Obligatory Coaching Post

So the forces of the internets have persuaded me into posting my thoughts on the coaching situation/non-situation. You'd think that being a Michigan blogger, this is my time to shine. A coaching controversy is a chance to make hay...such good hay. It's like a QB controversy on steroids. But frankly, there is so much conjecture out there that it's becoming difficult to make the distinction between people's hopes and dreams, and what the laws of nature will allow.

Soooo, how's things?
The only man people should be interested in hearing from, Michigan AD Dave Brandon [DetNews Article]:
"Had we performed better during the season, it wouldn't be an issue," Brandon told The Detroit News on Monday, referring to Rodriguez's job security. "People are concerned and they're unhappy with the way the season unfolded and particularly the way the season closed, and I understand that.

"No true Michigan fan is happy with where we ended up in the Big Ten and how the season unfolded, particularly the end."

"I said when I got this job our expectations are very high," Brandon said. "We want to compete for championships, we want to be among the best, and we clearly did not do that this year. I'm not happy about that, the coaches aren't happy about that, the players aren't happy, the fans aren't happy — nobody is happy with where we ended up this year."

"The team has the opportunity to practice 15 days and prepare for a bowl game, which they've earned the right to," Brandon said. "I have so consistently stated what my process is, how I do this, and what is in the best interest of the program. That's what I do, and that's what I'm going to do. All of this desire for information sooner, all this speculation is fueling curiosity — it doesn't change how I'm doing my job.

"Back when we were 5-0, I said (this would be the evaluation process), along the way, I've said it, after exciting wins I've said it. This is how I'm going to do my job. I have not equivocated on that at all. Just because people out there are stirring the pot, that's not going to deter what I'm going to do."
Not that anyone should be surprised by any of this, but the methodical way in which Brandon conducts the business of making decisions, he's definitely saying much less than what he's actually doing. Read between the lines and you'll see he's not saying anything like "I stand behind my coach" anymore. Now the tone has shifted to "I understand your concerns, and I agree with you".

I can only imagine how many phone calls Brandon must be getting about this. But I do have to add myself to the list of folks out there who wonder why he's waiting for after the bowl game to make a decision, or at least saying that anyway. And I think the simple answer to that is, he's using this time to arrange the pieces of the puzzle that fit the way he wants them to. A decision should be announced well ahead of the bowl game.

All of this talk about waiting until the Rodriguez buyout becomes cheaper on Jan 1 is nonsense to me. It does no one any good to delay a move until then. The sooner something happens, the easier a transition will be.

Personally, I think he wants someone in-place ready to go the day Rodriguez leaves. No coaching search needed.

I think Harbaugh is not just the leading candidate...as he should be, but maybe the only candidate. He's done a marvelous job at Stanford. But clearly, he's ready for the next step. Any NFL owner would be happy to have him. But there's really only one college that Harbaugh would consider...and that's Michigan. Some damage control will be needed because of Harbaugh's recent comments about his alma mater, and Mary Sue Coleman might need to be persuaded...but I think some of that might already be going on.

The biggest question to me now isn't whether Rodriguez stays or is fired, but rather if Harbaugh coaches the Stanford bowl game or not. If Rodriguez goes, offensive coordinator and assistant head-coach Calvin Magee likely coaches the bowl for Michigan before heading out to parts unknown. That leaves the door open for Harbaugh to do as he pleases before parting ways with the Cardinals.

Again, let me reiterate that I have no idea what's really going on. Part of this is just me thinking out loud with a keyboard. All we know is what Dave Brandon tells us. He's saying all the right things, and I still think the Michigan program is in good hands no matter which decision Brandon makes. I fully support him and hope that it's sooner rather than later before more definitive news is broken. I think its in everyone's interest that a decision gets made, and we can all move on.

Denard Robinson Named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year

Forget all this coaching hoopla...for this post anyway. Until there's real actual news to report about a coaching change or no change...we're going to try and focus as much on football as we can. And it starts with some of our Wolverines bringing home some all-Big Ten hardware at tonight's Big Ten Award Selection Show.

Most notably, Denard Robinson has been named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year by both the media and the coaches.

Via UM press release:

Robinson Named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year
PARK RIDGE, Ill. – The 2010 Big Ten Football Awards were announced Monday evening (Nov. 29) during a live show on the Big Ten Network, with University of Michigan sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach HS) winning the conference’s offensive player of the year award from both the coaches and media. Robinson was also named to the All-Big Ten first team by the media and earned honorable mention recognition from the coaches.

Robinson directed the league’s top-rated offense that racked up 500.9 yards per contest. The Wolverines led the Big Ten in rushing (251.1 avg.) and were second in passing (249.8 avg.). Robinson set the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 1,643 yards on 245 carries this season. He led the Wolverines with 14 rushing touchdowns. He completed 155-of-250 passes for 2,316 yards and 16 touchdowns. Robinson became the first quarterback in NCAA history to rush and pass for 1,500 yards in a season with his performance in 2010.

Joining Robinson on the coaches’ first team was senior/junior center David Molk (Lemont, Ill./Lemont Township HS); he also earned All-Big Ten second-team honors from the media. He started all 12 games in 2010 after missing the majority of the 2009 due to multiple injuries. Molk was a Rimington Trophy candidate the past two seasons.

Junior nose tackle Mike Martin (Redford, Mich./Catholic Central HS), fifth-year senior linebacker Jonas Mouton (Los Angeles, Calif./Venice HS) and junior/sophomore Roy Roundtree (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison HS) earned all-conference second team honors. Martin received his selection by the coaches with Mouton and Roundtree collecting their honors from the media. Martin also collected honorable mention accolades from the media.

Martin collected 36 tackles, six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks during an injury-riddled season. Roundtree is the league’s third-leading receiver with career highs in every major receiving category, collecting 63 receptions for 882 yards and six touchdowns. Mouton led the Big Ten in tackles with an average of 10.1 stops per contest; posting a career-high 111 tackles this season.

Fifth-year senior left guard Stephen Schilling (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue HS) earned honorable mention All-Big Ten from both the coaches and media. Junior/sophomore safety Jordan Kovacs (Curtice, Ohio/Clay HS) earned honorable mention from the media.

Fifth-year senior linebacker Mark Moundros (Farmington Hills, Mich./North Farmington HS) was named the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award recipient for the Michigan program.

Congratulations to all of these players. As much as I know each one of these guys would have traded in any of these honors for a win in Columbus, or Happy Valley, or maybe a couple more wins in Ann Arbor, it shows that the guys we've been touting all year as great players have been honored so by their peers. And the best part...Denard, Molk, Roundtree and Martin are all coming back next year.

Go Blue!


Just doing some Google image searches tonight...because what else is there to do on a Saturday night? And stumbled upon this gem that just seemed all too appropriate given the day's events.

I have no idea why I think this is so funny. I'll allow you to draw your own conclusions from this image.

As I sail off into a beer-induced dreamland, my thoughts are with the Michigan football team, coaches, staff and all of their families. And I especially feel for yet another class of seniors who will graduate from University of Michigan without ever beating Ohio State.

I don't have the first clue as to what the fate of this coaching staff will be, and I do not envy the task of Dave Brandon. On one hand I completely understand the case for Rodriguez (or Greg Robinson, or both) to be fired. If Harbaugh is what the masses want, then maybe that's the best course of action. A lot of times, doing what's best for the future of the program is doing what the people who essentially fund that program want. It's not necessarily fair, but its the reality of big business college football.

But on the other hand, I think Rodriguez needs at least another year. He's had to endure maybe the biggest gap of talent Michigan has seen since the Johnson administration. Attrition, graduation and transfers have demolished this team...it's not an excuse, it's the truth. But I like Rodriguez, probably more than most, and I've never shied away from defending him publicly. But I also support the Michigan football team no matter who the coach is. And with that said, I am glad that the man making these amazingly difficult decisions is a man like Dave Brandon. I trust that no matter which way he goes, it will be because he believes it's for the best of this team and this school, and nothing more. I don't think he will make any snap judgements. He's been very methodical thus far about handling all of the speculation, and I don't see that changing.

Beat The Bucks!

We all know the challenges are greater than the advantages. The odds are against us. We all know we're a 16.5 point underdog. We all know about the 6-game losing streak. We all know that we're supposed to lose this game.

But right now, I don't care. It's Michigan versus Ohio State. And it's gametime. 60 minutes. Who wants it more.


Michigan's Injury Report for Ohio State

Via press release:
University of Michigan Football Injury Report
At Ohio State, Nov. 27, 2010

Ferrara, John                             Knee
Floyd, JT                                       Ankle
Jones, Mike                                Leg
Jones, Teric                                Knee
Odoms, Martavious                Foot
Van Slyke, Jared                       Clavicle
Williams, Mike                           Head
Woolfolk, Troy                          Ankle

Hemingway, Junior                 Head

Gallon, Jeremy                          Shoulder
Martin, Mike                              Ankle
Roh, Craig                                    Head
Smith, Vince                               Head
Stonum, Darryl                          Ankle
All of the 0%-ers we knew about. Hemingway is a bit of a surprise at 50%, we had heard nothing about him until now. The rest all seem as if they should play...this includes Roh, Martin, Smith and Stonum. I'd be very surprised not to see those guys tomorrow. I really like that Taylor Lewan is not on this list...and the same goes for Shaw...and Toussaint.

Blogging with the Enemy: Q&A with Buckeye Battle Cry

What's becoming a little bit of a tradition, for the 2nd year in a row we did a little rivalry week Q&A with Jim from the tOSU blog The Buckeye Battle Cry. Here's his answers to my questions. Hope you enjoy.

My responses to their questions can be read here.

MBN: As hard as it is for me to admit, Ohio State's and Michigan's football programs have gone in opposite directions since their fateful meeting in 2006. Ohio State has stayed on that same championship course, while Michigan has gone from powerhouse to laughing-stock to rebuilding mode. As an ambassador for the Ohio State fan base, how do you view the Michigan program as is stands right now?

tBBC: It fluctuates between 'infinite source of amusement' and 'dangerous adversary that could hand us our most heartbreaking and embarrassing loss in the series in over 40 years.' It's is quite the dichotomy.

Michigan is a program with nothing to lose right now, particularly against their biggest rival. That is dangerous and somewhat scary as an Ohio State fan, especially considering how potent Denard Robinson and your offense can be.

At the same time, your defense is so bad that it is hard to imagine how many things would have to go wrong for Ohio State not to be able to put up points, particularly at home. The best way to stop Robinson is to keep him off the field, and that is exactly what Tresselball is best at.

As you mentioned, the programs are not equivalent at the moment, but pride comes before the fall. Ohio State needs to keep an edge against a dangerous Wolverine team with nothing to lose. Thankfully, with Jim Tressel at the helm, there is little doubt that the Buckeyes will be fired up and ready to go.

More long term, as a highly biased outside observer, it just doesn't seem like Rodriguez is the answer for Michigan. No matter how potent the offense gets, unless things change drastically on defense (both in recruiting and on the field) it seems likely that Michigan will drop a game or three each year at best... just like Rodriguez did at West Virginia (and Carr did before he got fired).

Does Rodriguez have it in him to completely revamp the way he approaches defense (and recruiting) to make Michigan into a truly elite team once again? It seems unlikely at this point.

MBN: As Michigan fans, we always hear a lot of complaining out of Columbus about Tressell's conservative play calling and Pryor's inability to throw, but yet you remain one of the most envied programs not only in the Big Ten, but in the country. Is this just folks being hyper-sensitive because you can no longer complain about not beating Michigan, or is there truly a groundswell of discontent among Ohio State fans?

tBBC: I think the issue here is not a groundswell of discontent, but rather a groundswell of young, spoiled fans that get their knowledge about offense and game plans from video games. The internet, wonderful as it is, amplifies the noise these fans make to a point where it seems like a larger issue than it is.

The conservative offensive game plans can be frustrating at times, particularly after tough losses. Even the most loyal fans wouldn't mind seeing a shake up on the offensive coaching staff. If Jim Bollman (the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach) retired I would not shed a tear.

That being said, you have to keep some perspective here. Ohio State just became the first team in the history of the Big Ten to win ten games in six straight seasons. Can you really complain that much?

MBN: Every Michigan and Ohio State fan has a unique story as to why they have such a strong allegiance to their team. A lot of fans are alumni, some are just big fans because their families were. A great part of this rivalry is the fans and their stories, I always love hearing about them. Explain a little bit as to why you're such a big Ohio State fan, and what led you to be so.

tBBC: All of the above? I was born in Columbus, both my parents (and a few aunts, uncles, and family friends) went to Ohio State, I am a two time alumni at Ohio State and continue to live and work in Columbus.

I don't have the most exciting story, but I like to think my Buckeye roots are strong.

MBN: As far as this game in concerned, I'm sure Ohio State fans are pretty confident...and rightfully so. Simply put, is there anything about this Michigan team that scares you?

tBBC: Denard Robinson and your offense will score points against our defense, no matter how well the Buckeyes play. If Ohio State turns the ball over and Michigan doesn't, it could get scary fast.

MBN: Finally, whats your prediction for the outcome? Who stands out in this game in your mind and why?

tBBC: I will go back to an old cliche and say that the players in the trenches will stand out in the game on Saturday.

The Buckeye offensive line opened up holes for the best rushing performance of the season against Penn State two weeks ago. Last week they played the best defensive line they will face all season and came away with at least a stalemate.

I imagine Michigan's defense will be bringing the house on most downs, challenging the offensive line each play. Whether it be through pass protection or opening holes in the running game, I think Ohio State's offensive line will be the difference in this game.

On the other side of the ball, Ohio State's defensive line will play a huge roll in containing (or at least attempting to contain) Robinson. If they play at their best, Ohio State will be in great shape to get the W.

Preview: Michigan at Ohio State - Statistical Breakdown

Statistical Breakdown (stats through 11-20-10)
MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)OHIO STATEAdvantage
Rushing Offense (ypg)257.4 (10)86.0 (3)Rushing Defense (ypg)Push
Passing Offense (ypg)257.2 (30)155.1 (5)Passing Defense (ypg)Ohio State
Pass Efficiency154.6 (16)98.2 (7)Pass Efficiency DefensePush
Total Offense (ypg)514.5 (5)241.1 (3)Total Defense (ypg)Push
Scoring Offense (ppg)36.8 (15)13.9 (5)Scoring Defense (ppg)Push
Rushing Defense (ypg)181.3 (92)216.2 (17)Rushing Offense (ypg)Ohio State++
Passing Defense (ypg)263.9 (111)230.0 (55)Passing Offense (ypg)Ohio State+
Pass Efficiency Defense139.7 (92)158.4 (10)Pass EfficiencyOhio State+++
Total Defense (ypg)445.2 (112)446.2 (18)Total Offense (ypg)Ohio State+++
Scoring Defense (ppg)33.5 (99)39.6 (9)Scoring Offense (ppg)Ohio State+++
Net Punting Yards36.87 (53)10.14 (39)Punt Return YardsPush
Punt Return Yards6.00 (94)34.03 (96)Net Punting YardsPush
Kickoff Return Yards21.54 (67)22.07 (79)Kickoff Return DefensePush
Kickoff Return Defense20.13 (31)25.18 (12)Kickoff Return YardsPush
Turnover Margin-0.64 (101)+1.09 (7)Turnover MarginOhio State+++
Penalty Yds/Game47.5 (42)44.0 (25)Penalty Yds/GamePush
Sacks1.46 (95)1.82 (57)Sacks AllowedOhio State+
Sacks Allowed0.91 (11)1.55 (91)SacksMichigan+++
Redzone Offense (%)84.0 (50)75.0 (21)Redzone Defense (%)Ohio State
Redzone Defense (%)86.7 (89)89.5 (14)Redzone Offense (%)Ohio State++
Redzone TD %76.00 (5)54.17 (38)Redzone TD % DefenseMichigan
Redzone TD % Defense66.67 (88)66.67 (28)Redzone TD %Ohio State++
3rd Down Conv. %47.6 (19)29.7 (4)3rd Down Defense %Push
3rd Down Defense %40.9 (76)44.5 (34)3rd Down Conv. %Ohio State+
1st Downs Per Game23.9 (14)13.3 (3)1st Downs Allowed Per/GmPush
1st Downs Allowed Per/Gm22.5 (106)22.7 (23)1st Downs Per GameOhio State+++

Difference < 20 in national rank = Push
Difference > 20 in national rank = Team
Difference > 40 in national rank = Team+
Difference > 60 in national rank = Team++
Difference > 80 in national rank = Team+++

Thank You Chris Spielman

Chris back in the day, sporting his full Buckstache.
Need some good bulletin board material to help get your team focused for this week's game against tOSU? Well look no further than the former Buckeye and Detroit Lions linebacker Chris Spielman.

Chris went on a Columbus-area radio station yesterday, and basically explained to all the slack-jawed yokels what we Michigan fans already know. Denard is good, our defense is not. [Quotes lifted from DetNews article]

First, the good:
"Look, one word of warning. Any time you've got an offense, you've got a puncher's chance. And Michigan has a puncher's chance against Ohio State. A lot of things got to go their way. Ohio State has to throw interceptions, they have to put the ball on the ground. But anytime you have … I think, really, he's the fastest football player that I've ever seen play in person, Denard Robinson

"That's the one thing, here's my warning if anybody is listening over at the (Ohio State football facility) Woody Hayes, here's my warning: You think he's fast. He looks fast on film. You don't know how fast this kid is until you see him play in person. And that's something that our guys are going to have to adjust to, because their offense is explosive, they can score points in a hurry, and it's going to be a challenge on our defense against their offense."
Aaaaand then the ugly:
"Now their defense on the other hand, it is the worst Michigan defense ever in the history of Michigan football in my opinion. They are so bad. They can't tackle. In my way of thinking, I don't know how they got this bad on defense. You look at Ohio State, when they lose players, we've had injuries, has this defense taken a noticeable step back? No. It still maintains. It still goes.

"Everybody is saying, 'Well, they're all young, they're all coming back.' Well, yeah, they're all coming back. It's on the worst defense in the NCAA they're all coming back. Is that so exciting for you? It's bad. (Nose tackle Mike) Martin is the only guy that could start at Ohio State -- the only guy that could start. He would roll in there. He's a good player. But other than that, these guys would be excellent special teams guys. Very good on special teams.

"It's not for lack of trying. They have a scheme, they can't execute the scheme. I'm not a big fan of the scheme because there's a lot of bubbles. And what I mean by that, there's just areas to run. They're not gap sound. They make a lot of mental errors. I think some of it is youth, but some of it's got to be talent, right? Here's the deal with this whole defense at Michigan, I mean, I think this, I'm pretty sure this is going to happen. There's going to be a huge evaluation of what direction they're going to go defensively. What do you want to do philosophically? What type of player are we going to recruit? Are we going to have walk-ons from outside of Toledo be our starting safety (Jordan Kovacs) or are we going to get kids who can play?

"At Michigan you shouldn't have to play … and the kid's tough he plays hard, I love him, he's a battler, he's a warrior, all their kids play hard, they're Michigan kids, they're going to play hard, but that doesn't get it done at this level. When you have a team like Wisconsin that can line up and run the ball 34 out of 35 plays, 24 or 25 straight times down your throat and you know they're not changing and you can do absolutely nothing to stop it, you have a talent deficiency, and it's clear and evident that they do. (Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez) needs to reevaluate, 'What's our philosophy and what type of player are we going to get?' And we better get on our recruiting high horse and start going into living rooms and getting All-Americans and getting players that fit the Michigan defensive model that's been established over 100 years of talented players, NFL-ready type players who come in, play hard, play it with a level of tenacity and talent, which I'm used to seeing at Michigan. They had a defensive back (Charles Woodson) from Ohio who won the Heisman Trophy for crying out loud, the NFL MVP, they don't have any of those guys. Frankly, they don't have any of those guys on their roster.

"It's a combination of poor recruiting, in my opinion, I think coach (Lloyd) Carr (who retired after the 2007 season), to be perfectly honest, left the cupboard bare in his last few years. I don't think they recruited the talent because you look at the upperclassmen that they have. They're all great kids. I had a chance to meet with a bunch of them. They practice hard, they play hard, and they're tough, but it comes down to one thing when you're talking about playing at a high level like Michigan is used to playing at, and that's talent. And they have zero on defense. One kid, the Martin kid. Other than that, a lot of guys would be nice little subs at Indiana."
So there you have it. On many points I totally agree with him. He's 100% right about not adjusting to what Wisconsin was doing in the 2nd half. But, I think he got a little carried away at times, but that will happen when your a former Buckeye player talking about Michigan on a Columbus radio station to Buckeye fans. Like a drunken preacher talking to his blind choir. But he basically points out what we've been watching and talking about for the last 11 games.

Big Chill Hockey Rink Live Installation Webcam

Props to our sponsor over at Moe's/UGP for posting a link to their Facebook page of a live webcam perched up on the pressbox that will run 24/7 showing the transformation of the Big House from the world's largest football venue to the world's largest hockey venue. Very cool.

Get it? Cool? Big Chill? Eh...eh?

Click on over to mgoblue dot com to check it out.

Ugly Unis, Stuffed Animals and Tom Izzo Impressions

We all remember tOSU's ugly "pro combat" uniforms they wore last year in Ann Arbor? Well, it looks like the Buckeyes will be doing the same thing this year as well. I know Oregon gets a lot of flack for their ugly uniforms all the time, but at what point his it become cool to wear stuff like this?

Excuse me, but those are awful. Not that it's a far cry from tOSU's normal ugly uniforms, but still. Thank goodness for the American flag on the sleeve, we might have forgotten which country we were playing in. And what about the helmets? Just plain red? Where are all of the pot leaf stickers? How are we going to know which are the best players without seeing stickers all over the helmet?

Me confused :/

A couple really interesting videos have popped up since the airing of the Wisconsin broadcast on Saturday. I was at the game, so I didn't see these until yesterday.

First up, defensive coordinator Greg Robinson is seen rubbing some sort of stuffed animal in Kenny Demens' face on the sideline:

First of all, it doesn't seem to be some sort of punishment as Demens and his teammates are celebrating. This happened right after James Rogers intercepted Tolzien for his first non-completion of the day. Tolzien had completed something like his first 14 passes in a row up until that point. If that deserves a stuffed animal to the face, than I don't know what to say. A lot about this video bothers me.

And a lot about this next video bothers me too. What Rich doesn't know is, most of the fans in the stadium and watching at home have been making this face all day as well.

Preview: Michigan at Ohio State - Part 1

To shake things up a little bit, we're going to break the tOSU preview into it's parts and spread it out over the course of this week. This way we can add the appropriate amount of hate to each section, and spread the hate around evenly.

Right here: Game Stuff, tOSU Stuff, and History
Coming soon: Statistical Comparison, Common Opponents, Random Stuff & Etc, tOSU Offense, tOSU Defense, Final Thoughts

Michigan Wolverines
#7 Ohio State Buckeyes

Game Stuff
When: November 27, 2010
Where: The Toilet Bowl, Along the muddy banks for the Olentaaanngy River
Time: 12:00 PM EST
TV: ABC National
Webcast: espn3.com
Local Radio: FM 104.3 WOMC, AM 1050 WTKA
Early Line: Michigan +18
Series Record: UM Leads 57-43-6
Last Meeting: tOSU 21, UM 10 (2009) 
Michigan Record: 7-4 (3-4)
Last Game: Loss vs Wisconsin 48-28

Ohio State Stuff
Location: Columbus, OH
Enrollment: 63,217 truck drivers
Conference: Big Ten
Nickname: Buckeyes
Head Coach: Jim Tressell
OC: Jim Bollman
DC: Jim Heacock
tOSU Record: 10-1 (6-1)
Last Game: Win at Iowa 20-17
2009 Record: 11-2 (7-1)

A Little History
This year's game marks the 107th meeting all-time for the Wolverines and Buckeyes. Since 1935, this game has been played as the final regular season game for both schools (with the exception of 1942, 1986, 1998). This game has decided the Big Ten champion between these two schools 22 times, and has affected the outcome of the Big Ten title race 25 times.

Most recently, the 6-game win streak for Ohio State is their longest streak in the series. Michigan had a 9-game win streak from 1901-1909. Ohio State has won 8 of the last 9 meetings, one of the most dominating stretches of this rivalry.

The most famous era for this rivalry, by far, was the 10-year war that took place between Bo Schembechler and his mentor Woody Hayes from 1969 to 1978. Bo won 5 of those contests, while Woody won 4. There was 1 tie in 1973, and the Big Ten athletic directors voted to send an undefeated Ohio State team to the Rose Bowl in favor of an undefeated Michigan team. From 1976 through the 1978 contests, Ohio State failed to score touchdown in those 3 games.

The most significant game in the series took place in 2006 when both teams entered the contest with 11-0 records. This marked the first time Michigan and Ohio State were ranked in the top two spots in the all overall rankings. While the outcome of that game was significant with Ohio State earning a trip to the BCS Championship game (thanks to a late hit penalty that led to a game winning touchdown for tOSU), the game was overshadowed for Michigan fans by the passing of Bo Schembechler the day before. The loss of Bo had a significant effect on the Michigan team, and more importantly, the coaching staff.

Since that game, the two programs have gone in opposite directions. Ohio State has a chance to earn a share of their 6th straight Big Ten title, while Michigan is only bowl-eligible for the first time in 3 years.

They always say you should throw out the record book when this game is played, but that has not been the case these last 3 years. Ohio State has outscored Michigan 77 to 20. For the 2010 contest, Ohio State is favored by 18 points by odds makers.

It's Ohio State Week

No question about it, today was tough. Wisconsin out played us in just about every phase of the game. I feel like if we played this game 100 times, they'd beat us 100 times. They're just that good.

We'll dive into a little wrap-up later, but for now, it's Ohio State week. And thus, it's time to start the hatin'!

Adjusted Playing Rules for NU-ILL Game at Wrigley

There's been a decent buzz about the football game that will be played tomorrow between Northwestern and Illinois at the famous Wrigley Field in northern Chicago. ESPN's Gameday will be broadcasting their weekly show from there tomorrow...and in doing so, giving the Notre Dame/Army game being played at Yankee Stadium a big old "thanks but no thanks". But once some images started to make the rounds online about the minimal zero space behind the east endzone, some people, myself included, started to wonder if the idea of playing this game in such tight confines was really such a great idea.

It seems as if now the Big Ten is sharing the concerns of some folks, and has announced some rule changes adjustments in order to help protect the players from killing injuring themselves. One positive thing though is the buzz has been increased because of the threat of injury, and the fine folks at Allstate have enjoyed some very nice increased bang for their advertising buck.

Via Big Ten press release/
Park Ridge, Ill. – The Big Ten Conference announced a series of adjustments to football playing rules in order to enhance student-athlete safety for the Illinois-Northwestern game to be played on Saturday, Nov. 20, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The Big Ten worked with both Illinois and Northwestern to review a number of potential rule or field adjustments to provide the safest environment for the student-athletes. The conference requested and received waivers to several NCAA playing rules in the interest of student-athlete safety.

The following rule changes were determined to be the best of all options and will be in effect for this game only based on the unique layout of the field.
1)    All offensive plays will head toward the West end zone, including all extra points and all overtime possessions.
2)    All kickoffs will be kicked toward the East end zone.
3)    After every change of possession, the ball will be repositioned for the offense to head toward the West end zone.
4)    As a result of a coin toss held by the conference office Friday morning, Illinois will occupy the West team bench in the first half and Northwestern will occupy the West team bench in the second half and for all overtime periods.

“The health and safety of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “Both Illinois and Northwestern did significant due diligence over the past 18 months, but after seeing the actual layout of the field, all parties felt that it was appropriate to adjust the rules to further enhance the safety of our student-athletes. Wrigley Field is one of the most historic venues in the country, and playing the Illinois-Northwestern game at this facility will provide a once-in-a-lifetime experience for student-athletes, coaches and fans.”
If safety was the primary concern, this game would be played at Ryan Field on the campus of Northwestern University. Let's not play it off as if safety is of the "utmost importance". Let's call a  spade a spade. Making money is #1 (obviously). Having this game prominently televised is #2. Generating a healthy buzz is #3 (ESPN Gameday anyone?). Safety is probably #4.

Preview: Michigan vs Wisconsin

Michigan Wolverines
#5 Wisconsin Badgers

Oh, Bret.
Game Stuff
When: November 20, 2010
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
Time: 12:00 PM EST
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Bob Griese, Chris Spielman)
Webcast: espn3.com
Local Radio: FM 104.3 WOMC, AM 1050 WTKA
Line: Michigan +5
Over/Under: 67
Series Record: UM Leads 49-13-1
Last Meeting: UW 45, UM 24 (2009) 
Michigan Record: 7-3 (3-3)
Last Game: Win @ Purdue 27-16

Wisconsin Stuff
Location: Madison, WI
Enrollment: 42,099
Conference: Big Ten
Nickname: Badgers
Head Coach: Bret Bielema
OC: Paul Chryst
DC: Dave Doeren
Wisconsin Record: 9-1 (5-1)
Last Game: Win vs Indiana 83-20
2009 Record: 9-3 (5-3)

A Little History
We all remember this, right? The ONLY highlight from the 2008 season.

I mean really Wisconsin? We only won 3 games that year...and YOU one of them. Really?

Statistical Breakdown (stats through 11-13-10)
MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)WISCONSINAdvantage
Rushing Offense (ypg)266.30 (9)125.10 (25)Rushing Defense (ypg)PUSH
Passing Offense (ypg)255.50 (31)190.50 (28)Passing Defense (ypg)PUSH
Pass Efficiency154.55 (14)123.51 (51)Pass Efficiency DefenseM
Total Offense (ypg)521.80 (5)315.60 (21)Total Defense (ypg)PUSH
Scoring Offense (ppg)37.70 (14)19.50 (23)Scoring Defense (ppg)PUSH
Rushing Defense (ypg)163.70 (75)228.20 (12)Rushing Offense (ypg)WWW
Passing Defense (ypg)270.20 (114)200.30 (74)Passing Offense (ypg)WW
Pass Efficiency Defense137.40 (86)163.92 (7)Pass EfficiencyWWW
Total Defense (ypg)433.90 (100)428.50 (27)Total Offense (ypg)WWW
Scoring Defense (ppg)32.10 (93)40.20 (8)Scoring Offense (ppg)WWWW
Net Punting Yards36.64 (54)11.12 (28)Punt Return YardsW
Punt Return Yards36.64 (54)36.90 (51)Net Punting YardsPUSH
Kickoff Return Yards20.67 (87)23.13 (92)Kickoff Return DefensePUSH
Kickoff Return Defense20.27 (36)22.48 (47)Kickoff Return YardsPUSH
Turnover Margin-.70 (103).70 (20)Turnover MarginWWWW
Penalty Yds/Game51.20 (55)30.80 (3)Penalty Yds/GameWW
Sacks1.50 (91)1.10 (21)Sacks AllowedWWW
Sacks Allowed.80 (10)2.00 (57)SacksMM
Redzone Offense (%)86.67 (T-28)88.46 (T-103)Redzone Defense (%)MMM
Redzone Defense (%)87.50 (T-100)92.45 (6)Redzone Offense (%)WWWW
Redzone TD %76.09 (5)53.85 (42)Redzone TD % DefenseM
Redzone TD % Defense67.50 (93)81.13 (1)Redzone TD %WWWW
3rd Down Conv. %47.41 (21)38.89 (54)3rd Down Defense %M
3rd Down Defense %40.27 (69)51.38 (9)3rd Down Conv. %WWW
1st Downs Per Game23.9 (15)16.1 (11)1st Downs Allowed Per/GmPUSH
1st Downs Allowed Per/Gm22.1 (T-99)23.6 (16)1st Downs Per GameWWWW

Difference < 20 in national rank = PUSH
Difference > 20 in national rank = M
Difference > 40 in national rank = MM
Difference > 60 in national rank = MMM
Difference > 80 in national rank = MMMM

Common Opponents

4-6 (0-6)
WIN 42-35
10/2 @ IND
WIN 83-20
11/13 @ WIS
Michigan State
9-1 (5-1)
LOSS 17-34
10/9 @ MICH
LOSS 24-34
10/2 @ MSU
7-3 (4-2)
LOSS 31-41
10/16 @ MICH
WIN 31-30
10/23 @ IOWA
4-6 (2-4)
WIN 27-16
11/13 @ PUR
WIN 34-13
11/6 @ PUR

Random Stuff and Etc
ESPN's Adam Rittenberg likes Wisconsin.
Wisconsin 37, Michigan 28: The Badgers' offense isn't quite as dominant as it was last week, while Denard Robinson and the Michigan attack play a cleaner game against a Wisconsin defense that will allow some points. This is a close game for three quarters before Wisconsin pulls away in the fourth behind its offensive line and running backs Montee Ball and James White. 
Adam's prediction have been pretty spot on all year. I can't argue with this one.

From the world of Michigan blogs:
Maize n' Brew does a little Q&A with the only Wisconsin blog I know of, Bucky's 5th Quarter...which is named after the tradition of having all of the fans delay their alcohol consumption by sticking around the stadium after the game to watch the band play. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for supporting the band, but when a game ends, it's time to hit the tailgate. But that's just my $0.02.

Oddly, The Wolverine Blog does a Q&A with B5Q as well. Ahh, the perks of being the only blog for your team.

MVictors hears that the permanent lights could be up and running for the Wisconsin game. Visual proof here. We had been told that the lights would go up right after the game to be ready for the Big Chill on December 11th. Being a noon kickoff tomorrow though, I don't think the lights will be necessary for this game.

mgoblog's Mathlete dives head-first into how much homefield advantage is really worth.

When Wisconsin has the ball
Please please please stop talking about how they hung 83 points up Indiana last week. They weren't just on a roll. Bret Bielema is a jackass who desperately wants everyone to love him. That's why his backup QBs were throwing downfield passes in the 2nd half. He ran up the score on purpose. You don't just get on a roll and accidentally score 83 points...this isn't Madden.

They will NOT score 83 points on us. I promise. They might score 82, but will NOT score 83.

But seriously, I'm not going to sugar-coat it, we're in trouble with Wisconsin's rushing game. These guys boast maybe the best offensive line-running back combination in the country. Even if RB John Clay doesn't play, which it looks like he might not, they don't fall off substantially after him. Montee Ball and James White are very good backs who run the ball well and very physically.

Passing the ball isn't their strong suit. They only average about 200 yards per game, but their efficiency rating is 7th in the country. See what a strong ground game can do for a mediocre passing game? Scott Tolzien is not a great QB, but he's good enough. Probably one of the most overlooked QBs in the conference right up there with Kirk Cousins.

Wisconsin is going to pound the football between the tackles. And then when they're done doing that, they'll probably switch things up by running the football between the tackles.

Over the last 6 quarters, Michigan's defense has shown flashes of brilliance, which is actually giving me some hope for this game. Last week, we didn't give up an offensive touchdown. Of course Purdue is not Wisconsin, so we'll see how that plays out. I think moving Roh back to a down lineman has been a huge lift for this defense. Getting him back on the line, moving Ezeh out to outside linebacker, moving Cam Gordon to spur, Courtney Avery at CB in place of JT Floyd, and of course the play of Kenny Demens at MLB has had a noticeable impact on this defense.

No question, we'll test that impact this week.

When Michigan has the ball
If there's a bright spot for us against Wisconsin's defense, its that they're not great against mobile quarterbacks. They're not bad, but not great.

I think the bigger issue when Michigan has the ball is not the Wisconsin defense, but making stupid mistakes that kill drives, or end them with a forced turnover. We can not win this game with 5 turnovers like we did the last 2 weeks. No way, no how. Wisconsin is too good for that. We are going to have to play much more disciplined football. It's an overused cliche, but we need to live to fight another down.

We're going to have to control the line of scrimmage and produce some sort of ground game. Mike Shaw is listed probable this week, but Vincent Smith, Stephen Hopkins, Fitzgerald Toussaint and of course Denard Robinson are all good to go.

Final Thoughts
Well, the smart money is picking Wisconsin in this one. And it's really hard for me to argue that. On paper, they're the runaway favorite. But let's not forget that Wisconsin has not exactly done well in Ann Arbor recently. Actually, its been since 1994 that they've actually beat us in the Big House. Bret Bielema is 0-2 against us on the road. Wisconsin fans feel there's something about playing in Ann Arbor that scares them. There's something to be said for that.

And there's also something to said for the fact that we're playing our last home game, and this is senior day. I don't think anyone on this team is looking past Wisconsin to tOSU. This game is huge for us.

As usual, I'm not going to make a score prediction, but I will say this. If we can stop giving the ball away and stop making stupid penalties, we're going to be right there with Wisconsin all day. They're going to have a couple big plays, likely on the ground. But we're going to have a few big plays ourselves. Odds makers have us a 5 point dog in a game which they expect to see a lot of scoring. The weather report says mid-40s and partly cloudy, so weather should not be a problem. This could shape up to be a very entertaining game which could very easily turn out to be a very good day for this Michigan offense.

We'll be at the game and updating our Facebook and Twitter pages from our lofty perch in the pressbox. So check us out and stay connected before and throughout the game for insightful and valuable updates. If you're going to the game, get up and get loud! We're going to need all of the fan support we can get in this one.

Go Blue!