|This is going to be much harder next year when the answer is not just "pick the cool picture of Denard." (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)|
Illinois is not a very good football team. I think that anyone who has looked at them in the post-Zook knows it's going to take them some time to get back to competitive, but they don't really have a Juice Williams/Mikel LeShoure level talent on this roster right now. Nathan Scheelhaase isn't bad, but when he was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a concussion, it pretty much assured that Illinois had no real shot of coming back.
I don't know that you can call 45-0 "workmanlike" because there were a lot of exciting plays in the game, three scoring plays of 49+ yards will do that, but the whole game just felt like "This is an opponent on our schedule. Let's go out and do what we did in practice and everything will be A-OK." Denard continued to look like the mature senior quarterback we wanted him to be (7 completions on just 11 passes in a rainy day in Ann Arbor when you didn't really need to do much more helps the cause.) Denard's 33 yard run in the second quarter when he returned to the game after tweaking his pinky is a perfect example. Younger Denard would have tried to make the end zone, get the last ten yards and get the touchdown. Instead, Denard ran out of bounds, took the first down and then two plays later ran it in for six yards for the TD. Solid positive decision making.
(Also, a side note, I feel like this is an inversion of the 2008 "Juice Williams runs wild game" where Illinois whipped RichRod's first year team 45-20. The skilled running quarterback just running roughshod over an overmatched defense. Bigger difference is Michigan held Illinois to zero points.)
Meanwhile Jake Ryan is playing like a man possessed. His stat line is was a career high tying 11 tackles, including three and a half tackles for loss, one and a half sacks and a forced fumble. If you wanted a Legends patch on someone playing like a legend right now, Jake Ryan is doing the things to earn that approbation and acclaim.
So now it's on to Michigan State and the Michigan State that stands before us at the present moment is not the titanic presence that we were told to expect in the pre-season. They're 4-3 and while their losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State are comparable to Michigan's to Notre Dame and Alabama, the loss to Iowa yesterday was much more reminiscent of the pre-Dantonio era. I have no doubts that Sparty will be up for the game (In fact, I wonder if there will be any talk of "looking ahead" to explain Iowa away), but I think Michigan knows what is on the line. I think they know that the trip to Pasadena requires taking out this divisional rival, the first of five in a row, and "restoring order" to the universe.
Time will tell, but I feel alot better about this weekend forthcoming than I did three weeks ago.
|"Go with the flow." (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)|
- I thought we had rid ourselves of "In The Big House", but no, now it has a music video. Stop, just stop.
- My hands were too cold and my phone was ensconced in my jacket under my poncho so I could not get out my traditional "Damn You Journey" tweet out in time. I do apologize.
- Dennis Norfleet, in addition to looking interesting on kick returns, was dancing along with "Seven Nation Army" on the sidelines. Thought we wouldn't notice, but we did.
- Really, I could have like six anti-Special K bullets here, but will it really do any good?
- Josh Furman now holds my personal record for most obvious "Yeah, that's a penalty" I have ever seen.
- Michigan nearly covered the 48 O/U number without any help from the Illini.
- Um, what was up with the Wave going clockwise yesterday? Are we blaming the weather?
- Props to the fans two rows ahead of us who helped out the dad with his elementary school age kid by giving them a poncho and trying to make a lousy wet Michigan fall day a bit better for a kid who was probably at his first Michigan game. We often talk about negative fan experiences in the stands, but that was a great moment of kindness and deserves to be mentioned.
- It is only fitting that on a day when Gerald Ford was honored, Jack Kennedy got to complete a pass.
- That was win #899. That should be kind of fun if things go well next weekend. Also, it was Michigan's 352nd consecutive game with points, putting them just nine shy of BYU's all-time NCAA record for most games without being shut out.
- Man, these are way more fun to write than the dirges and elegies.