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The Last Word: A Good Time To Lose

Whew... like my last breakup, that loss was less painful than I expected.

Maryland v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Sure, this Saturday was the worst offensive performance by a Michigan team since... well, let’s see. They could move the ball pretty well against Wisconsin until the red zone, and even then there were numerous chip shot field goals to be had.

Ohio State last year (sorry for bringing it up) was fine offensively; the team had 364 yards and mainly just got pummeled by the lack of a running game (Jabrill had the least ghastly stat line of them all with 7 carries for 29 yards). Even the Utah game, Harbaugh’s crew out-gained the Utes in total yards and scored more points and had more touchdowns than they did against Iowa.

And let’s avoid thinking back to the Era To Be Forgot. The point is, it’s been a while since Michigan’s offense was this bad. Call it an aberrant performance, like that time the Mongols threw the biggest block party of all time. And come Wednesday morning, they still managed to be #3 in the CFP rankings. Completely unchanged. Breathe sigh of relief.

File this in the Not-Exactly-Unexpected Department (damn all that red tape, why do we need that department), but Maryland got their doors blown off by the Buckeyes. After starting the year 4-0, they’re on a 1-5 slide and will need to beat one of Nebraska or Rutgers to be bowl-eligible. Unfortunately for the Terps, quarterback Perry Hills has injured both shoulders the last two weeks and is listed as day-to-day for the Nebraska game.

My favorite stat from their recent struggles: they gave up 581 yards against the Buckeyes, but that was actually their best defensive performance in that category since Michigan State almost a month ago. Michigan and Indiana both had 650 or more.

Oh, and while we’re kind of on the subject - who in the heck was Caleb Rowe throwing to here?? Surprisingly, this gentleman has a 6 touchdown-18 interception ratio the last two years.

In August, not many people felt like they had a good idea about the Big Ten West. The leaders from 2015 - Iowa and Northwestern - were beneficiaries of a lot of lucky bounces but were also reasonably talented teams. Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska were in the mix, as well, but all three had second-year coaches who were pretty big X-factors.

That picture is finally becoming clearer after Nebraska’s 24-17 win over Minnesota, a game that was similar to Wisconsin’s 23-17 victory over the Huskers in that it anointed a pecking order while also validating the legitimacy of the loser. The Gophers have been flying under the radar all season long, but they’re sitting at third in the division and deserve all the respect coming their way people should definitely stop forgetting the Gophers exist.

Conf. Overall Points Allowed Off. S&P+ Def. S&P+ Overall S&P+
Wisconsin Badgers 5-2 8-2 169 86 59 3 8
Nebraska Cornhuskers 5-2 8-2 153 167 50 26 30
Minnesota Golden Gophers 4-3 7-3 199 157 81 35 52
Iowa Hawkeyes 4-3 6-4 145 158 69 24 39
Northwestern Wildcats 4-3 5-5 201 171 58 27 47
Illinois Fighting Illini 2-5 3-7 130 228 112 76 103
Purdue Boilermakers 1-6 3-7 162 308 103 117 120

We’ll see what Minnesota does against fellow middle-of-the-pack Northwestern this week, followed by a ‘three yards and a cloud of snow’ affair with the Badgers. I’ll expect NFL phenom Mitch Leidner (5 TD’s, 7 interceptions, 187.2 passing yards a game) to do well.

Here was Urban Meyer reacting to the news that the NCAA is fine with a college team using former pro players in padded practices - complete with a Joey Galloway joke.

We’ll see what comes of that; it’s worth noting that Alabama was using Trent Richardson (a young, athletic, but quickly unsuccessful pro) to mimic Leonard Fournette - a guy who’s similarly built and is a rare kind of athlete. I’m not sure how much benefit a team would get by sidelining, say, a bunch of their players so that the first-teamers could get reps against pro wipeouts. Not trying to be mean there, just saying. But it would be nice for Michigan to reach out to someone like Denard or Devin Gardner whenever they’re about to play Ohio State.

Also, while I’m sharing videos here I want to take a brief moment to critique this slow-motion video set to emotional music by BTN. It’s a nice concept, but first off, the music should be set to something more dramatic and end-of-the-world - Mozart is usually good for that. Next, they should be running the highlights backwards. This was a huge missed opportunity.

I want to see an Iowa running back running backwards out of the end zone at 2 mph. I want to see Jim Harbaugh calm down. I want to see all of Jabrill’s most athletic plays with a 360° angle. I want to see that alleged Jim Harbaugh booger incident with a 360° angle, too. Make it happen, BTN. Go all in with your video edits. Nothing half-ass.

Call it ‘the Rutgers hat trick’: MSU, U-M, and OSU all won by a combined 185-0. I mean... ouch.

Let me also point out that Rutgers is second-worst in Division-I in total offense, second-worst in passing efficiency and scoring offense, fifth-worst in rushing defense ... but 23rd best in the country in passing defense. So that’s what you get when you hire a 42-year old terrific defensive backs coach to run your whole program? Seems so.

Yes? In fact, don’t even bring it up at all? Okay.