Can Michigan Win Their Next Two?

Jim Harbaugh’s 8-2 Michigan Wolverines are currently on a three-game win streak (Rutgers, Minnesota, Maryland), all in which they beat by two or more possessions. Redshirt freshman QB, Brandon Peters, has seen the start in two of the last three games, but was given significant playing time against Rutgers after struggles from John O’Korn.

Peters through three games: (28 for 46, 329 yards, 4 touchdowns, 60.9 completion percentage, 7.15 yards per attempt, long: 35).

The run game has also been lifted since Peters stepped under center; the two biggest contributors to the latest emergence of the rushing attack are both sophomores, Karan Higdon and Chris Evans.

Higdon this season: (129 attempts, 854 yards, 6.6 yards per carry, 10 touchdowns, long: 77); Evans this season: (104 attempts, 569 yards, 5.5 yards per carry, 6 touchdowns, long: 67)

The quality of defenses in the past three games haven’t exactly been A-list, but it’s nice to finally see Michigan establish the identity they’ve been looking for. This is just what this team needs before playing in this two-game skid against top teams, undefeated Wisconsin and an Ohio State team coming off an absolute rout over Michigan State.

There were concerns in the 2nd half of the Maryland matchup on Saturday; despite winning in convincing fashion, 35-10, the Terps were able to outgain Michigan in total yards (340-305). It was evident that Michigan took their foot off the gas coming out of the locker room into the 3rd quarter. Maryland was also able to outscore the Wolverines in the 2nd half, 10-7, went on a 10-0 run deep into the fourth quarter.

Should Michigan fans worry about their incapability to put a stake in Maryland yesterday, or are they simply over thinking it?

Either way, the schedule faces its most difficult consecutive weeks to date. Michigan still has a sliver of a chance to win the East, but I’d imagine the realistic goal for this team is what’s in front of them, finishing the regular season 10-2.

Since 2006, Michigan is 0-15 against top 25 ranked teams in road match-ups. The last two top ten ranked teams that Michigan has beaten? Both were against Wisconsin at home (2008, 2016).

This Saturday, Michigan will play the only undefeated team left in the conference, top 5 ranked Wisconsin. As of today, the Wolverines are just an 8.5 point spread underdog, which is awfully generous in my opinion. The Big Ten West front-runners have convincingly handled every team put in front of them this season, top wins over Northwestern and Iowa, who both cracked the CFP top 25 in week 11.

The following Saturday, November 25th, Michigan will host Ohio State in the Big House. The last time Michigan beat their rival was November 26th, 2011 in Ann Arbor when current Cincinnati head coach, Luke Fickell, was the interim head coach for the Buckeyes. The 21st century has not been a kind one for Michigan in regards to this rivalry, and if we’re being honest, it hasn’t been kind to Michigan for multiple reasons. Despite already having two losses with two more games left to play in the regular season, Ohio State has looked good for the most part this season and Michigan simply hasn’t.

The S&P probability is giving Michigan just an 8.7 percent chance to win the next two, a 41.6 percent chance to win just one of the next two, and a 49.7 percent chance to lose both and finish 8-4 on the regular season.

Michigan’s offense has been primarily executing, most especially in the run game, which is an important key for success in their next two games. Very crucial for this unit to build off the recent success and to stick with a similar game-plan which is a run-first, pass conservatively scheme, nothing too fancy.

There’s nothing that could lift a young quarterback’s confidence like coming off the bench and assisting in running the table for a Michigan team that was facing offensive struggles prior to him seeing the field. Brandon Peters is the more favorable candidate for the starting job in 2018, will likely have a competition against a likely healthy Wilton Speight. Win or lose the next two, Peters will gain experience and get a better feel for what type of intensity college football has to offer.

Don Brown’s defense has done their job in just about every week except for the Penn State game that displayed multiple schematic issues. Khaleke Hudson has been a significant play-maker for this unit in replacing Jabrill Peppers at the viper position. A young secondary that initially had some communication issues seems to now be hitting their stride, defensive backs like sophomores David Long and Lavert Hill are making names for themselves as of late.

There isn’t a whole lot of reason for odds-makers in Vegas to put any confidence into Michigan in the next two weeks. They’re underdogs this Saturday, and will surely be underdogs next week for the Ohio State game, the odds will be stacked against them.

As for a fan-base who has had quite the emotional roller-coaster with their beloved head coach, they crave these potential signature wins over Wisconsin on the road, and beating Ohio State at home. These wins would not only make Michigan fans believe in Harbaugh again, but it should also silence his doubters. One of the biggest issues that fans and anaylysts have had over Jim Harbaugh is his poor record against rivals thus far at Michigan, which is 1-4.

Winning out would lift Jim Harbaugh to his third consecutive ten win season at his alma mater and would be entering 2018 with a talented team and a confident, sophomore quarterback who has 6 games of experience under his belt. Even though Michigan’s chance at the Big Ten is highly an unlikely one, there’s still a lot at stake for the remainder of the season.

 

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Jabrill Peppers Rookie Sensation; Turning Heads in Cleveland

On Monday, former Wolverine linebacker, Jabrill Peppers, put on a show in his first practice as the Cleveland Browns starting safety.

Browns head coach, Hue Jackson, shared that he believes that Peppers is “showing he can play anywhere.”. Words that sound similar to a Michigan fan’s ear due to how much of a versatile, do-everything, type of role which the first round NFL draft pick had during his time in Ann Arbor (defense, offense, special teams).

The rookie safety reportedly broke up back-to-back passes in a two-minute drill led by Brock Osweiler. During the same drill, it also was reported that Peppers intercepted one of Osweiler’s balls on 4th & 24. It goes without saying that Jabrill Peppers made a strong case for a starting role whilst getting first string reps; Ibraheim Campbell, normally the starting strong safety, was concussed against the Saints.

A good amount of hype comes with Peppers, he was nearly worshiped at U of M. The former Heisman trophy finalist dons a very unique skill set. If any team is willing to utilize every ounce of what this young man has to offer, it’s the Browns: what do they have to lose?

A lot of people have mindset of assuming that Peppers’ career was over the minute he was drafted to Cleveland, I see it as a potential blessing for him. After signing a four-year rookie contract deal, it allows the safety plenty of time to earn his solidified, starting role, potentially attempt to rebuild the current worst franchise in sports, showcase his maximum talent, and enter free agency in four seasons as a hot seller.

The sky is the limit for this former Michigan Wolverine, even if he’s in Cleveland — his future is still very bright if anything at all. You’ll be hearing Jabrill Peppers’ name this Fall, and the one after that, and so forth.

 

 

Peppers falls short; Lamar Jackson Wins 2016 Heisman Trophy

Jabrill Peppers himself had zero expectations at winning the heisman trophy, felt that either Lamar Jackson or Deshaun Watson deserved it over him, and the other finalists. 

Peppers finished the heisman voting in dead last of the finalists, 5th place. 

As Michigan fans await to December 30th to watch the Wolverines battle it out against Florida State in Miami for the Orange Bowl; one thought comes to mind that involves curiously of Jabrill’s decision to either enter the draft, or stay at Michigan. 

He has stated already that he has a “decision to make” when asked about the situation. 

Michigan and Peppers falling short of a heisman trophy and a playoff berth, or even a Big Ten championship game berth; projected to be a top 10 NFL draft pick, redemption would have to run deep in order for the star linebacker to return to Michigan. 

Peppers: I don’t think I should (Win the Heisman)

On Friday, Michigan’s heisman finalist, Jabrill Peppers, was asked about his chances at winning the heisman trophy on Saturday. As humble as ever, Peppers responded with a statement that will make you love him even more: 

“Quite frankly, I don’t think I should (win), there are a lot of other guys here who are more qualified.”

He went onto say: “I’m just happy I’m here with the likes of the guys who are finalists. I’m going to enjoy every moment of it.”

The one reason behind the star linebacker’s presence in New York this weekend is far beyond his defensive efforts; it’s all about his versatility which allows him to return punts, kicks, and often enough, take offensive snaps. 

Jabrill also stated that he wouldn’t even vote for himself if he had the chance: “I’d vote for either Lamar or Deshaun.”

Jabrill has been utilized at 15 different positions, and he played in 933 snaps this regular season for the #6 ranked Wolverines.