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Posts Tagged ‘Colorado’

#4 Michigan 45 – Colorado 28: Wolverines absorb blows, deliver knockout punch

Monday, September 19th, 2016


peppers-vs-colorado(MGoBlue.com)

After a pair of blowouts over weak competition, Michigan met adversity for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon against Colorado. But instead of letting a 14-point deficit spiral even further into a disappointing loss, the Wolverines punched back and turned it into a ho-hum 17-point win.

In recent years, spotting an opponent 14 points would have been a sure-fire loss. An uninspired first quarter would have snowballed with turnovers, poor clock management, and not enough players on the field. Michigan was far from perfect on Saturday, but displayed the difference between a well-coached team and a poorly-coached one. And in doing so, set itself up for success later in the season.

um-colorado_small-final
Final Stats
Michigan Colorado
Score 45 28
Record 3-0 2-1
Total Yards 397 325
Net Rushing Yards 168 64
Net Passing Yards 229 261
First Downs 20 15
Turnovers 1 0
Penalties-Yards 5-41 7-46
Punts-Yards 7-275 10-331
Time of Possession 31:35 28:25
Third Down Conversions 5-of-16 1-of-13
Fourth Down Conversions 0-of-0 0-of-1
Sacks By-Yards 4-28 3-22
Field Goals 1-for-3 0-for-1
PATs 6-for-6 4-for-4
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-4 1-of-2
Red Zone Scores-TDs 2-of-4 1-of-2
Full Box Score

“The best thing that we learned today was we have a tenacious team that’s never going to give up,” said senior nose tackle Ryan Glasgow. “When we started getting three-and-outs, we got them into third down and we got off the field, that was the biggest thing. The dialogue we had with the offense was great today: ‘If you stop ’em, we’ll score. If you score, we’ll stop ’em.’ We started having that attitude, we started with each other, feeding off each other, the tides started to turn.”

Colorado struck twice in the first seven minutes, once on a 3-play, 49-yard drive on their first possession of the game, and again on a fumble return on Michigan’s ensuing possession. Michigan’s first three offensive possessions garnered just 41 total yards, but the special teams came to the rescue. Michael Jocz blocked a Colorado punt around the 25-yard line and Grant Perry scooped it up and carried it in to put Michigan on the board.

The excitement didn’t last long as Colorado went 67 yards on plays for another touchdown to take a 21-7 lead. By the end of the first quarter, Colorado had racked up 195 total yards to Michigan’s 66. But that’s where things changed.

Over the final three quarters, Michigan was a different team. The Wolverines scored 17 points in the second quarter, holding the Buffaloes to just 37 total yards, to take a 24-21 halftime lead. Although Colorado scored on its first possession of the second half — a 70-yard bomb — it was all Michigan from there. Michigan out-gained Colorado 331 to 130 and outscored them 38-7 after the first quarter. The Michigan defense held Colorado to just six first downs and sacked the quarterback four times over that span.

When all was said and done, Michigan nearly covered the spread, picked up their third win, and faced adversity for the first time this season. Jake Butt, who led Michigan in receiving with seven catches for 87 yards, said the Wolverines didn’t have a great week of practice leading up to the game — Jim Harbaugh attributed it to fatigue from the second week of classes — and they knew it was going to happen sooner or later.

“We weren’t worried,” Butt said after the game. “We actually talked about it as a team. We knew the first two games we were never really punched in the face. Everything was going so smoothly. It’s not going to be a fairly tale the entire season. There was going to be a time we were going to get punched in the face, get backed in the corner. Playing with these guys, I’m so proud of the way we bounced back. We stuck together and rode that wave and were strong enough to get it done.”

Wilton Speight struggled early on, completing just 2-of-9 in the first quarter, but went 14-of-21 the rest of the way to finish 16-of-30 for 229 yards and one touchdown. De’Veon Smith led Michigan on the ground with 87 yards on 11 carries, half of which came on a 42-yard touchdown romp early in the second half.

Ben Gedeon was Michigan’s leading tackler with 12, but there’s no doubt who the star was. Jabrill Peppers was all over the field, recording nine tackles, 3.5 for loss, and a sack. As a team, Michigan recorded 10 tackles for loss. Peppers also got a monkey off his back with a 54-yard punt return for touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Michigan opens Big Ten play with Penn State (2-1) next Saturday. The game will be televised by ABC at 3:30pm ET.

Game Ball – Offense

Jake Butt (7 receptions for 87 yards)
On a day when quarterback Wilton Speight struggled it was senior tight end Jake Butt, who turned down a chance to get drafted last spring, who showed why he’s so valuable. Senior receiver Amara Darboh dropped a sure first down on Michigan’s first drive and Jehu Chesson didn’t record a catch, but Butt was Speight’s safety valve all afternoon. Butt caught seven of Speight’s 16 completions, and although he didn’t catch a touchdown pass, six of his seven receptions went for first downs and two were third-down conversions.

Previous
Week 1 – Chris Evans (8 carries, 112 yards, 2 touchdowns)
Week 2 — Wilton Speight (25-of-37 for 312 yards, 4 touchdowns)

Game Ball – Defense

Jabrill Peppers (9 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 2 kick returns for 81 yards, 4 punt returns for 99 yards, 1 TD)
Jim Harbaugh said after the game that the best player on the field was Jabrill Peppers, and he’s right. The junior jack of all trades was all over the field and impacted the game in all three phases. He carried the ball twice for 22 yards at the beginning of the game. He recorded a team high 3.5 tackles for loss to bring his three-game total to a nation-leading 9.5. He sacked backup quarterback Steven Montez for an 11-yard loss in the third quarter. And his 180 yards of returns consistently gave Michigan’s offense good starting field position. None was bigger than his 54-yard fourth quarter touchdown. After being so close over the past couple of seasons, he finally silenced those who still doubt him.

Previous
Week 1 – Mike McCray (9 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
Week 2 — Rashan Gary (6 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks)

M&GB staff predictions: Colorado

Saturday, September 17th, 2016


StaffPicks_banner20152

Colorado comes to town tomorrow with a 2-0 record, hoping to relive the magic of 1994 when Kordell Stewart’s hail Mary stunned the Wolverines. As a 20-point underdog, a win this time around would be a much bigger stunner. Josh was the winner of our staff predictions last week with his prediction of Michigan 51 – UCF 10. Here are our picks for this week:

Justin
Staff Predictions
Michigan Colorado
Justin 34 17
Derick 38 14
Sam 41 10
Josh 42 17
Joe 45 17
M&GB Average 40 15

Michigan’s schedule has gradually gotten stronger by the opponent and this will be the biggest test yet. The line has hovered around 20 points, but that will be a tough one for Michigan to cover. Through the first two weeks of the season Colorado ranks in the top 10 nationally in both offense and defense. Like Michigan they have feasted on cupcakes without playing down to their competition, but they have done it better.

Colorado has done a good job taking care of the ball so far this season. They have lost three fumbles — which are mostly random — but Liufau hasn’t thrown an interception yet. Michigan’s defense has forced four turnovers so far — two of which were pick-sixes — and they’ll need to force Liufau to make mistakes.

Offensively, the big question will be whether Michigan can muster a run game. UCF packed eight and nine man boxes a week ago to stop the run, so Wilton Speight aired it out 37 times. The passing game made seven big plays (20 or more yards). But Colorado features a much better secondary than UCF did. Awuzie is one of the best corners Michigan will face this season and will be able to stick with Jehu Chesson or Amara Darboh. If the offensive line is unable to get a push and open up running lanes, Speight will be tested more than he has yet in his young career.

This game has the makings of a tight one through the first half that Michigan pulls away in the second. I do think the running game will be able to have some success — Colorado State rushed for 5.6 yards per carry on 33 attempts — and the play action passing game will make enough big plays to ensure the win, but not cover the spread.

Michigan 34 – Colorado 17

Derick

Michigan hasn’t seen a test like Colorado yet this season, but the Buffaloes still aren’t on the same level as most of the Big Ten. In two games against Hawaii and UCF, Michigan ran away from the game in the first quarter.

I expect this game will be closer, but it still shouldn’t be close. Michigan has more firepower offensively than Colorado and should be able to overwhelm the Buffaloes downfield. If the first two weeks are any indication, Michigan will once again struggle to run the ball against a solid Colorado front seven. But Wilton Speight has shown he can beat teams in play action, and I think he will again.

Colorado will hang in there for a half, but Michigan will run away in the third quarter for a win.

Michigan 38 – Colorado 14

Sam

This may be the first “test” for the Wolverines, but I’m resting easy. I still think Michigan’s defense is too good to cede more than a couple fluky touchdowns (even without a couple of major pieces) to Colorado, and Speight has been too good to contain. I like the Maize and Blue to cover the spread for a third straight time before conference season gets underway.

Michigan 41 – Colorado 10

Josh (1)

Colorado is probably better than both Hawaii and UCF, but they haven’t played anyone of note either. There were some concerns about Michigan’s run defense last week, losing ‘contain’ on the quarterback and giving up an 87-yard touchdown run. As I touched on in this week’s ‘The Numbers Game’ post I wouldn’t worry too much, these are issues that will be fixed by the coaching staff. Like last year, Michigan has been very vanilla in both their offense and defense. There’s no need to break out their whole bag of tricks early on and give teams like MSU, Iowa and OSU stuff to scout.

Michigan is much more talented and better coached than Colorado, but they still may give Michigan a test this weekend. Stats-wise, Sefo Liufau has been an efficient passer in his first two games and isn’t a slouch in the run game either. Normally this would be a prime letdown spot for a game — a solid opponent after two weeks of cupcakes. I don’t see Harbaugh letting that happen though. The man didn’t even find Colorado’s fake depth chart amusing (I thought it was rather clever).

That said, I think Colorado will hang with Michigan a lot longer than most people think, despite Michigan being favored by 20-points. They’re a spread team with a high-tempo offense and some solid threats in both the running and passing game. Michigan is missing two defensive linemen (and maybe Jourdan Lewis again too) and it will eventually take its toll resulting in a big run or two, as guys get worn down. Twitter will be panicking early as I think this will still be a competitive game heading into halftime. Michigan will pull away by the fourth quarter making the game look not nearly as close as it actually was.

Some things I’d like to see:

On offense: It would be nice to see the run game get going but I just want to see an efficient offense again, regardless of how they do it. This should be a good test for Speight and I’d like to see him remain calm in the pocket and make the correct reads/progressions as he did last week. On the ground, if they so choose to run a lot, I need to see some more consistency in the blocking and from De’Veon Smith’s decision making regarding which holes to hit and when to cutback, etc.

On defense: The obvious is not let the quarterback run all over them but I won’t be upset by a couple big runs. If they can keep the big plays to under five I’ll be very pleased. What I’d really like though is to see Channing Stribling and Jeremy Clark play so well that we don’t need to worry about missing Lewis (if he’s out longer than expected). With Lewis this secondary can be elite; without him they cannot.

On special teams: It’d be crazy to think they can block another kick, or two, right?

Michigan 42 – Colorado 17

Joe (1)

Michigan 45 – Colorado 17

#4 Michigan vs Colorado game preview

Friday, September 16th, 2016


um-colorado-game-preview-header(Isaiah Hole, 247 Sports)

For the third straight week an external storyline has dominated the talk leading up to the game, this time in the form of a fake depth chart from Colorado. In Week 1, Hawaii head coach Nick Rolovich told the media that Harbaugh declined his request to send game tape. He later said that he was joking. In Week 2, the talk centered around UCF head coach Scott Frost and his comments about Michigan following the 1997 season that saw his Nebraska Cornhuskers share the national title with Michigan.

um-colorado_small
Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 3:30p.m. EST – BTN
Colorado Head Coach: Mike MacIntyre (4th season)
Coaching Record: 12-27 (2-25 Pac-12)
Co-Offensive Coordinators: Darrin Chiaverini (1st season)
Brian Lindgren (1st season)
Defensive Coordinator: Jim Leavitt (1st season)
Last Season: 4-9 (1-8 Pac-12)
Last Meeting: UM 27 – CU 3 (1997)
All-Time Series: Michigan 3-1
Record in Ann Arbor: Michigan 2-1
Jim Harbaugh vs Colorado First meeting
Last Michigan win: 1997 (27-3)
Last Colorado win: 1994 (27-26)
Current Streak: Michigan 2
Colorado Schedule to date
Opponent Result
Colorado State W 44-7
Idaho State W 56-7

This week, Colorado decided to poke fun at the fact that Harbaugh hasn’t released a depth chart this season. Colorado sports information director Dave Plati created a fake depth chart that lists the Buffaloes’ quarterback as Elmer Fudd, the halfbacks as the Hanson brothers from the 1977 movie Slapshot, defensive tackle — wearing No. 007 of course — as James Bond, and “weak safety” as Stewie Griffin from Family Guy.

Harbaugh, however, dismissed the tactic in an interview on Thursday morning with 97.1 FM.

“In our preparation for Colorado we’ve had a hard time working humor into the preparations,” Harbaugh said. “They’re a very good football team.”

He continued.

“I saw the depth chart. I was trying to imagine how many people sat around and how many hours they worked on that. We’ve just found, I mean, when it comes to the depth chart — modern technology seems to have made the depth chart an out-dated task by about 20 years. We’ve found studying last week’s film of the opponent is the most accurate way of determining another team’s depth chart.”

No matter who starts for Colorado, a win in the Big House would be a huge lift for a program that had won just 10 games in head coach Mike MacIntyre’s first three seasons in Boulder. It’s a make or break season for Mac and he hopes to recreate the magic that Colorado displayed 22 years ago when Kordell Steward stunned the Wolverines with a hail Mary. The Buffaloes will be wearing those 1994 uniforms tomorrow.

So far this season, Colorado looks much improved over the team that went just 4-9 and 1-8 in Pac-12 play a year ago. The level of competition hasn’t been much as Colorado State ranks 112th nationally in FEI — 31 spots below UCF — and Idaho State ranks 78th in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Still, like Michigan in its first two games of the season, Colorado did what it needed to do, winning both games by a combined score of 100-14.

So could Colorado stun Michigan again? Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Colorado has the ball

Co-offensive coordinators Darrin Chiaverini and Brian Lindgren returned just four full-time starters from last season, but they also welcomed a productive junior college transfer and got back a starting offensive lineman who missed all of 2015 due to injury.

Senior quarterback Sefo Liufau entered the season with 29 games of starting experience and 32 games of playing experience under his belt. So far through two weeks he has completed 74.1 percent of his passes for 522 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He has also rushed 20 times for an average of six yards per carry and one touchdown. He missed the final two games of 2015 and all of spring practice with a Lisfranc (foot) injury, but has shown no signs of rust thus far. Entering the season, Liufau held 75 school records and will look to build on that the rest of 2016.

Last year’s leading rusher, junior Phillip Lindsay, is back after rushing for 653 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. He has 125 yards and a team-leading four touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry so far this season. He shares the backfield with Kyle Evans, a 5-foot-6, 175-pound sophomore who has 93 yards and two scores on 4.0 yards per carry so far. Junior Donovan Lee and freshman Beau Bisharat are averaging six to nine carries a game. Bisharat was a 247 Composite four-star who held offers from Oregon, Michigan State, Stanford, Nebraska, and others before signing with the Buffaloes.

The receiving corps suffered the biggest loss from last season in the form of graduating senior Nelson Spruce, who ranked second in the Pac-12 with 6.8 receptions per game and fifth with 81 yards per game, though he only found the end zone four times. Leading returning receiver Shay Fields, who caught 42 passes for 598 yards and four scores in 2015, leads the Buffs with 157 yards on five catches, but has yet to find the end zone. Junior Devin Ross and junior college transfer Kabion Ento have two touchdown receptions apiece. At 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, Ento has the best size among the receiving corps and he’s coming off a 38-catch, 607-yard, eight-touchdown performance at East Central (Miss.) Community College in 2015. Junior Bryce Bobo is the other impact receiver with seven catches for 106 yards thus far.

The offensive line returned three of last season’s opening day starters, though left tackle Jeromy Irwin suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the second quarter of the second game. He’s back as the anchor of the line after starting 11 games in 2014. The most experienced is senior center Alex Kelley, who has started 27 career games including all 13 a year ago. Left guard Gerrad Kough started 10 games last season while missing three with various injuries. The right side of the line is where the newcomers stepped in. Redshirt freshman Tim Lynott earned the job at right guard and junior Sam Kronshage won the right tackle gig. Kronshage started six games last season, three at left tackle and three at right tackle.

When Michigan has the ball

When Michigan’s 2015 defensive coordinator, D.J. Durkin, left for the Maryland head coaching position after just one season, one of the names that came up as his replacement was former South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt. Harbaugh, of course, hired Boston College’s Don Brown instead, and Leavitt ended up in the same position at Colorado. In Boulder, he inherits a veteran defense that looks to take a step forward in his second season.

The defensive line has been a weakness the past few seasons, but returned plenty of experience. Senior nose tackle Josh Tupou, who has started 33 career games, redshirted in 2015 due to a violation of team rules. He was an honorable mention Freshman All-American in 2012 and honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2014, so his return will be a welcome addition for Leavitt. He has six tackles, including one for loss in the first two games. He’s be joined on the line by senior ends Jordan Carrell and Samson Kafovalu, who have combined for nine tackles, 1.5 for loss, and one sack so far.

Like the defensive line and offensive line, the linebacking corps gets back a key piece that missed most of last season. Junior inside linebacker Addison Gillam started 10 games in 2014 and was a first-team Freshman All-American in 2013, but tore his meniscus in Week 2 last season. But he’s not a starter this season and has just two tackles. Inside linebackers Rick Gamboa and Kenneth Olugbode are the second and third leading tacklers so far. Senior outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert led the team with six sacks last season and has one already this year and a team-leading two tackles for loss. Junior Derek McCartney started the Idaho State game after Christian Shaver started in Week 1. McCartney racked up 70 tackles, 10 for loss, and five sacks in 2015. He has recorded two tackles including one for loss so far.

The secondary returned three starters including preseason Jim Thorpe Award candidate Chidobe Awuzie, who tallied 90 tackles and a team-high 10 pass breakups in 2015. He was a second-team All-Pac-12 performer and has 22 career pass breakups. He leads the team with 10 tackles and also has two pass breakups and an interception so far. Junior Afolabi Laguda is the other corner with six tackles. Safeties Tedric Thompson and Ahkello Witherspoon have combined for four pass breakups.

The other third

Special teams was a bit lackluster for the Buffaloes last season, so MacIntyre brought in a pair of new coaches to oversee the unit. Former special teams coordinator Toby Neinas was dismissed and landed at Rutgers, and in his place stepped Daniel Da Prato and Matt Thompson. Da Prato was the special teams coordinator at Montana State the past three seasons, while Thompson was a private kicking instructor.

Senior kicker Diego Gonzalez has made all three of his attempts so far this season, but hasn’t attempted one longer than 30 yards. He made just 62.1 percent of his field goal attempts in his first season as the primary kicker last season, but he did show off a big leg with a long of 52. In fact, he went 2-of-3 from 50-plus yards. He struggled mightily from the left hash, making just 5-of-12, but made 13-of-17 everywhere else. Sophomore punter Alex Kinney ranked ninth in the Pac-12 with an average of 40.1 yards per punt as a true freshman. He is averaging 42.8 yards per punt so far this season with one touchback and one downed inside the 20.

Prediction

Michigan’s schedule has gradually gotten stronger by the opponent and this will be the biggest test yet. The line has hovered around 20 points, but that will be a tough one for Michigan to cover. Through the first two weeks of the season Colorado ranks in the top 10 nationally in both offense and defense. Like Michigan they have feasted on cupcakes without playing down to their competition, but they have done it better.

Colorado has done a good job taking care of the ball so far this season. They have lost three fumbles — which are mostly random — but Liufau hasn’t thrown an interception yet. Michigan’s defense has forced four turnovers so far — two of which were pick-sixes — and they’ll need to force Liufau to make mistakes.

Offensively, the big question will be whether Michigan can muster a run game. UCF packed eight and nine man boxes a week ago to stop the run, so Wilton Speight aired it out 37 times. The passing game made seven big plays (20 or more yards). But Colorado features a much better secondary than UCF did. Awuzie is one of the best corners Michigan will face this season and will be able to stick with Jehu Chesson or Amara Darboh. If the offensive line is unable to get a push and open up running lanes, Speight will be tested more than he has yet in his young career.

This game has the makings of a tight one through the first half that Michigan pulls away in the second. I do think the running game will be able to have some success — Colorado State rushed for 5.6 yards per carry on 33 attempts — and the play action passing game will make enough big plays to ensure the win, but not cover the spread.

Michigan 34 – Colorado 17

New arrival: Colorado game poster

Thursday, September 15th, 2016


gameposter-2016-colorado

With the way Colorado has been poking the bear all week, Ralphie may be destined for a wall in Schembechler Hall.

Download the high-res version here, good up to 18×24.

Previous: Hawaii, UCF

Our weekly game posters are designed by Christian Elden, a designer and illustrator who happens to be a Michigan fan. He lives in northwest Ohio where he runs his own design firm. He has illustrated a picture book for Warner Press and has been featured in Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. Visit his personal site to view some of his other works.

The numbers game: While UCF loaded the box, Michigan went to the air for big plays

Thursday, September 15th, 2016


darboh-vs-ucf(Isaiah Hole, 247)

Previously: Is Don Brown’s defense high-risk? The numbers say noMichigan’s Harbaughfense will be more explosive in Year 2, Run game makes big plays in Week 1

Week 2 is in the books and despite their delusional coach thinking they “outhit” Michigan, UCF was still the beneficiary of a 51-14 beat down. Let’s dive right in and see how Michigan’s big play and toxic differential numbers played out against the Knights.

Michigan had a total of 12 big plays against UCF, down from 14 the previous week. However, this time the plays were more evenly distributed amongst run and pass at five and seven respectfully (they were 11 and three last week). I think this was partially due to UCF stacking the box and selling out to stop the run. It’s tough to tell if a play is a run blitz or not but according to Pro Football Focus Speight was blitzed on 28 of his 39 dropbacks, so it’s probably safe to assume they had some sort of blitz dialed up on most downs (sounds familiar). It’s still novel to note that the coaching staff did not insist on running the ball into eight- and nine-man boxes but instead adjusted and decided to air it out.

After two games Michigan is averaging eight big run plays per game (17th nationally), five big pass plays per game (16th), and 13 total big plays per game (eighth) for a big play percentage of 18.44 percent (eighth).

Through two games in 2015, the Michigan offense was averaging 3.5 big run plays and 3.5 big pass plays for a total of seven big plays per game. Their big play percentage was 9.59 percent.

Adding the UCF game to their Week 1 totals, Michigan’s defense has taken a big hit in the big plays against rankings, most notably the run. Michigan has now given up 5.5 big run plays per game (90th nationally) and one big pass play per game (9th), for a total of 6.5 big plays per game (50th) and a big play against percentage of 10.16 percent (67th).

Their big play differential (big play percentage for, minus big play percentage against) is a very solid 8.2 percent (13th nationally), while their total toxic differential (big plays for minus big plays against, plus turnover margin) is 16 (11th nationally). On a per game basis they rank 12th nationally in toxic differential.

In 2015, Michigan gave up an average of four big run plays per game and 1.5 big pass plays per game for a total of 5.5 big plays given up per game. This works out to a 8.94 percent big plays against percentage. Their big play differential percentage was 0.65 percent. Toxic differential was minus-7.

Michigan offense – 2015 vs 2016 first two weeks comparison
Year Big Run Plays Big Pass Plays Total Big Plays Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 16 10 26 18.44% 8.2% 16
2015 7 7 14 9.59% 0.65% -7
Michigan defense – 2015 vs 2016 averages
Year Big Run Plays/gm Big Pass Plays/gm Total Big Plays/gm Big Play % Big Play Diff Toxic Diff
2016 5.5 1 6.5 10.16% 8.2% 16
2015 4 1.5 5.5 8.94% 0.65% -7

Michigan came out throwing the ball around to the tune of 37 pass attempts. This resulted in seven big pass plays, four of which were over 30-yards. The big run plays were down but it was still nice to see De’Veon Smith record two of them (17, 12). As I mentioned with UCF essentially selling out to stop the run, it was not a surprise to see Michigan’s big run plays limited while the big pass plays increased.

On the flip side of the ball I was surprised, as I’m sure many of you were, to see UCF come up with several big plays, all of them in the run game. I saw some comments on Twitter (speaking of, you should follow me at @jdemille9) about the high-risk nonsense we dispelled earlier and about guys not being in their correct lanes. I went back and re-watched the game to see what exactly happened. Three of the seven were quarterback scrambles in which Michigan either took a bad angle to the play and/or over-pursued. The 87-yard touchdown run came with Mike McCray being slightly out of position (and possibly held) and Dymonte Thomas taking a very bad angle of pursuit. Jawon Hamilton being super fast didn’t hurt either.

While concerning and frustrating in the moment, I’m not too worried about these big runs against Michigan, as it is an issue that will be corrected by the coaches. Missing Bryan Mone, Taco Charlton, and even Jourdan Lewis cannot be understated here. It’s also better for these hiccups (which we all knew would happen) to occur early in the season against teams that are not a threat to win the game.

I am not saying big runs like this will never happen again but once the adjustments are made in practice I don’t see another team on the schedule, outside of Ohio State, capable of gashing Michigan on the ground repeatedly like UCF did. Don Brown was brought in because of his ability to stop spread to run teams like Ohio State, and he will make the proper adjustments going forward.

Michigan’s Week 2 big plays
Quarter Down & Distance Player Yards Gained Run/Pass
1 3rd and 8 Wilton Speight to Jehu Chesson 35 Pass
1 1st and 10 Wilton Speight to Jehu Chesson 32 Pass
1 1st and 10 Wilton Speight to Amara Darboh 45 (TD) Pass
1 1st and 10 Eddie McDoom 16 Run
2 2nd and 13 De’Veon Smith 17 Run
2 2nd and 1 De’Veon Smith 12 Run
3 1st and 10 Wilton Speight to Jake Butt 23 Pass
3 3rd and 6 Wilton Speight to Amara Darboh 20 Pass
3 2nd and 10 Chris Evans 18 Run
4 1st and 10 Wilton Speight to Jake Butt 25 Pass
4 3rd and 5 Wilton Speight to Amara Darboh 30 (TD) Pass
4 3rd and 8 Kekoa Crawford 11 Run
UCF’s Week 2 big plays
1 1st and 10 Jawon Hamilton 11 Run
1 3rd and 9 Justin Holman 30 Run
2 2nd and 10 Adrian Killins 87 (TD) Run
2 3rd and 9 Justin Holman 35 Run
2 2nd and 6 Jawon Hamilton 11 Run
3 2nd and 10 Nick Patti 26 Run
3 1st and 10 Dontravious Wilson 34 (TD) Run

Looking ahead to Colorado, I was a bit surprised to see how well they ranked in big play metrics, especially their defense. Of course, they did play an FCS team last week but they beat them as you’d expect.

The Colorado offense averages seven big run plays per game (33rd nationally) and 4.4 big pass plays per game (27th) for a total of 11.5 big plays per game (19th) and a big play percentage of 12.99 percent (50th).

On defense, the Buffaloes have looked very impressive. They give up an average of 2.5 big run plays per game (22nd nationally) and zero big pass plays (first) for a total of 2.5 big plays given up per game (second). Their big play against percentage is 4.2 percent (third). Their big play differential is 8.79 percent (11th) and total toxic differential is 20 (fourth).

Colorado is one of just four teams to not surrender a big pass play through the first two weeks of the season. I would expect that streak to end this week. Two of the other three are teams within Michigan’s division, whom I will not mention.

On paper it looks as though Colorado could give Michigan a run for their money, as far as not allowing big plays, and it should be a much more competitive game than the past two opponents, despite Vegas favoring Michigan by 20 points.

I expect Michigan to win but I am not excited about the inevitable Kordell Stewart Hail Mary replays. Why did Dave Brandon insist on rescheduling teams to whom Michigan lost epic heartbreakers, as if winning them the second time around would make those memories any less painful? And now it comes out that Colorado will be wearing the exact same uniforms they did on September 24th, 1994. My 15-year-old self would not be pleased to hear this.

Five-Spot Challenge 2016: Colorado

Monday, September 12th, 2016


Congratulations to HTTV137 for winning last week’s Five-Spot Challenge. His deviation of 205 was 23 points better than GrizzlyJFB. It was a solid all-around effort as HTTV137 was the closest to Kenny Allen’s punt yards (140, just three away), fourth-closest to Chris Evans’ rushing yards (35, 15 away), fourth-closest to the yards gained on Michigan’s first possession (minus-1, 23 away), and fifth-closest to the total yards for Michigan true freshmen (69, 30 away). He wins a prize box of product from our sponsors, Lane’s BBQCultivate Coffee & Tap House, and Chayder Grilling Company.

Gvanneste was the closest to the yards gained on Michigan’s first possession with his prediction of six. JD Mackiewicz was the closest to UCF’s 56 passing yards (44 away). Bigboyblue‘s prediction of 39 was the closest to Evans’ 35 rushing yards, while kashkaav was only three away from the total yards by Michigan true freshmen.

All 31 contestants picked Michigan to win by an average score of Michigan 51 – UCF 8. No one correctly predicted the score, but BadBlu was the closest with his prediction of 53-13. Boggie was the only one to correctly predict Michigan’s total of 51, while nobody had UCF scoring exactly 14. Only one contestant, Gdub18, had UCF scoring more than 14 points (17).

Michigan hosts Colorado this Saturday. The Buffaloes come in with wins over Colorado State and Idaho State and rank in the top 10 nationally in both total offense (seventh) and total defense (first). Here are this week’s questions.

First Look: Colorado

Monday, September 12th, 2016


colorado

Michigan took care of UCF on Saturday to improve to 2-0 on the season. The Wolverines have now scored 50 or more points in back to back games for the first time since 1992 and the 114 points scored in the first two games are the fourth most in program history — the most since the 1914 team scored 127 points against DePauw and Case.

Now the schedule gets progressively tougher as the 2-0 Colorado Buffaloes come to town with plenty of confidence. Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare two games into the season.

Colorado stats & Michigan comparison
Colorado | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 50.0 | 57.0 11 5
7.0 8.5 6 9
Rushing Yards 522 425 197 356
Rush Avg. Per Game 261.0 212.5 20 45
98.5 178.0 30 90
Avg. Per Rush 4.6 | 5.3
4.0 4.3
Passing Yards 653 534 124 207
Pass Avg. Per Game 326.5 267.0 17 42 62.0 103.5 2 9
Total Offense 1,175 959 321 563
Total Off Avg. Per Game 587.5 479.5 7 38 160.5 281.5 1 29
Kick Return Average 20.0 8.2 76 126 23.6 17.2 101 | 33
Punt Return Average 7.0 18.5 66 14 6.0 | 12.0 64 103
Avg. Time of Possession 35:36 31:10 14 50 24:24 | 28:50
3rd Down Conversion Pct 62.2% | 60.0% 4 6
23.3% | 12.0% 21 3
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 1-6 | 2-12
7 | 27
3-27 | 7-59
79 | 17
Touchdowns Scored 13 15
2 | 2
Field Goals-Attempts 3-4 3-3
0-0 | 1-3
Red Zone Scores (15-16) 94%|(13-14) 93% 36 | 37
(2-2) 100%|(0-1) 0% 93 1
Red Zone Touchdowns (12-16) 75%|(10-14) 71% (2-2) 100%|(0-1) 0%
OFEI/DFEI N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+ N/A | N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A | N/A

After going 4-9 a year ago, Colorado has started the 2016 season with back to back wins. The Buffaloes beat in-state rival Colorado State 44-7 in the season opener and then topped Idaho State of the Football Championship Subdivision 56-7 on Saturday. Although Colorado won three of its first four games last season — and only won one of the remaining nine — it’s the way they’re getting it done this season that have those in Boulder excited.

Colorado ranks in the top 11 nationally in both scoring offense (11th) and scoring defense (sixth). Even better, they rank in the top seven nationally in both total offense (seventh) and total defense (first). This is a team that is getting it done on both sides of the ball.

The running game has been as consistent as it can be through the first two games. The Buffaloes rushed for 260 yards on 56 carries in Week 1 and 262 yards on 57 carries in Week 2. The 261 rushing yards per game ranks 20th nationally and are 48.5 more rushing yards per game than Michigan thus far.

The passing game has also been pretty consistent, throwing for 318 yards on 23-of-33 passes in the opener and 335 yards on 22-of-31 passes against Idaho State. Their 326.5 passing yards per game rank 17th nationally are 59.5 yards more than Michigan averages.

Consistency and balance have been the name of the game for Mike MacIntyre in this all important season if he hopes to keep his job. The Buffaloes have allowed just one sack, which ranks seventh nationally, and have converted 62.2 percent of their third downs. Only three teams — TCU (67.5), Ole Miss (62.5), and Toledo (62.5) — have converted more.

Defensively, first year defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt has his defense among the nation’s best to date. The Buffaloes have allowed just a touchdown in each of their first two games. Colorado State scored at the beginning of the fourth quarter after Colorado already had a 37-0 lead. Idaho State didn’t get on the board until 1:48 remained in the game when the Buffs lead 56-0.

Idaho State only managed 96 total yards, averaging 2.5 yards per carry and 1.5 yards per pass attempt. But this not only an FCS school, it’s one that went just 2-9 a year ago and currently ranks 78th in the FCS.

The win over Colorado State was slightly more impressive as the Rams were a bowl team a year ago with a 7-6 record. They’re at least comparative, and probably better than Michigan’s first two opponents, Hawaii and UCF. Colorado held CSU to just 225 total yards. While Colorado State only managed 63 passing yards, they averaged a respectable 4.6 yards per carry on 35 attempts. But they turned the ball over four times.

Michigan opened the week favored by 20 points. That line will likely come down slightly before Saturday, but Colorado isn’t exactly the pushover most thought they would be prior to the season. Just how real they are remains to be seen, but Michigan will need to put together a complete game to cover the spread.

2016 non-conference opponent preview: Colorado

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016


2016 Opponent Preview - Colorado

Sefo Liufau(Stephen Dunn, Getty Images)

Over the past couple of weeks we have previewed Michigan’s first two opponents, Hawaii and UCF. Today we close out our non-conference opponent preview with Michigan’s third opponent, the Colorado Buffaloes.

Schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 2 at Colorado State
Sept. 10 Idaho State
Sept. 17 at Michigan
Sept. 24 at Oregon
Oct. 1 Oregon State
Oct. 8 at USC
Oct. 15 Arizona State
Oct. 22 at Stanford
Nov. 3 UCLA
Nov. 12 at Arizona
Nov. 19 Washington State
Nov. 26 Utah

While Hawaii and UCF play in lesser conferences — the Mountain West and American Athletic Conference, respectively — Colorado is a member of the Power 5 conference the Pac-12. And the Buffaloes had the best 2015 record of the three, but that’s not saying much since it was just 4-9 overall and 1-8 in the conference.

Head coach Mike MacIntyre faces an important season if he wants to remain in Boulder beyond 2016. He inherited a team that went just 1-11 in 2012 and turned out four wins in his first season. But he regressed to 2-10 in 2014, and turned in the program’s the first winless conference record since 1915. Last season, Colorado doubled its 2014 win total with a 4-9 record, but that still means that he has only treaded water in his first three seasons at the helm. And that also means that Colorado has as many wins in the past four years combined — including Jim Embree’s final season — as Jim Harbaugh had in his first season at Michigan.

MacIntyre faced adversity last season, losing several key players to injuries, but with 76 percent of last year’s offensive production and 81 percent of last year’s defensive production returning this fall, the Buffaloes are one of the most experienced teams on Michigan’s schedule.

The once proud Colorado program has suffered 10 straight losing seasons since the successful Gary Barnett era concluded in 2005. Barnett guided the Buffaloes to a 10-3 season in 2001 and won the Pac-12 North in four of his five seasons. But since Dan Hawkins took over in 2006, they have finished no better than third in the North and have amassed a record of 35-88 overall and 17-68 in the Pac-12.

MacIntyre achieved a turnaround at his previous stop at San Jose State, where he inherited a 2-10 team, went 1-11 in his first season, improved to 5-7 in Year 2, and broke out with a 10-2 season in 2012, finishing the season ranked 24th in the BCS standings, AP Poll, and USA Today Coaches Poll. He hasn’t been able to work the same magic in Boulder and it will very likely end with his dismissal later this fall if he can’t turn it around in a hurry.

Offense
2015 National Rankings
Total Offense Scoring Offense Rushing Offense Passing Offense
67 97 86 49
Offensive FEI S&P+ Rushing S&P+ Passing S&P+
103 99 89 100
Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2015 Stats
QB Sefo Liufau (Sr.) 6’4″, 230 214-344 (62.2%) for 2,418 yds, 9 TD, 6 INT
RB Phillip Lindsay (Jr.) 5’8″, 190 140 rush for 653 yds (4.7 avg), 6 TD
WR Kabion Ento (Jr.) 6’3″, 180 38 rec for 607 yds (16.0 avg), 8 TD*
WR Shay Fields (Jr.) 5’11”, 180 42 rec for 598 yds (14.2 avg), 4 TD
WR Devin Ross (Jr.) 5’9″, 180 25 rec for 324 yds (13.0 avg), 2 TD
TE Sean Irwin (Sr.) 6’3″, 250 15 rec for 248 yds (19.1 avg), 0 TD
LT Jeromy Irwin (Jr.) 6’5″, 295 2 starts (13 career starts)
LG Gerrad Kough (Jr.) 6’4″, 295 10 starts (12 career starts)
C Alex Kelley (Sr.) 6’2″, 310 13 starts (25 career starts)
RG Tim Lynott (RS Fr.) 6’3″, 300 Redshirted
RT Sam Kronshage (Jr.) 6’6″, 295 6 starts (6 career starts)
*at East Central Community College

While Michigan’s first two opponents feature offenses that ranked near the bottom nationally last season, Colorado’s 2015 offense was slightly more respectable. The Buffaloes ranked 67th in total offense (396.8 yards per game), 97th in scoring (24.6 points per game), 86th in rushing (156.2 yards per game), and 49th in passing (240.6 yards per game). But advanced stats show that Colorado’s offense was worse than it looked on paper. It ranked just 103rd in FEI, which measures an offense per possession based on the strength of opposing defenses faced. And that 49th ranked passing offense ranked 100th in S&P+, which measures a number of factors on a play-by-play basis. With a national average passing S&P+ rating at 100.0, Colorado’s was 88.3, while Michigan’s was 124.5 last season.

Co-offensive coordinators Darrin Chiaverini and Brian Lindgren have just four full-time starters returning, but they welcome a productive junior college transfer and get back a starting offensive lineman who missed all of 2015 due to injury.

Senior quarterback Sefo Liufau has 29 games of starting experience and 32 games of playing experience under his belt, which is far more than Michigan’s starting candidates. However, he missed the final two games of 2015 and all of spring practice with a Lisfranc (foot) injury, so there’s always the risk of either reinjury 0r not healing completely. Liufau nearly had stiff competition for the job when Texas Tech grad transfer Davis Webb originally chose the Buffaloes before ultimately landing at Cal, where he it didn’t take long to be named the starter. But with the job firmly his, Liufau will look to build upon the 75 school records he currently holds.

Leading rusher Phillip Lindsay is back after rushing for 653 yards and six touchdowns a year ago. He shared the backfield with Christian Powell, who graduated, so that opens the door for others to step up. Junior Donovan Lee and Patrick Carr got more reps as the season went on — Carr rushed for 100 yards against UCLA — but Carr transferred following the season. Lee was actually the most productive back in limited carries, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Junior Michael Adkins (5.0 yards per carry), junior H-back George Frazier (6-foot-2, 260), and freshman Beau Bisharat (a 247 Composite four-star who held offers from Oregon, Michigan State, Stanford, Nebraska, and others) will compete for carries.

The receiving corps suffered the biggest loss from last season in the form of graduating senior Nelson Spruce, who ranked second in the Pac-12 with 6.8 receptions per game and fifth with 81 yards per game, though he only found the end zone four times. The leading returning receiver is junior Shay Fields, who caught 42 passes for 598 yards and four scores. MacIntyre did add productive junior college receiver Kabion Ento from East Central (Miss.) Community College. Ento was a National Junior College Athletic Association first-team All-Region member after catching 38 passes for 607 yards and eight touchdowns. Four other pass catchers who caught at least one touchdown last season return, including junior Devin Ross, who ranked second on the team with two scores last season.

The offensive line returns three of last season’s opening day starters, though left tackle Jeromy Irwin suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the second quarter of the second game. He’s back to anchor the line after starting 11 games in 2014. The most experienced is senior center Alex Kelley, who has started 25 career games including all 13 a year ago. Left guard Gerrad Kough started 10 games last season while missing three with various injuries. The right side of the line is where the newcomers step in. While it’s not completely set in stone just yet, redshirt freshman Tim Lynott and junior Sam Kronshage started with the ones in an open scrimmage two weeks ago. Kronshage started six games last season, three at left tackle and three at right tackle.

Defense
2015 National Rankings
Total Defense Scoring Defense Rushing Defense Pass Efficiency D.
85 70 99 56
Defensive FEI S&P Rushing S&P Passing S&P
68 93 95 72
Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2015 Stats
DE Leo Jackson III (Jr.) 6’3″, 275 33 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FF
DT Jordan Carrell (Sr.) 6’3″, 300 52 tackles, 8 TFL, 1 sack, 3 FF, 1 FR
DT Josh Tupou (Sr.) 6’3″, 325 Redshirted
OLB Derek McCartney (Jr.) 6’3″, 250 70 tackles, 10 TFL, 5 sacks, 1 FF
MLB Addison Gillam (Jr.) 6’3″, 230 6 tackles
WLB Rick Gamboa (RS So.) 6’0″, 230 96 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack, 3 PBU
OLB Jimmie Gilbert (Sr.) 6’5″, 230 47 tackle, 8 TFL, 6 sacks, 1 FF
CB Chidobe Awuzie (Sr.) 6’0″, 205 90 tackles, 13 TFL, 4 INT, 10 PBU
CB Isaiah Oliver (So.) 6’1″, 190 19 tackles, 6 PBU
FS Ryan Moeller (Jr.) 6’1″, 215 47 tackles, 1 TFL, 2 PBU, 1 FF
SS Tedric Thompson (Sr.) 6’1″, 205 80 tackles, 5 TFL, 9 PBU

Colorado’s defense was pretty comparable to its offense last season, ranking slightly below average nationally, but not quite in the 100s. It ranked 85th in total defense (416.9 yards per game), 70th in scoring defense (27.5 points per game), 99th against the run (198.7 yards per game), 59th against the pass (218.2 yards per game), 56th in pass efficiency defense (123.79), and 68th in defensive FEI (-.09), which measures defensive efficiency on a per possession basis, based on strength of opponent.

When Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin left for the Maryland head coaching position after just one season, one of the names that came up as his replacement was former USF head coach Jim Leavitt. Harbaugh, of course, hired Boston College’s Don Brown instead, and Leavitt ended up in the same position at Colorado. In Boulder, he inherits a veteran defense that looks to take a step forward in his second season.

The defensive line has been a weakness the past few seasons, but has plenty of experience returning. Senior nose tackle Josh Tupou, who has started 31 career games, returns after redshirting in 2015 due to a violation of team rules. He was an honorable mention Freshman All-American in 2012 and honorable mention All-Pac-12 in 2014, so his return will be a welcome addition for Leavitt. He’ll be joined on the line by senior tackle Jordan Carrell and junior end Leo Jackson III, who combined for 85 tackles, 10 for loss, and three sacks a year ago.

Like the defensive line and offensive line, the linebacking corps gets back a key piece that missed most of last season. Junior inside linebacker Addison Gillam started 10 games in 2014 and was a first-team Freshman All-American in 2013, but tore his meniscus in Week 2 last season. Weakside linebacker Rick Gamboa was the team’s leading tackler as a redshirt freshman a year ago, while senior outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert led the team with six sacks despite starting just three games. The other outside linebacker is junior Derek McCartney, who racked up 70 tackles, 10 for loss, and five sacks.

The secondary returns three starters including preseason Jim Thorpe Award candidate Chidobe Awuzie, who tallied 90 tackles and a team-high 10 pass breakups in 2015. He was a second-team All-Pac-12 performer and has 22 career pass breakups. The other corner is the lone new starter, sophomore Isaiah Oliver, who performed well as a true freshman last season. Both safeties return. Junior free safety Ryan Moeller and senior strong safety Tedric Thompson combined for 127 tackles, 6 for loss, and 11 pass breakups a year ago.

Special Teams
2015 National Rankings
Kick Returns Punt Returns Net Punting ST Eff.
44 94 81 90
Kick Return D. Punt Return D. FG Efficiency Opp Field Pos.
82 39 105 57
Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2015 Stats
K Diego Gonzalez (Sr.) 6’0″, 215 18-of-29 (62.1%), Long 52
P Alex Kinney (So.) 6’1″, 205 66 punts, 40.1 avg, 1 TB, 23 in-20
KR Donovan Lee (Jr.) 5’9″, 180 22 ret, 24.5 avg
PR Jay MacIntyre (So.) 5’10”, 190 4 ret, 9.3 avg

Special teams was a bit lackluster for the Buffaloes last season, so MacIntyre brought in a pair of new coaches to oversee the unit. Former special teams coordinator Toby Neinas was dismissed and landed at Rutgers, and in his place step Daniel Da Prato and Matt Thompson. Da Prato was the special teams coordinator at Montana State the past three seasons, while Thompson was a private kicking instructor.

Senior kicker Diego Gonzalez made just 62.1 percent of his field goal attempts in his first season as the primary kicker last season, but he did show off a big leg with a long of 52. In fact, he went 2-of-3 from 50-plus yards. He struggled mightily from the left hash, making just 5-of-12, but made 13-of-17 everywhere else. Sophomore punter Alex Kinney ranked ninth in the Pac-12 with an average of 40.1 yards per punt as a true freshman.

Outlook

It’s a safe bet to assume Colorado will be better than last season’s 4-9 record. But will that turn into wins against a tough schedule? And will it be enough for MacIntyre to keep his job? Colorado should win its first two games against Colorado State and Idaho State, but then it faces a grueling slate of at Michigan and Oregon in back to back weeks, home against Oregon State, at USC, home against Arizona State, at Stanford, and home against UCLA. Then they get a “breather” against Arizona and Washington State before finishing with Utah. It’s hard to see more than four wins there, but if they can pull off five, MacIntyre deserves another year.

What it means for Michigan

Colorado will be the strongest of the three non-conference opponents Michigan faces and both teams should be 2-0 when the meet in Ann Arbor on Sept. 17. If Michigan hasn’t shored up its quarterback situation by then, an experienced secondary could be a problem. But don’t expect Colorado’s offense to be able to put up enough points to legitimately give Michigan a scare. Michigan heads into Big Ten play at 3-0.

Michigan’s College Football Playoff rooting guide: Nov. 28

Saturday, November 28th, 2015


Cardinals Stadium

Michigan’s College Football Playoff dreams took an enormous hit Saturday night when Michael Geiger’s 41-yard field goal split the uprights and cracked the Buckeyes in Columbus. The Wolverines not only lost a chance to control their own destiny in the Big Ten race, they also missed out on perhaps two opportunities to play against undefeated, top-five opponents.

Now everything falls into the hands of a Penn State that doesn’t look capable of keeping its star quarterback upright, let alone pulling off a monumental upset. Barring something insane, Michigan will have to settle for a nine or 10-win season, which is pretty incredible, considering the direction the program was trending the last seven years.

But until the final game clock hits zero, we’ll keep pursuing those slim championship hopes.

“I really, really need you”

In honor of Sanka Coffie from Cool Runnings, these teams completely hold Michigan’s fate in their hands. These are the teams that Michigan absolutely needs victories from on Saturday in order to keep the Wolverines’ CFP hopes alive. If even one of these teams falls, Michigan’s CFP dreams die.

No. 10 Michigan (home) over No. 8 Ohio State (12pm, ABC): As always, Michigan has to take care of its own business for any of this to even matter. Jim Harbaugh’s team has done nothing but improve all season and looks like it can compete with almost any team in the country. A win over Ohio State would make the 3:30 kick in East Lansing worth a glance.

Result: Ohio State 42 – Michigan 13

Penn State (away) over No. 5 Michigan State (3:30pm, ABC): This one probably isn’t happening. Michigan State looks to have really hit its stride heading into the final weeks of the season, and Penn State is just limping toward the finish line. If the Spartans win, it’ll be a Big Ten East title for Mark Dantonio.

Result: Michigan State 55 – Penn State 16

“It could happen!”

In honor of JP from Angels in the Outfield, this is the “It could happen” group. These are the teams Michigan is rooting for that have a legitimate chance to win on Saturday. Wins by these teams either help the Wolverines move up in the rankings or improve their resume (in order of kickoff time).

No. 4 Iowa (away) over Nebraska (3:30pm, ABC, Friday): On the off chance that Michigan does get into the Big Ten Championship game next week, it needs an undefeated Iowa, ranked in the top four, to boost its resume. A title game of that magnitude would really propel Michigan into the conversation during the final rankings.

Result: Iowa 28 – Nebraska 20

No. 19 TCU (home) over No. 7 Baylor (8pm, ESPN, Friday): This might be Michigan’s last chance to jump Baylor, as the Bears have only a home date with an awful Texas team remaining. A loss to TCU would put three of the four Big 12 contenders behind Michigan.

Result: TCU 28 – Baylor 21 (2OT)

No. 23 Utah (home) over Colorado (2:30pm, Pac12): Utah has been killing Michigan the last two weeks. Back-to-back losses to Arizona and UCLA has the Utes clinging to the edge of the top 25 and threatening to turn Michigan’s opening loss into a weak one. They cannot afford a loss to Colorado.

Result: Utah 20 – Colorado 14

No. 16 Northwestern (away) over Illinois (3:30pm, ESPNU): The Wildcats have done nothing but help Michigan since being blown out in back-to-back games to the Wolverines and Hawkeyes. Northwestern needs only a win over Illinois to cap off a 10-win regular season and give Michigan one of the best wins (considering the 38-0 score) of the entire football season.

Result: Northwestern 24 – Illinois 14

No. 13 Florida State (away) over No. 12 Florida (7:30pm, ESPN): Since Florida State’s resume pales in comparison to Michigan’s I don’t think a win over Florida would propel the Seminoles into the top 10. Florida, on the other hand, still has the slim chance to jump Michigan if it somehow knocks off Alabama in the SEC title game. A loss to FSU would take care of that worry.

Result: Florida State 27 – Florida 2

No. 9 Stanford (home) over No. 6 Notre Dame (7:30pm, FOX): This is a tough one, because Michigan should pass the loser no matter what if the Wolverines knock off Ohio State. But if Stanford beats Notre Dame, there’s still a chance the Cardinal might lose to UCLA or USC in the Pac-12 title game. That would lift Michigan over both teams if it wins out. Also, Stanford has no business being ranked above Michigan in the first place.

Result: Stanford 38 – Notre Dame 36

No. 11 Oklahoma State (home) over No. 3 Oklahoma (8pm, ABC): There’s definitely a chance Oklahoma State would jump Michigan with a win over vastly over-ranked Oklahoma, but there’s also a chance the Wolverines would hold serve with a win over Ohio State. This is the only scenario that gives Michigan a legitimate shot to shoot above all four Big 12 contenders.

Result: Oklahoma 58 – Oklahoma State 23

“It’s just not believable, Cotton”

In honor of Pepper Brooks, from Dodgeball, these are the true underdog stories. These teams have almost no chance to win, but if they do, it would really help Michigan.

South Carolina (home) over No. 1 Clemson (12pm, ESPN): Hey, it’s the last week of the regular season, why not root for some chaos? It’s not likely that Clemson can do anything to fall below Michigan at this point, but in a rivalry game, on the road, to a team coming off a loss to The Citadel, anything can happen.

Result: Clemson 37 – South Carolina 32

Auburn (home) over No. 2 Alabama (3:30pm, CBS): The Iron Bowl is one of the biggest crapshoots in college football, and a loss to a bad Auburn team would really put pressure on the committee to (finally) punish Alabama. Would the Crimson Tide fall below Michigan? It would certainly have to be under consideration if Michigan beat Ohio State.

Result: Alabama 29 – Auburn 13

North Carolina State (home) over No. 14 North Carolina (3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2): Despite two FCS games and a laughable loss to South Carolina in the nonconference season, North Carolina has ridden a 10-game winning streak over unranked opponents right into the top 15. If the Tarheels did the unthinkable and won the ACC, they might vault Michigan in the rankings. A loss to rival N.C. State would erase any chance of that happening.

Result: North Carolina 45 – N.C. State 34