It seems more like years ago than just a few months, when the Wolverines hosted Northern Illinois. Michigan was the #3 team in the country, with high expectations, with Henne and Hart poised for Sophomore supremacy, etc, etc. The most vaunted and feared offense in the country was just waiting to get into a shootout with anyone in the country in order to backup what looked to be a shaky defense. But that, my friends, was just on paper.
It was a season full of games that came down to the last minute, and in some cases the last second. A Notre Dame loss, along with 4th quarter losses to Wisconsin and Minnesota hurt badly. Losing to the Fighting Irish never sits well, and watching the Golden Gophers reclaim the jug in the Big House was equally devastating. But what a wonderful feeling it was to beat Michigan State in overtime, and who will ever forget Henne to Manningham as time expired against Penn State. Again it took overtime to put away the also overrated Hawkeyes at Kinnick, followed by lay-ups against Northwestern and Indiana. A banged up team that shuffled their offensive line like a deck of cards went from 3-3 to 7-3, and there was hope going into Ohio State. Hope of a three-peat Big Ten Championship. Hope of a BCS bid for the 3rd consecutive year.
But it was not to be. Not that it would have mattered, as Sparty folded up shop against the Nittany Lions, leaving them bowl-less once again. (Sparty basketball also got pasted by Hawaii on the same day..hee hee) But the Wolverines looked as if they came out uninspired, if not just flat-out outmanned. All of the big time players, minus perhaps Chad Henne (though that last pass made me sick), were ineffective. Not a single punt return by Steve Breaston, and just one kick return. Mike Hart and Kevin Grady? 1.7 and 1.8 yards per carry respectively. Jason Avant, in his last game at the Big House, managed only 4 receptions. And the defense? Almost non-existant. The only stops seem to come by the way of turnovers. LaMarr Woodley had only 4 tackles. Gabe Watson...just 1. Big time players come to play in big time games. On November 19th, Ohio State had all of the big time players.
A couple of key turnovers kept the Wolverines in the game, and in fact gave the Wolverines a 9 point lead with just over 7 minutes to play. But a lethargic offense that settled for field goals instead of touchdowns all day, could not muster up just a few more first downs to keep the defense off of the field, and the game ended the same way it ended against Wisconsin and Minnesota. Ohio State marched down the field on a final drive of 12 plays for 88 yards for a touchdown and the win, 25-21.
Once again, we had a tailgate that outshined the Wolverine's performance. Breakfast burritos, spinach pie, baklava, gyros, and loads of delicious fried appetizers were just some of the things that filled the tables at UMTailgate.com. Many even donned togas getting into the spirit of the theme.
We Say Goodbye
Another year of tailgates comes to a close, and there is no doubt it was our best year ever. Thanks to everyone who participated, making UMTailgate.com what it is...the best tailgate at Michigan. I look forward to your input on how next year can be even better! We still have a bowl game ahead, and UMTailgate.com will be there, wherever it is. So if you're making the trip, let us know so we can all meet up.
Michigan was coming off of a bye week. Michigan was looking ahead. Michigan wanted to rest Mike Hart. All of these things point to a letdown. But the Wolverines looked to be playing their best football on Saturday as they dominated and destroyed the Indiana Hoosiers 41-7 in the first half. Starters came out, and the second string allowed just one touchdown and Michigan won by a 41-14 margin. In the tune up before another epic battle with the toothless losers from Columbus, the Wolverines seem to be firing on all cylinders, poised to lock up a second place Big Ten finish, and with a little help (from those other idiots in green) could find themselves three-peating as champs and in a BCS bowl once again.
It always seems to come down to Michigan-Ohio State, and here we are once again. Beat the Buckeyes, and you ruin their BCS chances and leave your season up to Sparty. Lose to the Buckeyes, and you hand them a chance for an outright Big Ten championship, lower your record against Tressel to 1-4, and lose your third home game of the year. It's a game the Wolverines MUST win to complete the "great recovery of 2005" and move on to loftier goals in 2006.
We rounded up the group and headed to Damon's for our yearly banquet. Awards were given out for best smile (Adam and Chandra), most improved (Michelle and Frank Demski), most creative (me and the Captain), and tailgater of the year (Tugboat J). Pictures of the award winners and the day's events can be found on the Indiana picture page. Just one home tailgate remains, and this one is for all of the marbles. Bella Vino will have representatives coming around to judge for the Best Tailgate of the Year. I am unsure of the prize, or if there is a prize at all, but there is definitely bragging rights on the line, and maybe we even get to keep that trophy. The theme is Greek Food...so bring something good and arrive early...we all remember the nightmare that was 2003 Michigan-Ohio State.
It was another beautiful gameday, this time in the quiet neighborhood of Evanston, Illinois. The only sounds to be heard were the flames of propane, the migrating birds, and 500 watts of The Victors blasted throughout the parking lot.We arrived early for the night game...very early. The first in the lot, and perhaps the only tailgate anywhere in Evanston to have a tent popped up, soup simmering, and cheesy potatoes shoveling into our gullets by 10:30am. We again came full force with gallons of soup and beef sandwiches with all of the necessary accompaniments. It was a few hours before we saw another soul, and that was just fine with us. The TV played Ohio State-Minnesota and Penn State-Purdue as we shoveled bowl after bowl into our faces with our official tailgate song "You're the Best" playing in the background. It took until 4:30pm for the police to try to cite us for disturbing the peace, and it was around 8:30pm when Wildcat fans wanted to cite the Wolverines for disturbing their season.
Michigan jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first few minutes of the game, and held it despite the fact that a Northwestern Hail Mary was answered to end the first half. That half ending touchdown would be the last points scored by the Wildcats who couldn't find an answer for the Woodley-less Michigan defense. Even without Mike Hart, Michigan racked up 253 yards on the ground, and with Rivas's four field goals, there was nothing Northwestern could do. It was all about momentum on Saturday, and nothing could stop it. So it goes with the season. The Wolverines have momentum going into their last two games. The bye week will give the banged up players time to heal for the home stretch and the attempt at a third consecutive Big Ten championship.
Take A Week Off
The Wolverines need it. You need it. I NEED IT. Take the week off, watch some football, and take a long weekend nap. We'll see you all back at "the corner" in a couple weeks. A reminder that the theme for Indiana is Italian Kitchen...and our banquet follows. Drop me an email if you plan to attend the banquet. (email@example.com) I need to give a rough count to Damon's soon.