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September 17, 2010

Staff Predictions: Michigan vs. UMass

We've seen it before - FCS (Division I-AA, whatever you choose to call it) team travels to Ann Arbor to pick up a paycheck, and grabs a win, too, before leaving town. But we won't see it again - right?

Barring seven or eight turnovers, injuries to all three quarterbacks and half of the offensive line, a complete collapse on defense - or any combination of the above - it's not likely.

UMass is no Appalachian State, and they haven't recruited at a high level since John Calipari left town (rest easy, Minutemen fans - he's long gone, so there's no chance an upset win would be vacated). Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson will probably play this one like we used to toy with the neighborhood kids back in the day: "hey boys, you want to score on this play or the next?"

That said, we'd love to see a runner not named Robinson pick up more than a dozen or two yards, a placekicker make a field goal (from anywhere. Please. From 17.5 yards, left hash, right hash …just make us sleep a little better heading into the Big Ten season).

In short, though - enjoy your first of two bye weeks, Michigan fans, despite what UMass senior cornerback Ke'Mon Bailey believes.

"We're about to shock the world," Bailey told MassLive.com upon entering Michigan Stadium for the first time. "We talk junk, we look pretty and we hit hard. That's the motive for today and tomorrow. Get this victory."

And the Big House?

"It's actually not that big either," he added. "This should not be The Big House, this should be the Little House on the Prairie."

Not since MSU quarterback Drew Stanton pulled out "The University of Puke" a few years back have we heard of such clever banter.

Congratulations to Michael Spath, who lucked into his first staff picks win of the year. This week's winner receives the Bowdabra (as seen on TV - make great looking bows and craft projects every time!) and the right to kick extra points in next week's game against Bowling Green.

The picks:

Chris Balas: Denard Robinson picks up 150 in the first half, plays a series in the third quarter and rests up for the Falcons .-. Bailey realizes he's more Laura Ingalls than Jonathan Garvey and probably should have kept his mouth shut.

Michigan 45, UMass 17


John Borton: With the easy portion of the non-conference slate out of the way (c'mon, UMass has never lost to Michigan, and certainly not four out of the last five), it's time for the Wolverines to buckle down and focus. It comes down to simply hearing this emanating from the UMass section, in a Cliff Clavin-like tone: "Oooh my, Normie. That Denaaaaad makes our boys look like paaaaaked caaaaaaas."

Michigan 48, Massachusetts 17


Michael Spath: For two weeks now I've been begging for John and Chris to let me write the game recap for The Wolverine Now, or heck, just a sidebar or a note or an extra point, but they've kept me on the bench. Well, this week, it's my time to shine.

I don't like to make threats but it has to be my chance or ... well, I'm out. Done. Gone. Off to some magazine where I can be the star, like The Athenian (Mount St. Mary's College) or The Archers Gazette (Moody Bible Institute).

Denard Robinson 52, Massachusetts 14


Josh Helmholdt: I used to appreciate these pre-season matchups against lower-tier opponents because a lot of season ticket holders will part with their stubs at a reduced price, and it brings in the non-regular attendees . A lot of kids' first Michigan football experiences are for games like these, but since Division 1AA (I still refuse to use the ambiguous acronyms the NCAA is trying to force upon us) teams started appearing on the schedule I've been soured to the whole thing. How do you justify the millions of dollars flowing through the gates when most in the stands didn't realize the opponent school even fielded a football team?

Many first time fans will be showing up to see shoelace-less one in person, but it is very doubtful they will get their full money's worth on Saturday.

Michigan 34, UMass 12


Andy Reid: Don't get me wrong - Denard is obviously great - but is anyone else getting really tired of all the Shoelace jokes? It was cute or whatever for a while, but c'mon. It's like the Soulja Boy now; I got some base-level amusement out it the first time I saw someone do the dance, but after the 1,500th time I wanted to bash my head against the wall.

Luckily, this week, once Michigan goes up three-plus scores in the first quarter, Denard can get a rest - both physically and media-attention-wise. Unfortunately, there's probably some freshman or practice-squader that doesn't buckle his belt or doesn't lace up his shoulder pads or leaves his gloves un-Velcroed, what have you. And we'll all hear about it incessantly for the next two weeks while they're racking up playing time against overmatched foes - you know, Devin 'Under Armour in 70-Degree Weather' Gardner or Jibreel 'Chinstrap' Black or whatever.

Michigan - A Whole Lot, UMass - Not Very Much At All


Jon Chait: Michigan fans have two data points of what happens when you play aDivision 1-A opponent. (No, I won't call them "FCS" - Division 1-A is euphemistic enough as it is.) The first example (Appalachian State) involves watching your last-second field goal get blocked and run back five million times while rival fans celebrate. The second (Delaware State) involves actively trying not to block the opposition's punts, and throwing passes three seconds too late and still completing them for touchdowns.

Massachusetts is qualitatively more like Appalachian than Delaware State. I don't understand why a vast, populous region of the country can't produce more than a couple competitive college football programs east of State College, PA and north of College Park, MD.

Michigan 41, UMass 17



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