jonvalk. he knows it's not at home now.
Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one. Something like… Punt-Counterpunt.
By Ken “Sky” Walker
The “bye week” has become a regular part of the college football season for some time now. But taking a weekend off from following the Wolverines each fall can be discombobulating. Watching West Virginia and Baylor play “basketball on grass” last week was big fun, though I suspect even some of the players didn't know they were actually participating in a football game. But it was far better than that snoozefest held in East Lansing. I thought this was an opportunity to ‘scout’ Michigan’s rivals, but I soon realized my malice toward both these schools meant blowing this game off was the way to go.
How about those Detroit Tigers! The Wolverines' break gave me a chance to pay attention to the playoff race. I find division title celebrations hilarious. Every other pro sport eschews celebrating before the championship series, but not baseball. These boys just love to party! Players are wearing goggles before they get off the field! I guess you can’t blame them. Surviving 160+ games just to make the playoffs—you’d be ready to bust a move too. Why baseball insists on playing its most important games in October is a mystery. End the season in August for goodness sake! The ‘fall classic’ just isn’t cool—it’s frigging cold!
The worst part of the bye week is the uncertainty of what the next game will bring. While players are probably grateful for a chance to rest and heal, we fans are left to wonder. Will the defense continue to improve? Can Michigan establish a running game? Why won’t offensive coordinator Al Borgess stop trying to make Denard into something he’s not, namely a pocket passer? And does anyone else find the hands off approach of Brady Hoke’s in game coaching to be disconcerting? Cheer leading and slapping a butt or two is ok, but could you join a strategy huddle every once and a while?
As far as this afternoon’s game goes, I’ve got a feeling the state of Indiana is not going to be good to the Wolverines this year. Michigan doesn’t seem to be playing to what their strength is – putting Denard in a position to improvise when he needs to. Prove to me that this knot in my stomach is due to some bad clams and not a season going awry.
Michigan 27 Purdue 30
By Nick RouMel
Counterpunt lives an exciting and dangerous life. Just last night, driving down a rural road in the rain, I turned off my headlights to see how long I could stand driving that way. This lasted for thrilling seconds.
It reminded me of a scene from my favorite movie of all time, “Annie Hall.” The always-scary Christopher Walken plays Diane Keaton’s (Annie’s) brother, Duane. At one point he confesses the following to Woody Allen’s character, Alvy:
“I tell you this as an artist, I think you'll understand. Sometimes when I'm driving... on the road at night... I see two headlights coming toward me. Fast. I have this sudden impulse to turn the wheel quickly, head-on into the oncoming car. I can anticipate the explosion. The sound of shattering glass. The... flames rising out of the flowing gasoline.”
Alvy replies, “Right. Well, I have to—I have to go now, Duane, because I, I'm due back on the planet Earth.”
A couple of scenes later, circumstances require that Duane drives Alvy to the airport. At night, of course. The camera cuts from the oncoming headlights, to Duane’s serenely anticipatory expression, to Alvy’s terrified face. The moment is delicious.
The beauty about scenes like this is the tension, between the safe thing should happen, and the scary thing that might happen. Like, oh, say, Michigan in 1996, the year before its national championship season, cruising along ranked 9th in the country, playing at unranked Purdue… and losing, 9-3. And a virtual repeat in 2000, sitting at #6, going to unranked Purdue… and this time, losing 32-31 (I was there. Drew Brees led the improbable comeback against Drew Henson.)
The point here is that we believe Michigan should win, but our pesky memories keep bringing up the ghosts of upsets past. Ghosts that scare Punt, for example, into bailing on our beloved Wolverines.
Fear not, Punt. We will manage to dodge the headlights. (This time.)
MICHIGAN 28, PURDUE 13