Gameday week 5 digest: Bye Week

Here's the breakdown of week our 5 content. No game today, so enjoy mowing the lawn or doing whatever it is you do to pass the time on a bye week. Just make sure you catch Michigan State and Ohio State at 3:30 on ABC. Then Wisconsin at Nebraska at 8:00.


Recruitaholics: Your Bye Week Refreshment

This week: 2013 News, 2014 News, In-Home Visits, and O yeah it's back ladies and gentlemen, the latest edition of Sayonara Suckas

It's a slow, boring week for Michigan Football since the bye week is in store, a major bummer especially after a loss.  So I figured I would try and spice it up a little for ya with a recruiting update.  So jump in, have at it, getcha some, check it out, get your get the point.  

2013 News

TE Jake Butt was the latest to receive his Army All-American Jersey.  Congrats to the talented big man.
Image via here
DB Ross Douglass also received an invite to an off-season high school bowl game.  While it's not the UA or Army All American game, the Semper Fidelis All American game isn't something to hang your head about.  Congrats to the young man.

WR LaQuon Treadwell is creating more buzz and at this point, who knows what this kid is thinking when it comes to his recruitment; He is definitely enjoying the process, no doubt about that.  See what Mike Farrell of had to say about some interesting visits in Treadwell's future:
Thank goodness for Laquon Treadwell from Crete (Ill.) Monee or else 2013 would be quite boring. In years past, there have been many completely unpredictable prospects that have added and switched schools of interest weekly but this year not so much. Treadwell is certainly interesting to follow. Now Texas is in the mix, Missouri will get an official and Florida, Michigan, Ole Miss, Auburn, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State remain in the picture. Don't be surprised if a few more schools jump on this list and some drop off, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Treadwell take this decision all the way to NSD. I still have a gut feeling that Michigan will be his choice, but he's certainly enjoying the process.
I'm not alone in my thinking huh?  You gotta like the fact that Farrell still says Michigan is the team to beat, but the panic meter may be slowing getting higher and higher the longer and longer he waits to make his decision.

A newly released highlight video on prospect RB Derrick Green, who was visited by RB's coach Fred Jackson on Tues., has surfaced on YouTube and you will definitely want to check this out; especially the block at 1:36 and Green applying the truck stick at 2:25:

S Leon McQuay III may have been a name that you haven't heard in a while since he took Michigan out of his top 3 after they told the young superstar that there was no room for him.  Well seems that Michigan is back in the picture.  Tremendous broke the news that McQuay has set an official visit to AA for the Northwestern game and will be taking in the campus the entire weekend.  Great news for us wolverine Recruitaholics.

'14 News

Some big, big offers went out this week to some big time prospects.  The first, you may remember from The Opening (yes, I'm bringing it up again) in DB Quin Blanding who performed very well against a lot of top talent a year ahead of him (!!!).  His sophomore highlights are below

Another, was DT Andrew BrownCheck him out in beast mode:
Both these cats are/will be consensus 5-stars and reside in Virginia.

Those two over shadow the third offer to go out in 4-star PA DB Montae Nicholson, which says a lot because Nicholson is very, very talented!

OL Jamarco Jones went to twitter saying that its a possibility he could make it to the Michigan-Ohio (St.) game (even though it's in Columbus, still doesn't hurt) and also had this to say about when he may be up to AA:

As you can see, Tully-Tillman is using his inner Shane Morris trying to recruit future prospects.  Jones seems to receive a new offer every week and pulling him in would be a big boost (or start) for the '14 OL class.

In-Home Visits

'14 4-star QB Will Grier
'14 4-star WR Derek Kief
'14 4-star DL Malik McDowell
'14 4-star RB Christian McCaffrey
'14 3-star DB Troy Vincent, Jr.
'14 5-star OL Braden Smith

Sayonara Suckas

'14 MI LB Deon Drake committed to Little Brother last week. Drake didn't hold a Michigan offer, and with the limited amount of LB spots left for this class (only expected to take 2 and Ferns already took up one), it's not a surprise to see him go elsewhere.  

Thursday Lowdown digs deep for bye-week content

If you're here looking for Michigan game week content, we're sorry to be the ones to break it to you...but it is, in fact, a bye week. But we won't let a little detail like that sidetrack us. We must soldier on.

YouTube: Hawkeye Nice
This gets posted here for two reasons..."What can I say, Central Michigan is a really good team." and "You regret your decision now, AC Slater?"

It's like being dunked in a pool of snark.

YouTube: Badger Style
Oh no. Not you too, Wisconsin? These videos are like zombies. Eventually, we all get bit.

DetNews: U-M's Desmond Howard ready for double dose of hate at MSU
Not that I don't think Des can't handle himself in front of Michigan's two biggest rival fan bases at once when College Gameday visits East Lansing on Saturday. All he needs to do is flash his Heisman trophy, Maxwell Award, Walter Camp Award, All-American honor, his 4 Big Ten title rings, Super Bowl ring and Super Bowl MVP trophy – and that should shut 'em up pretty quick.
 "When (the students at the GameDay set) do what they do — you can ask Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and (Lee) Corso — it's really comical to us. These are college kids, so they're smart enough to know their boos are like their applause for my body of work against their teams. That's what a smart, older gentleman told me recently. He said, 'Had you not done anything against these teams, they wouldn't care who you are. You wouldn't get any reaction.' It's like they're applauding me. It's like they're giving me a standing ovation."
And, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last year.
 "Most of them weren't born when I was doing what I did (at Michigan)," he said, continuing to laugh. "I'll ask them, 'Do you even know what happened.' I don't even blame the kids. I blame their parents — it's just the way they were raised."
Oh screw it, just show this video.

MVictors: Ufer Cries Treason!
Greg offers up some vintage controversy dating back to the infamous 1973 Rose Bowl vote by Big Ten athletic directors after the UM-OSU 10-10 tie. He also posted an audio clip of Bob Ufer calling into WJR's JP McCarty's morning show to discuss the "turncoats". Go. Listen. Now.
The 6-4 vote sent Woody and the Buckeyes to Pasadena and Ufer wants names:
MZone: The Original "Replacement Refs"
Yes, the regular NFL refs are going to back to work this weekend with their new 8-year deal intact. But Yost reminds us of the original "replacement refs" via this pic from the infamous 1979 Rose Bowl's phantom touchdown scored by USC's Reggie White.

DetNews: U-M's Al Borges: 'Miscommunication' caused breakdown on Vincent Smith pass play
"We had a miscommunication up front," Borges said Wednesday night during the "Inside Michigan Football" radio show. "We had nobody in front of the halfback. It's one of those mistakes that can be a little game-specific. We had set the play up by running a pitch earlier. All we did was watch if the safety forced quickly, and he did. So we were going to wait until we were positioned on an early down and run the pitch halfback pass.

"I've got to say this, and probably unjustifiably so, but I had complete confidence that play was going to work. We had a miscommunication up front. We didn't get people in front of the halfback and (Notre Dame linebacker Manti) T'eo got pressure."
Assorted bits
Shutdown Fullback: Week 5 Sucks. There was a Schembechler estate sale, which has since been cancelled, which had a smattering of football-related mementos. Michigan basketball will play 14 games on ESPN/CBS this year. Tremendous checks in on Columbus.

Breaking B1G: Week 5

Michigan State0-0003-18447W1
Ohio State0-0004-015169W4
Penn State0-0002-28861W2

My Week 4 picks: 6-4
Season total: 33-13 (.717)

Saturday, September 29th (All times eastern. My picks in bold.)

  • Penn State @ Illinois - ESPN
  • Minnesota @ Iowa - ESPN2
  • Indiana @ Northwestern - BTN
  • #14/- Ohio State @ #20/18 Michigan State - ABC
  • Marshall @ Purdue - BTN
  • #-/23 Wisconsin @ #22/20 Nebraska - ABC
Bye: Michigan

Biggest must-watch:
Hard to argue with Ohio State at Michigan State as the biggest B1G game this week (College Gameday is there fergodsakes – poor Desmond). I see this as a game between two programs with a lot to prove. We know Michigan State's offense is pretty awful, and we know Ohio State is a one-trick pony with Braxton Miller, so I expect the defenses to stand tall in this game. It may come down to field goals. I expect this game to be low scoring, but sloppy.

It's going to be really difficult, but Michigan fans are going to have to cheer for the Buckeyes this weekend. I know, I know. It feels wrong. It is wrong. But it's only for about 3 hours or so. A Sparty loss helps us more than a Buckeye loss. That said, I fully expect Sparty to pull off the win, but I won't be happy about it.

I'm already putting E. Lansing on 'couch alert' to defcon 3, and it's only Thursday.

Upset Alert!
Call me crazy, and I know you will, but I can see Wisconsin going into Lincoln at night and pulling off the upset. Inexplicably, I'm actually picking Wisconsin to win this game. I think both teams are vulnerable, but Wisconsin might be getting Monte Ball back, and they just seem like a different team with him in the game. Should be a good primetime matchup.

Snoozer of the week:
Not going the obvious route and picking Purdue. I'm interested in them as they're our week 6 opponent. I'm picking Minnesota @ Iowa, even though it's a division game and I'm a little intrigued by Minnesota's 4-0 start, as I am with Iowa's 2-2 start. There are no genuine snoozers this week.

Bold predictions!
Let me just say that it's about time conference play begins. Conference games should start earlier in the season (and there should be 9 of them instead of 8). Just sayin'.

The non-conference schedule was not kind to the perennial powers of the Big Ten. The Buckeyes, along with Penn State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, and of course Michigan all have a lot of question marks heading into conference play. The division crowns are totally up for grabs, and it would seem like any school has a legit shot at making it to Indy (sorry Buckeyes and Nittany Lions).

So long Irish

We might not be back here for a while. And I don't mean the redzone.
Much has been made of Notre Dame's decision to back out of the Michigan series in 2015. The series was set to take a hiatus in 2018-19 anyway, and even with Notre Dame's most recent decision, there's no certainty that they might or might not make their way back onto the schedule in 2020.

This series is good for the game. As the two of the most storied programs in college football, it's still meaningful when Michigan and Notre Dame play each other. It's always one of the bigger early-season games every year. And the recent trend of playing at night, it's only increased the anticipation and excitement of the matchup. I've been very much in favor of keeping the series alive. I have no problem playing Notre Dame every year.

But it would seem to me as if we might be at the end of this storied rivalry for a while.

The way in which Notre Dame's athletic director, Jack Swarbrick informed Dave Brandon of the decision raises a concern with me. Brandon wasn't asked to be a part of the decision process, he wasn't even given a head's up. He was handed a letter about an hour before kickoff Saturday night, which he didn't even read until the next morning, which informed him that after 2014, Michigan will be off the Irish schedule.

That's it, it's done.

This decision surprised me. Notre Dame cherishes their independence, much to the chagrin of Big Ten fans who might secretly or publicly want them to join the conference. The Michigan series is at the heart of Notre Dame's conference independence. By brooming us off their schedule, that independence will take a hit. And pseudo-joining the ACC and thumbing their nose at Michigan in the process, won't help either.

I suspect that while Dave Brandon is the AD at Michigan, Notre Dame will remain off the schedule. So much so that the matchup next year very well might be the last time we play the Irish for a while. I don't think Brandon has any interest in returning to South Bend in 2014 to wrap up the series where it resumed in 2002. Just my gut feeling.

So that brings us to the obvious question of who does Michigan get to replace Notre Dame?

Personally, I have my list of favorites. But the reality of scheduling a big name opponent with such short notice is an issue. Most big schools like Texas, LSU, Oklahoma, USC, Florida State already have their schedules set for the next few years. And I don't think a big-time school would back out of an existing agreement to schedule and home and home with Michigan.

MGoBlog dig some a lot of digging and created a nice list of possible replacement schools based on schedule availability. Among the schools on that list that seem plausible: Oregon, Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma State, Georgia, Washington – all seem like good choices. Personally, I'm more in favor of Oregon and/or Georgia. Either works for multiple reasons, mainly gaining national recruiting exposure.

Eventually, I don't think Notre Dame will be missed by most Michigan fans. It's a shame to see it end, but it's not like Michigan doesn't have better conference rivalries already in-place. I think the most interesting thing will be to watch is Notre Dame's slow but eventual march towards conference affiliation. It seems inevitable.

Notre Dame cancels UM football series for 2015-17

Via UM press release:

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan Athletic Department announced today (Tuesday, Sept. 25) that the football series with Notre Dame has been cancelled for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons. The Irish informed Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon prior to kickoff of the match-up Saturday (Sept. 22) in South Bend, Ind.

"The decision to cancel games in 2015-17 was Notre Dame's and not ours," said Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. "We value our annual rivalry with Notre Dame but will have to see what the future holds for any continuation of the series. This cancellation presents new scheduling opportunities for our program and provides a chance to create some new rivalries."

The Wolverines and Irish have met on the gridiron 40 times, the most for Michigan against any non-conference opponent. Michigan holds a 23-16-1 all-time record against Notre Dame, one of the U-M's three main rivals along with Michigan State and Ohio State.

The final two games in the rivalry will take place on Sept. 7, 2013, at Michigan Stadium, and the following year on Sept. 6, 2014, at Notre Dame Stadium. Both schools agreed to a break in the series during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The future of games scheduled to be played in 2020 and beyond has yet to be determined.
More on the fallout shortly.

Monday Lowdown will take your next question

MVictors: Where's The Party?
I tweeted a few times Saturday night during the interceptathon that the "professional" atmosphere in the Notre Dame pressbox was slightly less professional than what should be expected.
It’s well known that the media is prohibited from cheering in the press box but it’s not just a collection of writers upstairs at Notre Dame.  After Denard connected with Gardner on a third down conversion in the first half some dude belted out, “DAMN IT!”.    When Denard took off on a run later in the game, I heard, “GET ‘EM!”.   And so on.   I’m actually glad this happened because it created some much needed lighter moments on the glass.
Hoover Street Rag: Knowing
I'm going to spare everyone who reads this site by not posting everyone's review of this game. Denard threw a lot of picks and it cost us the game. Boom. Done.

Instead, I'm going to post this, a response to Denard's post-game apology, written by Craig Barker at HSR.
First of all Denard, that's a pretty big apology and probably unnecessary in the grand scheme.  The people who understand that you are still a net positive, that you are still one of the most dynamic and special players to have wandered through our football lives, well, they don't need it and those who cannot understand any of those things will not care how you feel, they will instead focus on what you did and why it was so awful.  But in an era when personal accountability is used as a punch line or a sound bite all too often, I appreciate the spirit in which it was offered, because I believe from everything I read, it was sincere.

But man, that feeling, that feeling of responsibility that it is all your fault, that you are the proximate cause of a disaster, that you, and you alone, bear the awesome burden of responsibility of failure when so many are counting on you, that has to be hard.  Any of us may have had that feeling, in a small scale, within the private lives we lead, but I don't know if anyone reading can say that they would have felt this way as a 22 year old* and one of the most famous athletes in the country who just laid an egg on national television.  But I do think, if we take inventory, we've had that moment of not wanting to feel a certain way anymore.  It's hard to shake, and sometimes you just need to say it aloud, to hear your voice say the words, even if just to yourself, but sometimes to a throng of assembled media.  You have to know that the road to feeling better comes with telling yourself that this sucks and I am taking personal responsibility to make it better.  It is in this knowledge, in this knowing that you have started down this path, that it, theoretically, makes every part of getting better and not feeling that way possible.

Mark Dantonio hates you and your questions. Next question. [YouTube]

It should be noted that this is "Happy Mark". They won...barely.

WNDU: Woman missing bottom row of teeth following gameday fight 
Exactly one person had a worse night in South Bend than Denard.
While police were talking to the men, a woman approached officers and said she'd been hit in the face with a case of Natural Light Beer. The woman had very visible wounds, most profound, her entire bottom row of teeth were missing. Notre Dame Gigapixel
If you were at the Notre Dame game, find youself on this 360-degree super high-res photo. Here's me (behind the left column) sitting between @mattslovin and @samwebb77. Greg from @MVictors is in the hat, and next to him is Phil from @umgoblog. Can't you tell how happy we are to be here?!

Not sure who this is, but this is how I felt.

Dayton Daily News: OSU president expenses in the millions
Gee has spent more than $64,000 on bow ties. Seriously. That's not a joke. Actually, that is a joke. Gee hasn't spent a dime, taxpayers have paid over $64,000 for Gee's signature bow ties. Chew on that Ohio.
Since returning to Columbus as the university’s president in October 2007, the 68-year-old Gee has pulled in $8.6 million in salary and compensation, making him the highest paid CEO of a public university in the country.

But his expenses — hidden among hard-to-get records that the university took nearly a year to release — tally nearly as much: $7.7 million.
Assorted bits
Brady Hoke's post-game presser. ND photo galleries from mgoblog and umgoblog. This just in...the Big Ten is no good this year. Larry Foote is not a fan of NFL replacement refs.

I don't know who Tami Hughes of Fox 6 News is, but I like her.

Recruitaholics: Preforming and Pranking

This Week:  Short but Sweet - Commits in Action and Prospects in Action.  That's it!  O yeah and An Epic Prank!!

An Epic Prank

A picture arose on Twitter late Wednesday night that created a huge buzz and added even more flames to an already ablaze fire.  Below is the Knute Rockne gate of Notre Dame Stadium which sits across from Touchdown Jesus and as you can see, something seems a little misplaced.  Apparently a few students made the trip down to the stadium and hung this banner featuring the block M and relaying a message that reads "Beat the Irish."  The kicker, the students were holding a little pep rally right around the corner.  Priceless (or should I say, oblivious...).
Image via here

Hopefully the above provided you with something to laugh about regarding last weekend's game.  I can't even speak about it anymore, but Brad was more than happy to provide his thoughts of the 13-7 loss. 

Commits in Action

DE Taco Charlton was getting it from the opposing team's players and fans leading up to his contest over the weekend.  Charlton was not shy to silence them during the 21-20 hard fought victory.  According to his twitter, he had "like 5 sacks and close to 20 tackles+ tackles.  Hataz gunna hate! 

DB Ross Douglas was impressive in his game over the weekend.  He showed off his 4-star rating recording an interception on defense and lighting up the scoreboard on offense for 3 scores tallying 140 yards on his way.

'14 LB Michael Ferns and St. Clairsville (OH) took home a 48-6 victory over the weekend.  Couldn't find any stats for the game.

Tremendous was kind enough to compile a list of stats for a good chunk of Michigan's '13 commits over the weekend.  A few things to note before you get your fix:
  • Cass Tech suffered there first loss of the season in a cold, wet showdown with in state foe OLSM.  Stat of the night: CT only accumulated 59 yards of total offense for the game. YIKES! 
  • '15 KY RB Damien Harris made this list for some reason.  Is there something we are missing?!  Do I need to scratch this and start getting an "Incoming" post ready?!  (Settle down there partner, just making a funny)  He continues his hot Sophomore (yes I said Sophomore) year with a 2 TD performance on 11 carries for 258 (!!) yards (as you'll see).  Pretty sure Harris is a sure bet for over 200 each game and is considered on a short list for the top '15 RB according to Steve Wiltfong (Highlights included) .  Let's hope there is some forshadowing here! 
  • S Dymonte Thomas pulled in the Week 5 Under the Lights Player of the Week this past week.  Check out his interview:  He screams confidence and composure...

Prospects in Action

'13 RB Derrick Green had 143 yards and 1 score in his team's 20-17 win on Friday. 

'13 WR LaQuon Treadwell had two touchdown's in the 1st quarter alone, surprised?!  He continues his dominance and leadership as his team pulled in another victory.

'14 DE Da'Shawn Hand will be at the top of the list, if not THE top, when it comes to '14 prospects and Michigan is in the mix.  He had an impressive night, recording 12 tackles, 4 TFL, and 3 sacks in his team's victory.

'14 WR Derek Kief has his own twitter page following his performances and his overall commitment (@DerekKiefDotCom).  Betcha didn't know that.  Pretty cool.  Anyways, Kief recorded 9 receptions for 131 yards and 1 TD.  You can find anything you want to know about his season and much, much more here.

'14 ATH Jabrill Peppers took part in a 54-7 blowout.  His team improves to 3-0 on the season.  No stats were found, but I'm sure he was spectacular...He usually is. 

'14 WR Dominique Booth was in attendance on Saturday taking in the feeling of what a heated rivalry is all about.  He preceded the visit with 9 catches for 115 yards and 2 TD's in his game Friday night. 

I had a little chat with '14 FL OL Mason Cole while making the treck home from vacation and he was definitely cheering on the Wolverines on Saturday night as he predicted they would pull the upset.  He also told me he was still planning on visiting for the Michigan State game with WR prospect and teammate Artavis ScottAs for how his season is going and if he is much looking foward to his visit..."Good, were 3-1 and heck ya!"  This visit could be huge for UM's chances to get a commitment from Cole and to extend an offer to Scott. 

No Apologies

That's the Denard we all know and love.
Shortly after the game last night, Denard Robinson trotted out of the visiting team's locker room at Notre Dame Stadium, was surrounded by the media, and said this:
"I want to say sorry to everybody who watches football, watches Michigan football and whoever follows Michigan football.  I want to say sorry and it won't happen no more. I'm going to be accountable for the rest of the season, I can tell you that much.  Whatever it takes for the team to win, that's what I'm going to do. I don't want to feel like this anymore."  
First of all, yes, a ton of credit to Denard for coming out and facing the music. He certainly didn't have to do that. But I guess part of being a senior and a captain is personal accountability. That shouldn't go unnoticed. But Deneard played maybe one of the worst games a quarterback at Michigan has ever played. It was almost as if it wasn't real. At halftime in the pressbox, I got together with a few other fellow bloggers and we just stood there in shock...sighing in between awkward pauses.

What makes Denard so great is his athletic ability. Ask anyone who loves Denard Robinson, "Why?", and that's probably the reason they'll give you. He just makes plays. He's special. What almost no one will say, is that it's because he's such a great passer. He's not. This is not new news. Five straight interceptions last night proved that fact.

The reason I say Denard isn't fully to blame, is because asking him to do something he's known for not being good at, is kind of like asking a racecar driver to change the tires. Michigan's offensive gameplan last night was to try and prove that Denard can beat you with his arm. Notre Dame forced Michigan to pass, and it worked better than they could have ever imagined. Its a plan that worked for Michigan State last year, in a game which felt oddly similar to last night.

I get that you want to try and prove your opponent wrong, play into their weakness, because Notre Dame's secondary is certainly weak. But why, oh why would you take you best offensive weapon, and try to make him something that he's not? He's simply not a drop-back passer. Never will be. It's not what makes him so special.

Michigan has to find a way to get Denard out of the pocket and into space where he can improvise. That's where he shines. That's where he belongs. Give him a running game, and suddenly it's nothing but 2011 Nebraska games from here on in. 

Notre Dame photo gallery

We'll have much more to say about this game soon, but for now, here's my photo gallery from last night.

Early pregame photos from South Bend

Some very early pregame photos from South Bend and Notre Dame Stadium.

Gameday week 4 digest: Notre Dame

Heeee's baaaack!
Also, we must never forget.

Here's the breakdown of week 4 content that should get you ready to go for the Irish at 7:30 PM eastern. I'll be up in the Notre Dame Stadium pressbox for the game and down on the field before and after. Follow me on Twitter at @MaizeBlueNation.


Notre Dame Preview

#17/18 MICHIGAN vs. #15/11 NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
September 22, 2012, 7:30 PM

TV: NBC (Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock, Alex Flanagan)
Radio: WWJ-950 AM, WTKA-1050 AM, SiriusXM 129 (Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, Doug Karsch)
Line: UM +5
O/U: 45
Series Record: UM leads 23-15-1
Last Meeting: 2011: MICH 35 - ND 31
UM Record/Rank: 2-1 (0-0), #17/18
ND Record/Rank: 3-0 #15/11
Gametime Forecast: Mid to upper 50s, rain showers.

Happy Birthday!
Via: WLA
Relevant links from sites we trust
MZone's Know Your Foe, John U. Bacon's appreciation of Denard, MGoAce's Irish FFFF, MLive's Kyle Meinke's 5 Keys, DetNews' Angelique Chengelis takes a look at the QB matchup.

Other Previews
Maize & Brew, Touch the Banner, BWS.


When Michigan has the ball
Michigan State's offense was exposed last week (and the defense to a certain degree), so take that into account when trying to decide just how good Notre Dame's defense really is.

I'd love to come on here and list all the ways Michigan can win this game without the entire offensive emphasis being on Denard Robinson. I love to do that. But honestly, I can't. At least not in this game.

Denard is Irish kryptonite. Plain and simple. Last year, when Michigan had no business being in that game, let along winning it – it was mostly thanks to the playmaking ability of Denard Robinson, despite his 3 interceptions. When his time at Michigan is done, Denard will most likely be remembered for his performances against Notre Dame.

Elsewhere on offense, Michigan has issues to deal with. They must get Fitz involved tomorrow night. That's very important. Through most of the game last year, Michigan's longest drive of the day was 4 plays. That's not going to work in South Bend against a team that is much better at protecting the football then they used to be. The OL must come together and make the running game serviceable against a relevant defense.

Like most defenses, Notre Dame will stack the box to stop Denard and Fitz. It's what good defenses do, and it seems to have decent success against Michigan until they eventually get a big play because of Denard's ability, or Borges is able to expose a vulnerability with the passing game. Hopefully it won't take until the second half for that to happen tomorrow night.

The good news is Notre Dame's secondary is young and inexperienced. Their starting cornerback was injured before the season, and their starting safety was injured last week. They new have a converted WR starting at safety. Michigan fans know this feeling all too well. They key for Michigan is going to be mixing up the playcalling to complete enough passes to loosen up the running game.

If they can do that, we're off to the races. Hopefully Denard can limit his interception count to just 1 tomorrow. Devin Funchess and Devin Gardner will be vital to Michigan's passing game tomorrow night.

When Notre Dame has the ball
The Irish showed against Michigan State's stout defense that they don't mind pounding the football. But while they didn't gouge Michigan State on the ground, they held their own thanks to an offensive line was able to get a strong push against the MSU front 4 for much of the game. Any Michigan fans that were watching took notice of how well the Irish OL played and cringed. Much of the 2011 Michigan-Notre Dame contest was defined by how well Notre Dame controlled the line of scrimmage.

The job of Michigan's front 4 will be to keep the Notre Dame linemen from getting to and blocking our linebackers. This will not be an easy task, but it will be vital for Michigan to control Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood. Expect ND to gain some yards on the ground. Michigan's rushing D is just not good enough yet to shut down an offense like this.

Notre Dame QB Everett Golson is a competent passer. He doesn't have the receiving corps at his disposal that Tommy Rees had last year...most importantly no Michael Floyd. Just looking at the stats through 3 games and you see that Notre Dame is a run-first offense. The pass is there, and Golson is mobile enough to create plays, even take off running, so this Irish offense is no slouch.

For Michigan, the emphasis must be on the front 7. Like I said, keeping the linebackers free to make plays is going to be vital. That's the main responsibility of the defensive tackles. That's a big advantage for Notre Dame on paper.

The main advantage for Michigan is their pass defense against Golson and the Irish receivers. Notre Dame's big threats are TE Tyler Eifert and WRs DaVaris Daniels and TJ Jones. And of course Wood and Riddick out of the backfield are always receiving threats.

Special teams
Michigan must get better at punt coverage. It would help if Hagerup could put a little more air under his kicks, he outkicks his coverage almost every time. Notre Dame's punt return man is Davonte' Neal. Returning kicks is a combination of George Atkinson, Jarrett Grace and Cam McDaniels.

Dennis Norfleet is a huge threat for Michigan on punt returns. I'd like to see him get more involved on kickoff returns and the offense as well.

Make boisterous comments on Twitter if...
• Denard can throw the football (mostly) to players wearing white jerseys
• Fitz is the leading rusher at halftime
• The two Devin's continue their upward trend in the offense
• Tom Hammond is stunned by the speed of Denard Robinson, again

Cancel recording on your DVR if...
• Any of Notre Dame's receivers remind you Michael Floyd
• The Irish OL dominates
• Tomorrow's game reminds you a lot of last year's, without all of the Notre Dame turnovers

I have no earthly idea who is going to win this game. I don't even have any criteria in which to make an educated guess. I got nothing.

That said...Michigan 21 Notre Dame 20

Related MBN content

Recruitaholics: Grab A Cold One

This Week:  Vacation!
I know my usual Monday Recruitaholics post was absent this week, and I'm sure you all just couldn't go on with your week like usual without it.  That I apologize for!  I'm actually on vacation in sunny Clearwater, FL and had some troubles with my internet and the post I had prepared.  I don't want to talk about it.  So below I chose a few major story lines that you shouldn't miss out on.  Please try to enjoy, maybe even enjoy with a beer, I know I did while throwing this together as you can see below.

But good news...The Wolverine put together a great list of how each of our '13 commits faired over the weekend.  I mean it's no Recruitaholics post, but it is put together very well (totally kidding, The Wolverine does an exceptional job).  

TomVH has the latest on the development of '13 commit QB Shane Morris' status involving his fight with mono and whether he will be out the rest of the season:

Michigan quarterback commit Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), the No. 26 player in the 2013 ESPN 150, has contracted mononucleosis, jeopardizing the final five games of his senior season.
 Morris was hospitalized for treatment Wednesday and was expected to stay overnight. The nation's fourth-ranked quarterback couldn't finish the game on Saturday, won't play this weekend, and said he "has no clue" about whether he'll play again this season.

Dr. Benjamin Wedro, a board-certified physician, believes the virus could prevent the signal-caller from returning to the field.
"The infection can sap your strength and weaken you for four to six weeks, making it tough to practice to play," Wedro said. "Many non-athlete college kids lose a semester recuperating because they are too tired to attend class."

Wedro also said the virus could lead to injury if football is reintroduced too soon.
"A complication of mono is spenomegaly, or an enlarged spleen, where the spleen gets big enough that it can be felt in the abdomen below the protective border of the left lower rib cage," he said. "Those patients need to avoid all physical contact because the spleen is at risk for injury, fracture and rupture."

Michigan's top-ranked commit also decided to suspend his Twitter account during this time. He had gained attention from fans and rival fans after hearing of his illness.
"I didn't delete it. I just suspended it," he said. "I need to rest while I have mono and I didn't want anything distracting me. I'll be back on."
As you can see, it doesn't look good and there is a lot of risk when dealing with a situation like this.  I dealt with a similar thing back in my hay-day and missed a significant amount of time.  Let's all hope for the best and send Morris our best regards. 

MGoBlog has some good tibbits, including more on the above story lines, that you can feast your thirst on in my absence.  There are two updates this week and "Monday's Recruiting" will keep you up to date with the latest news.  Also check out a great breakdown in its weekly "Thursday Recruiting" segment. 

Once again, I apologize for the lack of a post on Monday, but I had some fish to catch (three sharks among many others), some beer to drink, and some waves to ride.  But I'll be back in full force starting on Monday so be ready.  Please feel free to make a comment below or hit me up on twitter @dwinslow09 if you have any questions on how commits or prospects did over the weekend or any other recruiting questions you may have.  #GOBLUE

Michigan - Notre Dame statistical breakdown

MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)NOTRE DAMEADV.
Rushing Offense (ypg)192.33 (45)96.33 (23)Rushing Defense (ypg)PUSH
Passing Offense (ypg)233.00 (67)192.33 (38)Passing Defense (ypg)ND
Pass Eff. Offense142.18 (48)106.24 (26)Pass Eff. DefenseND
Total Offense (ypg)425.33 (52)288.67 (18)Total Defense (ypg)ND
Scoring Offense (ppg)36.00 (T-33)8.00 (8)Scoring Defense (ppg)PUSH
Rushing Defense (ypg)211.33 (104)155.67 (67)Rushing Offense (ypg)ND
Passing Defense (ypg)157.67 (12)233.00 (67)Passing Offense (ypg)UM+
Pass Eff. Defense117.59 (43)128.27 (74)Pass Eff. OffenseUM
Total Defense (ypg)369.00 (57)388.67 (72)Total Offense (ypg)PUSH
Scoring Defense (ppg)26.33 (75)30.00 (67)Scoring Offense (ppg)PUSH
Net Punting Yards37.00 (62)4.00 (96)Punt Return YardsUM
Punt Return Yards5.00 (91)40.73 (17)Net Punting YardsND++
Kickoff Return Yards22.14 (49)25.20 (112)Kickoff Return DefenseUM++
Kickoff Return Defense23.75 (101)21.20 (54)Kickoff Return YardsND+
Turnover Margin-1.00 (T-94)1.67 (11)Turnover MarginND+++
Penalty Yds /Gm61.30 (T-81)41.00 (T-35)Penalty Yds /GmND+
Sacks /Gm1.00 (T-99)2.67 (93)Sacks Allowed /GmPUSH
Sacks Allowed /Gm.67 (13)3.67 (10)Sacks /GmPUSH
Redzone Off. (%)100.00 (T-1)80.00 (T-63)Redzone Def. (%)UM++
Redzone Def. (%)88.33 (T-75)80.00 (T-71)Redzone Off. (%)PUSH
Redzone TD %88.89 (10)40.00 (T-28)Redzone TD Def. %PUSH
Redzone TD Def. %50.00 (T-37)53.33 (T-84)Redzone TD %UM+
3rd Down Conv. %44.12 (53)34.88 (49)3rd Down Def. %PUSH
3rd Down Def. %45.83 (97)44.19 (T-51)3rd Down Conv. %ND+
1st Downs /Gm19.00 (T-85)16.00 (T-23)1st Downs Allowed /GmND++
1st Downs Allowed /Gm20.30 (T-69)20.70 (T-66)1st Downs /GmPUSH

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

Stat bullets:
• Michigan was able to right the ship, so to speak, statistically last week against UMass. That and the Alabama game pretty much cancel each other
• Turnovers let Michigan back into and kept Michigan in the game last year. The way things are going so far this year, Michigan needs to get better at creating turnovers, and Notre Dame is doing much better protecting the football this season. I don't see mistakes being a huge part of this game this year.
• I think if you just look at this chart, you notice Notre Dame has the advantage in pretty much every stat that matters. But one area that there isn't a stat for, is when Denard Robinson has the football. That's a huge advantage for Michigan. In two starts, Denard has 948 total yards against Notre Dame.
• If they can force ND to pass, that's probably the biggest area of advantage for Michigan. Golson is a good QB, but he's young and doesn't have full control of the offense yet. That said, he doesn't seem to force things too much, which has to be good for Irish fans to see.

The full Notre Dame preview will be up tomorrow.

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Wednesday Lowdown is smiling, always smiling

The Art The Art The Art: Touchdown Jesus Facepalm Guy
Notre Dame week wallpaper does not disappoint.

MLive: Michigan hasn't beaten a ranked road opponent in 6 years
This can't be...well. Is it? Oh...
Since knocking off then No. 2 Notre Dame on Sept. 16, 2006, the Wolverines have gone 0-7 against Top 25 teams in true road environments.
Wolverine Nation (ESPN): Magical night at the Big House
Michael Rothstein takes a comprehensive look back at the first night game in Michigan football history.
Al Borges, Michigan offensive coordinator: Coaching in a lot of the stadiums in the SEC, a lot at night, there are some I remember well, the LSU and Florida games, and boy, it was rocking. But I don't remember any of them being as electric, 100,000-some pom-poms and the chants. Even in the press box, as focused as we are as coaches, you can't help but hear the house rock.
SI: NFL Films pres Sabol dies at 69
Here's to you Steve.

Examiner: Iowa's Kirk Ferentz says he's too old to understand uniform craze
In Kirk's defense, you don't have to be too old to understand it. No one understands it. Apparel companies and suppliers love sells more jerseys. Just go with it.
"If I understood, I would probably be younger," Iowa's head coach said Tuesday when asked a question about Iowa's alternate uniforms. "I just know they do. It's almost unanimous I think they do. That's the world we live in."

"If we wore a different uniform every week, I think that would probably enhance our image with some players," Ferentz said. "So things like that are things I'm not good at seeing. I need people to help me with that because I have a blind spot there."
Deadspin: John L Smith will not tolerate you not smiling

John L. has always been a reporters/bloggers best friend, but...I mean, whoa.

MZone: How Notre Dame preps for Michigan

Assorted bits
Hope for Pahokee reached it's $35,000 goal with about a week left until their deadline! Bravo to Martavious Odoms for putting together this organization and doing the work he's doing.

Michigan 2013 5-star QB commit Shane Morris might miss the rest of his senior season with mono. Shutdown Fullback snarks the hell out of week 4. Crisler Arena has a new floor. Pieces of the old one, which has been used since 1967, was turned into medallions for the men's and women's locker rooms. Remind me to stay away from Houston Texans' LB Brian Cushing.

Breaking B1G: Week 4

Week 3 picks: 10-2
Season total: 27-9 (.750)

All times eastern. My picks in bold.

Saturday, September 22nd
Central Michigan @ Iowa - BTN
UAB @ #16/- Ohio State - BTN
UTEP @ #-/24 Wisconsin - ESPN2

Eastern Michigan @ #21/20 Michigan State - BTN
Idaho State @ #25/22 Nebraska - BTN
South Dakota @ Northwestern - BTN
Temple @ Penn State - ABC/ESPN2 (regional/outer market)

#18/17 Michigan @ #11/15 Notre Dame - NBC

Louisiana Tech @ Illinois - BTN
Syracuse @ Minnesota - BTN

Bye: Purdue, Indiana

Biggest must-watch:
No question, "Wake up the echoes: 2012 edition" is the game of the week.

I've come to the conclusion that the B1G either needs to start scheduling better non-conference opponents, or conference games need to start in September. This is the second week in a row with pretty much every B1G game being a snoozer outside of someone playing Notre Dame. (I'm looking at you Ohio State).

Upset Alert!
With the way things are going so far in 2012, almost any team can be on upset alert. Iowa's season is already off to a rough start, which could get rougher after a possible loss to Central Michigan. Penn State lives on upset alert pretty much every week. Not that it would shock anyone, but I can see Syracuse beating Minnesota, ending their improbable winning streak at 3.

Snoozer of the week:
UAB at Ohio State. I'm done caring about Urbz clubbing baby seals.

Bold predictions!
I predict another good weekend for the B1G. Iowa, Northwestern, Penn State all win, but it's closer than they would like. I think Michigan finds a way to win in South Bend...Denard is like kryptonite for the Irish. Sparty, Ohio State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Illinois all win like they should.
I just would like to say that last week I said the B1G should see 10 wins, and they got 10 wins. I should get paid more for this.

Brady Hoke on The Dan Patrick Show [Audio]

I heard this yesterday but didn't have the chance to get this posted until now. I'm a huge fan of the Dan Patrick Show. So when Brady Hoke calls in, that's appointment radio for me. Brady talks a little bit about his routine, family time, the NFL, Skyline Chili, and also breaks down the Irish.

Here's his call from hour 3 of the yesterday's show.

Caption Contest: Win a copy of NCAA Football 13

Each Monday for the first 13 weeks of the college football season, Coke Zero is giving away one copy of EA Sports NCAA Football 13 (XBOX360/PS3) every 13 minutes. That’s 111 copies each Monday! The rules to enter are simple: Follow @CokeZero on Twitter and look for messages including the hashtags #GameOn and #ad as well as the URL Once you retweet the message originating from @CokeZero, you’re entered.

They've also given me a copy to give away right here.

So here's the deal. I've started this thread on our message board and posted a photo of Brian Kelly and Brady Hoke from 2011's Michigan-ND game. Your job is to caption that photo. The best caption, decided by me, will win a 100% free copy of NCAA Football 13 for either XBOX360 or PS3. Inappropriate captions using foul language or anything like that is strongly discouraged.

Hurry, this contest won't last long.

UPDATE! Contest is closed, we have a winner!

Monday lowdown has no problem playing Notre Dame

Today's lowdown starts off with some images from Saturday. I've been informed by Daniel that today's Recruitaholics has been postponed due to an accidental deletion of the entire post just minutes from being published (I know the feeling). So expect that to hit later this week.

Whatever was in the endzone at Ole Miss needed strong military protection. I came for the hat wiggle, and stayed for the guy's reaction on the right.

I know things in Gainesville haven't been great this year, but players are already hiding their faces. Not sure what's going on here.

Keeping it in the state of Florida, a slightly less than capacity crowd took in the Miami Hurricane's home game on Saturday against the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats.
"We're gonna need more smoke."
Yet another Florida school, Florida State...the #5 team in the country, had a rough time filling their stadium to watch them hang 52 unanswered points on Wake Forest. Point and laugh, but Michigan is another ticket price increase away from this.

MLive: Notre Dame loses safety Jamoris Slaughter for the season, secondary thinned for Michigan game reports that Matthias Farley, a redshirt freshman converted wide receiver, will likely start in Slaughter's place this Saturday when the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish host No. 18 Michigan (7:30 p.m., NBC). 
This should only help us.

MGoBlog: Unverified Voracity says Forever ND
This should be printed on the back of the "Rudy Sucks" t-shirt.
Anyone who wants to stop playing ND is nuts. It's an easy road trip, the fans there are incredibly nice, you get more credit for beating them than you deserve, and Michigan has feasted on ND hearts for five of the last six years. The Notre Dame series is fantastic, and it's not like you can't schedule a second real team despite having that. Michigan State has Oregon and Alabama lined up in the future, and college football is moving towards a committee approach that has schedule strength as a point of emphasis. ND is not a death knell for playing other interesting opponents going forward.

Meanwhile, think of what Notre Dame has given us. Awful, awful things like Rocket and Harry Oliver. Awesome things like Yakety Sax, Yakety Sax II, "Oh Wide Open," and the last three years. Charlie Weis. Lou Holtz. Freekbass. NDNation. NDNation!

Not playing Notre Dame is stupid. It's stupid that Michigan doesn't play them in basketball and stupid that they seemingly won't be playing much in hockey after the CCHA breaks up. More Notre Dame. Always Notre Dame. They are the perfect foil. I love them, the bastards. Let's never stop playing them. Amen.
YouTube: Pregamming with Pat - UMass
I never feel great about the future of our country after watching these.

Assorted bits
Shutdown Fullback recaps week 3. Michigan's off, but here's the TV times for Sept. 29th. I refuse to embed this. Michigan put the block-M on their endzone pylons this season, and broke NCAA rules in the process.

UMass wrap up and blogger's reaction

We got the W.


It was a win. It was a 50-point win. It was a "cover the largest spread in Michigan football history" win. It was an offensive onslaught that was both expected and deserved. Michigan needed a game like this. I think every team needs a game like this.  You just sort of forget about what happened two weeks ago, and just stare at the scoreboard and nod.

Denard's pick-6 made everyone a little uncomfortable, but his beautiful touchdown run made up for that, I think. Michael Cox playing his best game in Michigan stadium did also. But when it's all said and done, its best not to look too far into what you saw on the field Saturday. Resist the urge to draw too many conclusions about Michigan's strengths and weaknesses. UMass is not a good gauge. Especially when you're only seeing about half of the offensive and defensive playbooks.

On a day when a little blond-haired kid from Oklahoma can get a bigger ovation from 110,000+ people than the, now legendary, Ron know that you just want this day to come and go with no surprises. Just get the win, don't look bad, score big points, and move on.

Bring on the Irish.

Ordinary - Hoover Street Rag
So that is why I am not ever going to complain about a game like yesterday.  They are necessary and they are good for the soul.  Sure, there's very little drama, but haven't we had enough of that already this season. So if yesterday was about seven different guys running the ball and eight different guys making a catch, I'll take it.  If it's about no one getting hurt while winning by 50, I'll take it.  Because we needed a breather.  Doesn't make it a bad day, after all.  I still got a chance to watch Denard do Denard things, an occasion which is sadly dwindling down to fewer and fewer as we progress toward the end of his senior year.  I still got a chance to watch Devin "The" Funchess make a pretty spectacular play to open the scoring, Devin Gardner make an amazing dive to get across the goal line, and Vincent Smith score a couple of touchdowns by doing the Vincent Smith things he has done for such a long time.  Ordinary, perhaps, but if it is, we need to appreciate how hard it was to get back to a point where this is ordinary.
60 Meh-nutes - MVictors
My biggest concern: Beyond Denard’s inconsistency tossing the ball, Fitz couldn’t seem to get many yards with the play that was called—he had to bounce it outside often to create space.  That’s not This-is-Michigan-Fergodsakes football, fergodsakes. The D-line is still a big question mark.
UMass Recap: Pleasantly Routine - MGoBlog
UMass got paid. Michigan got a chance to breathe easy and give their backups plenty of run. Now the team can look ahead to Saturday night's matchup with Notre Dame; for today, they can feel content about handling business as expected. With the baby seal emphatically clubbed, it's time to move on to the real season, not unscathed but with the ultimate goal—a Big Ten championship—still within reach.
UMass Reaction - Tremendous
Overall, to say you can take a lot away from this game would be a stretch, but I do believe the playing time for the freshmen (snaps on O for Norfleet??? Awesome), and the extra game time to adjust our running game should prove to be priceless.
Leaping with #Toughness - Mrs. MVictors

Michigan vs UMass Awards - Touch the Banner
Play of the game . . . Devin Gardner's catch-and-run.  Gardner did a great job of catching the ball, getting upfield, and stretching for the pylon.  He's deceptively strong for having a lanky frame and did a great job of staying inbounds when it looked like he would get knocked out at around the 2-yard line.

Photo gallery from MGoBlog, MVictors' Dr. Sap decals, game highlights, entire game video via MGoVideo, post-game pressers.

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