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THE GAME: #20 Michigan (8-3) at Ohio State (11-0)

When you think Michigan football you think Bo, Lloyd Carr, Charles Woodson, Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Jim Harbaugh, Anthony Thomas, Chris Perry, Mike Hart, Ty Law, Desmond Howard, and Brady Hoke.

When you think Ohio State football you think Woody, Cooper, Tressell, Troy Smith, Chris Spielman, Eddie George, David Boston, Bobby Carpenter, AJ Hawk, John Laurenitis, and Urban Meyer.

The Game is one of the best if not the best rivalry in all of football. Michigan leads the series 58-43-6 but in the last decade Ohio State has been in control. The previous decade Michigan dominated this rivalry.

This rivalry has historically been the game to decide who would be the Big Ten Champions. Now with the Big Ten Title being decided in a Title Game this game could decide who even goes to the Title Game in future games. This year Michigan is still playing for a shot at the Big Ten Title. They will need to win against Ohio State and hope Iowa beats Nebraska as well to go on and face Wisconsin in Indianapolis.

Many Michigan and Ohio State fans wanted this game to stay as the final game of the season when the Title Game was added but wouldn’t it be so much better if it kicked off the Big Ten Season? Then you have weeks leading to a Title Game that both teams could possibly be in. Revenge in the Title Game would be so sweet for the winner. We will just have to hope the Big Ten does this in the future.

Brady Hoke won against Ohio State in his first year as Michigan head coach. Can Urban Meyer do the same for Ohio State this year? The Buckeyes enter the game undefeated but this season will not end in a Big Ten Championship or any Bowls even if they do win. Michigan wants to be in the Rose Bowl on January 1st but will need to win in Columbus to keep those dreams alive.

Many around Ann Arbor have been wondering what the Wolverines record would have been if Denard Robinson was at wide receiver or half back at the start of the season and Gardner was the starting quarterback. Many feel they would be 10-1 right now given those circumstances with only a loss to Alabama to show for it. Nobody truly knows what the Wolverines record would be right now if that happened though.

Michigan and Ohio State will be the elite teams in the Big Ten for many years to come I feel. Obviously this is just my opinion but Wisconsin, and Michigan State have both gotten worse this year with no signs of improving. Nebraska will be really good and probably will give Michigan a run for their money. Penn State has fallen from grace and with the NCAA punishment for them they will not be one of the top teams for the foreseeable future.

This game is a whole new era of Michigan vs Ohio State with two new heads of each program in Brady Hoke and  Urban Meyer. These two coaching staffs could be the best both schools have ever had. The excitement is in the air and I whole heartedly expect this next decade of this rivalry to be the best decade of this rivalry.

The offenses in this game this week can both put up big points. Michigan has a defense that has shown glimpses of being really good but they also have shown they struggle against the option and deep pass both of which Ohio State can do well. The Ohio State defense has struggled against even average offenses. The Buckeyes defense on average against Big Ten teams this year give up over 26 points per game.

In 2011 the game was high scoring and I fully expect 2012’s game to be high scoring as well. This could come down to who has the ball last. Clock management will be key and each time a team is held to punt or kick a field goal it will be a huge win for the defense.

Remember OSU gave up 49 points to Indiana and only beat MSU by 1 point. Their out of conference games were against less than average teams with Cal being the toughest of their non conference games. Cal is only 3-9 this year though so that should tell you something about that team.

Michigan played Alabama and lost as they should have. They had 7 turnovers against Notre Dame who has a good defense but lost by less than a score. Then they lost their starting QB early against Nebraska and put in Bellamy (not Gardner) who threw 3 interceptions and 3 completions in that game.

Fans of the Wolverines had hoped all week that Michigan would be playing for a shot at the Big Ten Title game but those hopes were shattered when Iowa lost to Nebraska Friday afternoon. Either way there is a lot of hate in this rivalry as evidenced when Urban Meyer said at a fundraiser tailgate pep rally “Let’s beat the s**t out of Michigan.” That sch0ol up north will travel down to Columbus to take on Ohio with nothing more than bragging rights on the line. Still though it will be a great game.

Michigan over Ohio State 41-35

Local Big Ten Week 8 Preview RIVALRY WEEK

Michigan State vs Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Michigan State Ranks 58th in passing yards per game, 86th in rushing yards per game, 104th in points scored per game, and 13th in points allowed per game.

Michigan Ranks 107th in passing yards per game 16th in rushing yards per game 37th in points scored per game, and 22nd points allowed per game.

I think this match up is more evenly matched than most want to admit. Most Michigan State fans I have talked to have given up on their team this year. My personal opinion though is that both teams have good defenses and both teams don’t have enough on offense to get things done. Still though Michigan has better receivers, offensive lineman, and a better weapon in Denard Robinson. Michigan State has a better running back in Le’Veon Bell but not anyone to help him right now.

Lets look at the averages per game and compare. Michigan State averages 236 yards passing per game where as Michigan only average 186 yards passing per game. That is a 50 yard difference in favor of Michigan State. Michigan State averages 144 yards rushing per game and Michigan averages 232 yards rushing per game. That is 98 yards in favor of Michigan. So based on that Michigan is statistically better in yardage by 48 yards.

Lets look at point averages per game this season. Michigan State scores 21 points per game this year. Michigan scores 33.8 points per game. Michigan scores 12 more points per game. Michigan State gives up 15.7 points per game. Michigan gives up 17.5 points per game. That is a 2 point difference in favor of the Spartans. Based on those Michigan statistically has a 10 point score advantage.

None of the statistics take into account the strength of schedule. Michigan played the best team in the country Alabama, and the 2nd best rushing team in the country Air Force already this year. Air Force also is a much better offense than Michigan State ranking 39th in the country in points scored this year but were held to 25 against Michigan. Michigan State beat a ranked Boise State because of outstanding defense and Le’Veon Bell being a work horse. Other than that Boise game MSU has only beat two MAC schools, and Indiana. Also Notre Dame blew Michigan State out in what really wasn’t very competitive at all.

With all of the statistics though there is one thing that can’t be shown on paper. Michigan State is desperate and playing for their season. This is a rivalry game and anything can happen in a rivalry game. We have seen a lot of crazy things in this rivalry over the years. Just look at the extra second in 2001 up in East Lansing. Look at the Braylon Edwards come back when down by over 20 points. Michigan managed to come back and win in overtime that year.

My personal pick for Michigan player of the year at the half way point Jake Ryan.

I am picking Michigan just like 90% of the country but I think it will be closer than everyone expects. Denard Robinson hasn’t had a good game against the Spartans ever and I don’t think he will have a great game this year against them either. Sure he will probably get almost 300 yards total offense as long as he doesn’t get hurt but he will rush for less than 100 probably. I can see both defenses scoring in this game. Michigans defense will be the reason they win this game though. I think a couple costly turnovers by MSU will be what drives Michigan to victory.

Michigan over Michigan State 21 to 16.

Local Big Ten Week 7 Recap

140 yards against Iowa averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Le’Veon Bell was once again the best player on MSU’s offense.

Iowa over Michigan State 19 to 16 in Overtime

I thought MSU would win by 1 point because they were at home and both teams were evenly matched. Every week the same story repeats itself. The defense played lights out and the offense didn’t do enough. The Spartans are now a really long shot to win the Big Ten.

Really though Michigan State should have won but they gave up a TD late to send the game into overtime. The Spartans seem demoralized this year and really look like they lack leadership and heart. If they can’t get a win over the Michigan Wolverines this next game then there season is over.

 

Michigan over Illinois 45 to 0

I said Michigan would win 42 to 20 last week. So I was close in both of our local games. I didn’t think Illinois wouldn’t score at all. The Michigan defense improves every week and is looking to be one of the best in the Big Ten this year.

Denard Robinsons four touchdowns led the Wolverines to victory. Some of the back ups got some playing time and Michigan appeared to be working on some things late in the game that they really need to work on. Thomas Rawls got some playing time and had 9 carries for 90 yards. I still think that Michigan will continue to cycle their running backs going forward though.

Illinois never got anything going. They had only 134 total yards. There weren’t any positives that Illinois could take from this game. Michigan dominated and looked to be in perfect form heading into rivalry week against Michigan State.

Thomas Rawls rushing for his 63 yard touchdown.

Local Big Ten Week 7 Preview

Illinois at #25 Michigan

Illinois only has two wins this season. The wins came against Western Michigan (24 to 7), and Charleston Southern (44 to 0). Their losses are to Arizona State (45 to 14), Louisiana Tech (52 to 24), Penn State (35 to 7), and Wisconsin (31 to 14). Obviously Illinois is not a good team and the record shows it.

They are ranked 103rd of 122 in average points scored (21.2 ppg), 96th in average rushing yards (126.5 ypg), 83rd in passing yards (212.3 ypg), and 81st in average points allowed (28.3 ppg). There is not a lot Illinois can be proud of statistically this year. None of the teams they have played this year are great but Illinois has certainly made most teams look really good compared to themselves.

Michigan is 4-2 this season. Two losses are to top ten teams this year in #1 Alabama and #7 Notre Dame. Now I don’t think Notre Dame is truly a top ten team but either way the fact is they are currently ranked in the top ten.

The Wolverines do not have a good passing attack as they are ranked 103rd in the country and only averaging 188.4 yards per game. This week against Illinois though I fully expect them to improve their averages across the board in front of the hometown fans of Ann Arbor.

Vincent Smith carrying the ball back in week 1 against Alabama.

It is important for Michigans offense to click on all cylinders. They need to get the running game going by someone other than Denard Robinson and they also need to get the passing game moving. Normally if a blow out occurs I would expect some back ups in the game late but I don’t think that will happen this week. Michigan may try to build on things late to work on improving their offense. They will continue to platoon their half backs.

This game could be a big momentum builder for Brady Hokes Team 133 Michigan Wolverines heading into a rivalry week against Michigan State. The players and coaches have been saying all the right things about Illinois this week and that they can’t look past them to the Spartans but I bet they have been doing some preparation for Michigan State next week.

Michigan over Illinois 42-20
Iowa at Michigan State

Never thought I would see this at the beginning of this season. Michigan State is not in the top 25. All year long I’ve been saying they will begin to show who they are but I am starting to think they have been showing us who they are all year long. The Spartans are 1 and 2 against ranked teams #24 Boise State (only win), #7 Notre Dame, and #14 Ohio State.

Michigan State ranks 100th in points for (21.8 ppg), 83rd in rushing yards (143.2 ypg), 51st in passing yards (245.8 ypg), and 15th in points allowed (15.2 ppg). Obviously the defense is their strong point but they still don’t force enough turnovers. The offense struggles to move the ball and could benefit from getting the ball in short field situations.

Iowa is similiar to Michigan State in the sense that the offense isn’t very good but the defense carries the team. They are ranked 98th in points for (22.6 ppg), 95th in passing yards (200.0 ypg), 67th in rushing yards (161.0 ypg), and 25th in points allowed (17.4 ypg). The Hawkeyes have been battling injuries to the running back position though and that is hurting the passing game as well.

Sophomore Mark Weisman will carry the Iowa team as the starting running back. He is a big 6 ft 225 pound beast in the backfield. He got his first start in week 3 vs Northern Iowa getting 24 carries for 113 yards averaging 4.7 ypc. Then broke out against Central Michigan even though they lost he ran 27 times for 217 yards averaging 8.0 ypc. Last week in a win over Minnesota he carried the ball 21 times for 177 yards averaging 8.4 ypc. So look out for Mark Weisman this week against a greedy Spartan defense who doesn’t like to give up many points or yards.

Le’Veon Bell in the Indiana game carrying the ball on the outside.

Junior Le’Veon Bell is supposed to be the Spartans top threat but really has only shown it in flashes. Against Boise State he averaged 4.8 yards per carry which is ok. Against Central Michigan he averaged 3.9 yards per game and didn’t break the century mark (70 yards). Notre Dame held Bell to similiar stats averaging 4.1 yards per carry for 77 total yards. Bells best game came against Eastern Michigan where he ran for 253 yards averaging 7.0 yards per carry. Ohio State held him under 50 yards on 17 carries averaging 2.6 yards per carry. Then Indiana last week on 37 carries he averaged 3.3 yards per carry with a total of 121 yards on the day.

I think Iowa could possibly beat Michigan State this week and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens. I don’t however think that will happen. Michigan State should win in a very slow low scoring defensive showcase.

Michigan State over Iowa 17 to 16

Local Big Ten Week 6 Recap

Michigan State over Indiana 31 to 27

All of Michigan State fans are probably worried about their blood pressure this season. Nothing has gone the way they expected. They still have a chance to win the Big Ten even after a terrible showing in Indiana. They probably had no business winning this game. The Hoosiers came out to start the game with a long drive passing all over the Spartan defense. It wasn’t much of a surprise considering Indiana has the best passing offense in the Big Ten. It was shocking for those that don’t follow Indiana football and know MSU has one of the top defenses in the country.

It seems like the Michigan State team feels like they are as good as their record shows. None of the guys seem to be angry at the performance this year. The season is half over though so they need to start showing some urgency. Plus the Spartans have only one more game before they face their biggest rival the Michigan Wolverines.

 

Michigan over Purdue 44 to 13

Michigan made short work of Purdue as they were up 28 to 10 at halftime. The Wolverines weren’t looking back either as they only allowed 3 points in the second half. Just like last year the Michigan defense is improving quickly as the season progresses. Purdue did manage to stop Denard Robinson passing most of the game but it wasn’t enough. Michigan was too good as a team for Purdue.

Can Denard Robinson step up and be a good passer in the Big Ten? I am really starting to doubt it however he is the most exciting player in all of the Big Ten on offense. Any given play he can go 80 yards for a rushing touchdown and he can throw the ball 50 yards down field if he needs to but chances are it will be a bit over thrown.

Raymon Taylor returns an interception 63 yards for a TD against Purdue.

Nobody expected a blow out. Purdue was being praised as one of the better Big Ten teams but Michigan destroying them changed everyones tune on Purdue. Purdue now has Wisconsin and then Ohio State in back to back weeks so we will see if Purdue just had a bad game or if they are truly one of the better Big Ten teams. Either way Michigan moves on with a Big Ten win and will face a poor Illinois team in Ann Arbor and then Michigan State in Ann Arbor. Michigan could very well be in control of their destiny towards a Big Ten Title after these next couple of weeks.

Local Big Ten Week 6 Preview

Michigan State at Indiana

Statistically Michigan State is only 82nd in the country in rushing. Don’t let that stat fool you because Le’Veon Bell is a stud running back. That guy is a horse back there and is probably the most consistent player on the team. Indiana is a really bad team too so expect Bell to have over 200 yards again if not he will be close to it.

The defense for Michigan State is ranked 12th in the country only allowing 12.8 points per game. These guys should be able to hold Indiana around that average. Indianas defense allows 27 points per game and have only played lesser opponents. This 73rd ranked defense will give up points to Maxwell, and this Michigan State offense. Indiana did lose to Ball State two weeks ago.

Michigan State over Indiana 31 to 17

Michigan at Purdue

Purdue also lost to Notre Dame but they were able to move the ball on them and score. I would say Purdues offense is better than Michigans but their defense isn’t as good as Michigans. Denard Robinson can cut up bad defenses too. This week will be a tough match up for Purdue.

Fitzgerald Toussaint picture courtesy of ESPN.

Michigan should be able to move the ball on Purdue and get a couple of big plays on them. I don’t think the Purdue defense can stop this Michigan offense because they couldn’t stop the bad Notre Dame offense when they played them. Marshall put up 41 points against Purdue. I would not feel good if I was a Boilermaker going against the Wolverines this week.

The Wolverines defense is not great but they are very good. They have playmakers at linebacker, and safety which could be the difference in this game. Jordan Kovacs is still looking for a big moment here in his senior season. He has made plays his whole college career so I expect him to make a couple big ones this week. He will certainly have his opportunities. Then obviously I think Jake Ryan will play well since I say that every week. Jake Ryan is easily my favorite player on this Michigan team.

Other than Notre Dame the Boilermakers have not played anybody good. Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan, and Marshall are not world beaters. This week could be when we find out who this Purdue team really is. You would think playing three cup cake teams that Purdue statistically would be rated much better but they aren’t elite in any category. 44th in passing, 32nd in rushing, 13th in points scored, and 40th in points allowed.

The Michigan Wolverines will destroy this average defense. Denard Robinson and the Wolverines also had two weeks to prepare for this game so I think Denard will have one of his highlight games.

Michigan over Purdue 28 to 20

Local Big Ten Week 5 Recap

Ohio State over Michigan State

What a close game this one was in East Lansing. I did not get to see this game. We decided to go out and have a family day at the apple orchard and at the fall festival. I did catch some of the game on the radio though.

It seems that the Spartans still haven’t figured it out on offense. I heard this show on CBS called Spartan Nation trying to call out Michigan State to implement an audible package for Andrew Maxwell. Now I feel it is a bit ignorant to assume they don’t have audible packages at this level of college football with a Junior Quarterback. If MSU doesn’t have audible packages they certainly do need to get it in place.

Picture courtesy of ESPN. Another big drop in the 2nd quarter against Ohio State.

Drops have been the theme for the offense this year. The Spartans have been getting good play out of their tight end Sims, and running back Le’Veon Bell given the circumstances. Defenses have picked up on the fact they can stuff the box to shut down Bell and get pressure on Maxwell as long as Sims is covered. It’s a very simple formula to stop MSU’s offense.

The defense is so good and they have to be dissappointed with this season from a win and loss perspective. This team came into the season expecting a Rose Bowl and still has a chance to make it. Obviously the defense is playing well enough to get there but they could always help by getting some big turnovers or even scoring points themselves. This is a lot to ask of this defense I think considering how well they are playing but the offense isn’t putting up enough points to win right now so the scoring may need to come on defense.

Maybe Michigan State is as good as their record shows. Maybe they aren’t elite in a down year for the Big Ten. Maybe the top teams in the Big Ten are all pretty equal with glaring flaws. One can only make assumptions right now.

One thing Michigan State fans can be pretty excited about is the defense managed to shut down Braxton Miller for the most part. Since this year is shaping up to be about whether they can beat their biggest rival from Ann Arbor the Michigan Wolverines the fans need some positives to take from another loss. This defense can handle scrambling QB’s with no problem so in a few weeks on October 20th it looks like Denard will once again will struggle against a Spartan defense if this game was any indication.