It's tough sometimes, to be a Michigan fan. So many expectations, a fair amount of disappointment, and rarely a game occurs where you walk out and say "we executed to the best of our ability." That's just the way it is. We've reached November unblemished, but you're confidence in the offense is low. There are a couple of schools of thought as to the reason why the Michigan offense has mustered only 54 points in the last three games. One is that in our current state we just are not that good, and that the boring conservatism of the Wolverines is a result of the loss of Mario Manningham, the questionable right side of the offensive line, dropped passes by receivers, and a running back by committee that seems to contain only one man that can get yards and not fumble. Maybe Penn State has a good defense, perhaps even Iowa...but Northwestern did not. Going 4 of 15 on third down against the Wildcats could be viewed as unacceptable, and it might be time to wonder if Mike DeBord, the master of 1997's conservative offensive masterpiece might just be too conservative for the available weapons on this Michigan team. The other view is that this is a giant conspiracy, with a 10-play playbook that hides everything we plan to do against Ohio State from the Sweatervest and his staff. We will run the ball (to the left) and rely on the best defense in the nation to hold our lead, no matter how small. You might think we've done this before. After ho-humming our way through Vanderbilt and Central Michigan, we dominated Notre Dame, the #2 team in the country at the time.
A look at total offense reveals that the last three games were our lowest outputs of the season. We peaked at Minnesota, amassing 514 yards, which was 130 yards more than any other game, but only beat the Gophers 28-14. But maybe the powers that be know what it is that wins championships. It's defense. And until we need it, the offense can go three and out every time. We'll get into the common opponent comparisons when we get closer to Armageddon, but let me leave you with this for now: The most total yards Michigan has given up this season is 323 to Minnesota. Ohio State gave up 343 yards to Northern Illinois and 339 yards to Bowling Green. Hmmm.
In the worst weather conditions since the famous 5-0 affair against Purdue in 1995, the Wolverines defense came out in the near-freezing rain and completely dominated Northwestern. Forcing 5 turnovers, they single-handedly won the game for an offense that only managed 17 points, most of which came from great field position gained by the defense. For the 2nd time in three games, Michigan's defense held its opponent to negative rushing yards, and lowered their nation-leading per game average to 28.4 yards per game. Michigan wins, 17-3.
The tailgate was moved from our cushy surroundings on the golf course to our alternate spot at a house on Main St. Wet and muddy, we tried to stay dry under our tents, and tried to stay warm with the appropo Soups and Stews theme. Next week, we gather for Fried Turkeys, and will end the day with our yearly banquet.