The Wolverines came out of the tunnel with a week’s worth of death knell piled high on their shoulders, fired up and ready to unload their frustrations on the middling Broncos. On a mission to show that they are not actually “trash” as the current president of the (completely made-up) #1 jersey wearers club has suggested, the offense took the field and...promptly went three-and-out.
Light boos commenced. Welcome home.
From there, however, it was pretty damn good, with the caveat that the Broncos are of poor quality, even by rat hat standards. Wolverine ball carriers were showcasing their athleticism, line was blocking, quarterback was making money moves and throwing darts. Higdon had 140 yards rushing...in the first quarter. Michigan had the ball 11 times: 7 touchdowns, 2 punts, 1 missed field goal (please don’t have the yips this year, Quinn), and the running out of the clock to end of the game. Subs got in, like they used to back in 2015. McCaffrey to McCurry for an 18-yard pylon tapping touchdown caused Tuggy to spontaneously drink a Jameson shot.
On the other side of the ball, the defense was THE defense, and if you listen to Chase Winovich’s postgame interview, it seems like it should have been. 208 yards and 3-points is the correct amount of offense that should have been allowed. Of course now the dominance is being repackaged by the Michigan Mothership and fed to the proletariat. YOU WILL PAY ATTENTION TO THE DEFENSIVE STATS STARTING IN THIS ARBITRARY SPOT: HALFTIME OF LAST WEEK.
I don’t know what any of this means. My eyes tell me Saturday was a good thing. My 40-years of Michigan skepticism tell me it's meaningless. But there has to be something to executing on that level, despite the opponent. Maybe this really is how the team gels. Maybe the loss at ND will end up being a unifying moment. Maybe the line figured something out.
Maybe I got sucked back in by that laser from Shea to DPJ. Ya, I probably did.
Wisconsin looms large my friends, and we’ve got 4 games to go before then, the most difficult of which is a road game that will be played in front of mostly Michigan fans against a team that just got housed by Duke. We need to right the ship, then burn it Cortes style as we head into that meaty Wisky-Sparty-PSU portion of the schedule.
THE TAILGATE THE TAILGATE THE TAILGATE
Stellar turnout for the Pancake Breakfast, which got a surprise addition of an early lunch of Cuban sandwiches and seasoned fries. There was not a morsel of food remaining during post game clean up, so my hats off to the group for knocking out 96ozs of pancake batter infused with 4 pounds of breakfast sausage, 12 pounds of cheesy potatoes, 8 pounds of bacon, 24ft of pressed Cuban sandwiches, 10lbs of crinkle cut fries, 5 pounds of oxtail ragu, and 50 hot dogs. You should all be ashamed or proud, depending on your current heart condition.
3:30 kick next week. Pace yourselves. And Go Blue!
Selection Sunday is upon us. And OF COURSE there will be a 13th (!?!?) annual UMTailgate.com Tournament Challenge.
There will be no nail-biting anticipation. There's no question, we're in. But we need to get this whole Big Ten Tournament thing out of the way first, right? I was inclined to vote for tanking it and having the boys enjoy a full week off, but yesterday's second half against The Fighting Sanduskys (classless? yup) made me feel better about the tank-job on Sunday (which I paid about $100 to watch over 3G in Columbia). Maybe the BTT can be used to wipe the poor taste from our mouths left from Sunday, or that other PSU game, or the definitively poor last quarter of the season.
- Basketball (26-6, 12-6) vs. Wisconsin (21-10, 12-6): And you thought we wouldn't get to avenge that half-court shot that sent the game to that shitty overtime at the Kohl center. Big Ten Tournament Round Two Action tips off at the United Center at 2:30PM -ESPN.
- Baseball (8-7) at Coastal Carolina (7-10): We're heading to the home of the Chanticleers! First pitch in Myrtle Beach at 4pm. Live audio lives here.
- Hockey (15-18-3, 9-15-3) at Western Michigan (19-9-8, 15-7-6): CCHA quarterfinals action in Kalamazoo. I wonder if the Godfather is going? I wonder who he will be cheering for? 6:35pm on FSD.
- Big Ten Tournament Other Games: Game 5: No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 8 Illinois, 11 a.m., ESPN || Game 7: No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Nebraska, 5:30 p.m., BTN || Game 8: No. 3 Michigan State vs. No. 6 Iowa, 8 p.m.*, BTN
- Basketball vs. Indiana or Illinois: The Big Ten Tournament continues? 12:40PM CBS
- Other BTT Semi-Final: Ohio State or Nebraska vs. Iowa (see what I did there?) 3:00PM CBS
- Baseball at Coastal Carolina: 3pm Live Audio
- Hockey at Western Michigan: Game 2 of the CCHA quarterfinals 7pm...no coverage?
St. Patrick's Day:
- Drinking and Breakfast at Conor Oneill's with your's truly. 7AM
- Basketball vs. Ohio State, Nebraska or Iowa: The BTT finals...2:30PM CBS
- Baseball vs. Akron (in Myrtle Beach) 11:00AM
- NCAA Tournament Selection Announcement 6PM CBS.
- Hockey at Western Michigan (if necessary) 7pm
A new dawn.
After a tumultuous Friday that had me freaking out due to poor tailgate preparation, I was awakened from my "evening nap" and popped up off the couch to the alarm on my new cell phone, a simultaneous phone call from an online wake up service, and eventually the alarm on Tuba's phone. I gave him the obligatory "I'm good," showered, shaved, put on my morning load-the-car clothes, and took off in Johnny Cleveland's truck on a mission to get a propane exchange from a gas station in Ypsi. I had already made arrangements to get the exchange with the clerk back at 2am the previous evening. It was now 6am. He remembered me, and he apologized for not being able to attend to me earlier in the evening, which to him was "earlier in his shift," but for me was "last night." I wondered what this guy must be thinking. Probably not that I was helping to host 100+ at a party that was to start in 90 minutes in the shadows of the largest college football stadium in the world. I added two bags of ice to my order, one to freshen the beer cooler, and one for the 100 kabobs and 8 pounds of bacon in the food cooler.
A new day.
Parking wasn't perfect at our new home, but given the circumstances, it went pretty smoothly. From the time the fires were lit on the grill and stove, I remember very few details of the 8-hour marathon tailgate. There were a lot of hugs, a lot of food, and a whole lot of people. Perhaps the smaller venue contributed to how crowded things were, but there's no doubt people came out of the woodwork to see where the group who spent 15 years on the 7th green of Ann Arbor Golf and Outing had moved, and how we would adjust. In short, we did well...maybe even very well. I even managed to drink a little.
We did a half pack up of loose equipment at around 3pm, and I left the tailgate at 3:10pm. I arrived at my gate at 3:20pm, high fived the fine event staff as I jumped the line, and was in my seat by 3:25pm. Ya, the tailgate is that close. After another round of hello-how-ya-been hugs with the section regulars, it was time to put the gameface on.
A new life.
Three-and-out. Forcier to Hemmingway. 7-0. Denard on a broken play, laces dangling, 14-0. Forcier to a wide open Koger, 21-0. I'd like to say that I remember how it used to feel, but I don't. This was different. We hadn't had our backs against the wall in this manner since before I cared this much...before National Championships were considered the goal, before the BCS, and before Lloyd Carr was beloved. A losing season does something to a fan, to a man. Especially when you've NEVER had one. When you long for victory, ANY victory, putting a team away before halftime is such a relief, such bliss, that you're not sure what to do. At 21-0, with the student section leading 100,000 in a chant of Rich-Rod-ri-guez, it was all I could do to hold back tears of joy. Michigan still has a long way to go to get to where they want to go. That won't happen this year. But it might be sooner than later that they make their way back to where they were. What was considered the ceiling on Friday night, might have become the floor on Sunday morning.
A rousing chorus of The Victors, a piped in Welcome to the Jungle, a well executed wave, and a group of men that are probably too young to realize that they changed our lives, if only for a week.