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Notre Dame Football: Michigan is... Chernobyl

A program on the brink of meltdown.

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Michigan is currently 5-2 and ranked 19th in the AP poll and 20th in the coaches poll. Everything is fine. Their biggest games are still ahead, they have a chance to beat their rivals. Everything is fine. They played Penn State close on the road, losing by just a touchdown and even out-gained them in yards offensively. Everything is fine. Josh Gattis is starting to find his footing, the offense is beginning to click. Everything is fine. Don Brown once again has a top 10 defense. Everything is fine. Jim Harbaugh has a 43-16 record at Michigan. Everything is fine.

Everything isn’t fine.

Everything is about to meltdown because Michigan football is Chernobyl.

Michigan is currently 5-2 and ranked 19th in the AP poll and 20th in the coaches poll.

That is absolutely not where the media, the fans and the Michigan program expected them to be seven games into the season. You need only look at their lofty preseason rankings to understand stark difference between expectation and reality.

Associated Press- 7th

Amway Coaches - 7th

Athlon - 4th

Lindy’s - 5th

Phil Steele - 3rd

ESPN - 6th

USA Today - 4th

SB Nation FanPulse - 6th

This was a team that 20 of the 34 writers polled at Big Ten Media days said was going to win the conference this year. Michigan was a team that was selected by many as a playoff team. Those dreams are dead. Already at 3-2 in Big Ten play, any chance of Jim Harbaugh’s first Big Ten Eastern division title is gone, much less a shot at their first Big Ten Championship since 2004. Obviously, the playoff ship has sailed, meaning Michigan still hasn’t played a postseason game with regular season implications since the 1997 season.

Their biggest games are still ahead, they have a chance to beat their rivals.

That’s it? They have a chance to play spoiler? Are Michigan fans going to be satisfied with handing Michigan State what’s likely their fifth loss? Is this what Michigan has become, to consider a season where they beat Michigan State a success? Oh how far they have fallen... On November 3, 2007, Mike Hart took to the podium after coming back and beating Michigan State, a 6th straight in the series, and made the following statement:

Michigan State went on to win four straight(2008-11) and have gone 8-3 since. Harbaugh was brought in to right the ship but he’s 2-2 against Michigan State with both loses at home. A loss to Michigan state would make him just the third coach since Bump Elliot and fourth overall to have a losing record against Michigan State. Is that acceptable?

Then there’s the case of Ohio State... It’s a national narrative that is well established and only bears reminding because twisting the knife feels good. Michigan has only beaten Ohio State twice this century. That’s Two Times, with a capital T. They had lost 7 straight before the 2011 season, when interim head coach Luke Fickell’s Buckeyes came up short after true freshman Braxton Miller threw an interception at midfield with 40 seconds to lose 40-34. The Wolverines haven’t won since. That means Michigan is 1-14 in the last 15 games against Ohio State. At least the games at home right?





The chance to beat your rivals, soon descends into the cold hard reality that Jim Harbaugh might very well be 2-10 their rivals by seasons end. A cursory glance at Jim Harbaugh through a half a decade in Ann Arbor would show no Big Ten Titles. No divisional titles. No playoff appearances. 2-10 record against rivals. One tree climbed. One pool jumped in while fully clothed. One sleepover on the floor of a recruit’s bedroom. One laundry detergent commercial. One rap video.

Should we tell him?

They played Penn State close on the road, losing by just a touchdown and even out-gained them in yards offensively.

Final score 28-21. The Wolverines stormed back from down 21, having the ball with a chance to tie it late before wide receiver Ronnie Bell drops a game tying touchdown in the end zone on fourth down with 2 minutes left to seal their defeat. Heck, just look at the box score to see how well they played!

That’s good right? 417 yards compared to 283 yards...that basically like winning the football game if you really think about it. Then you..well... actually think about it and remember that total yards don’t matter. This was a football game that was 21-0 midway through the second quarter. Just because Penn State scored on some shorter fields doesn’t mean their points count for less. Senior Quarterback Shea Paterson threw this gem of a pass that set up a shorter field for the third score.

Oh no baby, what is you doing??

You see, none of how this game ended mattered. The result is always the same. This is what Michigan does under Harbaugh. They get jumped on early and teams realize that Michigan doesn’t have an explosive enough offense to mount a comeback and simply play it safe.


Utah - They were down 17-3 in the 3rd quarter and 24-10 in the fourth before a touchdown with 54 seconds left made it a one score game. Michigan had 355 yards to Utah’s 337


Florida State - In the bowl game, FSU jumps all over Michigan taking a 17-3 lead in the first quarter and a 20-6 lead going into the half. They end up storming back late with 17 fourth quarter points but Florida State holds on to win 33-32. They did lose the battle of yard points)


There was no games in which they were able to muster vanity scores or yard points because they featured a Rutgers level bad passing game. The United States Naval Academy scored more passing touchdowns than the Wolverines(10 to 9) that season.


Notre Dame - This was 21-3 in the second quarter and 24-10 before a late touchdown with two minutes left made it 24-17. They happen to win the yard points battle again though, 307-302.

Ohio State - A miserable day offensively(just one drive of more than 44 yards before the fourth quarter) looks better with 20 fourth quarter points during their 62-39 evisceration.


Wisconsin - it was 35-0 in the fourth quarter. They got their first touchdown with 3 minutes left in the 3rd and Jim went for 2, to make it 35-8. They managed to score again, against Wisconsin backups, with under 5 to go in the game and failed to get 2 to end up with a 35-14 final.

It’s all window dressing, none of it is real. They are getting blown out early in these games, it’s not like they are coming back and winning them, the reactor core is gone, yet they keep pumping in the water.

Josh Gattis is starting to find his footing, the offense is beginning to click.

What exactly is the bar here? Are we including Rutgers(102nd in ypp allowed at 6.2)? Are we including Illinois(86th and 5.89)? Beginning when?

Michigan’s 2019 Offense

Date Opponent Result Rush Yards Yards per Rush Pass Yards Yards per Att Total Yards Yards/Play
Date Opponent Result Rush Yards Yards per Rush Pass Yards Yards per Att Total Yards Yards/Play
8/31/2019 Middle Tenn. St. W 40-21 233 5.18 220 6.7 453 5.81
9/7/2019 Army W 24-21 108 2.4 232 7.5 340 4.47
9/21/2019 at Wisconsin L 14-35 40 2.11 259 6.2 299 4.9
9/28/2019 Rutgers W 52-0 141 3.44 335 12.4 476 7
10/5/2019 Iowa W 10-3 120 3.64 147 5.7 267 4.53
10/12/2019 at Illinois W 42-25 295 6.15 194 8.8 489 6.99
10/19/2019 at Penn St. L 21-28 141 3.44 276 6.7 417 5.09
Totals 1078 3.96 1663 7.5 2741 5.55

Let me disseminate this because it’s a lot of numbers. In seven games played, Michigan has produced a higher yards per play in just two games compared to Notre Dame’s season average. Notre Dame is averaging 6.86 yards per play. Michigan averaged 6.99ypp against Illinois and 7.0ypp against Rutgers, everything else was under a full yard worse than simply Notre Dame’s average. Also consider that while they averaged 5.09ypp against Penn State, their drives before Penn State got to 21-0, they were averaging 2.86ypp and ended up averaging 6.04ypp in the second half. Josh Gattis was suppose to bring speed in space, that absolutely doesn’t seem to be the case. So Josh...

It’s not just the numbers that bare it out. It’s the complete lack of rhythm and perplexing play calling that is glaringly evident when you watch the games. Whether it’s letting your fullback turned defensive tackle turned fullback again get his first carry of the season, second and goal from the 7 against Wisconsin and watch him fumble it...Or it’s deciding to only throw the ball 26 times against Iowa when your offense had one drive past the 50 yard line after the first quarter and your leading running back, Zach Charbonnet, had a longest run of 7 yards. There was a promise that Gattis would be given full autonomy but you can’t help but to see the stuttering and disjointed way in which the offense operates and not think that Jim still isn’t involved.

Don Brown once again has a top 10 defense.

Since Don Brown’s first and best season in Ann Arbor, the number of sacks they are averaging has decreased every season. Sacks are the life blood of Don Brown’s defense more so than many others. Consider that they’ve finished 67th, 81st and 90th in turnovers gained in his three years. Heralded as Dr.Blitz, Don Brown’s defense is predicated on the fact one of their two linebackers is going to blitz and sometimes that weird Viper linebacker roll will blitz as well. That means they usually are in press coverage, with a deep safety and if the sack doesn’t get through, there is a ton of field between 7-15 yards from the line of scrimmage you can exploit. Best highlighted by the 30 thousand slants that Ohio State hit against them last year. Since that 2016 season, in games Michigan has won they are averaging 3.4 sacks per game. In the games they’ve lost? 1.9. Typically what this means is Don Brown’s defense is able to beat up on teams with inferior line play and if they can’t...It usually means one thing. In the ten games since 2016 that Michigan has lost, they have given up a total of 327 points, 32.7ppg. In the 23 games they’ve won? 303 points and 13.17ppg. This isn’t going to be a problem for Michigan right?

Jim Harbaugh has a 43-16 record at Michigan.

That’s a 72% winning percentage! He’s 10-0 against non-power 5 teams. He’s 18-0 against his direct peers, of course I’m talking about Big Ten teams who have never been to a Big Ten Title game.(Purdue/Indiana/Maryland/Rutgers/Illinois/Minnesota). That means against everyone else, Jim Harbaugh is 14-16. Wait. That can’t be right? Can it?

Michigan is... Chernobyl

A program with zero media access during spring and fall camp, a coach that meets with the media once a week for just 15 minutes, will control the narrative in a Soviet-like manner. The Blue Wall of Michigan Media will continue to write puff pieces propping this dying program up. The sycophants and blind faithful to their Messiah, Komrade Khaki, will continue to make excuses and pretend everything is fine. But as detailed above, everything isn’t fine. The power core is gone. There is remains of radioactive graphite spread all throughout Schembechler hall. The radiation level is beyond measure. And come Saturday night, once again, Jim Harbaugh will stand at the podium like Anatoly Dyatlov and pretend everything is fine despite the program crumbling down around him.