further adventures in Jed York being unsuited for his position
Wolverines Return was Inevitable
By: Michael Rosenberg, Free Press Staff
After a tumultuous first two seasons at the head of the ship in Ann Arbor, Coach Rich Rodriguez has the Wolverines (6-0) back on track after a thumping 42-17 victory over the Michigan State Spartans (5-1) yesterday at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. The win marked Rodriguez's first in the storied rivalry, and basically assures the Wolverines of a return to the post season after their first two seasons since the 70's without a bowl trip.
In the end, it seemed inevitable, didn't it? Rodriguez has been a hugely successful coach at every stop in his career, both as a coordinator and a head coach. In each case, his first years have been slow, as he builds a custom offense from just the right players. And in each case, the end result was a thumping, dominating team that could and would win pretty much any game on their schedule. When all is said and done, didn't we all know that he would get U of M back to their rightful place in the upper echelon of the Big Ten? That he would put 'little brother' back in their place?
And it came not a moment too soon for Rodriguez, the players, the university and the fans. In a group so unaccustomed to losing, the rebuilding process seemed hard to take. And then, coupled with an NCAA issue that turned out to be much more bark than bite, and which actually began under Lloyd Carr, many fans and much of the media were calling for Rodriguez head.
All I can say is, Congrats Coach Rodriguez, and Godspeed through the Big Ten.
(You so know this is going to appear almost verbatim on Sunday. You just know it. The only question is, will Rosenberg's horns, cloven hooves and tail be visible in his new press photo next year.)
OK, we've had the random prediction thread, but now it's under 30 hours to kickoff before the big game, so let's put it on the line. Predict the score.
I'm going to say 28-24 Michigan. I think these games usual become more of a grind, and the score won't be as high people think it will be, as the largeness of the game usually has a more conservative bent. Michigan gets the one "stop" that has Dantonio going for the FG that fans question afterwards. Michigan doesn't score 42 because they attempt a couple of FGs themselves, but don't make them, stopping us from taking a big enough lead to ever have a breather.
I'm not thinking we're going to roll, I think MSU certainly can win this game. But I'm sticking to my thoughts that we should and need to win this game at home, and to continue on to the record I predicted before season (still on target....), this is a game I have us winning.
So, we'll have something to celebrate Saturday night. I may not make it through the game alive, so you may be celebrating without me, but I'll die a happy man.
What are you saying?
(And yes, I have no problem in this thread with people who want to rationally predict a Spartan win. Assuming you're not a Spartan trolling).
Where were you when.....
there was no flag in the endzone?
Charles Woodson defied logic and gravity, on more than one occasion?
David Terrell was our only hope against the Plaxico onslaught?
Eleven sacks wasn't enough to derail Spartan Bob?
Henne was like "alright, Braylon Hail Mary on two - BREAK!"?
Sparty played Michael Spinks in 06?
Years of looking at the big picture of Michigan football has resulted in me overlooking how special this rivalry is, and how consistently it has produced memorable outcomes, no matter the teams rankings at the time. I throw up in my mouth when I hear "On the banks for the Red Cedar," but I have to give Sparty one thing, they are game for this rivalry.
I know that common sentiment is that this is little brother, and that paying them mind somehow has come to mean sinking "to their level" when we want to believe that we have bigger fish to fry. Not now, not for this one. This one means something and it is OK if Sparty knows it. Michigan is coming for em this time, Michigan is hungry this time. This time Sparty is in the cross hairs.
The sharp contrast between the green and white of my neighbors flag and the maize and blue of mine is more noticeable this time than it has ever been. It is State Championship weekend. This one is big.
On Sunday, the question will be "where were you when Michigan silenced the critics on that perfect fall day in 2010?"
One day to go.
Denard and the current UM offense is most often compared with Pat White's WVU days, for obvious reasons. When Mark Dantonio was as Cinci, he coached against WVU twice and Pat White had typical Pat White games both times.
2005 passed for 100 yards, 1td, rushed for 111 yards in a 38-0 wvu win - http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/boxscores/2005-11-09-cincinnati.html
2006 passed for 98 yards, 1td, rushed for 93 yards 2 td in a 42-24 wvu win - http://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/boxscores/2006-11-11-west-virginia.html
Not claiming that this means Denard does the same thing, just some facts, some history, something to gnaw on this morning.
The upcoming Michigan - Michigan State game has a certain life all its own inside my brain right now. There are weird images (a feral MSU linebacker with no facial features except glowing eyes gnawing on Denard's bad knee after a tackle)...
...uninformed thoughts (why doesn’t GERG use press coverage when blitzing?), stark colors (radiant maize, cerebral blue, chyme green and an ink cloud of black despair waiting to descend, hovering just out of view), graphic sounds (Fight Club quality bone crunching, the Victors after the winning touchdown, a cartoon whoosh whoosh whoosh sound in my mind that accompanies every Denard breakaway), numbers (200/200, 120, 0.73663, 480, 9-3, 877, 16, 4) and a whole lot of emotions; quite honestly, more bad ones than good ones. All this wraps up into an ill-defined knot inside me as I both anticipate and dread the opening kickoff.
It occurred to me that 25 years ago my impressions of Saturday's contest would be so different as to be unrecognizable. I was just as big a fan back then. Yet, today, my love of Michigan football has so many more data points as to render my 1980s fandom a primitive, low-tech thing resembling Ken Mattingly in Apollo 13 sweating inside a simulator with a flashlight between his teeth trying to figure out how to splash down a spaceship on 20 amps of power.
All this data has, I think, distorted our view of the game. We have analyzed our way into believing that Michigan State is an emerging power that inevitably must eviscerate a statistically helpless Michigan defense.
I say hogwash.
Two decades ago, I would be moving about my week calmly expecting a Michigan victory, because two decades ago it would be the résumé that mattered, not hyper-analysis of data that promotes fear and generates such concepts as RPS-3, Chappellbombing and PAN. My understanding of the team would be that we have a great offense with a great quarterback and a schizophrenic defense, but that we were still winning. I would never have tried (and failed) to figure out a Cover-2 zone or known our national pass defense ranking or even known where Greg Robinson had coached before.
But I would know the résumés, and based upon the résumés, I would have concluded that an oddly unbalanced, uncharacteristic Michigan team nonetheless possessed the strongest résumé of any team in the Big 10.
Say what?! Prove it.
No numbers; we are in a variable-free zone and channeling both 1985 and common sense at the same time.
Michigan Wolverines Résumé
Michigan has beaten two major teams back to back, the second one on the road. The first was a beatdown of a bowl winning team from the year before with almost everyone back. The second was an always talented and very emotional Notre Dame team at home with an unexpected bonus: a competent coach. Michigan won its first Big 10 game, an away game against a serious offense. A shaky squeaker against a good FCS team mars the résumé.
- Ohio State? Four home games with a solid win against a charitable Miami team, three cupcakes, and a lackluster win over a bad Illinois team. Fail.
- Iowa? Not bad, but they lost to Arizona. Fail.
- Wisconsin? Three cupcakes, a squeaker and a beatdown. Fail.
- Northwestern? Five cupcakes with extra icing, cherries, sprinkles and a cream filling. Fail.
- And Michigan State? Five home games, three cupcakes, a less impressive win against a common opponent at home, and a solid win against an overrated Big 10 “power.” Fail.
If preseason polls were outlawed and this year’s Big 10 teams, like 11 sprinters in the blocks, were off at the sound of the gun, Michigan would be in the lead. That’s what I would have known.
I am going to finish my week calmly expecting a Michigan victory.