Our next new segment to be featured each week is Tuesday Takes, where I take a look back at the previous weekend in sports, and also preview the upcoming weekend’s action.
This weekend didn’t have many positives for me, as a Tigers, Spartans, and Lions fan. It was slightly better for my colleague Mackenzie as he is a fan of the Wolverines. With so much misery to cover, it isn’t easy to choose a starting point, but the baffling game in Bloomington seems like a good place to start.
Coming off of a nonexistent showing against the Badgers in East Lansing, I expected to see a very motivated team come into Bloomington and win, which is something Mark Dantonio had done in every previous game he had coached against the Hoosiers (7-0). That simply wasn’t the case. Already down two of their best linebackers coming into the game, the defense took another blow when Malik McDowell was called for a very questionable targeting call in the fourth quarter. The video appears to show McDowell hitting Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow in the chest, but the referees apparently disagreed. The hit will cause him to miss the first half of this weekend’s game against BYU. A crucial personal foul for leaping in overtime sealed the loss for the Spartans who are now 2-2 and unranked.
Speaking of the BYU game this weekend, if you have any familiarity with the program, you know that quarterback Taysom Hill has been there forever. He is currently the oldest player in college football at 26 years old. I have always seen his as one of the most talented players in college football, but also the most unlucky. He has suffered three season-ending injuries during his tenure in Provo. He is finally healthy once again, and won the starting job over last years surprise standout Tanner Mangum who was responsible for a huge upset on a Hail Mary against Nebraska last year. He isn’t the star of the 2016 Cougar squad however. That honor belongs to Jamaal Williams. The senior running back set team records with 286 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns in a 55-53 shootout win over Toledo last week, and is second in the nation with 703 rushing yards With the Spartans defense already thin up front, I would expect Williams to touch the ball at least 30 times Saturday.
Arguably the biggest disappointment of the weekend for fans of Michigan sports may have taken place in Atlanta. The Tigers, who were battling for the final AL wildcard spot, wasted yet another gem from their starting pitching and fell quietly to the basement-dwelling Braves 1-0. This sealed the fate of a team who was bitten by injuries throughout the season, and had very spotty starting pitching outside of Justin Verlander and Michael Fulmer. There are still lots of questions to be answered for this team, namely whether or not to bring back Brad Ausmus for a fourth season after not winning a playoff game during his first three years. I would guess he isn’t back when the Tigers open spring training next February. Mike Illitch is an owner with one thing on his mind; a World Series championship. He has shown he is willing to do whatever it takes to try and reach that goal. The biggest roadblock to that goal is the lack of financial flexibility the team has. They will soon have to decide when this team is no longer capable of competing at a championship level, and begin to sell off some of their more veteran players.
Last and certainly least are the lovable losers, our Detroit Lions. In a game that many people including myself would have expected the Lions to win, the showed us why they are still the Lions once again. Even with the Bears missing Jay Cutler who isn’t great by any means, but is still much better than Brian Hoyer, the Lions had no answer. Jordan Howard, a 5th round pick out of Indiana, torched the Detroit defense to the tune of 111 yards on 23 carries. Matthew Stafford struggled and finished with just 213 yards and two interceptions. Next week won’t be any easier for the Lions, as they face Carson Wentz and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.