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Posts Tagged ‘Oregon’

Short of a storybook ending, Michigan basketball season a tale of redemption, resiliency

Friday, March 31st, 2017


(Rob Carr, Getty Images)

Spring has arrived, but a dark emptiness seems to permeate through the thick, sticky air. Mother Nature has thrown a curveball at us with dreariness and cold, rain and clouds in lieu of the sunshine and crisp air we have come to expect this time of year as the calendar turns to April.

It’s not just the weather, of course, that’s brought this darkness. It’s the end of Michigan’s wild basketball season that felt like a never-ending story, if only for a moment, before we found that the final pages were missing.

(Dustin Johnson, UM Hoops)

We feel robbed of the beauty we’ve waited for Spring to arrive with for so long, and likewise, we feel robbed of the dream finish that destiny would so surely, we thought, bring for John Beilein’s 10th team in Ann Arbor.

But as with everything else in life, finality is the only certainty, if even it comes prematurely.

At least it was a very good thing while it lasted.

For a long time, this season was not shaping up to be a memorable one, a season that all of us fans hope goes on forever. Michigan sprinted out of the gates with an impressive run through a 2K Classic field that included future NCAA Tournament teams in Marquette and SMU, both of whom were throttled on the way to the Wolverines’ preseason tournament title.

That showing saw Michigan rocket its way into the national polls, but was followed by an underwhelming performance at South Carolina and a rapid return to earth for the season’s expectations. Although, if we had the benefit of foresight at the time, that loss in Columbia wouldn’t seem nearly as bad.

A couple games later, Michigan choked away a home battle versus Virginia Tech in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and had another poor performance in a win over a bad Texas team shortly thereafter. The Wolverines would hang with UCLA in Westwood for one impressive, firework-laden half before taking an 18-point loss out West and would later proceed to sweat out a holiday win over a far-better-than-expected Furman squad before conference play kicked off in the New Year.

We all know the story from there. Michigan seemed to run out of gas in what should have been a favorable starting conference schedule, dropping three of their first four and four of their first six with their only two wins coming in home nail-biters over Penn State and Nebraska.

Uncertainties in the latter half of the non-conference season turned into message board maniacs calling for this to be Beilein’s final year.

Two home blowouts over Illinois and Indiana calmed the seas temporarily before a tough loss at Michigan State and a lackadaisical home loss versus Ohio State heard those earlier calls turn into cries for the head coach to be gone — and fast.

(MGoBlue.com)

On that night, Saturday, February 4, Michigan found itself at 14-9 overall and 4-6 in conference play with very few standout wins on their resume. It would take a massive turnaround and a long look in the mirror for the team to fight its way into contention for an NCAA Tournament berth, and no one – not even those closest to the team, I reckon – saw it coming.

But come it did. Derrick Walton Jr. turned into a man possessed, knocking down everything from deep and rekindling his freshman year ability to finish at the rack. Moe Wagner realized his potential after only brief flashes as a rookie, spinning, shuffling, shooting, and driving his way to buckets. D.J. Wilson blossomed from cast-off to potential pro with athletic dishes, drained shots, and opponent shots rejected. And Zak Irvin, whose critics would make you believe he could not compete at the local YMCA, embraced his role as a senior leader and scorer, if merely as a third or fourth option at times.

The team that once left everyone guessing what would happen every time they ran onto the floor began ferociously dispatching each opponent that dared challenge them.

Michigan State was handed its worst loss in years. Indiana was dismantled on its vaunted home court. Wisconsin and Purdue, the clear frontrunners for the Big Ten title, met their fate at the hands of a team on a mission.

By the time March had rolled around, Michigan had pulled off the wholly unexpected, nearly impossible transition from conference also-ran to surefire dancer. Broadcasters still wondered what the team was made of, but those following closely knew that a seismic change had taken place.

The Wolverines were no longer prone to falling apart at the end of a game. They did not let inferior competition dig under their skin. They would not cede a game’s worth of points in a half – not any more, at least.

In reality, this new team could compete with anyone in the country, and in so many different ways. The offense was no longer great – it became otherworldly efficient. The defense was no longer passable – it became a solid unit that forced turnovers and prevented clean perimeter looks.

This team could feel as good about their chances as any other.

And so, with that edge, this team would travel to Washington, D.C., wheels rolling, to give its conference brethren a lesson in basketball.

There’s not much Michigan needed at that point to make a magical March run, the stuff legends are made of. If there was one thing, however, it was a captivating headline.

That story would be served up on a platter in a most harrowing way, as Michigan’s charter plane destined for the Big Ten Tournament skidded 400 yards off the runway, through a fence, and into a field, coming to a startling rest in a shallow ditch after the pilot decided to abort takeoff in extremely high winds.

Still, the team pushed forward with no recognizable timidity. The crash had perhaps brought them closer together, had given them a greater sense of their cause, but it did not change their play. Michigan once again blew through an Illinois team that had labeled the Wolverines as “white collar” in early January, this time in rag tag practice gear because their regular jerseys were stuck on the capsized plane.

Purdue, Minnesota, and Wisconsin would all provide different puzzles throughout the weekend, but the Maize and Blue solved each of them with a veteran mindset and plenty of talent.

With the Big Ten Tournament trophy in hand, Michigan was sent to Indianapolis as a 7-seed in the Big Dance to take on an Oklahoma State team powered by purely offensive fuel. The Wolverines took a dose but returned an even bigger dose of that medicine to the Cowboys to outlast their first round foe in an instant classic with firepower supplied by Walton.

Two days later, the Wolverines faced a Louisville squad that provided a completely different look, with length, athleticism, and defense in spades. Once again, Michigan prevailed, this time behind the sophomore duo of Wagner and Wilson, despite trailing by eight at the halfway point. March would not stop this team’s march, and another classic was in the books.

(MGoBlue.com)

Destiny was still on their side – for one more week, at least.

Unfortunately, that magic ran out too soon and too abruptly. Michigan went toe-to-toe with 3-seed Oregon for 40 minutes but made some uncharacteristic mistakes late in the game, as if their hourglass stepped in the way of what could have been. Derrick Walton’s last shot, a step-back that we had seen him hit so often over the last two months of the season that he may as well have filed for a patent, came up a couple rotations short.

Just like that, the buzzer sounded to signal the end of Michigan’s season. Destiny left the building with a new team in tow.

And that’s how – and why, perhaps – Mother Nature mourns with us today. She, like all of us, was not ready for the suddenness of it all. Storybooks are not supposed to end like this.

But that story, while it was being written, was grand. It was thrilling and exhilarating, mysterious and heartbreaking. It was frustrating at times and, yes, slogging at others. More than anything, though, this story was a memorable one that we won’t soon want to stash away to collect dust, lest we question the power of John Beilein’s teaching prowess paired with the ability of a bunch of talented, fun, good, strong-minded college basketballers.

Just as soon as the final words were penned in this story, however, a new volume’s pages are opening up, waiting to be scribbled upon.

Let’s hope this one is as enjoyable as the last.

(MGoBlue.com)

First Look: UCF

Monday, September 5th, 2016


UCF(Stephen M. Dowell, Orlando Sentinel)

Michigan beat the 40.5-point spread in a 60-point win over Hawaii in Week 1 and opened Week 2 favored by 34.5 points over UCF. It will be the first time the two schools have played each other and the 28th time Michigan has faced a team currently in the American Athletic Conference. Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare one week into the season.

UCF stats & Michigan comparison
UCF | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 38.0 | 63.0 43 5
0.0 3.0 1 6
Rushing Yards 197 306 85 81
Rush Avg. Per Game 197.0 306.0 50 14
85.0 81.0 31 27
Avg. Per Rush 3.6 | 7.8
2.7 3.6
Passing Yards 265 206 138 151
Pass Avg. Per Game 265.0 206.0 37 70 138.0 151.0 33 42
Total Offense 462 512 223 | 232
Total Off Avg. Per Game 462.0 512.0 47 34 223.0 232.0 21 | 24
Kick Return Average 47.0 10.0 2 | 113 20.6 20.5 63 | 62
Punt Return Average 11.5 14.0 29 23 0.0 0.0 11 11
Avg. Time of Possession 32:22 27:55 38 82 27:38 | 32:05
3rd Down Conversion Pct 35.3% | 10.0% 90 1
22.2% | 9.0% 22 8
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 3-23 | 0-0
82 | 1
1-5 | 4-41
74 | 13
Touchdowns Scored 4 9
0 | 0
Field Goals-Attempts 4-4 0-0
0-1 | 1-1
Red Zone Scores (5-5) 100%|(6-6) 100% 1 | 1
(0-0) 0%|(0-1) 0% 1 1
Red Zone Touchdowns (3-5) 60%|(6-6) 100% (0-0) 0%|(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

Central Florida has already won more games than it did a year ago. The Knights beat South Carolina State 38-0 on Saturday to start the season 1-0. Last season, they went 0-12, but made a nice splash in the offseason with the hiring of former Nebraska quarterback and Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost.

Frost spent seven seasons in Eugene, first as the wide receivers coach under Chip Kelly, and then as the offensive coordinator once Kelly left for the NFL. He brings a winning pedigree to Orlando, having compiled a 79-15 record with four top four finishes nationally. He promised to bring Oregon’s offense to UCF which the school is calling UCFast.

It worked in the season opener as UCF piled up 462 yards of offense and 38 points. Last season, their offense eclipsed 400 yards just once in a game — 412 yard at Tulsa — and scored more than 30 points just once — 31 points in a 45-31 loss to Tulane. Granted, South Carolina State is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and went 7-4 last season. But a win is a win and it’s a positive start for Frost.

While offense is Frost’s calling card, the most impressive part of their win was the defense, which held SCSU to just 223 total yards, 85 rushing yards, and no points. Last season, UCF’s defense allowed 464.1 yards per game (113th nationally), 199.2 rushing yards per game (100th), 264.9 passing yards per game (109th), and 37.7 points per game (117th). The Knights returned just five starters from last year’s defense, but brought in several junior college transfers that will step up and contribute right away.

On Saturday, it took a while for UCF’s offense to get going. They gained just 102 yards on their first five possessions, leading to just four field goals. They finally punched it into the endzone with an 8-play, 57-yard drive in the final two minutes of the first half. The second half was a different story as UCF had three scoring drives of at least 63 yards.

Despite the 38-point win, a deeper look into the numbers reveal it was more an indication of the opponent than UCF being that much more improved. Quarterback Justin Holman completed just 50 percent of his passes for a quarterback rating of 31.0. While they topped 200 yards rushing, they averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. They also lost two fumbles and allowed three sacks.

With the abundance of talent available in the state of Florida, it’s a safe bet that UCF will eventually turn things around under Frost, but it won’t happen right away and it certainly won’t happen by next week. Michigan may not win by 60, but they’ll win big once again.

2016 non-conference opponent preview: UCF

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016


2016 Opponent Preview - UCF

Scott Frost(D. Bradley Helton, UCF Athletics)

We kicked off our non-conference opponent preview series last week with Michigan’s first opponent, Hawaii. Today we continue with Michigan’s second opponent, the Central Florida Knights.

Schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 3 South Carolina State
Sept. 10 at Michigan
Sept. 17 Maryland
Sept. 24 FIU
Oct. 1 at East Carolina
Oct. 7 Tulane
Oct. 15 Temple
Oct. 22 at UConn
Oct. 29 at Houston
Nov. 12 Cincinnati
Nov. 19 Tulsa
Nov. 26 at USF

Oh how far they’ve fallen so quickly. Two years ago, UCF knocked off sixth-ranked Baylor to win the Fiesta Bowl and cap a 12-1 season. They finished the season ranked 10th in the AP Poll, the highest in school history. But head coach George O’Leary was unable to adequately replace quarterback Blake Bortles, who was drafted third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars. After going 9-4 in 2014, the Knights sunk to 0-12 last season.

O’Leary resigned eight games into the season after posting a 81-68 record over 12 seasons in Orlando and quarterbacks coach Danny Barrett took over for the remainder of the season.

Enter Scott Frost. The former prolific Nebraska quarterback spent the past seven seasons on the coaching staff at Oregon, learning and then running one of the nation’s best offenses. From 2009-12, Frost served as wide receivers coach for the Ducks, and when head coach Chip Kelly left for the Philadelphia Eagles and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich was promoted, Frost was named offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

In the past three seasons under Frost’s guidance, Oregon’s offense has ranked second, third, and fifth nationally in total offense and fourth, fourth, and fifth in scoring. He’ll bring a winning mentality to a program that desperately needs it. Oregon went 79-15 during Frost’s tenure in Eugene, finishing in the top four nationally four times and no worse than 19th.

Offense
2015 National Rankings
Total Offense Scoring Offense Rushing Offense Passing Offense
127 125 126 102
Offensive FEI S&P Rushing S&P Passing S&P
128 126 128 122
Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2015 Stats
QB Justin Holman (Sr.) 6’4″, 225 127-250 (50.8%) for 1,379 yds, 7 TD, 14 INT
RB Taj McGowan (So.) 6’1″, 202 85 rush for 262 yds (3.1 avg), 1 TD
WR Tristan Payton (So.) 6’0″, 186 21 rec for 264 yds (12.6 avg), 1 TD
WR Tre’Quan Smith (RS So.) 6’1″, 200 52 rec for 724 yds (13.9 avg), 4 TD
WR Dontravious Wilson (So.) 6’3″, 200 44 rush for 147 yds (3.3 avg), 0 TD
TE Jordan Akins (RS So.) 6’5″, 240 14 rec for 152 yds (10.9 avg), 2 TD
LT Aaron Evans (RS Jr.) 6’5″, 290 12 starts (13 career starts)
LG Tyler Hudanick (So.) 6’5″, 300 9 starts (9 career starts)
C Jason Rae (Sr.) 5’11”, 288 10 starts (17 career starts)
RG Chavis Dickey (Jr.) 6’4″, 330 3 starts (15 career starts)
RT Wyatt Miller (RS So.) 6’4″, 290 8 starts (8 career starts)

To say that Frost will have his work cut out for him is putting it lightly. While his Ducks ranked fifth nationally in total offense last season (538.2 yards per game) , UCF ranked dead last (268.4). While Oregon ranked fifth in scoring (43 points per game), UCF ranked 125th (13.9). While Oregon ranked fifth in rushing (279.9 yards per game) and 36th in passing (258.3), UCF ranked 126th (81.3) and 102nd (187.2).

It helps to have an athletic quarterback returning, even if he didn’t put up enviable numbers in 2015. Senior Justin Holman completed 50.8 percent of his passes for 1,379 yards, seven touchdowns, and 14 interceptions. He’ll be pushed by senior Nick Patti, who converted from wide receiver, and freshman McKenzie Milton, a Hawaii native who originally committed to his home-state Rainbow Warriors before switching to UCF.

If there’s a sliver of hope for UCF’s offense it is that nearly every pass catcher is back, though Patti takes his 104 yards and one touchdowns over to the quarterback position. But he ranked ranked eighth on the team in receiving in 2015. Redshirt sophomore Tre’Quan Smith is clearly the leader at the receiver position after a debut season in which he caught 52 passes for 724 yard and four touchdowns. His 4.3 receptions per game were good enough to rank 10th in the American Athletic Conference despite UCF’s offense being the worst.

Sophomore Tristan Payton was the team’s second-leading receiver, although there was a big drop-off after Smith. Payton caught 21 passes for 264 yards and one touchdown. But he was a true freshman and a four-star recruit, so he could be due for a breakout season this fall.

The running game ranked third-to-last nationally in 2015, but last year’s leading rusher, C.J. Jones, has set his sights high for 2016.

“We want our whole backfield to lead the nation in rushing,” he said. “When you look at UCF and you look at rushing yards, we want to be at the top.”

When you look at the type of running game Frost guided at Oregon you can see that it’s not a completely unreasonable goal. But it’s certainly too much to ask for in Year 1. Jones led the Knights with 339 yards on 3.6 yards per carry last season with one touchdown. His backfield mate, sophomore Taj McGowan, rushed for 262 yards on 3.1 yards per carry and one score while battling injuries.

The offensive line returns 42 starts from last season. Senior center Jason Rae is the most experienced of the bunch with 17 career starts, while junior right guard Chavis Dickey — who started just three games in 2015 — is the second most experienced with 15 career starts. Dickey has the best size of any of them at 6-foot-4, 330. Redshirt junior left tackle started all 12 games a year ago.

Defense
2015 National Rankings
Total Defense Scoring Defense Rushing Defense Pass Efficiency D.
113 117 100 126
Defensive FEI S&P Rushing S&P Passing S&P
127 112 107 106
Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2015 Stats
DE Josh Odigie (Jr.) 6’3″, 236 51 tackles, 12 TFL, 4 sacks*
DT Jamiyus Pittman (Jr.) 6’0″, 295 45 tackles, 7 TFL, 4.5 sacks
DT Tony Guerad (RS Jr.) 6’3″, 275 28 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks
LB Shaquem Griffin (RS Jr.) 6’1″, 213 9 tackles, 1 FR, 1 PBU
LB Chequan Burkett (RS Jr.) 6’2″, 230 56 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 3 sacks
LB Mark Rucker (RS Sr.) 5’9″, 217 15 tackles, 1 TFL
LB Errol Clarke (RS Sr.) 6’3″, 230 9 tackles
CB Shaquill Griffin (Sr.) 6’1″, 200 50 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 2 INT, 13 PBU
CB D.J. Killings (Sr.) 6’0″, 185 32 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FF
FS Drico Johnson (RS Sr.) 6’1″, 215 64 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 PBU, 1 FR
SS T.J. Mutcherson (RS Sr.) 5’11”, 195 31 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PBU
*at Orange Coast College

While the offense has hope for improvement thanks to Frost’s offensive background, the defense returns just five starters from a unit that was one of the country’s worst last season. Frost brought Oregon outside linebackers coach Erik Chinander to Orlando with him. Chinander was a graduate assistant for the Ducks from 2010-12 and went to the Philadelphia Eagles with Chip Kelly, but came back to Oregon after the 2013 season. He promises to bring an “aggressive, high-energy, high-effort” defense to UCF.

The Knights ranked 113th nationally in total defense (464.1 yards per game), 117th in scoring defense (37.7 points per game), 100th against the run (199.2 yards per game), 109th against the pass (264.9 yards per game), and 126th in pass efficiency defense (166.95).

Frost added three junior college transfers to bolster the defensive line. However, two of them — projected starting end Chris Mulumbo as well as tackle Joe Sanders — are not on the fall camp roster. To add to the problems along the line, former three-star end Monte Taylor was dismissed from the team. Junior Josh Odigie, a transfer from Orange Coast College, where he recorded 51 tackles, 12 for loss, and four sacks, should lock down the starting end spot.

Junior tackle Jamiyus Pittman is the most experienced returning member of the line. The Moultrie, Ga. native started 11 games last season and ranked sixth on the team in tackles with 45. His seven tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks are the most of any returning Knight. The other tackle is likely to be redshirt junior Tony Guerad, who recorded 28 tackles, five for loss, and two sacks in seven games a year ago.

Like the defensive line, only one full-time starter returns at the linebacker position after the loss of leading tackler Domenic Spencer. Redshirt junior inside linebacker Chequan Burkett started all 12 games in 2015 and ranked third on the team with 56 tackles. He also led all players with five quarterback hurries. Joining him in the middle will be fifth-year senior Mark Rucker, who has recorded just 24 total tackles in his career — nine of which came in last year’s season opener against Florida International. The outside linebackers are likely to be redshirt junior Shaquim Griffin and fifth-year senior Errol Clarke. Both recorded just nine tackles last season in limited action.

The secondary is where the experience lies with four senior starters. Free safety Drico Johnson broke out last year as the team’s second-leading tackler with 64. He had eight or more tackles in five of the Knights’ 12 games. Seniors Shaquill Griffin and D.J. Killings are the starting corners. Griffin — the brother of linebacker Shaquim — recorded 50 tackles and led the team with 13 pass breakups, which ranked in the top 25 nationally. Killings started seven games last season while battling injuries and totaled 32 tackles.

Special Teams
2015 National Rankings
Kick Returns Punt Returns Net Punting ST Eff.
33 98 10 22
Kick Return D. Punt Return D. FG Efficiency Opp FG Eff.
50 57 43 114
Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2015 Stats
K Matthew Wright (RS So.) 6’0″, 185 13-of-17 (76.5%), Long 48
P Caleb Houston (RS Sr.) 6’1″, 225 65 punts, 44.2 avg, 2 TB, 28 in-20
KR Tristan Payton (So.) 6’0″, 186 30 ret, 24.2 avg
PR Tristan Payton (So.) 6’0″, 186 N/A

Like Michigan’s first opponent, Hawaii, UCF wasn’t bad on special teams last season, ranking in the top half nationally in most categories. They also have both their kicker and punter back. Redshirt sophomore kicker Matthew Wright connected on 13-of-17 field goal attempts in 2015 with a long of 48, while fifth-year senior punter Caleb Houston averaged 44.2 yards per punt with just two touchbacks and 28 downed inside the 20.

Sophomore receiver Tristan Payton is expected to handle both return duties. Last season he was the main kick returner, averaging 24.2 yards per return with a long of 35. He didn’t return a punt, however.

Outlook

With all the talent available in the state of Florida, it’s a certainty that Frost will be able to win some games at UCF before he moves up to a bigger and better gig. But don’t expect it to happen right away. He will certainly improve on last season’s record, and probably before he even reaches Ann Arbor. The Knights face South Carolina State, which went 7-4 last season in the Football Championship Subdivision, in the season opener. There are other wins available on the schedule, but the school-record 23,147 UCF fans who showed up to the team’s spring game should be patient this fall.

What it means for Michigan

Frost made news back in February with a tweak of Jim Harbaugh following Michigan’s Signing of the Stars event on National Signing Day.

“As long as I’m running this program, we’re not going to make a zoo out of National Signing Day,” he said during his post-signing day press conference.

That’s just fine with Harbaugh, who will always do things his own way. And that includes a big Week 2 win. Frost’s Oregon-style offense will give Michigan’s top-notch defense a good early-season look. UCF has even coined the moniker “UCFast” to describe the offense. It won’t be enough to scare Michigan, but will present a tougher test than Hawaii and it will be good to see how a Don Brown defense reacts to an uptempo, no-huddle offense.

Offensively, Michigan should have no problem moving the ball and scoring at will against a defense that allowed nearly 38 points per game in 2015. Look for offensive coordinator Tim Drevno to put on a clinic on the ground, taking advantage of an inexperienced and undersized front seven. Michigan wins big and moves on to Colorado.

New in Blue: 2016 WR Eddie McDoom

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016


Eddie McDoom(247 Sports)

Eddie McDoom – WR | 5-11, 170 | Winter Garden, Fla. – West Orange
ESPN: 4-star, #23 WR Rivals: 3-star, #75 WR 247: 3-star, #67 WR Scout: 3-star, #68 WR
Other top offers: Oregon, Clemson, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida, Tennessee, Texas

Michigan added a piece to its all-name team — and also its 2016 recruiting class — with a commitment from Winter Garden, Fla. receiver Eddie McDoom on Wednesday morning. McDoom committed to Oregon on December 13, however, the Ducks pulled his scholarship on Jan. 17 when he told them he wanted to visit Michigan. He came to Ann Arbor this past weekend and didn’t wait long to pledge his commitment to Harbaugh’s Wolverines.

McDoom is an interesting prospect as he’s not rated very highly, but has an impressive list of offers. ESPN is the only recruiting service that has him listed as a four-star, their 23rd-best receiver and 184th-best player in the class. Scout, 247, and Rivals all rank McDoom as a three-star and the 68th, 67th, and 75th-best receiver, respectively. However, McDoom holds offers from the likes of Clemson, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Mississippi State, Miami, and South Carolina, in addition to Michigan and Oregon.

Michigan reportedly didn’t stop recruiting McDoom even after his commitment to Oregon and that paid off, according to Brice Marich of The Michigan Insider.

“The opportunity is there and is greater for me than Oregon,” McDoom told Marich. “They weren’t too confident about me and I feel comfortable with Michigan. I had an in-home visit with Michigan earlier this week. It was with (pass game coordinator / receivers) Coach (Jedd) Fisch and it went great, which is when we scheduled the official visit for this weekend.”

During his junior season at West Orange High School, McDoom caught 47 passes for 854 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also caught a touchdown pass in the Under Armour All-American Game on Jan. 2.

Scout says McDoom can make an impact both at receiver and in the return game and compliments his crisp route-running and running ability after the catch. His main knock at this point is his hands, but that’s something he can improve on.

McDoom joins an impressive wide receiver haul in Harbaugh’s first full recruiting class — Dylan Crawford, Brad Hawkins, Ahmir Mitchell, and Nate Johnson. — though they all likely won’t end up at receiver in Ann Arbor.

Michigan’s potential bowl matchups

Sunday, December 6th, 2015


Citrus Bowl

The last 12 months have been a roller coaster ride for the University of Michigan in terms of bowl aspirations. After dropping its final two games in 2014, the Wolverines failed to qualify for postseason play for the third time in seven years. Fast forward to just over a week ago, and Jim Harbaugh’s team had an outside chance to land in the College Football Playoff.

But after being blown out at home by Ohio State and finishing the season at 9-3, the 2015 Wolverines sit somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. Michigan’s resume is impressive, but the Big Ten is loaded with elite teams at the top.

Michigan State will move on to the final four while Iowa and Ohio State will land in New Year’s Six bowls – likely the Rose Bowl and an at-large bid.

Once those three top 10 teams are placed, Michigan and Northwestern are the remaining ranked teams in the conference. So how does it work from there? Since the Orange Bowl is hosting one of the national semifinal (playoff) games, the Big Ten will send a team to the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida.

I think the Citrus Bowl is Michigan’s most likely destination, though the Big Ten has to approve the bowl’s request before anything is finalized. Formerly the Capital One Bowl, the Citrus Bowl is an upper-tier bowl that pits a Big Ten school against an SEC school.

Potential Citrus Bowl matchups

Florida vs. Michigan: Since the Gators couldn’t upset the Crimson Tide in the SEC championship game, Alabama will move on to the College Football Playoff and leave Florida as the top non-final four team in the conference. Florida’s Cinderella season lost most of its steam when starting quarterback Will Grier was suspended for using a banned substance. In the final four weeks of the regular season, Florida nearly lost to Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic before getting crushed and failing to score on offense against Florida State. Though the Gators did win the East, they aren’t trending in a direction that will make them a sexy bowl pick. But if these teams do meet, it would be a rematch of Lloyd Carr’s last game as Michigan’s coach, when the Wolverines won an entertaining shootout over Tim Tebow and the Gators.

Ole Miss vs. Michigan: Mississippi got dumped by Florida, 38-10, back in October, but the final few weeks of the season could give the Rebels a leg up on the Gators in the bowl selection process. Ole Miss has a road win over Alabama on its resume, the crowned jewel on an otherwise average resume. The Rebels lost to Memphis and Arkansas but picked up a pair of solid wins over LSU and Mississippi State to close out the season. Michigan has struggled to stop the run since losing Ryan Glasgow from the defensive line, but Ole Miss is led by quarterback Chad Kelly, who would meet one of the best secondary units in the country in this matchup.

If Michigan isn’t picked for the Citrus Bowl, it would likely head about 100 miles southwest to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. The Outback Bowl will host five different Big Ten teams from 2014-2019, so Michigan could land here for the second time in four seasons. The Wolverines lost a shootout with South Carolina in the Outback Bowl under Brady Hoke on Jan. 1, 2013. Like the Citrus Bowl, the Outback Bowl would match Michigan up with an SEC team.

Potential Outback Bowl matchups

LSU vs. Michigan: The Les Miles vs. Michigan storyline would give this matchup a little extra steam, but LSU was dreadful during the second half of the season. Three straight blowouts at the hands of Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss proved that if you can stop running back Leonard Fournette, you can roll past the Tigers.

Mississippi State vs. Michigan: If this matchup brings back bad memories for Michigan fans, that’s because Mississippi State was responsible for putting the nail in the coffin to send Rich Rodriguez out of Ann Arbor. It took Michigan three seasons to make a bowl game under Rich Rod, and when it did, the Bulldogs smashed the Wolverines 52-14 in the Gator Bowl.

Georgia vs. Michigan: I really don’t see this happening, because Georgia would have to be selected above some of the much more impressive teams in the SEC West, but the Bulldogs did finish second in the East. Though Georgia won nine games and reportedly hired Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart to replace Mark Richt, this team might be a bit of a mess in the bowl game.

The only other potential landing spot for Michigan would likely be the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. The Holiday Bowl is the final top-tier bowl game with a Big Ten tie, and it would give Michigan a chance to play a Pac-12 team.

Potential Holiday Bowl matchups

USC vs. Michigan: USC put up a bit of a fight against Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game, but the Trojans finished the disappointing season with five losses. At times, like in a runaway win over Utah, USC’s elite talent shone through and it looked nearly unbeatable. But Pat Hayden’s crew is very hit-or-miss, especially after a month of preparation.

Oregon vs. Michigan: This is definitely not a matchup Michigan wants to see. With Vernon Adams back healthy at quarterback, Oregon’s offense is rolling and the Ducks are extremely dangerous. Michigan would have to win a shootout to win this matchup, a tall task against a team like Oregon.

The College Football Selection Show will air on ESPN at 12:30pm Eastern time today, beginning with the playoff teams and pairings. The rest of the New Year’s Six bowl pairings will be announced along with the rest of the Top 25. Michigan will know its destination and opponent by this evening, so stay tuned for a preview.

Michigan’s College Football Playoff rooting guide: Nov. 14

Saturday, November 14th, 2015


Cardinals Stadium

Only four weekends separate us from when the College Football Playoff and bowl game selection committees will make their final decisions and determine the fate of teams that have earned the right to play in the postseason.

Through Week 10, more than 100 FBS teams have been realistically eliminated from playoff contention. Michigan, an enormous long shot to make the Final Four, is one of the teams still in the hunt. But since the Wolverines already lost two games, they need a ton of help over the next four weeks.

Yes, it would take a Hollywood movie-type finish to the season for Michigan to slip into the top four. But until that last glimmer of hope dies, Michigan fans should enjoy the team’s first meaningful home stretch in almost a decade.

We’ll stick with the movie theme as we break down the first of the final four Saturdays. If you’re a Michigan fan holding out hope, here’s what you should root for.

“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. 14 Michigan (away) against Indiana (3:30pm, ABC): The only absolutely essential game for Michigan this weekend is its own contest in Bloomington. Thanks to a pair of early losses, the Wolverines don’t have any room for error. As soon as they drop a third game, it’s all over.

Result: Michigan 48 – Indiana 41 (2OT)

“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).

South Carolina (home) against No. 11 Florida (12pm, ESPN): Florida will win the SEC East and play in the conference championship game, so there’s another loss in the future. But after a 9-7 win over Vanderbilt last week, a loss to 3-6 South Carolina would drop Florida well below Michigan.

Result: Florida 24 – South Carolina 14

No. 3 Ohio State (away) against Illinois (12pm, ABC): This one might be tough to understand, but Michigan actually needs the Buckeyes to be undefeated when they come to Ann Arbor. A win against a top two team in the country would prompt a big jump for the Wolverines.

Result: Ohio State 28 – Illinois 3

No. 13 Michigan State (home) against Maryland (12pm, ESPN2): Even more surprising than rooting for Ohio State? Michigan needs MSU to bounce back against Maryland. The Wolverines already need the Spartans to lose next weekend in Columbus to have a shot to win the Big Ten, so this week’s game is very important. If Michigan State loses to Maryland and makes it three straight against in Columbus, it’ll drop out of the top 25. That would make Michigan’s loss in October much less forgivable.

Result: Michigan State 24 – Maryland 7

No. 18 Northwestern (home) against Purdue (12pm, BTN): Northwestern is Michigan’s best win of the season. As long as Pat Fitzgerald’s team keeps winning, Michigan’s resume gets better and better. If the Wildcats lose to Purdue, everything they’ve worked for comes crashing down.

Result: Northwestern 21 – Purdue 14

No. 2 Alabama (away) against No. 17 Mississippi State (3:30pm, CBS): Here’s another strange one, but Michigan needs Alabama to lose for two reasons. First, the CFP committee has proven it WILL NOT penalize Alabama for losing, no matter the conditions. Nick Saban’s team lost at home to an unranked team and still sits ahead of five of the six unbeaten teams in the country. So since Alabama will stay ahead of Michigan no matter what happens, the Wolverines might as well avoid being jumped by Mississippi State in the process.

Result: Alabama 31 – Mississippi State 6

Iowa State (home) against No. 8 Oklahoma State (3:30pm, ESPN): Oklahoma State burst onto the scene when it stomped TCU by 20 last weekend. Now, with both Oklahoma and Baylor coming to town over the next two weeks, Michigan needs a team like Iowa State to do the dirty work and knock off the undefeated Cowboys. With no conference championship game, Big 12 teams will have a hard time bouncing back from losses like that.

Result: Oklahoma State 35 – Iowa State 31

No. 12 Oklahoma (away) against No. 6 Baylor (8pm, ABC): Since the Bears lost their starting quarterback to a neck injury, the entire country has been waiting for them to slip up. Once they do, their fall in the polls will be a long one. Without a quality victory to its name, Baylor would fall out of contention with a home loss to Oklahoma. As far as the Sooners, they’ve still got games against TCU and Oklahoma State on the horizon. Michigan can hope for a slip up in one of those contests.

Result: Oklahoma 44 – Baylor 34

No. 5 Iowa (home) against Minnesota (8pm, BTN): If you actually think Michigan has a chance to slip into the top four, you need Iowa to keep winning and head into the Big Ten Championship Game with a 12-0 record. That would mean another opportunity for a top five win.

Iowa 40 – Minnesota 35

“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.

N.C. State (away) against No. 16 Florida State (12:30pm, ESPN3): Another incredible oversight by the CFP committee: Florida State lost a game last weekend and didn’t drop a single spot. Yes, it was to the No. 1 team in the country on the road, but a loss is a loss. If N.C. State pulls an unlikely upset, FSU becomes an afterthought.

Result: Florida State 34 – N.C. State 17

Wake Forest (away) against No. 4 Notre Dame (3:30pm, NBC): Wake Forest is really, really bad. As Notre Dame’s second loss, this would likely drop the Irish out of the top 15.

Result: Notre Dame 28 – Wake Forest 7

Arkansas (away) against No. 9 LSU (7:15pm, ESPN): LSU got pounded against Alabama last week and now faces a streaking Arkansas team. Another loss would devastate Leonard Fournette and Company.

Result: Arkansas 31 – LSU 14

Arizona (home) against No. 10 Utah (10pm, FS1): “How can you ask me to root for Rich Rod’s team!?” Because Arizona is irrelevant on the national scale and Utah is ranked ahead of Michigan. Yes, a Utes loss would diminish Michigan’s opening-week game, but Utah could still win the Pac-12 South and finish in the top 15 with two losses. As long as the Utes stay in the top 25, it’s more important for Michigan to jump them in the poll.

Result: Arizona 37 – Utah 30

Oregon (away) against No. 7 Stanford (7:30pm, FOX): Oregon is starting to play a bit better, but this game is still a long shot. If Stanford losses its second game of the season, Michigan will definitely jump ahead of the Cardinal because of a win against their only common opponent: Northwestern.

Result: Oregon 38 – Stanford 36

Recruiting Profile: 2015 CB Iman Marshall

Friday, January 23rd, 2015


Iman Marshall
(247 Sports)

Previously: 2015 TE Chris Clark

Iman Marshall – CB | 6’2″, 190 | Long Beach, Calif. – Long Beach Poly
ESPN: 5-star, #1 CB, 92 grade Rivals: 5-star, #1 CB, #3 nat 247: 5-star, #1 CB, #5 nat Scout: 5-star, #1 CB
Other top offers: USC, Alabama, FSU, Oregon, LSU, UCLA, Auburn, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Miami, ND

One of the most talented and impressive physical specimens being recruited at the cornerback position this season, Long Beach Poly’s Iman Marshall looks to be Michigan’s number one quarry this winter. Marshall has yet to commit to any team thus far, but has either visited or has visits scheduled with Notre Dame, Florida State, LSU, Oregon, and Michigan, with USC also having mutual interest. Marshall sported the vaunted No. 2 jersey during his visit to Ann Arbor this past week, and could have a similar impact to Charles Woodson given the tools he would bring to Michigan if he does indeed commit to the Wolverines.

Athleticism

Athleticism - Iman MarshallMarshall has prodigious size as far as cornerbacks go, having a Nike verified height of 6’2″ (though listed at a shorter 6’1″ by many other outlets). While most defensive backs with 6-foot-plus frames don’t stick on the boundary as cornerbacks due to a lack of athleticism, there is no such concern with Marshall. The Long Beach native showcases very good range and downfield speed, and while he doesn’t have the most fluid of hips, he has flexible ankles and has good change of direction ability for a player of his size. Marshall might not light up stopwatches while running in shorts, but he carries his pads well on the field. Additionally, he has shown the athletic versatility to play as a receiver, with the ball in his hands, as outside corner, a nickel back, a deep safety, and as a kick returner.

Coverage

Coverage - Iman MarshallMarshall lined up most frequently in zone coverage as opposed to man coverage during his high school career at Long Beach, and seems best suited to zone going forward. Marshall has great length and demonstrated it often, frequently taking away passing windows and getting his hand in to break up would-be completions. His instincts and ability to read the play in front of him and the ball in the air are top-notch, which should translate into early playing time and success in college.

In terms of man coverage, Marshall lacks great change of direction and transition out of his backpedal, and could struggle to keep up vertically on an island versus the fastest and quickest receivers in college football. Marshall is not afraid to get physical in coverage, especially near the line of scrimmage, and has the length of a prototypical press corner. As a senior, Marshall was deployed as a single safety and charged with playing the center field which he manned capably.

Ball Skills

Ball Skills - Iman MarshallAs Marshall’s experience playing the wide receiver position at times throughout his career can attest to, he has very good ball skills, not only for the interception, but to catch passes on offense. Marshall doesn’t flash an outstanding catch radius or show off with eye-popping one-handers, but he has sure hands to pluck the football and the ability to put himself in position to do so. He adjusts well to passes thrown over his head and on his back shoulder. Marshall’s length and leaping ability are useful in competing for contested passes and high-pointing the football. When Marshall has the ball in his hands, he can be dangerous on interception and kick returns, showing shifty footwork and strength to ward off tackles.

Run Support

Run Support - Iman MarshallOne thing that can be infuriating while watching cornerbacks at any level of football is how noncommittal they can be towards playing the running game. This is certainly not the case with Marshall as he is an aggressive run defender who plays with strength and instincts. While Marshall could do a better job of getting off of blocks given his ability and the relative level of competition he faced, he pursues with great range and hustle. Marshall shows good tackling technique for a defensive back and wraps up while still delivering jarring hits on the football. With his combination of size and willingness versus the run, Marshall could convert to the safety position if needed by a coaching staff.

Bottom Line

Marshall may not possess blazing timed speed or the most explosive change of direction capabilities, but he stands out in every other category that is important to the cornerback position at the collegiate level. His great instincts will go a long way toward leveraging a role for himself on the football field and he possesses long-term potential to go pro within a few years. If Marshall does indeed sign with the Wolverines this winter, he could form one half of what could be a devastating duo at the cornerback position with last year’s five star recruit Jabrill Peppers. On the whole, Iman Marshall compares to former Virginia Tech and current Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller.

MG&B Grade (out of 10)
9.2 (5-star)

Following his visit to Michigan earlier this week, Marshall is visiting LSU this weekend and plans to wrap up his official visits with Oregon next weekend. Jim Harbaugh and staff plan to make an in-home visit to Marshall and his family — Marshall made the trip to Ann Arbor alone — before signing day on Feb. 4, but pulling him from hometown USC will be a tall order.

First test passed: Michigan 70 – Oregon 63

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014


LeVert layup vs Oregon(MGoBlue.com)

After opening the season with a Division II school and two mid-majors, Michigan faced its first test of the season on Monday night in the semifinal of the Progressive Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Wolverines passed the test with a 70-63 win over Oregon to advance to Tuesday night’s championship game.

Michigan opened the game with a Caris LeVert three-pointer and opened up a 7-2 lead thanks to a Kameron Chatman layup and a Mark Donnal dunk. After an Oregon basket, Zak Irvin hit his first three of the game to give Michigan a 10-4 lead.

The rest of the first half was played within a few points with Oregon pulling even at 25 with 4:50 to play. But Michigan freshmen scored the next four as Chatman made a free throw and Ricky Doyle made a layup and a free throw. After a two minute and 40 second scoring drought, Oregon got a Jordan Bell dunk to pull within 29-27, but Michigan closed the half with a Doyle tip-in and two LeVert free throws. Michigan led 33-27 at the half.

Four Factors
Michigan Oregon
51.1 eFG% 43.2
23.3 OReb% 45.0
12.7 TO% 22.2
63.0 FTR 33.5

Oregon scored the first basket of the second half, but Irvin hit another three. Every time Oregon tried to make a move, Michigan had an answer. The Ducks scored the next six points to pull within one, but four straight Michigan free throws put the Wolverines back on top by five.

With 13:45 to play, Oregon pulled even once again at 40, but Michigan scored the next eight to take its biggest lead of the night. Oregon ended a 3:19 scoring drought with a Joseph Young three, and after two more LeVert free throws, Oregon scored five straight to pull within 50-48.

After a Doyle layup, neither team scored for the next minute and a half until Derrick Walton Jr. made two free throws to put Michigan back ahead by six. Oregon wouldn’t go away, again pulling within one with four minutes left, and again a minute later after the teams traded a pair of free throws. LeVert converted an and-one, but Oregon responded with two free throws.

Leading by two with 1:34 to play, Michigan called a timeout to set up a play. LeVert drove from the top of the key and kicked it out to Irvin on the right wing. Irvin nailed his third three of the game. Four Oregon free throws surrounding two by Walton made it a three-point game and Michigan ball in the final minute.

LeVert missed a jumper, but Doyle grabbed the offensive rebound on the left block. He pivoted back and forth, trying to find a teammate to kick it out to, but unable to find one, dribbled, pump-faked, and put in a game-clinching layup. The final 30 seconds were just a formality as Irvin rebounded a missed Oregon shot and made two free throws to give Michigan a seven point win.

Irvin led the way for Michigan with 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He made 3-of-6 three-pointers and grabbed three offensive rebounds. LeVert added 18 points on just 3-of-13 shooting, but made 11-of-13 free throws. Doyle was the only other Wolverine in double figures with 10 points and he also grabbed three offensive boards.

As a team, Michigan shot 45.6 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three-point range. Oregon shot 39.0 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from three. Oregon held a 41-29 advantage on the glass, including an 18-7 advantage on the offensive glass, but turned the ball over 14 times compared to Michigan’s eight. The biggest difference was Michigan’s ability to get to the free throw line. The Wolverines shot and made 11 more free throws than the Ducks.

The Wolverines will face an even bigger test against 12th-ranked Villanova (4-0) on Tuesday night for the Legends Classic championship. The game will tip off at 10 p.m. EST and will be televised by ESPN2.

Three Stars:

***Ricky Doyle***
10 points (4-of-5 FG, 2-of-3 FT), three rebounds (all offensive), one block in 24 minutes

**Zak Irvin**
19 points (6-of-11 FG, 3-of-6 3pt, 4-of-4 FT), five rebounds (three offensive), one steal in 38 minutes

*Caris LeVert*
18 points (3-of-13 FG, 1-of-4 3pt, 11-of-13 FT), five rebounds, three assists, one block, two steals, two turnovers in 39 minutes

Final Game Stats
# Name FG-FGA 3FG-3FGA FT-FTA OR DR TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN
03 Kameron Chatman* 1-4 0-1 2-4 0 3 3 1 4 3 1 0 0 15
34 Mark Donnal* 2-3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 4 0 0 1 0 11
10 Derrick Walton Jr* 1-3 0-0 4-4 0 4 4 4 6 2 0 0 0 24
21 Zak Irvin* 6-11 3-6 4-4 3 2 5 4 19 0 0 0 1 38
23 Caris LeVert* 3-13 1-4 11-13 0 5 5 2 18 3 2 1 2 39
02 Spike Albrecht 3-6 1-2 0-0 0 2 2 1 7 3 2 0 0 35
05 D.J. Wilson 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
32 Ricky Doyle 4-5 0-0 2-4 3 0 3 1 10 0 0 1 0 24
44 Max Bielfeldt 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
12 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3
24 Aubrey Dawkins 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 7
Totals 21-46 5-13 23-29 7 22 29 16 70 11 8 3 3 200
Oregon 23-59 5-19 12-18 18 23 41 24 63 10 14 2 3 200
Full Stats

Michigan hoops preview: Oregon

Monday, November 24th, 2014


UM-Oregon
Michigan (3-0) vs Oregon (3-0)
Monday, Nov. 24 | Brooklyn, N.Y. | 9:00 p.m. EST | ESPN3
Offense
80.0 Points/gm 89.3
(82-174) 47.1 Field Goal % 47.8 (97-203)
(28-61) 45.9 3-pt FG % 39.2 (29-74)
(48-63) 76.2 Free Throw % 71.4 (45-63)
16.0 FT Made/gm 15.0
36.3 Reb/gm 47.3
16.0 Assists/gm 19.0
7.7 Turnovers/gm 11.3
Defense (2013-14)
61.0 Points/gm 66.3
(69-159) 43.4 Field Goal % 35.0 (70-200)
(25-62) 40.3 3-pt FG % 40.5 (30-74)
27.3 Opp. Reb/gm 36.0
7.0 Steals/gm 6.3
3.7 Blocks/gm 6.0
Individual Leaders
Zak Irvin (20.7), Derrick Walton Jr (17.7) Points/gm Joseph Young (26.0), Dillon Brooks (12.7)
Caris LeVert (7.7), Derrick Walton Jr (6.0) Reb/gm Jordan Bell (9.0), Dwayne Benjamin (8.7)

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan won its two regional games of the Progressive Legends Classic last week, topping Bucknell 77-53 and Detroit 71-62. Tonight, the Wolverines face their first big test of the season and their first game away from the Crisler Center. Michigan faces Oregon in the tournament semifinal in Brooklyn, N.Y. tonight at 9 p.m.

Oregon also comes in 3-0 with wins over Coppin State (107-65), Detroit (83-66), and Toledo (78-68). The Ducks are averaging 9.3 more points per game than Michigan and allowing 5.3 more. They shoot about the same as Michigan so far in the early season, but shoot three-pointers about six percent worse. Oregon has attempted 13 more threes than Michigan has and made just one more. The Ducks attack the board, averaging 47 rebounds per game compared to Michigan’s 36. However, they let opponents rebound 36 per game while Michigan allows its opponents to rebound 27.3 per game.

Fifth-year senior guard Joesph Young (6’2″, 180) is the star, averaging 26 points per game so far and shooting 50 percent. He scored 32 points in the opener against Coppin State, 22 against Detroit, and 24 against Toledo. Despite making just 1-of-12 three-point attempts against Detroit, he’s still shooting 40 percent from downtown. Young scored the fifth-most points in a single season in Oregon history, earning second-team all-Pac 12 honors last season.

Freshman forward Dillon Brooks (6’6″, 225) is the second-leading scorer with 12.7 points per game. He’s been consistent so far this season, scoring 14 points in each of the first two games and 10 in the third. He’s from the same hometown in Canada as Nik Stauskas, and while he’s not the three-point shooter Stauskas was, he has still made 5-of-12 so far this season.

Redshirt junior forward Elgin Cook (6’6″, 205) also averages 12.7 points per game and has made 14-of-27 shots so far, but has attempted just one three-pointer, which he missed. He was the team’s field goal percentage leader last season at 57.5, a total that ranked third in school history.

Junior forward Dwayne Benjamin (6’7″, 210) has started all three games, but struggled a bit so far. He managed just three points on 1-of-5 shooting in the opener, but scored eight and 11 in the last two. He has, however, been solid on the glass, ranking second on the team with 8.7 rebounds per game.

Rounding out the starting lineup is 6’1″, 175-pound freshman guard Ahmaad Rorie. After scoring 10 points in the first game, he scored 10 combined in the next two. He’s shooting just 29.4 percent from the field and 30 percent from downtown, but ranks second on the team with nine assists.

The main contributors off the bench are 6’4″, 197-pound senior guard Jalil Abdul-Bassit, 6’9″, 215-pound freshman forward Jordan Bell, and 6’3″, 185-pound freshman guard Casey Benson. Bell is playing 25 minutes a game and leads the team with nine rebounds per game while making 10-of-14 shots. Abdul-Bassit ranks fourth in scoring with 9.7 points per game and has made 5-of-10 three-point attempts. Benson is the only other player in the rotation averaging more than two minutes per game. He averages six points and 3.3 rebounds and has made seven of his 12 shots.

You can see that head coach Dana Altman is playing quite a few freshmen, and that’s mostly out of necessity. The Ducks lost 10 contributors from last season to graduation, dismissal, and transfer. Young is the player Altman will have to lean on if the Ducks want to do better than their preseason Pac-12 media poll expectations of eighth place.

Oregon won’t be the best team Michigan faces in the non-conference portion of the schedule — maybe not even the best team Michigan will face in Brooklyn — but it will be a big early test for Michigan’s remade roster. It will also be an important game for both teams’ postseason hopes come March, as Oregon will surely be fighting for a bubble spot in the NCAA Tournament, and Michigan could use a quality early season win before Big Ten play starts.

The game will be shown on ESPN3.

Your bye week Saturday viewing guide

Friday, October 25th, 2013


Michigan’s second bye week in four weeks provides another great chance to relax, get your fall yardwork done, and ultimately get ready for the final five-week stretch of the season. All five of the next Saturdays feature big-time matchups for Michigan, each of which is a must win if the Wolverines want any chance of winning the Big Ten this season. This stress-free Saturday sets up nicely to scout each of the five teams Michigan has left on its schedule with a nice slate of games. Here’s your viewing guide.

Early games

At noon, two Big Ten games are worth at least casually keeping your eye on. They won’t necessarily be good games, but three of the four teams involved are among Michigan’s next four opponents. Iowa hosts Northwestern (12pm, Big Ten Network) in a battle of 4-3 squads. The Wildcats began the season 4-0 and battled Ohio State punch-for-punch in Evanston, but a combination of factors including injuries to several of their top playmakers have them reeling with three straight losses. Suddenly, one of the Legends Division favorites from the beginning of the season is now relegated to playing spoiler.

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Following the Iowa game, Northwestern has Nebraska, Michigan, and Michigan state in three consecutive games before finishing the season at Illinois, so beating Iowa is a must-win for the Wildcats to be assured of bowl eligibility. But that’s easier said than done in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes won the last matchup at home and are always tough to beat at home, especially in late fall when the wind starts whipping.

Iowa has shown to be pesky this season, playing Michigan State and Ohio State tough each of the last two games, so while neither of these teams is likely to win the Legends, Michigan will have to get through both of them – on the road – to have a chance.

The other noon game to keep an eye on is #24 Nebraska at Minnesota (12pm, ESPN). The Cornhuskers may be the Legends Division favorite at this point, but as Derick described on Wednesday, they have beaten just one team this season that has a winning record (4-3 Wyoming). The other four have come against winless Southern Miss, FCS school South Dakota State, and Big Ten bottom feeders Illinois and Purdue. The one team with a pulse Nebraska has faced, then-16th ranked UCLA, stomped the ‘Huskers 41-21 in Lincoln.

Minnesota is coming off a big win at Northwestern with head coach Jerry Kill taking a leave of absence. The Gophers likely don’t have enough in the tank to hang with Nebraska, but after last weekend’s big road win they’ll at least be playing with confidence.

Outside of the Big Ten there aren’t really any other big early games worth watching. Wake Forest vs #7 Miami (12pm, ESPNU) and #16 Texas A&M vs Vanderbilt (12:21pm, ESPN3) are the only others even remotely good, the latter because the Aggies are a potential bowl opponent.

Afternoon games

The afternoon slate features a few games worth watching, most notably Michigan State at Illinois (3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2), only because the Spartans are Michigan’s next opponent. It’s not likely to be much of a battle as MSU’s top-ranked defense should be able to handle Illinois’ offense that was held to just 25.5 points per game against Nebraska and Wisconsin the past two weeks. Conversely, Michigan State’s offense, which hasn’t been much to talk about this season should be able to move the ball and score against the Illini’s 98th-ranked scoring defense which allows over 32 points per game. The Spartans shouldn’t have much trouble beating Illinois, but it will be a good chance to get acclimated with them if you haven’t seen them play yet this season.

Outside of the Big Ten will feature a few solid matchups worth paying attention to. Tennessee visits #1 Alabama (3:30pm, CBS), #2 Florida State hosts NC State (3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2) and #9 Clemson visits Maryland (3:30pm, ESPN). Tennessee isn’t likely to pull off the upset in Tuscaloosa, but the Vols have shown some fight this season under Butch Jones, including last week’s win over #11 South Carolina and taking then-#6 Georgia to overtime earlier this month. Similarly, Florida State shouldn’t have trouble dispensing of NC State, but an unranked Wolfpack squad has beaten a ranked FSU team four times since 2005, including a 17-16 upset last season. Florida State is coming off a huge primetime win at Clemson and faces #7 Miami next week, so this could be a classic trap game. Finally, the team that was on the losing end of that Florida State win last Saturday, Clemson is licking its wounds as it travels to College Park to face a 5-2 Maryland squad. The Terps, however, were blasted by FSU (63-0) and last week by Wake Forest (34-10).

Another one to at least flip over to during commercial breaks is #10 Texas Tech at #15 Oklahoma (3:30pm, FOX). The Red Raiders are a surprising 7-0 and the Sooners’ only loss of the season was two weeks ago at the hands of Texas. Both of these teams are potential bowl opponents if Michigan either gets a BCS at-large bid or limps through the rest of the season falling to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.

Evening games

The evening set of games features several ranked foes squaring off. The one that most pertains to us is Penn State at #4 Ohio State (8pm, ABC). The Nittany Lions had a week off last week after beating Michigan, while Ohio State got an unexpected fight from Iowa. With two weeks to prepare, could Penn State pull off a big upset in Columbus? The big play threat of Christian Hackenberg throwing to Allen Robinson and the rest of Penn State’s receivers is sure to test Ohio State’s beleaguered secondary, but the Buckeyes will look to put pressure on the freshman quarterback. Expect a close game in what’s likely to be Ohio State’s final test before visiting Ann Arbor on Nov. 30.

The biggest battle of the day will be #12 UCLA at #3 Oregon (7pm, ESPN). The Bruins lost to 13th-ranked Stanford last week and will be looking to bounce back in Eugene against the high-powered Ducks.

Two other games feature battles of ranked teams: #21 South Carolina at #5 Missouri (7pm, ESPN2) and #6 Stanford at #25 Oregon State (10:30pm, ESPN). Missouri is the surprise of the SEC this season, but a team many feel is overrated at fifth in the BCS standings. South Carolina is coming off a disappointing loss at Tennessee, looking to pull off an upset of its own and stay in the SEC East race. Stanford got upset by Utah two weeks ago and now finds itself a game behind Oregon State and Oregon in the Pac-12 standings. If UCLA is able to upset the Ducks, this game could either put Oregon State in the conference lead or leave a three-way tie, and both teams still have to play Oregon in the final month of the season.