Allow me to take a moment and welcome back Leon Michael Hart, known to most of nation just as Mike Hart. Returning from a hamstring injury, he ran for 218 yards on 36 carries, and set the pace for a Wolverine offense that is just beginning to hit its stride.
Allow me also to welcome back onto the bandwagon those of you that tossed your team aside in their time of crisis, put the season ahead of the next game, and kept your maize and blue t-shirt in the drawer this week. In my estimation you represent a large portion of our fan base...so I guess we have to have a revolving door. However, I loathe those of you that may have suggested or even embraced the idea of a poor season for purposes of the removal of the coaching staff, both for your stupidity with regards to this program and the way things work within it, and for your lack of respect for Michigan.
Michigan State got a little taste of what it was like to be Big Brother this weekend. Doors were closed to the media all week. Fans were tight, and weren't sure how to react before, during, or after the game. The stadium atmosphere was eerily similar to the Big House....minus about 35,000 people. Gone was the piped in music, the bell tolling on 3rd down, and the "jump around" we have grown to hate when traveling to East Lansing. And when Michigan jumped out to a 14-0 lead, gone was the Sparty Spirit...and I know why. For the first time in a long time, winning wasn't going to be enough for them. They were the #11 Michigan State Spartans playing the unranked Michigan Wolverines. They wanted a rout. One of those Michigan-style routs, like the 49-3 drubbing in 2002, the 40-20 slaughter in 1994, the 35-10 laugh-fest in 1992, or the 119-0 affair of 1902. Once it was 14-0, that chance had all but left the building. It took a 74-yard game-tying return of an incomplete forward pass for a touchdown by a ball of hair to wake them up and make them realize that just winning had to be enough. It's funny, I came to realize that Michigan State usually finds a way to win only when something really stupid happens...like an extra second that forces a future NCAA rule change or a horrible no-call on a pass interference in the end zone on a two-point conversion. And the worst part is, either consciously or unconsciously, they have come to really enjoy it. They would much rather see a bad call get them a touchdown or a turnover than have Stanton or the defense make a play. All of the above is what makes this one just a little sweeter. Last year, we snatched victory from defeat and broke their green and white hearts in triple overtime. This year, miscues kept them in a game that Michigan should have won by two TDs, and we still managed to break their hearts in overtime. That's satisfying.
Not to harp on the pile of poop that is the Spartan football program, but the headlines of a few articles, including one from the associated press, had the nerve to say things like, "#11 Spartans Fall To Nemesis Michigan". Nemesis? As if Michigan State is Texas and Michigan is Oklahoma, and if the Spartans could just find a way to get past those pesky Wolverines, the BCS would be right there for the taking. Michigan State has had 32 losses since 2000. That's right, they're 33-32 in the new millennium. Never has the Michigan game ruined a season for Michigan State, at least not in recent history. You can't break what is already broken. That is of course unless you charge Michigan with keeping the Spartans from bowl eligibility, which is the case if the 2000 and 2004 games would have gone the other way. Michigan State needed just one more win in those seasons to earn their bid to the Summer's Eve Bowl, or wherever it is the last bowl eligible team in the Big Ten team goes to. That's right, I am being cocky now.
When it is all said and done, this game will just be one of many blemishes on a the record of an slightly above average team in 2005, and a program that has less Big Ten titles than almost the entire slate of Big Ten teams. Among the plethora of teams with more titles is juggernaut Northwestern (with two more titles than Sparty) and the University of Chicago (one more title than Sparty) who stopped playing division 1 football in 1939.
Feel free to copy-paste that last sentence into an email to your favorite Sparty fan. It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine.