BCS Bowl Statistical Preview - Fiesta Bowl

The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

#10 THE Ohio State University
#3 University of Texas

Monday, January 5, 2009 - 8:00PM EST
The University of Phoenix Stadium
Glendale, AZ

I won't lie, I am not going to give an unbiased preview of this game. Not only do I hate tOSU, but Texas is 2nd place, albeit a distant 2nd place in my heart. Why? I had the pleasure of marrying into a very Texas family a few years ago. Couple that with the last couple Texas games against tOSU in 05 and 06, and you have a great team to enjoy cheering for.

There are two very different ways to look at Texas in this game. You could view them as a team that is upset about playing in this bowl, because they were totally screwed out of playing Florida in the National Championship game. They could be pissed off about that and wanting to seek revenge against tOSU by coming out sharp and playing with emotion.


They could just be pissed off about being in this game and not care whatsoever about the outcome because this game is essentially meaningless.

I believe the former is going to hold true. Texas is a proud program that is stacked with great players who care too much to just lay down and lose. They will come out fighting in this game. I don't think there is any doubt about that. Lest we forget, there is a chance that we could have another split national champion like we did in 2004 when LSU won the BCS title, and the AP writers ranked USC #1 in their final poll.

Unless Texas destroys tOSU and Florida knocks off Oklahoma, I don't see a split title happening.

I predict a Texas win here. Too much offense for tOSU to have to try and stop. Not that tOSU doesn't have a chance though. But I think Colt McCoy has really turned out to be every bit of a star player for Texas as Vince Young was. But the fate of the Texas passing game will rely heavily on their ability to run the ball.

Texas averages 310 yards per game through the air, but only 176 on the ground. If you don't give tOSU's linebackers more than one threat to deal with, they can hurt you. But if McCoy gets the ground support that he needs, then it's all over. The last thing tOSU wants to do is get into an offensive shootout. But given their defensive ranks, I don't see an offensive shootout here. Sure, tOSU has ranked well nationally in every defensive stat this year, but 2008 was nice to tOSU scheduling-wise. The only game they looked bad against was USC.

Season Average
USC Game
Rushing D
Passing D
Scoring D
Total D

Pryor (12 TDs, 1245 yds) and/or Boeckman (4 TDs, 510 yds) even combined still have only about half of the passing stats of McCoy (32 TDs, 3445 yds).

I expect tOSU to be very aggressive on defense initially. They know Texas will try to establish a running game, so expect to see lots of blitzes and 7-8 man fronts.

When tOSU has the ball, really their only threats are Wells on the ground, and Pryor running out of the pocket. Passing efficiency among Pryor and Boeckman ranks 105th in the nation, averaging just over 148 yards per game.
Scoring: Points/Game 28.2
Scoring: Games - Points 12 - 338
12 - 527
First Downs: Total 209 319
First Downs: Rushing - Passing - By Penalty 122 - 74 - 13
125 - 166 - 28
Rushing: Yards / Attempt 4.59 4.43
Rushing: Attempts - Yards - TD 501 - 2299 - 20
479 - 2123 - 32
Passing: Rating 140.52 180.49
Passing: Yards 1777 3594
Passing: Attempts - Completions - Interceptions - TD 242 - 150 - 6 - 16
389 - 302 - 7 - 34
Total Offense: Yards / Play 5.5
Total Offense: Plays - Yards 743 - 4076
868 - 5717
Punt Returns: Yards / Return 12.91 8.15
Punt Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 34 - 439 - 2
13 - 106 - 1
Kickoff Returns: Yards / Return 18.96 23.20
Kickoff Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 28 - 531 - 0
35 - 812 - 1
Punting: Yards / Punt 40.79 43.44
Punting: Punts - Yards 56 - 2284
36 - 1564
Interceptions: Returns - Yards - TD 14 - 105 - 0
6 - 105 - 2
Fumbles: Number - Lost 14 - 7
14 - 6
Penalties: Number - Yards 61 - 500
75 - 673
Time of Possession / Game 31:49.08 32:43.50
3rd Down Conversions: Conversion % 43.75% 57.05%
3rd Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 160 - 70
156 - 89
4th Down Conversions: Conversion % 44.44% 83.33%
4th Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 9 - 4
12 - 10
Red Zone: Success % 94.74% 90.63%
Red Zone: Attempts - Scores 38 - 36
64 - 58
Field Goals: Success % 82.6% 76.9%
Field Goals: Attempts - Made 23 - 19
13 - 10
PAT Kicking: Success % 97.5% 100%
PAT Kicking: Attempts - Made 40 - 39
69 - 69
2-Point Conversions: Success % - 50%
2-Point Conversions: Attempts - Made 0 - 0
2 - 1

Sure, there are many ways to examine and dissect this game, but we're a Michigan blog, and not only do we hate tOSU, but we're also pro-Texas. So, in a nutshell: tOSU is overmatched by a better offense. They can keep it close if they can stop the run and totally shut down McCoy, or if Texas just has one of the worst games they've had in a long time.

Merry Christmas

It's that time of year again. Time for us to slow down production here are Maize & Blue Nation and take a few days off. I'll be out of town for the next week or so. So posts will probably be non-existent in that time. If breaking news...um...breaks, I'll do my best to get at least something up on here.

One piece of news that came down the wire yesterday was that former Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English has been named the head coach at your Eastern Michigan University. He will step down as DC for Louisville after just one season. It's no mystery that we here at MBN are huge fans of English. And while it will be very interesting to see him coaching against our beloved Wolverines on September 19 when the Eagles come to visit the Big House, we wish him nothing but the best at EMU.

AND...the Michigan men's basketball squad landed themselves in the AP top 25 this week! Coming in at #24. We also came in at #28 in the ESPN/USA Today poll. Plus, Michigan topped Florida Gulf Coast last night a Crisler, 76-59. Head on over to UM Hoops for the full recap.

Merry Christmas everyone and Go Blue!

Outgoing: Shavodrick Beaver

We're about 3 days late to the party on this news...so we'll just leave the details up to others who stomped all over this as it came out on Friday.

mgoblog breaks news that Beaver is not coming, and going to Conference USA. MLive follows up with the "official" story via MVictors. Michigan Sports Center offers up their variation of the news. Bo Schemblogger says that Beaver was "affraid". WLA says "this hurts". And finally, Spawn of MZone is, like, WTF?

I, however was away from this site long enough on Friday/Saturday/Sunday to 1) Unearth my house and driveway from the 12 inches of snow piled ontop of it. 2) Not care enough to crack out the notebook to author a post of my reaction.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a little taken back by this news. Although I am not totally upset by it. Why? Maybe because I saw the writing on the wall a week or so ago. Word was he was wavering. No question there is a serious issue at hand here when a 4-star prospect chooses Tulsa over Michigan. Maybe Tulsa is "taking care of him" with a little under the table deal. Hey, I'm not naive enough to think that stuff doesn't go on. Sure, Tulsa is closer to home...but so it EVERY SCHOOL IN THE BIG 12!!!!

So yeah, somethings really up here.

Maybe he doesn't want to compete for the job? Maybe he knows he'd play backup to Tate Forcier. Both would have enrolled early. The playing field would've been even, so maybe he was scared. Who's to say? All I know is, we need another QB in the class. Because I really don't want to see Steven Threet's name in the two-deep next season.

BCS Bowl Statistical Preview - Sugar Bowl

The Allstate Sugar Bowl

#6 University of Utah
#4 University of Alabama

Friday, January 2, 2009 - 8:00PM EST
The Super Dome - New Orleans, LA

Depending how you look at this game, you either see a over matched Mountain West Conference team against the runner-up to the SEC crown. Or, you see a hot mid-major conference team poised for a nice upset of a suddenly more vulnerable major conference team.

I see it as a potentially great game to watch. If...and only if, Utah plays to their potential. Alabama is a very good team. One that can score quickly and play very tough defense. How tough? 

National Rankings: Defense
Rushing D
Passing D
Total D
Scoring D

They're not USC, but they can pretty much play with anyone. And until a 9 point loss to Florida, they cruised through a touch SEC schedule. They run the ball much better then they pass it. Their offense ranks 56th overall in the country averaging 196 yards on the ground and 170 through the air per game.

National Rankings: Offense

Rushing Off.
Passing Off.
Total Off.
Scoring Off.

Speaking of cruising through a schedule, albeit not quite as tough, Utah had no problem disposing of all 12 teams they played this year, including Michigan.

I think Utah came into this year with a hope to be able to challenge BYU for the title. Well, the last game of the year, they had no problem with that, winning 48-24.

Utah comes into this game with both a very talented offense led by Brian Johnson at QB who sits at 18th in the nation in passing efficiency. They run and throw the ball well. And they also score a lot of points.

National Rankings: Offense

Rushing Off.
Passing Off.
Total Off.
Scoring Off.

Those numbers stack up very well against what Alabama can do on offense. Of course, they'll need to play their best game of the year to be able to put anywhere close to their average points against Alabama's defense...especially on the ground.

But Utah is not just a one-trick-pony. They can play defense too.

National Rankings: Defense

Rushing D
Passing D
Total D
Scoring D

I really like the way this game is shaping up, statistically. Odds are neither squad is going to get to their average scoring numbers. Each defense's strength is what the other team does well on offense.

There is no common opponent to judge this game by, so season averages and stats are all we have. And here they are.
Scoring: Points/Game 31.2
Scoring: Games - Points 13 - 405
12 - 449
First Downs: Total 248 259
First Downs: Rushing - Passing - By Penalty 128 - 104 - 16
108 - 137 - 14
Rushing: Yards / Attempt 4.77 4.23
Rushing: Attempts - Yards - TD 535 - 2554 - 32
473 - 2001 - 23
Passing: Rating 125.77 149.73
Passing: Yards 2219 2842
Passing: Attempts - Completions - Interceptions - TD 304 - 177 - 7 - 10
373 - 252 - 9 - 26
Total Offense: Yards / Play 5.7 5.7
Total Offense: Plays - Yards 839 - 4773
846 - 4843
Punt Returns: Yards / Return 13.08 6.53
Punt Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 48 - 628 - 3
32 - 209 - 1
Kickoff Returns: Yards / Return 19.62 22.97
Kickoff Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 34 - 667 - 0
33 - 758 - 0
Punting: Yards / Punt 40.25 41
Punting: Punts - Yards 57 - 2294
51 - 2091
Interceptions: Returns - Yards - TD 15 - 305 - 4
17 - 328 - 3
Fumbles: Number - Lost 18 - 9
20 - 8
Penalties: Number - Yards 50 - 453
80 - 726
Time of Possession / Game 32:06.69 32:39.33
3rd Down Conversions: Conversion % 42.35% 46.11%
3rd Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 170 - 72
167 - 77
4th Down Conversions: Conversion % 80% 64.29%
4th Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 10 - 8
14 - 9
Red Zone: Success % 84.91% 90.38%
Red Zone: Attempts - Scores 53 - 45
52 - 47
Field Goals: Success % 70.4% 91.3%
Field Goals: Attempts - Made 27 - 19
23 - 21
PAT Kicking: Success % 95.7% 98.1%
PAT Kicking: Attempts - Made 46 - 44
53 - 52
2-Point Conversions: Success % 33.33% 50%
2-Point Conversions: Attempts - Made 3 - 1
2 - 1

Bonified Defensive Coordinators

It's just like sitting on Santa's lap in a crowded mall on Christmas Eve.

Hopefully, we're not the screaming toddler driving everyone crazy. TAKE THE !@#$% PICTURE ALREADY!

Yet again, Michigan has the almost ritualistic opportunity of finding a new defensive coordinator. Say what you will about Scott Shafer, he is a good coach and I'm sure will have success elsewhere. But Michigan was not a fit for him. After the worse season in school history, someone had to be the scapegoat...and blame landed on Shafer. So who gets to fill his spot on Rodriguez's staff? Funny you should ask. We have a wishlist of sorts, of potential suitors. Who, we believe, would fit the role of Michigan DC very nicely.

Jay Hopson
Michigan Linebackers Coach

No doubt, easily one of the more no-brainer calls, at least this early in the search. Unlike most other assistants, he is not a Rodriguez disciple from WVU. He came on board this year from Southern Miss, where he served as defensive coordinator, defensive backs and middle linebackers coach for the Golden Eagles from 2005-2007.

In 2007, he was named the All-American Football Foundation Top Assistant Coach.

From 2001 to 2003, he coached defensive backs exclusively at Southern Miss. In 2004, he returned to his alma matter, the University of Mississippi, where the secondary improved from 109th overall nationally to 49th in one season with Hopson.

He also held staff positions at Marshall (1996-2000) and Delta State (1993). While at Marshall, as DBs coach, they won the DIV 1-AA National Championship and also won 4 straight MAC titles.

I can see this happening because it really just seems to be the easiest and most obvious move. I mean the guy could probably keep his same office in Schembechler Hall. He's more of a up-and-comer than a proven coordinator. But he does have DC experience, which no doubt landed him the LB coach gig at Michigan this year.

Ron English
Louisville Defensive Coordinator

YES! Easily my favorite pick for the job. Not only was I bummed when he was not strongly considered for the head coaching job when Lloyd left last year, but I was even more bummed when I found out he would not be asked to stay on as DC.

Ron English embodies pretty much everything that is good about a talented, young and driven assistant coach. The players love him, but respect him. He has obvious Michigan ties, and could easily slip right back into his role here with very little effort.

English spent 3 seasons as DC for Michigan, 2005-2007. He also coached the secondary from 2003-2005.

05 MICH36414245
06 MICH1018915
07 MICH2458863
08 LV694010088

The Louisville numbers only illustrate how much he was needed. They had a pretty bad defense on 07...English took them from 84th overall defense in 07 to 69th in 08. Not bad for a guy who felt pretty comfortable in Ann Arbor just one season ago. Realistically, he's a very outside shot at best. But this blog is throwing it's full weight and influence squarely in the corner of Ron English.

Jeff Casteel
West Virginia Defensive Coordinator

It would seem that now that there's a open spot with Rodriguez, again, that Casteel would be a good fit. He was all set to come here last year, but once Stewart was hired at WVU, Casteel decided to stay. Maybe he had serious ties to West Virginia and feels comfortable there. And there's no problem with that. Loyalty should be admired these days. He's been the DC there since 2003. If he took the Michigan job now, there would be a backlash from the slack-jawed locals who put bullets in Rodriguez's mailbox when he decided to leave and made other death threats on him and his family. Nice work Mountaineer fans!

So, odds are if he didn't make the trip up here last year, it's likely he's happy where he is. Or, maybe a year departed from Rodriguez and his fellow staff mas made him want a chnage? Who knows. But if Michigan were to land him, they'd be getting one of the most proven and talented DCs in the country. He's been consistantly good at WVU. Sure, they're Rodriguez's (and Barwis's) players, but they're his schemes. He runs the 3-3-5 that Rodriguez is so used to, and wants to ultimately install at Michigan.

03 WVU74344540
04 WVU37502029
05 WVU15193013
06 WVU62136362
07 WVU718288
08 WVU3547149

Not a bad curve in terms of overall improvement, especially from 06 to 07. He's a contender for sure. And I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the mix as this search draws out.

Those are my top 3. Which also means that none of them will get the gig. I like English the best, though. I really think he has the most potential to succeed. We'll keep a close watch on this as news develops.

Mr. Shafer...The Door

It seems that once you rip the nice outer layer of this Michigan season, you expose everything you really hated about it, but were never really cognoscente enough to notice while it was happening.

I just assumed that the lack of production on offense was what led to Michigan's struggles on defense. And while that may still hold true, to at least some extent, now seems so much farther from the truth.

I remember Scott Shafer being so upset after one of the early season losses, maybe Notre Dame or Illinois...but either way, Shafer was so adamant in his disdain for about being out coached in pretty much every aspect of the game. Yes, it was Illinois. Now I remember. It was the 2nd half defensive meltdown that pretty much killed any kind of comeback effort. He vowed to not be out coached like that again.

Then we lost to Toledo 13-10.

Maybe the writing was on the wall after the tOSU game...I really don't know. If things were so bad, why did it take almost a month for him to resign (officially)? He was quoted yesterday that he had some "feelers" out there for a new gig...so maybe he saw this one coming. Shafer was absent from the recruiting process the past couple weeks.
"Bottom line is, I take full responsibility for the demise of the Michigan program,” Shafer, 41, said by phone Tuesday afternoon. “I accept all the responsibility."
I have no idea how things went down...but it seems as if Rodriguez gave Shafer the option to bow out gracefully and save some face while he looks for a new coaching staff to join.

It has been noted that from 1969 until 2007, Michigan only gave up 40+ points in a game a total of 4 times. And, in 2008, gave up 40+ points exactly 4 times.
Year Opponent Score
1991 Florida State 31-51
2000 Northwestern 51-54
2002 Tennessee 17-45
2006 tOSU 39-42
2008 Illinois 20-45
2008 Penn State 17-46
2008 Purdue 42-48
2008 tOSU 7-42

For what it's worth, Bo team's never gave up 40 or more points in a game. Prior to 1991, the last Michigan team to do so was in 1968, in a loss to tOSU, 14-50.

So, who's the next DC for Michigan?

mgoblog has a list of potential candidates. We're in the process of making a list and checking it twice. More to come soon.

Breaking: UM Defensive Coordinator Scott Shafer Resigns

Just as the headline reads.

First year defensive coordinator Scott Shafer has resigned (forced?) from Rodriguez's staff. According to Chris Balas, senior editor at The Wolverine, rumors have been circulating. Although, this is news to this blogger. This quote from Rich Rodriguez:
"Scott and I agreed that moving in a different direction was in the best interest of the program. I appreciate Scott's hard work on behalf of Michigan football the past year. He is a good football coach, a good person and a true professional. We wish him well in the future."
So, just as fast as he got here, he's gone. No word on who his potential replacement may be or when that news might be forthcoming. No doubt, this news will have some impact on recruiting. I have a feeling this story may be the focus of this blog, and many others like this, for days/weeks to come.

Stay tuned.

What We Know: Not Much

Well, unless there is a crystal ball out there that I'm not aware of, there is no way to tell how this recruiting season is going to end up. Things have been up and down for Michigan since the end of the season.

First was all of the attrition from the current squad. Sam McGuffie, Zion Babb, Avery Horn and Carson Butler highlight the list of players who will seek greener pastures next season. And now it's the prospect of having a few key recruits pass on their verbals to Michigan.

The latest was 3-star LB prospect Jordan Barnes. But a disturbing rumor is that Michigan verbals QB Shavodrick Beaver and DT Pearlie Graves are now on the fence. Add in the de-commits the likes of QB Kevin Newsome and DT William Campbell, both 5-star studs from earlier in the season...and it really makes you stop to wonder.

Now, aside from all of the shake up lately, Michigan has been able to put together a 21 member class that ranks #7 overall on the Rivals team rankings. No doubt that is a huge step in the right direction for this young coaching staff/program.

I fully expect (hope) that William Campbell will re-commit to the Wolverines by signing day. AND...there is still an outside (none) shot that Michigan could re-land Kevin Newsome when he makes his decision public tomorrow at a press conference. Word is (according to pops Newsome), he has widdled his selection down to three schools. According to Rivals, Penn State and Virginia Tech are the only schools worth mentioning. Boston College has a remote shot...but Penn State is likely where he'll end up.

Campbell visited Florida late last week. Odds are it was much warmer than his visit to Ann Arbor on the 5th. But it sounds as if his parents are much higher on Rodriguez and Michigan than any other school on his list. Add him to the commitment list and suddenly Michigan has a top 5 class.

A bit of really great news was today's commitment of Arizona OL Taylor Lewan. Not only does Michigan land a great offensive tackle, but they did so among a very long list of potential schools, including many from the west.

And finally, RB Vincent Smith and LB Brandin Hawthorne, both solid Michigan verbals and teammates from Pahokee, FL led their high school to the state championship this past weekend. They will hopefully bring much of that winning attitude to next year's squad.

BCS Bowl Statistical Preview - Orange Bowl

The FedEx Orange Bowl

#12 University of Cincinnati
#19 Virginia Tech University

Thursday, January 1, 2009 - 8:30PM EST
The Orange Bowl - Miami, FL

Probably the most boring BCS bowl matchup of the year. Really not a big draw for the Orange Bowl. I have to think that even from a ticket sales perspective...no one is really satisfied with this game. Although, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati are both schools that have to be totally stoked to have made it to a BCS bowl. I feel though that this game could end up being a really good one.

Cincinnati has had one helluva season. They play in the less than great Big East. But that aside, they had three wins over ranked teams, #23 S. Florida, #25 W. Virginia and #20 Pitt. They also were trounced by a very good Oklahoma team on Sept. 6. But 11-2 is good for any BCS conference team.

VT had a slightly worse season at 9-4. They did win the ACC title against BC...but that aside, they really don't deserve to be here. BC, Georgia Tech, Florida State and even North Carolina are all superior ACC teams...at least in my opinion. But they won the ACC Coastal division fair and square with a win head-to-head against Georgia Tech on Sept. 13 for the tie-breaker to get into the conf. title game.

There are no common opponents to help us judge these two schools by, unfortunately. So we'll have to simply go by season averages/totals. And of course, numbers courtesy of cfbstats.com.

Scoring: Points/Game 27.3
Scoring: Games - Points 13 - 355
13 - 289
First Downs: Total 258 220
First Downs: Rushing - Passing - By Penalty 96-144-18 121 - 77 - 22
Rushing: Yards / Attempt 3.63 3.70
Rushing: Attempts - Yards - TD 434 - 1576 - 15
590 - 2183 - 21
Passing: Rating 139.40 108.89
Passing: Yards 3303 1667
Passing: Attempts - Completions - Interceptions - TD 439 - 274 - 11 - 25
268 - 154 - 11 - 6
Total Offense: Yards / Play 5.6 4.5
Total Offense: Plays - Yards 873 - 4879
858 - 3850
Punt Returns: Yards / Return 9.44 9.35
Punt Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 34 - 321 - 0
26 - 243 - 0
Kickoff Returns: Yards / Return 24.18 20.86
Kickoff Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 50 - 1209 - 2
44 - 918 - 0
Punting: Yards / Punt 44.46 39.07
Punting: Punts - Yards 57 - 2534
67 - 2618
Interceptions: Returns - Yards - TD 16 - 333 - 2
16 - 325 - 3
Fumbles: Number - Lost 28 - 15
15 - 8
Penalties: Number - Yards 96 - 873
67 - 468
Time of Possession / Game 30:39.31 32:29.54
3rd Down Conversions: Conversion % 33.94% 37.31%
3rd Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 165 - 56
193 - 72
4th Down Conversions: Conversion % 42.11% 35.71%
4th Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 19 - 8
14 - 5
Red Zone: Success % 85.11% 74.07%
Red Zone: Attempts - Scores 47 - 40
54 - 40
Field Goals: Success % 72.7% 80.8%
Field Goals: Attempts - Made 22 - 16
26 - 21
PAT Kicking: Success % 92.9% 93.8%
PAT Kicking: Attempts - Made 42 - 39
32 - 30
2-Point Conversions: Success % 0% -
2-Point Conversions: Attempts - Made 1 - 0
0 - 0

I cannot say that I am totally swayed by the stats. I still think the Bearcats are going to win. It is clear they have much more offense than VT does. But it is also clear that they turn the ball over much more often that VT does too.

Virginia Tech has a better rushing attack, but the passing game could be where UC really comes out ahead. Not only do they have almost twice as many yards passing, but a 25 to 6 TD advantage is HUGE!

I will certainly be watching this game. If for no other reason that it is on New Years Day and there are no other bowls to watch that night. Odds makers are calling this one pretty much even. Maybe a point or so either way depending on who you read. The over/under is set at 40...which seems about right. I'd probably take the over, and I see UC winning by 10 points.

Incoming: Taylor Lewan, Outgoing: Jordan Barnes

As has been reported by a number of blogs, Arizona OL Taylor Lewan (6-7, 272) is the latest verbal commitment for the 2009 class. He's a 4-star recruit from Scottsdale. He is the 2nd OL for the 09 class, and a good one at that.

Rivals has him ranked at 192 overall player in the country, and the #17 offensive tackle.

The decision came just after he returned home after his second official visit to Ann Arbor just this past weekend. His top two schools were Michigan and Minnesota. Obviously, he's just too damn tired of all of that wonderful weather in the southwest. Hey, if a guy likes Ann Arbor in the depths of December...you know he's committed!

The 09 board stands at 21 members, and can be seen in the center column of this page. -->

In other recruiting news, 2009 recruit and former verbal commit LB Jordan Barnes has decommitted from the team. He is a 3-star recruit from Ft. Wayne, IN.

And in much more scary news, 09 verbals Pearlie Graves and Shavodrick Beaver could be on the outs. According to mgoblog, Graves has reopened his recruitment, and will make his decision on signing day. And, Beaver posted something to his myspace page to the effect of "feeling bad about Michigan". Take from that what you will. His myspace page also reads: Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.

More to come on this soon.

Sam McGuffie is Gone. Again.

As of this morning, RB Sam McGuffie is no longer a Wolverine. Rivals.

After about a month of speculation and rumors...some of which went both ways, it is final. McGuffie picked up his release papers this morning from the University.
"I just got out of the compliance office and picked up my release," said McGuffie. "They gave me a full release – no restrictions. I will be somewhere else in January."

"It's just been weighing on me for a while," he said. "There are a number of factors that went into [the decision]. It's nothing against the Michigan football team or the university. I felt that I had to what is best for myself and my family."

"I'm looking to stay in or around Texas," he said. "There are a couple of schools that I'm interested in such as Texas A&M, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma State and a couple of others."

"They were one of my top teams last year," McGuffie said of the Aggies. "I have a former teammate, Chris Lathrop, that signed with them last year and he loves it. I've talked to him a bunch about it. I know a lot of guys on the team there and I have a bunch of friends from home that go there, too."
Well, seeing as how we saw this coming since before the tOSU game, and saw it in action during a punt return where he was blasted by an tOSU player, receiving his 3rd (or 4th) concussion of the year...not a huge surprise.

Of course this sucks if you look at it from a pure speed perspective. But if you look at it realistically, McGuffie was just not ready for this league. He got hit way too hard way too many times. Maybe he could've put on about 20 pounds of pure muscle during the off-season to make him compete a little better next year. But with guys like Brandon Minor, Carlos Brown, Kevin Grady and Michael Shaw returning, frankly...RB is a very competitive position on this team right now. Not to mention a couple really good 2009 recruits on the way as well.

We wish Sam the best of luck wherever he ends up. It'll probably end up like a situation like Justin Fargas. He'll transfer away to a speedier (perceived) conference...do insanely well, and end up in the NFL one day. Either way, it will be interesting to watch.

Incoming: Cameron Gordon

Michigan received it's 21st verbal commitment for 2009 today. Cameron Gordon (6-2, 210), 4-star WR from Inkster, MI. He was a 2-way standout playing WR on offense, and DE/S on defense. Odds are he'll be just a WR at Michigan though.

If you follow local high school football, Gordon led his team to the Div. III state finals where they lost 43-24 to East Grand Rapids.

Great addition to the 09 class, more details to come soon.

You can see the full board here.

BCS Bowl Statistical Preview - Rose Bowl

We make our living on this blog discussing, sometimes down to the most mundane detail, everything about Michigan football. And while we love doing what we do, there is very little to discuss right now...at least anything worth delving into details about.

So in the spirit of good sportsmanship, or maybe just simple boredom, we're going to offer up our statistical analysis of this season's upcoming BCS bowl games.

We'll go into statistical detail about who has the edge, and in what ways, and how we feel each game is going to turn out. Our data will come from the most reputable sources...as far as I know. Our data screeners are usually pretty consistent.

So we'll go in chronological order. Starting with the Rose Bowl. Enjoy!

The Rose Bowl Game Presented by Citi

#8 Penn State University
#5 University of Southern California

Thursday, January 1, 2009 - 4:30PM EST
The Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA

For all of the hype surrounding USC's consistency about getting to the Rose Bowl each year, this might be the best chance the Big Ten has had at knocking them off. Michigan struggled big time in 2004, did slightly better in 2007. And of course Illinois looked downright pitiful against the Trojans earlier this year.

I have been pretty much high on Penn State all year long. I predicted them to win the Big Ten. But I also predicted a potential stumbling against Iowa. I don't make it a habit of cheering for other Big Ten teams based purely on the fact that they're in the Big Ten. I either like a team, or I don't. Regardless of conference affiliation. But seeing PSU get knocked off in Iowa City that night was kind of a bummer. I think the Big Ten needs to have Penn State do well. The best thing that can happen to this conference is to have a team other than Michigan or especially tOSU do well. It's clear now that the general college football fan is tired of tOSU being a push-over against top-caliber teams. Frankly, networks must be tired of it, too.

For the first time all year, Penn State is the underdog. While I'll certainly not argue that, I think 10 points is a bit steep. Penn State has shown this year that they can win against good teams, even on the road.

The best way we can judge the outcome of this game is by mutual opponents. And luckily, we have one. Enter: Oregon State.

On September 6, PSU hosted the #24 ranked Beavers. It was a blowout. Penn State walked all over them for a 45-14 victory.

1st Downs1923
Total Yards342454
3rd Down Conversions5-168-13
4th Down Conversions1-40-1

Clearly, a good non-conference win for PSU. Their 7th straight at home versus a PAC-10 team.

Two weeks later in September 25, Oregon State hosted USC on their field for a Thursday night game on ESPN. Not very often do we get to see USC in prime time here in the midwest. So lots of folks were watching. USC was ranked #1 and Oregon State was ripe for an upset. They knocked off the Trojans 27-21.

1st Downs1622
Total Yards313343
3rd Down Conversions2-107-16
4th Down Conversions1-10-0

Having a mutual opponent is a great tool to judge the match up in a bowl game. But I think it is pretty clear that Oregon State played way above their pay-grade against USC, at least as compared to how bad they looked against PSU. Without a loss in week 1 to Stanford and a close loss a week after the USC game to Utah, and this Oregon State team is preparing for a Rose Bowl game against Penn State.

But this game is a match up of Penn State and USC. So who has the best advantage?

Stats are season stats/averages and obtained from cfbstats.com.

Scoring: Points/Game 40.2 37.5
Scoring: Games - Points 12 - 482 12 - 450
First Downs: Total 281 278
First Downs: Rushing - Passing - By Penalty 130 - 132 - 19 123 - 137 - 18
Rushing: Yards / Attempt 5.26 5.29
Rushing: Attempts - Yards - TD 482 - 2534 - 35 469 - 2482 - 27
Passing: Rating 147.55 156.68
Passing: Yards 2892 2955
Passing: Attempts - Completions - Interceptions - TD 346 - 203 - 4 - 22 352 - 225 - 12 - 31
Total Offense: Yards / Play 6.6 6.6
Total Offense: Plays - Yards 828 - 5426 821 - 5437
Punt Returns: Yards / Return 10.36 8.13
Punt Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 25 - 259 - 1 48 - 390 - 0
Kickoff Returns: Yards / Return 25.66 27.57
Kickoff Returns: Returns - Yards - TD 32 - 821 - 2 21 - 579 - 1
Punting: Yards / Punt 41.66 36.58
Punting: Punts - Yards 38 - 1583 43 - 1573
Interceptions: Returns - Yards - TD 16 - 199 - 0 17 - 276 - 2
Fumbles: Number - Lost 23 - 9 21 - 9
Penalties: Number - Yards 40 - 336 97 - 888
Time of Possession / Game 32:02.17 31:10.75
3rd Down Conversions: Conversion % 52.8% 45.45%
3rd Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 161 - 85 154 - 70
4th Down Conversions: Conversion % 45.45% 61.11%
4th Down Conversions: Attempts - Conversions 11 - 5 18 - 11
Red Zone: Success % 93.44% 83.05%
Red Zone: Attempts - Scores 61 - 57 59 - 49
Field Goals: Success % 83.3% 66.7%
Field Goals: Attempts - Made 24 - 20 12 - 8
PAT Kicking: Success % 100% 98.4%
PAT Kicking: Attempts - Made 60 - 60 61 - 60
2-Point Conversions: Success % - -
2-Point Conversions: Attempts - Made 0 - 0 0 - 0

I'm not a Vegas odds-maker, but I simply don't see a 10 point advantage in there. Sure, give USC maybe 3 points for home-field, but that's about it. I think this game, statistically is pretty darn close.

But there is an advantage that USC has simply because they are USC. The media loves them, they always play well in marquee games, and they have a home-crowd. Those three things do account for something. AND...how well have Big Ten teams fared lately when travelling out west, bowl or not? Exactly.

This might be one of the best bowl games of the year. And it will be because it should be low-scoring. If you enjoyed the PSU-tOSU game this year, you'll probably enjoy this game as well.

My prediction is USC wins, but it will be close. 17-14.

Big Ten Bowl Preview

Well, no bowl for the Maize & Blue this year, but that should have zero effect on how bad this bowl season will be for the conference as a whole. It's not that I don't think teams like Penn State, tOSU and Michigan State can win...

...okay, actually it is that I think they can't win. But I'll give my fellow Big Ten schools some credit. They made it to their bowl games fair and square (aside from tOSU. See: Below)). It's not their fault they have to play against far superior opponents. That's right folks, every Big Ten team is an underdog in each of their bowl games. ALL of them!

Starting us off...

Champs Sports Bowl - Wisconsin vs. Florida State
Saturday, December 27, 2008 - 4:30PM - ESPN
Line: FSU by 3

I'll say that not only did Wisconsin suck for most of this season, but they lost in absolutely horrible fashion versus maybe the worst Michigan team of all-time. Any team they played this year that was decent at all, they lost to. And some of their wins (see: Minnesota, Cal Poly) were way too close for comfort. But the Big Ten/ACC has a tie-in with the Champs Sports Bowl, thus, they get what we give them.

I can see this game getting ugly. Florida State is basically playing a home game against a mid-level Big Ten team that doesn't necessarily travel that well. So FSU will have the instant home field advantage. I like FSU by at least 14.

Valero Alamo Bowl - #21 Missouri vs. #23 Northwestern
Monday, December 29, 2008 - 8:00PM - ESPN
Line: Missouri by 10.5

Again, apologies to the good people at Valero and also the Alamo Bowl. Northwestern will not only not be able to hang with Missouri, but they'll probably only bring about 2,000 fans to the game. Maybe.

I do have high hopes for the nerds from NW though. Missouri is a tough opponent. And especially tough considering they have a very good passing game. Mizzou got lit up by Oklahoma last week, so they may have a slight chip on their shoulder. NW is playing for perpetual respect...respect that they will never get because they're Northwestern. But it will be fun to see two schools playing for something. I like Missouri in this one. They just have too much speed and firepower. The Big 12 is a superior conference, and it should show in this game.

Insight Bowl - Minnesota vs. Kansas
Wednesday, December 31, 2008 - 5:30PM - NFL Network
Line: Kansas by 10

This game will be watched by only Minnesota and Kansas fans. There is no way anyone with a pulse will tune in unless it's a one-score game in the 4th quarter. Plus it's on the NFL Network. Plus it's Minnesota and Kansas.

How in the hell did Minnesota make it to a bowl game in the first place? They lost their last 4 games of the year, including one to a really bad Michigan team. And they polished it all off with a 55-0 pounding by Iowa. All told, they're 7-5 with a 3-5 conference record.

Apparently, this is what qualifies for a bowl game in the Big Ten now. You can argue about how bad our top tier teams have fared against good non-conf. teams, but the mere fact that we're sending a bad Minnesota team to a bowl game at all is proof that the Big Ten sucks.

Outback Bowl - South Carolina vs. Iowa
Thursday, January 1, 2009 - 11:00AM - ESPN
Line: South Carolina by 2.5

Iowa was a strange team this year. They were very inconsistent. Losses to Pitt, NW, MSU and Illinois did nothing to help them out. But the win against Penn State threw everyone. I thought that game would be a trap for PSU. Iowa City in the afternoon, in November, on ESPN. They stepped up when it counted. And I think that win alone was enough to make the Outback Bowl people take notice.

They should be happy with this game. I think it will be very close. And I predict, against my better judgement, that Iowa will win. And I'm only saying that because they looked pretty good late in the year. And they typically play pretty well in bowl games.

Capital One Bowl - #15 Georgia vs. #18 Michigan State
Thursday, January 1, 2009 - 1:00PM - ABC
Line: Georgia by 8.5

Ouch. Tough draw for Sparty. They had a good year. 9-3 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten...including a win over Big Brother. Not bad. But unfortunately, Georgia is probably about on par, skill-wise with tOSU. But faster.

Sparty is juiced to be in a new years day bowl. So I won't discount that. They should be able to hang with Georgia early, but it might get out of hand by the 3rd quarter. Georgia is just too fast. They played a tough SEC schedule to get to this game. MSU played a pretty light Big Ten schedule. That will be obvious when the scoreboard reads 0:00.

Rose Bowl Presented by Citi - #8 Penn State vs. #5 USC
Thursday, January 1, 2009 - 4:30PM - ABC
Line: USC by 10

Ugh. I'm so tired of Big Ten teams going out to the Rose Bowl only to get demolished by USC. And I'm really sick of Michigan doing it. I got to say though, that if any Big Ten team is going to hang with the Trojans, it could be Penn State. At least in theory.

But games aren't played in theory, they're played on the field. And this field is about 15 or so miles from USC's campus. And everyone is SoCal is a USC fan. But it should be entertaining. This is the marquee Big Ten bowl game this year, and Penn State has played well in tough environments. I fully expect this game to be closer than most think. I just really hope Penn State pulls it out. I hate Pete Carroll.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl - #10 tOSU vs. #3 Texas
Monday, January 5, 2009 - 8:00PM - FOX
Line: Texas by 8

Two teams that simply should not be in this game. And two very different reasons.

For Texas, they were totally screwed out of the Big 12 Championship game, and thus screwed out of the BCS National Championship game...so they had to settle for this meaningless contest.

For tOSU, they were granted a gift from the heavens for a shot at a BCS bowl. Does tOSU deserve to be here? Who's to say? But one thing is for sure, tOSU and Texas are both marquee names, with fan-bases that love to travel. Hell, tOSU fans probably own timeshares in Arizona.

This game was purely a product of potential revenue. I mean, ALL bowl games are a product of potential revenue, but none more so than this one. It's obvious that the BCS and FOX are much more interested in tOSU than they would be in, say, Texas Tech or Boise State. So, money talks.

But, enough about politics. This is the matchup we have. And a good game it should be. On one hand, Texas is royally pissed off they're not playing Florida. So they will take out their frustration on tOSU. On the other hand, tOSU will be totally psyched to be in a BCS bowl when they know damn well that they don't really deserve to be there...or that no one really wants them there.

I could try and be impartial and give a good reason why tOSU could win. But I can't stand them. I have way too many relatives who have lived or still live in Texas to go any other way. I like Texas in this one. I hope Bevo gives all of those over-paid tOSU seniors a nice, big, brown going away present. Hook'em horns!