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Tuesday Morning Brews: The Vulture Returns

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Michigan reloads at fullback, and bowl season gets underway.

Wisconsin v Michigan Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Welcome To Bowl Season

It’s over-reaction season (there’s a joke in there, somewhere), and teams that win will be riding high into the off-season. (So, sorry, Maryland.)

It’s also the first time in a while where the Big Ten’s W-L record isn’t something to worry much about; sure, every conference’s performance is going to be measured against each other during bowl season, but the Big Ten has gotten the monkey off its back with a strong regular season that included wins over LSU, Oklahoma, and Colorado, and somewhat less impressively Notre Dame, Duke, Colorado State and Oregon.

Instead, we get to just focus on how fun these matchups are going to be: Penn State against USC in the Rose Bowl, Northwestern against Pat Narduzzi and a young, growing program at Pitt, plus Ohio State getting the snot knocked out of them by either Clemson or (even more fun) Alabama. The fact that a blue-blood showdown like Nebraska and Tennessee is maybe the fourth or fifth-best bowl matchup tells you how enjoyable this is going to be.

No pressure, just win. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Welcome Back, Khalid Hill

This was an underrated story from this past week: Khalid Hill coming back to man the fort for another year. I’ve heard him called a superstar fullback at times, and that’s an accurate description for a guy who’s one of the most automatic performers on one of the best offenses in the country.

The Touchdown Vulture, a.k.a. the Hammering Panda, put up a power success rate of 78.9% last year - that is to say, he successfully ran for a touchdown in goal-to-go situations from the 2 or less, or a first down in 3rd / 4th down situations with 2 yards to go or less, 78.9% of the time. He converted 6 third downs in 6 opportunities and 4 fourth downs in 5 chances on the ground.

And, not only is he Mr. Automatic, he gives the offense some glam and pass-catching ability as well. He’ll be able to tutor the young guys (Ben Mason, perhaps?) before he leaves.

Talking Points

If you were watching the Cavaliers and Warriors game on Christmas Day, you probably heard Jeff Van Gundy say that Michigan should have gotten in the CFP.

Van Gundy’s not a troll, but he is a contrarian and a rebel, and he’s always ready to cause a few spit-takes. Still, it was nice to get some recognition, and it’s fun that people are talking about us again.

H.t.L. Is Hibernating But Does Love Some Coffee

Getting Ready For The Best | Dalvin Cook Highlights

Dalvin Cook has declared for the NFL Draft after this, and I have no doubt he’ll be a difference-maker in the NFL, à la Le’Veon Bell. He’s an otherworldly-type player.

Memorable Moments From Michigan’s Season

A more memorable season than the Browns, I think it’s safe to say.

Wilton Speight Talks About Ohio State, Looking Ahead

I’m doing a little better than Wilton at getting over that game, but it still hits me at random times. $&%@ the Buckeyes.

Peoples-Jones: Najee Harris ‘Is My Guy’ | Great Month of December

Merry recruiting season! It’s excruciating how recruiting comes down to the slimmest of margins, yet the result is a massive swing in fortune for the teams involved. You either get the guy for years, or you get caught holding the bag. Either Alabama or Michigan is going to be very unhappy.

B1G Mailbag: Damage For Minnesota, Top 5 Conference Teams

Michigan at #3?? Ahh, I’m just kidding, I’m just looking forward to some stiff competition next year and a climb back up the mountain. We’ll show ‘em.

Penn State Fired Up For The Rose Bowl

I’m happy for them. They needed a good story and a normal season more than most programs. Now, they get to be excited for now and for new players coming in next year.

Indiana Aiming For Normalcy Amidst Head Coaching Change

Saying this as a guy who’s occasionally been very critical of the status quo among Big Ten coaching staffs, continuity here was definitely the right move. Their S&C staff is very good, they’re routinely putting guys into the league and they’re very, very close to some consistency.

Season Review: Rutgers Gets Bad Grades Across The Board

I see Chris Ash is going to the Mark Dantonio School For Looking Constipated.

I should also mention that Rutgers has brought in former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill to run the offense after a rough first year by Drew Mehringer (who, funny enough, is heading over to Texas and his former boss Tom Herman to run the passing offense at UT).

As much as I love Kill, this probably isn’t a great move for the Scarlet Knights. Kill’s offenses at Minnesota weren’t very good, and most of his experience comes from being a head coach rather than an offensive mind anyway.