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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Mr. Carr's Wild Ride

What a crazy season.

I've never been so disappointed with a Michigan team that scored 27 points in the first half and I've never been more proud of a Wolverine squad that managed only two field goals in the second.

Welcome to University of Michigan football, the 2005 Sybil edition. This wacky, test-your-nerves thrill ride was perfectly summed up tonight watching Michigan "upset" 21st ranked Northwestern 33-17 in a game that would be better known as A Tale of Two Halves: In the first half, try as they might, Northwestern couldn't give the game away. In the second half, the Wolverines simply took it.

This was a game where, up 24-10 with under two minutes to go in first half, the Wolverine coaching staff showed its usual maddening preference to play it safe rather than go for the throat. With first and goal from the NW five yard line following the second interception by NW QB Brett Basanez, it appeared Coach Carr was more concerned with draining time off the clock (as evidenced by three consecutive running plays right up the middle) which led to a field goal rather than a knife-in-the-heart touchdown and 21 point lead.

Yet this is the same game where, faced with 4th and three with just over four minutes left and Michigan up by 16 at the NW 36, instead of safely trying to pin the 'Cats deep in their own territory with a punt (and not give them great starting field position), the riverboat gambler Carr went for it.

This was a game in the first half which Michigan, with numerous chances to open up a sizable lead (but fearing its record streak of games being decided in the final minute was in jeopardy), refused to take the gifts NW was throwing around and allowed itself to be in a much closer game than they should have been in. Thus, after its "play it safe" redzone drive above resulted in the Wolverine's usual field goal attempt, the 'Cats marched down the field and scored with ease, reinforcing the 2005 Michigan defense's reputation of giving up big plays when a stop could ice a game or turn the tide.

But this is also the game that this much-maligned Michigan defense kept what-had-been the 4th ranked offense in the country scoreless in the second half, holding NW to 94 meaningless yards after the intermission.

This was a game in which Michigan's D gave up over 300 yards in the first half alone. But this same defense allowed NW to convert just 2 of 13 third downs and 0 of 2 fourth downs.

Yes, something strange indeed happened out at ol' Dyche Stadium on the way to what everyone assumed would be another nailbiter tonight. Who knows, maybe it's the Halloween weekend. Hell, something wasn't right. You had to know that when you heard Northwestern had the audacity, the unmitigated gall (to quote the late, great Bob Ufer) to schedule Michigan, MICHIGAN!, as its homecoming game patsy.

Not strange enough? How 'bout this quote: "Their defense is great. They all seem to be 6-5, 300 and run a 4.4 40.'' That's Basanez talking about the defense. Michigan's defense. The same bunch who have up the 61 yard run that led to the Minnesota loss when the Gophers were just trying to run out the clock.

Yes, what a crazy game that sums up a perfectly crazy season.

Two weekends ago, Michigan was :01 away from a 3-4 record. Tonight they are 6-3 and all the talk about a losing record is mute, college football's longest streak still safely intact.

Before last week Michigan hadn't won two in a row. Tonight after their third straight victory, it's very conceivable the Wolverines could be playing for a piece of the Big 10 title November 19th when they face tOSU in tBH.

A few short weeks ago, Michigan fans everywhere, both live and cyber, were criticizing Lloyd and this group of Wolverines non-stop. But tonight, I think Lloyd, his staff and this team are owed a well-deserved pat on the back. They could have quit. They could have given up. They could have played for "next year" (Heck, can you ever remember a Michigan team this racked with injuries, right down to the equipment manager?). Instead, they've hung tough, never said die and tonight find themselves with much to play for the these final two conference games.

What a crazy season. And I'm loving each and every :01 of it.

4 comments:

M82 said...

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom [Yost], it was the age of foolishness [Carr], it was the epoch of belief [Northwestern Fans], it was the epoch of incredulity [Michigan Fans], it was the season of Light [EDT], it was the season of Darkness [EST], it was the spring of hope [Preseason Rankings], it was the winter of despair [Midseason Rankings], we had everything before us [National Championship Hopes], we had nothing before us [Possible Shared Big 10 Title]..."

A Dickensian season indeed.

M82

P.S. By the way, another well-written article.

Katie said...

I was so disappointed with this team early in the season....but I agree with you.....well deserved pat on the back after last nights game. So glas I found you here, great writing! Thanks!

Yost said...

M82,

Very clever stuff. Your post exemplifies the difference between a Michigan blog and, say, an OSU site which would have gone something like this: "Yeah, sure we beett Nortwesturn but &^%$#@ *&^% *&^%$@$^& MICHIGAN!"

Katie,

Thanks for the kind words and thanks for joining us here on our little site. Glad you stopped in!

DanDierdorf said...
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