Minnesota, Bold Predictions

Minnesota is as bad as advertised. Last week we said believe the hype. Michigan looked great. Aside from a few missed tackles and Minnesota getting loose on some runs up the middle, the D shut them down eventually. When the gophers entered the game, they were averaging a ton of points and over 400 ypg. Not anymore.

Henne and Hart were not needed. Neither were most of the other starters, but it was nice to just beat up a team when we needed it. Manningham is the old Manningham again. He's back to his playmaking form from last year.

So with Henne and Hart coming back...and a ton of depth all the sudden both in the backfield and OL...Michigan is poised to run the table in November.

And so, I come to my bold predictions for the rest of the season.
  1. Michigan will roll past MSU and Wisconsin.
  2. Michigan will beat OSU
  3. Michigan will go to another Rose Bowl
  4. Michigan will win the Rose Bowl against Arizona State
  5. Mike Hart will win the Heisman trophy.
Its bold, I know. But this is a turn-around like we've never seen before in Ann Arbor. From the lowest of lows losing to Appy State, to the leadership of Mike Hart putting this team on his shoulders after falling to 0-2. Michigan has shown tremendous character. Ohio State will not intimidate us like they have in the past...not in the Big House.

There are maybe 2 teams that could beat this team right now. We have no spread offenses left on the schedule. That itself is a huge lift for this team down the stretch.

More to come this week. Go Blue!

Believe the Hype

So I'm taking a huge gulp of the Michigan Kool-Aid this morning on the Minnesota matchup this week. I really like Michigan in this one. Minnesota just plain stinks on defense. I wish there would be a nicer way to put it, because frankly, how can a Big Ten team be so bad? But they are.

And while their offense is averaging around 28 point a game and over 400 yards of total offense, they turn the ball over like crazy...thus putting their defense into awkward situations.

They have big key injuries, mainly in the defensive backfield. I have no clue whether Henne will dress, play or start...but it probably doesn't matter. Michigan has a ruthless November schedule (relatively speaking), so resting some key skill position players could be just what the doctor ordered...no really.

The spread is somewhere around 23-24...and that might be a bit conservative. Although, there is a 60% chance of rain...cold rain. That could slow down the Michigan pass attack. But...Michigan wins big anyway. Watch the game, have some brews...and get ready for the big game of the day...Penn State's statement game against the buckeyes.

Go Blue!

Feeling Nostalgic

I'm guilty every now and then of getting a little off track. But while it makes sense to me, it maybe a bit odd to the average Joe-shmo reader who just wanders in and takes a look around. But let me preface this post by saying that I've been meaning to post this for a long time.

What is true leadership? Is it Henne? Hart? Long? Carr? Or is it maybe something a little deeper?

The term "Michigan Man" is thrown around quite a bit. And while I admit it seems a little cliche, I do try to subscribe to its true meaning. Its sort of like trying to explain "the force" to someone who's never seen Star Wars. Being a Michigan Man does not give you special power of course. But What it does is instill inside you a certain set of values.

Bo Schembechler was the personification of a Michigan Man. He coined the term and lived it every day. He made the people and players around him better. Bo had a reputation for being loud, and his overreactions on the sideline were historic. But often, when the cameras were turned off, or he was one on one with his team or players, he was a different. He was an incredibly affectionate person. He was very sensitive. If a player had a problem, his door was open. But if a player needed a kick in the pants, Bo was happy to volunteer his foot. But he never did it for kicks (pardon the pun), he did it because he knew there was a fine line between motivation, and going too far.

Its the fine line that all great coaches know well. Great coaches were tough as nails. But after practice, were there for you. There's a tactic that the military uses to train new recruits. They tear you down...both mentally and physically. And when you can't see straight anymore, when you are at your breaking point, they build you back up. They turn you into the kind of soldier you never thought you'd be, but they always saw in you. That was Bo's style. He was like a general during the summer two-a-days. He killed his 1969 squad, his first in Ann Arbor. They hated him. A lot of players quit the team or transferred. But when the summer was done, and the season started...it paid off. That 1969 team was as tough a Michigan team there has ever been. They beat the #1 buckeyes in Bo's biggest win ever. They earned a trip to the Rose Bowl. And like the sign Bo hung in the locker room on day one: Those Who Stay Will Be Champions.

When Bo died on November 17, 2006, I felt great loss. The kind of loss you feel when you realize that someone you thought was larger than life, and would always be around, isn't anymore. The timing was simply eerie. On the eve of the largest Michigan/Ohio State matchup ever. #1 vs. #2. There didn't need to be a bigger storyline, the game was enough.

But as the players left Schembechler Hall and boarded the buses to go to Columbus, you could see the loss in their eyes. There was nothing there. Just a hollow void left by the old coach who'd been like a father to so many players, and somehow like a grandfather to the Michigan players today. They fought as hard as they could to win one for the old coach, but it simply wasn't to be.

And I don't have a problem with that. You don't win every big game. Of course I would've loved to beat Ohio State, but what thought I couldn't shake that day, was that Bo was gone. All the former players and coaches who lost a best friend. All the fans who lost a mentor.

I have no doubt Lloyd probably doesn't remember that game very much. Sure when the game is going on, you're mentally there...but the emotions were elsewhere. Bo was elsewhere. But as that November day played out and the last whistle blew...Ohio State had beaten the wolverines 42-39. And Woody looked at Bo, Bo looked at Woody, a small smirk on both of their faces. They stood up, they shook hands and hugged. It was the way things were supposed to be.

Tipping Point

We've finally gotten to peek a glimpse of what this year's edition of the Michigan football team is supposed to be about. Last Saturday night at Illinois was a true test for this squad. It was night, it was loud, and Illinois is still a good football team. Take away a botched punt catch and a few key penalties, and I'm sitting here questioning everything that Michigan did wrong.

But the breaks went our way. Michigan's defense stiffened when it had to. Chad Henne showed more character than he has maybe in his whole career. After going out in the first half, and then sitting for 3 drives in the 3rd quarter, there was no question Chad was missed. Don't get me wrong, Ryan Mallett is going to be a stud at Michigan, but he's not quite ready for prime time yet.

Mike Hart is the soul of this team. There was probably no question he was going to sit out, but there was probably no question that he needed to be on the sidelines anyway. Just his presence, his smile, and his demeanor are crucial to Michigan's success. But what we learned Saturday night was Chad Henne is clearly the principal leader of this offense. He touches the ball every down. He's the commander.

When he backs away from under center before the snap and raises his arms to signal the receivers and backs, (which I know drives most Henne-haters insane) its not simply an audible. He calls 2 plays in the huddle. He then waits to get to the line to read the defense. Stunts, blitzes, coverages...where he sees the safeties leaning...all of those are calculated before he then backs away from center to call the play.

I would like to assume that most college QB's don't call the majority of the plays at the line...or at all. I've seen him doing this for the past 3 years. Even Mallett is starting to do it. Obviously Henne's playbook is much bigger than Mallett's, and I think that was evident on Saturday night.

How great was that call? Who are you and what have you done with Mike DeBord?

Don't get me wrong though, Mike Hart is amazing...and if the nimrods who vote for the Heisman trophy knew forwards from backwards, they'd see that. I seriously doubt either Chad nor Mike will play, even dress for the big Minnesota matchup this weekend. You could say this is a potential upset given that Michigan's schedule is going to get much tougher after Saturday. The November run. At MSU, at Wisconsin, and OSU at home. Not an easy stretch.

So the argument could be made that Michigan is overlooking the Gophers. But given that Lloyd is hell-bent on tradition, the Little Brown Jug is going to play a factor. Lloyd is showing tape everyday of the Minnesota players sprinting to the Michigan sideline to reclaim the Jug when they upset Michigan in 2005. Ask any player on that '05 team what was the worst moment of that season, and I bet most will tell you seeing Minnesota celebrate with the Jug in the Big House. So I'm guessing that ain't happening again.

Another Hart 4 Heisman Site

Yep, the Nation is is calling for Heisman respect. And from the looks of it, they're getting some.

Hart 4 Heisman is the latest site to jump on the Heisman bandwagon. Hey, its been said many times, its going to take a grassroots effort to get the hype going in Ann Arbor. As we all know from the days of Bo, its all about "the team, the team, the team!". So don't look for Lloyd to stand up at a presser and hype his star back...although, I bet there's a large part of him that would love doing so.

Proceed with Caution

This game scares me. There, I said it.

No really. It does. Doesn't it scare you?

Maybe its something about playing at night, which really doesn't bother me much, except its on the road. And its on the road in a resurgent hostile environment. Illinois is a good team all the sudden. Forget what you saw last week against Iowa...that was last week. Iowa played out of their shoes in that game.

Also, forget that Illinois has, whats seems to most people as a QB issue. But the problem for Michigan is that both of their QBs are good. Juice Williams is a great runner, but like most have said, he can't hit the broad-side of a barn with his throws.

The key for Michigan (this is starting to sound like a broken record) is to slow down the spread attack. Like Northwestern, this is a "sorta" spread. A Big Ten spread if you will? Sure.

I guess you could argue that Michigan is getting much better against the spread...hell, we see it almost every week now. But Illinois is pretty fast and can move the ball around pretty good too. That is why I hate games like this. I feel that every time Michigan lines up against the spread, its going to be like Dennis Dixon or Troy Smith all over again.

But...and this is a BIG but...Illinois defense is maybe the worst Michigan will face all year. They have some serious issues in the secondary. Issues like, not enough speed, not enough strength, and not enough height. Michigan has fast, strong and tall receivers. Enough said?

I love Chad Henne in this game....LOVE HIM! Talk about the potential to have a career day. Whether Hart is healthy or not, and lets hope he is, I really don't see Michigan having to rely on this run as much this week. So either Hart or Minor or Carlos Brown should see the ball maybe 20-25 times total...and say maybe 140 years.

Either way, its a nationally televised game in primetime. When is the last time you could say that about a Michigan game? Feels good to be winning again.

And...its in high def...AND not on BTN! Sounds like a bash. Have fun watching and Go Blue!

The Nation is Born

New is in. New is the new old. New is back. Old school out...new skool in.

Change is natural, its what keeps the ebb and flow of humanity from getting complacent.

Consider this moment like when Michigan changed its away uniforms from the block M on the sleeve and gaudy maize and blue block letters and stripes, to the sleek and simple unis we have now with the nicely appointed pin stripping and less gaudy numbers.

Scot Loeffler Inc. had a good run. But as the tide changes for this Michigan team this season, and the Carr/DeBord/English trio starts flexing its muscle, its time for all of us here to get behind the entire legion of coaches, players, family, staff & fans that make up "Maize and Blue Nation".

We are one voice. We make it possible for good things to happen for this team. We support them, we cheer for them, we sweat, bleed, and cry for them. We don't boo them, we don't curse them, and we don't vilify them. Maize and Blue Nation strives to represent all that is good about college football and most importantly the Michigan Wolverines.

Please join us as we continue our journey through the rest of this season. Lets try and see within ourselves what this team has been able to accomplish so far this year...a redemption unlike we've ever seen in Ann Arbor. True leadership in every sense of the word. Taking responsibility for whats happened, and moving forward with confidence knowing that tomorrow is another day.

Maize & Blue Nation is more than just a quirky blog name, its an idea, starting all the way back in the days of Fritz Crisler. From Harmon to Desmond to Woodson to Hart. From Yost to Elliot to Bo to Carr. From Dierdorf to Skrepenak to Jansen to Long. Michigan football needs its Nation. Without it, there's no soul to this team, this school, this legacy. Ann Arbor Saturdays, Rose Bowls, The Little Brown Jug, The 10-Year War, The Paul Bunyan Award, The Victors. All these are meaningless without the Nation. Old fans both here and gone, their children, their grandchildren...the legacy of the Nation has been passed down through the years as not just a tradition, but a right of passage.

Our job now is to nurture that idea. Celebrate it every weekend in the fall, not only because you can, but because you should. Go nuts, but act like you've been there. Tell the stories and reflect on why they mean so much to you. Past games, tailgates, watching games with friends and family. Its all there. The idea that the game is bigger than it seems, its everything.

We aim to cherish those memories, and look ahead to whats to come. We'll have some laughs, some moments of heartache, and moments of valor. But the important thing is that we'll have them together...as one, as a Nation. Go Blue.

Another Week, Another #1

Ahh, but this week's #1 team is none other than every Michigan fan's favorite, the Buckeyes!

In 3 weeks Ohio State has gone from #8 in the Associated Press Top 25, all the way to #1. I don't have my college football record book in front of me, but I would safely assume it would be one of the fastest vaults in long time...maybe ever.

Any college fan worth his salt would likely ask; Who has OSU beaten to catapult themselves up the polls to quickly? Well, funny you should ask.
  • 9/29 vs. Minnesota to go to #4
  • 10/6 vs. Purdue to go to #3
  • 10/13 vs. Kent State to go to #1
Call me crazy, but are any of those teams any good? Minnesota is the doormat of the Big Ten this year at 0-4 conf. and 1-6 overall. Purdue, which was ranked for a couple week there, is clearly not the Purdue most people thought they were after losing bad to OSU, and they getting their souls crushed by Michigan a week later. And finally we have the jewel of the Mid-American Conference, the 3-4 Kent State Golden Flashes.

While I'll admit that none of those teams had much of a prayer against the Buckeyes, is this really #1 caliber material?

No team has benefited more from a weak schedule at the right time. The top 10 has been toppled like a poorly designed Jenga game. Each week seems to get more and more chaotic.

As a fan, I love it. It makes for great television. And just the SEC alone is like watching a train wreck, but without the guilt of not looking away. To be honest, I like South Carolina right now. I think the head ball coach is doing a great job down there. They have a couple big hurdles left at Tennessee and Florida at home, but none the less.

Its pretty clear that any 1-loss team is not out of the race yet. I really don't see the Buckeye's winning out, nor do I see Boston College (next Thursday night 10/25 at Va. Tech...mark it down). South Florida could run the table. They will have to make sure they don't come down with Michigan State-idis, listening too much to people tell you that you're better than you really are. They have tough games at Rutgers this week, Cincy at home in 3 weeks, and then Louisville 2 weeks after that. But between those 2 games is a possible hiccup at 1-6 Syracuse. You laugh, but that is a definite upset sleeper, just ask Louisville.

Either way, this weekend is a biggie in the Big Ten. MSU travels to Buckeyeland at 3:30PM, and Michigan goes to Champaign to beat up the fighting illini at 8:00PM EDT. Both games on ABC in stunning high definition.

Did the Real Michigan Just Stand UP?

Who's been hiding this Michigan team from us all year? We're tackling now...we're catching passes we didn't used to...and the defense is flying around the field like they have (to quote Bob Ufer), a hot herring in their cumber bun.

I don't know where this team has been all year, but allow me to welcome them back.

This is how they've been supposed to play all year. The defense especially is making plays that we could only dream of 6 weeks ago. We're pressuring the QB better, covering the middle better, and our linebackers and D-line, now healthy, are getting into the gaps and stopping the run.

The offense is seeing itself get back to what they do best. I could tell from the first play this week, when Chad Henne faked a hand-off and ran a play-action pass as he rolled out to the right hitting Carson Butler for a 13 yard gain...that this game would be better. Whens the last time Michigan threw the ball on the first play of the game?

But we're finally starting to get back to what makes our offense so successful. Balancing the attack with the passing game. Henne has the ability to see the whole field so much better than he used to. He checks off at the line and reads blitzes very well. It almost reminds of me of Tom Brady and how he directs the Patriots offense today, except Brady is usually in the shotgun.

Mario had his first real game of the year last weekend. Exposing the lack of speed by the Purdue corners, he was able to out run and out-jump them all day long. When you have 3 really good deep and post threats like Mario, Arrington and Matthews, that really opens up the running game.

So about that. Obviously we don't know much about Hart and his ankle. In true Michigan fashion, Lloyd was very standoff-ish when it came to the health of his top two running backs at the post-game presser. But from what Chad said and a handful of other players, it sounds like Mike should be back no later than the Minnesota game in two weeks. Hopefully we'll see him back by this weekend at Illinois. We need some depth a RB. With both Hart and Minor bruised up, the weight of the position falls on the shoulders of Carlos Brown, a sophomore from Franklin, GA. He carried the ball well last week in the 2nd half. 66 yards and 2 touchdowns in what is clearly his biggest game so far at Michigan.

If Hart can, in any way make it back for next week, I'm sure he will. I can safely assume that this senior will not let a sprain keep him from what is so far, a tremendous season in which he leads the nation in rushing yards and yards per game. I had a lingering sprain my senior year when I was a player. Its definitely an injury that you can play through. But the problem is it lingers for a while. But with good rehab and enough stretching and strength conditioning, he'll most likely be fine. I'm sure the Michigan training staff will be on top of it.

But anyway, I'm happy with the effort. I'm also happy this is the last time we're going to be on BTN. I like BTN, now that I get it. But their broadcast is lacking the depth of ESPN or ABC. They just need to tighten the screws a little. A lot of times we'd just see the end of a play. They need to work on their timing of graphics and cutting away to interviews. I'm not sure who the the commentators were, but I'm not such a big fan. But all in all, not too bad. I'll take ESPN anyway though (except Pam Oliver).

Have a good week everyone and hopefully I'll get to my (apparently not-so-intimidating) Illinois preview soon. Have a good Monday everyone.

Remember When...

Ernest Shazor single handily preserved the win against Purdue on October 23, 2004?


Here you go.

Plug: Hart for Heisman

No, I'm not trying to show up of Technorati...(or am I?) but I do feel that it is my duty to plug a site I saw today (on the M Zone of course), that is dedicated to the Heisman run, no pun intended, of Mike Hart for the Heisman trophy.

I Heart Hart!

If Michigan isn't going to organize a concerted effort to promote Hart...leave it to the fans to do their part. I have no problem with this. Michigan's stance on this issue is clear: Its a team game, nothing more. And they won't go all Urban Meyer and start politicing (word?) for causes to the media...especially for single player awards.

So let this be my personal effort.

Purdue and Their 500 Pound Drum

Forget that Michigan is 5-1 against Joe Tiller.
Forget that Ohio State ripped Purdue apart last week.
Forget what you hear about Purdue's spread offense not being potent.
Forget that their most prized possession is a 10 foot, 500 pound bass drum.

None of that matters. While Michigan has had some success against Tiller and Purdue in recent years, there's nothing about this game that makes me feel comfortable. I like that its at home, because regardless of how Ohio State dominated them last week in West Lafayette, I'd much rather not travel there this week.

Purdue is averaging over 450 yards of offense this year...well, until last week. But that doesn't mean they're just going to forget how to play after one loss. Their spread attack in comparison to other one's we've seen this year (i.e. Oregon, App State) is simply not as fast, but is every bit as capable to putting up huge yards and lots of points.

But what makes Purdue's spread different is that their QB doesn't usually scramble from the pocket. Not up the middle, not out to the flats...nothing. There's a lot of play action, a lot of RB hand off from the shotgun...but they still huddle up. And that's the difference. Spread attacks should be run and gun, no huddle and should showcase a mobile QB. Purdue runs what I like to call the "Big Ten spread". It looks and feels like a spread...but its really not. So that favors Michigan's D.

Given that it has been 43 years since Purdue has won in Ann Arbor (thank you very much Bob Griese), and that they have only looked good this year while playing really inferior competition (Toledo, E. Illinois, C. Michigan, Minnesota, ND), I think we got to see the real Purdue last week. But I will give them credit, they sorta hung with a very good OSU team and at least kept it close for much of the game.

Odds makers say Michigan is giving Purdue 6. I like Michigan in this one. I think it will be close(UM by 10), but I also think where Michigan may struggle a bit defensively (at least in the first half), the offense should be able to move the ball. Purdue does have a good LB in Anthony Haygood, and he will likely be shadowing Hart all day long. But if Hart can shake him like he did with Dan Connor of Penn State, look for him to get 30 or so carries for 150-200 yards with a couple scores.

Henne will throw about 20-25 passes and complete maybe 15-18 of them for a good 250 yards and 2-3 TDs....a good, but typical outing for the senior. I hope....really hope that Mario will looks like the Mario of last year. But should he struggle to get open...I really like Arrington in this game. The senior has proven to be a great alternative for Henne to look to while Mario has been covered. He gets open in the middle of the field and has great hands and vision to get yards after the catch.

The kicking game is hopefully on the mend with K.C. Lopata replacing Gingell. But what I really wanted to see the past two weeks was a reliable 2nd string RB emerge...but that really didn't happen. The maize and blue have 8 running backs listed on the roster. I really like Minor and Carlos Brown, when they don't fumble (and when they're not returning punts)...and Grady when he's healthy. But at least some other guys are getting some looks. But is there a better option on the roster? Mouton, Potempa...we're looking at you!

Anyways, 12:00 kickoff, and hopefully the last time the maize and blue will grace the airwaves of the Big Ten Network. With a win this week over the #24 team, and #21 FSU losing last night, Scot Loeffer Inc proclaims Michigan will once again return to the top 25. Ahh the good old days.

So, tune to BTN or find a bar that has it and enjoy the game this week. And for all you alums, its homecoming...so toss a few back for the ole' U of M.

Go Blue!

Okay....Last One...But a Good One

I swear the good folks over at The M Zone are all over the hilarious CFB content.

As much fun as it is to watch your team win. Its more fun to watch someone else's team lose.

Enter: Crazy Florida fan...

That game was two weeks ago when the Gators lost on a last second field goal to Auburn. I dare to say that after last weeks loss to LSU, he may need round-the-clock monitoring.

And While We're At It

More potential heart attacks that I care to remember. I am happy to say I was there for 3 of these. Virginia in 95, Iowa in 97 and PSU in 05. Virginia was the hardest to watch but most fun to celebrate, Iowa was a white knuckle nail bitter, PSU was the loudest I've ever heard the Big House.

Ah, good times.

I Had No Choice

I wasn't going to do it, but the little kid in my brain couldn't stop laughing.

Props to The M Zone for the pic.

Strength and Honor

When this season started 6 weeks ago, things seemed destined for glory. We had a trio of seniors on offense that were going to the most dominating force Michigan has ever seen. Henne, Hart and Long were the class of the Big Ten, maybe all of college football. Junior Mario Manningham was a show stopper with breakout speed and great hands. The defense was quick and had good experience. We were battle tested against some of the most potent teams from last season. We could smell blood, and we were the hunters.

No one saw this season starting the way it did. Like most college teams, when you are 0-0, every year feels like it could be "the one". But after the first two opening games, Michigan saw its title hopes dwindle. Two very quick and talented teams came into the Big House and destroyed Michigan. Call it overconfidence, call it bad coaching, call it lack of preparation. Either way, we were 0-2. And the bandwagon was empty.

Its easy to love a winner. But never easy to hang on to a struggling team. But Michigan found inspiration from anywhere it could. Even Russell Crowe of all people. Because when it comes to sports, its 90% mental. You have to believe you can win. But when you lose to 1-AA Appalachian State, and then get pasted by Oregon, both in front of your home crowd, there's very little that anyone can do to tell you that you are still a good player and there's still something worth fighting for.

Enter Mike Hart.

I've seen many players get upset when they lose bad. I've seen players blame everyone but themselves. Mike Hart is not one of those people...not even close. He's a guy who wills everyone around him to play better. When he stood up in front of the media after the Oregon loss and guaranteed a victory against Notre Dame the following week, he wasn't being cocky, not even arrogant. He was being a leader. And at the lowest point of the season, he rose up and gave every player on that team something to rally behind. He took a team of battered and bruised egos, and put them all on his shoulders and said, "follow me".

Since that declaration, Michigan is 4-0. They are still reeling from the first two losses. This is still not a confident squad. The defense especially is still hesitant. With injuries and player discipline issues abound, Michigan is still awaiting its identity. Beating a seemingly overrated Notre Dame and Penn State did little to encourage Michigan. These are players who came to this school to achieve greatness. They need a win that is equal to the devastating losses from the beginning of the season. The Big Ten isn't helping them out much. But the last 6 games of the season will still be a test.

It seems like a broken record, but Michigan and Ohio State are now on a collision course once again. Both undefeated in the Big Ten, OSU undefeated overall. Its the perennial showdown. And for Michigan, that's all that's left to play for. The next 5 games are a tune up. There important for sure, but don't mean nearly as much to this 2007 Michigan squad as the final game of the year. For this group of seniors, its their national championship, its the reason for them all still being here.

The wall in the Michigan locker room now reads "Strength and Honor". A line said by Maximus, played by Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator. He says that line to his soldiers and fellow slaves before they went into battle. I personally think that line sums up what is left for Michigan to play for this year. You don't become one of the most revered and respected programs in the country overnight. Its is built upon years of success and leadership. Michigan is still one of the best programs in the country. But it is up to this team to restore the order in Ann Arbor.

Mike Hart should be considered the best player in the country. Not only for what he does on the field every week, but for what he means to this team, this school, and this state. Every young player in the state of Michigan, or in the country, should look to Mike Hart for inspiration. I don't want to make it a point to come out and say that he should win the Heisman trophy...that's not what I am trying to say here.

And in all fairness, I seriously doubt that he will win it. He might come close, but Michigan will not push for him to win it like some other schools would. I can safely assume that Hart wouldn't want it that way. But I can also safely assume that no other player in the country means more to his team that Hart means to Michigan.

So to all the fans of this team who booed them in weeks 1 & 2, please know that this team doesn't need you. I was there, I heard you. I was appalled by what I heard and saw in the stands those first two weeks. And as much as Michigan players and coaches deny that they pay attention to it, they heard you too. But as Michigan looked within themselves to put together the pieces of a broken season, they now have no room for naysayers and fair weather fans.

I don't care how long you had season tickets or how much you pay the university to be at the games, thus giving you the "right". You don't boo your team. Ever. I was more embarrassed by the fans at the Oregon game than the lack of production on the field.

Michigan is supposed to hold itself to a higher standard. Simple as that.

But what I have seen the past 4 weeks is something special. Maybe not on the scoreboard, but its awesome to see how this teams' leadership has taken over in spite of heavy injuries and terrible fans.

But to wrap up this little rant, all I can say is the heart of Michigan football is starting to show again. After a strange first half of the season, I think, and hope that Michigan will find inspiration from Mike Hart, Russell Crowe, Lloyd Carr and the memory of the late great Bo Schembechler. Any program in the country would be privileged and honored to have just a piece of the history and pageantry of Michigan football.

This is why I watch...and why I will always watch. Its not just football. Its not just a game.

Go Blue.

You Stay Classy Columbus

First off, lets all be very very happy that in the past two weeks of absolutely crazy college football wackiness, lets all take a minute to express our relief that Michigan went 2-0 in the past two weeks. We're slowly regaining face after an embarrassing 0-2 start. I won't go out and claim that Michigan has been looking good...they're not. But in their defense, we've had a million small injuries and small discipline cases that have kept many starters off the depth chart. So I guess playing Northwestern and Eastern Michigan has kept us on our winning streak. If we continue this trend against Purdue and Illinois, things won't be going so well.

So lets start off with USC. It was only a matter of time...as in all sports, before the mighty hath fallen. And in Troy, Pete Carroll is human once again. But I can only recall the last time the Trojans lost, they took it out on a poor helpless Michigan team in the Rose Bowl. So expect a rebound for the next few weeks...don't bet against them.

LSU is the class of college football. Although Florida did outplay them for 3 quarters on Saturday night. What a game that was.

I had the great pleasure of being in Columbus last weekend for a wedding. It was a distant family member and the wedding was pretty average size. However, being the truly classless Buckeye fans that they are, they had brought in a flat screen television on a cart and set it up next to the bar in the lobby just outside the formal reception room. Lets just say that once the Buckeyes kicked off against Purdue around 8:15PM, about 75% of the men at the reception were no longer to be found.

The bride and groom, obviously knowing that they had planned a wedding in Columbus on a gameday, and being shunned for it all evening (even the best man lamented them in his toast), should've known that when they wheeled a TV into the wedding and parking it next to the bar would probably take the bulk of the attention away from them, and obviously the neanderthal OSU fans watched, drank and then did the "script Ohio" dance around the lobby every time they got a first down.

Never, ever, ever in my entire life have I been more relieved that my favorite college team is the one that these people hate the most. I love Michigan, but I also know that there is a time and a place for certain behavior.

Mine and my wife's wedding last year took place on the same day as the Michigan-ND game. Our ceremony started at the same time as kick off. We did this because it was the only day we could get the reception hall and the church on the same day in the fall. But I understood that there's a time to be a fan, and then a time to understand that there is a larger purpose in this life. In the famous words of A.C. Slater "In the airport of life, sports...is just the baggage." How true. How true.

However, I digress. After the wedding reception ended rather early...we went to a local drinking hole that was close to our hotel, and was chock-full of OSU fans watching the final quarter of their game. We walked in, I in my grey Michigan t-shirt, walked over to a booth sat down, and no one said a word. We got some funny looks, but I didn't care. Buckeye fans don't scare me. We got served and left later without conflict. I did happen to find a Michigan fan sitting at the bar (where else?) as I was walking to the bathroom.

Regardless of how stupid their fans are, OSU is turning out to be one heck of a team. No other team has benefited so much from other teams misfortunes. They've played mediocre teams and have vaulted from 8th to 3rd in two weeks. Not bad. Kent State should provide OSU with a true test this week.

I will say the place did erupt when they showed the USC score. As did most sports bars throughout the country.

Okay, next post we'll discuss my brand new HDTV and of course the upcoming game against the Boilermakers.

Good night and good luck.

Tighten the Screws

Okay, there are some things that Michigan NEEDS to shore up before jumping back into Big Ten play. First of all, FG kicking. Its just clear that Gingell is not solid enough to be depended on down the stretch. But that brings up a good question: Who is? Either he starts wowing coaches and fans, or its on to the next guy.

Also, we need to find out who wants to return kicks. Steve Breaston is being missed...especially since his first ever NFL TD return last week for the Cardinals. Yeah, we need some more of that.

But, aside from the things that have improved drastically since week 2 (e.g. all around defense and passing), the special teams are really a key factor in games like this one versus EMU.

I really have no doubt Michigan will pull out a win. And with about every ranked team playing another ranked team this week, an impressive knockout win will almost surely secure Michigan a rank in the top 25. And when I say "impressive knockout", that means a 45-7 or something along those lines.

Chad looks to be back at the helm of the offense, where he belongs. But I'd love to see a little Mallett this weekend as well. Maybe the old Mario Manningham will grace us with his presence tomorrow?

Either way, this week I now have the Big Ten Network in my home! WOW Cable has finally decided to bend over and take it for all us idiot football fans. And while I will be out of town this weekend for a wedding, I look forward to watching the DVR-ed version of the game Sunday evening. And of course, Purdue next week.

So, I'm off the land of the Buckeye tomorrow. Thankfully the game is in West Lafayette and not Columbus. Wish me luck. Would if be too tacky to wear a Michigan hockey uniform to a wedding? HA!

Go Blue!

Coming Up Roses

No, not the Michigan Wolverines, at least not yet.

And certainly not 6 of the top 13 this past weekend. What a crazy week of upsets. How good does it feel to be an OSU fan or Wisconsin fan this week. You beat lower-class opponents and skyrocket 4 spots in the top 10. Ugh.

With a come from behind win at Northwestern, Michigan showed good resolve and heart. I think Henne played 3 quarters of the game. Sorry, I did not watch the game, only read about it and saw highlights. But as it turns out, I now have the infamous Big Ten Network in my home. And I did on Saturday morning...albeit unknown to me. But I'm not too upset because even if I knew that my channel 87 is now the BTN...I wasn't around at all on Saturday to watch the game anyway.

And what really irks me, is that I won't be around again this weekend when Michigan hosts in-county rival EMU, also on the Big Ten Network. I'll be on the road to Columbus of all God-forsaken places, for a wedding. All I can say is thank the Lord they'll be on the road at Purdue. After living in C-bus for 9 months about 4 years ago, I could not take that town on a home game weekend.

So of course that means two straight weeks of not seeing my boys in Blue. However, EMU, with its 2-3 record, doesn't scare me too much. They did knock off N. Illinois and Howard...which I guess could be impressive. And especially if they beat the same N. Illinois of 4 years ago. But its not. EMU has to be a pretty large underdog this week. Michigan is starting to pull it together. NU and EMU are not at all impressive opponents, and thus the only problem with the is the fact that they are very easy to look past. With Purdue looming next week, that could be possible.

More to come later this week about EMU...I promise.