You see often the laments of fans over Michigan loses that shoulda, woulda, coulda been a victory. If only this, or if only that. (Cordell Stewart) (Crable!) (Charles White!) (Sheridan!) (Troy!) (Vince!) (Dixon!) (Edwards!) (Rocket!) Whatever. While such games exact a pain that never seems to dull, those do not hold a candle to the 2008 Capital One Bowl Game. That game, at least to me, is the most wrenching.
Allow me to explain.
Michigan was not supposed to win that game. The Michigan defense had yet to prove it could slow down yet alone stop a spread offense, and the Urban Meyer brand Florida Spread scored over 40 points 9 times that season and 49 points 6 times. Tim Tebow won the Heisman, the Maxwell, the O’Brian and the AP Player of the year. They had Percy Harvin, who when healthy, was supposedly unstoppable. And, this is basically the same team that came back in won the NC the following season, though who they played slips my mind at this time. AND the game was being played in Florida. Many Florida fans live in that state. Indeed, the Gators would go on to have a very good game. 399 yards of offense, 3 td passes, Harvin had over 200 yards of total offense himself, NO TURNOVERS, and aside from their secondary they had a great game.
The Blogosphere was crackling with loss scenarios. Most of them gruesome. Even the Michigan Otherwise Fanatics are casting doubts and sighing the sigh of death. That loss at the end of the season to that team with the really good players is still stinging. Lloyd is leaving. Rich Rod and twenty miles of bad controversy have arrived. (Even though the proverbial dam had yet to burst.) The curse of a billion kittens and swimming fowl hung in the air like the exhaust from a city bus on a hot summer day.
Then finally the teams stepped onto the field. The Gators are talking trash. The Wolverines bark right back. Wow. I truly wasn’t expecting trash talk in the Cap One Bowl, but yeah, its on.
And ON it was. 524 yards of offense, 10 of 15 3rd down conversion, 28 first downs, 373 passing yards, 151 rushing yards, 32:18 time of possession. And…
Adrian Arrington 9 153 2 37
Mario Manningham 5 78 1 24
Carson Butler 1 65 0 65
Greg Mathews 7 62 0 18
Well, that is SPREADING in around.
41 points. Hart’s two fumbles excluded, its more like 55 points. Remove those two interceptions and who knows.
Thanks to the fine work by U of M Historian (with an assist from Wiki) it is possible to travel back in time and see a good portion of the Capital One Bowl. It is a good idea, as well. Stats don’t show one-handed grabs, around the back grabs and in traffic grabs--and a bunch of most excellent other plays.
Worst win ever? Yeah, because I can’t stop wondering the what if’s on this team. Morgan Trent ran down Percy Harvin and made numerous big plays and big hits! Heck, the D gave up some yards but they were hitting like monsters and making everybody pay. The O gave up four turnovers and never quit--in basically, Florida‘s backyard. Everybody was catching the ball and blocking downfield. Carson Butler went 65 yards! Henne was 25 of 39. Hart was pounding like a sledge hammer on sandstone. The line were blocking like they were defending Mt. Olympus. It was pizza power gone mad! All these things, all this great talent blooming in the last game of the year, and the last game ever for U of M by many of these guys. And not one Big Ten title between them. Oh well, stuff like that happens I guess.
Besides, 4.25 million is a chunk of change to bring home.