1 at Ohio Stadium.
  • Head coach Lloyd Carr has a 6-5 record against the Buckeyes, including a 2-3 mark in Columbus.
  • The Wolverines received 1,513 votes in the coaches poll and 1,561 votes in the AP poll, including a first-place vote in both polls. This is the highest the Wolverines have been ranked in the AP poll since U-M claimed the 1997 Associated Press national title.
  • This Saturday, Michigan will play its 365th game when ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press national poll. The Wolverines have compiled a 271-83-10 all-time record
    (.758) when listed in the AP top 10; head coach Lloyd Carr has a 47-18 record. This season, Michigan is 8-0 while rated in the top 10.
  • Carr has had great success against top 10-ranked foes during his career, posting a 16-6 mark against Associated Press top 10 squads and an 8-2 record against top five teams. He began his coaching tenure with nine straight victories over top 10-ranked teams.
  • Carr is 6-2 on the road against top 10 teams.
  • The Wolverines enter the Columbus looking to claim their league-leading 43rd conference
    crown and sixth during Lloyd Carr’s tenure as head coach. U-M’s 42 conference championships are the most of any college football prgram in any conference across the country. The Wolverine football program is the only Big Ten team in any sport to win a conference title in each decade.
  • U-M leads the nation in rushing defense this season, yielding 29.9 yards per contest to the
    opposition. The Wolverines held their first four opponents to less than 50 yards rushing, the first time that U-M accomplished that feat during head coach Lloyd Carr’s tenure. Michigan has held 10 of its 11 opponents to under 60 rushing yards, including nine under 50, five under 25 and two to negative rushing yards.
  • Michigan’s defense heads to Columbus as the toughest to crack on third down this season.
    The Wolverines lead the nation in third down defense. U-M has allowed the opposition to convert just 25 percent of its third-down chances (39-156).
I could go on and on, but there is a ton of great stuff there. It's an excellent read to get you up to speed.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Man, The Myth, The Legend

It's Ufer Time! on ESPN with a nice article by Gene Wojciechowski. Personally, I think it's an apt time to recall a famous bit of Ufer from the past. Listen here.

It was November 22nd, 1969, that they came to bury Michigan.
All dressed in Maize and Blue.
The words were said, the prayers were read, and everybody cried.
But when they closed the coffin, there was someone else inside.

Oh they came to bury Michigan, but Michigan wasn't dead.
And when the game was over it was someone else instead.
Eleven Michigan Wolverines put on the gloves of gray
And as the organ played the Victors they laid Woody Hayes away.

The part about "they came to bury Michigan" and "when they closed the coffin there was someone else inside" seems to sound familiar this year as Michigan sits as a 7 point underdog heading into Columbus and seemingly just a roadbump on the Buckeyes road to the national title.

Ufer will forever be one of the most cherished names in Michigan football, and in his own words "MEE-CHIGAN can do it. MEE-CHIGAN can do anything."


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Statistically Speaking

Yeah, I like numbers. They are cold and hard and people use them to make lots of arguments. Here's some numbers for The Game and how the Wolverines and Buckeyes have compared on the season thus far.

Statistic --- Michigan / Ohio State

Scoring offense: 29.4 / 35.8
Scoring defense: 12.1 / 7.8
Total offense: 373 / 401
Total defense: 231 / 262
Rushing offense: 195 / 179
Rushing defense: 30 / 90
Passing offense: 178 / 222
Passing defense: 202 / 173
Passing efficiency: 145 / 166
Pass eff defense: 101 / 97
Turnover margin: +12 / +14
FG kicking: 83% / 73%
3rd down conv: 40% / 51%
3rd down defense: 25% / 31%
Net punting: 33.9 / 37.0

A couple interesting points. OSU has a much better scoring differential, but Michigan actually has a better yardage differential (in terms of net difference and even better for percentage difference). Michigan is better on both sides on the ground and Ohio State is better on both sides through the air. Michigan has an edge at kicking, but OSU gets the edge at punting. OSU is better on 3rd down on offense, but Michigan is better on 3rd down on defense. Both teams have a phenomenal turnover margin.

What does all this mean? Not a damn thing you couldn't figure out from seeing #1 11-0 vs #2 11-0. They are both very good and have varying strengths and (relative) weaknesses.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Nothing to See Here

Move along people, there is nothing going on this week. I think Michigan has a bye or something as I haven't heard much about any upcoming games.

(thanks to Nothing Is Illuminated for the link to the pic)

Yeah, now that the last of the cupcakes (Northwestern and Indiana) have been polished off, it's now officially OK to talk about the BCFGOAT. Yep, the Biggest College Football Game Of All Time is about to go down in Columbus, Ohio. Last week I learned that two teams from the same conference hadn't been 10-0 since 1935. That's a long time. I'm anxiously awaiting somebody to dig through the entire history of college football to find a pair of 11-0 teams from the same conference meeting in their season finale. I'd say there is a very good shot it has never happened. Expect an orgy of information relating to The Game this week from every media outlet imaginable.

In other news, it was nice to see the Tigers add a big time bat to the lineup. Gary Sheffield is old, but he draws walks and hits for power and is still one of the most feared hitters in the league. If he stays healthy, he is the Tigers #1 or #2 hitter alongside Carlos Guillen. It's also nice that they didn't give up a single piece of the MLB roster parting only with major prospect Humberto Sanchez and a couple A ball pitchers. More thoughts to follow once CFB is in hiatus.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Walk Down Memory Lane

This year's game is in Columbus at the Horseshoe. Here's a little look back at Michigan's last 10 trips to Ohio to play the Buckeyes.

2004 - Ohio State won 37-21 in a game that wasn't very close. Chad Henne and Mike Hart were freshmen making their debuts in the rivalry. Troy Smith stole the show ending Michigan's 13 game conference winning streak by rushing for 145 yards and passing for 241 yards.

2002 - Ohio State won 14-9 in a game that sent them to the Fiesta Bowl where they would eventually win the national championship. It was a strange game as Michigan had over 100 more yards total offense and twice as many first downs. But OSU converted their chances into 2 touchdowns while Michigan repeatedly settled for field goals.

2000 - Michigan won 38-26 in Columbus to clinch the Big Ten title. Drew Henson lead the way going 14/25 for 303 yards and 3 TDs.

1998 - Ohio State won 31-16 despite 375 yards passing by Tom Brady. Michigan never really threatened in this game.

1996 - Michigan won 13-9 over the previously unbeaten Buckeyes. This game will always be remembered for Tai Streets 69 yards touchdown on the second play of the second half when Shawn Springs slipped and fell in coverage.

1994 - Ohio State won 22-6. An ugly game all around for the Wolverines as the Buckeye scoring started with a safety when Todd Collins tripped on his lineman's feet in the endzone.

1992 - The Game finished in a 13-13 tie that was a fitting end to a Michigan regular season that featured 3 ties. Kirk Herbstreit had the game of his life and OSU rallied from a 10 point deficit in the 4th quarter to come up with the tie.

1990 - Michigan won 16-13 on a field goal by J.D. Carlson as time expired after Greg Frey's 4th and 1 keeper failed less than 2 minutes earlier deep in Michigan territory. The win sent Ohio State from the Rose Bowl to the Liberty Bowl (ouch).

1988 - Michigan won 34-31 behind legendary heroics from John Kolesar. OSU rallied from a 20-0 halftime deficit to take a 31-27 lead with 2 minutes remaining. Kolesar busted off a 59 yard kick return and then 2 plays later nabbed a 41 yard TD catch to seal the victory for the Wolverines.

1986 - Michigan won 26-24 despite 3 turnovers by outgaining the Bucks by nearly 200 yards on the day. My memory is a bit fuzzy on this one.

There you have it, 20 years of Michigan-Ohio State football in Columbus. Michigan is 5-4-1 over that time span. So who will step up this year? Can Garrett Rivas duplicate JD Carlson's feat? Can Steve Breaston channel John Kolesar? Will Chad Henne put up numbers reminiscent of Drew Henson?


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Michigan Hoops Talent on the Way

There is a great article on Michigan's three hoops recruits for the incoming class of 2007 on MGoBlue. Alex Legion, Manny Harris, and Kelvin Grady will bring a serious talent infusion to the roster when they set foot on campus. Legion and Harris are both ranked in the top 40 nationally by Here's a quick and dirty overview of their games.

Legion - a straight up scoring machine. He's a 6'5", 185 lb wing with a deadly jumper that has range out behind the arc. He can also score in traffic. He transferred from Detroit to Oak Hill in Virginia for his senior year of HS where he can follow in the footsteps of guys like Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Williams and other elite talents that have gone their for a year of bball boot camp. Definitely needs to work on his passing and defense, but he can score with the best of them.

Harris - a tough as nails combo guard at 6'5", 170 lbs that can do it all on the court. His biggest strength is his tenacious defense, and he is at his best slashing to the hole on offense. Still needs to work on his jumper but he has a well rounded and explosive game that will make him a dangerous player on both ends of the court. Expect him to compete for PT at point guard.

Grady - lightning quick 5'11" 170 lb guard who is the little brother of Kevin. Also a great TB, but he's coming to Michigan strictly for football. Biggest strength is his defense which is aided by his blazing speed and quick feet and hands. A good but not great offensive PG, he should at minimum provide good depth and compete at the PG spot. If his jumper gets a little better he could be a very good college PG because he will lock people down on the other end.

It's nice to see that the hoopsters are starting to restock with talent after a couple of years of sleepers and projects. DeShawn Sims, Alex Legion, and Manny Harris are 3 of the most talented/highly ranked players to commit to Michigan in the last 5-10 years. When you add in the fact that Amaker is still in on some mega-recruits in 2007 at the post spots, Michigan's basketball roster is getting a serious upgrade in talent over the next 2-3 years compared to the past. I should mention that it also helps that this is the first season they have had 13 scholarships in a long time so it shouldn't be a coincidence that they are improving their recruiting.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Midweek Miscellany

It's Election Day! The results are in: Ohio State still sucks! I kid because I care. It's the week before the week of the Ohio State game, which I guess is referred to by some as the week of the Indiana game. Honestly, though, it's Indiana. I know they beat Iowa, but so did Northwestern. I also know Indiana just lost to Minnesota by some God forsaken score of a bajillion to fourteen or something like that.

I gotta say that the best thing I saw on TV this weekend, was the last 23 seconds of the first half of the Wisconsin-Penn State game. It was sheer comedy on so many levels. First you have Wisconsin just blatantly abusing the clock rules which was funny on it's own. Then you get to see JoePa torn between disbelief and sheer anger as he comes onto the field and rips into the ref. Then on Wisconsin's third kickoff, a squib, PSU fumbles and it is actually recovered by Wisconsin but the half had run out by then. Finally, as JoePa is walking to the lockerroom, he threatens to go postal on the camerman. It is probably the longest last half minute of a half ever, but it is one of the best 6 minutes of TV you will ever see in a college football game. See for yourself...

Doogie Howser is gay?!?!?!?!?! I wonder if CBS will keep up the Barney's Blog. No, not the purple dinosaur. It's the blog of Neil Patrick Harris' character on How I Met Your Mother. I just find it a little amusing when Doogie is gay and his character is the horniest heterosexual guy on TV. The titles of some recent blog entries: "Huntin' Coug", "The Amazing Morning-After System", "Occupation Stimulation", etc.

It's also sad to see Britney and K-Fed calling it quits. I had such high hopes for the cute couple. If they can't make it, what hope do the rest of us mortals have? Although I have to wonder if this is just Britney fulfilling her life long destiny as trailer trash. Hand her some menthols and she can be a nice 24 year old single mother of two living back home with mommy in Louisiana. And yes, this was techinically her second marriage. Do we have an Elizabeth Taylor rival in the makings? She could hit four marriages by age 30 with no trouble at all.

Sorry for going off topic. I am still dazed and confused by Ohio State's 7 point win over Illinois and how bad the Buckeye offense looked in the second half. I don't make much of it, though, just strange to watch and wonder exactly what might be possible for the Michigan defense.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

The Non-Preview Preview of Michigan Basketball

They done up and sucked at the end of last year and blew what should have been a guaranteed NCAA berth with an experienced and talented team. With it is gone any ounce of benefit of the doubt I had towards this team. From now on, they'll have to prove it on the court before I believe it. But I thought I should get to this preview before Big Ten Wonk, because I guarantee that his knowledge of some of the newcomers will be lacking and perhaps I could help out :)

So what to expect this year? Would it be wrong to say "the unexpected"? Let's first go back to last year. Courtesy of Big Ten Wonk's tempo free stats, you can find some interesting things. For one, Michigan was tied for being the 2nd most efficient offensive team in the conference last year at 1.06 points per possession. This unfortunately was offset by their tying for 2nd worst defense in the conference at 1.07 points allowed per possession to the opponents.

Michigan was efficient on offense? Say what? If you are like me, you remember Michigan turning the ball over with regularity for what seems like the 28th year in a row. It's true. They were the 2nd worst team in the Big Ten turning the ball over on a full 24.1% of possessions. But when they didn't turn it over, they were demons. Michigan was the 2nd best shooting team in the conference with an eFG% of 52.9% that was topped only by the deadly Buckeyes. They were also the best offensive rebounding team in the conference snagging nearly 37% of their own misses off the glass.

Yep, if Tommy's boys could've taken care of the rock last year they would've been one of the best offensive teams in the nation. That's the good news. The bad news is they did turn the ball over too much and they stunk on defense. Michigan used their crappy defense in terms of efficiency combined with the fastest pace in the conference to allow a league worst 71.1 points per game in Big Ten games. This offset their #2 scoring offense that scored 70.5 points per game.

So what did they lose from last year? Daniel Horton, Graham Brown, and Chris Hunter are out. Freshman Kendric Price (redshirt), Ekpe Udoh, K'len Morris, DeShawn Sims, and Reed Baker are in. Horton is the obvious big loss, but is it really that big? He came on last year as a more efficient scorer but still only ranked 15th in the conference in PPWS. He also offset his #4 in the conference ranking in assists per 100 possessions with the #5 worst rate of turnovers per 100 possessions. It was the story of Horton's career. A high volume shot taker that had a poor assist/to ratio for a point guard. He did some great things, but frequently was the end of a bad Michigan possession with a missed shot or a turnover. Brown and Hunter provided some size down low the last 4 years and Brown really came on as a rebounder leading the Big Ten in rebounding percentage last year snagging a full 18.8% of all available boards when he was in the game. Neither provided much offense and were merely adequate on the defensive end, buoyed mostly by rebounding.

And who's on the team this year? We'll start with the post players and move down to the guards.

Courtney Sims - he's a big body and he's been known as a soft player throughout his previous 3 years in Ann Arbor. He sometimes plays like a dominant college big man, but way too often is nowhere to be found when the going gets tough. But behind his reputation lies a consistently improving player. In each of his first 3 years on campus, he has had significant improvements in his PPG, RPG, and FG%. His scoring has increased from 7.7 to 9.9 to 10.9 poings per game. His rebounds have gone from 4.7 to 5.2 to 5.7 per game. His FG% has gone from 55% to 59% to 63%. Not too shabby. He ranked 3rd in the Big Ten in PPWS last year and 8th in rebounding percentage (both stats for conference games only). Based on his career numbers, it seems that 12-13 points and 6.5 rebounds a game are not out of line along with 65% shooting from the field. When Sims is on, he's very tough to defend in the post with his feathery touch and long arms. Unfortunately, he can struggle to get position against tougher defenders and struggles to beat the double team. It's now or never for this senior to prove he is one of the best players in the Big Ten by stepping up in his final season.

Brent Petway - Air Georgia. Opposing fans think he just wants to dunk and has no interest in helping the team win. The funny thing is, he is a phenomenal defender and very good on the glass. Yes, his offense is limited to within 5 or 10 feet from the rim, but he is still a valuable player that brings energy off the bench. I'm a little worried that his impact will suffer if Michigan is forced to use him as a starter at the 4 spot this year. Thankfully, our next player may have something to say about that.

DeShawn Sims - Michigan's biggest recruit since Daniel Horton and a hell of a matchup problem for opponents. This freshman could be a star. He's 6'8", 225 lbs, and can score inside or out. Jamal Mashburn is the comparison that has most frequently been thrown around to describe his game. In very tragic news, his younger brother was shot and killed this weekend so my heart goes out to him and his family. Sims figures to be the prototypical 4 man for the uptempo game that Tommy Amaker favors.

Ekpe Udoh - get to know this name. He's 6'10" with a 7'3" wingspan and he can do some damage in the paint. Not afraid to mix it up down low, this freshman will provide big time depth off the bench this year spelling Courtney Sims. His style is also a nice complement to the team and will help replace a little of what Graham Brown brought.

Kendric Price - a 6'8" twig at 205 lbs who has too good of a jumper to play in the post and too little ball handling skills to play on the wing. He redshirted last year and I have no idea what kind of contribution he will make this year.

Ronald Coleman - in the words of Brian of MGoBlog, "meh". He doesn't do much for me. Supposedly a great shooter, but he's a mere 32% behind the arc in his 2 years at Michigan. He tries hard, but lacks athleticism or the ability to handle the rock. I'm never confident when he is on the floor.

Lester Abram - now this kid can play. He's a career 11 ppg scorer and ranked #4 in the Big Ten in PPWS last year. He can stroke it from anywhere on the court and is a hard nosed defender. Now a 5th year senior, he is a career 49% shooter from the floor, 40% behind the arc, and 85% from the line. His only problem is that he cannot create much off the dribble and is not a good passer. Abram is a great secondary scorer on a team, but he cannot create for himself and he doesn't make others better. Still, when he is in the game Michigan usually has an advantage over their opponent at his position.

K'len Morris - jack of all trades who can play anything from the 1 to the 3 spot on the floor. I'll have to see more of his game before I make any definitive statements as to how good this freshman is, but he is definitely not a raw project as he has a pretty polished game based on reports of everybody that have seen him. He'll provide depth off the bench this year, but we are in trouble if he is playing major minutes.

Anthony Wright - interesting freshman from hoops power Oak Hill in Virignia. He's a 3 man with deep range on his jumper and a reputation for being a tough defender. He also has to know a thing or two about winning coming from Oak Hill. Might have a tough time cracking the rotation, though, with guys like Abram and Coleman and Morris also fighting for time at the small forward spot.

Jevohn Shepherd - if anybody on the team can give Petway a run for his money in terms of athleticism, it's this kid. This sophomore from Toronto is a 6'5" skywalker. Unfortunately, he handles the ball worse than many HS players and can't pass. His jump shot is OK and he can play good defense, but his ballhandling really holds him back. A tremendous upside, but I'm skeptical that he can be more than role player this year.

Dion Harris - this senior is the prototypical combo guard. Pretty good handle for a shooting guard, but far from a natural point. He has scored at least 10 ppg in each of his first 3 seasons peaking at 14 ppg as a sophomore. Last year he was deadly behind the arc hitting 39% despite shooting a high volume going 69/177. One of the best long range shooters in the conference will be splitting time between PG and SG this year for the Wolverines. Expect his scoring to suffer if he is running the point and Michigan doesn't have anyone that can replace his scoring ability at the 2 spot. This leads us to...

Jerret Smith - the pudgy backup PG as a freshman is going to be counted on to provide big time minutes at the point this year. He is not the fastest, but is very strong on the ball on offense. A decent shot and a natural passing ability combined with good vision make him a perfect fit at point guard. Unfortunately, his conditioning lets him down at times and he has to rely on guile and strength to break down the D because his quickness isn't good enough.

Reed Baker - lightly recruited 6'1" point guard from Fort Myers, Florida. He's the prototypical scrappy little white guy that can shoot the lights out. It's a void Michigan has had since Robbie Reid graduated. How much will he contribute? Hard to say. It's not hard to imagine him coming into at least one game this year and knocking down 4/5 threes over a few minutes and breaking a game open, but it's also not a stretch to think he'll have trouble defending any good Big Ten guard.

There you have it, the 2006 Michigan Wolverines. What to expect? Only God knows. I could see them finishing anywhere between 17-14 and 23-8 in the regular season heading into the Big Ten tournament. I'm not betting on them winning anything this year, but hold out the possibility that I could be pleasantly surprised. I'll be happy if they stop turning the ball over so much and play some defense. I think the 2 most important players this year are Jerret Smith and Courtney Sims. If they are both consistently productive, Michigan will have a very good team. I find it hard to believe that they can both do that, however.


Ball State recap

Or why the score looks a hell of a lot worse than the game.

...rushed for 352 yards
...averaged 7.7 yards per carry their 3rd string TB over 100 yards
...completed 68% of their passes despite several easy drops
...gave up 3 points from the starting D
...gained over 500 total yards from scrimmage
...didn't miss a kick

But yeah, it was a close game at the end.

I absolutely hate it when we play inferior opponents way too close. Michigan should be good enough to blow them out of the water. But you know what? Let's be a little rational about this. Is there anything from this game that portends badly for the Ohio State game? Not really.

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling...they were rolling on Saturday. 46 carries, 352 yards, and a boatload of asskicking up front. In addition to the rushing attack, Chad Henne was 17/25 passing despite being victimized by several easy drops. And yes, Superman was back in action wearing number 86. What's not too like? How about the drops. It's becoming a nasty habit of the receivers dropping too many easy catches. Henne also threw a pick six. Watching the film, I'm not sure if Henne or Breaston deserves more of the blame. Henne can't make that throw, but Breaston also has to get underneath the defense on a slant and not let them jump it. Either way it was a horrible play. But realistically, the offense did whatever they wanted on Saturday rolling up 507 yards from scrimmage and averaging an insane 7.1 yards per play. Ball State sure was a nice way to get the offense healthy.

A tale of two defenses played out on Saturday. The first stringers ate Ball State for lunch as expected allowing well under 200 yards of total offense and only 3 points. The second stringers? Yikes. Burnt toast. Johnny Sears and Charles Stewart each managed to get burnt deep once leading to a TD. Sears got torched on a 54 yard touchdown catch and Stewart got lit up on a 62 yard catch that got BSU inside the 5 and lead to another TD. Those 2 plays were the difference between a blowout and a close game. It's a little strange that Carr and co. went to the backups with so much time left and it's even more disturbing that they sucked so badly. But does that somehow make the starting defense look worse? Hardly. The only thing it could mean trouble for is the 2007 Michigan defense.

Really, the game was quite simple to describe. Michigan dominated most of the game, but BSU made 4 big plays leading to 23 points that made it very interesting.

1) Mike Hart's fumble for a safety - like El Nino, Hart fumbling does not come around every year. Opponents should enjoy it while they can. Does anyone honestly expect this to happen against OSU?

2) Chad Henne's pick 6 - horrible pass and I am splitting blame 50/50 at this point between he and Breaston for reasons listed above. Henne has been very stingy with the INTs this year, so unless this becomes a trend I'm not very worried. The only play remotely similar to this all year was the pick against Notre Dame on the first drive that hit the ND safety in the numbers and got returned inside the 5.

3) Johnny Sears getting burned - he's the #5 CB on the team behind Hall, Trent, Harrison, and Stewart so he won't be playing against OSU much at all. I've got high hopes for him in the future, but he's a redshirt freshman right now with almost no experience.

4) Charles Stewart getting burned - he's the #4 CB on the team and the fact that he actually started 2 games when Trent was injured scares me somewhat. He is slow as crap and would be better suited to SS with his physical play. Fortunately, he also will not be playing much against OSU.

And that's basically it. Mike Hart and Brandon Minor and Jerome Jackson did as they pleased with the ball racking up insane numbers. Kevin Grady sat with a shoulder injury and was unable to pad his stats like the rest of the backs. Mario Manningham is back and will start next week. Tyler Ecker and Mike Massey both could've played and should play next week which is great news for the OSU game when we will get back to having 3 quality TEs instead of 1 that is a freshman.

In summary, the final score was ugly. That's about all you can take from the game, however, as Michigan's first string offense and defense were steamrolling Ball State.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Lloyd Carr versus The Nation (and BSU)

As of Friday, November 3rd, here are the winningest college football programs in the country since Lloyd Carr took over at Michigan for the 1995 season. Listed is their overall record along with winning percentage and number of national titles over that time span.

1) Ohio State: 116-30, 79.5%, 1
2) Florida St: 114-32, 78.1%, 1
3) Tennessee: 113-32, 77.9%, 1
4) Texas: 114-33-1, 77.4%, 1
5) Miami: 109-32, 77.3%, 1
6) Nebraska: 114-34, 77.0%, 2
7) Florida: 113-34, 76.9%, 1
8) Michigan: 111-34, 76.6%, 1
9) Virginia Tech: 111-34, 76.6%, 0

Nobody else is even close to the top 9 in terms of winning percentage. As you can see, when it comes to winning games and winning national titles, Michigan has been as good as anybody since Lloyd Carr took over with less than 3 wins per 100 games separating them from #1 on the list.

Anyways, on to Ball State. They suck. Based on all the repeated criticisms of Michigan for their "close" 14 point win over Northwestern last week expect them to open it up just a bit more in the first half this week. It also helps that Mario Manningham is back and they'll try to get him a ball or two to get his timing back.

Look for more heavy doses of Kevin Grady, Brandon Minor, and Jerome Jackson today as they run, run, and run some more in the 2nd half. Carlos Brown might even get some plays if we're lucky. Ball State has a good passing game, but their OL has never blocked what Michigan will throw at them today.

Best guess at a score? How about 34-10. I don't think the weather will be nearly as bad this week as it was last week.


2006 BTPR, week 9

All work and no play make Homer something, something. Go Crazy? Don't mind if I do!

Way, way, way, way, way too much work this week. I think my conference power ratings have to stay the same for another week, however, because the higher ranked teams just keep on winning every game. Hopefully I don't close out the year with these same rankings.

1) Ohio State
2) Michigan

3) Wisconsin - these first 3 are getting boring

4) Penn State - nice shutout of the Boilers and they get a crack at #3 this week
5) Iowa - not a good team without Drew Tate
6) Purdue - blah

7) Minnesota
8) Indiana - will fight for #7 this week
9) Michigan State

10) Illinois
11) Northwestern

I'll see if I can't swing a preview of Ball State in the morning.