Red Letter Games

When Dave Brandon fired Rich Rod, he laid out his measures for evaluating coaches. One of those measures was the coach’s record in “red letter games.”

“If you want to be successful at Michigan, you better win more than your share of those ‘red-letter games.’”

Brandon identified the follow opponents as red letter games*:

Notre DameWisconsin
Michigan StatePenn State
Any Bowl Opponents 

*Nebraska wasn’t in the conference at the time he made his comments but I can guarantee they would have been included in the list of schools if they were.Brady Hoke

Michigan has yet to play its bowl game but Brady Hoke’s 3 year record in "red letter games”, including Nebraska, stands at 7-11 (3-9 the over the last 2 seasons). Now that’s certainly better than the 3-15 record posted by Rodriguez but significantly below Brandon’s standard. As we sit at the end of year 3, the measures of success move from individual season analysis to multi-year, trend analysis.

Does that mean it’s time to fire Hoke? Not necessarily, and based on Brandon’s press release earlier in the week it does not sound like that’s going to happen anytime soon. What it does mean is that Brady Hoke, and by extension Michigan, is failing at one of the key trend measures in evaluating success.

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Michigan State Preview

What to watch on offense

Mark Dantonio is in his 7th year at Michigan State has finally brought something to Sparty that they haven’t had in a long time, consistency. After years of mediocre and losing seasons the Spartans have reached a bowl game in each of Dantonio’s 6 seasons. The Spartans added co-offensive coordinators but have maintained the same power running attack that Dantonio’s teams have been known for throughout the years.

After 2 seasons the Spartans are still searching for a QB to replace Kirk Cousins who posted a 28-12 record as a starter. Longtime heir apparent Andrew Maxwell gave way to Connor Cook shortly after the season started and has posted better than average numbers. The Spartan passing game is still a weak spot despite the presence of WRs Bennie Fowler, Aaron Burbridge, and Macgarrett Kings Jr.

After losing La’Veon Bell to the draft Sparty has turned to junior Jeremy Langford to carry the load at RB. Langford, who like many of the backs on the Spartan roster, didn’t see a ton of carries behind Bell has blossomed into playmaker at RB. At 6’0 206lbs, Langford is tough to tackle and has a great mix of speed and power.

The Spartan’s offensive line was decimated by injuries a year ago and while they lose their best linemen, they return the services of seniors Travis Jackson and Fou Fonoti. Returning 4 players with starting experience, though this is one of the smallest offensive lines the Spartans have had under Dantonio weight wise.

Best Offensive Player

Continue reading “Michigan State Preview”

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Two Wolverines Make First Team All-Conference

Big Ten Press Release:

Rosemont, Ill. – Michigan State has been chosen as the unanimous Big Ten favorite heading into the 2013-14 men’s basketball season as voted on by a panel of conference media. The media also tabbed Spartan sophomore Gary Harris as the Preseason Player of the Year. Michigan and Ohio State were selected to finish second and third, respectively.

Harris led a six-member preseason All-Big Ten team, as the media vote resulted in additional honorees due to a tie. He was joined on the team by the Wolverines’ Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III, Michigan State’s Adreian Payne, the Buckeyes’ Aaron Craft and Penn State’s Tim Frazier.

Michigan State, which is ranked No. 2 in the preseason USA Today Coaches poll, returns four starters from last year’s team that advanced to the Sweet 16 and finished with a 27-9 record. Tom Izzo enters his 19th year at the helm. Harris and Payne were both named second-team All-Big Ten last season, as was senior guard Keith Appling. Harris also picked up Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolades from both the coaches and media.

Michigan welcomes back three starters from last year’s team that advanced to the NCAA Championship game. John Beilein enters his seventh season with the Wolverines. Robinson III was a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection by the coaches last season, and also collected All-Big Ten honorable mention plaudits from the media. McGary became a regular starter during the NCAA Tournament, and averaged a double-double during the Wolverines’ run to the Final Four. Forward Jordan Morgan, a Big Ten All-Defensive Team selection last season, also returns for the Wolverines.

Ohio State returns four starters from last year’s team that advanced to the Elite Eight. The Buckeyes, who also won the Big Ten Tournament last season, are led by tenth-year head coach Thad Matta. Craft was a first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media last season and was also a member of the Big Ten All-Defensive Team along with Shannon Scott, who also returns in the Buckeyes’ backcourt.

The complete 2013-14 preseason poll and All-Big Ten Team can be found below:


2. Michigan
3. Ohio State

Mitch McGary, Michigan

Glenn Robinson III, Michigan

Gary Harris, Michigan State

Adreian Payne, Michigan State

Aaron Craft, Ohio State

Tim Frazier, Penn State

Gary Harris, Michigan State

Unanimous selections in ALL CAPS

*Additional honorees due to ties

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Week Ten B1G Picks

Lance CallihanSean O’ConnellRyan CallihanMatt BrinkmanClint DerringerJon JenningsDrew MontagTodd MaleLuke D’MelloJoseph Boyd
OKST/TTTexas TechTexas TechTexas TechTexas TechTexas TechTexas TechTexas TechTexas TechTexas TechTexas Tech
Last Week6-27-15-35-35-36-25-35-35-33-5

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Big Ten Players of the Week

Following Big Ten football games on Oct. 12, the offensive, defensive and special teams players of the week and freshman of the week in the Big Ten were announced this morning. Below are this week’s honorees:

Offensive Player of the Week

Jeremy Langford, Michigan State

Jr., RB, Wayne, Mich./John Glenn

· Accounted for four touchdowns, three rushing and one receiving, in Michigan State’s 42-28 victory over Indiana

· Recorded his first career 100-yard rushing game, totaling 109 yards on 23 carries, scoring on runs of two, five and 32 yards

· Scored on an 11-yard screen pass in the second quarter, adding to his career-best 120 all-purpose yardage in the game

· Wins his first Offensive Player of the Week accolade

· Last Michigan State Offensive Player of the Week: Le’Veon Bell (Nov. 26, 2012)

Defensive Player of the Week

C.J. Olaniyan, Penn State

Jr., DE, Warren, Mich./Warren Mott

· Recorded eight tackles, including a career best 2.5 sacks, two pass breakups and a forced fumble in Penn State’s quadruple-overtime win over nationally ranked Michigan

· Forced his first career fumble on a second-quarter sack, one of three Michigan turnovers

· Was part of the Penn State defensive effort that accounted for 11 tackles for loss and held the Wolverines to two field goals in four overtime periods

· Claims his first Defensive Player of the Week honor

· Last Penn State Defensive Player of the Week: Jordan Hill (Nov. 26, 2012)

Special Teams Player of the Week

Mike Sadler, Michigan State

Jr., P, Grand Rapids, Mich./Forest Hills Northern

· Posted a Big Ten record for all games of 59.3 yards per punt, totaling 237 yards on four attempts in Michigan State’s win over Indiana

· Recorded a season-long 69-yarder in the fourth quarter, while also booting punts of 44, 56 and 68 yards

· Placed one kick inside the 20, pinning Indiana at its own 10-yard line

· Wins his third Special Teams Player of the Week honor overall and first this season

· Last Michigan State Special Teams Player of the Week: Mike Sadler (Nov. 5, 2012)

Freshman of the Week

Christian Hackenberg, Penn State

QB, Palmyra, Va./Fork Union Military Academy

· Threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for the game-tying score with 27 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter against nationally ranked Michigan

· Guided Penn State on an 80-yard touchdown drive with no timeouts and 50 seconds left in the fourth quarter, completing three passes for 79 yards and scoring on a one-yard run to force overtime

· Posted his third 300-yard passing game, leaving him three games shy of the program career record

· Wins his third Freshman of the Week accolade

· Last Penn State Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg (Sept. 16, 2013)

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