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Alamo Bowl

Friday, December 30, 2005 by Tim

I'm too let down to say a whole lot more than stating that I witnessed the worst-reffed game in the history of major college football (and Mike Tirico, who is paid to be unbiased, agrees).

A few more Alamo things

Monday, December 26, 2005 by Tim

Sorry it's been so long since I've posted. My computer blew up, so I haven't been able to.

Anyway, I watched Michigan Replay this morning, and here were a few key points that Lloyd and the players talked about:
  1. Lloyd brought up the practice schedule, which included practicing through today, then resting tomorrow.
  2. Nebraska's West Coast offense was a topic of discussion. Unlike traditional Nebraska teams, they are a mainly passing team (gaining twice as many yards through the air as on the ground this season). It is still Michigan's plan to stop the run, forcing the Huskers to beat them with the pass.
  3. Nebraska's D-Line was a topic of discussion, as they led the nation in sacks. However, it didn't seem to be a main focus, and the healthy O-Line should be able to handle them.
  4. Garrett Rivas brought up the fact that this game is being played in a domed stadium. The lack of environmental features has apparently done a lot for his confidence.

The game is at 8PM on Wednesday on ESPN, be sure to watch it.

In related news, I will be at the game, in row AA of the Michigan student section. I'm leaving for San Antonio tomorrow morning. I will probably post again after I get back on Thursday. After a recap post, I will start looking forward to future seasons.

Projected 2-Deep for Alamo Bowl

Friday, December 16, 2005 by Tim

Some of this is likely to change in the meantime, but as of right now, here is how the lineup looks:

Offense:
QB Henne, Gutierrez
FB Paul, Thompson
HB Hart*, Grady, Jackson
TE Massaquoi*, Ecker, M. Massey
WR Avant, Tabb
WR Breaston, Manningham
OT Stenavich, ?
OG Riley, Mitchell
OC Kraus*, Bihl
OG Lentz, Mitchell
OT Long, ?

Defense:
DE: Branch, Biggs
DT: Massey, Johnson
DT: Watson, Taylor
DE/LB: Woodley, Woods
LB: Graham, McClintock
LB: Harris, Thompson
LB: Burgess, Crable
CB: Hall, Trent
CB: Mason, Hood
S: Barringer, Harrison
S: Englemon, Adams

*Player is questionable.

Looking back

by Tim

Well, the 2005 season was, by almost any measure, a disappointment for Michigan. Starting the season with hopes of a repeat Rose Bowl appearance, and ending with an Alamo Bowl bid is not the most pleasant experience to exist. Let's quickly go back and take a look at the season in review.

9-3: W 33-17 Northern Illinois. WR Adrian Arrington breaks ankle, out for season
9-10: L 17-10 Notre Dame. HB Mike Hart sprains ankle, limited time remainder of season
9-17: W 55-0 Eastern Michigan. Best offensive and defensive showing of the year
9-24: L 23-20 @Wisconsin. Stocco QB draw give Wisc the lead, Henne falls down on Hail Mary attempt.
10-1: W 34-31 @Michigan State. 2nd best win of the season, only victory vs rival
10-8: L 23-20 Minnesota. Devastating 4th quarter run by Gary Russell
10-15: W 27-25 Penn State. Best win of the year, highest ranked team to beat
10-22: W 23-20 @Iowa. Resurgence of Jerome Jackson
10-29: W 33-17 @Northwestern. Shuts down Big10's leading offense
11-12: W 41-14 Indiana. Allows early TD, then shuts down IU until junk time
11-19: L 25-21 Ohio State. 4th quarter comeback spoils Big10 title hopes

Those are only a few of the highlights from each game, but you probably saw the rest of the important stuff.

12-14 Press Conference

Thursday, December 15, 2005 by Tim

Nothing big today, just links to some quotes from yesterday's press conference. The "players" link includes quotes from Mike Hart, Chad Henne, Jake Long, Pat Massey, Carl Tabb, and Pierre Woods.

Lloyd - Players

For the record, that link also includes information about Jake Long's health for the Alamo Bowl (which is not what I stated in a previous post).

Ahh, Nebraska

Wednesday, December 14, 2005 by Tim

Well, for starters, it is important to note that as of this morning, Michigan is favored over Nebraska by14. However, it might be a little audacious to set the bar that high at this point. Let's explore it.

The stats through 11 games for each team are as follows. Nebraska also played Maine, a Div-IAA team, so their stats with this game omitted are included in parantheses.
  • Nebraska's rush defense is ranked 28th, allowing 123.7 (136.7) yards/game.
  • Michigan's rush offense is ranked 38th, gaining 164.5 yards/game.

  • Nebraska's pass defense is ranked 12th, allowing 103.9 (99.2) yards/game.
  • Michigan's pass offense is ranked 63rd, gaining 218.4 yards/game.

  • Nebraska's rush offense is ranked 110th, gaining 91.0 (88.0) yards/game.
  • Michigan's rush defense is ranked 43rd, allowing 136.1 yards/game.

  • Nebraska's pass offense is ranked 46th, gaining 229.6 (233.3) yards/game.
  • Michigan's pass defense is ranked 35th, allowing 116.9 yards/game.
Another important note to make is Nebraska's Division-I leading 46 sacks on the season. I wouldn't read too deeply into this stat, however. 11 of these sacks (23.9% of them) came against Div-IAA team Maine. Against their only Top-25 opponent, Texas Tech, they got four sacks. Against a "Big-Time Program" (Oklahoma, in terms of perrenial recruiting), they only managed to get 1 sack.

With these stats, it is a little less clear why Michigan is so heavily favored in this game. However, this can be attributed to a number of reasons:
Strength of Schedule
  1. 2 of the 4 teams Michigan lost to are playing in BCS bowls (Nebraska- 0).
  2. 3 of the 4 teams Michigan lost to are ranked in the Top-25 (Nebraska- 1).
  3. The only non-Top-25 team Michigan lost to is ranked 37th (Nebraksa- 26th, other 2 not in Top-40).
  4. 4 of 7 teams that Michigan beat are bowl eligible (Nebraska, 2 of 6 Div IA teams).
  5. 2 of 7 Michigan-beaten teams are Top-25 (Nebraska, 0).
  6. Michigan beat a #3, BCS bowl team (Nebraska, no).
Injuries
  1. Mike Hart was out for 4 complete games during the season, and saw only limited action in 3 of them. He should be healthy for the Alamo Bowl
  2. Numerous O-line injuries throughout the season, multiple players who were injured during the course of the season should be healthy for the Alamo Bowl (except Jake Long, who is having surgery, and Leo Henige, who has a bropken leg) .
  3. Lamarr Woodley did not play at all against Northwestern, and saw limited time against Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio State. He should be healthy for the Alamo Bowl.
  4. Nebraska also had some injuries over the course of the year, including LB Stewart Bradley (should be healthy for the Alamo Bowl), and TE Matt Herrian and LB Steve Octavien (Both of whom medically redshirted, and will not play in the Alamo Bowl).
  5. Nebraska's injuries to key players should not have as much of an effect on the Alamo Bowl, because only 1 of 3 of these players will play in the Alamo Bowl.
There are also some intangibles to consider, however. Homefield advantage may play a part, as Nebraska has sold far more tickets to the game than Michigan (see previous post). Especially troubling for Michigan is the lack of student tickets sold.

Another issue is the matter of having something to play for. Nebraska didn't make a bowl game last year, so they are eager to prove something, and hopefully put their program back on the map, with an upset win here. Michigan, on the other hand, has not played in a December Bowl since 1995 (when they played in the Alamo Bowl in Lloyd's forst season). They probably won't be as pumped up for the game. However, they will certainly want to win, in order to avoid an embarrassing year.

If anyone has any other insight to bring to this analysis, feel free to post it in the comments, and I'd be glad to respond. Other than that, I don't pick scores, but I will definitely say that I am picking Michigan to win this game.

The Alamo Bowl

Tuesday, December 13, 2005 by Tim

Well, well, well, after a season in which Michigan started off with National Title hopes, only to start 3-3, I don't think that The Alamo Bowl is that sorry of a destination - we are probably lucky to be in a bowl at all. Michigan fans, however, don't seem to agree. According to the Michigan Daily, The University has sold only about 5,000 tickets to the bowl, including a dismal 150 student tickets. For last year's Rose Bowl, 35,000 tickets were sold through the athletic department, including 2,000 student tickets.

Why the discrepancy? Well, it should be obvious that the Alamo Bowl is nowhere near as prestigious as the Rose Bowl. Especially coming off a disappointing season (which began with high expectations), this means that few people care to see the Wolverines in action live one more time. I know that fans may be embarrassed to be out of a New Year's Day Bowl for the first time since the 1995 season (Lloyd's first at Michigan), but they should still have some support for their team (a situation that seems to be a little too prevalent, but that's for another day).

Another reason fans feel let down by the Alamo Bowl is the fact that Iowa is going to the Outback Bowl (a Jan. 2 bowl, since New Year's is on a Sunday this year). The Wolverines had an identical 7-4 record to the Hawkeyes, including a head-to-head victory. This was despite facing a significantly more difficult schedule than Iowa. Iowa was picked for the Outback Bowl even though they do not appear (at least on paper) to be as good a team as Michigan. Because of this, Michigan fans feel cheated out of the Outback Bowl. However, the ability of a team to draw traveling fans to a bowl game is taken into account, and as the Alamo Bowl clearly shows, if we aren't in a BCS bowl, the fans aren't a-comin'.

I, for one, will be attending the Alamo Bowl, and sitting proudly in the student section. Hey, at least I get to see the team win in person this year (something that season ticket holders didn't get to see a whole lot of). So, if you're planning on visiting the Alamo Bowl, good for you. If you still need to get tickets, here's where you can get them.

That's all for now, next time I'll actually get in to a little analysis of the game itself.

My first post (how cute)

by Tim

So this is my new blog where I will be discussing Michigan Football. I might occasionally talk about other sports, but football will be my main focus. I hope to provide thoughtful analysis, rather than just mindless homerism that you might see on a message board. I encourage people to comment on my posts, so there can be some intelligent discourse. My next post will be about the Alamo Bowl, so be sure to check it out.

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