The key games this week are, of course, Illinois@Michigan and NW@PSU. Everything else looks ripe for a little town called Blowoutville. So let's take a look at some random things which popped out at me this week.
MGoBlog and others have put some work into showing that Michigan's 3-3-5 stack system is in fact, not that at all, because a 3-3-5 stack is supposed to put defenders in random places where offenses can't read and exploit offensive linemen and god knows Michigan's 2010 version of the 3-3-5 is definitely not doing that. From MGo:
Michigan's deployment of the 3-3-5 isn't really a 3-3-5. I don't know what it is, but that whole attacking from everywhere, making different fronts, blitzing, getting guys through the line unblocked thing is something you can see on a fairly typical WVU play above. There are six guys on the LOS threatening and a dedicated cleanup guy behind them with the space and time to get anywhere along the line. Michigan is a passive three man line with guys you can easily single block (but get to double if you want) and linebackers who are living a nightmare. It's incoherent, and Michigan going back to it after having a fairly solid day against Iowa basing almost exclusively from traditional fronts is a miniature version of what happened against Purdue in 2008. Michigan's 3-3-5 is a 3-4 with linebackers in places that don't make sense.
Nathan Scheelhaase will be the first "mobile" quarterback the Wolverines have faced this year. That's shocking, especially because this is the year of awesome running quarterbacks. Oh well, just another facet that will help crush the souls of Wolverine fans.
This season has been about overcoming "c'mon, it's (insert Tier 1 program) versus (ugly stepchild Baylor-esque program), they'll be no upset." That's how I feel about NW here - These are two evenly matched teams and NW has a functioning offense, something PSU cannot always claim.
I've loved watching Mike Trumpy and no it's not because I have a Napoleon Complex (I do) and he makes me feel better and strong, and no it's not because he's a white running back and we all love Rudy. It's simply because he's an effective North South runner who has just a bit more swivel and toughness than you expect.
Found this on LTP:
Appropo of nothing but still worth noting, especially when people gripe about close-call victories: A certain team in South Bend is losing the close calls — and many non-close calls.
Northwestern football record since the start of 2007 season: 29-17.
Notre Dame football record since the start of 2007 season: 20-26.
Northwestern record vs. Big 10 opposition since start of 2007 season: 15-13.
Notre Dame record vs. Big 10 opposition since start of 2007 season: 5-8.
Bad times in West L. What a trump card Wisky has with it's run game and experienced linemen. And how magnified will that be against the small LB's of Purdue?
Purdue is bad right now, real bad. If they played Minnesota tomorrow, I'd pick Mini. Look what Angry Purdue Football Player Hating God has done by swinging his injury sickel.
Ben Chappell, from all accounts, is an amazing human being and a solid leader for a talent-lacking Indiana team. But this year, his lack of arm strength has shown to be consistently lacking. I noticed it even more against NW last week. Stats say that he's pretty much the same QB as last year though, so what do I know?
I always call this matchup the "Battle of the White Safeties," because somehow or another, they both feature a Caucasian in the deep secondary. This trend continues in 2010, but the Iowa version is good and the Indiana version...isn't.
Why did 80%+ of our readers pick Iowa to beat State last week? We all saw the same thing: Slow starts by MSU, a lack of the power run game that forged their success, off-field issues, and possible loss of the emotional edge that carried Sparty over Wisky in East Lansing. Well readers, you all read that matchup perfectly.
The Spartans definitely need to start strong, especially after golden boy Kirk Cousins (the #1 QB prospect in the Big Ten) seemed to lose his mind in Iowa City. They're three times the team Minnesota is, but a weak start at least keeps the Gophers around.