I had wondered how ND could have sunk so low the previous few years, how a team that vied with us for highest winning percentage could struggle like they did. I now know at least part of the answer; they were a young struggling team with a glorious past that everyone got up to play for.
Michigan coming to town is always a big time game for the opposing team. We enjoy a reputation in NCAA football much like the New York Yankees do in baseball. People give us their "A" game.
I would give our "A" game a "C", and that's because I'm a softie; some of us would damn it with a far worse grade. The biggest contrast between an "A" and "C" game is execution and turnovers; and of course poor execution and turnovers occur more with a "C" game. When we play OSU later this year, if they turnover the ball over it's going to mean so much more to the psyche of our team then, say, a similar turnover from Purdue. OSU is a dangerous team, one that can beat you even when the opponent plays it's best, but Purdue, not so much. So when a team enjoys some "break" against OSU, whether it be a 'three and out' or a turnover, there will be more relief, more removal of anxiety, simultaneously replaced by greater hope and joy, and more determination to see the thing through. Yes we have been struggling, but we are still "Michigan" and we will continue to be played with respect and continue to struggle up a slope that lesser teams do not have to contend with.
Of course this is just one aspect of the struggle to improve that we face. We will preserve in the end, I am confident of it, and when we deserve to win, we will.
"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.