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MnB Roundtable Comes Out From Under the Covers

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OK. Last week didn't go so well. We pick up the pieces and take a look at Michigan's post-implosion game against Miami.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

What're your thoughts for this week's game coming off such an embarrassing loss?

Peter: Uh, what are you talking about? I remember no such thing! Last week was all sunshine and unicorn farts, right? Embarrassing loss! That's crazy talk. This isn't even a real question, right?

/ sobs in a pillow

Anthony M: My thoughts are mostly centered around the depressing state of Michigan's football program, but let's focus on those unicorn farts, which probably smell better than Brady Hoke's hot dog water cologne.

Zooby Q: Unicorn farts sound oddly appealing.

Zach: Anything less than an easy looking blowout against a team that hasn't won a game since October 2012 is going to send just about everyone over the edge. Michigan needs to win so big and easily that no one talks about the game.

Kevin Bunkley: "Depressing state" is putting it gently. It's more of a dumpster fire than coherent football program, but it'll give us some insight as to whether this coaching staff is up to the task of pulling it together. Thus far in Hoke's tenure, Michigan has yet to improve from week to week, and that's not the way it should be.

Atticus: I'm concerned about this football program. I'm concerned we'll have another bad transition if Hoke is fired, and I'm concerned about the whole athletic department at this point and its ability to keep up with the Alabamas of the world. Heck, I'm concerned that we can't beat Utah.

John: Well despite my letters to the NCAA, college football has not been cancelled after last weeks debacle, so if we have to football then I'd like to get a better grasp on the physical health of this team. We all know Funch and the other key players were in that game way too long and their health is key to salvaging any part of this season. I'll be much more optimistic about this season if I know we'll have Funch, Peppers, etc. for the B1G stretch run.

KB: That's the most irritating thing about how this program operates. They say absolutely nothing about the health of their players, but maybe they truly just do not know day-to-day, and are caught with their pants down when a few guys are unable to play.

Hollywood Hokester: Following a simple formula: Score. Three and out for Miami. Score. Three and out for Miami. Score. Three and out for Miami. Score. Don't get hurt. Win. Go home. Start preparing for Utah.

ZQ: I think that while A LOT of people will point the finger at Brady Hoke, and rightfully so, the real problem is above him. Mr. Athletic Director, Dave Brandon, is bad for Michigan. He thought with his ego with the Hoke hire, didn't want to give their reigns to a guy like Les Miles or go all out for Jim Harbaugh. I'm not sure what to think about this week's game, a win, sure. However, beyond the Michigan State/Ohio State games, I'm not sure how much 2014 really matters after that Notre Dame thud.

JH: DOOOOOOM! But, seriously, if Michigan doesn't win this game handedly then we have some big problems.

Drew Hallett: There is no doubt that Michigan's shutout loss in South Bend was embarrassing. But, while the rest of you are smelling unicorn farts, submitting petitions to the NCAA to cancel the rest of the season, and calling for Brady Hoke's head, I do not think it was as bad as a 31-0 final score suggests. Michigan's defensive front-seven was stout. Jourdan Lewis played relatively well. The secondary will not be without Raymon Taylor and Jabrill Peppers all season. Nor will it face another quarterback as talented as Everett Golson, except maybe Christian Hackenberg. Devin Funchess is still on the team. Devin Gardner will be more Good Gardner than Bad Gardner. And the offensive line *is* improving, albeit slowly. So put away your torches and pitchforks.

Games against Notre Dame are always strange. I mean, Michigan just lost a game by 31 points in which it actually out-gained its opponent, 289-280. Weird stuff happens. Especially in South Bend. I cannot stress this enough. This week, the Wolverines face the perfect opponent -- a Miami (OH) team that has lost 18 straight games -- to help put this loss behind them and regain their confidence. Michigan should still thoroughly dominate the RedHawks and not allow a Week 2 loss sidetrack its entire season, especially as the rest of the Big Ten crumbles. If this game is a struggle, though...

KB: "Good Gardner Bad Gardner" sounds like the title of a campy network TV drama.

What's one thing (besides points) you want to see Michigan do better at this week?

Peter: Using players other than Devin Funchess (not that I don't love the guy, of course). I was quite disappointed by the fact that the playcalling was so blah last week. Nussmeier needs to try different things during the game, but I don't mean the way Borges did; he needs to open things up a bit and don't get freaked out because Dennis Norfleet gets blown up on a play--it's okay to come back to him. This is the perfect game to really open the playbook to all of the talent.

Anthony M: I agree with Peter. Doug Nussmeier obviously came into the game looking to get the ball into the hands of Funchess, who almost had double-digit catches. That said, he was being defended by a corner who was seven or eight inches shorter than him, which is a ridiculous advantage on fade routes -- or any other route. Funchess is capable of creating mismatches against any secondary in the country, so there's no reason why he shouldn't have more than a handful of deep targets, which wasn't the case Saturday. Send the best receiver in the country deep and reap the rewards, Nuss.

KB: I'd like to see Michigan make better use of the personnel they put on the field, and not just Funchess like Anthony said. Three of the four starters in Michigan's secondary vanished before or during the Notre Dame game, and Michigan didn't seem to have a clue what to do with the players they had left. Either say that those starters are actually injured and won't play, or play them. It's maddening to hear the same non-answers every time a starting player disappears from the field.

To that effect, when Michigan finally figures out how to use the talent they've got, I hope they improve greatly on adjusting to what the opposing team is doing. Mattison and Nussmeier had zero answers for both Notre Dame's offensive and defensive schemes. We'll see more lopsided losses if this staff continues to appear clueless to the strengths and weaknesses of their own team.

Atticus: Yeah, as someone who preached the value of depth for as long as I can remember, that was totally embarrassing. There is no reason we should have crashed and burned that badly when a few defensive starters go out.

As for something I'd like to see, it won't come this week but I'd like to see us be comfortable in a fight against a good opponent. We do great against teams like Miami of Ohio, and then think we're okay because Funchess or Gallon can get 250 receiving yards against MAC competition. That's not good enough.

John: Less Green more Smith. Smith has looked faster and has averaged more yards per carry than smith through the first two games. I don't know if I'm alone here but to me Smith is the answer at running back and could help the line a bit with better running. Don't get me wrong, the line was bad on saturday but a good runner can make it look a little better. Also I'd like to see a kicker not named Matt Wile.

Peter: You're not alone, John. In our preseason roundtable, I predicted that Smith would get 1,000 yards this year, and I'm not seeing anything to make me walk away from that. Smith is going to be the Devin Funchess of the backfield: a very special ray of light. Matt Wile? I'm on my way to Ann Arbor right now to try and walk on. When I was a kid, my nickname in empty lot football was The Boot because I could kick better than anyone else. Michigan will take a 40-year-old walk-on with no eligibility trying to relive being 11, right?

KB: Smith seems to want to run over people with little regard for how much it's going to hurt. It's probably time to lean toward him as the main starter for the Big Ten season.

Zach: Can we get some reliable press coverage? I know Miami OH is probably going to roll out two sacks of bricks at WR, but until I see Blake Countess get a jam and force said sack of bricks toward the sideline instead of giving up an easy inside release, I'm skeptical.

DH: THIS. Michigan will not be scrapping its press coverage after one tough outing, so improvement here is a must. I specifically will be looking at Blake Countess' footwork. His footwork was a mess in the press against Notre Dame. Too many times it left him off balance, which rendered him unable to jam or throw a punch at a receiver effectively. The RedHawks' receivers will not be nearly the same caliber as Notre Dame's William Fuller, but this will be a great opportunity for Countess to work on his technique.

Zach: Also, I'm with Pete. I want Matt Wile to have his How Stella Got Her Groove Back moment sometime this week and show me I wasn't a fool to believe in him all offseason. I like the kid, and I want to see him succeed.

Atticus: I'm of the feeling those two kicks were the least of our worries - even if they did affect our team's confidence the rest of the night, it shouldn't be that easy to get us out of our game. College kickers will be college kickers. Hopefully he gets some more through the uprights, though.

HH: I'd like to see a relaxed Gardner from first to last snap so that he can build back up his confidence after the ND game. And like Pete said, spread the ball around on offense. Funchess has 16 receptions while the rest of the team has 18.

ZQ: To quote Outkast, I want Bombs Over The Big House. I want Gardner throwing deep passes to Chesson, Darboh, etc. I want Michigan to open things up because until they prove they can throw deep, I don't think the offensive line and/or the running game can be effective. This offense has to open things up starting downfield and getting some easy scores. I also want Gardner pulled by the end of the third quarter if there is a big lead and let Shane Morris play more.

JH: I agree with Pete, but I'd also like to see Gardner go back to week one Gardner. I liked him much better. Better decision-making and targeting someone other than Devin would be a nice improvement over last week.

Does Michigan right the ship and get the W?

Peter: Oh, yes they will, and it's going to be a big beat-down, too. If the final is anything other than 63-3, I'm going to be upset. As I said in #2, though, Nuss should spread the ball around a little bit more and get more players involved. Funchess, Chesson, Darboh, and Norfleet will score on receptions and a punt return, while Green and Smith will do the dirty work on the ground. Hell, Joe Kerridge may even score.

Anthony M: Yes. I don't want to imagine the hellstorm a loss would create. I'll be wearing my booze over my jersey if Miami even remotely competes.

KB: Remember when Brady Hoke nearly beat Lloyd Carr and Michigan while coaching at Ball State, and everyone figured it was because Lloyd was too nice of a guy to soundly beat one of his good buddies? I don't want to see that with Hoke facing a fellow MAC school. Not even a whiff of a close game. The MAC is done being a cupcake league, they know they can beat anybody in our league when the stars align, and Michigan is usually the top target to get revene upon for that absurd win-loss record against MAC schools. Michigan will win, but like Peter, I want it to be 60-0 in the third quarter.

John: Good God I hope so. Michigan 48 Miami (OH) 14. Look for kickers not named Matt Wile hitting field goals.

Zach: Miami OH is so bad that "righting the ship" probably isn't even necessary. A capsized dingy could still put up four TDs on the Redhawks.

Atticus: Yeah, a green pineapple could put up some touchdowns on the Redhawks. I'll say Michigan, 43, and Miami, 0. Shane Morris trots out early and puts up some good numbers.

ZQ: Mmmmm, pineapple.

HH: Even a blowout win against Miami on Saturday doesn't mean the Wolverines have righted the ship. They could win 100-0, but until they show consistency against solid opponents on the road, the Michigan football ship will still be foundering.

ZQ: The Wolverines will win, ride off into the Big Ten Burrito sunset and get home in time to watch Oklahoma vs. Tennessee. Michigan State is off in week three so no hoping for back-to-back Spartan losses. Dare to dream.

JH: They will, they better. If Michigan loses this game I will eat something awful on camera (food item TBD).

DH: Yes. Michigan will win. Michigan will win by a lot. I have seen some fans compare 2014 Miami (OH) to 2013 Akron. I understand the comparison. Both are MAC teams that were riding some bad losing streaks before coming to Ann Arbor. But here's the difference: 2013 Akron turned out to be a mediocre MAC team; 2014 Miami (OH) just lost to a middle-of-the-pack FCS program in Eastern Kentucky. Michigan's reserves will be in with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Michigan 52, Miami (OH) 10.

Around the rest of college football, what's your game to watch?

Peter: None of the noon games are really that intriguing for me. I'll definitely have my eye on the Minnesota at TCU game, though. It's going to be tough with the Gophers probably starting a freshman in place of Mitch Leidner, so this is going to be a David Cobb-heavy game. He probably won't get the 220 he had last week against Middle Tennessee, but he's going to solidify his position as one of the league's best backs. The Gophers shock the world and come away with a 1-point win.

I'm going to pick one more and say Illinois at Washington could actually turn out to be quite good and a shootout. The Huskies have allowed almost 700 yards passing in two games against Hawaii and Eastern Washington, while the Illini's Wes Lunt has passed for 741 yards in his first two against Youngstown State and Western Kentucky. If Illinois wins this one, Tim Beckman may actually get a little respect. Just a little.

Anthony M: I'm going with UCLA vs Texas, solely because UCLA is struggling and Texas still has an elite amount of talent on its roster. I've always been a bit of a Texas supporter, so I'd like to see Charlie Strong get his first signature victory and take out a team that's been overhyped for quite some time now. I fully expect the Bruins to win, but Texas' raw talent could make things interesting.

KB: Dang Anthony has caught on to how strange of a team UCLA is right now and why I nearly felt like a fool picking them in week one to see them almost blow it against Virginia. This week I'm torn between Oklahoma-Tennessee and West Virginia-Maryland. Oklahoma hasn't gotten much attention and they're in the top five, and that's because their defense is very good and Trevor Knight has been lights out. Probably won't be close in score but anything could happen. I also hope I can get near a TV when Maryland plays so I can see their absurd Star-Spangled Banner uniforms in use.

Atticus: I need to make up for my easy pick last week (Ole Miss over Vandy? Really?), so I'm going to go with the Missouri-Central Florida contest. I've waffled back and forth, but I'm going to go UCF, 24-23.

John: So my first two obscure picks haven't been the best (Indiana didn't get to 100 against Indiana State, Toledo didn't beat Missouri) but this week will change all of that! The must watch game of the week is Kansas at Duke in a key matchup of unbeaten contenders... wait this isn't basketball? Oh. Then Kentucky at Florida as John Calipari... wait still basketball. Ok Syracuse at Central Michigan! This weeks pick once again features a power conference team facing a true road game against the MAC. CMU pounded Purdue and looks like a real contender in the MAC and an upset over Syracuse (favored by 7) would almost guarantee a bowl game for the Chips. The Chips are the Mitten's best chance to make the playoffs at 2-0 and a 34-31 win over Cuse will continue that trend. Fire Up Chips!

Atticus: I love your game picks. I don't know much about either team, but I know Syracuse plays tough in the trenches.

Peter: I bet Rawls is so glad he transferred from UM to Central, John.

Atticus: Sad face.

Zach: UGA-USC. Yeah, I know USC let me down week one, but there is nothing like watching the 3:30 game on CBS.

KB: Betting against Todd Gurley is a bold move, Zach...willing to risk the embarrassment again, eh? Spurrier won't be made a fool of twice, though.

Also, I think Maryland-West Virginia and Minnesota-TCU will both be sneaky good games.

HH: I'm picking Purdue over Notre Dame, because screw logic. The Boilermakers have played the Irish close in the last two seasons, including Notre Dame needing a last-second field goal in ‘12 to preserve their undefeated season. Purdue will do what Michigan couldn't and send a rivalry with the Irish into hiatus with a win. Also, South Carolina over Georgia, because screw logic.

ZQ: Georgia vs. South Carolina at 3:30 is the game of the week. However, the best thing on Saturday is going to be College Gameday. My Week Three Preview Guide is up on MnB and shows why a trip up to Fargo is must-see television.

JH: What Anthony said. I feel like Texas and Michigan are similar programs right now and want to see Charlie Strong get his first team. Jim Mora has done an excellent job with making UCLA what it is today and it should be a fun game. If Texas loses, you know Strong will boot half their players off the team anyway.

DH: Penn State at Rutgers. Yes, I just said that the game I voluntarily will be watching involves Rutgers. I know. I am probably losing it. Nonetheless, none of the national games intrigue me much other than the obvious Georgia-South Carolina and UCLA-Texas (no, Tennessee-Oklahoma is not included since the Sooners will run away with that one). And Penn State-Rutgers features two Big Ten East opponents Michigan will square off against. Because the Big Ten is really all that matters for the Wolverines now, might as well learn as much about them as I can. Plus, I actually think this will be a competitive game, with the Nittany Lions earning the win thanks to a big performance by Christian Hackenberg against Rutgers' horrid secondary. Penn State 33, Rutgers 24.