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.