At the risk of coming off as an arrogant Michigan fan, there was a point in the second half where I looked up at the press box at Rentschler Field and realized there was a possibility Michigan was going to lose to a school that hangs a banner for an appearance in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. Not a win, mind you, just an appearance.
The Wolverines made a rare trip to the East Coast on Saturday and many Michigan fans in the area jumped at the chance to see them close to home. The record-setting crowd of 42,000 was probably 40 percent Michigan. Many of them—certainly two of the Yoopers I was with—appreciated the Cabela’s between the parking lot and the stadium.
They also appreciated Michigan’s comeback. The Wolverines turned a 21-7 deficit midway through the third quarter into a 24-21 win to improve to 4-0, but it wasn’t pretty.
Only one team in the country has more turnovers than Michigan (which has 12 through four games). Only a few have more plays that have gone for negative yards. If you add those two numbers together, only one team has more combined negative plays and turnovers: Idaho, which is 0-4 with some really lopsided scores. The Michigan offense has looked pretty good when it’s not giving the ball to the other team or moving backwards. There is much room for improvement if the Wolverines can turn the really bad plays into simply not good plays. But there’s no telling whether that will happen.
Big bad blowouts
We knew Saturday wasn’t likely to produce much drama. We didn’t know how ugly it would get. Several top 25 teams devoured their cupcake opponents with one bite. Ohio State beat Florida A&M 76-0 after leading 55-0 at half. Look at the run/pass splits for the Buckeyes:
First quarter: 2 runs/23 passes
Second quarter: 10 runs/11 passes
Second half: 34 runs/0 passes
That’s no fun for anybody. The Rattlers did have a 78-yard punt go out of bounds at the Ohio State 2, and no one can take that away from them.
Louisville beat Florida International 72-0 in just the second biggest rout among top-seven teams on Saturday. FIU totaled 30 yards of offense. After the game, the Conference USA coordinator of officials acknowledged that the clock ran when it shouldn’t have at times in the second half. According to the statement, reported by the Associated Press, FIU coach Ron Turner “made a comment to one of the officials that, given the amount of injuries and the limited numbers of players he had available, he wanted to run the ball in the second half. One official misinterpreted that comment” and didn’t stop the clock at all appropriate times, such as when a player went out of bounds.
Officials took it a step further in the Miami-Savannah State game. The ’Canes won 77-7, with all the scoring happening in the first three quarters. This was partly because both head coaches agreed to shorten the fourth quarter from 15 minutes to 12.
Who knew this was even an option? It reminds me of the mercy rule in Little League. I’m all for it, but you know what I support even more? Big-time schools not scheduling severely under-matched opponents. The Big Ten announced in February it will no longer schedule FCS schools and hopefully other conferences will follow. This policy would not have prevented Louisville’s beat-down, however, since FIU is an FBS member in Conference USA.
Maybe the playoff will this limit this kind of scheduling. Or maybe a handful of superconferences will emerge and those teams will only play each other. Something needs to be done, because as the scores on Saturday highlighted, this is getting ridiculous.
Bonus Blowout Stat: The two Pac-12 Washington schools beat two Idaho schools by a combined score of 98-0 on Saturday.
Play of the Week: The AP game story simply reads, “Rice recovered the ensuing onside kick at its 47-yard line but was unable to score.” Darn you, deadlines and word counts. It was so much more than that:
Raise your hand if, like me, you stood up and tried to emulate the kicking motion to try and figure out exactly how he pulled that off.
Moment of the Week: UCLA honored Nick Pasquale by running its first play from scrimmage with just 10 players.