Friend vs Foe 2013: Nebraska
For this week’s edition of Friend vs Foe, please welcome Jon Johnston, Aaron, Mister Mike, and Husker Mike of the Nebraska SB Nation site Corn Nation. They have kindly answered some questions about what we can expect from Tommy Armstrong instead of Taylor Martinez, the comments made by Ameer Abdullah regarding Michigan’s “nasty” and “ruthless” fans, their thoughts on Bo Pelini’s job security, and more. They also provide their predictions. You can follow them on Twitter at @CornNation.
1. With Taylor Martinez out once again, can you explain the main differences between he and Tommy Armstrong? What can Armstrong do that Martinez couldn’t? In what areas are he not as good?
Aaron: Well, right now Tommy can run a lot better than Taylor. Martinez’s injury limits his mobility. To be honest, Armstrong struggles in the same areas that Taylor does. The main area of concern is throwing the ball downfield. He’s thrown six interceptions in his last two games (Purdue and Northwestern). But he can run. He has a lot of quick moves if his line can open up some holes for him.
Friend vs Foe 2013: Michigan State
It’s Michigan State week, and for this week’s Friend vs Foe we asked Chris Vannini of the Michigan State SB Nation site The Only Colors to answer a few questions about the upcoming game. He was gracious enough to provide his thoughts on his confidence level, Michigan State’s advantages, what Michigan will have to do to move the ball, and more. He also provides his prediction. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChrisVannini and the site’s main feed @TheOnlyColors.
1. On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you in this game, and why?
I’ll go with a 7. In a rivalry game with two good teams, you say a five. Add a point for home field and add a point for the fact I think MSU has more advantages than Michigan, and I get 7. That still means I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Michigan win.
Friend vs Foe 2013: Indiana
For this week’s edition of Friend vs Foe we welcome Adam Johnson of the Indiana SB Nation blog The Crimson Quarry. He was kind enough to answer questions about how the Hoosiers got shut down by Michigan State last week, how IU fans view Michigan, where he sees advantages in individual matchups this week, and more. He also provides his prediction. You can follow him on Twitter at @johnsoad and the main feed @crimsonquarry.
1. Last week was strength against strength – Michigan State’s defense against Indiana’s offense – and they got the better of you. How were they able to slow down IU’s high-powered passing game?
This is going to sound like a homer answer, but I’m not certain Indiana didn’t slow down, Indiana’s passing game. Nate Sudfeld just didn’t have a very good game. He overthrew several open receivers on deep passes and in general had a case of happy feet that caused a lot of passes to sail on him. I guess the credit goes to Michigan State in keeping the pressure up on Sudfeld and never making him feel comfortable. Still, despite the relatively lack luster performance, Indiana was able to tack 28 points on the board.
Friend vs Foe 2013: Penn State
This week we are pleased to have the tag team duo of Jared Slanina and Bill DiFlippo of the Penn State SB Nation site Black Shoe Diaries to answer some questions about the matchup, how Penn State fans view Michigan, their expectations during the sanctions, and more. They also provide a game prediction. You can follow them on Twitter @bflip33 and @JaredSlanina and the main feed @BSDtweet. Representing the good guys, like usual, is Josh on what Michigan needs to do to beat Penn State.
1. Michigan and Penn State haven’t played the past two years. Prior to the Rich Rodriguez era Michigan had your number with eight straight wins, but Penn State took advantage of the Rich Rod years. Now six years removed from the last time Michigan beat Penn State, how do Penn State fans view the Michigan program?
Friend vs Foe 2013: Minnesota
We are pleased to welcome JDMill from the Minnesota SB Nation site The Daily Gopher for this week’s Friend vs Foe segment. He has graciously answered a few questions about Gopher fans’ feelings of the Little Brown Jug, what happened against Iowa, where Minnesota might have an advantage on Saturday, and provided his prediction for the game. You can follow him on Twitter @JDMill. On the Michigan side, Josh gives his thoughts on what he would like to see from the Wolverines on Saturday.
1. What does the Little Brown Jug mean to Minnesota fans? Michigan fans see it as a great part of our history but kind of take it for granted. Is it a big deal to Gopher fans? Why or why not?
The Jug is definitely a big deal to Gopher fans. As you mentioned, the history of the trophy makes it an awesome tradition and beating Michigan is pretty much the pinnacle of what our program can achieve in a single game right now. But in a bit of a different way, Gopher fans take it for granted too. We have two incredibly intense trophy traditions with our border rivals Wisconsin and Iowa, and those rivalries definitely take precedent over the Jug at this point.
Friend vs Foe 2013: UConn
For this week’s Friend vs Foe, we are pleased to have Andrew Callahan of the SB Nation site The UConn Blog. He will provide his perspective on how the Huskies can beat Michigan on Saturday, which isn’t nearly as far fetched as we all thought it was a week ago. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @UConnFB_Andrew. As usual, Josh gives the Michigan perspective. Remember, this isn’t an actual game prediction, but rather a breakdown by both sides of what it will take to win.
The Huskies will win if they’re able to cook up the classic underdog recipe of defensive turnovers, offensive red zone efficiency and well-said prayers Friday night.
UConn has clearly struggled so far this season as anyone who’s bothered to look in their direction this year can tell you. While the Husky offense goes by a different playbook and new coordinator now, it still largely appears to be an extension from years that averaged fewer than 21 points. Meanwhile, the defense lost a considerable amount of talent to graduation and the NFL draft, which after 65 points allowed is crystal clear. The unit’s main problem is allowing a few big plays per contest that unravel what otherwise is a very stout performance.
Friend vs Foe 2013: Akron
This week’s Friend vs Foe is going to be slightly different than the usual. Instead of simply asking each side to explain how their team will win, I asked the Akron blogger a few questions about the Zips. Matt Eliason, the Akron guy from the MAC SB Nation site Hustle Belt, is our guest this week to provide an insider’s perspective on the opponent we will see make its first ever trip to the Big House on Saturday. You can follow Matt on Twitter@matt24eli.
As usual, Josh handles the Michigan perspective, but this time he is focusing on what he would like to see from Michigan this week instead of how the Wolverines can win. You can follow him on Twitter @jdemille9.
Friend vs Foe 2013: Notre Dame
Ryan Ritter of the Notre Dame blog Her Loyal Sons is our guest for this week’s edition of Friend vs Foe. He will provide his perspective on how Notre Dame can beat Michigan on Saturday. You can follow him on Twitter@HLS_NDTex or the site’s main feed @herloyalsons. Josh is handling the Michigan perspective and you can follow him @jdemille9.
So what do the Irish need to do to win in the Big House for the first time since the Weis era (seriously, how did y’all allow that to happen?!)?
With Tommy Rees once again the Irish starting QB, I can’t help but think of 2011?s tilt under the lights. After all, Rees will return to the scene of the nightmare that unfolded in that fourth quarter and there is no doubt those memories stick in the minds of both ND and Michigan fans a bit more than his performance in 2012.
Friend vs Foe 2013: Central Michigan
The first edition of this year’s Friend vs Foe series features Ron Balaskovitz, the Central Michigan writer for the Mid-American Conference SB Nation site, Hustle Belt. He will provide his perspective on how Central can beat Michigan on Saturday. You can follow Ron on Twitter @Rovitz. On the Michigan side, Josh is taking over this weekly series this season for Maize and Go Blue. You can follow him @Jdemille9.
Three things must happen.
The first, is that Central needs to win the turnover battle. The biggest thing for any team who is hoping to pull off an upset is to keep possession of the ball, and not give the favorite short fields to work with. That is certainly the case for CMU on Saturday. Last season against Iowa, CMU won the turnover battle, but the biggest thing in that game was that they had zero turnovers of their own.
Friend vs Foe: Nebraska edition
For this week’s edition of Friend vs. Foe, we welcome Jon from the Nebraska SB Nation blog Corn Nation. He will provide his perspective on how or why Nebraska can beat Michigan on Saturday. Remember, this is not an actual game prediction. It is an attempt to describe how or why each team can win from each side of the matchup.
The case for Nebraska
Nebraska’s biggest problem has been turnovers. The Huskers are last in the nation in fumbles lost with 13. Eight have been lost at home. Two came at UCLA in a 36-30 loss, and another four at Ohio State as the Huskers were blown out.
Nebraska’s second biggest problem lurks in how to handle mobile quarterbacks. If you want to successfully disable a Husker fan, all you have to do is whisper “mobile quarterback” in their ear, then stand back and scream “TURNOVER!” and watch them collapse and curl up in a fetal position.
Yet all is not lost for Nebraska!
Friend vs Foe: Illinois edition
This week we welcome Robert from the Illinois blog A Lion Eye. He will provide his perspective on how or why Illinois can beat Michigan on Saturday. Remember, this is not an actual game prediction. It is an attempt to describe how or why each team can win from each side of the matchup.
The case for Illinois
How or why will Illinois win? We can’t and won’t. So there you go. What’s that? Keep going? OK, but your readers need to promise not to laugh. They won’t? You’re sure? OK, here goes:
We should have a top-25 defense. But we don’t. We can’t force field goals, and our offense keeps turning the ball over. We’re 37th in total defense but 78th in scoring defense, and that pretty much tells the whole story. Too many redzone touchdowns, too many short fields for our opponents.
Friend vs Foe: Purdue edition
Fresh off the bye week, we are proud to feature Travis from the Purdue SB Nation blog Hammer and Rails. He will provide his perspective on how or why Purdue can beat Michigan on Saturday. Remember, this isn’t an actual game prediction. It’s just an attempt to describe how or why each team can win from each side of the matchup.
The case for Purdue
Purdue is a team that I am still trying to figure out. It is one that is averaging 45 points per game but hasn’t really played that well offensively. The numbers are a little skewed because we have three defensive scores and we’ve played three pretty lousy defenses. We still have scored the most points of anyone against Notre Dame and had we not been dumb enough to bench a hot Robert Marve for three series against the Irish it probably would have been more.
Friend vs Foe: Notre Dame edition
Offensively, Notre Dame is still a work in progress mainly due to new starting quarterback and redshirt freshman Everett Golson. However, there are plenty of weapons for the young quarterback to work with and an offensive line with a few really strong and tough players.
Overall though with a somewhat less explosive offense, the Irish seem more comfortable with Golson under center. There’s a sense that he can make plays on his own, but the whole offense isn’t as dependent upon his play as is usually the case with Brian Kelly’s quarterbacks. Notre Dame will lean a little bit more on the run, and keep things pretty simple for Golson in the passing game, and there seems to be growing confidence in the team’s ability to protect the ball (just 2 turnovers through 3 games), which is a welcome change from last year.
Friend vs Foe: UMass editionSept. 13 by Justin
For this week’s installment of Friend vs. Foe, we teamed up with Bob McGovern of the Maroon Musket. Bob will provide his evaluation of how or why UMass can win on Saturday. Remember, this isn’t a game prediction. It is an attempt to describe why or how each team can win from each side of the matchup.
The case for UMass
The best way to write about UMass’ chances is to redefine what the word “win” means. In the literal sense, a win would mean that the Minutemen defied all odds, caught inexplicable breaks and pulled off what would be the biggest upset in the history of the Big House (yes, that includes Appalachian State). Under its new, realistic definition, a win would mean not losing by the spread (45.5 points) and scoring more than one touchdown.
In order to get a revised win, the Minutemen need to improve in all three major facets of the game.
Friend vs Foe: Air Force editionSept. 6 by Justin
For this week’s installment of Friend vs. Foe, we are pleased to have Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Air Force blog provide his perspective. Remember, this isn’t a game prediction. It is an attempt to describe why or how each team can win from each side of the matchup.
The case for Air Force
I don’t think Air Force is pulling off this upset on Saturday. But I felt the same way before the Falcons played at Oklahoma in 2010 and at Boise State in 2011, and both times the Falcons were right there in the second half with a shot at the win. They were in those games for the same reason they have a puncher’s chance on Saturday: Their scheme on offense drives first-time opponents crazy.
People think of the Falcons as a triple-option team, but they’ve become a zone-blocking team that uses the triple option as a change of pace. Most of what they do looks more like the Shanahan-era Denver Broncos (Troy Calhoun was an assistant for those teams for a few years) than the DeBerry-era Air Force Falcons. They cut block constantly, which linemen hate. They line up in a million formations and are adept at misdirection.
Friend vs Foe: Alabama editionAug. 30 by Justin
Welcome to the first installment of our new weekly series that will run throughout the season, Friend vs. Foe. In this feature, we will go head to head with a writer from a blog of that week’s opponent. The point isn’t to make a score prediction of the game, but rather for each of us to explain how or why our respective team will win.
For this week’s edition, we are privileged to have Todd from Roll Bama Roll. You might recognize RBR from the “Michigan Hate Week” post earlier in the week. However, that was just a fan post, not by the actual guys that run RBR. Todd is a good guy and they produce some great Alabama content. But head over to that thread for a good pregame laugh. I haven’t met enough Alabama fans yet to tell whether they all subscribe to that line of thinking, but I will say that that poster didn’t do his brethren many favors when it comes to fanbase perception. But I digress. Let’s get on with it.
The case for Alabama
In football, most students of the game will tell you everything starts up front. The team that can control the line of scrimmage and impose its will on the opponent is usually the team that will come out on top. Nick Saban has built his success at Alabama on that principle, using big and surprisingly athletic linemen on both sides of the ball to establish the Tide’s dominance in games early and often. The same will hold true this year.