MONDAY HUDDLE: U-M’s scheduling turns out to be a stroke of genius

Spartans enter important offseason, Grand Valley-Ferris State to meet in DII quarterfinals

Michigan defensive lineman Cam Goode celebrates their win over Ohio State after an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay Laprete, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Huddle up! Here’s a look back at this weekend on the gridiron, with three key takeaways from the state’s football scene -- and a glimpse at what’s to come next week.

Nobody should be complaining about Michigan’s schedule now

Now that the notion has been put to bed that Michigan hasn’t played anyone this year following its 45-23 crushing of Ohio State in Columbus, it’s time to do something few have done all year with the Wolverines.

It’s actually time to praise the way Michigan’s schedule was constructed.

That’s right, praise, not rip apart, like many have done all year.

U-M knew it would have at least a couple of built-in marquee wins to put on the playoff resume if it ran the table in conference play, and this year, those wins were obviously Penn State and Ohio State.

Granted, the Wolverines probably figured the rest of the Big Ten wouldn’t be THIS bad, but it didn’t matter and won’t in the future.

What’s the point of scheduling marquee nonconference games if you already have potential wins on the schedule that will get you in the playoff?

When you only have one or two games to worry about on a schedule, you can do everything to build up for those games.

Rest starters who are a banged up.

Develop younger players to enhance depth.

Devote time in practices throughout the season to prepare for the more quality opponents, just like Jim Harbaugh said he and his staff did with Ohio State.

Would J.J. McCarthy or other first-year starters been as effective in a September game against, say, Texas or UCLA?

Going forward, there might be more willingness to play tougher schedules with the playoffs expanding to 12 teams, which will increase the margin of error for losses.

But for this year and next year when there’s more cream puffs on the nonconference schedule, Michigan is doing the scheduling thing right, and should be commended for it.

Free pass is officially over for Mel Tucker

Barring Michigan State having a high enough Academic Process Rate to be one of the few 5-7 teams selected for a bowl game, the season for the Spartans ended mercifully in a 35-16 loss at Penn State.

Given he took over in February of 2020 right before COVID hit and was behind immediately in recruiting, this season can be viewed as a pass for Mel Tucker.

Yes, there was an 11-2 season last year, but there was precious little depth left after some key seniors and running back Kenneth Walker moved on.

However, Tucker is now about to embark on his most important and pressure-filled offseason.

Officially signing some of the key 4-star recruits in a few weeks who have committed will be imperative, as will building a roster that can win 8 or 9 games in 2023.

Not beating Indiana and likely missing on a bowl game is still an embarrassment, and definitive progress will need to be shown next year.

Grand Valley, Ferris State set for rematch

As good as the first meeting of the season was between Grand Valley State and Ferris State, the rematch figures to be better.

The stakes will certainly be higher, as Grand Valley State and Ferris State will hook up in a Division II quarterfinal at 1 p.m. Saturday in Allendale.

In October, the teams met in a battle between the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation in Big Rapids, with Grand Valley State earning a 22-21 over the defending national champion Bulldogs.

About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.