Ann Arbor — As far as bulletin-board material goes, P.J. Fleck’s comment wasn’t the most heated or in your face, but he probably didn’t help himself ahead of bringing his Minnesota Gophers to Michigan Stadium next month.
Fleck, the first-year Minnesota coach was asked if he was surprised Michigan State, a considerable underdog heading into last Saturday’s game against Michigan, defeated the Wolverines in the Big House. The Gophers face Michigan State this weekend.
“I think they beat them eight out of the last 10 times, so I don’t think you’d be surprised,” Fleck told reporters. “It almost would be the other way. If Michigan beats Michigan State you should be surprised at these times.”
The Gophers play at Michigan on Nov. 4.
Keeping Bush calm
Michigan linebacker Devin Bush Jr. made his mark beyond his eight tackles in the Michigan State loss last Saturday night.
Bush was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on a third-and-4 play that gave Michigan State the first down at the UM 11-yard line. After an MSU false start quarterback Brian Lewerke gave MSU a 7-3 lead on a 14-yard run.
Michigan linebackers coach Chris Partridge was asked Wednesday before practice, what does he say to the sophomore linebacker about retaliating during a game?
“Control your emotions,” Partridge said. “That’s unacceptable, no matter what happens prior, what your frustrations are. You can’t do that. You can’t hurt the team like that. He’s going to have to deal with that. He’s a phenomenal player, and people are going to do stuff to antagonize him. It’s a growing process and maturity. It’s unacceptable.”
Bush leads the team with 41 tackles and he’s acknowledged as one of the hardest hitters on the team.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio told reporters Sunday that he planned to send a few plays to the Big Ten that appeared to him to be helmet-to-helmet targeting hits and have them reviewed. There was no flag on a play involving Bush and Lewerke in the fourth quarter.
Partridge said he’s not concerning himself with MSU’s plans.
“We play football,” he said. “We’re not going to get into them sending film. The officials are going to officiate the game, and we’re going to play football and tackle like we tackle. Keep our head out of it, that’s what we teach. I’m not going to get into what they’re going to decide to do after the game.”
More big plays for DPJ?
Freshman receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones has a punt return for a touchdown this season and Partrdige, the linebackers/special teams coach, said there’s more to come.
“He’s getting more comfortable back there for sure,” Partridge said. “Still some things that he can do a little bit better to help us out, but he’s really, really exciting. You haven’t seen the last of him in the end zone. He’s getting more comfortable back there, and I think we’ll have some big plays out of him going forward.”
High note for TV viewing
The Michigan-Michigan State game last Saturday night on ABC had a total live audience of 6,628,000 viewers, college football’s most-watched game of the week, according to ESPN. In the same prime-time window, ESPN’s telecast of Alabama at Texas A&M earned a Nielsen total live audience of 4,774,000 viewers, the second most-watched game of the week across all networks.
The more than 6.6 million viewers for the Michigan-Michigan State game was 18 percent higher than Saturday Night Football’s week 6 game last season (Florida State at Miami).