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MnB Roundtable Impresses the Committee

The College Football Playoff approaches, and so does the (merciful) end to Michigan's season.

David Banks

Agree or disagree with Pat Fitzgerald going for the win in regulation last Saturday? Moreover, how poorly did Michigan play to only put ten points on the board?

John: Absolutely love going for the win for a few reasons. Number 1: That game was horrible and NOBODY wanted it to go to OT. Number 2: In OT you need 25 yards, a kick, and a defensive stop to win compared to just 3 yards to win with the 2-point conversion. Seems like a clear choice to me. One example where I would avoid this is home team with a raucous crowd and an explosive offense, but Northwestern lacks both.

As for Michigan? Gardner looked awful, they put the ball on the ground and special teams struggled. This is just an example of systematic issues on the football team as a whole. More often than not good teams don't get kicks blocked, fumble twice and throw two picks.

Kevin: The lack of the fundamentals is the most frustrating, isn't it? In the tenth game, Michigan is failing at field goal attempts, missing blocks, dropping easy passes, and unable to score points. That'd be unacceptable in any other program, why does Michigan tolerate the terrible?

I can see Fitz's decision both ways. However, it doesn't appear there was a lot of anger toward what they did...I guess when your season is a disaster, why not try to humiliate an already-humiliated Michigan team. He obviously couldn't have known Michigan was going to bring pressure on that side, but all their pass plays up to that point had been the opposite of whatever that was. I bet if they'd called a two-step drop with a quick out route, Northwestern wins that game.

Zach: In a game in which no one seemed to care about the well being of the fans forced to watch it, to see Pat Fitzgerald mercifully try to end that in regulation before it went to extra time is commendable.

And in all seriousness, I can't blame him. His offense had run into a wall repeatedly all day. Michigan's defense was better and the Michigan run game was starting to actually do something positive. It is the same reason I supported Michigan going for the win against OSU last season. Your odds on one play might not be great, but they are better than things going right over potentially multiple possessions for each team.

Josh: I agree with the call, just like I agreed with the call to go for the win against Ohio State last season. If you're in a position to win the game and maybe expose a tired defense, you do it. Plus, I think we're all in agreeance here, this game was awful and you don't want to see it go to OT.

Peter: Yeah, man, why not go for it? It was a game that made everyone's eyes bleed, so trying to end it was not only the best thing to do for Northwestern, but everyone on the planet.

I'm not sure if enough words can be said about how awful Michigan was on Saturday. As was said above, everything that happened was just indicative of the overall health of the program. There really isn't that much more we can say about how frazzled Gardner is, either. The entire program is in a state of depression and it's showing on the field every week.

Drew: As a person subjected to three-plus hours of what I would consider the worst college football game I have ever watched, I wholeheartedly endorse Pat Fitzgerald's decision to go for two, just to ensure Michigan-Northwestern couldn't go to overtime. However, as a person that enjoys proper game management, I think the optimal decision was to kick the PAT and take their chances in overtime. Generally, the home team should go for two and the win in such a situation only when the opponent is a much better team or rolling offensively. Michigan had none of that going for them. Plus, the Wildcats had just racked up 169 of their 264 total yards on their last two drives. They seemed to have just found the answer to pick apart Michigan's secondary and could have exploited that in overtime, where the margin for error is larger than a two-point play.

But I am grateful to Fitzgerald and his aggression. We didn't need to see anymore of this:


We're in week three of the College Football Playoff rankings. What're your impressions of what the committee is favoring for cause to move up into the top four right now?

John: I don't get what they're doing with TCU and Baylor. The main argument seems to be that TCU has a better non-conference schedule than Baylor, implying more quality wins. Yet I am supposed to think a TCU victory over Minnesota is more impressive than a Baylor victory over TCU? Idk maybe I'm old fashioned, but I think head to head wins out every time. I'll also include my two mandatory gripes about the committee here:

Every rule they state needs an *Except for SEC attached.
Why are there active University employees on the committee? Imagine if Baylor or TCU had an AD and the other didn't? The bias this will lead to will burn a team eventually.

Drew: Regarding your second gripe, there's a policy in place to recuse committee members from participating in votes involving a school's team if they or an immediate family member receives compensation from the school or has a professional relationship with that school. The purpose of the policy is to eliminate the potential bias of which you speak.

Zach: I havent watched one second of the selection committee show, and I have only glanced at its rankings in passing.

I'm all for a four-team playoff, and I think we are moving in the right direction with the sport as a whole when it comes to naming a champion, but I am not at all surprised that there is still a lot of controversy. What would college football be without that?

Kevin: There appears to be some inconsistency of the weight of strength of schedule, because Marshall is sitting there undefeated, outside of even the top ten, yet Baylor is way up there, and their conference schedule . TCU is the hot team right now, just as Ole Miss was a month ago before they fizzled out, so they have earned that spot at number four. Oregon has definitely played better opponents than Florida State, but Arizona State has been stuck behind Alabama and Baylor. I would argue that the Sun Devils have as good a chance as Ohio State does to slip in there in these final weeks, but the committee will have to evaluate margin of victory, quality wins, and strength of schedule much more stringently to break the logjam.

Peter: Like Zach, I haven't watched even a moment of the show, but I've looked at the ranking a little bit. For the most part, I'm okay with everything, but I'll disagree with John a tad on the TCU/Baylor thing. A 61-58 win for Baylor is nice on paper, but that's a whole shitload of points in a game where defense was obviously nowhere to be found. Yes, Minnesota had the horrendous loss to Illinois, but Baylor also lost to West Virginia. With only four teams, someone is going to be pissed off about their position, so I'm not so worried about things for right now. We'll be having the same discussion once the field is expanded to eight and then sixteen, too.

Drew: I think we all agree that the best part about the College Football Playoff is that there will be four teams vying for a national championship rather than just two. But what I really like about the selection committee thus far has been its transparency with its rankings, explaining why certain teams jumped other teams, etc., and its willingness to evaluate a team's entire resume each week rather than just moving a team up because it won and moving a team down because it lost. I do have some concerns about the metrics the committee uses to evaluate teams, like looking only at an opponent records to determine strength of schedule, but I'm satisfied thus far.

Regarding the TCU-Baylor debate, I think the committee is correct to rank TCU above Baylor. The most used argument I have seen from those advocating for Baylor is that the Bears beat the Horned Frogs head to head. While this is true, I would say that Baylor's three-point win at home against TCU, which happened only because of poor officiating in a critical moment, is evidence that TCU is the better team, not Baylor, on a neutral site. Then you add in that TCU has a quality non-conference win over Minnesota, whereas Baylor played cupcakes, I really don't think there's much of a debate at the moment. However, Baylor can close the gap the next few weeks.

Ohio State is the lone Big Ten team with even a remote chance of slipping into the playoff thanks to a favorable schedule the rest of the way. What're some scenarios that might get them in, and do they deserve that spot?

John: Well for one they have to win out and they need to be a 1 or 2 loss team in the championship game. If the team playing in Indy isn't in the Top 20 it will be a real tough sell. Now I have a hard time imagining a 2-loss team getting in above a 1-loss team unless 1 is the SEC champion. With that in mind I think we can safely say the top three will probably be this:
SEC Champ (MSU or Bama)
ACC Champ (FSU or Duke (no seriously))
PAC 12 Champ (Oregon or ASU)
Which leaves either the Big Ten or the Big 12 as the last team at the table. If all three teams win out they'll all have 3 wins over ranked teams with one loss, but only TCU will have lost to a ranked team. A lost by either TCU or Baylor hurts the other, so I think OSU could sneak in as long as one loses, but the championship game will be really important. Not having a title game will kill the Big 12 this year and if OSU destroys a 1-2 loss team they'll be a lock for the postseason. Winning a game against a quality opponent is much better than staying home.

Zach: Honestly, Ohio State just needs to keep winning big and hope that other teams play themeslves out of the discussion. The SEC, Pac-12, and Big-12 all have a pretty good claim to getting a spot, but there is enough competition there that the top teams could knock each other down over the next few weeks. I don't think it is likely that a path opens up, but stranger things have happened.

Josh: Although Ohio State's win against MSU was certainly impressive, they would need to do some serious damage against their remaining opponents (including winning big in the conference title game) in order to even get a passing glance at the final four. That loss against Virginia Tech might really bite them in the rear at the end of the day. Also, it doesn't help when you have very strong teams at the top who might need to collapse to help out Ohio State. Who doesn't like a little chaos?

Peter: Since we're Big Ten fans, we think that there's a chance for OSU to get in. Everyone at ESPN and in the SEC believe that a 2-loss SEC team should get in over a 1-loss Big Ten team. Because that makes all the sense in the world (sarcasm!). Although there's a chance they get in, I think it's a small one. OSU's last three games are Minnesota, Indiana, and Michigan--that's not exactly going to wow anyone. If they struggle even a little bit against any one of those teams, they're out. That tells me TCU or Alabama will be in the fourth spot.

Drew: I think Ohio State needs a bunch of help. Forget that the Buckeyes are the lowest ranked leader of any Power 5 conference. I'm of the opinion that Ohio State should be behind Auburn and Ole Miss in the rankings despite having one fewer loss than both. Auburn has three wins over current Top 25 teams with both losses to Top 25 teams. Ole Miss has two wins over current Top 25 teams with both losses to Top 25 teams. And then there's Ohio State, which has only one win over a current Top 25 team and a home loss to a Virginia Tech team that has a 1-4 ACC record. The only way the Buckeyes sneak into the College Football Playoff is to rout each remaining opponent and pray for pure and utter chaos at the top of the rankings. Good luck.

Michigan doesn't have a new AD yet, and Brady Hoke is still the head coach, but, SPECULATION TIME ONCE MORE. What coaches are on your radar who may not have been even a month ago?

Kevin: After watching Arizona State totally dismember Notre Dame, I think Todd Graham needs to be in the mix. He has a track record of jumping jobs, but perhaps if a bigtime program came calling he would settle down for a lengthy contract.

John: Kevin White (AD) and David Cutcliffe (Football Coach) from Duke. Looking past my hatred for Duke Basketball, Kevin White has ran the program well with success both on and off the field across many major sports. He has ties to the State and while he struggled with Notre Dame he seems to have found his nitch. David Cutliffe on the other hand is a veteran coach with experience in the SEC and ACC with a great history of academic success with players. Given that this about the only thing I can say Hoke has done right in his tenor, I'd say it's important to keep it up. Plus he turned Duke into a contender in the ACC. Duke.


Kevin: I love Cutcliffe's appeal as well, John, but his age concerns me. He's 60, two years younger than Les Miles, so who knows how long he'll want to keep coaching. Michigan had the right idea when hiring both Rodriguez and Hoke with regard to their age. Now we need a guy who can stay awhile but also, you know, coach good.

Zach: Tom Herman. Look what he just did to MSU's defense. I think Michigan would be well served to go after Herman if it strikes out on some of the top choices (Harbaugh, Mullen, etc.). Also, I'm on MGoBlog's Bob Stitt bandwagon.

Josh: Give me Harbaugh, or give me death.

Peter: I've given up on speculating. I've thrown a few names out there (Cutcliffe, Swinney, and others) in the past, but I don't see any of those guys heading to Ann Arbor. Everyone has their sights set on Harbaugh, but that just feels like heartbreak waiting to happen, so I don't even think about it. At this point I just want the decision to be a sound one, not an emotional one.

Drew: 1. Harbaugh. 2. Mullen. 3. Stoops/Sumlin/Patterson/Gundy. 4. Herman. 5. Miles

Bye week plans?

John: As part of my senior design project, I will be analyzing the stress and strains on multiple wing configurations for use in a commercial jetliner, while writing code to optimize all aspects of the aircraft. Fun.

Zach: I'll be watching a lot of football on Saturday, and almost none of it will make me want to stick my head in an industrial exhaust fan.

Kevin: "almost none of it" ? Which of the games will make you do that, Zach?

Nebraska-Wisconsin should be an entertaining football game while I sit around and wait for Miss. St-Alabama. Ameer Abdullah may be back to match Melvin Gordon, and those two guys have most of the Big Ten's rushing yards between them. College Gameday will visit Tuscaloosa, which probably means they'll find a non-Alabama-related celebrity picker.

Josh: My weekend might consist of some PS4 playing and beer drinking. That is to be determined, however.

Peter: Football will revolve around the Gophers and then nothing. This is the last calm weekend before the Thanksgiving push at work, during which I'll end up working like 17 days in a row, so I'm planning on doing my best impression of a vegetable, which will consist of continuing my mini-binge of Alias on Netflix this weekend. Although there may be some car shopping in there somewhere. I think I'd rather help you, John, so I'll be emailing some kick-ass scribbles of airplanes. Just be prepared for all of my designs to include machine guns and rocket launchers, because commercial aircraft (and automobiles) are better with guns and rockets.