Going into Saturday's game, I really had no opinion on the outcome. I didn't know, on any level, what was going to happen when Michigan took the field. I mean, I knew what I wanted to happen, but I was probably more preoccupied with what I didn't want to happen. I didn't want the euphoric feelings I felt after Western Michigan to be erased by a loss at the hands of the Irish. Overcoming the adversity of practice-gate and the anti-Rich Rod rhetoric by way of a 31-7 victory was a really big deal. But people don't want to hear about what you did for them yesterday, they want to hear about today. I thought a lot about what people would think following a loss to Notre Dame. I would have certainly been an apologist: Notre Dame has a good team...Michigan is young and when they get more experience watch out...Next year is the year, maybe the year after that...yada yada yada. But I don't have to worry about that anymore. Because a group of very young men and a coach under fire have decided they don't want to wait. They want it all...right now.
Though I don't do it very much in my day-to-day life, and I attend religious services about as often as I root for Michigan State, I find myself praying sometimes at football games. I literally look to the sky with my hands folded, thinking there's some higher power that isn't busy with famine or disease or world peace that has time to fix a football game. I was just in the middle of of something along the lines of "if you let Michigan win I'll volunteer at a..." when my connection was interrupted by Seven Nation Army and an entire section of students whipped into a frenzy. This whole piped in music thing is so simple, so effective, that I can't believe we waited so long to implement it. But that is just one of the many New Michigan Traditions. The Victor's Walk, the honorary captains, and the team immediately sprinting towards the student section following a victory to sing The Victors, were brought here by Rich Rodriguez and are designed for one thing: FUN.
Michigan football, everything about it, is fun, perhaps for the first time. From the play on the field, which is like some kind of wild circus of speed and trickery with a ringmaster that would've gone to prom four months ago if he didn't have spring practice, to the players seemingly as intent on getting us into the game by flapping their arms and pointing to crowd as they are with making the next play. Rich Rodriguez, whose recruiting prowess grows with every early signee, made a pitch to the most stubborn of prospects. And though two games, by showing what can happen when the right personnel runs a system, by saying all the right things, and by shedding a few tears, Coach has landed the biggest recruit in Michigan Football history...us. We are on this team. We are the 12th man. We are All-In.
"Everybody kept saying a freshman couldn't do it," Michigan quarterbackTate Forcier said. "I did it."
Michigan is now ranked, which, as I discussed earlier in the week, changes the chemistry of the situation. There are expectations now. We are all assuming 4-0 going into Michigan State, and following Sparty's celebration of Mark Dantonio's contract extension by losing to Central Michigan for the third time, things are looking pretty good for our afternoon in East Lansing. But we need to remember that despite Tate now being college football's poster boy for "freshman poise under pressure," he has yet to have his back against the wall with a stadium of people that want him dead. The plus side is that we seem to have two consecutive cupcakes in front of us, which means that Tate...and please don't forget Denard...are going to be three weeks older, three weeks better, with two more games worth of plays and film analysis to help them.
But I'm here to tell you not to get ahead of yourself, to remember that while they are fearless and talented, they are still kids...and it's a long long season. So let's just relax and enjoy these next two weeks, and revel in this miraculous start.
"I told them after the game, they have to stay hungry and humble. It's two wins. They'll get some respect back, but it's still a long way to go. If they stay humble and hungry, then some of that national respect that all of us want, our fans want, our players want, they'll get it." - Rich Rodriguez