Opponent Watch: Week 8

It's Jug Week! Time to bring the ole' earthenware piece of crockery back home. We took last week off for the bye week so now we're catching up.

Minnesota (4-3, 1-2)
10/17: Lost to Nebraska 48-25
10/24: Bye
This week: vs Michigan, 7:00 ESPN

It's entirely possible that the Gophers don't win two more games this season finish with a dismal 4-8 record. That's extremely disappointing for a team that many, this blogger included, thought would be a real contender for the wide-open west division. Their remaining schedule, Michigan, @ Ohio State, @ Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin are all likely losses save for the Illinois, but even that is questionable after this rough 3-game stretch. 

All that said, I'm still weary of going into TCF Bank Stadium on Halloween night to play them. I'm still haunted by memories of the great Illinois collapse of 2009 when I think about playing on the road at night on Halloween. And since Michigan's road record hasn't been very great since then, any time the Wolverines head out on the trail, this blogger gets nervous.

And of course, let's not discount the effects of the last time these two teams met. The Shane Morris concussion incident that led to the firing of Dave Brandon. The hiring of Jim Hackett. The firing of Brady Hoke and then the hiring of Jim Harbaugh. Funny how things go sometimes.

However, as road opponents go, this is a pretty bad one. Minnesota's offense is broken, their defense is non-existent, and any real threat for Michigan will be internal only. Michigan can only win or lose this game...there will be no outside pressure from this humble Gophers squad on this night.

Fear Factor: Down

Rutgers (3-4, 1-3)
10/17: Beat Indiana 55-52
10/24: Lost to Ohio State 49-7
This week: @ Wisconsin, 12:00 BTN

After getting their head coach back and dropping 55 on Indiana (while giving up 52), there was probably some folks thinking that Rutgers might be able to salvage at least a decent bowl-like season. And then the Buckeyes came to town to crush those thoughts. Now all of the sudden, Rutgers needs to take their meager show on the road to Wisconsin and Michigan to attempt to turn around what's turning out to be a reasonably bad season in Piscataway. I say reasonably because the Big Ten East is no place for schools like Rutgers and Maryland.

Fear Factor: Down

Indiana (4-4, 0-4)
10/17: Lost to Rutgers 55-52
10/24: Lost to Michigan State 52-26
This week: Bye

Man, the Big Ten is just bad. It's kind of sad really. I don't blame Indiana here because, after all, they're just Indiana. But they did start the season 4-0 against a laughable (even by IU standards) non-conference schedule only to go 0-4 in the Big Ten so far. They gave Ohio State and Michigan State a good game though, and that's commendable. But after this bye week they have Iowa and Michigan. It'll likely come down to Maryland and Purdue at season's end to decide if Kevin Wilson gets his Hoosiers to a bowl game.

Fear Factor: Down

Penn State (6-2, 3-1)
10/17: Lost to Ohio State 38-10
10/24: Beat Maryland 31-30
This week: vs Illinois, 12:00 ESPN2

While Indiana gets a pass because they're Indiana, Penn State however, does not. Sort of unbelievable that the Nittany Lions have a decent 6-2 record (with both losses coming to undefeated teams) and yet they're still so bad. The ugly loss to Ohio State and the squeaker against awful Maryland tell you all you need to know about Penn State. This is probably a 7-5 team when it's all said and done which is actually not bad considering how terrible their offense and special teams have been this season.

Fear Factor: Down

#1/1 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0)
10/17: Beat Penn State 38-10
10/24: Beat Rutgers 49-7
This week: Bye

Well, they finally did it. Ohio State is Ohio State again thanks to JT Barrett being named the starter last week. I get it, it's tough to bench Cardale. They dude is 10-0 as a starter and won you a national championship. But that just goes to show at what level the Buckeyes are operating. The last two games of the year, Michigan State and @ Michigan will be the season for Ohio State. Both games are starting to look like real showdowns and for a year when the Big Ten has looked, let just say, awful...that's going to be a lot of fun.

Fear Factor: Up

Handy chart...

Michigan's Opponent Records

UTAH W W W W - W W L - - - - - 6-1
ORST W L W L - L L L - - - - - 2-5
UNLV L L L W W L L - - - - - - 2-5
BYU W W L L W W W W - - - - - 6-2
UMD W L W L L L - L - - - - - 2-5
NW W W W W W L L W - - - - - 6-2
MSU W W W W W W W W - - - - - 8-0
MINN L W W W L W L - - - - - - 4-3
RUT W L L W - L W L - - - - - 3-4
IND W W W W L L L L - - - - - 4-4
PSU L W W W W W L W - - - - - 6-2
OSU W W W W W W W W - - - - - 8-0
TOT 9-3 8-4 9-3 9-3 6-3 6-6 5-6 5-5 - - - - - 57-33

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