Friday, November 29, 2013

Predictions for Minnesota vs. Michigan State/Ohio State vs. Michigan

Minnesota at Michigan State, Noon
Minnesota has finished the season strong despite the loss last week to Wisconsin. The Gophers held the Badgers to just 20 points last week, so I can see the MSU offense struggling in the early stages. The Spartan defense shouldn’t have too much trouble handling the Minnesota offense, which relies heavily on the run. While Michigan State may not feel an urgency in this game, I think the Spartans have plenty to play for and will come out looking to make a statement. Look for Jeremy Langford to continue his strong play and rush for over 100 yards while Connor Cook manages the game and avoids turnovers. Spartans win by pulling away in the second half
Michigan State 27, Minnesota 10

Ohio State at Michigan, Noon
You can make the argument about this being a rivalry game and Michigan is going to come out and play out of its mind, but that wasn’t the case when the Wolverines went to East Lansing and I don’t see it happening this weekend either. I don’t know how Michigan can win this game and I don’t even know how they can keep it close. The Wolverines are a mess on offense and Ohio State’s defense is one of the best in the conference. The Buckeyes have the best offense that Michigan has seen this season, so despite the defense showing some promise as of late, it won’t matter against the Buckeyes. Urban Meyer wants to send a message to Michigan fans and the pollsters, so it could get ugly. Michigan fans may want to avert their eyes.
Ohio State 48, Michigan 14

Friday, November 22, 2013

Predictions for MSU vs. Northwestern and Michigan vs. Iowa

No. 13 Michigan State at Northwestern
I don’t know that this will be a walk in the park for Michigan State, but the Spartans will get the win. Partly because the Spartans are the better team, and partly because Northwestern appears cursed this season. Michigan State should continue to ride the legs of Jeremy Langford and control the tempo of the game with its offense. Defensively, Northwestern isn’t likely to beat Michigan State’s one-on-one coverage. The Wildcats will have to run the ball to win, and I don’t seem them being able to do that consistently. Northwestern will go into the second half of the game within reach of MSU, but ultimately the Spartans will pull away and lock up the Legends Division.
Prediction: Michigan State 30, Northwestern 13

Michigan at Iowa
Some might think that Michigan’s win on the road last week might give the Wolverines a spark. I am not of that mindset. Michigan’s offense could only put up 9 points on Northwestern in regulation. The unit is still struggling and not able to win at the line of scrimmage. This week, the offense runs into a tough Iowa defense that will cause it all sorts of problems. Michigan may be able to win this game if its defense can dominate a below average Iowa offense, but the Hawkeyes are playing in their home finale. That’s not to say the Iowa offense will put up a lot of points, but they won’t need to. I see the Hawkeyes scoring just enough to beat Michigan, which will continue to struggle with the football.
Prediction: Iowa 17, Michigan 13

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Predictions for MSU vs. Nebraska/Michigan vs. Northwestern

Michigan State at Nebraska
With Taylor Martinez out, I am not sure how Nebraska’s offense can consistently post points on Michigan State. The MSU defense should be able to contain Ameer Abdullah and the duo of Nebraska quarterbacks likely won’t be able to successfully hit the big throws downfield. The MSU offense isn’t anything special, but the Spartans have been stronger on the road than they have been at home. I think Connor Cook will play well enough to combine with the run game to produce some points. Michigan State has a lot to play for and should come out motivated. Look for the Spartans to win somewhat comfortably.
Michigan State 24, Nebraska 14

Michigan at Northwestern
I don’t feel great about this, but I am picking Michigan to win. The Wolverines eventually have to show some heart during this losing period and this would be a good game to do so. Northwestern’s defense isn’t very good, which should allow the Wolverines to move the ball again. Michigan’s defense will probably allow some big plays in the process, but not enough to win. Despite Michigan’s problems, Northwestern has been an even bigger mess this year. Look for the Wolverines to pick up a tough win. If they don’t, they may not see another win this season.
Michigan 27, Northwestern 24

Saturday, November 9, 2013

This is Michigan.....or is it?

Brady Hoke has often spouted out three words when reporters ask him about his program and its reputation.
“This is Michigan.”
Is it?
Is this Michigan?
This isn’t the Michigan I grew up watching.
As a kid, Michigan was synonymous with success. It was everything Michigan State fans have always hated about the program. The Wolverines were arrogant, but they usually backed it up.
Lloyd Carr, despite all the criticism toward him at the end of his tenure, led Michigan to a national championship and won his share of conference titles. He also did it by being tough up front and physical at the line of scrimmage.
For the second consecutive week, Michigan has finished a game with negative rushing yards as a team. That should be unacceptable to the fan base and the coaching staff.
It is one thing to have Michigan State, one of the top defenses in the country, push you around. It is another thing to have Nebraska, the fifth-worst defense (in terms of yards per game) in a mediocre conference, push you around at home.
If you want to blame Rich Rodriguez for his recruiting of offensive linemen, go ahead, but you’d be taking the easy way out.
Brady Hoke has long been given praise for his recruiting classes since he stepped foot in Ann Arbor. That means he is bringing players into the program that should be capable of playing right away, let alone three years in.
Make all the excuses you want, but the blame falls on Hoke.
This program is regressing despite the great recruiting.
Michigan brought in Rich Rodriguez to make it a national contender. That didn’t happen.
Michigan brought Hoke in to restore its name in the Big Ten Conference. That has yet to happen.
Will Michigan ever get back to the “glory days” it once had? Maybe not.
But, I do know that Michigan can be and should be better than it is right now and I don’t see a lot of optimism that things are going to be better next season.
Michigan can’t overlook anyone right now, and with trips to Northwestern and Iowa the next two weeks, it is no longer a crazy thought to think the Wolverines could walk into its season finale against Ohio State looking to avoid a .500 record for the season.
SPOILER ALERT – Michigan isn’t beating Ohio State.
The best the Wolverines can hope for this regular season is 8 wins. Given the schedule this year, that should have been a worst-case scenario, not a best-case scenario.
Then again, maybe 8 wins and not competing for a conference title has become what “Michigan is.”

Friday, November 8, 2013

Prediction for Nebraska vs. Michigan

Michigan has to be quite eager to get on the football field Saturday.
The Wolverines are coming off an embarrassing loss at Michigan State last week in which they were physically pushed around and outclassed.
Saturday, the Wolverines have a chance to move on when they host Nebraska in a key game in the Big Ten Legends Division landscape.
Just like I thought Michigan State was a tough matchup for Michigan last week, I think Michigan is a tough matchup for Nebraska this week.
The Cornhuskers have struggled defensively this year, and gave up 34 points to Minnesota on the road two weeks ago. Michigan shouldn’t have trouble moving the ball against this defense like it did last week. Look for Devin Gardner to have a big game and the Wolverines to establish a steady run game.
Defensively, Michigan doesn’t have to worry about Taylor Martinez, as he is out with a hip injury. Freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. will be under center instead. Armstrong has four touchdown passes to six interceptions and is completing just over 54 percent of his passes.
While Ameer Abdullah is a tough running back to stop, the Michigan defense can stack the box and put this game on Armstrong, who doesn’t appear to be up to the challenge of winning a big game on the road.
Michigan may still give up some points, but ultimately the offense will score more and hand Nebraska its second loss in the Big Ten and get the Wolverines back on track heading into the final three games of the season.
Prediction: Michigan 41, Nebraska 27

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Michigan vs. MSU recap: Hoke has to be gaining some detractors

Brady Hoke has always said the right things and has been largely revered by the Michigan fan base.
He is a “Michigan man.”
Hoke embraces everything that Michigan fans want in a head coach and the rivalries that the Wolverines have.
Along with that, he has been a strong recruiter nationally.
Despite all those things, Michigan isn’t doing
what it hired Hoke to do, and that is win Big Ten titles.
On Saturday, Michigan State physically manhandled Michigan’s offensive line, as the Spartans beat Michigan 29-6.
The loss drops Michigan to 2-2 in the Big Ten and essentially eliminates the Wolverines from contention in the Legends Division.
Michigan seems to be regressing each season under Hoke, which is really the bigger issue.
Hoke took Michigan to 11 wins in 2011 and a win in the Sugar Bowl, but did so largely with Rich Rodriguez’ roster.
Last season, the Wolverines went just 8-5 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten, once again falling shy of even a division title.
This year, Michigan already has two conference losses, one of which came against Penn State. That loss just can’t happen to a program of Michigan’s caliber.
Saturday’s loss wasn’t surprising, which in turn makes it surprising. It was surprising that all week, those that looked at the game on paper felt Michigan was going to get physically manhandled, and was.
Michigan is a program built on black-and-blue football and “bullying” the opponent. On Saturday, the Wolverines were bullied into silence by the Spartans.
Where is the talent that Hoke was bringing into this program? If it is there, why isn’t it developing?
Recruiting rankings are great, but championships are what matter and Michigan is not winning those.
I am not saying Hoke should be fired, but certainly the fanbase needs to stop treating him like he can do no wrong.
This is serious gut-check time for Hoke. Michigan has to show something the rest of the year, and the Wolverines certainly have to show more in 2014.
It is not like Hoke walked into a challenging Big Ten conference. Outside of Ohio State, the conference is pretty weak. Michigan State has a great defense, but the Spartans’ offense keeps it from being a great team.
The Wolverines are a mediocre team surrounded by a fan base looking for greatness. Perhaps the fans should temper their expectations, or perhaps Hoke just isn’t getting the job done. I find it hard to believe this is the best product he can put on the field.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Prediction for Michigan vs. Michigan State

The Michigan-Michigan State game is about 24 hours away and my feelings on the game haven’t changed throughout the week.
It is funny how, after a few weeks into the season, I would have bet everything I had that Michigan was going to beat the Spartans in East Lansing this year. My how times can change.
It may extreme for me to say I don’t see how Michigan can win, but I see it as very unlikely for the Wolverines.
Michigan can win if Connor Cook has an awful day or if Devin Gardner is able to hit on a lot of deep balls, but Wolverine fans can’t feel very assured about that.
Cook doesn’t have to be great for MSU to win, he just needs to avoid big mistakes and convert some key third-down passes. The pressure isn’t on him as much as it is on Gardner to beat the talented MSU defense. Pat Narduzzi will certainly look to test Gardner early and hope to create a turnover on a quarterback that has been prone to giving the ball away.
I think the story of the game will be Michigan State dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. I expect the Spartans to be able to run the ball efficiently and sustain a handful of drives throughout the game. Defensively, Michigan State should keep Michigan from establishing much of a run game and put plenty of pressure on Gardner, forcing him into bad throws.
Michigan will find some points, but Michigan State will find more. The Spartans have looked like the better team in recent weeks and I feel like they will be the better team on Saturday.

Prediction: Michigan State 24, Michigan 13