I was pissed when we scheduled Delaware State. Of course I know that these things are beyond our control, and that we did our due diligence to get an FBS opponent, but there's something slightly embarrassing about scheduling a game like this. It's diffiult to explain to the not-so-football-savvy co-worker, to outline the complexities of the politics and the apprehension of any BCS participating school to give a home game away without getting a return game in the future. I guess the simple answer is that this, like most things, is about money. We've already got our big non-conference home-at-home in the Notre Dame series, and it's just not fiscally sound to add another in this era where football covers the cost of the non-revenue (read: chick) sports. We used to do it. We used to travel west every few years to face a Pac-10 opponent. We also used to lose that game pretty much every time, so there's that.
In retrospect however, I think the Delaware State game was spectacular, and a wonderful idea. Ignoring the once in a millennium chance of the unthinkable happening, I can only find positives in the scheduling of a team that would have been better served playing the night before at Hollway Field...
The bulk of the regular starters got a full week of practice, a full week of learning more of The System, and then got to run a few series before giving way to the second and third team. Minor got another week to quell his nagging injuries, and Brown and Forcier were able to reorganize their marbles.
New names and faces found their way into the record book, which is good both for experience and for team morale. Nothing brings a team together more than cheering for their own, for guys that haven't seen the field, and may have never had the chance if it weren't for a game like this. For lack of a better reference, it's like Rudy, but without the blatant no call on the offsides penalty.
Stat-tastic. Michigan racked up a program record 727 yards on Saturday. And while this means little with regards to this team's chances in their remaining 5 Big Ten contests, it is, in fact, historic.Â Should we be boasting about racking up 700+ against Delaware State? No. But in the annals of Michigan history, Delaware State is not the worst team we have ever taken the field against...so it means something, albeit a little something. I mean, in 1905 we played Albion and won 70-0. In 1892 we played the Michigan Athletic club twice in 4 days, outscoring them by a total of 142-0 in an October in which Michigan played 7 games in 21 days. But the powers that be say that 727 is a record, so it's a record. Mark it down. You were there. Michigan also had 461 yards on the ground, bumping them up to #8 in the nation in rushing. More importantly for the game promoting talking heads, the yards amassed on Saturday moved Michigan into the #2 slot in total offense in the Big Ten...#1 is Penn State, so, like, take the over. Michigan is also #9 in the nation in scoring after putting up 63 points. Michigan hasn't racked up that many since 1992, when they demolished Minnesota 63-13.
The Delaware State game also allowed for some new faces to make their way into the stands. Average Joe was able to get cheap (or free) tickets and see the Big House, which is a good thing in these economic times, and is good for a growing Michigan fanbase. Not to mention that we tailgated like the Buckeyes were on the schedule, not the Hornets. The turnout was ridiculous for a game of this type, and there was enough food to stuff the lot of them, further showing that the gameday experience is much more than what happens on the field.
Saturday was exactly what I hoped it would be, a bye week in uniforms. But in the end, from many aspects, it was so much more. Five games remain, and none of them are going to be easy. This year's Wolverines, as much as we would like them to be defined by their 5-2 record and their marked improvement over last year, will instead be defined by these final five contests. Will they grow enough to avoid making Freshman mistakes? Will they play well enough to overcome those mistakes if they happen? Hell if I know...I'm just happy to be along for the ride.
Oh, and Ohio State lost to Purdue. Which is funny. So laugh at them, and I'll see you next week for the Old School tailgate, which is our second theme this season named after the title of a Will Ferrell movie.