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NBC analyst chimes in on Michigan football vs. Penn State scheduling

This analyst thinks Michigan football not being an annual game for Penn State is beneficial for the Nittany Lions.

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Michigan football, Penn State, Ohio State, NBC analyst
Oct 15, 2022; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Donovan Edwards (7) rushes in the second half against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2023 offseason, one of the major college football storylines was the future scheduling of the Big Ten. In 2024, when USC and UCLA are added to the conference, divisions will be dropped, leaving the 16-team conference with just a few annual games. For Michigan football, Ohio State and Michigan State are considered “protected rivalries,” but for Penn State, there are no such rivalries. Consequently, the Nittany Lions will avoid facing the Wolverines and Buckeyes on a yearly basis — something that a top NBC analyst has a few thoughts on.

Penn State no longer has to play Michigan football, Ohio State annually

James Franklin is undoubtedly a great head coach — he took over a struggling Penn State program back in 2014, and within three seasons (some of which he was still under sanctions), he had the Nittany Lions crowned as Big Ten champions. That said, he has faced some fair criticism for underperforming with incredibly talented teams and failing to secure a conference title since the 2016 season.

Perhaps James Franklin’s biggest challenge as a head coach in the Big Ten thus far has been being in the same division as Michigan football and Ohio State — the two giants in the conference. So far, he holds a record of 4-14 against the Wolverines and Buckeyes and is heading into the new season with losing streaks against both teams. However, his shortcomings against these two blue-blood programs may no longer be as significant of an issue.

NBC analyst Todd Blackledge chimes in

In 2024, Penn State will no longer have to face Michigan football and Ohio State annually, which could open the door to a potential Big Ten title run, especially since Ohio State and Michigan will continue to play each other every season. Here is what NBC analyst Todd Blackledge has to say about it.

“Maybe not being locked into playing them every year ends up being a good thing for Penn State,” Blackledge said of the Penn State-Ohio State-Michigan football schedule. “It still feels like (Penn State) would never ever compete or compare with Ohio State-Michigan. Some Penn State fans are saying, those have been the two sledgehammers in the league, and since James has been there, they are 4-14 against Ohio State and Michigan. They have to find a way to get over the hump.”

Additionally, according to Penn State captain and potential first-round NFL Draft pick, Olu Fashanu, the gap between Michigan football, Ohio State, and Penn State is not as big as some may think.

“I don’t really think there is a gap at all with Ohio State, Michigan and ourselves,” Fashanu said. “I think we’re at the level of college football where the differences in the game can come down to a few plays.”

Last season, those few plays resulted in a 41-17 loss at Michigan and a 44-31 loss against Ohio State, something that the Penn State Nittany Lions will be looking to avenge this fall.



Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics and Big Ten content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Publisher at Cj@BluebyNinety.com. Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and all other streaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest-growing and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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Michigan football: No need to worry about Donovan Edwards

According to Jim Harbaugh, Michigan football fans should not be worried about Donovan Edwards.

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Michigan football, Jim Harbaugh, Donovan Edwards
© Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

As many fans have noted, Michigan football running back Donovan Edwards has not been looking like his usual self so far this fall. Still, according to Jim Harbaugh — who spoke on Monday ahead of this weekend’s game against Nebraska — there is no reason to worry about Edwards’ slow start.

Michigan football: No need to worry about Donovan Edwards

So far this fall, Donovan Edwards has gotten off to a rocky start. A slow Week 1 performance seemingly carried into the following three games, leading many fans to share concern over Edwards’ play to this point in the year.

Through four games of the 2023 season, Edwards has gotten 44 touches for 209 all-purpose yards and no touchdowns. Still, head coach Jim Harbaugh says that there is no concern over Edwards’ numbers thus far — Harbaugh says there is more to a game than the box score.

What did Jim Harbaugh say?

“He’s good,” Jim Harbaugh said of Donovan Edwards on Monday. “Like he’s always been. And we play multiple backs. Statistics really don’t mean anything to us. When it comes all the players, it’s what’s good for them individually, and what’s good as a team. I see it from the individual and in the big picture with the team.

“Each individual guy, I treat that like I’m their dad, their agent, and I want what’s best for their career,” Harbaugh continued. “So in the running back position, to make a long story short here, I just don’t believe in a guy carrying the ball 30 times a game. They probably may not have some of the stats that some of the other backs have, even Blake (Corum) running the ball really good. 97 yards, we took him out of the game because I don’t think he needs another 100-yard game as much as he needs to be healthy. But the lifespan of a back their career, I don’t know what it is on average, maybe eight, nine, ten years total, including college.

“So, while they’re not getting paid, I don’t like to take the tread off the tire. I like to keep that tread on the tire. So there’s gonna be games where one back may be featured more than another. That’s that’s kind of how it’s been here. I mean, if you look at last year, look at the year before, look at the year before that, all eight years that we’ve been here. So, we’ll probably have this conversation again.

“Like next week, Dono carries more of the load. And you might ask me what happened with Blake. Blake had a heck of a game. Dono had less carries, but really affected the game catching the football. He’s an outstanding back because he can do all the things. He can run outside the tackles. He can run inside the tackles. He can pass protect, and he can catch the ball out of the backfield and get open. So, to answer your question. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Donovan Edwards.”

Michigan football ready for Week 5 test at Nebraska

This weekend, Michigan football hits the field against Nebraska — the second game of the year that Jim Harbaugh will be coaching. During Week 5, keep an eye on Donovan Edwards to finally have his breakout game, perhaps building momentum for the remainder of the season.



Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics and Big Ten content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Publisher at Cj@BluebyNinety.com. Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other streaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest-growing and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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Michigan football star Will Johnson identifies two breakout freshmen

According to Will Johnson, these two Michigan football freshmen are standing out quite a bit.

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Michigan football, Will Johnson, Jyaire Hill, DJ Waller
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last weekend was the first time that Michigan football star Will Johnson was fully cleared to go — it was for the Wolverines’ Big Ten opener against Rutgers, a game that Michigan won 31-7. Heading into Nebraska, Johnson addressed the media earlier this week, where he identified a pair of standout freshmen for the Maize and Blue: DJ Waller and JyAire Hill.

Michigan football star Will Johnson identifies two breakout freshmen

DJ Waller standing out so far

DJ Waller, a former three-star safety, and Jyaire Hill, a former four-star cornerback, are both freshmen on this year’s Michigan football defense, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation. On Tuesday, Will Johnson dove into what makes this freshman duo special for the Wolverines.

“He’s a huge, huge corner out there. Very long, very instinctual,” Will Johnson said of DJ Waller, who also earned praise from Jim Harbaugh earlier this week. “So having those two features about him is some of the biggest you need at corner. Now you just got to, like everybody, keep getting better every week, keep working those. … And like you said, by the end of the year, he’ll be ready to go.”

Praise for Jyaire Hill

Johnson continued on about Jyaire Hill as well.

“He’s always around the ball,” Johnson said of Hill. “He’s very athletic, kind of same as a DJ (Waller) — they’re both freak athletes. Soon enough, he’ll be out there and making plays.”

Michigan football defense in good hands

The Michigan football defense is elite right now, and if these top-ranked prospects continue to pan out for the Wolverines, it sounds like the defense will continue to thrive. It is also worth pointing out that, next fall, Will Johnson will be returning to the Michigan football program, leading a group of defensive backs that includes Jyaire Hill and DJ Waller, so be on the lookout for some breakout stars emerging.

This weekend, Johnson, these freshmen, and the rest of the Michigan football team head to Nebraska for a Week 5 road bout against the 2-2 Cornhuskers.



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Thoughts on the Michigan football quarterback battle heading into Week 5

Heading into Week 5, the Michigan football quarterback remains unsolved. Here are a few thoughts on how things may play out for the Wolverines.

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Michigan football, quarterback, Jayden Denegal, Jack Tuttle, Alex Orji, JJ McCarthy
Sep 16, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Jayden Denegal (4) hands off to running back Cole Cabana (24) in the second half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

This weekend, for the Wolverines’ fifth game of the 2023 season, the Maize and Blue head to Lincoln, NE, for a bout against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Still, despite being nearly halfway through the year, the Michigan football quarterback battle for the QB2 role remains ongoing, with Indiana transfer Jack Tuttle leading the way for the time being. With the info that I have been able to gather, here are a few thoughts on where things stand right now. Will it be Tuttle, Jayden Denegal, Alex Orji, or Davis Warren when JJ McCarthy gets taken out this year? If you ask me, it depends on the context of the game.

NOTE: This piece reflects my opinions, not the views of the staff, etc.

Thoughts on the Michigan football quarterback battle heading into Week 5

Now, to get this out of the way, I am operating off of the assumption that Bowling Green was just a bad game for JJ McCarthy, making it a reasonable assumption that the Michigan football QB heads to the NFL after the 2023 season. It’s far too early to truly speculate about that just yet, but seeing as I am piecing together the current state of the Wolverines’ quarterback room, it’s a necessary assumption to make.

Now, with that said, here is my gut feeling about the Michigan football quarterback battle heading into Week 5 against Nebraska. Of course, JJ McCarthy is the starter; however, who comes in next may entirely depend on the context of the game and the score.

If JJ McCarthy comes out due to injury, it’s likely Jack Tuttle getting the call

Over the offseason, Jim Harbaugh needed a bona fide backup QB — he grabbed Jack Tuttle from Indiana, who has starting and backup experience in the Big Ten. According to Sherrone Moore, who met with the media yesterday, Tuttle appears to be pulling away even though no true decision has been made at QB2 just yet.

If JJ McCarthy — God forbid — goes down with an injury this fall, I suspect Jack Tuttle is getting the nod to lead the Wolverines.

If it’s a blowout, I suspect the staff will put the ball in someone else’s hands

Now, if the game is getting out of hand — just as we saw during Weeks 1-3 — and JJ McCarthy is pulled, I am not so sure that Tuttle is getting the call. Seeing as McCarthy is able to leave at the end of this season, and is currently being mocked as a top 10 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Michigan football may need a new starting QB next fall.

Sure, the Wolverines have Jadyn Davis coming in, but starting an 18-year-old true freshman at QB in this league, especially in year one of the 18-team Big Ten, is not an idea that anyone should be endorsing. Even JJ McCarthy, who was a better high school prospect than Davis and more college-ready out of high school, was clearly not ready to be QB1 back in 2021.

The Wolverines have options: Alex Orji and Jayden Denegal

The good news for Michigan football in all of this is that, behind JJ McCarthy and Jack Tuttle, the Wolverines have a pair of incredible sophomores: Jayden Denegal and Alex Orji.

One has to think that, in the back of Jim Harbaugh’s mind, he is thinking about who will start at QB in 2024 if JJ decides to leave. Denegal and Orji both have the tools to be fantastic quarterbacks for the Wolverines — in my opinion, Denegal has the frame and skill set that is ideal for Michigan’s offense. If the staff can hone in his talent, he could be a dangerous play-maker in the Maize and Blue down the road.

So, to put things briefly, while Jack Tuttle may technically win the Michigan football quarterback battle for the QB2 spot this fall, I would not be surprised if it’s Jayden Denegal or Alex Orji who gets the call in a blowout scenario in order to prep them for next year.

If the assumption is that JJ leaves after this year, it would not make much sense to play Tuttle — who is also leaving after the 2023 season — ahead of the team’s future quarterbacks if the opportunity presents itself. So far, we have seen all four backup QBs getting in-game work; in fact, Denegal currently leads the race when it comes to snap count.

Again, this is just my gut feeling, but it would make a lot of sense to see multiple backup quarterbacks depending on the scenario and could be a major reason why the Michigan football coaching staff has yet to name a true backup halfway through the year.



Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics and Big Ten content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Publisher at Cj@BluebyNinety.com. Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all other streaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest-growing and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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