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Five Spot Challenge: Northwestern

October 6th, 2015 by Justin Potts


Congratulations to brad6923 for winning Week 5 of the Five Spot Challenge. His deviation of 109.6 beat gvanneste by 20 points. He was third closest to Michigan’s third down percentage (29.4 percent), 15.6 away; second closest to Maryland’s second half yards (37), 13 away; and tied for third closest to Michigan’s total rushing yards (198), two away.

Myrick55 correctly predicted Michigan’s rushing yards, while Sustersueblue was just one away and bigboyblue,, dtenpin22, and brad6923 were each two away. Gdub18‘s prediction of 25 yards was just one away from the yardage gained on Michigan’s first possession. Week 3 winner, Freezer566, was the closest to Michigan’s third down percentage, just 10.8 away, while ericcarbs was just one away from Maryland’s second half yards. DBenney09 was the closest — 12 away — to Will Likely’s total return yardage.

For the second time this season a contestant correctly predicted the final score, and for the second time it was the winner, so it didn’t even help. Brad6923 picked Michigan to win 28-0. Seven contestants predicted Michigan to score 28 points, and gvanneste was close with his 28-3 prediction. The 30 contestants picked Michigan to win by an average score of Michigan 33 – Northwestern 8.

The weekly results have been updated.

This week, Michigan hosts Northwestern for what is sure to be a defensive battle. Michigan and Northwestern are the top two defenses in the nation through five weeks and both feature below average offenses. Here are this week’s picks.

First Look: Northwestern

October 5th, 2015 by Justin Potts


After last season’s “M00N” game between Michigan and Northwestern — which may have been the worst game of the season to watch as a fan of either team — and both teams’ 5-7 finishes, most didn’t expect such a hyped-up meeting this season. But that’s where we find ourselves five weeks into 2015 as Northwestern stands 5-0, ranked 13th nationally, and Michigan is 4-1, ranked 18th. It’s one of just two games across the country featuring two ranked teams — Utah versus Cal is the other — and the winner gets to make a case for being a major Big Ten title contender. Let’s take a first look at how the two teams compare.

Northwestern Team Stats & Michigan Comparison
Northwestern | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 25.4 | 27.8 89 | 74
7.0 7.6 1 | 2
Rushing Yards 1,244 1,007 587 357
Rush Avg. Per Game 248.8 | 201.4 14 | 35
117.4 | 71.4 26 | 5
Avg. Per Rush 4.4 | 4.9
3.7 | 2.3
Passing Yards 711 956 650 563
Pass Avg. Per Game 142.2 | 191.2 118 | 96 130.0 | 112.6 7 | 3
Total Offense 1,955 1,963 1,237 | 920
Total Off Avg. Per Game 391.0 | 392.6 79 | 77 247.4 | 184.0 5 | 2
Kick Return Average 31.6 | 24.8 3 32 18.7 | 17.8 32 | 19
Punt Return Average 12.0 | 8.7 38 | 62 -1.6 | 7.5 2 | T63
Avg. Time of Possession 33:43 | 34:20 11 | 6
26:17 | 25:40
3rd Down Conversion Pct 49.0% | 42.0% 10 | T46
20.0% | 19.0% 2 | 1
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 4-24 | 5-43
T13 | T17
9-51 | 11-83
T71 | T45
Touchdowns Scored 14 17
3 | 5
Field Goals-Attempts 10-13 | 6-8
5-7 | 1-3
Red Zone Scores (14-17) 82.3%|(16-17) 94% 74 | 12
(6-10) 60%|(5-6) 83% T6 | T71
Red Zone Touchdowns (5-17) 29.4%|(12-17) 71% (1-10) 10%|(4-6) 66.7%

Michigan and Northwestern are nearly identical statistically so far this season with great defenses and average offenses. Michigan’s offense averages 2.4 more points and 1.6 more total yards per game than the Wildcats, but Northwestern has a seven percent better third down conversion rate. Northwestern gains more of its yards on the ground (47.4 more per game) but Michigan averages 49 more passing yards per game. One area in which Michigan has excelled is putting the ball in the end zone when it’s in the red zone. Michigan has punched it in 12 of 17 times, while Northwestern has done so just five of 17 times. Against good defenses, that might make the difference.

Defensively, Northwester and Michigan are No. 1 and 2 nationally in points allowed per game, with the Wildcats allowing 0.6 points fewer. But Michigan’s defense ranks second nationally in total defense, allowing 63.4 fewer yards per game, and Northwestern’s defense is just 26th nationally against the run, allowing 46 more rushing yards per game than Michigan’s defense does. The two are also the top two defenses in the country in stopping third downs with Michigan allowing just 19 percent conversions and Northwestern 20 percent.

Michigan-Northwestern starters comparison_Offense

While Jake Rudock hasn’t produced much this season, Clayton Thorson has done even less with his arm, throwing for 245 fewer yards. But he’s also thrown for half as many interceptions as Rudock. Northwestern has a workhorse at running back in Justin Jackson, who has nearly doubled De’Veon Smith’s rushing yards — although Smith missed the last game due to injury — but the Wildcats also have three other ball carriers with at least 137 rushing yards. Only Smith and Ty Isaac have that many for the Wolverines. At receiver, Michigan has the advantage, especially with Jake Butt, and on the offensive line, Michigan has a 98 to 61 advantage in career starts.

Michigan-Northwestern starters comparison_Defense

Both teams have great defenses, but Michigan’s defensive production seems to be spread out among more contributors, while Northwestern’s is a bit more centralized to its starters. Almost across the board, Northwestern’s starters have more tackles than their Michigan counterparts, but as a team, Michigan has recorded 40 tackles for loss to Northwestern’s 31 and 11 sacks to Northwestern’s nine. Michigan suffered a huge loss on Saturday when defensive end Mario Ojemudia went down with an Achilles injury, leaving Royce Jenkins-Stone big shoes to fill.

Overall, it’s about an even a matchup as one can find, at least on paper. Michigan opened as a 12-point favorite according to Las Vegas, but that number is sure to come down as Saturday approaches. Stay tuned for more coverage throughout the week.

Michigan 28 – Maryland 0: Defense dominates Terrapins

October 3rd, 2015 by Justin Potts

Michigan D vs Maryland(

The threat of Hurricane Joaquin moving up the Atlantic coast moved kickoff up eight hours, and perhaps Michigan’s offense didn’t get the memo for the first 30 minutes. But the defense did its part and when the offense woke up Michigan polished off its second straight shut out with a 28-0 win over Maryland on Saturday afternoon.

Maryland looked like it was going to be able to move the ball to start the game, picking up first downs on an 11-yard pass, a 10-yard pass, and an 18-yard run into Michigan territory. The drive stalled at the 47, but Michigan’s offense was unable to get anything going on its first possession.

The teams traded turnovers four of the next five possessions as Jeremy Clark and Desmond Morgan both intercepted Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe and Jake Rudock and Ty Isaac each coughed up fumbles. On Michigan’s first possession of the second quarter, which started with the Morgan interception, the Wolverines advanced to the Maryland 24, but an intentional grounding penalty killed the drive and Kenny Allen missed a 47-yard field goal attempt.

Final Stats
Michigan Maryland
Score 28 0
Record 4-1 (1-0) 2-3 (0-1)
Total Yards 378 105
Net Rushing Yards 198 29
Net Passing Yards 180 76
First Downs 14 7
Turnovers 3 3
Penalties-Yards 7-65 5-66
Punts-Yards 6-242 13-473
Time of Possession 34:19 25:41
Third Down Conversions 5-of-17 1-of-18
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-2 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 3-20 2-11
Field Goals 2-for-3 0-for-0
PATs 2-for-2 0-for-0
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-3 0-of-0
Full Box Score

After a Maryland three-and-out, Michigan finally got on the scoreboard thanks to a Jabrill Peppers 29-yard punt return that set the Wolverines up at the Maryland 39. Michigan got as far as the 10 but had to settle for a 30-yard Allen field goal. Allen tacked on another, from 32 yards out, at the end of the quarter to put Michigan ahead 6-0 at the half.

The second half started similar to the first with neither team able to move the ball. Rudock was intercepted by defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson at the Michigan 44 on Michigan’s first possession. But the Wolverine defense forced a three and out. Two possessions later, Michigan finally got its first touchdown of the game when Drake Johnson took a screen pass 31 yards and dove for the pylon. Rudock connected with Khalid Hill for a two-point conversion to put Michigan ahead 14-0.

After forcing another Maryland punt, Michigan wasted no time finding the end zone again. Jehu Chesson took an end-around and raced 66 yards down the left sideline for another touchdown.

Michigan added a final score midway through the fourth. Maryland punted from its own five, but was called for kick catch interference as Peppers caught the punt, which gave Michigan the ball at the Maryland 24. Johnson carried the ball for runs of two and 20 yards, and after a Sione Houma one-yard run, Johnson polished it off with his second touchdown of the game to reach the final score of 28-0.

Despite three turnovers, Michigan’s offense racked up 378 total yards of offense, 198 on the ground. Rudock completed 16 of 32 passes for 180 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Johnson led all rushers with 68 yards on 13 carries (5.2 yards per carry), while Jake Butt led all receivers with 61 yards on 4 receptions.

Michigan’s defense held Maryland to just 105 total yards — the same total BYU reached a week ago. Maryland gained just 35 yards on 46 plays (0.76 yards per play) after its first two possessions of the game. Rowe completed just 8 of 27 passes for 47 yards and three interceptions. Brandon Ross rushed 14 times for 44 yards as Maryland was held to just 1.1 yards per carry.

Morgan led the Michigan defense with nine tackles in addition to his interception. Matt Godin recorded 1.5 sacks, while Maurice Hurst and Willie Henry added one apiece and Mario Ojemudia notched a half a sack. Unfortunately, Ojemudia left the game in the second half with an Achilles injury that may end his season.

The shutout marked the first time Michigan has recorded back-to-back shutouts since the 2000 season.

Michigan improved to 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in Big Ten play and will host Northwestern (5-0, 1-0) for Homecoming next Saturday. The Wildcats are currently ranked 16th, but may move up in the rankings after topping Minnesota 27-0.

Game Ball – Offense 

Drake Johnson (13 carries for 68 yards, 1 TD, 1 rec for 31 yards, 1 TD)
Johnson emerged in the second half of last season as Michigan’s top running back and had a spectacular game against Ohio State before tearing his ACL for the second time. As this season began, he was buried on the depth chart and didn’t play in the opener at Utah while still recovering from the injury. But he has slowly been working back over the last four weeks, and when De’Veon Smith was ruled out of this one with an ankle injury and Ty Isaac struggled to hold onto the ball in the first half, Johnson was called upon to carry the load. He showed the talent and vision of last season, taking a screen 31 yards for a score, reeling off a 20-yard run, and scoring a rushing touchdown.

Week 1 – Jake Butt (8 rec for 93 yards and 1 TD)
Week 2 – De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 126 yards, 3 TDs)
Week 3 – Ty Isaac (8 carries for 114 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — De’Veon Smith (16 carries for 125 yards and 1 TD)

Game Ball – Defense

Desmond Morgan (9 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
Like Johnson, Morgan suffered a major injury last season, but it caused him to miss the entire year. The good news is that it gave him a fifth season to be a part of this team and he hasn’t disappointed. Today, he had his best game of the young season, leading all defenders with nine tackles, picking off a pass, and breaking up two passes. He was all over the field and played a major part in holding a second straight opponent to just 105 total yards.

Week 1 – Chris Wormley (5 tackles, 3 TFL)
Week 2 – Chris Wormley (6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 3 – Jourdan Lewis (3 tackles, 4 PBU)
Week 4 — Ryan Glasgow (3 tackles, 2 TFL)

Final Individual Stats
Passing Comp-Att Yds Avg. TD INT Long Sack
Jake Rudock 16-32 180 5.6 1 1 44 2
Caleb Rowe 8-27 47 1.7 0 3 13 3
Rushing Car. Yards Avg. TD Long
Drake Johnson 13 68 5.2 1 20
Jehu Chesson 1 66 66.0 1 66
Brandon Ross 14 44 3.1 0 18
Derrick Green 7 26 3.7 0 9
Jake Rudock 4 19 4.8 0 20
Ty Isaac 6 17 2.8 0 7
Sione Houma 2 12 6.0 0 11
Wes Brown 5 8 1.6 0 4
Amara Darboh 1 -2 -2.0 0 -2
Ross Taylor-Douglass 3 -3 -1.0 0 1
Caleb Rowe 1 -8 -8.0 0 -8
Daxx Garman 6 -15 -2.5 0 3
Receiving Rec Yds Avg. TD Long
Jake Butt 4 61 15.2 0 44
Jehu Chesson 4 41
10.2 0 16
Drake Johnson 1 31 31.0 1 31
Amara Darboh 3 27 9.0 0 15
Wes Brown 2 26 13.0 0 22
Levern Jacobs 3 20 6.7 0 11
D.J. Moore 2 17 8.5 0 10
Sione Houma 2 14 7.0 0 9
Kenneth Goins Jr. 1 13 13.0 0 13
Drake Harris 1 6 6.0 0 6
Taivon Jacobs 1 1 1.0 0 1
Freddy Canteen 1 0 0.0 0 0
Brandon Ross 1 -1 -1.0 0 -1
Kicking FG Pct Long XP Pts
Kenny Allen 2/3 66.7 32 2/2 8
Punting No Yds Avg TB In 20 Long
Blake O’Neill 6 242 40.3 0 2 59
Nate Pritchard 10 360 36.0 0 1 46
Brad Craddock 3 113 37.7 0 1 52
Kick Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Jabrill Peppers 1 21 21.0 21 0
William Likely 4 91 22.8 31 0
Punt Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Jabrill Peppers 3 38 12.7 29 0
William Likely 3 23 7.7 12 0

M&GB staff predictions: Maryland

October 2nd, 2015 by Justin Potts


Maryland(Greg Flume,

Michigan and Maryland had very different outcomes last weekend. Michigan simply dominated a BYU squad that had already taken out Nebraska and Boise State and nearly knocked off UCLA. Maryland got blown out by a West Virginia squad that had only played Georgia Southern and Liberty prior to the meeting. Tomorrow, the two meet in College Park before the weather turns nasty and Jim Harbaugh will try for his first road win since taking over as head coach of his alma mater. Here are our predictions.

Justin: The noon kickoff will allow Michigan and Maryland to avoid the bad weather that Hurricane Joaquin will bring, but the forecast still calls for rain and around 20 mile per hour wind. One conventional mode of thinking would say that should even up the matchup, making up for Michigan’s superiority. However, Michigan’s offense is predicated on the run game and Maryland’s defense has allowed all three FBS teams it has played to top 200 yards rushing. Bowling Green rushed for 201, USF for 240, and West Virginia 304.

Staff Predictions
Michigan Maryland
Justin 30 10
Derick 35 14
Sam 24 10
Josh 31 3
Joe 27 9
M&GB Average 29 9

Even if De’Veon Smith isn’t fully recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in the second half of last week’s game, expect Ty Isaac and Drake Johnson to carry the load and Michigan to still have success against an overmatched front seven. Maryland will, of course, stack the box and try to force Jake Rudock to make plays with his arm, but he has been slowly improving and as long as he avoids turnovers, will be able to do just enough to manage the game and let the running game do the work.

Maryland’s offense hasn’t seen anything close to Michigan’s yet. West Virginia ranks 26th in total defense, South Florida 45th, and Bowling Green 111th. Michigan’s defense is allowing just two-thirds of the total yards West Virginia has allowed per game and the Mountaineers have played just Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Maryland. In addition, Maryland currently leads the nation with 14 turnovers and the wet and windy conditions won’t help in that regard.

Michigan wins a soggy, boring game and racks up 250 rushing yards in the process. The offensive line will wear down Maryland’s defensive front, allowing for one back — Smith or Isaac depending on the former’s health — to top 100 yards. Michigan’s defense shuts down Maryland’s offense, takes advantage of some turnovers, and Jabrill Peppers gets his first career interception as Jim Harbaugh picks up his first road win.

Michigan 30 – Maryland 10

Derick: There’s a hurricane brewing on the Atlantic coast as Michigan makes its first trip to Maryland since the Big Ten’s expansion to 14 teams. But even Hurricane Joaquin can’t save the Terps from the beat down that’s coming.

Michigan is coming off the program’s biggest win in over three years behind a defense that expects to pitch shutouts every Saturday. In fact, the Wolverines have won their last three games by a total score of 94-14. It’s not the wind and rain Maryland should be worrying about.

Maryland’s home field advantage was just enough to keep the Terrapins within 21 points of Bowling Green in Week 2. Michigan has yet to win a road game under Jim Harbaugh, but if the defense continues to dominate against a team with quarterback and turnover problems, Saturday could get ugly.

I don’t expect Michigan to be as perfect as it was in the first half against BYU, but if Rudock takes care of the ball and Michigan’s defense (along with some near-hurricane strength winds) stifles Maryland, the Wolverines should coast to their fourth straight win.

Michigan 35 – Maryland 14

Sam: Michigan’s defense has been performing at an elite level, while Maryland’s offense is struggling mightily. As long as Michigan’s run game continues to truck forward behind an ever-improving line, I’m not sure Rudock will have to throw one pass to secure a win. Give me the Wolverines with their fourth straight win,

Michigan 24 – Maryland 10

Josh: Well, after last week’s game and my prediction of a Michigan loss I ate a large plate full of crow, and boy was it delicious! I love being wrong when it means Michigan wins. Clearly I underestimated the #HarbaughEffect.

It occurred to me that perhaps Michigan’s lackluster offense against Oregon State and UNLV in the second halves was not because it sputtered and died, but rather because Harbaugh is the ultimate tactician and did not want to give any future opponents any additional scouting material once the game was in hand.

It’s been so long since we’ve had that kind of coaching. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that in my lifetime. Carr and Moeller weren’t exactly master manipulators and I didn’t really get into football until after Bo retired. But I digress.

Maryland is a bad team, a very bad team with ZERO passing offense and a run game that isn’t anything to write home about. They’ve lost to a MAC team and got obliterated by West Virginia, their only wins came against an FCS school (is that still a term now since both divisions technically have playoffs?) and a very bad USF team. Let’s just say Hurricane Joaquin isn’t the only storm rolling into Maryland this weekend (sorry, I had to).

I fully expect this to be a blowout, maybe not another shut out but it won’t be close. Caleb Rowe is a turnover machine. Thank God he’s on the other team, and I think this Michigan defense is due to force a couple more turnovers. It’s what good teams do to bad teams, and we’re a good team. Wormley and Co. have a field day and force Rowe into some very bad decisions that are ultimately capitalized upon by the secondary and make for a very long night for the turtles. Dare I say we should be on pick-six watch? Yes, I do.

On offense we’re gonna see more of the same: pound the rock and then pound it some more. Mix in a few wrinkles, like the sweet double fake pass to Khalid Hill last week, and Michigan should easily top 30 points again. Maybe we’ll even see Rudock hit on a deep ball, but I’m not gonna hold my breath.

The one bright spot for Maryland is their return game and Will Likely. However, Harbaugh is well aware (FULLY aware) of this aspect and like the past few weeks Michigan will be prepared for it. Michigan teams are well prepared and well coached, it feels so good to say that.

I’m not ready to anoint this defense as elite but they’ve far exceeded my expectations thus far and Maryland shouldn’t be any different.

Michigan wins going away and prep begins for what should be a very good game against Northwestern.

Michigan 31 – Maryland 3

Joe: I did not see that last game coming. While I saw some big improvements during the first three games, the fourth sent me into a whole new stratosphere of GO BLUE excitement. This defense is for real and will keep us in games all year. I don’t care who we are playing, this group is big time. Ryan Glasgow is a beast on the line and Jabrill Peppers is…well, he’s Jabrill Peppers. I expect these guys to get better each week. It will be fun to watch.

If this game gets the weather expected, the defense will take control and never let go. I expect a game where the opposition has trouble reaching double digits.

The offense was a pleasant surprise last week and mainly because of Rudock. If we get this Rudock every week, look out. A healthy dose of Butt (giggle), Darboh and Smith/Isaac/Green/Johnson combo should help control the clock. Add a few short fullback carries for first downs (love those) along the way just to keep us old-schoolers happy. I’m hoping we are able to build on the last three weeks and keep this train rolling along. The good guys win it convincingly.

Michigan 27 – Maryland 9

Michigan vs Maryland game preview

October 2nd, 2015 by Justin Potts

Game Preview_Maryland_banner

With Hurricane Joaquin bearing down on the Washington, D.C. metro area, Saturday night’s game at Maryland has been moved up to noon. But with a Michigan squad that tore through BYU like a hurricane a week ago, will it matter what time it starts?

Last week, Michigan evened the all-time record with BYU, and while the Wolverines boast a 3-1 all-time win margin over Maryland, the Terrapins now stand as one of only two Big Ten foes to have a winning conference record against mighty Michigan. The other, Rutgers, is the other conference newcomer, and both beat the Wolverines last season. Jim Harbaugh will get a chance to right the record on both of those this season, and that begins with Maryland tomorrow.

Quick Facts
Byrd Stadium – 12 p.m. EST – BTN
Maryland Head Coach: Randy Edsall (5th season)
Coaching Record: 96-102 (22-32 at MD)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Locksley (4th season)
Defensive Coordinator: Keith Dudzinski (1st season)
Returning 2014 Starters: 10 (6 offense, 4 defense)
Last Season: 7-6
Last Meeting: MD 23 – UM 16 (2014)
All-Time Series: UM leads 3-1
Record at Maryland: 1st meeting
Record in Byrd Stadium: 1st meeting
Jim Harbaugh vs Maryland: 1st meeting
Last Michigan win: 1990 (45-17)
Last Maryland win: 2014 (23-16)
Current Streak: Maryland 1

Maryland comes in just 2-2 with wins over Richmond (50-21) and South Florida (35-17) alternating with losses to Bowling Green (48-27) and West Virginia (45-6). For their part, Maryland was tied at 27 with Bowling Green in the fourth quarter in Week 2, but the Falcons scored 21 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes of the game to make a close game look like a blowout. Bowling Green racked up a season high 692 total yards of offense and 35 first downs. Last week, West Virginia also topped 600 total yards against the Terps with 601 and wasted no time keeping Maryland in the game. The Mountaineers scored three first quarter touchdowns and led 38-0 at the half. They took the foot off the petal in the second half and allowed a Maryland touchdown with 11:45 remaining, but that was the only positive of the game for Randy Edsall’s squad.

Early this week, the Maryland players reportedly held a players-only meeting which Edsall claimed to know nothing about on Tuesday’s Big Ten conference call.

“That’s news to me; I don’t think we had a players-only meeting at all,” he said. “We’ve had our normal meetings all week long.”

He then continued with a positive spin.

“If the players had the meeting and something productive came out of it, I think that’s great,” he said. “I’ve been happy with our leadership and I’m glad they did that. I had my normal 7 o’clock meeting and I had no idea that there was a players-only meeting.”

Players-only meetings typically aren’t a good thing. They’re normally a sign of trouble, either amongst the players themselves or more likely between them and their coach. Either way, it’s probably a good thing for Michigan.

Let’s take a look at the matchup.

When Maryland has the ball

Through the first four games of the season, Maryland’s offense ranks 84th nationally in total offense (389.3 yards per game), 50th in rush offense (196 yards per game), 98th in passing offense (193.3 yards per game), 118th in passing efficiency (106.91), and 73rd in scoring (29.5 points per game). By comparison, BYU came into last week’s matchup averaging 30.3 points per game — against better competition — and Michigan shut the Cougars out.

The quarterback position has been a revolving door in the early season with junior Perry Hill starting the first two games but completing just 52.9 percent of his passes. Last year’s backup, Caleb Rowe, took over and led the Terps to a win over South Florida, going 21 of 33 for 297 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions. But he struggled against West Virginia last Saturday, completing just 10 of 27 passes for 67 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions. That put him on the bench in favor of Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman, who went 4 of 9 for 86 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Rowe will likely start tomorrow, but if Michigan’s defense treats him like it did Tanner Mangum last week, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley may give him a short leash.

The backfield is one of the bright spots thus far with four players over 100 yards rushing. Senior Brandon Ross is the leading back with 358 yards and two touchdowns on 59 carries (6.1 yards per carry). He carried the ball 18 times for 150 yards and a score in the season opener against Richmond and then 15 times for 130 yards last week, but combined for just 78 yards on 26 carries (3 ypc) in the middle two. Junior Wes Brown rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in the opener, but hasn’t done much since, while freshman Ty Johnson is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

The receiving corps lacks a true playmaker after losing Stefon Diggs and Deon Long to graduation. Redshirt junior Levern Jacobs leads the team with 15 receptions for 176 yards and two touchdowns, while his younger brother Taivon Jacobs leads the team with 22.6 yards per catch thanks to a 70-yard touchdown against South Florida. He has five catches for 113 yards and the one score. The third member of the receiving corps with more than 100 receiving yards is freshman D.J. Moore, who has six catches for 112 yards and one touchdown. Junior Amba Etta-Tawo ranks second on the team in catches (10), but has just 97 yards and has yet to find the end zone. Freshman tight end Avery Edwards matches the elder Jacobs with two touchdowns — both against South Florida — along with his 89 receiving yards.

The offensive line has some solid experience with three of last year’s staters back this season, most notably at the tackle positions. Junior left tackle Michael Dunn and senior right tackle Ryan Doyle bring a combined 57 career starts to the table, senior right guard Andrew Zeller adds 33. However, against West Virginia last week, Doyle was moved to left guard and redshirt freshman, former five-star recruit, Damian Prince, manned the right tackle spot. Sophomore Mike Minter started the first three games of the season at left guard, while senior center Evan Mulrooney has nine career starts under his belt.

When Michigan has the ball

Edsall promoted linebackers coach Keith Dudzinksi to defensive coordinator this offseason and the defense changed from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Dudzinski is trying to turn around a defense that ranked 10th in the Big Ten in scoring defense, 12th in total defense, 12th in rush defense, and 13th in pass defense last season. So far, however, the Terps’ defense has been one of the worst in the nation. It currently ranks 13th in the Big Ten and 107th nationally in total defense (467.3 yards allowed per game), 13th and 99th in scoring defense (32.8 points allowed per game), last and 100th in rush defense (200.3 yards allowed per game), and 10th and 101st in pass defense (267 yards allowed per game).

Four of last year’s top six defensive linemen are gone, leaving junior defensive end Yannick Ngakoue — an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last season — to carry the load. So far, he has done well, leading Maryland with 5.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. On the other side is junior Roman Braglio, whose only start of 2014 came against Michigan. He has started three of four so far this year and has 4.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Redshirt junior Quinton Jefferson and sophomore David Shaw man the middle. Jefferson has made much more of a splash on the stat sheet with 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Shaw, a first year starter, has six tackles and a half of a tackle for loss. Sophomore end Jesse Aniebonam — a four-star recruit in last year’s class — is the only change to the starting lineup so far this season, having started in place of Braglio against Bowling Green. He has 11 tackles, two for loss, and two sacks.

The linebacking corps is young, starting two sophomores — Jalen Brooks and Jermaine Carter — and a senior — Jefferson Ashiru. Carter leads the team with 46 tackles so far this season and is second behind Ngakoue with five tackles for loss. Brooks has 24 tackles, one for loss, and an interception, while Ashiru, who has 23 career starts, has 20 tackles, one for loss, and one sack.

The best athlete on the team resides in the secondary in the form of junior cornerback William Likely, a first-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media last season. Likely has yet to record an interception so far this season after leading the conference with six a year ago, but he does lead the team with five pass breakups. The other corner is senior Sean Davis, who leads the team with two interceptions and ranks second with 35 tackles. He led all Big Ten defensive backs with 115 tackles last season. The safeties are senior Anthony Nixon and fifth-year senior A.J. Hendy, who have combined for 55 tackles, one for loss, one interception, and two passes defended.

The other third

Senior kicker Brad Craddock is the reigning Lou Groza award winner as the nation’s best kicker. He also won the Big Ten’s Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year award. Over the course of his career, he has made 81.7 percent of his field goal attempts, and this season has connected on five of six with a long of 41. He does have plenty of range, having made a 57-yarder against Ohio State in 2014. He also shares punting duties with freshman Nicolas Pritchard, who has booted 12 punts for an average of 40.8 yards.

The most dangerous player on the field is Likely, who has already returned two punts for touchdowns this season and averages 28.1 yards per punt return. He’s also the main kick returner, but hasn’t broken through that way, averaging 21.7 yards per return. He ranked fourth nationally with a 31-yard average on kick returns last season, including a 100-yard return for touchdown against Stanford.


The noon kickoff will allow Michigan and Maryland to avoid the bad weather that Hurricane Joaquin will bring, but the forecast still calls for rain and around 20 mile per hour wind. One conventional mode of thinking would say that should even up the matchup, making up for Michigan’s superiority. However, Michigan’s offense is predicated on the run game and Maryland’s defense has allowed all three FBS teams it has played to top 200 yards rushing. Bowling Green rushed for 201, USF for 240, and West Virginia 304.

Even if De’Veon Smith isn’t fully recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in the second half of last week’s game, expect Ty Isaac and Drake Johnson to carry the load and Michigan to still have success against an overmatched front seven. Maryland will, of course, stack the box and try to force Jake Rudock to make plays with his arm, but he has been slowly improving and as long as he avoids turnovers, will be able to do just enough to manage the game and let the running game do the work.

Maryland’s offense hasn’t seen anything close to Michigan’s yet. West Virginia ranks 26th in total defense, South Florida 45th, and Bowling Green 111th. Michigan’s defense is allowing just two-thirds of the total yards West Virginia has allowed per game and the Mountaineers have played just Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Maryland. In addition, Maryland currently leads the nation with 14 turnovers and the wet and windy conditions won’t help in that regard.

Michigan wins a soggy, boring game and racks up 250 rushing yards in the process. The offensive line will wear down Maryland’s defensive front, allowing for one back — Smith or Isaac depending on the former’s health — to top 100 yards. Michigan’s defense shuts down Maryland’s offense, takes advantage of some turnovers, and Jabrill Peppers gets his first career interception as Jim Harbaugh picks up his first road win.

Michigan 30 – Maryland 10

Tailgate Tuesday: Lamb shank

September 30th, 2015 by MmmGoBluBBQ

Tailgate Tuesday_Week5

Tailgate Tuesday is our weekly collaboration with Joe Pichey from MmmGoBluBBQ. These tailgate recipes will be posted each Tuesday throughout the football season and most of the time will be themed around that week’s opponent. Meat Church, a Dallas, Texas based BBQ joint sponsors this feature by providing their killer rubs for use in the recipes. Buy them here

Previously: Frog legssmoky spiced beaver nutsbuild the perfect tailgate smoker, pig shots, or visit our whole library of recipes here.

I am not sure the HYPE TRAIN could gain any more momentum than it has in the last four days. This thing is moving along much faster than anyone could have imagined. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but excuse me as I get way ahead of myself. At this time last year, Ohio State was ranked #22 in the nation. I think things turned out okay for them from what I hear. Keep it up boys. This HYPE TRAIN also picked up some lamb shanks along the way and tossed em on the BGE. Sure, it would have been easy to whip up some crab cakes or bacon wrapped squid skewers in honor of our Maryland tailgate pals, but I wanted to go outside the box a little. I hear lamb is huge on the east coast and goes great with a little bacon rub.


Lamb shanks
Garlic cloves
Extra virgin olive oil
Meat Church Bacon BBQ Rub

Basting Sauce:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup mint apple jelly
2 TBSP brown sugar


Set your grill/smoker up for indirect heat and shoot for a temperature of 250 degrees. Toss on some apple chunks or another mild fruit wood ad we don’t want to overpower the flavor of the lamb. As the grill is heating up, remove your lamb shank from the refrigerator and coat with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil.

Using a sharp knife, make a few slits in the meat and insert your garlic cloves along with some rosemary sprigs. Generously coat the exterior of the shank with some tasty Meat Church Bacon Rub.

I made about six cuts into the shank for the garlic and rosemary combo. If you’d like to add more, go nuts. You can’t go wrong with more garlic, right? Once the shank is ready to go, toss it on the grates and enjoy a cold beverage. This will go for about two hours. We are looking for an internal temperature of about 145 degrees, or a nice medium. If you’d like to go to 190 degrees and pull it like pulled pork, you can do that as well. Either way is great. You will start getting some great color after an hour.

Lamb Shank 1-2-3

Once you get to 115 degrees internally, add the basting ingredients to a shallow pan and set on the grill to warm. Using a basting brush made of rosemary and thyme prigs, baste the meat every 15 minutes until the desired internal temperature is achieved.

I’ve been told the basting brush adds some nice flavor to the meat when using rosemary and thyme sprigs. I am not sure I buy that, but it sure looks cool. Give it a try if you want to wow your guests or impress a date. :)

Lamb Shank 4-5-6

This lamb turned out super tender and had some great bacon and mint flavor from the rub and the baste. The skin was also bite thru and a little crispy in parts. Let it rest for about 10 minutes and slice. The garlic has tenderized and the rosemary has imparted some great flavor inside the shank. Smoked sweet potatoes with some Meat church compound butter is a nice compliment to this tasty meat.


Let me know how your shank turns out and as always…GO BLUE!!!!!

Visit Meat Church to purchase their new Bacon BBQ rub or any of their other great rubs and seasonings. You can follow them on Twitter at @MeatChurch and you can also follow Joe at @mmmgoblubbq.

Big Ten power rankings: Week 4

September 29th, 2015 by Derick Hutchinson

Power Rankings_header

The non-conference season is finally (mostly) over. Besides a game each for Penn State and Rutgers, which both have matchups left against Army, the rest of the season will pit Big Ten against Big Ten as the road to Indianapolis officially begins.

So where does the Big Ten rank, now that the judgement period has come and gone? As a conference, the Big Ten finished just 7-8 against other power five teams, losing two of three to the Big 12, splitting 3-3 with the ACC, beating the Pac-12 3-2 and falling in the only Big Ten-SEC battle.

But the difference in the conference this season is the strength of a middle class that’s lagged behind the rest of the country in recent seasons. Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin still bear the flag for the Big Ten, but now they have company on the national stage. Five Big Ten teams went a perfect 4-0 through the non-conference schedule and two of the one-loss teams are ranked in the top 25. It looks like as many as six teams have a chance to win nine games this season.

Unfortunately, the Big Ten’s bottom-feeders are still very, very bad. Purdue managed just one win in the non-conference season after losing to Marshall and Bowling Green and getting bombed at home by Virginia Tech. Maryland has been an embarrassment, falling to Bowling Green and West Virginia by a combined 60 points. Illinois and Rutgers are a combined 5-2 in the non-conference, but neither team played anyone better than Washington State.

The East Division certainly emerged as the stronger half of the Big Ten, despite the presence of Maryland and Rutgers in the cellar. Ohio State and Michigan State hold the top spots in the national rankings and Michigan has morphed into a potential threat under Jim Harbaugh. East teams finished 5-3 against power five teams and 22-6 overall during the non-conference schedule, while the West went just 2-5 against power five teams and 20-8 overall.

In the national landscape, the Big Ten is right there with the Pac-12 and the SEC for top conference in the FBS. The preseason rankings gave the SEC an unearned head start, but that couldn’t save pretenders like Auburn and Arkansas from quickly falling out of contention. Teams like South Carolina, Missouri and Tennessee aren’t where they were expected to be. Without that depth below juggernauts like Alabama and LSU, the SEC’s rein atop college football is vulnerable.

The PAC-12 is headed in the other direction. UCLA and Utah are legitimate top 10 teams, which helps lessen the blow of Oregon’s fall from grace. If Stanford, USC and Arizona can bounce back from early losses, the conference might be the deepest in the nation.

But over the next eight weeks, each conference will turn its attention inward as the battle for conference championships begins. Here’s how the Big Ten stacks up heading into conference play.

East Division
1. Ohio State (4-0, 0-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat W. Michigan 38-12 This Week: Sat at Indiana (4-0), 3:30pm, ABC

Surprise! Ohio State regained the top spot this week with an easy victory over Western Michigan. The 38-12 win was less important to the Buckeyes than Cardale Jones’ bounce back from a two-interception effort against Northern Illinois. Jones threw for 288 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on Saturday to solidify his grip on the starting job. The Broncos couldn’t handle Ezekiel Elliott either, watching him run for 124 yards on just 16 carries. Ohio State gained over 500 yards of offense, but interceptions are still a problem. OSU has thrown the 10th-most picks in college football through Week 4, a surprising number from a team expected to field two All-Big Ten quality quarterbacks. The Buckeyes have an insanely easy path to Indy, with no tough games on the schedule until Nov. 21. But teams like Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois hung around against the Buckeyes, so the top team in the country is certainly beatable.

2. Michigan State (4-0, 0-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat C. Michigan 30-10 This Week: Sat vs Purdue (1-3), 12pm, ESPN2

The Spartans didn’t fall from the top of the East because of Oregon’s performance; they fell because they struggled to close out another MAC foe. Central Michigan trailed by only a touchdown midway through the 4th quarter before a pair of late Spartan touchdowns sealed the deal. Michigan State struggled to put Western Michigan, Oregon and Central Michigan away during the non-conference season, despite the combined 4-8 record of those opponents. Unfortunately, Oregon’s rapid demise erased the only quality win on MSU’s resume, sapping the luster from its non-conference resume. Connor Cook was solid again in the 30-10 victory Saturday, completing 11 of 19 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. Madre London continued to impress, averaging 4.9 yards on 15 carries. Defensively, Michigan state allowed CMU to complete 26 of 39 passes and gain 340 total yards. The Spartans have allowed 396 yards per game and rank just 77th in the country in total defense.

3. Michigan (3-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat BYU 31-0 This Week: Sat at Maryland (2-2), 8pm, BTN

Don’t look now, but there’s a buzz coming from Ann Arbor. Michigan was the Big Ten’s biggest winner on Saturday, crushing then –No. 22 BYU, 31-0, in the Big House. Jake Rudock led the show on offense, throwing for 194 yards, rushing for 33 more and scoring three total touchdowns. What caused his sudden turnaround? The offensive line. Rudock had more time than he knew what to do with on Saturday and even had time to scramble for positive yards after going through his progressions. Tim Drevno has turned the line into a strength and everybody on the offense – especially De’Veon Smith – is benefiting. Smith turned in his second 100-yard game Saturday, rumbling his way to 125 yards on 16 carries. Smith’s best run came in the second quarter, when he disappeared into the pile only to reappear, spin out of a tackle and dash into the end zone 60 yards later. Amara Darboh was the other offensive hero, making an Odell Beckham-like grab to set up Michigan’s first touchdown and finishing with four catches, 57 yards and a touchdown.

The Wolverines’ defense was even better, holding BYU to 105 yards and picking up that elusive first shutout. Players were frustrated last week when UNLV scored in the 4th quarter to end a shutout bid, but this week they finished the job against a much better offense. Tanner Mangum passed for only 55 yards, while the team’s leading rusher, Adam Hine, got only eight carries for 33 yards. Harbaugh insists the team is still a work in progress, but the improvement since Week 1 has been incredible. If this defense keeps it up, and Rudock takes care of the football, Michigan will have something to say in the East race.

4. Indiana (4-0, 1-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Wake Forest 31-24 This Week: Sat vs #1 OSU (4-0), 3:30pm, ABC

In the first three weeks of the season, Indiana knocked off an FCS school and a pair of Conference USA schools by an average of six points to jump out to a fluky 3-0 start. The Hoosiers finally picked up a solid victory Saturday when they went to Wake Forest and earned a road win over a power five team. Jordan Howard put the Indiana offense on his back, running for 168 yards and a score on 33 carries. Nate Sudfeld was steady in the passing game, passing for 205 yards and two touchdowns. In the upset of the week, Indiana’s defense held a team under 400 yards, allowing Wake Forest to rush for only 99 on the ground. The Hoosiers are undefeated to begin conference play, but don’t expect that to last long. The defense allows 499 yards per game, which ranks 117th in the nation. That’ll never hold up against a schedule with offenses like Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa on the horizon.

5. Penn State (3-1, 1-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat SDSU 37-21 This Week: Sat vs Army (1-3), 12pm, ESPNU

Christian Hackenberg played his best game since freshman year Saturday when he completed 60 percent of his passes for 196 yards and three touchdowns. Penn State’s offense, which scored just 21.67 points per game over the first three weeks, exploded for 37 points as the Nittany Lions rolled over San Diego State. Penn State dominated on both sides of the ball, outgaining SDSU 400-242 and recovering three fumbles. Is Penn State a contender or a pretender in the East this season? After an embarrassing loss at Temple to start the year, James Franklin’s team bounced back with three fairly easy wins. The defense, which allowed the second fewest yards per game in the FBS last season, will pace the Nittany Lions as Hackenberg and the offense battle to keep up. If freshman running back Saquon Barkley, who’s already rushed for 373 yards on 42 carries (8.9 yards per carry), can take the reins of the offense away from the passing game, Penn State will be a tough team to play.

6. Rutgers (2-2, 0-1) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Kansas 27-14 This Week: Bye (10/10 vs #2 MSU)

Do I have to rank the last two teams? Yes? Fine, I’ll go with Rutgers at No. 6. The Scarlett Knights are an embarrassment off the field, but they did manage to beat one of the worst power five teams in the country Saturday. Josh Hicks ran all over the Kansas defense, picking up 113 yards and two touchdowns. Rutgers gained over 500 yards of total offense despite turning the ball over three times to the Jayhawks. Kyle Flood’s team already got blown out in their Big Ten opener in Week 3 and probably won’t be favored to win a game until it hosts Maryland in the final game of the season.

7. Maryland (2-2, 0-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to W. Virginia 6-45 This Week: Sat vs Michigan (3-1), 8pm, BTN

If you thought Michigan’s shutout win over BYU was a massacre, just wait until you hear about Maryland’s trip to West Virginia. Week 4 was a total disaster for the Terrapins. A painful, turnover-riddled disaster that, of course, ended with Maryland failing to convert a two-point conversion that would have pulled it within 37. Yes, it was as ugly as it sounds. West Virginia scored touchdowns on its first three drives, none of which lasted more than three minutes. The Mountaineers scored 45 unanswered points to start the game, picking up 601 yards and 37 first downs. The Terrapins only held the ball for about 23 minutes, but that was enough time to throw five interceptions and turn the ball over six times. Caleb Rowe, who took over as starting quarterback after the team’s disastrous Week 2 loss to Bowling Green, threw four picks and completed just 10 of 27 passes. Only Brandon Ross, who gained 130 rushing yards on 15 carries, came to play for the Terps. Maryland needs to get the turnovers under control soon as two strong defensive teams (Michigan and Ohio State) come next on the schedule.

West Division
1. Northwestern (4-0, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Ball State 24-19 This Week: Sat vs Minnesota (3-1), 12pm, BTN

Things got a little hairy for the Wildcats Saturday when Ball State hung around until the final drive of a 24-19 Northwestern win. For the first time this season, Pat Fitzgerald’s defense showed a chink in the armor, allowing 359 yards to the Cardinals offense. Riley Neal completed only 14 of 35 passes against Northwestern, but a handful of big plays allowed him to rack up 178 yards and two touchdowns. Ball State also averaged more than five yards per carry against a front seven that was rock solid against Stanford and Duke earlier in the month. But Justin Jackson wouldn’t let the Wildcats’ perfect record go up in flames, leading the team with 184 rushing yards. Clayton Thorson bounced back from a terrible performance at Duke to throw for 256 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The Big Ten opener will be a big one for Northwestern as Minnesota visits Evanston to set up a heavy defensive battle.

2. Iowa (4-0, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat N. Texas 62-14 This Week: Sat @ #19 Wisconsin (3-1), 12pm, ESPN

Iowa coasted through a much-needed break Saturday after two straight wins over power five opponents. The offense erupted against North Texas, scoring 48 points on 488 yards. Iowa also returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the second half, polishing off a 62-16 masterpiece. C.J. Beathard continued to dominate under center, completing an incredible 18 of 21 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Canzeri bullied a weak North Texas front seven for 115 yards and four touchdowns, giving him eight scores on the year. There’s no way Beathard will complete over 68 percent of his passes in Big Ten play, but he looks like a definite upgrade at quarterback and an excellent complement to Canzeri. With a strong defense and an offense that’s averaging 37.75 points per game, Iowa is a real threat in the West. But all three games against Wisconsin, Northwestern and Nebraska are on the road, so the Hawkeyes will have to be just as good away from Kinnick to compete. Perhaps the greatest hurdle comes Saturday in Madison.

3. Wisconsin (3-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Hawaii 28-0 This Week: Sat vs Iowa (3-1), 12pm, ESPN

Wisconsin rolled over its third straight cupcake opponent Saturday, shutting out Hawaii 28-0. Freshman running back Taiwan Deal built on his 84-yard performance in Week 3 with 147 rushing yards on 25 carries. He’s scored four touchdowns for the Badgers this season and looks like the best option in the backfield heading into Big Ten season. Joel Stave enjoyed a typical, steady non-conference season, completing over 66 percent of his passes for 830 yards, seven touchdowns and two picks.  Thanks to an efficient offense and a defense that allowed just three points in the last three games, the road to the West Division title still runs through Wisconsin.

4. Nebraska (2-2, 0-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Southern Miss 36-28 This Week: Sat at Illinois (3-1), 3:30pm, BTN

Nebraska’s rise to No. 4 in the West is more of an indictment on the rest of the division than an endorsement of the Cornhuskers’ body of work. Tommy Armstrong moved past his devastating overtime interception that doomed Nebraska in Week 3 to throw for 368 yards. He also rushed seven times for 63 yards and scored three total touchdowns in the game. Jordan Westerkamp is one of the conference’s toughest matchups at wide receiver, heading into conference play with 26 catches for 351 yards and four touchdowns in four games. Nebraska is looking to score its way through the Big Ten this season after allowing 12 touchdowns over the four games. Turnovers and penalties have also been a major issue during the rocky start. Poor defense, poor ball security and poor discipline is a dangerous recipe against a defensive-minded division.

5. Minnesota (3-1, 0-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Ohio 27-24 This Week: Sat at #16 Northwestern (4-0), 12pm, BTN

Since coming within a play of knocking off No. 2 TCU in the opener, Minnesota has beaten three weak opponents by a field goal each. This week, the Ohio Bobcats fell victim to the Gophers’ late heroics as a Shannon Brooks touchdown run gave Minnesota the lead with 30 seconds left on the clock. For the first time all season the Gophers got into a rhythm on offense, gaining 268 yards, picking up 24 first downs and scoring three touchdowns. Mitch Leidner threw for 264 yards, but all three Minnesota scores can on the ground – One by Leidner and two by Brooks. Ohio set a new high against Minnesota’s vaunted defense, scoring 24 points but falling short on a Hail Mary pass from the 41-yard line. A delay of game penalty after a time out pushed a potential 53-yard field goal attempt out of range and erased the Bobcats’ chance to tie the game. If the Golden Gophers can only beat Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio by three points, it’s hard to see them competing in the Big Ten.

6. Illinois (3-1, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Middle Tenn. 27-25 This Week: Sat vs Nebraska (2-2), 12pm, BTN

In the wake of Illinois’ beat down at the hands of North Carolina, Middle Tennessee State nearly went into Champaign and poured salt in the still-festering wound. Illinois needed a 51-yard field goal from Taylor Zalewski with 2:09 left on the clock to escape the Blue Raiders, thanks to a missed 43-yarder that would have flipped the script with eight seconds to go. The Fighting Illini won their first two games by a combined 93 points, but a 34-point loss to UNC exposed them as frauds. Conference wins will be tough to come by for Illinois this season.

7. Purdue (1-3, 0-0) – Even
Last Week: Lost to Bowling Green 28-35 This Week: Sat vs at #2 MSU (4-0), 12pm, ESPN2

Ah, yes. The only Big Ten team with a losing record. Purdue capped off a terrible non-conference season with a home loss to Bowling Green, giving up over 30 points for the third time. The Big Ten slaying Falcons passed for over 400 yards and converted 11 of 16 first downs to outlast Purdue in the final seconds of the game. Travis Greene’s 11th carry of the game went for a 12-yard touchdown that capped an 80-yard drive and sealed Purdue’s fate. New starting quarterback David Blough played a solid game, completing 29 of 39 passes for 340 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. The freshman got no help from his running backs, who averaged just 2.4 yards per carry. When it boils down to it, the Boilermakers don’t have much firepower heading into a difficult month of October. The beat down begins Saturday in East Lansing.

Five-Spot Challenge 2015: Maryland

September 28th, 2015 by Justin Potts


Congratulations to bigboyblue for winning Week 4 of the Five-Spot Challenge. His deviation of 163 barely beat out the 2013 overall winner, Maizenblu62, by two points. Bigboyblue was the closest to BYU’s longest touchdown, which was zero because the Cougars didn’t score. He was also third closest to Tanner Mangum’s passing yards (55) and second closest to Jake Rudock’s passing yards (194),

Boggie was closest to Mangum’s passing yards at 60 yards away. Bluwolf77, Myrick55,, tooty_pops, and MEKMichigan all correctly predicted that it would take eight minutes for Michigan to score its first touchdown. Maizenblu62 was just five away from Rudock’s passing yards, while tooty_pops, Ebenszac, and HTTV136 were all just three away from Michigan’s total made field goal yards (40).

Only two of the 27 contestants picked BYU to win. The average combined score prediction was Michigan 26 – BYU 21. No one correctly predicted the final score. Ebenszac and HTTV136 both correctly predicted Michigan’s 31, but had BYU scoring 20 and 21 points, respectively.

The weekly results have been updated.

Michigan travels to Maryland next Saturday for a primetime matchup. The Terrapins are 2-2 and coming off of a 45-6 loss to West Virginia. Here are this week’s picks:

Michigan 31 – BYU 0: Wolverines carry out mission vs BYU

September 27th, 2015 by Justin Potts

Smith vs BYU - by junfuphoto(Junfu Han, Ann Arbor News)

When the oddsmakers opened last week with Michigan a six point favorite over BYU most fans figured it would come down as the week went on. But it turns out that none of us knew what we were talking about. Against a BYU squad led by a quarterback just off his mission it was Michigan that was on a mission on Saturday afternoon, dominating the Cougars 31-0.

After opening the game with a three-and-out, Michigan’s offense strung together five straight scoring drives to put the game out of reach by halftime.

The first touchdown, on Michigan’s second possession of the game, came on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that included a highlight-reel catch by Amara Darboh on 3rd-and-5. Jake Rudock also connected with Khalid Hill for a 19-yard gain on 3rd-and-11 and then Rudock found the end zone with a three yard run.

Michigan’s defense forced a punt and the offense went 90 yards in 10 plays, culminating with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Rudock to Darboh on 3rd-and-3.

Final Stats
Michigan BYU
Score 31 0
Record 3-1 2-2
Total Yards 448 105
Net Rushing Yards 254 50
Net Passing Yards 194 55
First Downs 22 8
Turnovers 0 0
Penalties-Yards 5-53 5-45
Punts-Yards 4-163 11-475
Time of Possession 38:38 21:22
Third Down Conversions 9-of-17 4-of-15
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-2 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 3-27 2-15
Field Goals 1-for-1 0-for-0
PATs 4-for-4 0-for-0
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-4 0-of-0
Full Box Score

After a BYU three-and-out, Michigan didn’t waste much time getting on the board again. Sione Houma rushed for eight yards and then De’Veon Smith broke out of a crowd and raced 60 yards, fending off a Cougar defender much of the way, for an impressive touchdown.

Another BYU three-and-out gave Michigan the ball back at its own 41 and the Wolverines kept the foot on the gas pedal. A roughing the passer penalty put Michigan in BYU territory and six plays later, Rudock crossed the goal line for the second time. This time, he raced down the left sideline from 17 yards out to put Michigan ahead 28-0. But they still weren’t done.

A clock-chewing drive that featured runs by Smith, Houma, Rudock, and Drake Johnson, as well as a 12-yard pass to Jehu Chesson and 18-yarder to Darboh, resulted in a 40-yard Kenny Allen field goal to give Michigan a comfortable 31-0 lead at the half.

Neither team scored in the game’s final 30 minutes as Michigan’s offense simply tried to run clock. The biggest drama of the second half was whether or not the defense could keep BYU out of the end zone and hold the Cougars below 100 total yards. Well, the Wolverines achieved one of the two as BYU never got closer than the Michigan 44, but topped the 100-yard mark as the games closing seconds ticked down.

Michigan outgained BYU 448 to 105 and held a Cougar offense that came in averaging more than 30 points per game scoreless. Michigan rushed for 254 yards and held BYU to just 50.

Smith led the way with 125 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries (7.8 yards per carry), while Rudock completed 14 of 25 passes for 194 yards, a touchdown, and two rushing scores. Darboh led all receivers with four catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. Michigan’s stifling defense held BYU’s heralded freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum to just 12 of 28 passing for 55 yards, and sacked him three times. BYU running back Adam Hine gained just 33 yards on eight carries, 29 of which came on one run.

After the game, BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall — whose team has already faced Nebraska, No. 20 Boise State, and No. 10 UCLA this season — was exceedingly complimentary of the team that dominated his Cougars.

“In my opinion, that was the best team we played to this point, not only physically, but execution wise,” Mendenhall said of Harbaugh’s Wolverines.

BYU offensive coordinator Robert Anae agreed with Mendenhall’s statement and added, “We were dominated in every facet, their defense over our offense — every guy, every play…we were beat from top to bottom, play one through, uh, whatever it was.”

Those words from the coaching staff of a ranked team that Michigan just manhandled are music to the ears of Michigan fans longing for a return to the Michigan of old. And Saturday’s performance was the closest they’ve seen to that in nearly a decade.

Michigan improved to 3-1 on the season and will begin Big Ten play next Saturday at Maryland (2-2). The Terrapins lost to West Virginia 45-6 this weekend. BYU, meanwhile, gets a major reprieve from a tough opening four games when they host UConn on Friday night.

Game Ball – Offense

De’Veon Smith (16 carries for 125 yards, 1 TD)
For 15 of Smith’s 16 carries, he averaged a pedestrian 4.3 yards per carry. But three of those runs were on the first two drives of the third quarter when the playbook went vanilla, up 31-0. And to discount his highlight-reel 60-yard run is doing him a disservice, especially since the whole thing was pretty much all him. He didn’t get a huge hole, he squeezed through one. He benefit from downfield blocks, he shrugged off a defender. The only negative of the day was a sprained ankle suffered in the third quarter, but as long as it doesn’t hold him out for long, it’s clear that Smith is by far the top guy in the backfield.
Honorable Mention: Jake Rudock (14 of 25 for 194 yards, 1 TD. 10 carries for 33 yards, 2 TDs)

Week 1 – Jake Butt (8 rec for 93 yards and 1 TD)
Week 2 – De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 126 yards, 3 TDs)
Week 3 – Ty Isaac (8 carries for 114 yards, 1 TD)

Game Ball – Defense

Ryan Glasgow (3 tackles, 2 TFL)
When a defense holds an opponent to just 105 total yards, you can pretty much pick anyone as the game MVP. And Saturday’s performance was truly a team effort as no individual player had more than four tackles and none had a takeaway. But after the game when I stopped to think about which defensive player stood out the most it was Ryan Glasgow. Although he only made three tackles, he made the most of them with two behind the line of scrimmage. With BYU near midfield, he burst through the line and tackled running back Adam Hine for a loss of six. In the second quarter, on 3rd-and-8, he stuffed Hine for a loss of three. After years of mediocre defensive line play it is great to see the game ball go to a defensive lineman three of the first four weeks.

Week 1 – Chris Wormley (5 tackles, 3 TFL)
Week 2 – Chris Wormley (6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 3 – Jourdan Lewis (3 tackles, 4 PBU)

Final Individual Stats
Passing Comp-Att Yds Avg. TD INT Long Sack
Jake Rudock 14-25 194 7.8 1 0 41 2
Tanner Mangum 12-28 55 2.0 0 0 14 3
Rushing Car. Yards Avg. TD Long
De’Veon Smith 16 125 7.8 1 60
Adam Hine 8 33 4.1 0 29
Jake Rudock 10 33 3.3 2 17
Francis Bernard 4 30 7.5 0 13
Derrick Green 10 28 2.8 0 6
Drake Johnson 5 26 5.2 0 11
Sione Houma 4 17 4.2 0 8
Blake O’Neill 1 9 9.0 0 9
Ty Isaac 2 9 4.5 0 8
Nate Carter 3 9 3.0 0 4
Ross Taylor-Douglass 3 7 2.3 0 5
Tanner Mangum 6 -18 -3.0 0 9
Receiving Rec Yds Avg. TD Long
Amara Darboh 4 57 14.2 1 21
Jake Butt 1 41
41.0 0 41
Khalid Hill 2 39 19.5 0 20
Jehu Chesson 2 17 8.5 0 12
Drake Johnson 1 14 14.0 0 14
Devon Blackmon 1 14 14.0 0 14
Colby Pearson 2 11 5.5 0 7
Ian Bunting 1 10 10.0 0 10
Nick Kurtz 2 10 5.0 0 7
A.J. Williams 1 7 7.0 0 7
Derrick Green 1 7 7.0 0 7
Mitchell Juergens 2 6 3.0 0 5
Adam Hine 1 5 5.0 0 5
Mitch Mathews 1 4 4.0 0 4
Nate Carter 1 4 4.0 0 4
Terenn Houk 1 3 3.0 0 3
Henry Poggi 1 2 2.0 0 2
Moroni Laulu-Pututau 1 -2 -2.0 0 -2
Kicking FG Pct Long XP Pts
Kenny Allen 1/1 100.0 40 4/4 7
Punting No Yds Avg TB In 20 Long
Blake O’Neill 4 163 40.8 0 3 49
Jonny Linehan 11 475 43.2 1 2 55
Kick Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Devon Blackmon 2 30 15.0 20 0
Eric Takenaka 1 19 19.0 19 0
Punt Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Jabrill Peppers 4 20 5.0 11 0
Micah Hannemann 1 5 5.0 5 0

M&GB staff predictions: BYU

September 25th, 2015 by Justin Potts



After winning 10 games or more in five of his first seven seasons in Provo, Bronco Mendenhall’s Cougars have finished 8-5 in each of the last three seasons. A 3-1 start in a very tough September schedule very well could set BYU up for 10 wins this fall since the remainder of the slate features UConn, East Carolina, Cincinnati, Wagner, San Jose State, Missouri, Fresno State, and Utah State. A loss to Michigan would mean winning out to reach 10.

For Michigan, meanwhile, BYU provides a good measuring stick before heading into Big Ten play. The season-opening loss at Utah showed that despite a heralded new coach, there are still missing pieces. Wins over Oregon State and UNLV showed some promise, but Michigan was expected to win both of those. BYU gives Michigan a chance to beat a ranked team for the first time since topping Notre Dame in 2013. It’s a swing game for both teams, but BYU’s swing is higher and Michigan’s swing is lower.


Staff Predictions
Michigan BYU
Justin 20 16
Derick 24 20
Sam 27 24
Josh 17 27
Joe 27 25
M&GB Average 23 22.4

The most terrifying matchup tomorrow is Jake Rudock against BYU’s pass defense. Although the Cougars rank just 86th nationally in passing yards allowed, they lead the nation with seven interceptions. Rudock has already matched his 2014 season total with five. Nebraska and Boise State were able to take advantage of the Cougar secondary, combining for 616 passing yards. But UCLA, with freshman quarterback Josh Rosen, managed just 106 yards and three picks on 23 attempts.

The good news, however, is that UCLA showed the path to success on the ground, rushing for 296 yards with an average of 7.8 yards per carry. But Mendenhall is sure to stuff the box to stop the run and force Rudock into obvious passing situations and then try to take advantage of his miscues. The quick outs and receiver screens will be big for Michigan’s receivers to gain yards, and I predict this will be the game in which Rudock finally connects on a deep throw, giving Amara Darboh a nice American citizenship present.

Defensively, Michigan will likely give up a scoring drive early on and then settle in. Jourdan Lewis, who leads the Big Ten with six pass breakups, will have his hands full with Mitch Mathews and Mitch Juergens, but Michigan’s defensive line should be able to keep enough pressure on Tanner Mangum to keep him out of rhythm. UCLA got to him four times, Boise State five, and Nebraska three. The 13 sacks allowed are the most in the nation and that’s where Michigan has the advantage.

In a low-scoring game, Michigan will win the special teams battle, finally get a big play from Rudock, and hold Mangum in check. Kenny Allen hits a field goal late to make BYU have to drive the field for a touchdown, and the defense prevents another Hail Mary.

Michigan 20 – BYU 16

Derick: Finally, after Michigan hosted a pair of West Coast cupcakes to open the home schedule, the fans will see this team put to its first test as No. 22 BYU makes the trip east to the Big House. Michigan rolled over Oregon State and UNLV thanks to a defense that surrendered just 14 total points.

But BYU is already battle-tested. The Cougars lost starting quarterback Taysom Hill and didn’t miss a beat as Tanner Mangum took over and led the offense to last-second wins over Nebraska and Boise State. BYU nearly went into the Rose Bowl and beat No. 10 UCLA, but a late push fell short as the Cougars suffered their first loss, 24-23.

Magnum will battle a Michigan defense that ranks seventh in the country with just 237 yards allowed per game. Unfortunately for BYU, the offense has been largely one-dimensional this season, averaging just 3.4 yards per carry, and matches up poorly against a Michigan defense that allows just 92.7 rush yards per game. In order to move the ball consistently against the Wolverines, Mangum will have to be extremely efficient in the passing game. The freshman is completing over 60 percent of his passes, but played against the 126th, 85th and 40th ranked passing defenses in Weeks 1-3, respectively.

BYU’s defense is slightly more susceptible to the pass (240.7 yards per game — 86th) than the run (162 yards per game — 74th), but Michigan will have some success running against this front seven. Drake Johnson has been cleared to play and De’Veon Smith and Ty Isaac offer strong, physical options out of the backfield for the Wolverines. Look for Michigan to set the tone through the ground attack, as it did in each of the last two games.

The Cougars are underdogs for the fourth straight game to start the season, but this could be Michigan’s toughest test of the nonconference schedule. BYU hung with UCLA on the road and there’s no reason to expect it can’t do the same in Ann Arbor. But Mangum won’t see another defense of this caliber all season and the Wolverines should take care of business at home for the third straight week. I’ll take Michigan in a dogfight.

Michigan 24 – BYU 20

Sam: I don’t feel too confident about this game after seeing BYU’s generally favorable results over the first three weeks paired with Michigan’s extra vanilla with a dash of more vanilla offense last week, but I also am not as good at predicting outcomes as Vegas, which has the Wolverines favored by nearly a touchdown at home now. Perhaps the strong defense will slow Tanner Mangum just enough for the Rudock-led offense to outscore the Cougars. I’ll begrudgingly take the home team for three straight.

Michigan 27 – BYU 24

Josh: I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the odds makers had Michigan a favorite over BYU. Then I went back and watched some BYU tape and saw why. BYU is a boom or bust offense. They’re either getting big plays downfield or dinking and dunking it, but not moving the chains. Nine of their 11 touchdown drives had at least one play over 20 yards. So now the key to this game becomes can Michigan stop the big plays? I’m not so sure they can. The stats say that Michigan has been pretty good at preventing big plays over the past couple years, but lost in that is the fact that they don’t really play many explosive offenses.

I don’t think Michigan will get beat deep a lot, but they’ll get beat deep a few times and it could yield a good deal of points. Which will be a major issue for the Michigan offense, one who is not built on explosive plays and hasn’t shown they can go downfield with their passing game yet.

That said BYU isn’t a top 10 team and they haven’t been very consistent, on either offense or defense. If Michigan can take advantage of turnover opportunities, continue to run it consistently and not turn it over themselves then they’ll win this game handily. But I don’t think that’s what is going to happen. I think BYU goes up early on some deep balls (two of their receivers are over 6-foot-5 and will be damn near impossible for Lewis and Stribling to cover consistently, not to mention their slot ninja is pretty good too) and Michigan has to pass more as they play from behind. Rudock tosses an interception, or maybe two, and BYU adds a few more points.

While it’s been nice seeing Michigan beat up on bad teams the past two weeks they haven’t done anything to impress me or make me think they can beat a decent team, and one who has played in three tough venues each week thus far. The pass game is meh, the run game is decent but it’s not conducive to big plays and the defense still can’t get to the quarterback with just four. Michigan is just not a team that can beat anyone that is going to put points on the board and I think that’s exactly what BYU is going to do.

BYU edges out a game that feels closer than the score indicates and Michigan fans around the world finally realize that not only was this team poorly coached in the near past but also these kids aren’t as good as we thought they were (save for a few like Butt, Peppers and Lewis). Of course, I hope I’m wrong and Michigan just throttles them.

Michigan 17 – BYU 27

Joe: This is a huge game for the growth and development of the Wolverines. It’s a chance to battle a top 25 team in the Big House and show the nation that this team is on the rise. I hope the offense can establish a strong running game right off the bat and control the clock. The last two weeks were confidence boosters in both the run game and the overall defense. We will not be able to dominate defensively against BYU as we did the last two weeks, but we should hold them under to under 28 points. This team will go as far as the defense takes them. Peppers will have them pumped up and should create a few turnover opportunities early. If Rudock can “dink and dunk” without losing the ball, this team will control things with Butt and Smith doing the heavy lifting. I think the good guys pull this one out.

Michigan 27 – BYU 25