Here are the Decal Champions for Week 4 by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – It took a while for the ground game to get going, but when it finally did, Michigan amassed 326 yards rushing and 107 of them belonged to De’Veon Smith.


When #4 is healthy and gets it going, he is Michigan’s version of Frank Gore and that is exactly the type of bruising, pounding back this Harbaugh Offense desires.  Stay healthy my friend – we have some payback to make good on this year.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – Michigan Stadium public address announcer Carl Grapentine said it best today.  Instead of just calling out that the Penn State QB was tackled, he said that, “McSorely was overwhelmed by (insert UM DL name here).” It’s hard to believe that Maurice Hurst is listed as a 2nd Team D-Lineman for the Wolverines but he was on his game today. He was in the Penn State backfield most of the first half and recorded 6 tackles, 3 TFL and 1 sack. Overwhelming indeed!

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Kenny Allen had a nice bounce-back, or should I say touchback, game this week?  Don’t think that is overstating his efforts and importance – just look at what #5 does for our return game.  Nice to see that Allen is back to his old self again – that will be needed the rest of the season.

COACHING CHAMPION – Recognizing how much quality depth Michigan had on the D-Line this year, I told a few of my friends that the UM D-Line was so good, they were going to win a couple of games this year by themselves.  Consider this game against PSU win #1 for Greg Mattison’s crew. Pinning back the Nittany Lions on their own goal line to start the game set up the Michigan Offense for great field position on their first possession. Mattison’s Maulers kept turning up the pressure from then on and at the end of the first half, PSU had –7 yards rushing.  Game over!

UNIFORM CHAMPION – I saw Jourdan Lewis break out the white laces last week, but because he didn’t play, I didn’t want to call them out.

This week, with #26 back on the field, seeing the white laces on his Jordans was akin to seeing helmet stickers on the UM Headgear.  They are timeless, classic and harken back to the days when Bo had everyone wear black shoes with whites laces. Well, everybody except Billy Taylor! Dig ‘em!!

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Week 1:  Chris Evans (Offense), D: Mike McCray (Defense), Jabrill Peppers (Special Teams), Don Brown (Coach), Michigan helmet (Uniform)
Week 2:  Wilton Speight (O), Jabrill Peppers (O), Tyree Kinnel/Chris Wormley (ST), Chris Partridge (C), Soles of shoes (Uni)
Week 3: Jake Butt (O), Jabrill Peppers (D), Jabrill Peppers (ST), Don Brown (C), Helmet Stickers (Uni)
Week 4: De’Veon Smith (O), Maurice Hurst (D), Kenny Allen (ST), Greg Mattison (C), #26 White Shoe Laces (Uni)



For Saturday’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History we go head back to 1949 when U-M was rolling with back-to-back national championships riding a 23 game winning streak that dated back to 1946.   Our friends from East Lansing were the opponent but their fans were up to NO GOOD:

Foiled again!

As always, this segment will appear all season on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  You can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting at 11:30am Saturday.  Go Blue!

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18. September 2016 · 2 comments · Categories: 2016


This week I’ll be on campus giving a guest lecture on the Little Brown Jug in John U. Bacon’s great course, ‘The History of College Athletics’.   (Bacs is tied up on projects so this semester legendary U-M SID Bruce Madej is teaching the class).

Prep for that lecture led to thoughts about Minnesota’s place as a U-M rival and how that has evolved over time. Naturally my thoughts quickly went to our other rivals and how our relationships have developed (or died) over the decades.  A pile or two of crumpled paper later and…Bob Zuppke’s your uncle:


Overview: I’ve attempted to represent the overall and relative strength of U-M’s rivalries over time.  If you had a seizure reading this, cheers, you are reading it correctly.  Click the pic to expand it.  Please jump to Bullets listed below for additional notes, definitions and context.

(1) Western powers clash highlighted by annual Chicago/U-M Thanksgiving games; Elbel pens ‘The Victors‘ following 1898 game.
(2) Yost arrives and unleashes Point-A-Minute reign of terror; brutal Minnesota Little Brown Jug game in 1903 fosters bitterness.
(3) Apex of Stagg vs. Yost Chicago rivalry with recruiting wars, “loans” and scandal.
(4) Notre Dame wins in 1909 and Coach Shorty Longman taunts Yost in Ann Arbor.1910 game abruptly canceled due to eligibility dispute.
(5) The Trough of Disillusionment – U-M’s is out of B1G and schedule shifts, Penn emerges as the top rival.  Ohio State’s Chic Harley dazzles Yost in 1919.
(6) Games with Bob Zuppke’s Illinois teams and Red Grange create national buzz and a wicked (yet short-lived) rivalry; Rockne and Yost exchange accusations of rule-bending and bigotry.
(7) Battle with Minnesota for B1G/national supremacy; Francis Schmidt introduces OSU gold pants. Chicago quits football.
(8) Notre Dame series resumes, 1947 national title controversy blazes in the sports world.  MSU rises.
(9) Biggie, Duffy & Woody. A trio of all-time rival coaches arrive, MSU creates a national powerhouse, Dr. StrangeHayes emerges & will do the same.
(10) The Ten Year War – Bo and Woody battle and create Big 2 and Little 8; Gophers crushed.
(11) Blame Bo & Reggie Ho – U-M dominance over MSU pushed rivalry intensity down; Irish series resumes with classic games.  Bo is Bo, Earle Bruce ain’t Woody.
(12) The Loch Ness Gopher – It’s full on whack-a-gopher.  Despite the jug, the rivalry is only meaningful in Ann Arbor after Minnesota wins.
(13) Carr Blasts Cooper but game outcomes settle B1G title; Spartan Bob.
(14) Hart jabs, Little brother gets excited and MSU rises. 2006 #1 vs. #2 & rematch talk, HBO’s ‘The Rivalry’ airs.
(15) RichRod/U-M’s struggles elevate MSU focus; OSU intensity wanes and Meyer arrives.
(16) Enter Harbaugh – #4 returns home; national stakes in B1G East, ND series off schedule again.
  • This is a Michigan view of the world – so this won’t mirror how other teams view the intensity of their rivalry (or lack thereof) with U-M.  Michigan is unique to have so many rivals (arguably 5-6 different “main” rivals) over time.   Consider Ohio State’s view of its rivals:


  • This is obviously more art than science, but more science than Malcolm Gladwell typically relies on.
  • Creation of a rivalry requires a primordial stew of history, competition, and culture (including perceived cultural differences.)  I wouldn’t eat this stew, dude.
  • Once a team is a rival, I figure the strength of that rivalry at a given time is a confluence of the stakes involved (including bragging rights), the success of the teams, and at times the temperature of off-the-field activity between the players/coaches/universities and fanbases. (Fact: the Notre Dame rivalry has been fueled by behind-the-scenes shenanigans, f-yous, and tomfoolery.)
  • I rated each rivalry on 5 year intervals.  I could have gone granular especially over the last 20-30 years but rating rivalry strength on 12 month intervals gets a little ridiculous, even for nerds studs like me.
  • Not a surprise, but the peaks you see on this chart are when the two teams are very strong.  The nosedives often occur after Michigan pummeled the former rival to a pulp.
  • Thanks to the unholy trinity of Michigan historical & cultural wisdom (Craig Barker of the HSR, Steve Clarke of WTKA and John Kryk of Natural Enemies and Stagg vs. Yost) for the input.
More thoughts from Craig Barker:
  • Your inauguration into Michigan fandom plays heavily on whom you consider Michigan’s prime rivals.  OSU is always there, but younger generations, including the kids in that class, are going to see MSU as equally important, as you see in the chart.  Same with boomers who grew up during the Biggie/Duffy ascendant era.
  • On that tack, I also think that the importance of Michigan State as a rival can be personal, especially based on family.  If you have Spartan fans in your family, you know quite well how much they love to needle you, like some kind of…little brother…or something.
  • I think there’s a correlation to “the bigger you are, the more rivals you attract.”  Call it a gravitational theory.  The top five winningest schools are Michigan, ND, Texas, OSU, and Nebraska.  Michigan and ND definitely have multiple rivals, Texas has Oklahoma and A&M (dormant as it may be), OSU just has Michigan (which I think speaks volumes to their single-mindedness) and Nebraska had Oklahoma and Colorado from the Big 8 days, but then has the Rectangle of Ruckus in the B1G West now (since Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska all just hate each other.)
  • Rivalries tend to come in the intrastate and the interstate.  The intrastate is the Big Brother/Little Brother dynamic, or the university vs. land-grant rivalry.  The interstate is the defense of state honor thesis, crossing lines with the state that for some reason you hate.  Alabama’s is more intrastate focused, but they still sure don’t like Tennessee or Mississippi.  Florida hates FSU, but the Georgia game is a big deal, etc.  So I think many schools have two rivals, the internal and the external, and then it moves from there.
  • Penn State, not a rival, because the importance of the games in the 1990s and 2000s were about B1G standings, not about bragging rights.

Feedback? – Comment below or hit me on Twitter.

On the field right after the game Jake Butt talked about how Colorado punched them in the face, but “we punched back harder.”   Imagine that.  Punching back.  Sadly I feel like that’s a move we haven’t had around here for a long time.   A few other notes from the game:

  • I’ve held back judgement on Speight until I saw him under pressure.  He got some Saturday and obviously had a few rough moments.  I even think he got a few boos (or maybe they were McDooooms) from the crowd.  He responded nicely by working with Butt on some higher percentage throws and seem to get more comfortable moving around and making plays.  I’m optimistic.
  • On Peppers:
    • Defense: We already know he’s quick, but on defense he not only gets to the spot, he’s stops guys dead.  He’s so strong for his size.  Once he engages it’s over – the opponent is stopped cold.
    • Punts:  I can’t remember a better punt returner in the last few decades.  As Sap pointed out, he sets up the blocks and just picks a spot and attacks- every time.
    • Hype:  I feel like this was the game where #5 truly lived up to all the love and all the hype.  If I’m a rival fan I’m thinking that the Peppers hype was just typical Michigan fan over-hyping their next September Heisman winner.  He’s legit no doubt.
    • From Level 5:

Other stuff:

GOAT watching – So Jeter, Jordan, Brady…who’s next?  Gretzky?


Historical Notes via mgoblue:

  • Michigan has combined for 159 total points over its first three games of the 2016 season — the most over that stretch in program history. The Wolverines have surpassed 100 o [sic] more points in the first three games of the season on 12 occasions since 1892. [Ed. Actually that’s incorrect. They scored 255 in 1902. H/T Alexa D. on Twitter.]
  • Michigan’s two-touchdown comeback against Colorado represents the 14th time that U-M has overcome a deficit of 14 points or more — and the first since rallying from a similar 21-7 deficit at Connecticut in 2013. Michigan’s largest comeback victory followed a 21-point hole at Minnesota in 2003.
  • Michigan scored two touchdowns off punts returns in a single game for just the second time in program history. Tom Hendricks and Ron Kramer previously achieved the feat against Michigan State on Nov. 13, 1954.

Mood Index:  Knocked down a peg – to 90.

Uniforms:  Not Uniform Timeline worthy, check out Jourdan Lewis with the white shoe laces ?  I’m curious about the story on that one:


During pregame I spotted a few of the skill players with the Nike swoosh embossed on the thigh pads (which was on the model uniforms during the Nike uniform reveal).





Here are the Decal Champions for Week 3 by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – In a game that was in doubt well into the 2nd half, Jake Butt stepped up and played like the dominant player we all know he can be. Not really needed or called upon in the first two games, #88 showed us that he still has it and needs to be accounted for where ever he is on the field. Seven catches for 87 yards is a testament to his importance in this offense.

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – Easy to go with #5 here because Jabrill Peppers exemplified the critical, fundamental nature of playing defensive football. Much like a hammer that keeps hitting a nail, eventually the nail will go down. That’s what happened with CU’s QB. Sure he was gutty and made plays, but he got hit one too many times and you can’t make any plays when you are on the bench. With 9 tackles, 3.5 TFL and 1 sack, I credit Jabrill for playing a big part of Michigan’s (hammer) Defense.

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Did I not tell you that Peppers was going to take a kick to the house before the season was over? The dude has instincts that you just can’t coach. The way he returns kicks by setting up his blocking and then attacking the open space with authority is special to watch! Even if he doesn’t go all the way, he sets the offense up with great field position and that cannot be understated in its importance to play calling when Speight & Company gets the ball.\

COACHING CHAMPION – I’m gonna go back to DC Don Brown because he didn’t panic when Michigan got down early against CU. Remember how I said last week that Spread Teams can make ANY defense look bad? Well, the best way to neutralize a Spread Team, in my opinion, is to keep hitting EVERYONE. After a few hits, the QB will start to hear footsteps, get “happy feet” and all of a sudden, his accuracy will diminish. After a few hits, the receivers will start looking over their collective shoulders, get “crocodile arms” and develop a case of the “dropsies.” That’s how Harbaugh & Co. defended Oregon while he was at Stanford and that’s what happened in the second half against Colorado. Helmet sticker for you, Dr. Blitz!

UNIFORM CHAMPION – I can’t tell you how happy I was to see two things about this year’s helmet stickers/decals. According to Greg Dooley, the decals are indeed smaller this year. That’s good to hear as they seemed to be a tad larger last year. Was also happy to see that the placement of the decals has changed this season. No longer are they applied in a tip-to-tip fashion as they were last year. They are now “nested” amongst/next to each other, much like they were back in the day. This means that, according to my Dr. Sap computer models, more stickers can be placed on the Maize and Blue headgear in 2016. If my calculations are correct, the stickers should max out around 75 or 76 WITHOUT being placed in between the stripes. That’s about 20% more than last year – for those of you who are counting and wondering at home. :)

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Week 1:  Chris Evans, Mike McCray, Jabrill Peppers, Don Brown, Michigan helmet
Week 2:  Wilton Speight, Jabrill Peppers, Tyree Kinnel/Chris Wormley, Chris Partridge, Shoes (soles)



For Saturday’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History we go back 28 years to a highly anticipated non-conference battle against Jimmy Johnson’s #1 Miami Hurricanes.

No, this one didn’t work out for your beloved Blue – but the tale of a football season is NEVER written in September!

As always, this segment will appear all season on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  You can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting at 8am Saturday.  Go Blue!

You can listen to all of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.

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With Colorado visiting Saturday and their choice to supposedly wear 1994 throwback jerseys, I’ll revisit the top moments where the Wolverine faithful were punched in their cotton pickin’ giblets.   The focus is on specific devastating moments in games, not necessarily the totality of the game.

First off, sadly enough and while certainly devastating, here are the honorable miserable mention moments:

  • 2001 Spartan Bob stops Clock/TD pass to TJ Duckett (East Lansing vs. MSU)
  • 1990 Desmond mugging (Ann Arbor vs. MSU)
  • 1973 Mike Lantry misses 44 yard FG (Ann Arbor vs. OSU)
  • 2013 Failed/intercepted 2 point conversion to win The Game (Ann Arbor vs. OSU)
  • 1980 Harry Oliver nails 51-yard FG into the suddenly still wind (South Bend vs. Notre Dame)  HT: John Kryk


#6 ‘The Catch’ (vs. Colorado @ Michigan Stadium, 1994)

The Moment:  With six seconds remaining down 26-21, Colorado’s Kordell Stewart hurls the pigskin 70 yards and finds Michael Westbrook:


Why it sucked so hard:  It was a big game, at home, and Michigan seemingly had the game sealed.
Why it might not be as bad as (see #1):  While Michigan seemingly had the game sealed, Colorado still had the ball in their hands.  As brutal as that was, Hail Mary’s happen.  They even have a name for them.  Stewart made a perfect pass.


#5 The conclusion of THE HORROR (vs. Appalachian State @ Michigan Stadium, 2007)

The Moment:  Down two, Michigan’s field goal attempt to win the game is blocked.

Why it sucked so hard:  This moment was devastating as we suddenly had a chance to save this game – and – no.  We became the laughingstock of the college football world.  The biggest upset in CFB history.  Pretty much ruined what was supposed to be a championship season.
Why it might not be as bad (see #1):  That sucked hard for all those reasons but you have to accept that Appalachian State, at the time, was a solid football team that lined up and beat Michigan over the entire 60 minutes.


#4 “The Wretched Blunder” (vs. Chicago @ Marshall Field Chicago, 1905)

The Moment:  Tied 0-0 with five minutes remaining, U-M’s Denny Clark fields a punt in the end zone and instead of downing it for a touchback, starts to take it out.  He quickly realizes his error and but it’s too late- he is driven back into the endzone for a safety.  [Read Stagg vs. Yost !] Photo Oct 18, 8 53 14 AM
Why it sucked so hard:  That safety resulted in the lone points of the game.  Play is dubbed, “The Wretched Blunder”.  Michigan lost 2-0 to its biggest rival (in Chicago, and for Yost, in Stagg) in the final game of the season and this ended Yost’s 56-game unbeaten streak since his arrival in Ann Arbor.  Clark never recovered from the incident and sadly took his own life in 1932 (a note left for his wife mentioned the 1905 play).
Why it might not be as bad (see #1)  OK it’s close, but following the safety Michigan got the ball back with a chance to win the game.  As Kryk describes in Stagg vs. Yost, Michigan pulled out all the trick plays – but Stagg’s Maroons stopped them and held on.


#3 Lantry “Miss” (vs. Ohio State @ Ohio Stadium, 1974)
The Moment
:  With 18 seconds to go, #3 ranked and undefeated Michigan trails #4 Ohio State 12-10.  Mike Lantry’s 33 yard kick veers left and the officials call it no good.  Many to this day swear it was inside the upright.

Why it sucked so hard:  First off, it was Woody and Ohio State. Second, Lantry missed a big one in 1973 that could have broke the epic 10-10 tie.  Third, Michigan could have been in line for a national championship
Why it might not be as bad (see #1): Also close.  This one hurt.   But people understand the pressure involved, and have a ton of respect for Super Toe.  Even if it was a bad call no one argues it was close.  And as special teams errors this is bad but not as disastrous as #1.


#2 Webber Timeout (vs. North Carolina @ The Superdome, New Orleans, 1993)
The Moment:  In the final seconds of the NCAA title game and Michigan down 2, Webber dribbles to the U-M bench and calls the timeout that U-M does not have:
Why it sucked so hard:  Obviously that moment ended the game and thus the entire college basketball season. The much-hyped Fab 5 era came to a devastating end in that moment.
Why it might not be as bad as that: OK, it’s also very close given what was on the line (everything) but Michigan was still trailing UNC by 2 at the time.  And FWIW Webber probably traveled anyway just before this.

#1:  arghhh.  Sorry, this is still the worst moment (again, not the totality of the stakes involved) – the confluence of things that happened to swap the result – you can’t beat this one:



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11. September 2016 · 2 comments · Categories: 2016


Here are the Decal Champions for Week 2 by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis:

OFFENSIVE CHAMPION – I have watched a lot of Michigan Football over the years – coming up on 40 of them this year – and I have never seen a QB looked more poised, more comfortable and more in command of a Michigan offense in his 2nd career start than Wilton Speight.  That includes some great, legendary names down through the years and even when you look at Jake Rudock in Game #2 last year, he was nowhere near the efficiency that Speight is at right now. I get it that Rudock was only on campus for a few weeks this time last year, but let these numbers sink in: since his 1st throw/interception last week, Speight is 35 of 50 for 457 yards with 7 TD’s and 0 INT’s. WoW!!! I’m just gonna leave it at that – WoW!!

DEFENSIVE CHAMPION – Spread option teams can make ANY defense look bad and out of position. While UCF did gash the Wolverine D for a couple of big plays, Jabrill Peppers was all over the field once again. There was one particular play where Peppers tracked down UCF’s fastest player and did not let him turn the corner. If Peppers is playing in the defensive secondary, #5 would have been that much further away from making the play and UCF would have gained a 1st down. THAT play right there gave me hope that JT Barrett can be contained come November. Just sayin…

SPECIAL TEAMS CHAMPION – Two tipped punts by Tyree Kinnel and two tipped field goal attempts by Chris Wormley in one game was unbelievable to see!



Not since Marquise Walker was doing his things on Special Teams years ago have I seen a Kick Return/Block Team look so effective at getting through the line and getting a piece of kicks.

COACHING CHAMPIONChris Partridge has to get some credit for setting up the Special Teams unit for success. Can’t remember a game where Michigan ever blocked/tipped FOUR opponent’s kicks. Impressive, coach!

UNIFORM CHAMPION – I’m down with the shoes – especially the yellow (Amarillo) soles. I think they look sweet when players are running down the field and their yellow (Amarillo) soles flash up and down.



I know a lot of you were expecting the traditional black shoes, but you gotta dig the blue and Amarillo shoes! I know I do.

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Week 1:  Chris Evans, Mike McCray, Jabrill Peppers, Don Brown, Michigan helmet
Week 2:  Wilton Speight, Jabrill Peppers, Tyree Kinnel/Chris Wormley, Chris Partridge, Shoes (soles)




For Saturday’s edition of This Week in Michigan Football History we go back 22 years when one of the most over-hyped players in college football was knocked down a notch by the foot of one Mr. Remy Martin Hamilton:

As always, this segment will appear all season on 1050AM WTKA and 1330AM WTRX epic KeyBank Countdown to Kickoff prior to each game.  You can hear it live inside the Go Labatt Blue Light Victors Lounge starting at 8am Saturday.  Go Blue!

You can listen to all of This Week in Michigan Football History clips here.

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script after the jump
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