Brady Hoke Named B1G Coach of the Year

File photo. Hoke speaking to ESPN field reporter Quint Kessenich following the 40-34 win over Ohio.
Via UM press release:
PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- The Big Ten Conference announced Wednesday (Nov. 30) that University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke was chosen as the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year, as selected by conference coaches, and the Dave McClain Coach of the Year, as picked by the media.Hoke is the sixth first-year coach to earn the McClain Coach of the Year award, which dates back to 1972 and is named for the former Wisconsin coach. This is the inaugural awarding of the Hayes-Schembechler Coach of the Year honor, which pays tribute to Ohio State's Woody Hayes and Michigan's Bo Schembechler.
Hoke led the Maize and Blue to a 10-2 overall record, including a 6-2 mark in Big Ten play. He is the second Michigan coach to win at least 10 games in his first season at the helm, joining Fielding Yost, who won 11 games in 1901. Hoke also became the fifth Big Ten coach to win at least 10 games in his first season as head coach, joining Wisconsin's Bret Bielema (12-1, 2006), Ohio State's Earle Bruce (11-1, 1979), Yost (11-0, 1901) and Minnesota's Henry Williams (10-0-2, 1900).
With three wins more than last season's 7-6 squad, the Wolverines tied the second-best win improvement under a first-year Michigan head coach. Yost's 1901 team had a four-win improvement (11-0) from the 1900 team that went 7-2-1, while Frank Barbour's 1892 team went 7-5 after a 4-5 season in 1891.
Michigan's offense averaged 34.2 points per game, which ranked second in the Big Ten, while U-M's defense allowed 17.2 points per game, good for fourth in the league. Four Wolverines earned All-Big Ten distinction in 2011, highlighted by fifth-year senior center David Molk (Lemont, Ill./Lemont Township), who was named the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year in the conference.
Hoke's predecessors who earned the McClain Coach of the Year award include Bo Schembechler (1972, '76, '80, '85) and Gary Moeller (1991, '92). Additionally, Schembechler was tabbed the Big Ten Coach of the Year by his peers three times (1982, '85, '89) during the 10-year span from 1982-91 that coaches singled out their top member.
Hoke and the Wolverines will learn their postseason bowl destination on Sunday (Dec. 4) at 8:15 p.m. during the Bowl Selection Special on ESPN.

Shop at Moe's...Online for Cyber Monday Deals

Anyone who spends any time around this corner of the web knows that Moe Sport Shops in Ann Arbor has been a loyal supporter of this blog, and many other great Michigan blogs. We proudly run a couple of their banner ads on our site. They've been onboard with us since the middle of last year, and we've loved having them.

Michigan's big win over Ohio last weekend was a huge boost to the Michigan brand going into the holiday shopping season. A #16 jersey or a new Michigan sweatshirt would make a great gift, am I right? So head on over to Moe's for their Cyber Monday sale for the Maize & Blue fan on your Christmas list.

Finally, Michigan Beats Ohio

The 108th installment of The Game was a whirlwind of emotions for both school's fans. I can easily say that I had a tough time keeping my heart rate down, especially down on the field in those last few minutes. But the way this team was able to persevere, and finally overcome the seven-year losing streak against the Buckeyes was truly one of the most emotional moments I've ever had in that stadium.

The feeling I got after the game from the coaches and the players was that they finally accomplished what they set out to do. Michigan finally finished the season strong, and for the first time in seven years, this offseason is going to feel good.

Hats off to the seniors on this team. They had to go through more hell than any other senior class that I can remember. And for the fifth-year guys like center David Molk, this was the third coach they've played for at Michigan. Not many seniors at Michigan can say that. This group of guys held this team together this year, and helped recreate a winning tradition at Michigan again.

This win is for the seniors.

Denard and Fitz
No one can argue that the emergence of Fitzgerald Toussaint in this offense has not only given Michigan a much needed second weapon in the ground game, but it also took a huge load off of Denard's shoulders.  Both of these guys had huge games against the Buckeyes. The stats don't show how much Fitz impacted this game, but when Michigan needed him most on the last couple drives in the 4th quarter, he delivered.

However, the stats do show how much of an impact Shoelace in this game. Five total touchdowns in the biggest game of the year will certainly help convince anyone who had any doubts about Denard's the pocket or on the run. He looked great with both all day. He made smart throws (14 for 17) and also knew when to tuck it and run. And when he did tuck and run, he led with his shoulder when he hit a Buckeye defender. Running the ball, both Fitz and Denard were feeling it.

To date, I think you can say this was Denard's most complete game as a quarterback.

The atmosphere
The crowd brought it. Better than the Notre Dame game? I'd say pretty even, but with more passion. Tough to compete with a night game atmosphere. But this game was tense. I was barely able to keep myself composed in the pressbox on more than a few occasions.

I've mentioned a few times before about the piped in music. I like some of it, dislike most of it. The one thing I thought was interesting, the Michigan band is piped through the speakers too. I know they've been going this all year, but I was standing 30 yards in front of the Ohio band in the south endzone during a timeout when both bands were playing, and I couldn't hear them.

I'm not complaining, mind you...just an observation.

Breakdowns everywhere
At times both teams looked good, and at times both looked downright terrible. Mistakes were everywhere, especially on defense. Both Ohio and Michigan boast better than average defensive units. So when a combined 74 points are scored pretty evenly, you know things got a little out of control.

For us, it was mainly breakdowns in the secondary. Floyd and Countess were victimized a couple times, and the long touchdown to Posey at the end of the half was on Woolfolk. Yes, part of it is Braxton Miller making great throws to hit WRs in stride. I'm not too proud to say this wasn't Braxton's coming out party. He made plays in this game that freshman QBs rarely make, with his arm and his legs. He's the real deal.

We kept Ohio in this game
Michigan had a couple chances to put this one out of reach, and failed to do so. Once was in the first half when Denard was stripped of the football that led to the Miller touchdown a few plays later making the score 17-16 Ohio. And the other was in the second half when Michigan was up 30-24, when Will Hagerup botched the snap on his punt, which presumably would have pinned OSU deep in their own territory – in a game when Ohio was rarely able to drive the length of the field for a touchdown. The last touchdown of the game was the only instance I believe.

Both turnovers were huge errors at times when it felt like Michigan was starting to take control of the game. Big momentum shifts.

But a huge stop by the Michigan defense down near the goal line to hold Ohio to a field goal after the Hagerup debacle. Jibreel Black made a huge play there.

The overturn
On one angle Fitz looked short, the other he looked over. The call on the field was touchdown. When you have conflicting angles on the replay, and they're not go with the call on the field, no?

That did not happen.

Huge props to Brendan Gibbons for coming in and knocking home the 43-yard field goal – his longest of the season. That was a big play...which got lost after the game.

There a lot more that I'm going to discuss about this game, but we'll dive into more specifics soon.

Related Stuff:

Code Blue

This is funny now because we won.

Related posts:

Photos from Michigan - Ohio

Here's my photo set from Michigan - Ohio. Follow me on Flickr.

Ohio Video Roundup

First of all, the best video of the day #HTTV

Game highlights.

End of the game.

Post-game press conference.

Victory Formation

Face Palm Guy is Going to Disney World

No face palm on this day. Michigan wins 40-34. The streak is over. Let the party begin in Ann Arbor. Much, much more to come soon. #BeatOhio

David Molk Sporting His Navy Seal Trident Chain

Michigan center David Molk arrives at the Big House sporting his Navy Seal Trident chain.

This man is all business. #BeatOhio

Michigan Team Arrival and Early Field Photos

Some shots from Michigan team's arrival and some photos from field level early before warm-ups.

Preview: Ohio State

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
November 26, 2011, 12:00 PM

TV: ABC-National (Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman, Quint Kessenich)
Radio: WWJ-950 AM, WTKA-1050 AM, Sirius/XM 91 (Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, Doug Karsch)
Line: UM -8.5
Over/Under: 45
Series Record: UM leads 57-44-6
Last Meeting: 2010: MICH 7 - OSU 37
UM Record/Rank: 9-2 (5-2), #15 (BCS)
OSU Record/Rank: 6-5 (3-4), NR
Gametime Forecast: Mostly Cloudy, 53º, Winds SSW 10-15 MPH, 50% Chance of rain

Relevant links from sites we trust
MZone's Know Your Foe. Ace's FFFF. Art from Midnight Maize. UMGoBlog pre-game's with Pat. Game previews from BWS, Touch the Banner. A poem from Big House Blog.

Anyone who thinks this game couldn't go either way should just leave this blog right now. As we've seen in this series dating back to the days of Woody and Bo, records go right out the window when Michigan and Ohio State meet. Is OSU down right now? Yes. Are they extremely vulnerable on both sides of the ball? Yes. Does that make me any more confident about tomorrow? Not at all. Ohio State is still Ohio State, and tomorrow it'll have been 2,926 days since we've beat them on the football field.

So with that said, let's dive in.

Michigan has some areas of concern against this decent Ohio State defense. We dove into the stats a couple days ago, and showed that Ohio State has a pretty good advantage over us in the passing game. Denard's strong suit is running with the ball, that's no secret. But Ohio State does boast a good pass defense, and that will cause problems for us. We had moderate success throwing the ball against Nebraska due in large part to a very well executed game plan by Al Borges. He didn't ask Denard to do anything that he couldn't do. And I think that's going to be the game plan again tomorrow.

We have the receiver talent to keep the Buckeye DB's busy. I fully expect Junior Hemingway to play his best game tomorrow...his last game in the Big House.

Along the line, we played very well last week, and hopefully that carries over to tomorrow. Fitz Toussaint had a great game against a good Nebraska run defense, and is probably enjoying the best stretch of games any Michigan running back has had since Mike Hart. Fitz is undoubtedly the focal point of our ground game, and that takes a huge load off of Denard.

A healthy Denard is one thing to have to worry about if you're Ohio State. But a potent ground game along with a healthy Denard is entirely another. I believe that's what led to such a great performance last week.

We have a few offensive seniors playing their last game in Michigan Stadium tomorrow. Center David Molk, RT Mark Huyge, TE's Kevin Koger and Steve Watson, WR's Martavious "Dooms" Odoms, Kelvin Grady, Junior Hemingway and RB Michael Shaw. I expect all these guys to see the field tomorrow in an emotion packed game. No group of seniors have ever gone through what these offensive guys have in their time at Michigan, especially the 5th year guys who were recruited by Carr, and didn't take the bait to transfer or leave.

And I'll admit it, I have a man-crush on David Molk. Probably my favorite Michigan OL since Jon Jansen. The pic above is when I interviewed David during media day in 2010. This picture was taken when he was telling me how the only thing he missed when he sat out most of 2009 was being able to hit people "really f_cking hard".

For Ohio State to win tomorrow, they're going to need to stop guys like Molk from tearing giant holes in the middle of the DL. Good luck, man.

As far as the defense is concerned. I have no worries. I really don't. Ohio State's offense is in shambles right now, and that's not me being arrogant, that's just reality. Braxton Miller can do some things well, but he's just not there yet. For every correct decision or well-executed play, there's two more plays were he makes a terrible throw or scrambled directly into a defensive lineman.

Posey is a dangerous WR, but only in the hands of a competent quarterback and a coordinator who can get him the ball 5-8 times a game. 

Dan Herron is a good runner, but again, it's going take more than just a single guy to compete with the swarm of blitzes and DL rushes that Mattison is likely unleash tomorrow.

And that brings me to another point. Expect to see things, on both sides of the ball, that no one has seen yet this year. You just know that Borges and Mattison have been working every day since they got here on surprise looks and schemes just for this game.

I can honestly say that my pick for player of the game will be Mike Martin. 

No one on the field is as good at what they do as he is. He will literally eat the interior of Ohio's offensive line for lunch tomorrow. He is a beast. And has been getting beastier in the last few weeks.

Overall, I expect OSU to try and play as loose as possible offensively tomorrow in hopes of trying to out-finesse us. But as anyone who follows this series knows that playing loose will only hurt you in this game. This game is all about discipline, toughness and establishing dominance along the line of scrimmage. On both sides of the ball, especially on defense, Michigan has the clear advantage. The team with the most rushing yards will win the game...mark my words.

Prediction? Well, you all know I never give a score perdition, but if we can play to our strengths tomorrow like we did against Nebraska, and force Ohio State to make mistakes and turn the ball over...and if the crowd can really bring it, we'll win going away.

But I am not over-confident at all about this game. Because I know that momentum can be a funny thing, and anything can happen in this game. But what we have going for us right now is a healthy Denard Robinson, a punishing rushing attack, a great defense, a clear advantage in coaching on both sides of the ball, the momentum of a two game winning streak, Ohio State dealing with two game losing streak, and home field advantage. All of those things combined should equal a win.

But again, anything can happen.

Related stuff:

Stats Breakdown - Ohio State

Again, the stats breakdown gets it's own post. It worked well last week, and we're not about to change things up this week.

Statistical Breakdown (based on stats through week 12)
Remember that Michigan's week 1 stats against WMU are not taken into account here.

MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)OHIOADV.
Rushing Offense (ypg)231.91 (12)130.18 (42)Rushing Defense (ypg)MICH+
Passing Offense (ypg)189.27 (91)187.91 (16)Passing Defense (ypg)OSU++
Pass Efficiency135.54 (53)120.29 (35)Pass Efficiency DefensePUSH
Total Offense (ypg)421.18 (37)318.09 (16)Total Defense (ypg)OSU
Scoring Offense (ppg)33.64 (25)19.00 (14)Scoring Defense (ppg)PUSH
Rushing Defense (ypg)128.36 (40)201.00 (27)Rushing Offense (ypg)PUSH
Passing Defense (ypg)184.27 (14)114.00 (118)Passing Offense (ypg)MICH+++
Pass Efficiency Defense117.95 (28)120.63 (88)Pass EfficiencyMICH++
Total Defense (ypg)312.64 (14)315.00 (108)Total Offense (ypg)MICH+++
Scoring Defense (ppg)15.64 (6)24.27 (84)Scoring Offense (ppg)MICH++
Net Punting Yards32.95 (113)10.70 (32)Punt Return YardsOSU+++
Punt Return Yards9.00 (52)37.57 (43)Net Punting YardsPUSH
Kickoff Return Yards19.81 (97)18.21 (12)Kickoff Return DefenseOSU+++
Kickoff Return Defense20.10 (53)25.57 (7)Kickoff Return YardsOSU+
Turnover Margin0.55 (25)0.36 (32)Turnover MarginPUSH
Penalty Yds/Game36.60 (11)45.50 (42)Penalty Yds/GameMICH
Sacks2.18 (36)3.27 (116)Sacks AllowedMICH+++
Sacks Allowed1.27 (29)2.00 (49)SacksMICH
Redzone Offense (%)82.35 (59)78.57 (38)Redzone Defense (%)OSU
Redzone Defense (%)65.63 (2)87.88 (22)Redzone Offense (%)MICH
Redzone TD %64.71 (38)60.71 (67)Redzone TD % DefenseMICH
Redzone TD % Defense56.25 (38)63.64 (44)Redzone TD %PUSH
3rd Down Conv. %48.61 (12)39.13 (57)3rd Down Defense %MICH
3rd Down Defense %35.62 (29)39.74 (70)3rd Down Conv. %MICH+
1st Downs Per Game21.40 (42)16.50 (14)1st Downs Allowed Per/GmOSU
1st Downs Allowed Per/Gm16.70 (18)16.70 (106)1st Downs Per GameMICH+++

Difference less than 20 in national rank = Push
Difference more than 20 in national rank = Team
Difference more than 40 in national rank = Team+
Difference more than 60 in national rank = Team++
Difference more than 80 in national rank = Team+++

Player Stats

OHIO COMP %       YDS          TD          INT    
B. Miller48.676293
J. Bauserman46.541251
D. Robinson53.117911514
D. Gardner47.817611


OHIO     CAR          YDS          AVG          TD    
B. Miller1285954.66
D. Herron1075565.22
D. Robinson1749475.414
F. Toussaint1438115.77


OHIO    REC           YDS          AVG          TD    
D. Smith1124121.94
J. Stoneburner1315712.17
J. Hemingway2955419.11
J. Gallon2642516.33

Common Opponents
(9-2) (6-1)
L 28-24
L 10-7
(8-3) (5-2)
NOV. 19
W 45-17
OCT. 8
L 34-27
(6-5) (2-5)
NOV. 12
W 31-14
OCT. 15
W 17-7
(5-6) (3-4)
OCT. 29
W 36.14
NOV. 12
L 26-23 OT

About Urban

Let me preface this by saying that I actually like Urban Meyer. I think he's a good coach. When I was an undergrad at Bowling Green, he was the head coach there. I always had a lot of respect for Urban even when he left to coach the Utes. He always seemed to embrace being at BGSU, and I'll always remember how fun it was that he was our head coach.

Is Urban on a return trip to Ohio?
There's a lot of talk coming out of Columbus right now about Urban Meyer and his rumored "deal" he has to become Ohio State's next coach. While I do think it is a done deal in terms of they want him and he wants them...and the language of the contract is probably being smoothed out by lawyers as I type this. I must say, though, that the whole situation seems strange to me. But having just gone through two head coaching searches in the last 4 years, I've become accustomed to covering these strange exercises.

Urban Meyer left Florida citing health concerns and wanting to spend more time with his family. Picking up and moving to Columbus to coach at Ohio State is not exactly what his doctor would prescribe, I'm sure. And he can forget about that precious family time he was talking about.

If I'm an Ohio State fan, I'm a little cautious about my jubilation. If Meyer becomes the head coach at OSU, then it's pretty obvious he just flat out lied about his health so he could leave a Florida Gators squad sans Tim Tebow. If you want to step down because it's just not fun anymore that's fine. A coach should want to coach. But don't say it's because of your health and then take a job at maybe one of the must stressful gigs in the country.

But OSU fans are so punch-drunk in love with the idea of "Urban to the rescue", that all that might not even be on the radar in Columbus.

And who's hiring Urban? Gene Smith, the guy who's likely to get axed next month when the NCAA comes calling again?

A year ago at this time, Michigan fans were swooning for Jim Harbaugh. All I'm saying is, be careful what you wish for. All that glitters ain't always gold.

B1G Breakdown: Week 13

Weeks 1-11: 65-19
Week 12: 5-1
Overall: 70-20  (.777)

All times eastern. My picks in bold. (Rankings: BCS)

Friday Nov 25:
Legends Division:
Iowa @ #21 Nebraska
12:00 - ABC

Saturday Nov. 26:
Leaders Division:
Purdue @ Indiana
3:30 - BTN

#19 Penn State @ #16 Wisconsin
3:30 - ESPN

Legends Division:
#14 Michigan State @ Northwestern
12:00 - BTN

Ohio State @ #15 Michigan
12:00 - ABC

Illinois @ Minnesota
3:30 - BTN

Biggest "must-watch" game of the week:
Do I even need to say anything here? Unless you're a Leaders Division snob, but your game is at 3:30, so you really have no excuse. "The Game" is the "The Game" and will always be "The Game".

Upset Alert!
As much as it doesn't even matter, I'm putting Michigan State on upset alert. Northwestern has shown a few times this year that they can sneak up on you. Michigan State has already locked up a spot in the B1G title game, so they could be looking ahead. But they should be careful because a loss on Saturday all but guarantees they won't make a BCS bowl when they lose to Wisconsin next week.

Snoozer of the week
I wish they would have moved the Purdue-Indiana game to Friday because I really would like to watch that rivalry game at least once in my life. However, tis not to be.

Bold predictions!
Ah, yes. Prediction time. Well, as you can see from my bold picks above, I like Michigan over OSU (obviously), I think Wisconsin rolls against Penn State in Madison to take the Leaders spot in the B1G title game. And the rest of the games don't really matter that much. Oh, I do think Nebraska beats Iowa on Friday. Pelini regroups and his boys take it to the Hawkeyes.

Rich Rodriguez Lands at Arizona

Word on the street, apparently confirmed by this photo which was tweeted by Arizona AD Greg Byrne, is that former Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez has been named the next coach at the University of Arizona. Believe me when I say that personally, I could not be happier for Rich Rodriguez and his family. So many words have been typed on these pages over the last 4 years about that man, his work at the University of Michigan, and the lasting effects he's had on this football program.

When Rich was fired, it seemed like the logical, and frankly, the most merciful thing at the time. He was just never going to be as successful here as he wanted or needed to be. Was it fair? Not really. But ultimately, David Brandon made his decision and Rich's time at Michigan was over. At the time, we said our piece and wished Rich well wherever he should end up.

Arizona fans, if you're reading this, you got a great coach. He's going to cherish his players and teach them what it takes to win not only on the field, but at life. High praise? Sure. But he's the real deal who's won everywhere he's been besides Michigan. But don't let that fool you...Michigan is a beast. It's a tough racket if you're not the right guy for the job.

I'm just happy that Rich is going back to coaching, where he belongs. Congratulations Rich. We wish you well in the desert.

The Game Wallpaper "Inked"

It's a big game when The Art The Art The Art provides the Michigan masses a wallpaper for the week leading up. He truly brings it with his 2011 Michigan - Ohio State edition. Aptly called "Inked".

Awesome work. Click here for all the various sizes to download.

Brady Hoke Ohio State Press Conference (Video)

Nebraska Wrap Up

Michigan's win against Notre Dame was nice. Night game, throwbacks, big crowd, primetime ESPN...all that stuff. But Rich Rod was 2 for 3 against the Irish, so most Michigan fans only want to know what have you done for me lately?

How about welcoming the Nebraska Cornhuskers to the B1G in true Michigan style? Old-school Michigan style?

This win over the Huskers is undoubtably the signature win that the Hoke administration was looking for...and needed. Not just a win, but a thorough domination. Nebraska was never really in this game. And with the win, a clear message has been sent to the the rest of the league – Michigan is back.

Back in August, everyone, myself included marked this game as a loss. We all heralded Nebraska as maybe the top team in the league, and a shoe-in for making it to Indy from the Legends division. But as is the case so many times, I was wrong.

As with any game, there was good and bad. Let's start with the good.

• Defense, man. Wow. If you would have told me a couple months ago that we'd hold Nebraska to 17 points (while putting up 45), no way I would have believed you. The true mark of a great defense is how they improve week to week. And that's what Michigan has been doing. We're not letting teams beat us by making the same mistakes we've made the last 3 years. We're tackling better, making better reads, being in better position. But maybe the biggest thing is we're simply just believing in ourselves and playing better as a unit.

You simply cannot overstate the value of Greg Mattison to this defense. What he's been able to do with basically the same personnel as last year is truly remarkable.

• Special teams. I've never seen a game with so many special teams errors by the opposing team that went in our favor. A blocked punt, two fumbles on kickoffs, a successful fake FG, and a roughing the punter that extended a drive that led to a touchdown. I mean every break went our way. Chalk it up to just good fortune, but a huge part of it, the fumbles on kickoff returns especially, are the product of making a huge play and being in the right position.

• Denard and Fitz. The two of them combined for 6 touchdowns on Saturday. Denard played maybe his best overall game of the year, showing that extra gear that has been missing lately. And Fitz showed why he has emerged as the marquee back that he's been advertised as over the last few weeks. And it's not like we played Minnesota this week – Nebraska's defense is certainly no slouch.

• Redzone percentage has been slipping the last few weeks after a stellar start to the season. But we went 5-5 this week with 4 touchdowns. Nice to see that area improve.

• Odoms had only his 4th catch of the year, and his second touchdown in as many weeks, but it was a beautiful play.

• I've been trying to find a standout defensive player to talk about, but there's really isn't just one. Mike Martin played as well as you'd expect. Jordan Kovacs, Jake Ryan, Kenny Demens, Ryan Van Bergen, JT Floyd, Blake Countess and Troy Woolfolk all had good games. When that many players play well, we're in good shape.

• Of course we need to address the fake field goal. That was an amazing call. Up 24-10 at the time, a field goal makes it a 3 score game...and the way the defense was playing, probably puts it out of reach. But kudos to Hoke and Borges for drawing up a fake at just the right time. At first I though it was a botched snap, but once we saw the blockers line up for Dileo, it was obvious what was going on.

Of the things that need improvement or areas of concern...

• Denard's INT was really just the result of a DL making a great play. You can argue that Denard needs to not make the throw, and I agree he doesn't. But either way, you know Denard's going to have at least one pass end up in the hands of the other team every week. Props to the D for only allowing 3 points from   it.

• Speaking of Denard, he did play well, but at times he looked a little hesitant to take off running when a guys were covered and a running lane was there. Nebraska was clearly leaving the middle of the field open for him a few times, but Denard chose to throw into coverage anyway.

• Need to protect the edges better on defense. A few times Martinez or Burkhead got around the edge for a modest gain. Braxton Miller or Boom Herron can also hurt us there.

Overall, not too much to complain about after a thorough thrashing of Nebraska. But a much larger game looms this week as Ohio comes to town. It's Ohio week, and thus we turn our attention southward (where the smell is coming from).

Related content:

Photos from Michigan - Nebraska

My photo set from today's Nebraska game. Enjoy.

Michigan - Nebraska Highlights

We're going to have a lot to say about this game, and some great photos to post. But for now, sit back with a beverage of your choice on this victorious Saturday night and watch some highlights. Go Blue!

Preview: Nebraska

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI
November 19, 2011, 12:00 PM

TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman, Urban Meyer, Quint Kessenich)
Radio: WWJ-950 AM, WTKA-1050 AM, Sirius/XM 91 (Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, Doug Karsch)
Line: UM -2.5
Over/Under: 50.5
Series Record: UM leads 3-2-1
Last Meeting: 2005: MICH 28 - NEB 32 (Alamo Bowl)
UM Record/Rank: 8-2 (4-2), #18 (BCS)
NEB Record/Rank: 8-2 (4-2), #16 (BCS)
Gametime Forecast: Mostly Cloudy, 48º, Winds SSW 10-15 MPH, 10% Chance of rain

Simple. Win and we're legit.

If we lose, all isn't lost because of Ohio State next week. But if we much more meaning is thrust onto this team and this coaching staff. Suddenly, Michigan ain't so damn bad.

Let's talk some football.

This game is what happens when two schools with tremendously rich football histories get together for a game that has realistically no meaning to the outside world whatsoever. But to each other, it does. Why so? Because of 1997, of course – when Michigan was forced to share it's outright national title with Nebraska. Something Tom Osborne fought tooth and nail to make sure happened.

And then the 2005 Alamo Bowl...a game which will forever be remembered by Michigan fans because of this...


Yeah, that play. I was sitting at Scorekeepers after way too many brews to be able to handle what I was seeing on the big screen when that play occurred. It's probably for the best.

You gotta give Mike Tirico some credit with getting all those names right though. #amiright? Okay, this preview post is starting to get away from me.

So yeah, this game. Well, Vegas likes Michigan to the tune of about 2.5 points last time I looked a couple days ago. That's basically calling this a pick 'em with home field advantage. What I hate is Michigan has lost 5 straight against ranked teams at home by an average of 16.6 points. So yeah.

The truth is, Michigan and Nebraska actually match up pretty well together. Take a peak at our stats post from Wednesday. Where Michigan does have an advantage is against Nebraska's passing game. The Huskers are averaging over 22 points against per game, while Michigan is averaging just over 16. Both schools are scoring about 32 points per game so far.

Where Michigan really needs to be concerned is Nebraska's running game. RB Rex Burkhead and QB Taylor Martinez are the real deal, and combined are helping Nebraska's offense average over 232 yards on the ground per game. Burkhead had a nice day at Penn State last week running for 121 yards and a touchdown. He actually has a rushing TD in every game this year. He will score on us on Saturday.
"Obviously, he's a challenge to all 11 guys out there and coaches and everything else because he's a guy who runs downhill, runs hard, and he's got enough acceleration and movement to him that he's tough to tackle," Hoke said. "He's really a great slicing style of runner."
As good as Coker looked against us in Iowa City two weeks ago? I don't think so. But teams to have a knack for played their best game against us.

Martinez is a bit of a wild card. Much like Denard, he's a QB who liked to run first and pass second. But that doesn't mean he won't try to air it out. For a running QB, he throws a lot. His stats are very similar to Denard's this year. They key for us to contain and control with our DL and blitzing LB's. Make Martinez beat us with his arm. Mike Martin and company should be able to take care of the rest.

"He is only a sophomore and he is still learning and growing and developing," Pelini said. "He is making a lot of progress and his confidence continues to grow, which is always a positive.
"There is a lot he needs to learn and improve upon, but you can say that about anybody in that stage of their career."

Offensively, Michigan is looking good with Fitz Toussaint at RB. Fitz had a great day last week against what I would consider one of the best defensive fronts in the league. Denard is said to be doing fine with his sprained wrist he suffered at Illinois last week which took him out of the game.

No question Denard has some mechanics he needs to work on, but at times last week, especially early on, he looked really good. He looked confident and old happy Denard. Not the new frustrated Denard we've seen at times this year. Although I'll agree that he's still missing a gear that is keeping him from breaking away from defenders.

Along the line, Michigan is looking fine with what we had at Illinois. Ricky Barnum is still out, but that's nothing new. Taylor Lewan looked fine to me last week. And any questions about David Molk were answered numerous times as well. Again, can't overstate how well we played against a good Illinois D. Getting lost in the shuffle of the game was the outstanding play of our OL. We'll need more of that this week.

As far as special teams, I think we're looking much better with kickoffs. Both kick coverage and returns have improved. Coverage is better all around, and Gallon has added a nice twist to the return unit. He's looked really good. Brendon Gibbons is all of the sudden automatic with field goals. He's 8/11 so far this year afar going 1/5 last year. Thank you very much.

Realistically, either team has a legit shot at winning this game. You gotta give Michigan the edge with home field advantage. That is, unless this occurs...

Yes, that is the Michigan student section 3 minutes prior to the Purdue game a few weeks ago. Need I remind you, we were 6-1 and ranked at the time this photo was taken. Yes it was a noon game. Yes it was after a bye-week. Yes it was following the Sparty loss. I don't care. There is no excuse for this.

Students, get to the game on time. You're embarrassing yourselves. Do not let this ever happen again. I don't care if we're playing Whatchamacallit Technical College. This is Michigan!

Back to my point. If the UM fans bring it like they did against Notre Dame, we'll be in the drivers seat for this game. My gut is telling me it's going to be a good game. It's going to be low scoring. There will be mistakes made by both teams. But the better of the two defenses will prevail. In that case, the clear edge goes to Michigan.

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