The rising sun broke the horizon as I loaded the last of the tailgate equipment into my car. It was a brisk and mostly cloudy morning. This is one of those games where the tailgate is just something you need to get through. I exchanged a few salutations and a 'Go Blue' with the families of Grant Bowman and Andy Mignery, expressing cautious confidence verbally, while maintaining the utmost confidence mentally in the team which I follow with unwavering passion. So when we ventured out at 7:30am to a stadium that is less than one mile away, but didn't arrive at the tailgate until 9:30am, my frustration with the unprecedented traffic was quelled by the fact that the game was still going to be played, and I wasn't going to miss a single snap.
We celebrated a few birthdays in the pregame, but all of the festivities that took place prior to kickoff are just flash memories to me. Even the absence of our tailgate's founding father was over-shadowed by the sheer excitment of the pending matchup. I hadn't even noticed how many other regular tailgaters still hadn't arrived as we got to just an hour before kickoff.
Leaving early from the tailgate to go to the game, I was able to see the "band take the field" for the first time this season. 400 previous varsity football letter winners held up the "Go Blue" banner, and as the hair on the back of my neck stood at attention and a chill ran down my spine, the Wolverines poured onto the field, congregating on the home sidline, piling onto each other with jublilation as if the outcome was already in hand.
Michigan posted the first 21 points, and after opening the 2nd half with a 5-play, 62-yard drive, led the Buckeyes 28-7. Ohio State then mounted a comeback that made the score as close as 28-21. But the Wolverines would not be denied. Chris Perry added a touchdown for the Wolverines with just under 8 minutes to go, and the defense clamped down forcing 3 punts and an interception on the Buckeyes last four possessions.
The Michigan Wolverines are THE 2003 Big Ten Champions. No one else. Fans jumped down onto the field, celebrated with the team and with each other. Then, after about 30 minutes, they calmly went back into the stands to listen to the band complete the experience with a post-game concert and a rousing chorus of "The Victors". With the victory, the Wolverines have guaranteed themselves a trip to at least the Rose Bowl, and leave themselves an outside shot at the Sugar Bowl. Bowl games will be officially announced after December 6th.
The Season Ends
It seems to go by so fast! Another sucessfull season for the Wolverines and for UMTailgate.com. Special thanks to everyone for participating in the themes, and for being a part of our tailgate family. I hope to see you all out at the bowl game, wherever it may be, but if not, enjoy the winter, and stay tuned to UMTailgate.com for more wonderfull alcohol-inspired exploits courtesy of myself and the tailgating family.