This doesn't need any special name. It was a lousy performance and far closer than it should have been, but we won and we'll forget about it, like we did the Ball State game in 2006.
Michigan 28, Akron 24
This afternoon in front of a late-arriving, non-sellout crowd at the Big House, Michigan faced off against an Akron team that went 1-11, 1-11, and 1-11 in the last three seasons, started the year with a 38-7 loss to UCF, spent last weekend getting outgained and nearly outscored by FCS James Madison, and is considered the worst team in the FBS. This was a game to work out the kinks in the playbook, get in some good reps for the backups, and give a good show for the fans who probably paid $5 for a ticket from their friend who likes to sleep in on Saturdays.
At first, it looked like all would go as expected; Michigan forced an Akron punt on their opening drive, and after Fitz Toussaint rushed for a two-yard loss, Devin Gardner completed five consecutive passes, capped by a 48-yard toss to Devin Funchess, who outran the entire Akron secondary en route to the end zone.
Concern started to grow when Michigan's next drive netted zero yards. The first quarter ended with the score at 7-3, Wolverines; surely, Michigan would pull away any time now.
Then Brendan Gibbons missed a 45-yard field goal to start the second quarter, snapping his streak of 16 consecutive makes. After the defense forced a three-and-out, the Wolverines drove deep into Zips territory, only for Devin Gardner to fumble away the possession on a speed option—a play in which Fitz Toussaint had a clear touchdown if Gardner would've pitched. The defense again picked up the offense, as Blake Countess intercepted a Kyle Pohl pass and returned it all the way to the Akron 20-yard line. Any time now...
Three plays later, Gardner forced a pass into coverage that Akron's DeAndre Scott intercepted easily. The Zips were able to mount a plodding drive that oozed into Michigan territory; after taking a delay of game on fourth-and-one, however, Robert Stein's 45-yard field goal clanged off the left upright. Any time now...
Two plays later, Gardner threw the ball to a well-covered Jeremy Gallon; Akron's Justin March came away with the interception. Luckily for Michigan, only 29 seconds remained on the clock. Stein's 55-yard attempt with 0:05 left in the half went wide left, and the Wolverines were happy to kneel out the clock and regroup at halftime. Any time now...
The second half began inauspiciously, with the Wolverines gaining just one yard on three plays before a Matt Wile punt. Akron's ensuing possession went 75 yards in eight plays, ending in a 28-yard touchdown from Pohl to a wide-open Zach D'Orazio, who went unmolested up the seam as the linebackers failed to get depth on their drops and the safeties couldn't close the gap. Akron 10, Michigan 7. ANY TIME NOW...
Devin Gardner bounced back from his turnovers and gave U-M fans a brief respite from PANIC on the next possession, scoring on a 36-yard inverted veer keeper—for seemingly the first time all day, Michigan got great blocking up front, and Jeremy Jackson guaranteed the score by wiping out three Akron defenders downfield. The defense held up their end, too, forcing another three-and-out, and the Wolverines took a 21-10 lead when Jehu Chesson took his first career reception on a crossing route, broke through a few (poor) tackling attempts by the Akron secondary, and jetted into the corner of the end zone. After Michigan came up with another stop, disaster averted, right?
Wrong. Two plays into the fourth quarter, Al Borges tried to set up a screen pass on third-and-9. Facing heavy pressure, Gardner sidearmed a horribly ill-advised throw directly into the arms of Justin March; as noted earlier, March plays for Akron. He waltzed 27 yards untouched into the end zone. ANY TIME NOW...
Michigan's next drive went nowhere, and Wile didn't help matters by booting a 35-yard punt—not even among his two worst on the day—to set up the Zips on their own 39. A 43-yard pass from Pohl to L.T. Smith set up Akron at the Michigan seven. The Wolverines caught a huge break two plays later, when Pohl threw a play-action pass right to Jarrod Wilson (above, Upchurch). Wilson smartly took a knee in the end zone, giving Michigan the ball on the 20. Time to run out the clock, yes?
Well, not quite. Fitz Toussaint started the drive with a 16-yard run, but his two ensuing carries netted a lone yard. After Gardner's third-down pass to Gallon came up just short of the sticks, Wile shanked a 22-yard punt. The Zips went on an 11-play march down the field, and after getting stuffed twice at the goal line, scored the go-ahead touchdown when they spread the field—Pohl rolled right and found receiver Tyrell Goodman all alone. 24-21, Akron. 4:10 left on the clock. Full-blown PANIC.
Gardner went back to what he'd done best all game, run the football, taking off for a 35-yard gain to move Michigan into Akron territory on the next possession. He found Gallon on the sideline for a 20-yard gain on the very next play, and Michigan got another first down when Gardner's throw to Jake Butt in the end zone drew a pass interference call. Toussaint found a big hole on the left side of the line and took advantage for a two-yard touchdown on the next play. 28-24, Michigan. 2:49 left. Now was the time, yes?
Well, kinda. First, Pohl found Jerrod Dillard for a 24-yard gain, and the Zips moved into Michigan territory two plays later when Blake Countess jumped offsides on a blitz. A 19-yard run by Conor Hundley on third-and-five gave the Zips a first down at the Michigan 27. Despite a holding call moving them back ten yards, Akron kept pushing downfield, with Pohl finding Smith all alone at the 11-yard line after escaping the pocket. Another pass to Smith gave Akron a third-and-one on the Michigan two as the clock ticked down to 0:15. An ill-advised toss play to Jawon Chisholm moved the ball back two yards; the Zips burned their final timeout. Fourth down, five seconds left, ball on the Michigan four.
Greg Mattison dialed up a heavy blitz, and Pohl's desperation pass found only fieldturf, perhaps helped by a missed holding call in the Michigan secondary. The time had finally come, with zero seconds on the clock. Michigan 28, Akron 24, The Horror II narrowly avoided.
In the end, Michigan outgained the worst FBS team outside of Georgia State by seven yards—seven very critical yards, as it turned out. Gardner's 248 passing yards and 103 rushing yards were offset by his four turnovers, including his second pick-six in as many games. The offensive line struggled to open up holes against a very small Akron defensive front. The defense, for their part, allowed far too many passes over the middle and couldn't muster a good pass rush until the game's final play; they gave up big plays, too, as both Raymon Taylor and Jourdan Lewis were beat for big gains over the top.
"This is an embarrassment," Taylor Lewan said after the game. Even with the victory, there's no argument here.
The UFRs on this game will prove interesting. And not a little depressing, I fear.
Godin lost edge contain on that critical run in the 4th
Godin was also held big time on that play.
I disagree with Jarrod Wilson taking the touchback. I've watched that a ton now and he had 1 guy to beat and 100 TDs to run. And that 1 guy was being blocked by a Wolverine. Of course, in a game like that you expect everything to go wrong.
I was curious if I missed someone down the field further, because he looked like he was going to take out of the endzone for a second, then changed his mind... Maybe the sideline was motioning for him to take a knee? I don't know, but I watched it a few times myself...
It seemed as he was running, players around him were saying to just take a knee/fall down. Even tho he might have had a play, when it was still close at that time, be safe and take the knee.
Seems like ace doesnt get a good picture of the game from the press box. Maybe he should sit in the stands. Wilson had a very good path. Further I have no idea what holding he is referring to at the end of the game. Seems like he just guesses a lot.
I felt sick more than once watching this game.
-Gardner played like he was hungover
-Hardly any pressure on Akron's QB
-the Akron QB did have several really good long throws.
-sucky special teams play (kicks in particular)
Played like he was still drunk
The Good news is: Blue has a new rivalry game to replace the Fig Things' spot on the schedule.
I think if it were a game on the schedule again, M will prepare better to play
This isn't The Horror II averted because we already lived that game, played shortly after The Horror I against Oregon.
would be Horror II. First loss to a MAC team. A terrible MAC team at that.
But that was a terrible Michigan team. Upset? Sure. Horror? Nah.
Two yakety sax QBs for that game. I drove a neighbor up from Dayton and told him (jokingly at the time) that he could be witnessing history that afternoon - Michigan losing to a MAC school for the first time. I didn't know how prescient I was.
Otherwise I can even see some of the coaches resigning.
What a ....
in-person this season. I was told to sit down and be quiet while cheering for the defense. The team and the coaches perform pitifully. And then as far as I can tell, the people around me hardly cared about what was happening and were leaving in droves as early as the beginning of the second quarter. The symphony crowd was out, could have heard a pin drop. I don't know what I hate most right now. Filled with disappointment on almost every level.
In at least 3 sections that I sit or have friends in, we saw lots of new faces who I would not describe as informed fans about anything M. Here's hoping the fans that told you to quiet/sit down were noobs.
The fans are a joke unless it is a big name matchup.. Reason why i avoid those games.. no one ever stands to cheer.. ever sits mute in their fucking seats like slugs who never watch football
And thus you make even less noise.
Well, at least the captain knows? I am an eternal optimist.
Though if PSU can get Robinson matched up on not-Countess, I am less of one.
This is what matters. How many of us would have taken a win over ND in exchange for a scare - but a win - against Akron? I would take that every time.
I'm going to assume you're not suggesting that the only alternative to your choice is a blow-out today in exchange for a loss to ND.
How about this choice: (a) a scare - but a win - against Akron, or (b) a win - but not a blowout -- against Akron where we played relatively solid football? Because in that scenario I'd take (b) every time.
...is that most of us would have gladly chosen for Michigan to have the record it does now. It's not the best of all worlds, but it's very far from the worst...People should be as unhappy as they want to be, though. Knock yourselves out.
I understand the point you're making.
I think the reason people are expressing so much unhappiness -- myself included -- is because today's game represents a disappointment at a very fundamental level.
The hope that was bruised today is this -- at this point in the Hoke era Michigan is supposed to be a team that beats teams they should and plays competitively against better teams.
Now, before you or others say "But they did win!" ... my response is "Yes. They were lucky."
And that's the point. At this point in the Hoke era Michigan should not require luck to beat a team like Akron. Michigan should have beat Akron and looked like a solid team doing it. Perfect team? No. Solid team? Yes.
So now we're left wondering ... was today a fluke? Or a symptom of a deeper problem? I honestly don't know. I certainly hope it was just a fluke. I certainly hope Michigan plays solid football next week.
Which is why I challenged your post ... not to be a dick, but to express the disappointment in my heart -- not that we won, because clearly I'm grateful for that. But that Michigan seemed unable or unwilling to play the fundamental level of football the talent on the field suggests they should play. Again, at this point Michigan should be the kind of team that handles those teams they should, and plays competitively those that are superior. That's the kind of team Hoke says he wants. I believe him ... or I should say I want to believe him. Today represents a deflation of that belief.
Every team has these games. Bama hasn't gone undefeated with the Championship with Saban. They should handle everybody. Best you can do is hope they are few and far between, and you still win.
I agree with the general sentiment here.
But, 'Bama did go undefeated in the 2009 NC season. Saban was at the helm.
Regardless, in 2011 and 2012 Alabama's losses were of a different kind that our near-loss to Akron:
2012 - Texas A&M - Johnny football and all that
2011 - LSU in OT - and then went on to (sadly) play them again in the NC game
A Big Ten-level base offense should have been able to take a dump on Akron. Just ask UCF. Why we couldn't find a base offense that could consistently work against Akron is completely beyond me.
To a base level Big Ten team, right?
"A base play from an offense run by one of the two premier Big Ten programs that managed 41 points against Notre Dame should have exposed Akron's overmatched defense. Any adjustments made by this defense to stop this base play would have left them stupid-vulnerable to constraint."
UCF may be half-decent after beating Penn State, but Michigan appeared well-poised to take the division title. After that performance, those aspiration are shaky at best.
So AJ Williams is obviously our most important player. That's what I take away from this, at least.
Seemingly every botched run I rewound Funch missed his block. Love Funch the WR, loathe Funch the blocking TE.
This afternoon in front of a late-arriving, non-sellout crowd at the Big House...
This game wasn't a sell-out? Wouldn't that be the first time since 1975? What was the announced attendance?
Was thinking the same thing
107,XXX. Something like that.
It was a sellout. Some people just didn't show.
If the crowd was 107,000, then it wasn't a sellout. The announced attendance is not an actual count of all scanned tickets. It's a combination of the tickets sold and the people given passes to the game (media, bands, etc.).
The streak going back to 1975 involves home crowds of 100,000 in attendance, not sellouts. We did not have a sellout against Memphis in 1995. Only 102,000 showed up for that one.
The 5-0 game against Purdue (94? 95?) in the ice/snow/rain/wind did NOT have 100,000 butts in seats. Paid attendance, yes. Bodies, no.
I have that game on tape and there is definitely 100,000 to start the game. But a good 40,000 were gone by the second quarter.
I've always heard '88 Minnesota was nowhere close to 100k at any point, but Purdue at least was at the start,
I was at the Minn. game. Pouring freezing rain at the start of the game. My ticket was in the end zone, row 82, but I sat on the 40 yard line half way up. Because I could. There were nowhere near 100,000 people in attendance.
The 100,000 streak is based on tickets sold, NOT physical attendance in the stadium. Which is a bit of a scam IMO.
Stayed for the entire game. But boy, was I an iceblock by the time I got home. Couldn't feel my feet or the back of my neck. Had to thaw in the shower.
Second, the issue wasn't pricing, it was the quality of the opponent.
It's been a while since I've attended a game in Ann Arbor. Back in those days it used to be fairly common for games such as today's to score tickets on the street for not much money. Back then (1991) I was able to get "two for $20" fairly often for games like this*, or bad-weather games.
What's the environment like in this day and age for on-street purchases? I would think tickets were available. How much they were going for I can't begin to say.
* The lowest I ever saw was back in 1975 where for a miserably cold, rainy day tickets were going for "two for a buck" and "buy a cider and get a ticket for free."
"aren't comfortable arriving at the Stadium without a ticket in hand"
Yeah, I understand. Particularly with a family in tow.
Back in the 1989 - 1992 timeframe I lived in Ann Arbor and usually it was just me and a buddy. We took the attitude that if we couldn't get a ticket it wasn't the end of the world. I'll confess I did not always hold out for the absolute cheapest ... if some good seats came up for a reasonable price, I normally took 'em.
The stadium was pretty much full (at least from the 2nd quarter on). The announced crowd was around 107,000 and it didn't seem that off the mark.
The much bigger issue was that a lot of people arrived late. It was particularly bad in the student section, which was maybe 50% full at kickoff but ended up being close to full by halftime. It seemed to gradually fill over the course of the first half.