Saturday Emotion: First B10 Game in the Student Section

Submitted by Skapanza on October 2nd, 2008 at 11:32 AM

Reading Ace's post (…, sorry for length, link won't embed), I got goosebumps, the kind I normally associate with the '04 MSU game and '05 PSU. I have a hard time trying to think which of these was the greatest. In their own way, each was very special I suppose. This one was exciting because, for the first time, I was in the student section for a huge comeback win, as opposed to with the band. The four years in band were amazing, and no one should doubt that they are some of the best and loudest fans in the stadium, week in and week out, regardless of the outcome. But this week, as a grad student, with all of the fairweather students gone and only those who believed in the team too much to leave left, the student section underwent a magnificent transformation.


Those who left , though we should mock them, we should also excuse. Most of them simply don't know yet. Any non-seniors would not have had the opportunity to see such a comeback. The seniors deserve no such compassion. They were here in '05, and they know what can happen. This may have been their last chance. Those non-seniors who fled have their one strike now. They have the opportunity here to learn their lesson, and make sure they are in the stands next time it happens. My Michigan experience is inextricably linked with Braylon Edwards and MSU, Manningham and PSU, and now the '08 rebuilding team and Wisconsin. 


No longer did I have to hear a dumb frat guy declare that he "never wanted Lloyd fired in the first place" or hear the girls behind me argue about white, wheat, or no buns on their hoof and snout wrapped in guts. Err, hot dogs. This student section had an entirely different mentality. This Saturday it was the die-hards. The insane people who are so far gone down the Michigan football spiral of self-destruction to do anything but watch, even if it was exquisitely painful.And it was in this atmosphere that I was reminded of something I had forgotten in band; the student section is fundamentally good. Are there people who suck in the maize(ish) corner of the stadium? Sure, and they're typically the most vocal. But after the weak and wounded had left, the core that remained was determined, serious, and tough. They knew the players, they understood the halftime adjustments, and down 19-0, with nothing happening for even most of the third quarter, they yelled. Lord did we yell.


Then, when a bulky impostor Mario Manningham caught a TD up the seam, the points didn't seem so daunting. We were down by 12, but a giant pile of hugging erupted in Section 28. My ex-band friends grin with a combination of hope and anger at the team for bringing our minds back into the game with our emotions. If we could score, we thought, we can do anything. Including score more.


The rest of the game unfolded as a series of snapshots. The defense was crushing, the noise had alumni turning down their hearing aids, and goddamnit, some even stood up. The offense started to click, with newfound hope and support from their peers. A fantastic zone-read handoff, as Wisky brought a blitz the entire section read. John "the Machete" Thompson pick-six. Hugs everywhere, my eyes are welling, I'm jumping up and down holding hands with a girl I've never met. Dual Threet goes 58 improbable yards. McGuffie gets it done. Steven Threet pumping up a crowd that he could just as easily been giving the finger to. Fumbled at the eight. Students brining the noise as Wisky drives. The TD drops the noise level for seven seconds, then it ramps up to the loudest yet. Caught. Flag. Incomplete. Bedlam.


It wasn't just that the team had done it. They had, but so had we. We cheered even harder when they threw a false start flag. We cheered when Threet implored us to, because it was the right thing to do, and he was our Quarterback. We cheered the drumline cheers, as other students briefly looked at us like we were insane, then joined in. We cheered because we needed to, because we had bit our nails and cursed and sighed and cringed to get to this amazing moment.The band's postgame was heartfelt and joyful. We sang the Victors and it didn't feel hollow, because against all odds, we were. We sang the Yellow and Blue arm in arm, and then headed off into the night, as Wisky drowned their sorrows in the brassy blasting of the Fifth Quarter.

 I hope there were plenty of underclassmen who stayed. The outpouring of human emotion, sadness, desperation, and joy is what makes college football what it is. I never felt more like a Michigan Wolverine than have felt on these special Saturdays in fall. It's a feeling that is so deep and fantastic you want everyone in the country wearing maize and blue to share it with you. It's an irrational, unpredictable, intense emotion, and for the first time in five years, I felt it in a new way on Saturday.



October 2nd, 2008 at 12:01 PM ^

Jesus I need binoculars to read this Skapanza.
BTW: Your user name just reminded me of Greg Skrepenak. He was awesome. Anyone else remember that dude? HUGE O-lineman. Jake Long before there was a Jack Long. Late '80's / early 90's I believe? Sorry - just got OT there.


October 2nd, 2008 at 4:43 PM ^

Skrep lived in South Quad the same time I did.  He was a Sophomore when I was a Freshman ('89).  His arms were bigger around than my thighs.  I'm almost certain it was Skrepenak who, for some part of that season, ate through a straw (!) yet played on with his jaw broken and wired shut.


October 2nd, 2008 at 11:43 AM ^

Know exactly what you mean by the "snapshot" feel of the comeback. These comebacks don't happen every year, but when they do, they make up for a whole lot of problems elsewhere. And not just with football.


October 2nd, 2008 at 12:28 PM ^

Strong work, sir. Both in the stands on Saturday and with this post. I’m glad I got to be there with you for it (the enthusiastic part, not the pants-shitting, abject fear part); we had a tremendous group to watch the game with.

I think you retroactively pardon the students a little generously. In the 3rd and 4th quarters, it seemed we were frequently the only ones cheering, and our noise was met with frustrated scowls from the rows in front of us. Sure, they joined in when it mattered, once it was clear we had a chance to win or on an occasional third down, but those people were the same ones who sat there pouting when it seemed like it was out of reach. Our sustained roar -- my voice didn’t fully recover until yesterday -- should be the rule, not the exception.

However, the point of your post is to ride the high for a little longer, not to search for sour grapes while we’re swimming in this bowl of sweet, sweet nectar. So let this be a message to everyone who pouted, grumbled, scowled, lost faith, and then relished in the victory as if they never had any doubt: This is why you don’t boo your own team. This is why you don’t stop cheering. If you will it, dude, it is no dream. Go Blue.

Real Tackles Wear 77

October 2nd, 2008 at 5:02 PM ^

In my time as a student at UM, the only other sporting event that I can remember the type of unbridled joy and excitement coming after a game was last year's 3-2 hockey victory at Yost over ND, when we spotted them 2 quick ones in the first period and held them in check from there, and then Caporusso put one in at about 20 seconds to go in the third to give us the lead. At no other point have I seen so many 18-22 year olds hopping up and down like children. It was beautiful, much like this past Saturday.


October 2nd, 2008 at 8:04 PM ^

Love it, Skapanza. I can relate some - my first M game in the student section was equally magical in slightly different ways. (I was never actually a student there - but I have friends who are/were, and the ID checkers don't do their jobs.) It was loud, wonderful, and though I wouldn't trade my own student experience for anything in the world, many times it made me fervently wish I could have done both at the same time. Every pump of the fist during The Victors was...I can't even find words.

Which game? '04 MSU, of course.


October 3rd, 2008 at 11:53 AM ^

MVP -- The guy drinking through a straw was probably Steve Everitt. He broke his jaw against ND in 1991. I think he missed the FSU game the next week and then was back in the line-up. He was without question, the best Center I have seen play at Michigan since I've had season tickets starting in 1990. He was a freak.