We Are the Ones Who Knock

Julie Jacobson / AP

Julie Jacobson / AP

If ever there were a Big Ten Championship game that was tough to get up for, it was this one.  As much as a matching banner and Purdue revenge were unchecked boxes on the to do list, the previous afternoon felt so good, it would be tough to feel better.

But we do.

After dodging a bullet on Thursday, Michigan manhandled three of the top four seeds of the Big Ten en route to back-to-back Big Ten tournament championships.  

The team you punched a wall about less than a month ago just cut down the nets at Madison Square Garden.  The team you wrote off into a "maybe next year" scenario is the only team to have beaten every one of the other 13 Big Ten teams at least once.  Some, like Michigan State, they beat twice.  The team you questioned even as recently as this week, wondering if they could upset some of the top tier teams in the Big Ten and make a run at a banner, has dominated.  And they were not upsets.  Michigan was the team to beat.  Michigan was the aggressor.  They are the ones who knock.

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Wagner was named "Most Outstanding Player" of the Big Ten tournament, but Moe insists the award belongs to his teammates.  And he is most certainly correct.  Jon Teske was the man on Thursday, filling in for Wagner when he got into foul trouble, and again today, when he actually had more minutes than Moe, as Coach Beilein tried to throw every option he could at Purdue's mutant Ivan Drago.  

Mutant Ivan still had 23 points on 9-12 shooting.  HOWEVA, Teske and Wagner combined for 31, so there's that.  Zavier Simpson has gone from being benched early in the season for PG by committee to on the cusp of a Burke or a Walton (minus FT%).  He became a focus of a few timely articles, and all are worth a read:

That last one is behind the paywall at The Athletic, but you should throws those folks some cash, they make a good product.

Anyway, seems like X could become that tournament guy we've been looking for, but the truth is, there are so many role players on this team that can carry them a game, a round, or even to San Antonio.  

Some questions remain:  Will free throws eventually bite us in the ass?  Can we just practice free throws continuously until the tournament?  What will be the effects of this long layoff?  If we play in Detroit instead of Sparty, will they cry for a week, a month, or forever #disrespekt?

Well, we've got 11 or 12 long days to find the answers.  For now, enjoy the championship, and hope that we don't cool off too much in a fortnight.  

Oh, and get yourself in a bracket picking mindset, the field is released in a week (so weird that it's not tonight...friggin' Delaney) and it will be time for the 19th Annual UMTailgate.com tournament challenge.

Go Blue Forever

You're Kind of a Dick, Pete

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A third of the way through the season was enough.  A semi-regular scheduled B1G cupcake showed signs of life under a new regime, and presented a unique opportunity to play in a somewhat big time game on the road.  It was time to show something.  And that statement applied to several facets of the game.  Wilton needed to show he could handle some pressure and make some throws, the line needed to show it could hold off the pass rush and/or make a couple of holes to assist in establishing a run game, and the coaching staff needed to show they had the ability to call plays that recognize our weaknesses.  So here we are all giddy to finally show the world that we are not the team that left Cincinnati and Air Force with varying degrees of second-half hope, and that we were ready to roll with the patented scripted first drive on the road in a hostile (in a Disney kind of way) environment and we....

4 plays, 11 yards PUNT,  3 plays, 7-yards PUNT, 3-plays, -6 yards LOSE YOUR QUARTERBACK and PUNT

Dick

Dick

Uninspiring, frustrating, and absolutely familiar.  I couldn't help but think to myself (when I wasn't wondering if I'd make it through the sweat lodge of an afternoon we endured) that I'd already been to this game 3 times.  It's uncomfortable.  No matter what you think is on the horizon in the form of adjustments, you have to wonder why we don't have a gameplan that is serviceable for the first half kickoff.

So John O'Korn strolls in on his big white horse and as we cross over into the 2nd quarter he leads one of those Michigan drives of yesteryear.  13 plays, 6+ minutes of eye test butter.  Dude is seeing the field better.  He's making throws on the run.  He's side stepping the rush like Wilton used to, and using the tight end like Griese used to...while Pep and Drevno called plays like DeBord used to!  Wait, scratch that last one.  The "gotta be Wilton's fault" portion of fanbase starts breaking their arms patting themselves on the back, not even paying attention as Purdue goes the length of the field in less than two minutes to tie it up.

The word of mouth version of the historical record of this game will contend that John O'Korn was a marvel of efficiency and went on to, from this point, lead Michigan on a 21-3 run to finish the game, saving the offense and righting the Michigan Football ship.  Which, kinda.

HOWEVA...

The first half for Michigan ended with INTERCEPTION, PUNT, PUNT.  The second half started with PUNT, FUMBLE.  For those 5 possessions, Michigan's offense looked as middling as ever.  And to be fair to his predecessor, it should be noted that O'Korn had bad passes (wide open Grant Perry), mis-reads, and took sacks.

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Purdue had the lead in this game until 2:42 remaining in the 3rd quarter.  That's two full quarters of shiny new savior quarterback with just 1 touchdown to show for it.  And that's against a defense that, while having at the helm the coordinator most likely to scare you into pooping your pants, will firmly reside at the lower rung of defenses we will face this season.  What I'm saying is, offensively, things are not great, things are not fixed, and if you think Dickbag McGoo is bringing Little Brother in here in two weeks to lay down under the lights, you've got another thing coming.  That asshat will throw the Iowa game to get the extra prep in for us.  He's got nothing to lose.

OK, OK, allow me to join the Michigan optimist set for a set for just a moment.  The 4th quarter did get those warm fuzzies percolating.  Three consecutive touchdown drives that checked all the boxes (running, passing, clock ticking) put a pretty bow on a game that was 100% won by a defense that decided not to allow yards in the 2nd half.  The defense has gasoline and a flamethrower, but there's no question O'Korn was a spark.  We seemed to respond better to his play, and had better execution of what seemed to be a simpler offense geared for the backup.  WE FOUND THE TIGHT ENDS.  Evans's hole hitting timing was on a couple times.  And don't forget about the extra fuel provided by what could only be classified as "Purdue is a bunch of dicks." 

Dick #2

Dick #2

Dick #3

Dick #3

Mid-week mouthiness, multiple ejections for dangerous hits, and apparently making Boilers in no way qualifies you for making Air Conditioners, as the visitor locker room was so steamy the boys spent halftime on the team bus.  That's some middle-school facility shit fellas.  What are you doing with your share of the bowl game money that you get even though you haven't been to one in 5 years?  Is it drum care?  How much drum does a college football team need?

In the end Saturday became an on-paper triumph.  Michigan covers the 10.5 point spread to appease the poll and power rankings geeks, and has a bye week to work on the O'Korn offensive packages in what Coach is calling "improvement week" before hosting Sparty in a UTL affair.  

Time to prepare your livers folks.  Go Blue!

Game page with pics, etc, is here.

Pictures From the West Lafayette Tailgate and the Boilermaker's Return to Earth

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Staff Predictions for Purdue

Hey, a bye week is a bye week.  Bite me.

Tuba says:

Back to the drawing board coming off the bye. I can't imagine 1. going 2-3 to start the season, 2. losing to Purdue more than once every 10 years and C. the offense not getting their shit together.

Plus, if Romney can struggle to get his own party's nomination and then obliterate the incumbent, Michigan can surely turn things around despite what appears to be a bleak outlook.

Michigan 31 Purdue 21

The Webmaster Says:

We don't lose Big Ten openers coming off a bye week (just a guess...not sure if we have even ever opened the Big Ten season coming off a bye).  But we also never play well in Ross-Ade.  However, we should be able to get some kind of offensive rhythm going against a defense that is susceptible to a halfway decent offense, which is what we have when we're not being stupid.  Purdue will find a way to keep it close for a while, but barring any hook-and-laterals and assuming Denard will not be given the option to throw five passes let alone five interceptions...I think this is where we announce our intention to compete in this shitty league.

Michigan 38 - Purdue 16

Weekend Roundup, Underdog Edition: 8/27/2012

Gameweek?  Gameweek.