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MnB Roundtable Fills the Time

There's no risk of Michigan losing this week, so instead the gang talks about bye week activities and some college football games to watch.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Hey look at that! Michigan won a game! What did you like, what did you hate? Put on your coaching hat and point out some things Michigan has to do on their bye week to not get obliterated by Michigan State.

SHASH: I'M BACK! Uhh. just in time? I'm going to say they have to do everything possible to take the pressure off Devin Gardner to make plays on his own. It's an easy answer but things like crisp route running, making sure the H-back blocks the right guy, and making sure guys like Justice Hayes pick up blitzers will be key. I don't have any hope for the running game, but if all Gardner has to do is plug and play, you'll see the offense move the ball a little bit. Maybe he'll even run for a first down!

Peter: What did I like? Uh, the defense? That was great to watch. Everything else...not so much. I don't believe Michigan can do anything in the bye week to avoid obliteration, BUUUUUUUUT MSU did allow Purdue to get within seven points late in the game last week. Is Michigan better than Purdue? That's probably debatable at this point; it just may be possible, however slight, for Michigan to keep it close. They won't do it with the running game, though. I'm with Shash--I've lost confidence, so Nussmeier is going to have to come up with a plan to keep Gardner protected and upright for longer than a fruit fly's lifespan in order to have a chance.

John: I'm with Peter and Shash, I don't see anything Michigan can do to not be destroyed in East Lansing, but I do see some things Michigan State can do. MSU has let some opponents hang around and they're hardly invincible (who in college football this year is outside of Mississippi?) so if MSU makes the right mistakes and Michigan played perfectly Michigan could win. However we all need to acknowledge that there are only two acceptable outcomes against Sparty (and OSU) this year: win or blowout loss.

Now hear me out, I'm not saying Michigan should lose. I'm saying that if they are going to lose at least do it in such a way that forces change. I thought Brady Hoke would have been gone last year with anything but a win against Ohio State and instead I got the worst possible thing, a gut-wrenching loss that arguably saved his job. Woooo. If Michigan wants to be competitive against the big boys down the stretch thats great, but you better win.

Kevin: I didn't enjoy Brady Hoke giving Penn State an opportunity to take the lead in a close game where neither offense could do anything. I burst out laughing as soon as the ref announced the timeout, and everyone knew Penn State would try to throw one deep. However, James Franklin quickly out-dumbed Hoke by messing up his timeouts late in the fourth quarter. The sad thing is, his tactic nearly worked.

Umm what did I like? Matt Wile made some kicks, Dennis Norfleet danced.

Josh: I liked the defense, obviously. In a game that needed them the most, the defensive group stepped up and played the best against a Power Five team all season. Granted, MSU is the huge test here, but having high hopes for that game seems a bit foolish. I also loved Dennis Norfleet and "Atomic Dog," who could hate that?

What I hated? I didn't like the running game. You obviously lose a lot when Derrick Green goes out for the season, and we saw what De'Veon Smith could do when receiving the bulk of the carries.. Not much. However, I don't think all is lost completely. Smith hasn't seen much of the carries since high school, give him some time to get in stride. This bye week will do wonders.

Drew: Michigan beat Penn State, but the manner in which the Wolverines did it did not change my perception of this team. Yes, the defense played well, but, as I wrote repeatedly in this week's Film Focus column, much of its success was due to the pure awfulness of Penn State's offense, the line specifically. This will not be the case in East Lansing when the Wolverines will face the Big Ten's best offensive line -- the three sacks Michigan State has allowed all season is the fewest in the nation. Can Michigan's defensive line pressure Connor Cook and force him to make mistakes? That would be a great start if Michigan wants to pull the upset.

What did I hate? Let's just say I was not a fan of Brady Hoke committing a game- or player-management blunder for the fourth straight game. Calling a timeout to stop the clock with three seconds left in the half when Penn State has a 4th & 1 on its own 39-yard line? Did you really think James Franklin was going to send the punt team out there, Brady? Really? Hoke cannot afford one such mistake against Mark Dantonio and Michigan State next week.

The Big Ten has had some chaos already, with Iowa and Minnesota leading the B1G West, Rutgers and Maryland are 1-1 behind OSU and MSU in the East Does this type of scenario hold with Michigan out of the picture so early?

SHASH: I have no idea how to answer this question except to say there is no chance that any of those four teams finish in the top two in their divisions. Maaaybe Maryland, but, wait, nope. :)

Peter: I've bought into the Gophers wholeheartedly. They've had positive starts in the past and then fall apart, but they have never had a coach like Jerry Kill leading them. I gotta grab onto this and think positive thoughts...until they face Nebraska. Wisconsin should be a win this year. Rutgers and Maryland will fall apart, so there's no fear that either one will be in a good position to take the East.

John: I have absolutely no idea who is going to win the West now that Wisconsin has taken a step back. In the end I think Nebraska will take the crown but if Minnesota can keep playing solid football there is no reason they couldn't take that ticket to Indy.

Atticus: Yeah, I'm with you guys. Minnesota might lose to some of these teams (hey, maybe they can't stop Melvin Gordon, or hey, maybe Iowa gives them a hard time), but they attack the game with the right attitude, and that's what makes them a safe bet week to week. I love their secondary, I like their athleticism on defense, and the more I look at Mitch Leidner as a quarterback and the offensive line, the more my doubts fall away from this team. They are what they are, and dang if it isn't a good product.

Of those four you mentioned, Minny gets my vote. I don't see Rutgers and Maryland winning the East, but do they have to? If they stand ahead of Michigan and Penn State at the end of the year, nobody would say that was a bad first year in the Big Ten.

Zach: I like Minnesota. The team has a solid identity on both sides of the ball, the talent level is rising, and I actually trust Jerry Kill not to get in his team's way as a coach (which is what disqualifies Iowa and to a lesser extent, Maryland). But the west is kind of a gross mess of bad football, so being the least worse might be the difference.

Kevin: Strangely, I think Iowa or Northwestern will sneak in there and compete for their divisions. It seems to be the type of year where Kirk Ferentz and Pat Fitzgerald can look like geniuses while the rest of the teams derp around.

Josh: I'm with Zach here, I love what Jerry Kill and his staff have done in Minnesota. They've built a team and have been able to keep the staff together, which is huge. Although I don't expect HUGE things from them, taking the Little Brown Jug from Michigan is a fantastic first step. I do love chaos, though.

Drew: Both Rutgers and Maryland have already suffered conference losses -- to Penn State and Ohio State, respectively -- and I just do not see any scenario where either of them will finish ahead of Michigan State or Ohio State in the Big Ten East. On the other hand, the Big Ten West is a mess, and it would not surprise me if one of Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, or Minnesota won the division. I still lean towards Wisconsin -- feed Melvin Gordon -- but Iowa could really benefit from facing the Badgers and Huskers at home. And I think Minnesota and Nebraska's chances are much lower because both must travel to Madison and Iowa City.

As is typical, lot of off-the-field shenanigans are taking away from a pretty great college football season thus far. What things have stuck out, good or bad? Lou Holtz dancing with a cowbell is an acceptable answer for either.

SHASH: The Todd Gurley bullshit strikes me as a low point, and Jameis Winston is doing everything he can to make it hard to root for him. I'm going to turn this question slightly around and say the high point for me is seeing the traditional power structure in the SEC usurped, even if it's just for a week or two. I think the other high for me was that kickass Michigan marching band show at UTL.

Peter: Yeah, Shash, the stuff with Gurley and Winston are just ridiculous. I never thought that a football player's name would get more annoying than Manziel's did, but if I hear Winston's name one more time I'm going to f-ing punch myself in the face. How Florida State hasn't just locked this kid in a room is baffling to me.

John: I do like that everyone a lot of people are standing behind Gurley against the NCAA. The NCAA could actually end a lot of college football issues by allowing students to charge for autographs (the money could fill any gaps that small stipends would) and there really is no reason not to let them do it. After all, I'm a student and I can charge people for my autograph so why can't Gurley? Winston is in a similar position but he has far worse things on his record book already.

Zach: Lou Holtz dancing is never an acceptable anything.

Honestly, I've been so caught up in Michigan's off the field business that I haven't paid much attention to anything but the games when it comes to the rest of the country. And really, in regards to the Gurley thing, isn't every bit of new hypocrisy perpetrated by the NCAA just another hole in the dam already leaking water like a colander? I mean, I can't even get worked up over it.

Drew: Seriously, Zach. Whoever handed Lou Holtz that cowbell should have been fired immediately. And I also agree with Zach that I have not focused much on off-the-field shenanigans not related to Michigan. The circus in Ann Arbor already consumes too many hours of my day.

Kevin: Kirk Herbstreit had a bit of insight into these matters in last Saturday's Gameday. His position was that if Johnny Manziel can get a slap on the wrist, why not sign some merchandise if the NFL will still draft these guys in two or three years. So, in Gurley's mind, what's the harm if he can essentially take half the year off, continue to train, and get drafted in the first round? Of course, nothing has been proven yet.

The good: the state of Mississippi having two wrecking ball teams in the top five, and the prospect of Michigan getting a new AD and head coach in the same year.


What games are ya watching without the stress of waiting around for a Michigan game this week? Does Jameis Winston play against ND? Who else is on upset watch, and which coaches' seats get hotter?

SHASH: I'm actually going golfing. It's been rough because my usual foursome are NFL fans and I could care less about Sunday football, so I'm going to spend a relaxing day getting angry about how terrible I am at golf. Oh, and I'll probably cook something awesome. Time will tell. Can FSU-ND end in a tie? I'd be down with that. Mostly because then no one wins and both fanbases feel empty. Upset watch? Great, now I have to look at a schedule... I'll say Georgia @ARK mostly because Bielma's a good coach and the Gurley fiasco has to be a little demoralizing/distracting. Second choice would be Nebraska vs Northwestern, meh? As far as coaching hot seats go, I'd really like the Niners to implode this weekend.

Peter: What did I say about Winston's name being mentioned? /punches self in the face

I'll be sitting around waiting for some new furniture to arrive between 9:00 a.m.-the Big Crunch, but the television will probably have Minnesota/Purdue on and then it will probably be family day the rest of the day. I was gone all of last weekend, so the kids will probably get tired of me trying to make up for it.

The hot seat answer, I think, is Will Muschamp at Florida. If the Gators fall to Missouri on Saturday, you can expect the calls for Dan Mullen to replace Muschamp to get louder. Maybe Michigan can start taking some notes for their search.

John: I actually plan on bailing on college football this weekend too. Weather permitting I'll be taking the convertible out to go do a bunch of fall things such as walking along lakes, eating donuts and drinking fall beers that everyone pretends to like because they're on sale.

That being said though I'll be keeping an eye on Kentucky vs LSU as the Cats knock on the door of a Top 25 rankings, bowl eligibility and, above all else, respect... and it's not even basketball season! Plus night game in Death Valley with Brent Musburger commentating? Yes please.

I think Winston will play this weekend unless something concrete comes up. Jimbo Fisher supporting Winston clearly shows that Jameis has come to coach Fisher and told him he was not paid, so he'll play until some evidence is brought to the coach.

And upset watch is LSU!!! The 9.5 point favorites will lose on saturday night to the resurgent Wildcats and Les Miles seat will begin to get a little toasty. This game fits both my agendas as a Kentucky win makes me happy and an LSU loss gets Les Miles one game closer to coaching at Michigan (assuming Jackie Harbaugh isn't available). Put in stone folks, Kentucky 27 LSU 21.

Zach: There aren't a lot of really great games this week, but the Baylor-WVU game should be a good bet at noon. I'll probably split time between MSU-IU, OKST-TCU, and Bama-TAMU for the afternoon games until one becomes the most compelling. I mostly want to watch MSU's defense play a hapless offense that isn't Michigan's, almost like how some people expose themselves to trace amounts of poison over a long period of time to develop an immunity. A solid half of MSU-IU could be just what I need to prepare for Michigan's eventual beheading at the hands of the Spartans in two weeks. Finally, I hope ND-FSU is a good game, but if it isn't I have a sneaking suspicion that Oregon-Washington will be worth tuning in to.

All of that adds up to a happy, stress free Saturday. I kinda like the sound of that after the way the season has unfolded.

Josh: I am not sure if I will tune in to football this weekend. But, if I do, I will be watching FSU-ND (barring if Winston plays and methinks he will.) This weekend might be filled with kicking back and gaining back lost sleep over the past few weeks.

Kevin: How about some ACC chaos for your Saturday? Virginia plays Duke in Durham, and Duke has the better record. Georgia travels to Arkansas as well, and I feel this is the best chance for Bielema to get a tough conference win without Todd Gurley on the field. And of course the eternal "Fire Mark Richt" crowd will resurface as well if the Bulldogs lose. I think we're all in agreement on Muschamp, but Florida tanking is also bad news for Michigan, because it gives them time to go after Dan Mullen. Kentucky winning that game is a distinct possibility, John is right on the money with that pick.

Drew: I'm going to be in Vegas. I recommend you spend your bye week doing the same.