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Posts Tagged ‘Rivals’

New in Blue: Tight end Chris Clark

Thursday, June 19th, 2014


Chris Clark(247 Sports)

Chris Clark – TE | 6-6, 247 | Avon, Conn. – Avon Old Farms
ESPN: 4-star, #3 TE Rivals: 4-star, #4 TE 247: 4-star, #2 TE Scout: 5-star, #1 TE
Other top offers: Alabama, Auburn, FSU, Georgia, Ohio State, Miami, South Carolina

Michigan seems to be gaining momentum on the recruiting trail, as just a day after picking up a commitment from 2016 quarterback Messiah deWeaver, the Wolverines got the nod from one of the top tight ends in the country, Chris Clark. After visiting Ohio State on Tuesday and Michigan State on Wednesday, the Avon, Conn. star pledged his commitment to Michigan on his visit this afternoon and announced it on Twitter.

Clark is rated four stars by Rivals, 247, and ESPN and five stars by Scout. Scout considers him the top tight end and 26th-best overall prospect in the 2015 class. 247 ranks him the second-best tight end and 101st overall prospect. ESPN has him as their third tight end and 108th-best overall prospect, while Rivals ranks him fourth and 146th, respectively. All but Rivals are in agreement about his height (6’6″) and weight (247-pounds). Rivals lists him six pounds heavier.

Scout lists Clarks’s strengths as blocking ability, hands, concentration, and size, and his weaknesses as downfield threat and elusiveness. Scout’s Brian Dohn had high praise for Clark.

“Clark is a complete tight end who can block, get out and catch the ball and also be a factor in the red zone,” said Dohn. “He has very good hands and is a red-zone threat. He does a nice job running routes and he is a big, physical player. He also embraces the blocking portion of the game, and does a good job getting off the line of scrimmage cleanly. All around, Clark is a complete tight end who should havea big impact quickly in college.”

Make no mistake about it, this is a big pick up for Hoke and staff. Clark held offers from nearly every major program in the country, including Alabama, and Michigan’s three main rivals, Ohio State, Michigan State, and Notre Dame. He originally committed to North Carolina on March 16, but decommitted less than a month later and promptly visited Michigan and Ohio State.

On May 4, Clark tweeted that he would make his announcement at The Opening on July 8, but his visit to Michigan today, during which he met with quarterback commitment Alex Malzone, was enough to get him to end his recruitment a few weeks earlier. He’s the only current commit that will participate in The Opening, an invite-only competition for elite prospects at the Nike World Headquarters in Oregon, but he will join a pair of former commits — George Campbell and Shaun Crawford — as well as several targets.

Clark is the eighth member of the 2015 class and the only tight end. When he gets to Michigan next year — assuming his commitment holds through signing day — he will join a talented group that includes fellow four-stars Jake Butt and Ian Bunting and three star Khalid Hill. For what it’s worth, Devin Funchess was a three-star, though it’s a stretch to consider him a tight end at this point.

New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier likes to utilize tight ends, so the success Hoke and staff have had recruiting the position the past few years bodes well for the future. Clark has also said that he will do some recruiting for Michigan to try to lure other top prospects to join him in Ann Arbor.

Countdown to kickoff: 74 days

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014


Countdown to kickoff-74(Melanie Maxwell, AnnArbor.com)

New in Blue: Offensive tackle Grant Newsome

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014


Grant Newsome

Grant Newsome – OT | 6-7, 290 | Lawrenceville, N.J. – The Lawrenceville School
ESPN: 4-star, #25 OT Rivals: 4-star, #21 OT 247: 4-star, #22 OT Scout: 4-star, #20 OT
Other top offers: Alabama, LSU, Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, S. Carolina, Wisconsin

On the heels of last week’s big announcement that USC running back Ty Isaac was transferring to Michigan, Brady Hoke picked up another big offensive talent in four-star offensive tackle Grant Newsome this morning. Despite holding offers from a number of major programs, including Alabama and LSU, Newsome narrowed his list down to two, Michigan and Penn State, and visited both last week. This morning, he tweeted a statement that announced that his decision had been made.

Newsome is ranked pretty similarly among the four recruiting services. All rate him a four-star and Scout ranks him the highest as the No. 20 offensive tackle, while ESPN has him the lowest at No. 25. As far as national rankings are concerned, 247 Sports ranks him the highest at No. 192, while Rivals has him at 199, Scout at 215 and ESPN at 235. They’re all pretty much in agreement about his size as well. Three of the four list him at 6’7″, while 247 has him an inch shorter. Rivals lists his weight as 280, but the other three have him at 290.

Scout lists Newsome’s strengths as explosion, feet, and size, and his areas for improvement as body control and balance, flexibility, and technique.

“Newsome is athletic, strong in pass protection and can get to the second level quickly in the running game,” wrote Scout’s Brian Dohn. “He is good drive blocking and does a nice job in pass protection. He has good length and is able to protect the edge, but does need to refine his technique. Newsome also gets to the second level quickly.”

Newsome is the second offensive lineman in Michigan’s 2015 class, joining Jon Runyan Jr., and is the seventh total commit in the class. With a heavy emphasis on recruiting linemen in the past few classes, Hoke will be able to give Newsome a redshirt and allow him to spend a couple of years learning the tricks of the trade before he’s thrown into action. That’s a good thing.

Michigan now has about eight scholarships remaining in the class, a number that could always go up between now and signing day, and should be set at offensive line.

New in Blue: Running back Ty Isaac

Thursday, June 5th, 2014


Ty Isaac(USA Today Sports)

Ty Isaac – RB | 6-3, 225 | Joliet, Ill. – Joliet Catholic
ESPN: 4-star, #13 RB Rivals: 5-star, #4 RB 247: 4-star, #5 RB Scout: 5-star, #7 RB
Other top offers: USC, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Auburn, Clemson, Michigan State, Georgia, Notre Dame

Michigan missed out on a key transfer earlier this spring when Alabama center Chad Lindsay chose Ohio State, but the Wolverines landed an even bigger transfer today when USC running back Ty Isaac announced via Twitter that he would sign with Michigan.

If the name sounds familiar, it should. Michigan was one of the finalists  to land Isaac before he decided to attend Southern Cal in the 2013 recruiting class. At USC, the Joliet, Ill. native rushed for 236 yards on 40 carries — an average of 5.9 yards per carry — and two touchdowns during the 2013 season as a true freshman. He also caught four passes for 57 yards. Isaac battled for playing time in a crowded backfield that included senior Penn State transfer Silas Redd. When he got extended playing time against California on Nov. 9, Isaac showed what he is capable of, rushing for 87 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries.

(David Cleveland, AP)

(David Cleveland, AP)

Isaac announced his transfer in mid-May because of a longing to be closer to his mother, who is dealing with medical complications related to a procedure. Under NCAA rules, a player can receive a hardship waiver in these types of circumstances, which would make him eligible to play right away instead of sitting out a year. However, in 2012, the NCAA refined the rule to institute a 100-mile radius from the immediate family member’s home. Ann Arbor is approximately 250 miles away, so it would be up to the NCAA to grant leniency in this case.

Illinois, which is much closer to his home, was the other top contender for his services. He visited there last week before making a trip to Ann Arbor earlier this week. Notre Dame, which was also a finalist to land Isaac coming out of high school was initially not approved by USC since the Trojans play the Irish. Ohio State also sought approval to contact him, but it was for naught.

“I decided that I’m going to transfer to Michigan,” Isaac said this morning. “I had a good visit there, and it’s just the place where I feel the most comfortable. I didn’t want to drag all of this out and see a ton of schools. Michigan was in my final three when I committed to USC, and the reasons I liked Michigan are still very much in place.”

If the NCAA grants him the ability to play this fall, Isaac will battle for the starting job with Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith, who were also members of the 2013 class. Rivals rated Green the top running back in the class, Isaac fourth, and Smith 37th. Scout had Green first, Isaac seventh, and Smith 11th, while 247 Sports had Isaac fifth, Green eighth, and Smith 15th.

If Isaac does have to sit out the 2014 season, he will be able to take a redshirt and still have three years of eligibility remaining, which would put a year of separation between he and the other two.

During his senior year at Joliet Catholic in 2012, Isaac rushed for more than 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns, but missed some games due to injury. As a junior in 2011, he racked up 2,629 yards and 45 touchdowns, including a 515-yard, six-touchdown performance in the Illinois Class 5A state championship game.

He is the first transfer Michigan has landed since quarterback Steven Threet transferred from Georgia Tech in 2007. Threet then transferred to Arizona State two years later.

Drew’s mailbag: The rival Michigan needs to beat, Crawford’s crazy courtship

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014


Below is another installment of Drew’s Mailbag, which will run every two weeks throughout the offseason, answering any questions you may have regarding Michigan athletics. You can submit your questions to Drew on Twitter (@DrewCHallett) or via email (drew.maizeandgoblue@gmail.com).

Which [rivalry game] do you want the most if [Michigan football] can [win] only one? – Josh (@josh_muhleck)

Why only one? Shouldn’t Michigan expect to beat all three of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State next season? This is Michigan, fergodsakes. The leaders and best. The champions of the West. Michigan does not accept anything but first place. Etcetera, etcetera. Yada yada yada.

Okay. Now that that is out of my system, let’s be realistic. The truth is that it is highly unlikely that Michigan will defeat all three of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State in the fall. The Wolverines are staring up at all three rivals at the moment. The Buckeyes are 24-2 in two seasons under Urban Meyer. The Spartans have won at least 11 games three of the past four seasons, which includes earning an outright Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl victory last year. The Fighting Irish are one year removed from an appearance in the national championship game. And this has all happened while Michigan has managed to have only one season with more than eight wins since 2007. The task of beating all three of its rivals is difficult enough when Michigan is at its peak, having done it only twice since 1991. Not even the biggest Michigan homer can expect the Wolverines to pull it off this year given the current state of these four programs.

To make matters worse, Michigan does not even have the luxury of hosting one of its rivals at Michigan Stadium this season. Instead, the Wolverines must face all three of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State on the road for the first time in school history. This is a nightmare scenario for a program that has struggled on the road against quality competition. Michigan has lost its last 10 true road games against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. The last road win against such a foe was against No. 2 Notre Dame in 2006. Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State likely will be ranked in the AP Top 25 when Michigan steps on the gridiron with them. The idea that Michigan will end this extended road drought by sweeping them is ludicrous. Michigan fans should consider just one win versus its rivals this year as progress.

If Michigan can beat just one rival this fall, the pick should be the one in Columbus (Detroit News)

If Michigan can beat just one rival this fall, the pick should be the one in Columbus (Detroit News)

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s break down which rival Michigan fans should most want the Wolverines to beat this season:

Notre Dame: Nothing would be sweeter than getting the last word in a rivalry that has all but disintegrated. Notre Dame stuck it to Michigan by notifying athletic director Dave Brandon just minutes before the two teams kicked off in 2012 that the Fighting Irish were putting the rivalry on pause after 2014. This was a shock to Michigan. Earlier that summer, Michigan and Notre Dame jointly announced that there would a two-year hiatus in 2018 and 2019 to allow the schools to schedule some new, fresh competition. It was supposed to be a short recess, not a permanent vacation.

Yet this fall will be the last Michigan-Notre Dame clash for the foreseeable future. Michigan reportedly has locked in its premium non-conference opponents through 2023. None are Notre Dame. With the Big Ten adding a ninth conference game to the slate in 2016, Michigan likely will not seek to add a second premium non-conference opponent. And Notre Dame’s affiliation with the ACC limits its availability. Therefore, a win in September would give Michigan bragging rights over the Fighting Irish for the next decade or two.

Nonetheless, Notre Dames is a non-conference rival. It always is enjoyable to watch Michigan’s quarterbacks torch the Fighting Irish, but the wins have no impact on its goal to win a Big Ten championship. Yes, wins against Notre Dame provide the Wolverines an added boost heading into the conference season. However, the significance of those wins pales in comparison to Michigan’s wins against conference rivals, Michigan State and Ohio State. Plus, unlike MSU and OSU, Michigan has had Notre Dame’s number recently, winning six of the last eight meetings. While Michigan would like to make it seven of the last nine, a win here is not nearly as important is would be later in the season.

Michigan State: In 2007, after a fourth-quarter, comeback win against Michigan State, then-Michigan running back Mike Hart claimed that Michigan State was Michigan’s “little brother.” Yet, since those infamous words were spoken, Michigan State has had the upper hand on Michigan. The Wolverines have suffered defeat in five of the six meetings against MSU that followed. Michigan has not had this much trouble with its in-state rival since before Bo Schembechler first arrived in Ann Arbor in 1969.

Accordingly, Michigan State has seen its stock rise to levels it has not experienced in decades. The Spartans are piling up wins, conference championships, and even their first Rose Bowl victory since 1988. Whether Michigan fans want to acknowledge it or not, Michigan State has become a Big Ten power under Mark Dantonio. Even recruits are taking notice as some of Michigan’s top high school talent has begun to favor the Spartans over the Wolverines. This is a trend that Michigan needs to stop in its tracks instantly. The first step to doing so is to beat the Spartans in East Lansing this season.

However …

Ohio State: No matter how compelling an argument one can make that Michigan State is the most important game on Michigan’s schedule this season, no game is more important than “The Game.” A rival against whom Michigan has had a poor six-year stretch does not replace the rival with whom Michigan has created college football’s best rivalry as the most important on the schedule. Sorry. No chance. Yes, a Michigan win against Michigan State would be quite significant for U-M’s future prosperity, but it will never define an entire Michigan season like a win against Ohio State does.

So, if Michigan can beat only one rival this season, it is Ohio State. No ifs, ands, or buts. Of course, I would not mind if Michigan shocked the world and beat all three.

Should we consider [Michigan football commit] Shaun Crawford as good as gone? –Bill (@BillOffer)

Not yet. Initially, when it was confirmed that 2015 four-star defensive back Shaun Crawford had visited Notre Dame last weekend, it looked grim for Michigan. Brady Hoke has a well-publicized policy that discourages current commits from visiting other schools. The policy is simple, even if it has been misinterpreted repeatedly:

If a Michigan commit visits another school, the staff will no longer guarantee the prospect a spot in the class. This does not mean that Michigan will banish the prospect from being a member of its recruiting class, though, as some have claimed. In most cases, Michigan still will want that prospect to be in its class and “re-commit” as soon as he is sure he does not want to take anymore visits. But Michigan may look at other prospects to fill the new vacancy. Nothing is guaranteed. That is the risk of taking visits.

Despite a wandering eye, Crawford shouldn't be considered gone just yet (247 Sports)

Despite a wandering eye, Crawford shouldn’t be considered gone just yet (247 Sports)

With Crawford’s visit to Notre Dame, his spot in Michigan’s class was no longer guaranteed. Although this does not result in an automatic decommitment, most Michigan commits who visit elsewhere tend to decommit because their spot is no longer guaranteed anyway. However, multiple outlets reported that Crawford wanted to remain a Michigan commit despite his wandering eye. It appeared he still favored the Wolverines, but did not want to be forced out by a policy he felt was hypocritical. But Crawford had yet to speak with Hoke about visiting elsewhere. Once Crawford had that conversation with Hoke, I expected that Crawford would decommit and that it would be the beginning of the end.

Yet, according to Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt ($), Crawford stated that he spoke with the Michigan staff on Tuesday night and still is a Michigan commit. Crawford also told Helmholdt that he will continue to look at other schools, which includes a trip to Ohio State soon. It appears that Crawford has gotten what he wanted: to remain a Michigan commit while looking around.

This is good news for Michigan. If Michigan had forced Crawford to decommit, the odds of him recommitting would have been slim to none. Crawford likely would have become frustrated with Hoke’s no-visit policy and disillusioned with the idea of playing football for him in Ann Arbor. Instead, Crawford maintains his commitment with Michigan, which indicates the Wolverines still are the leader for his services. Of course, this could change down the road if Notre Dame, Ohio State, or even Miami (FL) persuades him to make a switch. But this is the life of recruiting. And the odds of this happening would have been much higher if Crawford had decommitted from Michigan.

Plus, Crawford is a commit Michigan wants to keep. Most recruiting services consider Crawford to be in the top 100 of the 2015 class or just outside of it. He is a talented player from the state of Ohio that grew up a Michigan fan. This is not the type of recruit that Michigan can afford to lose right now, especially when Michigan has already lost two other top-50 commits from the 2015 class in running back Damien Harris and wide receiver George Campbell. At the moment, Michigan does not appear to have lost Crawford, but this will be a recruitment we will need to keep our eyes on the next few months.

If you have any questions related to Michigan athletics that you want answered in the next mailbag, please tweet them to @DrewCHallett on Twitter or email them to drew.maizeandgoblue@gmail.com. 

New in Blue: Linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr.

Sunday, May 18th, 2014


Darrin Kirkland(247 Sports)

Darrin Kirkland Jr. – LB | 6-2, 228 | Indianapolis, Ind. | Lawrence North
ESPN: 4-star, #7 ILB Rivals: 4-star, #6 ILB 247: 4-star, #7 ILB Scout: 4-star
Other top offers: Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Oregon, Ole Miss, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia Tech

Michigan received its second commitment in a week when linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. pledged his intention to join the Wolverines’ 2015 class on Sunday afternoon. The senior-to-be from Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis officially announced his commitment via Twitter.

Kirkland is a consensus four-star recruit rated among the top ten inside linebackers by all the major recruiting services. Rivals ranks him sixth at his position and the 183rd prospect nationally, while ESPN has him seventh and 247 Sports list him seventh. ESPN has him 256th nationally with a grade of 81.

Kirkland recorded 110 tackles and eight sacks in 2013 while earning first-team all-conference and Top 50 all-state honors. Scout lists his strengths as discipline, instincts, and tackling technique, while his area to improve is shedding ability.

In his scouting report, Scout’s Allen Trieu writes, “Very smart, instinctive player who always seems to be in good position and around the football. Takes good angles to the ball, rarely takes false steps and shows good closing ability. Has gotten stronger and thicker over the last year and needs to continue to do that.”

Kirkland reported receiving an offer from Oregon just two days ago and also had offers from Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia Tech, and a host of others.

The seventh commitment of Michigan’s 2015 class, Kirkland joins defensive backs Shaun Crawford, Tyree Kinnel, and Garrett Taylor, quarterback Alex Malzone, kicker Andrew David, and offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr.

New in Blue: Quarterback Alex Malzone

Monday, May 12th, 2014


Malzone

Alex Malzone – QB | 6-2, 200| Bloomfield Hills, Mich. | Brother Rice
ESPN: 3-star, NR Rivals: 3-star, #16 QB 247: 3-star, #13 QB Scout: 4-star, #15 QB
Other top offers: Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Miami (OH)

Just days after three Michigan players were selected in the NFL Draft Brady Hoke received a commitment from quarterback Alex Malzone. The Bloomfield Hills, Mich. native pledged his commitment to the Wolverines on Monday during a visit to campus and announced it via Twitter.

Malzone is rated a three-star by Rivals, 247 Sports, and ESPN and four-star by Scout. Rivals ranks him as the 16th-best pro-style quarterback in the class of 2015, while 247 has him 13th, and Scout 15th.  There has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks as to when the Michigan coaching staff would extend Malzone an offer. He was named the quarterback MVP of the Detroit Rivals camp in April. New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier saw him throw on April 28 and subsequently extended an offer. Nussmeier Tweeted his excitement upon receiving Malzone’s commitment.


During the 2013 season for Brother Rice High School, Malzone went 190-of-281 for 2,794 yards, 25 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions, leading the Warriors to a perfect 14-0 record and a state championship. He was the Michigan Mr. Football runner-up to Ithaca quarterback Travis Smith, who is heading to Toledo this fall. Malzone was the only junior among the final four for the award.

Scout lists his strengths as accuracy/consistency, arm strength, and mental toughness, while saying his biggest area for improvement is his size. He’s listed as 6’2″ and 200 pounds. For what it’s worth, 247 lists him an inch taller and ESPN an inch shorter.

In his scouting report, Scout’s Allen Trieu states, “Has the arm to make all the throws. Mechanics can still use polishing, but he has good velocity on his passes, shows excellent timing and is very accurate. Shows the ability to make tough throws into coverage and has great touch down the field. Shows calm under pressure and lead several late game winning drives and has been in big game situations. May not have ideal dropback QB height, but is a gamer and a winner.”

Malzone reports offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Miami (OH), Ohio, Old Dominion, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Wake Forest, and Western Michigan, though Stanford and Tennessee expressed interest after his standout performance at the Detroit Rivals camp. He visited both unofficially back in February.

Michigan now has six commitments in its 2015 class. Malzone joins defensive backs Shaun Crawford, Tyree Kinnel, and Garrett Taylor, kicker Andrew David, and offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr.

Rival Rewind still won’t admit Irish are the best

Monday, November 26th, 2012


Michigan has the unique position of having three big rivals. Most teams only have one rival to get up for, but year-in and year-out, Michigan has three. While we, as fans, hate each of these teams, we carry some respect for them. Michigan State and Ohio State carry conference affiliation ties while Notre Dame, well, we all just put up with them. All season long, it’s fun to keep track of how each of them is doing, but there’s only so much time on Saturday to watch games. More often than not, they play at the same time Michigan does so you don’t get a chance to do your “advanced scouting.” Well, don’t fret because we’ve got you covered. This weekly feature will give you an overview of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State’s games the previous weekend and a look ahead to the upcoming one.

#1 Notre Dame 22 – USC 13
Record: 12-0
This Week: Regular season over

Notre Dame took the final step towards the BCS title game by downing USC in its season finale. Despite the Trojans missing their record setting quarterback, Matt Barkley, and replacing him with a freshman, I may be ready to change my tune on the Irish. All season long I have been reluctant, to say the least, to give Notre Dame full credit for being a top team. The rankings may say they are the No. 1 team in the land, but my football knowledge says they are far from the top team in the land. They struggled against Purdue, BYU and Pitt – none of whom are good teams. They barely beat Michigan despite being given the ball six times on turnovers. On Saturday night they beat a USC team with two future NFL receivers on offense (possibly the best receiver tandem in college football no less); but they did it against a freshman quarterback making his first start.

Theo Riddick celebrates the undefeated season (Danny Moloshok, AP)

However, Notre Dame has beaten all comers and I will not take anything away from their defense. They’ve held strong when they needed to and when it matters the most, like in the red zone. They have finally found their coach in Brian Kelly and he is poised to become yet another Irish head coach to win a national title in his third season.

Charlie Weiss may have recruited these seniors but Brian Kelly has turned them into winners. This Notre Dame team is good and given what they’ve done they deserve to play in the BCS title game. I will not concede they are the best team in all the land, yet. Nor will I proclaim they are back; I need to see consistency, not just one magical season. Regardless, they will be a worthy opponent for the SEC in the BCS title game, unlike Ohio State has proven to be against them in title games.

And now on to the game. The Irish took their opening drive and went straight into the heart of Trojan territory. However, they were held off inside the 10-yard line and held to just three points. USC and its redshirt freshman took the field and ran the ball four straight times with Curtis McNeill. With the “pressure” off their young QB, Lane Kiffin let the kid air it out. He missed on three straight attempts and USC was forced to punt. Notre Dame used a heavy dose of Theo Riddick through the air and on the ground as they made way for a Cierre Wood 2-yard touchdown run.

Up 10-0 ten minutes into the game and it looked like the Irish might run away with it. But as Lee Corso likes to say, not so fast my friend. Max Wittek regained his composure and went 5-of-5 for 48 yards and a touchdown to Robert Woods to get the Trojans back within three points. Notre Dame mounted another long drive but managed only a field goal. USC added another field goal their next time out, and then forced the Irish into a three-and-out to get the ball back with just over a minute and a half remaining and a chance to take the lead before halftime. The Irish defense had other ideas as they picked off Wittek’s first pass attempt; ultimately setting up Kyle Brindza for a career long 52-yard field goal, which he nailed. The Irish led 16-10 at the half, but it was far from over.

Max Wittek’s first pass of the second half was also picked off, but this time the Irish could not capitalize. It went back and forth until about the six minute mark in the third when Brindza hit his fourth field goal of the day to give Notre Dame a two possession lead at 19-10. USC added a field goal on their next drive to cut the lead back to six but that would be as close as they got.

Aided by a 60-yard kick return by George Atkinson III, the Irish were set up in great field position and used it to their advantage. They quickly marched inside the Trojan 10-yard line but were held out of the end zone. It didn’t matter because Kyle Brindza’s fifth field goal of the night proved to be the nail in USC’s coffin.

Next:

At 12-0 and the No. 1 team in the BCS rankings, Notre Dame is set up for the BCS title game against the winner of this weekend’s SEC Championship game, Georgia or Alabama. Both teams sport stout defenses and good quarterbacks. I’d give Georgia the edge in the passing attack (which could cause ND fits if they cannot get pressure) and Alabama the edge in the rushing attack. Regardless of which team emerges out of Atlanta we should have a great title game on our hands.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Michigan State 26 – Minnesota 10

Dan Conroy's four FGs clinched a bowl bid for MSU (Paul Battaglia, AP)

Record: 6-6, 3-5 Big Ten
This Week: Regular season over

Michigan State was looking to get bowl eligible against a Minnesota team that just cannot catch a break. Le’Veon Bell made sure the Spartan offense did its part, rushing for 266 yards and a touchdown, while Dan Conroy made four field goals.

On defense, they looked like the Sparty of last year, holding the Golden Gophers to a mere 96 yards of total offense, 92 of which came through the air.

The Gophers took the lead 7-3 in the first on the heels of a pick six by Aaron Hill but that would be the only time they found the end zone. Conroy added a field goal, then Andrew Maxwell found Bennie Fowler for a 41-yard touchdown pass less than three minutes later to go up 13-7. Sparty picked off four passes and made the most of them as they held off a Gopher team without its head coach in the second half.

Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill suffered yet another seizure during halftime and did not return. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.

Next:

With the win Michigan State became bowl eligible. It wasn’t quite what they expected but they should be thankful to be going bowling at all. At this point we don’t know for sure who they’ll play but it won’t be a New Year’s day bowl, we know that much. We will find out the matchup on Sunday evening.

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Ohio State 26 – Michigan 21
Record: 12-0
This Week: Season over

We won’t rehash the tragedy that struck on Saturday, but Ohio State’s season ends before December due to NCAA sanctions. In true Buckeye fashion, they honored the man who put them on probation during the first quarter of Saturday’s game, giving him a standing ovation and lifting him onto their shoulders. That’s all you need to know about our rivals to the south.

A thousand words (Jay LaPrete, AP)

Rival Rewind is throwing it back to 1993

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012


Michigan has the unique position of having three big rivals. Most teams only have one rival to get up for, but year-in and year-out, Michigan has three. While we, as fans, hate each of these teams, we carry some respect for them. Michigan State and Ohio State carry conference affiliation ties while Notre Dame, well, we all just put up with them. All season long, it’s fun to keep track of how each of them is doing, but there’s only so much time on Saturday to watch games. More often than not, they play at the same time Michigan does so you don’t get a chance to do your “advanced scouting.” Well, don’t fret because we’ve got you covered. This weekly feature will give you an overview of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State’s games the previous weekend and a look ahead to the upcoming one.

#4 Notre Dame 21 – Boston College 6
Record: 10-0
This Week: Home vs Wake Forest (5-5, 3-5 ACC) | 3:30pm | NBC

Boston College has traditionally been a thorn in the side of the Fighting Irish but not this year as Notre Dame trounced them 21-6.

Notre Dame is 10-0 for the first time since 1993. The year widely regarded as the last time the Irish have been relevant on the football scene.

Tyler Eifert helped ND stay unbeaten (photo by Jared Wickerham, Getty Images)

Everett Golson was 16-of-24 through the air for 200 yards and two scores and added another score on the ground. Golson has been improving as the season has progressed and the Irish fans have a lot to look forward to in the future if he stays healthy. Theo Riddick added 104 on the ground and caught a whopping six passes for 67 yards. Manti Te’o's sixth interception of the season sealed the game in the fourth quarter. Prior to this season Te’o had not notched a single turnover, he know has a school record six picks (for linebackers) to go along with one fumble recovery.

This game was never in question as Notre Dame dominated from start to finish. The Irish went on two long drives, a 95-yarder to open the game and an 87-yarder right before the end of the first half. Notre Dame converted their first ten third down attempts and were 11-of-14 overall, an impressive stat against anyone. Somewhat concerning were the two lost fumbles, both inside BC territory, and the eight penalties for 65 yards.

With the upset of Alabama by Texas A&M, Notre Dame moves that much closer in their bid for the BCS National Championship game. They have a lot of ground to make up, either Oregon or Kansas State will need to lose. Anything is possible, but the way Oregon and Kansas State have been playing I’d be surprised if those two teams didn’t meet in the BCS title game. Barring a complete collapse in the next two weeks ND will still end up in a major BCS bowl for the first time since 2007. They have yet to win a BCS bowl in their three attempts.

This Week:

The Irish take on the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest in what should be a cake walk against an anemic offense and a less than stellar defense. It will be a good tuneup before the season finale at USC. We’ll talk more about the USC match up next week though.

Prediction: Notre Dame 24 – Wake 13

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Ohio State (Bye)
Record: 10-0, 6-0 Big Ten
This Week: at Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten) | 3:30pm | ABC

Ohio State was off last week after an impressive 10-0 run to start the season. Urban Meyer is still unbeaten in Columbus and the final two weeks will be the toughest tests yet. The Bucks head to Madison on Saturday to face a Wisconsin squad that has all but wrapped up a spot in the Big Ten Championship game. However, the Badgers could still win a share of the Leaders Division title with a win and an Ohio State loss to Michigan next week. Ohio State would wrap up the title with a win on Saturday. The Buckeyes can win the division title but can’t participate in the championship game as part of the NCAA sanctions.

Ohio State is the better team and should win this one, but it is on the road and Michigan is looming, so Meyer will have to keep his crew focused and not looking ahead.

Prediction: Ohio State 37 – Wisconsin 31

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Michigan State (Bye)
Record: 5-5, 2-4 Big Ten
This Week:  Home vs Northwestern (7-3, 3-3 Big Ten) | 12pm | ESPN2

Michigan State was off last week after getting hosed against Nebraska two weeks ago. The Spartans host Northwestern, needing a win in one of the final two games to assure a non-losing season and a bowl bid. Who thought prior to the season starting that we would be saying that? Northwestern is coming off a tough overtime loss to Michigan in a game the Wildcats should have won. Bug that seems to be the theme of the season for Pat Fitzgerald’s squad.

Prediction: Northwestern 24 – Michigan State 16

Rival Rewind finally gives Notre Dame some credit

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012


Michigan has the unique position of having three big rivals. Most teams only have one rival to get up for, but year-in and year-out, Michigan has three. While we, as fans, hate each of these teams, we carry some respect for them. Michigan State and Ohio State carry conference affiliation ties while Notre Dame, well, we all just put up with them. All season long, it’s fun to keep track of how each of them is doing, but there’s only so much time on Saturday to watch games. More often than not, they play at the same time Michigan does so you don’t get a chance to do your “advanced scouting.” Well, don’t fret because we’ve got you covered. This weekly feature will give you an overview of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State’s games the previous weekend and a look ahead to the upcoming one.

#5 Notre Dame 30 – #8 Oklahoma 13
Record: 8-0
This Week: Home vs. Pittsburgh (4-4, 1-3 Big East) | 3:30pm | NBC

I did not expect Notre Dame to win Saturday night, nor did I expect it to be as wide a margin as it was. Yet, the Irish are now sitting at 8-0 with USC the only remaining opponent of note. The score might lead one to think the game wasn’t very close but up until the latter half of the fourth quarter it was anyone’s game.

Boomer Sooner was no match for the Irish (photo by Wesley Hitt, Getty Images)

The game was back and forth for the first three plus quarters before Notre Dame pulled ahead with 17 unanswered. The Irish dominated on the ground, taking advantage of Oklahoma’s weak rush defense to the tune of 215 yards. No single player went over 100 yards but Riddick, Wood and Golson all found the end zone. Landry Jones was 35-for-51 for 356 yards, exposing the Irish secondary, but he failed to put the ball in the end zone and was picked off by Manti Te’o late in the game.

Oklahoma tied the game at 13 with just over nine minutes remaining in the game on a Blake Bell run, and it looked like this one was going to go down to the wire. The Irish, however, had other ideas as Everett Golson capped off a 73-yard drive with a touchdown run. Manti Te’o sealed the Irish victory as he picked off a Landry Jones pass with 4:27 remaining. Notre Dame added a field goal and the Sooners turned the ball over on downs on their own 20, leading to another Irish touchdown.

The Irish defense stifled Oklahoma on 3rd downs (5-of-14) and have yet to allow more than 17 points in any one game. I think it’s safe to say the Irish are making their way back to national relevance, but I will hold off any praise until I see a BCS bowl appearance in back to back seasons of at least 10 wins.

This Week:

The Irish head back home to take on an average Pitt team. I expect to see more of the same solid Irish defense we have seen thus far as Notre Dame continues its quest towards the BCS title game.

Prediction: Notre Dame 27 – Pitt 12

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Michigan State 16 – Wisconsin 13 OT
Record: 5-4 (2-3 Big Ten)
This Week: Home vs. #20 Nebraska (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) | 3:30pm | ABC

Wisconsin, barring a complete collapse and some miracles, is heading to Indianapolis for the Big Ten title game. They experienced a little hiccup Saturday as Michigan State stunned them in overtime, giving the Badgers their first home loss since 2009, snapping a streak of 21 straight.

MSU celebrates the fact that it's no longer in danger of missing a bowl (photo by Andy Manis, AP)

It was a typical Big Ten battle as the Spartans bottled up Montee Ball and held the Badgers to 190 yards of total offense. Michigan State was nothing special on offense as their normally stout rushing attack was held to 61 total yards. Neither team looked good in this one but MSU managed to get the game into overtime and won on an Andrew Maxwell touchdown pass.

It was a bit surprising to see Montee Ball held to such a low total but the Spartans have proven to be solid against the run. William Gholston and Max Burrough combined for eight tackles for loss as they again led the Michigan State defense.

This Week:

Sparty heads back home to take on a Nebraska team fresh off its upset win over Michigan. I was not that impressed with Nebraska last week, despite their win, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see MSU frustrate Taylor Martinez into some bad decisions and come away with the win, which would be great for Michigan. But we shall see what happens.

Prediction: Michigan State 24 – Nebraska 21

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Ohio State 35 – Penn State 23
Record: 9-0 (5-0 Big Ten)
This Week: Home vs. Illinois (2-6, 0-4 Big Ten) | 3:30pm | ESPN

Braxton Miller exploded – surprise surprise – for three touchdowns as Ohio State ran away with the game against Penn State. His passing left something to be desired as he was only 7-for-19, but his legs got the job done again with 25 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns.

OSU won the "Probation Bowl" or the "Ineligibowl" as some were calling it (photo by Gene J. Puskar)

The outcome was never in doubt after half as OSU rattled off 21 points in the third, kicked off by a pick six from Ryan Shazier. Penn State attempted to come back but couldn’t close the gap. Once again, Ohio State gave up a ton of yards through the air as Matt McGloin went 27-for-45 for 327 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick.

The Buckeyes used their ground game to pound Penn State into submission, racking up 234 yards and three touchdowns.

This Week:

OSU looks primed to win its next two games against Illinois (on Saturday) and at Wisconsin, setting up a great game against Michigan. Michigan will be fighting for a shot at the Big Ten title game and OSU will be playing its last game of the season. Michigan’s defense has been stout against the run and pass but its offense has been incredibly one-dimensional. We’ll touch more on that as the game approaches, but needless to say it should be a great game. Illinois won’t put up much of a fight, and OSU should win easily.

Prediction: Ohio State 42 – Illinois 17