"We're All Disappointed, But Are We Surprised?"

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on November 25th, 2018 at 5:55 PM

So, based on some discussions I had with a few people last night, I went back to the beginning of our more meaty football discussion this season - just before camp in August, in fact. What I was looking for was the yearly prediction thread that shows up around that time, the only thread unadjusted by camp news or actual game play.

What I was curious about is this - what was our baseline expectation for the season? Did we get it right, or were were overconfident? Maybe too pessimistic? I hadn't visited that thread since it was new, so I honestly wasn't sure. All I had to start with was the actual regular season record, which as we are well aware is 10-2 with losses at ND and OSU.

A while ago, I found that very thread from July 31st, and I managed to get a decent sample size of predictions -53 of them, to be precise. Given the normal amount of participation in such threads, that seemed to be a basis for a reasonable guess as to what the broader blog might have felt at the time.

The range of predictions was fairly diverse, from a low of 7-5 to a couple predictions of 12-0, but the breakdown was as follows:

7 wins - 1
8 wins - 10
9 wins - 14
10 wins - 15
11 wins - 10
12 wins - 3

That's how the 53 predictions were split. Now, the most common loss predictions were not shocking at all - OSU, MSU, ND, in that order, at least for the people who broke it down game-by-game. I was more focused on the baseline expectations, however, just to see if our gut instinct was in the ballpark.

As it turns out, we were pretty much on the money - the overall average prediction for wins was 9.604 and 2.396 for losses, which rounds up to a prediction of 10-2 with OSU being the most common "L" for those who broke out their predictions into specifics.

So, we were disappointed, and we have every right to be, but if that thread is any indication, our instincts were correct. Our expectations, unadjusted for actual news and results, were more or less spot on given the average. That said, I think in-season results drive much of what many here are feeling at the moment, but if we did a little introspection, I am sure our July selves probably are saying "Yep."



November 25th, 2018 at 6:29 PM ^

I’m still pretty upset about yesterday’s game but if I’m honest with myself I’m pleasantly surprised to be 3-2 in what I though would be the 5 biggest games on the schedule (OSU, ND, MSU, Wisky, PSU). I would not have put myself in the 10-2 camp preseason.


November 25th, 2018 at 6:34 PM ^


It would be great to match to response to the game with their preseason prediction; by what you have here there should be thirteen people who should be a tad disappointed. I guess the rest of the torch and pitchfork crowd missed the opportunity to prognosticate.

Oh, I was one of the undefeated pickers; I'm doing fine, looking forward to the bowl and next year.

Red Dragon

November 25th, 2018 at 6:37 PM ^

Expectations can change, and ours did. This should have been a win. It should have been competitive. Getting beat the way we did is not within anyone’s expectations.


November 25th, 2018 at 6:37 PM ^

I was expecting losses to OSU, ND, and PSU before the season started. 

The problem is that how we did all year made me believe we were better than what we put out there yesterday.  Even with the mollywopping we took, I still think we could have taken 2 of 5 from them if we'd caught them at the right time. 

But yesterday was set to be what it turned out to be from the get-go.  Even when the score was close, the game didn't feel it, and I'm not even sure the game was as close as the final score indicated. 

Still, I will be hopeful again in the late summer next year.  I always am.


November 25th, 2018 at 6:43 PM ^

Usually I'm not one for being emotional and irrational but what you say doesn't make this feel any less horrific.  Not just a loss to OSU but THAT....  I didn't expect that.

Also, don't you think it speaks to the direction of the program that 10-2 and a loss to the most important opponent on the schedule is an "expected" outcome nowadays?  Before the people with pitchforks come out and start agreeing with me I want to make it clear that I still want Jim Harbaugh to be our head coach but it is VERY clear that changes must be made offensively.  Having a clearly specified offensive coordinator can be one of those changes.  I'm tired of seeing us burn timeouts because they couldn't get the play call in to Shea in time.  Klatt was right on the money during the game when he called that out and I'm glad he did.  That is  100% unacceptable.  Timeouts are too precious to be wasted.  Having one guy calling the plays instead of 2 or 3 guys with different opinions trying to make a decision would be extremely preferable.

Maybe our offense wouldn't move at a snails pace too.


November 25th, 2018 at 6:50 PM ^

Fortunately, this isn't about making anyone feel better - not terribly interested in trying to soothe any wounds people may have quite honestly. What I was more curious about is whether or not we guessed right basically, prior to the flood of news and actual in-season results.

What is interesting, however, is what you just said - most people who broke out their predictions had Ohio State as an "L" in their own baseline expectation. That is a bit sobering really, but again, that wasn't really the question that I had in mind at the time. 

Tom Burke

November 25th, 2018 at 8:07 PM ^

It’s becoming obvious that OSU always seems to have at least one upsetting loss  because they are devoting so much time throughout the season preparing for UM. They know all our tendencies and exploit all of our weaknesses.  

It’s great for the team to say they are focusing on one opponent at a time, but maybe they need to start paying a little more attention to OSU’s routes .


November 26th, 2018 at 12:07 AM ^

I’ve heard people say that “OSU is preparing for us all year.”  I don’t know if it’s true or if it’s just us as fans wanting to believe that OSU sees us as relevant.  

 Instead it feels like OSU creates their own drama during the course of a season, loses focus for a few games, then realize it’s time for “the game” and actually decides to prepare and play.  They didn’t do anything special yesterday, they simply bulldozed us.  No tricks, no wrinkles, just straight up imposed their will.


November 25th, 2018 at 8:28 PM ^

During the off season we knew last year was beset with QB issues. No one knew how Shea would perform. Most of us probably thought he was a great improvement over last year as the season progressed. No wonder we were hopeful. We easily handled Wisconsin, MSU and PSU. Although we tended to get off to slow starts we grew to expect Don Brown to make adjustments and the second half of games to belong to us. Yesterday, that didn't happen, at all. We looked poorly prepared for what we KNEW they were going to do. Our D line has gotten pressure on QBs in every game. Not yesterday. We were left wondering why could Purdue clobber them and Maryland lose in overtime but we got slaughtered. It wasn't just that we lost but how we lost. 

Many went from thinking we were better than OSU to thinking we never will be. Ugh.


November 25th, 2018 at 9:27 PM ^

People are always going to have Ohio State as an L at the beginning of the season until we beat them. We've become so accustomed to failure that it only makes sense to expect that until proven otherwise. But I'm not sure there is much point in saying "Well we thought we were going to lose, and we were right."


November 26th, 2018 at 3:35 PM ^

"most people who broke out their predictions had Ohio State as an "L" in their own baseline expectation."

I was at 9-3/8-4 before the season, and had ND and OSU as two of the losses. I didn't see anything during the season that changed my view of whether we'd beat the Buckeyes, and I was one of the very few who predicted a Michigan loss in the main predictions thread on Friday.

But even an inveterate cynical pessimist like myself didn't predict the absolute asswhuppin' we got—I thought the score would end up something like 30-24 OSU.

From a program point of view, this loss is worse in my mind than The Horror. That game was like being cornhole champion in your tailgating group for ten years running, and then getting beaten by a cocky 13-year old after you've already downed the better part of a case. Sure, embarrassing as hell, but it's a one-off.

Saturday was like telling everybody you know for months that you're going to finally shut up the loudmouth braggart at the corner bar, and then getting beaten bloody in the parking lot with everybody looking on, with a kick to your balls for the finisher.


November 26th, 2018 at 11:14 PM ^

Good points, except The Horror came in the middle of the colossal de-pantsing of our program. It didn't happen in isolation from the 1v2 MvOSU game, the beating Petey C laid on us in the following Rose Bowl, and the crushing humiliation in the Big House courtesy of Dennis Dixon and the Ducks.  

We could all wish it was a one-off, but it wasn't.




November 26th, 2018 at 3:55 PM ^

I think perhaps you are asking two different questions.  

Question 1:  "Did I think Michigan would beat OSU before the season or end up with 10 wins?"  

My answer:  No.

Question 2:  Forget what essentially was just a haphazard guess you made before the season, while looking objectively at Michigan this year and OSU this year, would you think based off of everything you have seen the Michigan should win vs. OSU.

My answer:  Yes

One question's answer is based off of nothing but a guess based on what we saw last year and what we think we will see this year.  Question two is based off of objective performances witnessed over a span of 10 weeks during the current season.


November 27th, 2018 at 12:47 AM ^

i think there was some evidence to support the idea that OSU would have an easier time with Michigan due to our Offensive style. I recall reading somewhere on this very blog that Purdue,(and maybe Maryland) had a tendency to have more explosive play potential on Offense. Michigan, OTOH, has a slower paced Offensive style.

The one thing that caused the OSU Defense to struggle is the one thing Michigan's Offense didn't do/have.

I hoped Michigan would run a more up tempo style and take some shots at their D. Alas, Pep and the boys thought the 3 yards and body blow Offensive game plan was the way to go.

Fire Pep Hamilton. Hire Cliff Kingsbury. Please.


November 25th, 2018 at 11:14 PM ^

I was at every home game and have had season tickets the past 4 years.


Just a few of the things that seem to be correctable but we are consistently bad at, one of which you mention -


  • Using the entire play clock on every play and not because we want to.  There is absolutely no ability to pick up the pace when needed or desired.  This also leads to wasted time-outs, people running around unsettled just prior to the snap and of course delay of game penalties.  Whatever the reason for this it must be addressed.  We have to be able to pick up the pace when needed or desired.
  • Failure to score a touchdown on first offensive drive of the game.  In 12 games this year we scored a touchdown on our first offensive possession just 3 times - Nebraska, Wisconsin and Penn State.
  • Similar to point 2 above - way too slow start for offensive almost every game.


Fixing above doesn't guarantee anything but it'd be a darn good start!


UofM Die Hard …

November 25th, 2018 at 6:48 PM ^

  well said. While still very pissed off, a L at ND and an L in Columbus was probably the most popular scenario at the beginning of the season. 

Doesnt excuse that crap fest yesterday but gotta look for something positive or whatever. 


November 25th, 2018 at 7:02 PM ^

Yeah... the absolute shellacking and being outclassed by a supposedly lesser team (at least as reasoned by all the pundits) is what hurts the most. Not sure if a competitive, close loss would hurt just as much. Hell they all hurt, but come July/August, I'll be raring for another Michigan football season. Go Blue!

Maize and Bloop

November 25th, 2018 at 7:39 PM ^

Imagine if Maryland converts the 2-pt conversion and this beatdown still happens.  That would've been a very sad trip to Indy.

I honestly prefer it this way.  I wouldn't want to win a B1G championship while losing to OSU.  Maybe if it was a close loss like two years ago.  But not after a game like yesterday.

I guess what I'm realizing is if I had to choose a B1G championship, or a win over OSU, right now I'm letting someone else (hopefully not one of the State U's) take home the trophy.

Dat Butt

November 25th, 2018 at 7:01 PM ^

I guess the more important question - what does the consistent prediction of an L against OSU from the season outset say about this program, the fans, and coaching staff? Not trying to make any point in general, just asking the question.

Would we be happy with an 8-4 team, but a win in Columbus? Are we properly preparing for the end of the season? Are we putting hopeful championships ahead of the rivalry? How the coaching staff and fans answer these questions will continue to guide their actions - the hiring, the choice of schemes, play calls, etc.

These fundamental questions need to be asked.


November 25th, 2018 at 10:20 PM ^

Yes.  I would trade an 8-4 season but a win in Columbus with this season and the embarrassment we suffered yesterday.  In a heartbeat.  I would happily watch 2-3 seasons like that going forward.  Regaining an equal footing in this rivalry is a necessary prerequisite to achieving true national relevance.  We have been living in a mirage for the past few weeks.

Chris S

November 25th, 2018 at 7:05 PM ^

Good post! It's perfectly possible and okay to be morally shredded after a loss with your guts and brain in a soggy mess, and still be appreciative of the season. We're probably not as good as the Penn State game, and probably not as bad as the Ohio State game.

I'm good with the staff, good with the players, good with where the program is headed, and in an absolutely miserable mood. And will be for probably another few days. That's college football: simultaneously the best and the worst thing of all time.




November 25th, 2018 at 7:14 PM ^

I had 10-2 with losses to ND and OSU before the season but my expectations changed when Michigan improved through the season and OSU looked very vulnerable. Losing to a great OSU team would have been understandable. Losing to this very flawed OSU team is extremely disappointing.


November 25th, 2018 at 10:33 PM ^

See, I’m not sure they are all that flawed. I think they lacked discipline and focus throughout the season, and this game was able to coalesce them.  That was a damn good team that ran us off the field yesterday.  I bet the playoffs can do it for them too.  I just hope their underachieving performance before this game is enough to keep them out of the 4th slot.


November 25th, 2018 at 7:17 PM ^

Yes.  Context around losses matters as well.  UM did not just lose yesterday, they were torched.  Completely run off the field.  The team last year made it a closer game.   Also, the ND loss would have probably been worse had they used their QB who could complete a forward pass. 


November 25th, 2018 at 8:40 PM ^

Yes, well, Ian Book was available. And he appeared in the game. And the reason he didn't start was because of Winbush's perceived mobility to avoid the Michigan rush and make plays with his feet. And that worked out.

The other competitive issue often raised about that game was the lack of participation of their most prolific running back. But he was out of that game because of internal disciplinary reasons. ND chose not to use both players. So, in my mind that argument is specious. And Michigan outscored them in the second half.

Yesterday, Michigan scored 19 first half points and 20 second half points. Only a dropped Gentry pass prevented Michigan from being tied at half at 24. In a game of that magnitude 39 points really ought to have been enough to be competitive if not a winner.

But then the Buckeyes scored on a blocked punt and two short drives after interceptions.

So, let's say Michigan was tied at half and scored what they did in the second half, that is 44 point offensive effort. And people are bitching about the play-calling rather than the defense which was attacked in the same way that other schools attacked it all season long. Only they targeted their attack on specific defensive players on parts of the field where there was no help without pressure.

The difference in this game was that Ohio State had more speed at wide receiver than Michigan had in its secondary to cover them. What do you do to overcome that if you can't get the quarterback off his spot and always throwing clean. You hope for the best. I think injury did influence the protection scheme and how a senior-laden Oline, maligned and challenged heading into this matchup, took it upon themselves to make the difference.

As the game matured, and their confidence grew, that Oline began manhandling Michigan which had stopped the run through much of the first half and early second, then started gouging it on the ground.

This was an emotional and physical beatdown in front of a howling, hostile crowd that only replenished the hate that fueled their resolve and diminished Michigan to a shadow of its performance self. And that's what happens in big games when momentum takes over and one team is lifted beyond its expectations to succeed. Think of any Super Bowl blowout. You've seen this happen before, just never at Michigan, and that's why this is so shocking.



November 25th, 2018 at 10:03 PM ^

That is fair about ND.  Also, UM has improved over the season so those teams are probably somewhat close. 

I think it is a little misleading to just throw out numbers in regards to the offense. A lot of the 20 in the second half came when OSU went to a shell.  Sure, Gentry could have made it a tie game, but he didn't.  UM was also gifted a TO and capitalized.  So there is a scenario the other way where the game isn't even close at half and even more embarrassing. 

I guess that is the most frustrating part to me about yesterday.  It seems after every big game there are a lot of explanations about why it wasn't as bad as it seems.  

"So, let's say Michigan was tied at half and scored what they did in the second half, that is 44 point offensive effort."

They weren't tied.  That is my point.  Always a lot of ifs and alternate timelines where things would have gone better. 

"The difference in this game was that Ohio State had more speed at wide receiver than Michigan had in its secondary to cover them."

I could not agree more with this point.  I am way more disappointed in the defense than the offense after yesterday.  I think guys were continually put in spots to fail.  As for how to stop it? I don't know.  I would have liked to see more Uche.  It is also my opinion that DB's scheme just doesnt work against the more talented teams in the country.  I also think UM can beat the lesser teams on talent alone.  My opinion means nothing and I will continue watching every game and being on this blog more than is probably healthy, but that is where I am at right now with the defense.

I agree about their o-line.  It certainly seemed Wino was not himself. 

The physical and emotional beatdown is why I am surprised and why I dont think you can just throw out 10 wins without some context. Sure, momentum played into it but that doesnt make it any less surprising.  And I have seen it happen at UM before.  Last year at PSU when our LBs were attempting to cover their top 5 RB and second round TE.  


November 25th, 2018 at 7:30 PM ^

As long as OSU comes to play in the next few years, it's going to be hard to beat them.

It's OK to be disappointed with how Harbaugh has handled some parts of his job, but to expect him to instantly recruit at an Alabama / OSU level *and* beat them in just a few years is unrealistic.

Hail to the Vi…

November 25th, 2018 at 7:41 PM ^

I am surprised by the performance more than a loss in Columbus. It's really tough to win there, we know that. I certainly though it was possible we would lose a close one in Columbus on Saturday.

What actually happened I had a hard time believing with my own eyes, if only because we had not seen a performance like that from this team.

A bit alarming frankly was the lack of innovative game planning and player execution on the field. Maybe the moment was just too big for this team yet. They need more experience managing the emotions of being favored in a match-up of this magnitude - hard to say for us fans obviously. But 10-2 is a good season, they made progress for sure.

The reality we all know is despite an otherwise very good record, the ultimate performance metric for the head football coach at Michigan is their success against OSU and vice versa. Urban Meyer's coaching performance Saturday I thought showed he was aware of that, and Jim Harbaugh's coaching performance appeared that he did not understand the gravity of the situation - tone deaf, and stubborn.

I know that in reality Harbaugh certainly understands the significance of this game, but that what makes Saturday's performance even more perplexing for me.


November 26th, 2018 at 2:51 PM ^

I remember RichRod getting criticized for not understanding M's traditions and rivalries, he treated MSU and OSU games as any other.  Yet we have Harbaugh, who grew up Michigan, who seems to do the same thing. 

Same is not true down south.  I remember Tressel when he first came on board his first public comments addressed The Game.  Meyer clearly seems to understand his coaching success is judged by his performance in the rivalry.  Imagine if either of those guys started 0-4 against M, the fanbase would be apoplectic. We've come to accept it.

I think I'd like to have the coaches watching OSU game film regularly and evolving a gameplan over the course of the season to attack weaknesses.  OSU was clearly ready in all phases for this game, even having a punt block play ready to spring at the right time.  If M wants to start winning these games, they may need to match yearlong effort and focus.  Maybe that's a missing structural piece.