First, let’s do some takeaways from Week 5, because it’s not quite a dead horse yet.
In a game that’s full of sprinters and violence, and coaches who look like General Patton when they’re shouting at their own players, Wilton Speight is almost somebody from a completely different sport - more of a gum-chewing outfielder who’s still in black and white and likes to bunt.
In fact, during the Wisconsin game, commentator Brian Griese said that Wilton has even given up on trash-talking other players. Instead, he’ll say positive things like, “Good job,” or “Good play.”
In a way, this is a perfect embodiment of the kind of one-rep-at-a-time, they-don’t-matter, only-we-matter approach that will keep Michigan on the straight and narrow. On the other hand, though, they are really trying to hurt you, dude. And you’re walking around like a living, breathing Morgan Freeman narration.
There’s no denying that the pass game has gotten off to a sluggish start, despite Speight’s inner peace and love and crap like that. Jehu Chesson, who is so good he’s been compared to Michigan’s Jehu Chesson, has just 13 catches for 197 yards on the year. Grant Perry has six catches in five games, and he’s looked great in those limited opportunities. You just know someone in the huddle is giving Wilton some side-eye in between plays.
Hopefully things start to click and Speight turns into one of the Big Ten’s best players, which he definitely has the ability to be. Jake Rudock hit the jets in Week 10 a year ago, when he followed up a 140-yard passing performance with a 337-yard domination. I’m sure the fact that he was playing Rutgers had nothing to do with it.
Also, as for the receivers, it’s not like this isn’t part of the routine. There is always somebody (usually the guy who’s #3 or #4 on the depth chart) who kind of gets screwed over by every bad bounce and every carom that happens all year long. He’s usually the one taking existentialism classes.
Colorado, which gave Michigan a test in Week 3, is in sole possession of first place in the Pac-12 South. And Michigan beat them 45-28.
As for every other opponent that Michigan has faced, the defense has done a great job of shutting down their star players or even most of their whole offense. Alex Hornibrook threw three picks last week, while Wisconsin’s running backs combined for under 4.0 yards a carry and, importantly, only 19 carries. (The fullbacks chipped in another 3 carries and 6 yards.)
Penn State got bullied really badly the week before, then turned around to beat a solid Minnesota team the week after. All-American Saquon Barkley was held under 4.0 yards a carry against the Wolverines, and Chris Godwin, who produced 1,101 yards last season, had 1 catch for 8 yards. (Though, to be fair, Barkley isn’t exactly padding the stats like an All-American, and it’s not just Michigan. He’s barely on pace for 1,000 yards.)
Michigan won’t get a chance to do the same to Rutgers’ Janarion Grant, who’s injured and out for the season. If you hear a Rutgers fan even approach the words, “If only,” just give them the old, “I’m sure he’d have gotten 100 yards ... on kickoff returns after all our touchdowns.” That should shut them up. Or, just say “Rutgers.”
Honestly, I don’t have a lot of jokes for Indiana, a team that’s gotten made fun of for years but has scrapped and crawled its way back into respectability under Kevin Wilson.
Michigan State, meanwhile, gets to hold onto its pulsating sac of Disrespekt. The team that will quickly remind you they’re the Little Guy is now getting beaten up by little guys. I’m sure they’re angry, and kind of confused.
Three weeks ago, Northwestern was 0-2 with losses to Illinois State - who, admittedly, are something like blue-bloods in the realm of intercollegiate forensics tournaments - and Western Michigan, a university that was literally founded by Waldo.
Now, the Wildcats are 2-3 with wins over Duke and the Fighting Kirk Ferentzes. Guys, you know the season started a month ago, right? If you’re going to bomb a season, do it properly. That way you can get Ben Simmons.
Luckily, they were polite enough to let us continue to ignore them for a while. Also, James Franklin needed that win like Donald Trump needed to shut up two months ago and ride his “I’m Not Hillary” train into the White House. (Hey, Republicans and Democrats should be able to bond over that joke. Bipartisanship all the way, baby.)
It’s Rivalry Week*. It’s totally a Rivalry Week*. And you know what that means. A trophy.
Personally, I like the idea of a funnel - to symbolize how New Jersey’s talent always funnels over to Michigan, or how their more talented workers commute to New York. (Speaking of, I always liked the joke, Why are New Yorkers so depressed? Because the light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey.)
Or, you could do a miniature bust of a guy who might either be Chris Christie or Brady Hoke. Maybe some sort of homage to how the Giants beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl twice; though, it might be more effective to just have a statue of Tom Brady, with a constantly updating hairdo that reflects either his manly good looks or his fashion faux-pas. (One of his latest from August was compared to Rachel on Friends.)
Then again, let’s consider the possibility that Michigan never loses to Rutgers again. In which case, the winner could get the Cube, or that weird pile of I-beams on Central Campus, or even Michigan’s 930 all-time wins, or a great place to live. Because you know Rutgers won’t be able to get any of those.