Two days away from the halfway mark of the regular season, Michigan football might be gaining some steam. The Mailbag always features some, and lets it off regularly.
Six weeks into the season, who has been the most pleasant surprise on the offensive side of the ball, and how about the defensive side of the ball also, for balance?
Cannot differentiate between the Devins, so you've got yourself a tie. Mr. Gardner and Mr. Funchess have made a huge impact on that side of the football, the former at wide receiver and the latter at the tight end spot.
They've give Denard Robinson a pair of big targets whose stature in the offense should only increase as Big Ten play gets really serious over the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, the temptation is to nominate cornerback Raymon Taylor on the defensive side of the ball, given his 63-yard pick-six against Purdue and efforts in stepping in for the injured Blake Countess. Considering the huge need going into the season, we're picking Quinton Washington in the middle of the defensive line.
He drew some unwanted attention with a bad penalty against the Boilermakers, but for the most part he's provided desperately needed stability in the middle of that line.
After both Nebraska and Northwestern lost last weekend, and in the Cornhuskers' case especially, looked bad doing so, how likely is it that the Legends Division title comes down to the Oct. 20 showdown between Michigan and Michigan State?
That will be huge, without question, for Michigan. At the same time, the way the Spartans and their offense look, it's tough to imagine them in Indianapolis in December.
The game played a week after the MSU showdown will be even tougher for the Wolverines, given that it's in Lincoln, at night, one week removed from the emotional head-slammer against the Spartans. Nebraska is still going to out-score a lot of people, and if the Wolverines lose in Lincoln, they're going to need some help getting to Indy.
Michigan State won't be taken lightly at all - especially by a team that has bowed to it four straight times - but the Spartans are scraping by the EMUs and Indianas right now.
Denard Robinson now has five career 200-yard performances in his career, tying Mike Hart for the all-time mark. Does he get to six? And how would you rank his 200-yard games, 1-5?
Sure, he's got at least one more in him, perhaps in Columbus, to end the season properly. As far as what he's done to this point, it shakes out as follows
1. Notre Dame, 2010 - Let's see, 258 rushing yards with two touchdowns (502 total yards), and a game-winning drive in the final minute in South Bend? This one takes the prize.
2. Purdue, 2012 - A Big Ten opener, a desperately needed game, and Robinson's 235 yards rushing as the dominant factor in Michigan's 44-13 road win. It's one of his best.
3. Indiana, 2010 - The Wolverines were scrambling to win at Indiana, and Robinson's 217 yards and two touchdowns tipped the scales in a 42-35 shootout.
4. Air Force, 2012 - The Wolverines needed a lift against the fly boys, and Robinson soared, racing for 218 yards and two touchdowns, helping U-M survive at 31-25.
5. San Diego State, 2011 - Robinson hit 200 on the nose with three touchdowns, making certain Brady Hoke's old team didn't come back to bite him.
With Ohio State and Penn State both undefeated in conference play, and Wisconsin and Purdue looking like pretenders, it's likely either OSU or PSU will finish with the best record in the Leaders Division.
Since we've already seen Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany put his ethics aside when he lobbied the NCAA to let ineligible OSU players participate in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, do you think it's possible he tries to do something similar this year if it means putting the Buckeyes or Nittany Lions in the Big Ten championship game?
Also, what do you make of the fact that both of them can win a trophy for winning their division?
No chance. The Big Ten long ago noted it would not allow teams barred from post-season play to appear in the championship game, and it's not about to veer from that course now. Even if it tried, there would be legal action (and rightly so) by those who didn't flagrantly cheat or harbor a child predator and earned the right to be in Indianapolis.
Neither Ohio State nor Penn State should be able to get their hands on a division trophy. It's like putting your child in timeout in the corner and handing him an X-Box.
Just say no.
I still don't know how to wrap my head around the disparity last week between Denard Robinson's rushing production (235 yards) and Fitzgerald Toussaint (19 yards). Do you believe the talk that Purdue went out of its way to stop Toussaint at the knowingly expense that it might cost them against Robinson?
And if that was indeed the case, is that not one of the strangest game plans you've ever heard? It'd be akin to double-teaming Jason Avant in 2004 and leaving Braylon Edwards in single coverage against a linebacker all game long. What were they thinking?
They were thinking Toussaint torched them one year earlier. They were thinking Robinson rushed 15 times for 63 yards in that game, and was manageable. They were wrong, not historically unprecedented for Purdue's football program.
Do I believe the talk? Sure I do, because I believe the talkers, from present coaches to former ones to everyone who has looked at the film. I also believe Brady Hoke when he says he's still concerned about Michigan's rushing attack from the running back spot. One doesn't preclude the other.
It's way too early for this, but what's your projected starting five for the basketball team after talking to coaches and players at yesterday's Media Day?
That's a tough call at this point, but here's a Dream Five that can be used as a jumping-off point:
C - Jordan Morgan
PF - Mitch McGary
SF - Glenn Robinson III
SG - Tim Hardaway, Jr.
PG - Trey Burke
That lineup leaves a host of moves available, from sharpshooters Matt Vogrich and Nik Stauskas coming off the bench for three-point firepower to Jon Horford adding muscle at one of the big spots.
Hardaway can slip to the three, allowing Stauskas into the game at the two, and it remains to be seen where freshman Caris LeVert might fit into the picture. Plus, there are several back from last season who can give minutes, with freshman Spike Albrecht giving Burke a breather at the point.
Lots of pieces to this puzzle.
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