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The Last Word: Michigan vs. Rutgers Was Fun

Michigan won’t be suiting up for a game this week, but at least they can - actually, I’m being told we just scored again on Rutgers. Not sure what’s going on there.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Rutgers Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think anyone’s kept track of the worst recruiting weekends in history, and I’m sure there are some doozies. But if you lose a game so badly that people in the media start wondering whether your university belongs in that conference - well, that’s a bad weekend for recruiting. Bad vibes.

I wasn’t on the sidelines with anybody, but the 200 or so recruits on hand (one of whom was Michigan target Isaiah Wilson) probably knew this was turning into a memorable evening in all the wrong ways. Ohio State had tuned up Rutgers 58-0 the week before, so it’s not exactly like anybody was wondering, “Hey, maybe this is a 61-58 type game,” or, “hey, Rutgers might find a way to get 80 points in the next two minutes if they just get .... how many on-side kicks is that, anyway...”

They just look like they’re in pain.
Photo credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

And I don’t even mean this satirical piece by Off Tackle Empire, which claimed Rutgers was getting booted out of the conference after the game. Former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy was spouting off on Sirius XM about why Rutgers was even in the Big Ten, and casual fans were rehashing the reasons why Rutgers was originally added a few years ago. 78-0 will do that to you, and it’s a rough blow for even a confident player.

I touched on this a little bit the day before the game, but Ash has a very tricky situation unfolding in his locker room - something that will take a lot of managing, and, honestly, something that Ash might be able to handle pretty well if he’s able to connect with his players’ pain and talk about some of his own adversity.

The game ended with a handshake and a mea culpa. How bad is it for Chris Ash right now? Jim Harbaugh actually apologized to the Rutgers head coach at midfield and told him he wasn't trying to run up the score in this 78-0 blowout.

"No, no I know. That's ok," Ash told the Michigan coach, according to two witnesses. Ash had bigger things to worry about than the biggest shutout loss in Rutgers history since the first Grover Cleveland administration (that's 1888). He had to worry about the fragile morale of his team.

So, the big challenge now for Ash and everyone in that locker room is to get on track against Illinois - which is the team that just lost to Purdue last weekend. (And losing to a team that loses to Purdue is even more discouraging, so best avoid that.)

It’s a game that will pit a former NFL head coach against a first-year college head coach, the #86 scoring offense in the nation (Illinois) against a #119 scoring defense, and Illinois’ #86 scoring defense against the #124 scoring offense of Rutgers. This will be much less memorable than Ali vs. Frazier - maybe a Depression-Era reference like Cinderella Man is more appropriate - but it will be a slug-fest for both sides as they try to staunch the bleeding.

Good luck, gentlemen.

Howard v Rutgers
Rutgers was able to beat Howard 52-14 in Week 2, then beat Greg 44-24 in Week 3. They lost to Bob the next week.
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Washington running back Myles Gaskin has just scored a 65-yard touchdown against Brady Hoke’s Oregon defense. Washington now leads 21-0 at the end of one. We’ll keep you posted if this score changes. Probably won’t.

You know what, that 31-14 loss to BYU last week must have been pretty painful. Actually, this whole season isn’t going well; your losing streak is now at three games, isn’t it? I can’t even imagine.

But, you’ve been very mature through the whole thing. You haven’t burned any couches after a loss, and you didn’t draw genitalia in the snow after your win against Furman. (Maybe you would have if there was snow, I don’t know.) So, in some ways, this season has showed a lot of progress. I’m proud of you.

And, you know what, things take time. Sometimes you need to grow into that phase where you can start doing the big boy stuff. That takes time. I understand it’s frustrating, but don’t stop drinking your milk or doing your homework in the meantime.

I recommend whole milk, by the way. I gotchu, bro. Keep being awesome. You’ll get there.

A statement never before uttered, by the way. I’m starting to think Hoke isn’t going to make it out of this season unscathed; he simply hasn’t shown the ability to do anything against Pac-12 offenses. Anyway, here’s a really awesome pass in the middle of the second quarter to John Ross; this fade route in the third quarter, though, takes the cake (and Brady Hoke wanted that cake):

That game ended up being a 70-21 drubbing at the hands of the best team in the Pac-12 - a title that used to belong to Oregon. Hoke’s defense has given up 522.3 yards per game (126th in the nation) and 41.8 points (125th). Last year, Oregon’s defense under Don Pellum gave up 485.3 and 37.5.

Pellum wasn’t good enough for Mark Helfrich, so I’d be very surprised if Hoke lasted long, either. Eventually, the question becomes whether Helfrich himself gets the axe, and who the athletic department might try to pursue for a replacement. Oregon has been on a downward spiral for a while now.

Penn State has looked great for a second straight week, crushing D.J. Durkin’s upstart Terrapins, 38-14. You’ve probably forgotten about the game where Maryland’s captains refused to shake hands with the Penn State captains - me too, actually - but after Maryland won that game in 2014, Penn State has snagged back-to-back wins. The one last week was pretty emphatic, and Franklin desperately needed it.

Easily my favorite moment from that game came when Saquon Barkley hurdled a defender, completed a spin move and got a first down. BTN’s announcer (who shall remain nameless) shouted out, “Who does this stuff?!” It’s stuff like this that makes football awesome.

On the other hand, Matt Millen (who shall remain nameless) probably should have stopped before adding, “This is just freaky stuff.” Seriously, don’t ever say that, Mr. Announcer Guy. Please.

Penn State’s kicker Joey Julius became a big sensation earlier this season when he showed his love for delivering big hits on opponents’ kick returns. Still, the last couple games have shown a change of fortune for him: back-to-back weeks where someone else got ejected for delivering the wood against him in a big way.

Regardless, he seems to have inspired some kickers (who are people, too) to prove they can both take and deliver the punishment of a football game.

Apparently there's something in the water in Pennsylvania because North Penn High School kicker and punter Kelly Macnamara, the first female to play for her team, did her best Julius impression during a play last week.

The opponent, Central Bucks East, put together a razzle-dazzle reverse play on the return which fooled everyone -- except Macnamara. She tracked the ball carrier, met him with perfect timing and sent him flying out of bounds with a massive hit.

Seriously, go check out this play. It’s a good one.

Anyway, now that Julius is on other teams’ radar, coaches will be sure to do some digging to find out how to stop him. And, it turns out he has a big weakness:

Better put some lead blockers on the field dressed as clowns, then. And, unfortunately for Julius, Penn State’s next opponent is Big Shoes Urban Meyer, who you just know was a clown in another life.

Oops, I should have deleted this section. Well, now that I’m here, a small observation: Michigan’s chances of losing against Hawaii in Week 1, which were pegged at 2%, and Rutgers in Week 6 - pegged at 3% - are really embarrassingly close to the odds when playing against literally nobody, like they are this week. I know I’m not exactly pointing out anything complicated here; I just think it’s really cool. And embarrassing if you’re Hawaii or Rutgers.

Alright, that’s it for me. I’m backwards-walking out of here. Adios, amigos.