Breaking B1G: Week 10 Preview

1. Nebraska3-11201276-2314203W2
1. Michigan3-1110465-3224138L1
3. Northwestern3-21491277-2274201W1
4. Iowa2-281954-4163169L2
5. Michigan State2-389885-4173135W1
6. Minnesota1-3831185-3202185W1
1. Ohio State5-01961489-0347217W9
2. Penn State3-1135845-3223145L1
3. Wisconsin3-2147876-3233158L1
4. Indiana1-31361443-5274239W1
5. Purdue0-4771553-5247238L4
5. Illinois0-4381422-6144246L5

My Week 9 picks: 2-4
Season total: 48-26 (.648)

Saturday, November 3rd (All times eastern. My picks in bold.)
Michigan @ Minnesota - BTN

Iowa @ Indiana - BTN
#21/21/21 Nebraska @ Michigan State - ABC/ESPN2
Illinois @ #6/-/- Ohio State - ESPN
Penn State @ Purdue

Bye: Northwestern, Wisconsin

Biggest must-watch:
Easy. For us bleeding heart Michigan fans, it's Nebraska at Michigan State. We desperately need Nebraska to lose at least once between now and the end of November (twice would be outstanding, though). It absolutely drives Sparty fans crazy when Michigan fans cheer for them to win, but this is the new reality we live in with the Legends division...from time to time, we need to cheer for each other to help us out.

Upset Alert!
I'm going to put Michigan on upset alert this week. We're coming off a disheartening loss on the road to a huge conference foe, and Minnesota is coming off of a big win against Purdue. Not sure exactly which Michigan team is going to show up in Minneapolis, or how healthy their quarterback will be, but I suspect things should go well for the Wolverines. Either way, my confidence is decidedly low.

Snoozer of the week:
Illinois at Ohio State. One team is the best in the league, the other is the worst. Do the math.

Bold predictions!
After a sub par 2-4 record last week in my predictions, far be it for me to give any sort of bold predictions. It would seem that even I'm having a tough time coming to grips with just how bad some teams are in this league.

I do think Penn State rebounds against a terrible Purdue squad. Iowa at Indiana is intriguing simply because as I type this sentence, Indiana has a clear shot at the Big Ten title game and a possible Rose Bowl. If they win out, the Big Ten is theirs.

Ohio State should dispatch of Illinois easily. And if Michigan doesn't return home with the Little Brown Jug in it's possession, a legit change of a Big Ten title game appearance are over.

Recruitaholics: Singing Intimidation

This Week:  Michael Ferns Helmet Update, Singing Intimidation, 2013 News, Commits in Action, Prospects in Action, OT

Michael Ferns Helmet Update:  Pretty much finished.
Image via here

Singing Intimidation

'14 OL commit Denzel Ward has an interesting way of intimidating his opponent:
Huh...very intriguing method ya got there kiddo.  But hey, what ever works for ya.

2013 News

S Dymonte Thomas shows us once again why he such an elite and complete player.  Take a look at this feature on Dymonte and make look out for a comparison that you all will enjoy from Marlington (OH) head coach Ed Miley:

OT Logan Tuley-Tillman is an even more important player to this class with the de-commitment OL David Dawson.  You'll see what I mean by "important player" when you check out his senior highlights below, which starts off with a speech from Bo:

DB Gareon Conley might just be on his way out the door (hypothetically).  He told GBW's Tom Beaver ($) "he wants to take visits."  Now remember, not to long ago that Conley came out and said he had scheduled a visit to Cincinnati, you know the story.  Now remember nothing is official yet and he doesn't seem to have any scheduled at the moment.  And until that does happen, Conley is still part of Team 134.  But this picture doesn't help one bit; not sure what team's logo that is, but it's certainly not Michigan's.
Image via here

'13 TE Khalid Hill had a chance to talk with Sam Webb about how his season is going and what he is trying to improve on during the season.  See what Hill had to say, including video.

'13 WR LaQuon Treadwell canceled his visit last week and it stirred a little bit of controversy, but he went to twitter and had this to say about the whole situation:
So that's that.

Commits in Action
Remember a lot of current commit's and there teams didn't make the playoffs and most of these matchup's below are win or go home; same goes for the prospects.

DB Ross Douglas accumulated enough yards in 2 plays (and td's) for it to be considered a good game for most.  He had back to back 60 yard td's (67, 65) extending his team's lead to 21 just before halftime.

Guess who picked up another INT?!  DB Channing Stribling!  No other news, that's it.

Fox Sports Next's Dave Berk made it out to a couple different games (getcha' some!) on Friday night.  He witnessed DE Taco Charlton and WR Jaron Dukes.   Dukes had the more quiet night, even though he had a TD, but it wasn't so much his fault:

And while both commits had good games, Taco stole the show for Berk:

Prospects in Action

'13 RB Derrick Green didn't make it through a whole game again, what's new.  But in 2 quarters of action he was still able to average 11 YPC!!  Final stat line: 20 carries, 220 yards, and 2 td's.  Of course his team won.

'14 ATH Jabrill Peppers was back dominating every team he goes up against.  Peppers totaled 170 all purpose yards, taking the opening kickoff to the house, in his team's 37-20 win.

'14 RB Gary Hosey was one of the stars of the night for Detroit Cass Tech.  His 3 td's came up big and put the game away early as Cass Tech won easy, 37-3.  '15 RB Mike Weber did this, so...yeah:

'14 LB Justice Rawlins informed me that he had it goin' on both sides of the ball:  9 tackles, 3 TFL on D and 1 rush for 65 yards and a TD on O.  Pretty efficient day on offense, eh?  He is also inline to visit AA for either the Iowa or Northwestern game.


Lastly, check out an update on all kinds of stuff Michigan recruiting, thanks to Tom VanHaaren.  And also make sure you read Josh Helmholdt's take on some of the top prospects "Around the Midwest."

My 5 Takes from Nebraska

Gif of the week.


Denard. It's pretty safe to say now that Denard is a very, very, very important key to this offense. Actually, he's all of it. They're saying he should be back next week. I have to think that with an injury such as this, it just takes time. We'll find out more today at Hoke's presser. If Denard can't go at Minnesota, suddenly Michigan's hopes of a B1G title bid are in serious jeopardy.

Also...put an elbow pad on that boy's arm!

Backups. I think everyone was at least cautiously optimistic when Bellomy came into the game. He's been in the program for a while now, knows the offense probably better than any QB other than Denard. And we saw him perform admittedly well in the spring game. But Bellomy reacted to the game like a dear in the headlights. On the TV broadcast, Bellomy looked very rattled and scared when they cut to a close-up shot of him between plays. His performance reflected that.

I chose not to panic, because as we've seen so many times when Denard goes out of a game, he's usually back 1 or 2 drives later right back where he left off.

At the point where Bellomy clearly wasn't going to cut it, I have to wonder what exactly was the decision to not go to Gardner. I get that he probably hasn't practiced as much at QB as he has WR...and he still might not be 100% since his injury against Notre Dame. But, how much worse could it have been? Devin is a pretty athletic guy, and he certainly would have been a more imposing run threat that would have thwarted the Nebraska pass rush that killed Bellomy.

Defense. They stepped up, as expected. Michigan's defense, much like the Tigers' starting pitching, had no run support in this one. Even so, until the end when things started to unravel, this was very much a close game, even though it never really felt like it.

But, like last week, for one drive, Michigan's defense looked lost. Nebraska sped up their play-calling and suddenly their receivers were open all over the field. It was a strange bunch of plays were Nebraska receivers found gaping holes in Michigan's zone coverage, and Martinez had no problem hitting them.

Play calling. This is a tough one. On one hand, it's not entirely Borges' fault the Michigan offense sputtered, but I do have to question some of the decisions. Nebraska essentially shut down the read-option on almost every occasion. Denard made some plays early in the game which kept Nebraska's linebackers honest, but almost any time the ball was given to Fitz, it resulted in a 2-3 yard loss. Some of that is on the O-line.

It only happened once or twice, but when Michigan lined up under-center with Fitz and a fullback in the I-formation, running Fitz between the tackles...that play was there. I do believe we could have ground and pound our way to a win against Nebraska. They dared us to run the read-option and we did, and while it did work at times, it ultimately put Denard out of the game.

And, why oh why were we running that same read-option with Bellomy in there while Nebraska was sending the house? Who's that going to fool? Who's the read for Bellomy on those plays?

Was that an INT? The replay flag should have been thrown by Hoke. If the long pass to Treezy could get overturned, than certainly another look at Bellomy's INT pass to Smith should have been looked at a few more times. The replays I've seen since have all looked pretty inconclusive, but I'm not sure how a football can bounce straight up into the air without the ground being involved in one way, shape or form.

BONUS TAKE: Where's Dileo? He was the hero of the win over Michigan State two weeks ago. But he was nowhere to be found on Saturday. Ideas? Anyone???

Related content:

Breaking B1G: Week 10 Bowl Projections

Things happened in week 9. They weren't very pretty. If Denard's injury drags out, that could be a real problem.

B1G Rank Bowl This Week Previous Week
Nebraska Michigan
Wisconsin Wisconsin
Michigan Nebraska
Northwestern Northwestern
Minnesota Purdue
Michigan State Iowa
Indiana Minnesota
Purdue Michigan State

• Man, I don't even know anymore. Michigan, a team which claims that the Big Ten championship is the ultimate prize, just laid an egg in a game which could have all but wrapped up the Legends crown with 4 weeks left to go in the season if they would've won. So much to discuss about that game, and we'll get to it soon.

• This Ohio State team could contend for a national title. Penn State's not half bad either. But, ya know.

• The best of the rest of the Leaders division, Wisconsin, just lost to a very average Michigan State team at home. Everyone's Leaders dark-horse, Purdue, just imploded against Minnesota. And as it stands right now, Indiana, yes Indiana who just won their first B1G game since Nov 2010, controls it's own destiny as a not-so long shot to get to Indianapolis.

• Nebraska was a huge beneficiary of a Michigan team that discovered a 1/3 of the way into the game that they have absolutely no answer for what happens when Denard gets hurt. All you have to do is blitz like crazy and a Michigan team sans Denard is absolutely clueless. Sorry, my internet censor is gone.

O Devin! My Devin!

Visual proof from this year's media day that Devin Gardner can, in fact, throw a football.

O Devin! My Devin!

Our Nebraska Gameday Open Thread

Via Midnight Maize
Its a big weekend for Big Ten football, and an even bigger weekend for Michigan and Nebraska football. So I thought it would be a good idea to give our somewhat new message board a little kick start today. Head on over to check out our Nebraska prediction open thread, and post your thoughts and predictions on tonight's game.

And, in case you missed them, here's a digest of our posts from this week.

Nebraska Preview

Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, NE
October 27, 2012, 8:00 PM EDT

TV: ESPN2 (Mark Jones, Brock Huard, Jessica Mendoza)
Radio: WWJ-950 AM, WTKA-1050 AM, SiriusXM 113/200 (Frank Beckmann, Jim Brandstatter, Doug Karsch)
Line: UM +2.5
O/U: 57.5
Series Record: UM leads 4-2-1
Last Meeting: Nov 19, 2011: MICH 45 - NEB 17
UM Record/Rank: 5-2 (3-0), #20/20/20
NEB Record/Rank: 5-2 (2-1), unranked
Gametime Forecast: Mid 40s, partly cloudy.

Stats. In case you missed it, my Michigan-Nebraska stat chart.

Via Midnight Maize.

It should be known that any Michigan/Lebowski reference will get top billing on this site.

Relevant links from sites we trust
MZone's always reliable Know Your Foe. Not really a preview, but here's a Nebraska cheerleader via TTB. Kyle Meinke's 5 Keys to victory.

Other Previews
Maize & Brew, Big House Blog, BWS, Nebraska blog Corn Nation previews Michigan.

What say you?
Express your thoughts here on our Nebraska prediction thread!


When Michigan has the ball
As we saw in yesterday's stat chart, Michigan doesn't stack up well against Nebraska's formidable pass defense. So as usual, its going to be up to the ground game to shoulder the load tomorrow. That probably means a heavy mix of Denard, Fitz, Smith, and hopefully Rawls, who didn't see any carries against State last week.

Of course you can't abandon the pass entirely. Short, manageable passes will be the key. No question. Michigan went 5 of 15 on third downs last week thanks in large part to how much Michigan State shut down the run and forced us to throw. I don't think Nebraska's defense is even on the same page as Michigan State's in terms of run stopping ability. And frankly, no defense is going to play Michigan any tougher than what Michigan State did last week.

It's going to be really intriguing to see how the offensive line plays tomorrow. I thought they did about as good as can be expected last weekend, mostly until we hit the redzone, and then Michigan State's defensive front was able to really get penetration and pressure. Nebraska has a good defense, and they will try and stuff the run as much as Michigan State did.

Denard is the key to everything. He must do a better job on the read-options than he did a week ago. Way too many times he handed the ball to Fitz when he should have just kept it. That needs to be addressed. If he can keep the ball more and do more with his feet, that might be enough to break this game open like last year.

As far as injuries go, I think we're a little banged up, but hopefully no big absences. Taylor Lewan should be fine, but he looked completely spent after last week. After the game he was limping off the field, but while in the game, lined up opposite against Gholston most of the time, he looked fine.

I think the recipe for success this week is exactly the same as it was against Michigan State: Run to win. Control the ground game, use that to open up the pass, and mix them to perfection. Sounds easy enough, right?

When Nebraska has the ball
We're hearing that RB Rex Burkhead is doubtful for this game. In his place will be Ameer Abdullah, who so far has 615 yards and 7 touchdowns for Nebraska. He's a decent runner who can get big yards in a hurry.

Of course any mention of Nebraska immediately evokes mental images of QB Taylor Martinez. It feels like he's been there forever. Last year, Michigan essentially shut Martinez down, going 9 for 23 for 122 yards and a TD, and only rushing 16 times for 49 yards. Ryan Van Bergen, Will Campbell, Kenny Demens and Jake Ryan all tallied a sack in the 2011 matchup. That was a huge part of why the Michigan-Nebraska game was such a success last year. Martinez is a better passer than he was a year ago, so I expect that to be something they try to exploit as much as possible.

It's going to be very important for Michigan to shut down Nebraska early in this game. They have the statistical edge in almost every defensive category. If we can keep them under control, and most importantly take the crowd out of the game early, then it will go a long way in making this feel like the Nebraska game of 2011.

Another area where Michigan needs to regain it's edge is creating turnovers. That's been a struggle for Michigan this season. Nebraska ranks 110th nationally in turnover margin, so this game might just be what the doctor ordered for Michigan's defense. Nebraska nearly fumbled away their win last week on the road at Northwestern. Turnovers and special teams can be a huge factor when your an underdog on the road.

Word out of Fort Schembechler is that cornerback Raymon Taylor is good to go tomorrow. This is huge for Michigan, who's pass defense ranks 4th nationally. Nebraska is woefully one dimensional on offense, and with a pass defense like Michigan's, it could end up looking a lot like last week when Michigan State tried to ground and pound with LeVeon Bell who only managed 68 yards on 26 carries.

Special teams
Don't spend too much time worrying about Denard showing up on kickoff return. Like my friend Craig at HSR, I think that move was a bit of misdirection played by Brady Hoke.
It's on tape, which means Urban will see it.  Urban will now need to consider the possibility, which steals away maybe just one or two cycles of processing from Meyer's staff.  Maybe it ends up being nothing, but what if they head fake lets Dennis Norfleet break one?

Michigan beat Michigan State last week on the feet on Brendan Gibbons and Matt Wile. I think field goal duties are taken care of. Will Hagerup has had a nice season punting, sans one awful shank last week that made everyone a bit restless. And Matt Wile's kickoffs have been perfectly acceptable.

RB Ameer Abdullah returns punts for Nebraska and he's pretty good at it. WR Kenny Bell is the primary kickoff returner. I would classify Nebraska's kicking units as "average".

Make boisterous comments on Twitter if...
• Denard makes better reads on the read-option.
• Jake Ryan shows up in #Manster mode (which he will)
• Nebraska's already non-existent passing game stays non-existent.
• Michigan creates turnovers the way it did in 2011.

Cancel recording on your DVR if...
• Michigan's offense continues to play poorly in big games on the road.
• Bad Denard (both throwing and read-option miscues).
• Taylor Martinez is connecting with his receivers consistently.
• Turnovers or penalties start becoming a thing.

Michigan 20 Nebraska 13

Related MBN content 

Nebraska Preview: Stat Chart

MICHIGANValue (Nat. Rank)Value (Nat. Rank)NEBRASKAADV.
Rushing Offense (ypg)222.57 (18)187.86 (90)Rushing Defense (ypg)MMM
Passing Offense (ypg)182.71 (106)169.71 (10)Passing Defense (ypg)NNNN
Pass Eff. Offense122.74 (88)109.39 (18)Pass Eff. DefenseNNN
Total Offense (ypg)405.29 (61)357.57 (43)Total Defense (ypg)PUSH
Scoring Offense (ppg)30.71 (53)27.71 (71)Scoring Defense (ppg)PUSH
Rushing Defense (ypg)143.00 (49)279.00 (6)Rushing Offense (ypg)NN
Passing Defense (ypg)143.00 (4)233.43 (58)Passing Offense (ypg)MM
Pass Eff. Defense105.31 (15)161.57 (15)Pass Eff. OffensePUSH
Total Defense (ypg)286.00 (10)512.43 (12)Total Offense (ypg)PUSH
Scoring Defense (ppg)16.43 (16)41.57 (12)Scoring Offense (ppg)PUSH
Net Punting Yards35.85 (86)12.79 (20)Punt Return YardsNNN
Punt Return Yards13.38 (19)35.96 (84)Net Punting YardsMMM
Kickoff Return Yards22.39 (51)23.37 (96)Kickoff Return DefenseMM
Kickoff Return Defense20.57 (50)21.55 (60)Kickoff Return YardsPUSH
Turnover Margin-0.43 (80)-1.29 (110)Turnover MarginM
Penalty Yds /Gm51.10 (53)62.10 (85)Penalty Yds /GmM
Sacks /Gm1.29 (98)2.14 (76)Sacks Allowed /GmN
Sacks Allowed /Gm0.71 (10)3.14 (8)Sacks /GmPUSH
Redzone Off. (%)88.76 (23)73.91 (30)Redzone Def. (%)PUSH
Redzone Def. (%)84.09 (79)88.57 (22)Redzone Off. (%)NN
Redzone TD %53.85 (86)52.17 (35)Redzone TD Def. %NN
Redzone TD Def. %47.37 (23)71.43 (20)Redzone TD %PUSH
3rd Down Conv. %49.47 (18)34.23 (29)3rd Down Def. %PUSH
3rd Down Def. %35.35 (38)45.05 (35)3rd Down Conv. %PUSH
1st Downs /Gm18.90 (95)18.10 (29)1st Downs Allowed /GmNNN
1st Downs Allowed /Gm16.10 (15)25.10 (15)1st Downs /GmPUSH

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+++

I had this goal of creating a really cool interactive chart that would accompany this stat table somehow. I'm still in the "Is this really do-able?" phase of the process, but hopefully we'll have something up and running next week. If there's anyone out there who would like to help out or has any ideas, I'm all ears.

• Clearly, neither squad is going to light the world on fire with their passing attack. The key for both schools will be to run the ball efficiently and effectively, and sprinkle in the pass whenever and wherever they can. Can Michigan do this? Can Nebraska? Which defense will step up more? These are all good questions.

• Early in the 4th quarter last week, Michigan has 9 total penalty yards. They ended the game with 55. This is an issue. Last year Michigan averaged somewhere around 35 penalty yards per game, this year it's over 50. That's probably not going to lose you many games, but it will certainly make them a lot closer than they should be. Thankfully, Nebraska averages 62 yds per game.

• Dennis Norfleet has been the spark Michigan needed on kickoff returns. Why then, are we hearing rumors that Denard Robinson could see time on that unit? He was out there once last week but the kick sailed through the endzone. Is this a possible trick play? A double-reverse? Or simply just a diversion in order to spring Norfleet? Again, all great questions. We'll see what Hoke has in store this Saturday.

• Most of Michigan's offensive struggles occurred in the redzone last weekend. You can see that in Michigan's redzone TD percentage, which slipped from 58% last week to 53% this week. I have to think that a lack of a powerful running game is mainly to blame for this.

Breaking B1G: Week 9 Preview

1. Michigan3-0101235-2215115W3
2. Nebraska2-1971185-2291194W1
2. Iowa2-164674-3146141L1
4. Northwestern2-21211106-2246184L1
5. Michigan State1-373754-4157122L2
6. Minnesota0-339904-3158157L3
1. Ohio State4-01611258-0312194W8
1. Penn State3-0112495-2200110W5
3. Wisconsin3-1134716-2220142W3
4. Purdue0-3491113-4219194L3
4. Illinois0-3211112-5127215L4
4. Indiana0-31051272-5243222L5

My Week 8 picks: 4-2
Season total: 46-22 (.676)

Saturday, October 27th (All times eastern. My picks in bold.)

Iowa @ Northwestern - ESPN2
Indiana @ Illinois - BTN

Michigan State @ #-/25/- Wisconsin - ABC/ESPN2
Purdue @ Minnesota - BTN

#9/-/- Ohio State @ Penn State - ESPN

# 20/20/20 Michigan @ Nebraska - ESPN2

Bye: None

Biggest must-watch:
Well, this really depends on who you ask. Michigan @ Nebraska is the biggest game in terms of actual relevance to the post-season. This game will likely determine, should Michigan win, if they'll take the division crown. If Nebraska wins, we have a tie atop the Legends division with the Huskers on the inside track with 4 weeks left to play.

Ohio State at Penn State should be entertaining, but is essentially meaningless. And for anyone else interesting the Legends division, Iowa @ Northwestern is happening.

Upset Alert!
Indiana could upset Illinois, but who really cares?

Snoozer of the week:
See above.

Bold predictions!
I've decided to stop picking winners based on overthinking, and just go with my gut. In the preseason, I had Michigan losing to Nebraska...who I had going on to be 11-1.

Wisconsin should cruise to a Leaders division crown. Their win against Michigan State won't really mean much, but a win is a win...Brad's lead-pipe lock of the week, btw. Like I said above, Michigan @ Nebraska is really the game of the year in the Legends division. Michigan hasn't played well on the road, but has really turned the corner defensively since the start of Big Ten play.

The question of who is heading to Indy might be much clearer once Saturday is over. Or, it could be just the opposite. Nothing would surprise me this year in the Big Ten.

Recruitaholics: Signed...The Office

This week:  Signed Up With The Wrong School, 2013 News, 2014 News, Commits in Action, Prospects in Action, Lil' Brother Visit Reactions, and its baaaaack...Sayonara Suckas!

Signed Up With The Wrong School

Now this is something that had me on the floor laughing.  Hope you take it the same way...MSU commit WR Drake Harris received an interesting note from his HS office on Monday after Michigan's victory over the weekend:
Embedded image permalink
Image via here

I don't know if this is even right.  Adults sending a letter to one of their students semi-criticizing his college choice?! Questionable, but I still thought it was hysterical!!

2013 News

S Dymonte Thomas if you haven't been able to tell, is the '13 commit I am most excited about and after watching this video feature on the talented top 50 prospect, it only raised my excitement level:

Some even better news...Thomas went to twitter and announced that he will be able to enroll early and attend Michigan in the spring. I don't think I can be anymore excited about this kid!

As if there wasn't enough questions about DB commit Gareon Conley and how strong his commitment is to the Maize and Blue, another curve-ball has been thrown in the mix.  A new offer came in for Conley and it came from none-other-than arch rival Ohio.  The panic meter has def. moved up a tad, but like I've been saying, until a visit is planned or a de-commitment is made, all is still good with Conley.  Now check out his Under Armour All American presentation that took part in his school last week:

LB Mike McCray was also presented his Under Armour All-American jersey last week at his high school:
Image via here

Look who's back...WR LaQuon Treadwell, who has 900 yards and 13 TD's on the year, may slowly be slipping away from the Michigan staff; Or will he? This certainly doesn't help:
Treadwell was suppose to visit for the game last Saturday, but had to cancel the morning of.  He also came out and told that he is done taking officials until the season is over.  I found this interesting and feel torn on whether this was good or bad for the Wolverines chances. Gut feeling...seems good.  Listen, the more campus' Treadwell see's the more he can be wowed.  So less wowing is better (thanks Cpt. Obvious) especially since he has seen what AA has to offer multiple times.

Now feast your eyes on S Leon McQuay III's senior season highlights.  I know he may not be an option at this point, but a schollie has opened and you never know what can happen.  Plus who doesn't like watching football highlights, especially from someone this talented:

The Sound Mind Sound Body Maximum Exposure media day took part last week in Detroit and many top MI prospects took part.  Take a look at what the likes of DB Damon Webb, DL Malik McDowell, and QB Jayru Campbell had to say.

2014 News Commit Style

Saturday started off very well off the field before it ended even better on the field.  Michigan picked up a commitment from OL Denzel Ward early Saturday afternoon, as I'm sure you know.  I put together a few of my thoughts on the kid, but Steve Wiltfong also chimed in on what drove Ward to commit on his second visit in a row to the Big House:
Michigan received its second commitment in the 2014 class from Denzel Ward.
Ward, a 6-foot-9, 295-pound offensive tackle from Chicago (Ill.) Hales Franciscan, chose Michigan over an offer from Purdue.
Several other schools in the region were showing interest in Ward including Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. Ward told 247Sports, “Tradition and organization” were the reasons he chose the Wolverines.
The massive offensive tackle visited Michigan last week for the Illinois game and was back on campus Saturday for the Michigan State game. He pulled the trigger, giving head coach Brady Hoke before kickoff.
Ward joins Saint Clairesville (Ohio) linebacker Michael Ferns as part of Michigan's 2014 recruiting class.
Still not much to report on this kid because of the small amount of time he has spent on the gridiron, but like I said, his potential is through the roof and he will be a top OL in this class.

Your weekly LB Michael Ferns helmet update is here and getting very close to complete:
Image via here

Commits in Action

QB Shane Morris has been through a lot this season and Mike Farrell sheds light on how it has only made him stronger on and off the field.  He helped his own case with an impressive performance in his team's 44-6 victory, throwing for one TD, but unfortunately it wasn't enough for his 5-4 Pilots to make the playoffs.  Good news alert...the next time Morris takes the field, it will be in a winged helmet! (Well minus the UA All-American Bowl, of course...give me a break!)  I've been waiting to say that for a looooooooooong time.  Can't wait!

The team Morris took on was none other than Chandler Park Academy which featured future WR target C'sonte York.  While his team fell short, York put up decent numbers in the first half accounting for 38 yards on 3 catches for 1 TD.

Prospects in Action

'13 RB Derrick Green put up a nice performance on the eve of his visit for the MSU game.  In just one half, he was able to accumulate 130 yards and 2 TD's.  Sam Webb was able to speak with Green about what he is looking to get out of his upcoming visit reaction below):
"Academics and definitely early playing time, no question. I'm not going anywhere where I'm going to sit on the bench. I want to go somewhere where I'm going to be an impact player, get some early playing time, and definitely the school where I've got the best relationship with the coaching staff."
'13 WR Da'Mario Jones may just be the fall back if LaQuon Treadwell decides to go elsewhere.  And he had a very nice game on Friday.  He had an 80 yard TD run and added a 36 yard TD catch later on in the game.  He is committed to CMU at the moment, but if a Michigan offer comes his way, he will surely switch over.  If you haven't seen Jones in action, Allen Trieu assists you with a highlight tape of his senior year.

'14 ATH Jabril Peppers has been impressive all season long and is turning into the top player in the '14 class.  He was named The Record Male Athlete of the Week after rushing for 360 yards and 4 TD's and listen to the high praise recruiting analyst Mike Quick gives to Peppers:

Now that's saying something.  Something else was said, by Peppers himself, that shows his unselfishness and also how much of a team player this kid is:
This kid WILL be special and Michigan seems to have a good shot at pulling him n. 

'15 RB Damien Harris kept up his torrid season rushing for 109 yards and 2 TD's.  These stats of course were only for one half of football as Harris didn't see the field in the 2nd half (surprise surprise).

'15 RB Mike Weber was a big part of Cass Tech's 26-2 victory over the weekend.  He racked up 200 yards and 3 TD's, stealing the show.

Lil' Bro Visit Reactions

QB Shane Morris with younger brother Brent on the left.
Image via here
Is it me or does Shane look like he is already a crowd favorite?  He looks so comfortable in front of the fans.  Hope that composure translates onto the field. 

'13 RB Derrick Green

'13 WR DaMario Jones - Tremendous 
'14 TE Ethan Wolf - Tremendous
'14 WR Kendric Mallory (teammate of LB Mike McCray)
Mallory captioned this photo "#GoBlue Game was live" on twitter.  Image via here
'14 DB Montae Nicholson Tremendous  Was also invited to the Army All-American Bowl over the weekend. 
'14 QB Tyler Wiegers - Tremendous
'14 OL Mason Cole - Tremendous   Here's a few tweets from Cole regarding the visit.  The first is something you don't hear much from well...anyone:

'14 WR Artavis Scott - Tremendous 
'14 LB Dorian Hendrix - Tremendous
'14 DL Kenny FinleyTremendous 
'15 RB Damien Harris
'15 QB Jayru Campbell
Image via here
'15 C Brennan Bosch - Tremendous
'15 RB Mike Weber - Tremendous

Sayonara Suckas

'13 WR Devon Allen was an intriguing 4-star prospect and could've (at one point) been the fall back if the spot reserved for Treadwell became vacant.  But that ship has sailed.  Allen has announced a top 3 of UCLA, Stanford, and Oregon.  Best of luck to the kid.

Tuesday Lowdown Activates Sparty Bulldozer Mode

900th win hype video. Sure, why not?

Lost in the post-game hysteria on the field for me was this piece playing on the video boards immediately after the game. Cool stuff. 900 wins is certainly something to celebrate. Let's plan on win #1000 being against Ohio State at about 9 years? Sound good?

Subtle reminder. The Michigan players saw this sign every time they left the Schembechler Hall locker room. (HT: MVictors)
Not exactly downplaying the rivalry. I remarked in my 5 Takes wrap up post that it seemed as if Michigan's captains were a little subdued in the press conference after the game. I expected more excitement. I'm starting to think that Michigan takes this rivalry as serious as Michigan State does, they're just not at all as vocal about it. But behind closed doors, I think this win was very meaningful for Michigan's players – especially the seniors.

Flyover. The US Coast Guard flew a helicopter over the stadium on Saturday. It was pretty cool because usually the pressbox folk don't get to see flyovers because of the angle of view being too high for the windows. Here's the chopper's POV.

Annihilation. Jake Ryan goes into full-on bulldozer mode.
Can't. Stop. Watching.

Bleacher Report. I don't typically read b/r articles because most of them are like this one.
We've all seen how good his team has looked through eight games. This is while Meyer is working with a group of guys that he hasn't personally recruited. Just imagine what he could accomplish after a few years of bringing in highly-touted recruits that will more adequately fit his system!

So, if Meyer can bring in the same type of talent he brought to Florida where he won SEC and national titles, he will dominate the Big Ten Conference year in and year out. That's scary for the other teams in the conference.

I can't wait until Buckeye nation will be uplifted by Urban domination! There's not a question about whether or not it will occur. The only question is how soon?

Not to be outdone, Michigan articles on b/r are no better. This one takes a shot at Michigan fans who rushed the field after Saturday's big win.
It is easy to get caught in the moment at a sporting event. Fans pull together and become one body, a unique gathering of people from every walk of life all bound by a common team and colors. The problem is they tend to act like lemmings.

Storming the field did not solidify Michigan’s place in history. It showed where the Michigan program has landed after the fall of the Lloyd Carr regime and the failed Rich Rodriguez experiment.

Brady Hoke is doing a great job turning the program around, but right now it shows where this team has been. These fans are happy to have felt success again. What once was one of the most dominant programs in the country is now in the middle of the pack in a middle of the pack-type conference.

Winning games that Michigan should doesn’t warrant the storming of the field in the Big House. That is sacred ground. The Big House is one of the temples in college football, a place that is revered for its history and storied program that takes its field on Saturdays. 
This post has almost 7,000 views. I need to really just ignore anything from Bleacher Report from now on.

Raymon Taylor OK. Brady Hoke addressed the injury to CB Raymon Taylor in yesterday's presser.
"I think he'll be fine, I really do," Hoke said Monday. 
Brief. Honest. Hoke.

In the post-game presser, Hoke qualified Taylor's injury as a "boo-boo". It certainly looked much worse than that. It would seem now that "boo-boo" is the preferred statement when a guy gets banged up but it isn't very serious. But it is very encouraging that his playing status seems intact for this Saturday.

Rex out? Speaking of injuries.
Nebraska Cornhuskers senior running back Rex Burkhead could miss Saturday's game against Michigan after aggravating a left knee injury for the second time in three weeks.

Burkhead left this past Saturday's game against Northwestern in the first quarter. He initially sustained a sprained ACL in the knee Sept. 1 in the season opener and missed two games.

"He felt really good going into the [Northwestern] game, didn't have any issues in practice," Pelini said. "He's frustrated and obviously disappointed he's had to deal with it. It's been too bad."

Pelini said Burkhead's input will be taken into account in determining his status against Michigan.
Well, that could change things for Nebraska, who's rushing offense averages 279 yards per game and ranks 6th nationally. Burkhead is Nebraska's 2nd leading rusher behind Ameer Abdullah, who's been filling in nicely for Rex during his injury.

Assorted bits
Hoke was elusive on why Denard showed up on kickoff return once on Saturday. Brady Hoke Monday presser video. OSU must ride out Miller's risk-reward style. Fitz Toussaint was sentenced today for his drunk driving arrest from last summer.

My 5 Takes From Michigan State

A celebration, 5 years in the making.
As the clock struck all zeros after Michigan State's failed attempt at a lateral-a-thon on the final play, 4 seasons of in-state misery melted away in a jubilant celebration for the Michigan football team. It was chaos on the field after the game. But as always, the team ended up in the northwest corner of the field, to celebrate with the student section. What a scene.

Here's my 5 takes on Saturday's Michigan State game...bullet style.

Brunettes. How clutch was Brendan Gibbons? His last kick will get all the press, but all 3 of his boots on Saturday were big. And of course, we can't forget Matt Wile's 48-yard boomer. But I think when it's all said and done for Gibbons, he's going to leave Michigan with a legacy of being one of Michigan's most clutch kickers when the game is one the line. And, this all from a kid who couldn't hit the anything in 2010. An amazing turnaround.

Michigan's offense. If you're concerned about Michigan's ineffective offense last Saturday, don't be. Michigan State played much better than anything we've seen from them all season. They were amped up for this game...Dantonio will always have his team ready for Michigan. The Wolverines won't see a more aggressive or physical defense the rest of the season. Most teams try and shut down Michigan's read-option, with varying levels of success – Michigan State shut it down completely.

The passing game. The passing game frustrated Michigan fans all day. What can I say? We're not a strong passing team. I think we all know that. The success of Michigan's offense is it's ground game. But if Denard can continue to not make many bad decisions, every game left on Michigan's schedule is very winnable. 5 for 15 on 3rd down hurt us, and that's a direct effect of a lack of a passing attack.

But, all that said, Denard played well enough to win the game, and he gets to check Michigan State off his list as the Brady Hoke Redemption Tour continues to roll through the Big Ten. Next up on the tour, Iowa in 4 weeks.

• Defense baby! Not to be overshadowed, Michigan's defense came to play. I read something on Twitter last night, not sure who said it, but it was basically to the effect of  'If Denard has a good defense behind him, he can be unstoppable'. I think we're seeing that happening...although we're not there yet, and we may never get there, but we're seeing it.

Michigan's defense stood tall on many occasions on Saturday. Aside from the first MSU drive of the second half, when Sparty started doing things they never do, like speed rushes to the outside and attacking our corners, Michigan State was just as inept as Michigan was with the football. It was awesome to see Michigan's defense show up in a huge game.

But, I'd be remiss if I didn't give Dantonio huge props for the fake punt call. That was brilliant. That was pure Dantonio at it's best and it worked. If MSU had scored a touchdown, that play would've had a name like "Little Brother" or something. I was on my way down to the field when that play was run, so I caught it on the monitor in the pressbox while waiting for the elevator with Greg Dooley from MVictors and Hondo Carpenter from Spartan Nation. That was a long elevator ride.

Rivalry? After the game, Jordan Kovacs and Denard met with the media right away in the post-game press room. After coming up from the field were players and fans were celebrating together, it seemed there was a bit of a subdued tone to both Michigan captains. They were happy to get the win, I'm sure, but it sure didn't feel like I expected it to. There was a very workmanlike tone to their answers and their demeanor.

They're keeping their eyes on the ultimate prize – a Big Ten championship. Beating Michigan State was just another step along the way for Team 133, it felt. Maybe it was just my expectations being wrong, but it took a while for Denard or Jordan to even break a smile...odd for two guys who've never beaten Michigan State in their careers.

Maybe, just maybe, Michigan State isn't as big of a deal to this team as fans and media have made it out to be. I don't know. But it sure felt like it.


Michigan State's helmets. I didn't mind them so much before/during the game, frankly because it's hard to really notice them from where I sit, but now that I've seen photos and video, and I don't like them at all. The green isn't their green. They look like Christmas ornaments.

Can we be done with this uniform funny business now? Please and thank you.

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Breaking B1G: Week 9 Bowl Projections

What a weekend of football in the Big Ten. Penn State is legit. Ohio State survives, which is pretty much every week now. And Michigan welcomes Paul Bunyan home again.

B1G Rank Bowl This Week Previous Week
Michigan Michigan
Wisconsin Wisconsin
Nebraska Nebraska
Northwestern Northwestern
Purdue Purdue
Iowa Iowa
Minnesota Michigan State
Michigan State Indiana

•Again, it's tough for me to pick anyone from the Leaders division besides Wisconsin in any of these bowls. Purdue played Ohio State tough, as they always do, but surrendered that game late. Other than those two, no one else in that division is going to be bowl eligible. Man, that's crazy.

• Nebraska pulled off a big win against Northwestern. A lot of people are trying to downplay that win, but as someone who understands, going into Evanston at night and winning is a lot harder than it sounds. One of the best kept secrets in the Big Ten, that little fact.

• Michigan State is sliding down the chart here these last 3 weeks. Everyone picked Sparty as the shoe-in for the Rose Bowl at the beginning of the year. Not this guy. Never was I that high on Michigan State, and it had nothing to do with Dantonio or any of that stuff, I just didn't see how their offense was ever going to score a lot of points. They're going to struggle to be bowl eligible.

• Michigan's matchup this weekend in Nebraska could very well determine the Legends crown. Michigan has a 1 game lead over the Huskers who have 1 loss in the Big Ten, while Michigan is 3-0.

• Oh if Penn State were only bowl eligible, what a season this could end up to be. Bill O'Brien and his staff are doing something special in Happy Valley. They dominated Iowa on the road at night. Not an easy task, no matter how bad Iowa is.

Big game this week though, as Ohio State comes to town for the first ever "Ineligabibowl".