As Touchdown Jesus solemnly watched the setting sun in South Bend on Saturday, one of the last of the non-video-aided scoreboards in college football, an homage to the throwback atmosphere of Notre Dame stadium, was still illuminated with the evidence. Michigan was here. And it was not the Michigan of years past, who came in with quiet confidence and left with their heads hanging wondering what went wrong. In front of as much God as you find in a college football atmosphere, the Wolverines were "born again." They were loud. They were punishing. They were a sleek machine that moved with a speed and purpose. They were exactly what you thought they should have been...in every game since 1997.
From my Ten Yard Fight perspective, I watched in utter amazement. I saw Prescott Burgess set the tone with an interception return for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage. I saw Chad Henne rebound under intense pressure after throwing a bad interception early to toss not one, not two, but three laser-guided balls to Mario Manningham for touchdowns. I saw the defense hit Brady Quinn nineteen times. And as hope dangled from the thinnest of strings for Notre Dame, down by 19 with under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter, I saw Lamar Woodley pick up a Quinn fumble and rumble down the sideline, stiff-arm a trailing John Carlson, and scamper into the endzone, ending any and all doubt that Michigan Football was back.
The Michigan section erupted in celebration and emotion, swimming in that feeling. The Irish faithful filed out, leaving only The Victors in the stands, and "It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine" echoed in the hallowed home of Notre Dame. The clock struck zero, Lloyd got a bath in championship fashion, and the team headed straight for the corner, helmets removed in celebration, to join the band in a rousing chorus of the greatest fight song ever written. The boys in blue offered up a salute to their traveling fans and made their way to the tunnel. But that feeling didn't go with them, it made its way to the concourses, and back to the cars in the parking lot. And it's sitting with me right here, right now. Magic happened, and there was nothing that anyone, not Charlie Weiss, not Brady Quinn, could do to thwart it. It was our time, our day.
As I exited Notre Dame stadium, soon after yet another humorous chant of "Rudy! Rudy!"...I saw him. He looked at me and pointed. Then he waived goodbye. Dejected and homeless, the monkey that had resided for so long on the backs of the Michigan team and the Michigan faithful went against the grain of the exiting crowd and made his way down towards the field. I turned to leave before seeing where he ended up, but I could swear he was heading for Charlie's office.
So what do we do now? We enter a Big Ten season undefeated for the first time in seven years. No goals to reset or evaluate. Everything is still intact. In a matter of four hours, Michigan went from backstory to front page news. The Wolverines moved up to #6 in both of the polls. The media is already looking forward to two 11-0 teams meeting in Columbus. But we cannot afford to look ahead, not even for a moment. Everyone will now see us coming, starting with Wisconsin.
15830Two UMTailgates were run simultaneously, one on location in South Bend, the other at the home of the Godfather. By all indications, including the level of intoxication of the guests I interacted with when we returned to the Godfather's house, both tailgates went very well. Another successful week on the field and off. As the Godfather says, "We're hitting our stride now....GO BLUE." See you all at home on Saturday.