The rumored Utah series is now official:
Utah will host Michigan in Rice-Eccles Stadium in the 2015 season opener as a part of a home-and-home series that begins with a 2014 game in Ann Arbor. Michigan will make its first Salt Lake City appearance on Sept. 3, 2015 in a rare weekday game for the Wolverines, who have never played on a Thursday. The first game of the series is scheduled for Sept. 20, 2014 in Michigan Stadium.
Michigan becomes just the second Big Ten team ever to play in Salt Lake City. The Utes knocked off Indiana 40-13 in Rice-Eccles Stadium in 2002.
"A home-and-home series with Michigan is the kind of opportunity that comes with membership in the Pac-12 Conference," said Utah Director of Athletics Dr. Chris Hill. "I greatly appreciate Coach Whittingham's willingness to add college football's winningest program to his already difficult 2014 schedule, which will also feature five Pac-12 road games."
You'll note that the Wow Factor has been factor'd by playing in the Thursday night slot usually occupied by Mississippi State's latest flailing interception machine.
But wait, there's more! Michigan has released the entire 2015 nonconference schedule, which is as follows…
Sept. 3 at Utah
Sept. 12 Notre Dame
Sept. 19 Oregon State
Sept. 26 UNLV
…and bits of the 2016 schedule, featuring ND, a home game against Colorado on September 17th and two TBAs likely to be punching bags. The Pac-12 agreement is tentatively scheduled to start the year after, so Michigan's eliminated ND-and-three-dwarves nonconference scheduling for the foreseeable future. That's a positive even if none of the teams incoming has much sex appeal.
But wait, there's more!
In addition, Michigan and Notre Dame will take a two-year hiatus in their long-standing rivalry during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Both schools intend to resume the rivalry in the years following.
That may be "less," actually. We'll see if Michigan fills that slot with a quality opponent when the time comes.
Are those Oregon State and Colorado games one-offs? Or are they home and homes with return dates set for the distant future? (If one-offs: coup. If not, okay.)
If so can we expect the Oregon State and Colorado games to slot into that 2018 and 2019 ND hiatus along with the Pac-12 agreement? (If so: meh.)
When was the last time Michigan played three BCS-ish teams in a nonconference schedule, as they will in 2015? (A: 1997, when they played Baylor, Colorado, and ND. They also did so in 1996 (Colorado, BC, UCLA) and 1994 (BC, ND, Colorado).)
What is our deal with playing Utah? (Seriously.)
[Ed: Spring report coming this afternoon. I have to decrypt some stuff.]
The longest win streak in the history of the MCLA ends at 49. Michigan coming out of the weekend with a 1-1 record on the road wasn't a surprise, but the way they did it certainly was. The undefeated and seemingly-invincible Wolverines were run off the field by reeling Colorado for three quarters before staging a furious comeback that fell just short. They recovered against #2 Colorado State a couple days later and will likely maintain their #1 ranking.
Only able to check the score of this game on the UmichLacrosse Twitter feed, it sounded like the Wolverines were getting run off the field on Friday night in every way. In actuality though, they were the more dominant team in every way except the scoreboard. Michigan had 48 shots to Colorado's 33, nearly doubled them up in groundballs, and cleared the ball at a higher rate. In addition, David Reinhard won nearly 70% of the faceoffs he took.
So what was the difference? Michigan wasn't getting good looks at the cage early in the game, and wasn't forcing Colorado's goalie to work quite as hard as Mark Stone. Only seven Wolverine shots in the first half were on the goal, and though three of them went in, Colorado scored six before the break, while forcing Stone to make five additional saves.
The third and fourth quarters, Michigan had more effective offense, but Colorado's Bradley Macnee came up huge in the cage throughout the third, while his teammates gave CU an insurmountable 11-5 lead going into the fourth. Though a late Wolverine rally would bring the final score within a pair of goals, they were unable to finish the comeback, and lost for the first time in nearly three years.
Nobody knew exactly how Michigan would react after a loss, because it hadn't happened in quite some time. In fact, nobody except the seniors on this team had ever lost a game in maize and blue(!). It's no surprise that a John Paul-led squad would be able to turn that adversity into motivation against a top-notch opponent, as the Wolverines came right back with a comfortable 10-6 win over previously-undefeated #2 Colorado State.
Michigan was able to turn yet another dominant statistical performance into scoring production, breaking a 5-5 three-quarter tie with a dominant 5-1 fourth quarter for the big win. Eight different Wolverines scored, with Trevor Yealy and David Rogers both notching a pair. Stone came back from his shaky start against Colorado to stop 15 shots while only allowing 6.
The Colorado loss seems to have been just what this team needed. They had been sleepwalking a little too much in previous games, and destroying their air of invincibility could re-energize them for a Nationa Championship run. If the CSU game is any indication, that may be exactly the case.
What it all means
[…after the jump. That's how you tease, baby.]