I thought I was done being surprised by Michigan Football. It's almost an impossibility when you are constantly expecting the unexpected. I'm arrogant enough (being a typical Michigan fan) to think that I have seen it all. In short, I lived through the Navarre years. However, on Saturday, they managed to floor me twice.
To say that the first half was abysmal would be a huge compliment to the performance on the field. The turnover problem that plagued us at Notre Dame was not solved by two weeks of practice surrounding the bye, in fact, it somehow got worse. 5 turnovers...20 plays....20 yards.....negative passing yards. The announcers came back from the half and explained that they would like to show a graphic of Threet's first half performance but they couldn't because their software can't process negative passing yards. We had a pretty lengthy discussion in section 30 about how difficult it is to have negative passing yards. The result of the discussion? Pretty goddamn difficult.
You, like me, have had several conversations about this game with friends and co-workers, and from the box score reader or casual fan, you might have fielded the question "Wow, what do you think Rich Rod said to them at halftime to get them fired up?" Well, I don't have time for the debate on the overrated effectiveness of speeches, but I can tell you two things...#1 Rich Rod told the reporter in the postgame that he didn't say much....#2 We still sucked big time for a large portion of the third quarter. So...what did it? What flipped the switch on a group of young men that got booed off the field by their home crowd louder than they were booed upon their field entrance AT Notre Dame? (P.S. shame on you assholes that booed)
I don't know.
That first touchdown was only a medium spark. In fact, at 19-7, I remember being pissed as a fan that they were going to drag me into caring again, when I was CERTAIN that we didn't have the horses for this race. But then that second touchdown came, and it was a one possession game. It was at this point that I awakened from the offensive funk just long enough to realize what the defense had done to that point. I had spent so much time with my head up my ass thinking about how we were never going to win another game with this offense, that I didn't realize that we were owning theirs. And we were getting stronger. Penetration was increasing, receivers were covered, PJ Hill wasn't worth a shit against our front.
Enter confidence, which spread like wildfire thru the Maize-clad faithful and down to the sideline, where they wondered what took us so long to believe.
The defense then picked a perfect time to score, letting the offense know that they would do it themselves if they had to, and after a failed 2-point conversion, it was 20-19...Michigan leads. It all happened so fast. Then Threet gave us a repeat rendition of his magic trick, leaving Brandon Minor to be sawed in half as he scurried on borrowed legs for 58 yards...the longest play of the RichRod era. McGuffie, who shined a bit less without the help of the porous defense of the golden domers, still managed to pound it in, giving the Wolverines an 8-point lead.
The Badgers would not go quietly, getting an 11-play, 63 yard drive followed by a 6-play, 64-yard drive in their last 2 possessions. The first of which ended with a Brandon Graham forced fumble, the second ended with a touchdown. But a mysterious (to those at the game) inelligible receiver penalty forced a re-try of the two-point conversion. The pass sailed high. Wisconsin, who if they had reviewed our game films should have realized that booting it deep is a viable way to recover a football from our special teams, instead opted for the onside kick. Not ten yards...out of bounds...pandemonium.
On this day of the 500th contest on the field that Yost dug, a group of boys wearing Maize and Blue made you impatient for the future...then reminded you not to forget about the present.
Michigan wins 27-25.