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Saturday, December 31, 2005

MIA: Baggy Pants Devil

For those of you that visit the Zone on a regular basis, you know that one of our most consistent contributors is Baggy Pants Devil. His addition on what to give teams on our Christmas Gift post seems almost eerily prescient in the wake of the Alamo Bowl fiasco:

Every up and coming team in college football - The opportunity to launch your star player’s Heisman candidacy, start your run for a national championship, get a victory that announces your declining football program is back, or get a victory that announces your football program with no winning tradition whatsoever is for real by defeating an overrated—but still the winningest ever—Michigan team in a nationally televised game with a huge audience. Additionally, you’ll win the game in an exciting fashion with a score in the final minutes—don’t worry, Michigan will make sure you get just the right amount of time left so that you, and only you, can score—and ESPN will declare the game an “Instant Classic” so that it can be rebroadcast over and over for everyone’s enjoyment.

Now, the last we heard from him, he was going to attend said Alamo Bowl. But he's been MIA since. Maybe he was injured in the Nebraska stampede during the last play of the game, crushed under Bill Callahan's Gatorade bucket while the play was still unfolding and Tyler Ecker was suddenly overcome with the notion that he had 4.2 speed. Or maybe, after yet another collapse by a Jim Herrmann-coached defense, he's decided to hell with being a Michigan fan and he's over on some Trojan site posting away, trying to wash the disgust of this season away by hanging out with fans of teams that know how to close.

Whatever the case may be, if you have any info on Baggy, please contact us here at the M Zone.

Thank you,

The Management

Remember the Alamo? How Can I Forget?

Here's a funny take on the last play from an ND site.

Michigan's Next Head Coach

Man, did you see his team slaughter Miami last night?

If You Can Stomach It

Here is a link to view that final almost-miracle play again.

Ecker, why? Why, why, why?!

What's New Today

Multiple new posts today. Below you'll find:

* Loef's take on why the Alamo Bowl loss stung so much
* Chad Henne explains what he was thinking on the last play (and it ain't pretty)
* A Note to Nebraska Fans who've been commenting here on the Zone
* Loef's look at the lack of heart by Michigan players on the final "Stanford Band Play"
* An update on the officiating controversy surrounding the game
* Benny's rationalization for the Wolverine's horrible season and bowl loss

Thanks for stopping by,

The M Zone Staff

Friday, December 30, 2005

Why It Hurts

I realized during my six hour drive back to LA today why the last play of last night's game is bothering me so much, and why I expect it to continue to do so for some time.

No one will remember in three years who won the 2005 Alamo Bowl, or, most likely, who was even in it. Even Michigan fans will have little more memory of it than they do of the 1995 Alamo Bowl, for example. But if we had completed that miracle play (and by no means am I reasoning that we SHOULD have or that we should have even been in that situation), no one would have ever forgotten it.


That play probably would have gone down as one of the top three plays in the history of college football, mixed in somewhere (in my opinion) between The Band and Flutie. It was outrageous, it was unlikely, it was incredible, and, most amazingly, it was almost succesful. It's already been the most played Bowl Season highlight on ESPN despite the fact that it (A) Happened less than 24 hours ago and (B) didn't even work. Imagine if it had. Michigan fans and casual fans alike would have marvelled for decades over it; it would have become a moment in history. Bennie posted a day or two ago that the Alamo Bowl provided no opportunity for Michigan to come out as "winners," and in retrospect, he was almost right. A win wouldn't have felt like much, we know how the loss feels. But what none of us could have imagined at the time is that we would come so close to pulling off a play for the ages. If THAT had happened, even Bennie will surely admit, we would have come out winners, and BIG.

For not only would it have been an amazing moment for fans of sport, it would finally have erased one of the greatest pains of Michigan fandom. I don't see any need to name names or years or dates, but we all know that as UM fans, when we see our team on ESPN Classic, there's only ever one reason. It's either an instant classic that we lost, ie Northwestern a few years ago or the Rose Bowl last year, or it's...well, you know. How many times have you caught the maize and blue on the Classic only to realize, "OH GOD THEY'RE SHOWING IT AGAIN." If we had completed that play last night, we would have never thought about it again. We would have surpassed it with one greater, rewritten our own history of being on the losing end of the impossible.

Of course, as Michigan fans, we should have known the moment that play started...that's impossible.

A Quick Reminder to Nebraska Fans

To start, thanks for visiting this site. Comments by opposing fans are always appreciated here in the M Zone. However, a couple Husker folks seem surprised that - less than 24 hours after a game so poorly officiated that ESPN was still talking about it on other bowl game telecasts - Michigan fans have, shall we say, a few gripes with the refs. In fact, some of these Husker fans (and they are in the minority) have let us and many other Michigan boards, blogs and sites know that they think Wolverine supporters are"whiners" for being upset with many of the calls.

Well, I have a few things to say.

First, as I said in a comment yesterday, take a look at the board you're on. It's called the MICHIGAN FOOTBALL FORUM for a reason not the UNBIASED FOOTBALL FORUM. It's the M Zone, not the N Zone. We're not federal mediators, we're fans of our team, just like you. So if you're looking for "fair and balanced," try Fox News.

Second, read the posts on this site. To my knowledge, not one of the 5 M Zone contributors blamed the loss on the officials in any of their posts. In fact, most if not all, gave props to Nebraska for the win and said they deserved it. But that doesn't change the fact that it was a painful loss and the wounds are still fresh.

Third, had we run that last play back -- with half the state of Nebraska on the field -- would the Husker sites all be congratulating Michigan on the win? Wouldn't mention the officials at all, huh? Doubtful.

Thus, we're glad you stopped in and thanks for the comments. But pardon Michigan fans -- hell, fans of any college football team after their FIFTH loss of the season by 7 points or less -- for being a little pissed and partisan on one of their own websites. Then throw in the fact of less than stellar officiating in the bowl game and see how calm those fans "discuss" that game on said site the next day. It won't be unbiased. It won't be neutral. It won't be even handed. And that's not whining, that's passion.

No Heart

In watching that last play again, I was stunned to see the total lack of heart displayed by several members of our team. Henne was standing right next to Hart when he picked up that long dropped lateral. Hart kept chugging, Henne turned around and walked off the field. After Ecker got his hands on the ball, he ran right past Jake Long, who was standing in place with his hands on his hips and not watching the play. Then, near the Nebraska 40, Ecker sprinted past another UM player who I couldn't make out because the Writer's Guild cheated me out of a High Definition TV set...I mean...anyway, it looked like a reciever, and this guy was also just sort of walking away from the play. It bears mentioning that this guy (I have to guess it was Manningham) would have been in a position to throw a block on one of the two remaining Nebraska players downfield, had he been so inclined.

Now I know most everyone in the world at that moment thought the play was over, but come on. You've still got 2 dudes sprinting down the sidelines like their lives depend on it, and there's actually still a number of linemen upfield blocking here and there. How about you play like you mean it and keep trucking until the fat lady sings. Is that too much to ask? Henne was tossing his body around like he was suicidal during the game; would it have been that much of a burden to put in 7 more seconds of effort? On the last play of the last game of the season?

It's pathetic, and it so very brilliantly sums up this team. No heart.

UPDATE: Alamo Bowl Officiating

The furor still hasn't died down yet over the officiating at the Alamo Bowl. First, there was this article on ESPN.com and, even more telling, the Alamo Bowl itself put out a press release about it.

Also, just read that the Alamo Bowl was the officiating crew's first ever with instant replay. Gee, could hardly tell.

There's always next year

Here are the ways I'm rationalizing Michigan's horrible season and Alamo Bowl loss. Feel free to add your own.

  • I'm pretty confident we'll win our next game.

  • I now have a lot more free time on January 2nd that I had slotted for watching the bowls.

A Note About Today's M Zone Posts

Instead of the usual post or two a day and in an effort to get things up as soon as possible after the game, we have put up multiple posts in the wake of the Alamo Bowl debacle.

So scroll down through the Thursday posts as they're all about the game. And check back during the day. I'm sure additional thoughts will be posted as we get more and more pissed thinking about the trainwreck that was the 2005 season.

Also, we'd apologize for the language (meaning mine) in some of the posts today, but if you saw the game, we're sure you understand. We just hope the FCC isn't paying attention and going to make us offer a "Family Tier" option for future blog entries here.

The M Zone Staff

A Letter to the Coordinator of Football Officials for the Sun Belt

Below is a copy of the letter I emailed to Don Lucas, Coordinator of Football Officials for the Sun Belt Conference, and cc'd to commissioner Wright Waters in the "Ask the Commissoner" section of the Sun Belt conference staff directory page.

Mr. Lucas,

If the officiating in the Alamo Bowl last night is the standard for the Sun Belt, you and the entire conference should be embarrassed. Those referees were so bad, even the ESPN announcers working the game were pointing out how atrocious they were.

In the future, here are some helpful tips for your crews. First, the easy ones:

* When a runner drops the ball before his knee hits the ground, the rest of the conferences in America call that a fumble.
* When the ball goes through a receiver's hands and hits the turf where he traps it, that is NOT a touchdown, even if the receiver is in the endzone.
* When a DB wraps his arm around one of the receiver's arms preventing him from catching the ball, that is called pass interference. The DB does NOT need to grab both of his arms, draw blood or rip off the WR's helmet first for this to be called, contrary to how they may call it in the Middle Tennessee State/Louisiana-Monroe game.

Now for the tougher ones:

* With the game winding down to a thrilling finish, one team desperately trying to get the ball back for one final drive, once the ball is set, the play clock normally starts within, oh, a day or two of being spotted. Most refs in other leagues don't check their dinner reservations or email first.
* Finally, when one side has their entire team, coaching staff, trainers and the kid who carries the coach's headset on the field DURING A LIVE PLAY, you might want to consider calling a "Too Many Men/Women/Children on the Field Penalty." Just a thought.

Well, hope this helps so in the future the Sun Belt refs don't conduct themselves on a national stage in a way that would be an embarrassment even at the Pop Warner level.


The M Zone Staff

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Now that I think about it...

The prison refs in THE LONGEST YARD were better than those Sun Belt guys who worked the Alamo Bowl game.

Worst of all...

I had Michigan as my "most confident" pick in my bowl pool for 28 points! &^%$! When am I going to learn?

Funny in a painful way

Check out the quote under the picture of Breaston on this site.

Too few cigars

Last night, during Michigan's final offensive drive, well, the one before the Stanford Band Play, Mike Tirico asked Kirk Herbrstreit if Michigan's having played in so many close games helped them in the tight situation they found themselves in, yet again. Herbstreit stated that it did, that it would give the Wolverines some comfort and experience to draw upon. This belief is often used as a way to question teams that steamroll over everyone. "Wait until they get into a close game and we'll see how good they are." I remember this being said about the 1999 St. Louis Rams who beat everyone by about 50 points in the regular season. But they won two tight post-season games, including coming back to win on their final drive in the Super Bowl.

I don't think having experience in close games necessarily helps you when you play another one, particularly if that experience is due to every one of your games being close. Basically, in a close game, your chances of winning are 50-50, maybe slightly higher if you're a good team since we can assume you have better talent. The superb NBA analyst Doug Collins has pointed out that a team's record in close games isn't the measure of how good they are. It's their record in blowouts, because the top teams will win more of those games. Coaches that say "Just get me to the 4th quarter with an opportunity to win" are just being arrogant. I'd rather have a team that is running out the clock with a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter. Your best opportunity to win is in the first three quarters.

How does this relate to Michigan football? The Wolverines played an incredible eight close games this season. I'm defining close as within one score. Obviously, a game that ends up 28-17 because the winning team returned an interception for a TD with 10 seconds left won't be counted as close when it should, but the same goes the other way - a 27-24 final where the losing team scored a meaningless TD on the last play will be counted as close. The Wolverines went 3-5 in those eight tight games. Disappointing, since, with their talent, you would expect them go at least 4-4 or maybe 5-3. But you couldn't reasonably expect them to be any better than that. Now I know that college football is more competitive than it was in the '70s. The Big Ten is pretty solid top to bottom, and playing Notre Dame adds an extra tough game. But eight close games sounded high, so I checked the results from the top ten teams to see how many close games they played in and their records in those games.

USC - 2 (2-0. W-ND, Fresno)
Texas - 1 (1-0. W-Tosu)
Penn State - 3 (2-1. W-Tosu, NW, L-Michigan)
Ohio State - 3 (1-2. W-Michigan, L-Texas, PSU)
Oregon - 4 (4-0. W-Fresno, Arizona, Cal, Wash St.)
Notre Dame - 4 (2-2. W-Michigan, Stanford, L-Sparty, USC)
Auburn - 2 (1-1. W-UGA, L-LSU)
Georgia - 5 (3-2. W-SC, Arkansas, Ga. Tech, L-Fla., Auburn)
Miami - 4 (3-1. W-Clem., Ga. Tech, UVa, L-FSU)
LSU - 6 (5-1. W-ASU, Fla., Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, L-Tennessee)

That makes 34 close games for the top ten teams which, you don't have to be an actuary to figure out, is 3.4 per team. Michigan played more than double that many close games this year. The total record for these teams was 24-10, which is much higher than 50-50, but since we're only looking at teams in the top ten, that's to be expected. Plus, it's somewhat skewed by LSU and Oregon's stellar records. Also, note how both Penn State and Ohio State - who basically played the same schedule as Michigan - only had three close games each. That's why they were 1-2 in the conference.

My point in all of this is that great teams aren't great because they win the close ones. They're great because they avoid the close ones. Once you get into a tight game it's a crap shoot. Teams that aren't as good as you only need one breakdown to take advantage of you and beat you (are you listening, Minnesota?). Michigan was simply involved in way too many close games in 2005. It exposed the weakness in the defense of not being able to make a stop when they needed it. It exposed the inability of the offense to pick up a first down to close out a game. But that's what close games do - they expose your weaknesses. If a coach really wants an opportunity to win a game, he should avoid having his weaknesses exposed in the first place.

The Last Play Conspiracy Theory

While Michigan fans can be expected to be upset that about half the state of Nebraska ran onto the field during the last play, as someone commented before, Michigan's victory shouldn't have hinged on having to run the "Stanford Band Play" to perfection.

Question though: Who made the tackle for Nebraska and was he on the field when the play began...or did he run out from the grassy knoll? Just trying to stir up some controversy.


Sorry, just had a flashback.

About the Refs...

I usually don't like to complain about the officiating of a game. I'm a firm believer that refs are a) human so it's not a perfect science and b) over four quarters, things will even out. And I also want to be clear that I'm not blaming the refs for Michigan's Alamo Bowl loss. We should never have put ourselves in a position to let a call decide the game.

But give me a fucking break!

I mean, did one of the refs have a dinner reservation at the Red Lobster they thought they might miss? Is that why they didn't spot the ball right away on Nebraska's last 4th down, costing Michigan at least 10 seconds for its final drive? Also, what constitutes PI in the Sun Belt Conference where these refs came from? Does the receiver actually have to be tackled? Because judging from Michigan's second to last offensive possession, simply holding onto a WR's arm so he can't catch the ball isn't enough.

What I saw last night was the worst officiating in all my years of following college football. When respected ESPN analysts like Mike Tirico and Kirk Herbstreit think it's a joke, that has to count for something. How many bad calls were there? Starting with Nebraska's "non-fumble" on their first drive right up until the last play of the game (and too many to count in between), these guys -- and the Sun Belt Conference that uses them -- should be embarrassed.

And for crying out loud -- if a call is even remotely close, review it! THAT'S WHY THEY HAVE INSTANT REPLAY! A coach shouldn't have to burn his timeouts in the hopes that these officials will maybe take a look!

And for cryin' out loud, as was "hinted" at by Herbstreit and Tirico, for your bowl game, get some officials who at least officiate major college football games, not the Sun Belt League or wherever these jokers came from. Sweet mother of Pearl! Granted, I'm sure these guys did a helluva job ref'ing the big Middle Tennessee State/Arkansas State thriller in front of 56 people last fall but they shouldn't be officiating a game between two of the winningest programs in college football history.

To Nebraska Fans

First of all, well done. You guys didn't quit and you deserved the win. In other posts, the staff of the M Zone is going to bitch about the refs, that last almost-miracle play, another blown 4th quarter lead and how our program is at it's lowest point in years. But not here. This post is reserved for your fans to comment away. We deserve whatever you put up here b/c quite frankly, at least I, didn't think you had a shot. So fire away.

And I will say I was VERY impressed by the crowd noise from Nebraska fans. Sweet mother of God! It sounded like we were in Lincoln, not a neutral bowl site.


The M Zone

PS Michigan fans, please refer to the other Thursday posts to bitch away. And don't be shy. There is a lot to talk about.

Dear Tyler Ecker...

Steve Breaston is faster than you.

Lateral to him, and you've just completed the greatest play in Michigan history and probably the second greatest play in the history of college football.

But whatever, just keep it, that will work too.

You get what you pay for

When you make crucial turnovers, don't take advantage of the other team's mistakes, collapse - AGAIN - on both sides of the ball at the end, can't run the freaking ball, and drop 3rd down conversions, you allow the refs to hurt you.
  • 5 losses
  • No ranking
  • Losing three games at home
  • Allowing two dead programs to beat you as they pass you by
  • Having the worst season in 21 years
I'm glad this season is over.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Does Lloyd Visit the Zone? Hmmm

Was watching Michigan Replay over the weekend and they were talking about the Alamo Bowl and tonight's match up between Michigan/Nebraska. During the segment, Brandstatter was talking about Nebraska's tradition and said something like, "And you know, Fielding Yost even coached there once." To which Lloyd replied, "Yeah, I just read/heard that somewhere not too long ago."

Oh reeeeeeeally? Did he possibly read it here? I'm just sayin'.

Ok, Lloyd, if we have your ear, about Jim Herrrrrrmannnnn...

There will be no victory tonight

It's not a prediction that Michigan will lose. It's just that none of the three possible outcomes are all that satisfying:

1. A blowout win. Sure, we'll be 8-4 and avoid a disastrous 5-loss season, but it will just sum up how this season was such a struggle; every week was spent trying to avoid something - avoiding a bowl-less season, avoiding an overtime loss, avoiding falling into oblivion. Plus, a big win over a Big 12 opponent would only underscore how this team underperformed much of the year.

2. A close win. Again, we avoid the 5-loss season and all that, but if we struggle to beat a Nebraska team that probably wouldn't have had a winning record in a decent conference, then we've fallen further than many might have thought. It would hardly be the springboard into what should - SHOULD - be a big season in 2006.

3. A loss of any kind. Obviously, this is the worst scenario. Five losses for the first time in 21 years. Seeing yet another program that was down pass us by. No momentum for next year. The only positive that could come from this is having Lloyd shake up the staff. Ideally he'd do this no matter what the score is tonight.

Either way, I'll be watching - though I set my DVR earlier in the week just to make sure that if I forgot about the game until later tonight I could watch the first half. Yes, I thought that was a possibility. That's how bad this season has been.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

You're looking live...at the Insight Bowl?

So I tune into tonight's Insight Bowl between two football powerhouses: Arizona State and Rutgers. And I'm shocked to hear the voices of Brent Musburger and Gary Danielson working the game for ESPN. Now I'm not complaining that we're going to get Ron Franklin and Bob Davie tomorrow night, but even the earlier Champs Sports bowl between Clemson and Colorado is bigger than this matchup. But then I see that the Inisght is being played in the baseball stadium in Phoenix. So by making Brent work this game, ABC/ESPN is clearly just trying to keep him out of trouble until his call of the Fiesta Bowl next Monday. When do you think they start to thaw out Keith Jackson before next Wednesday's Rose Bowl?

M vs. Nebraska Preview

Since I'm too lazy, still too stuffed with turkey and still pissed I didn't get the leather Michigan jacket I asked Santa for, instead of writing up my own preview of the Michigan/Nebraska Alamo Bowl showdown, I point folks toward the excellent break down of the game at M Go Blog.

More importantly, let's talk bowl pool. In the one Loef, Wangs and I are in, Loef is kicking ass and taking names, going a perfect 7-0 thus far. But, right on his tail, I'm at a better-than-expected 6-1. In fact, the only game I've lost so far is UTEP in my Stripper Theory Pick. Doh!

Bringing up the rear among the three of us, with a Spartan-esque 3-4 record, is Wangs. However, for his "confidence ratings" this year, Wangs numbered the games, I kid you not, in order, 1 thru 28, from the New Orleans Bowl to the Rose Bowl. So it's not as ugly as it seems, having only missed out on 17 points total so far.

But, being 3-4 doesn't bode well, especially with Nostradamus-- uh, I mean Loef, putting his crystal ball to good use.

Yet for the Tuesday games, all three of us agree: Clemson in the Champs Sports, ASU in the Insight.

Editor's Note: if I had Photoshop, I could have done some funny shit with the picture above. But I don't so use your imagination.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

College Fans Rally for Good Cause

Saw something online that, especially during the holiday season, even Buckeyes and Wolverines can agree on. It's an ESPN.com story about Nikolette Harris, a 12 year old Oregon girl who is in intensive care fighting leukemia for the third time. Her family is trying to raise $125,000 -- that's after insurance (don't get me started there) -- for a life-saving bone marrow transplant.

Besides obviously promoting goodwill instead of slinging mud at Buckeyes, the reason this ties into college football is that college football fans around the country have rallied to support her. It started with a story on the fan forum of her favorite team, the Oregon Ducks (the ESPN writer has it wrong, listing Oregon State for some reason). Since then, it has spread to many other college football sites on the Internet, including that of Oregon's opponent in the Holiday Bowl, Oklahoma, whose fans have donated some $12,000 to help the little girl.

So, check out the story or her website, www.CureNikolette.org. It sure puts all the other stuff said on college football fan boards into proper perspective.

UPDATE: According to one of our readers, her favorite team really is Oregon State but the drive to help started on an Oregon message board. As the comment said, "Some things go beyond rivalries." Hats off to Oregon fans, some of the classiest around.

Boy, Was I Wrong

So much for my Stripper Theory below. Apparently, UTEP spent a little too much time at the club and not enough on the practice field. Damn. Even worse is the smack talk I'm going to have to hear from Loef who is 2 for 2 so far in the bowl pool, including his 28 point pick.

I'm so screwed.

At least I have two crappy bowls to look forward to tonight. Woo hoo!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Naked Truth Behind My GMAC Bowl Pool Pick

Tonight's clash of the titans pits 8-3 Texas El-Paso versus 8-3 Toledo in the GMAC Bowl (Where the hell is that again? I need a goddamn atlas to go along with my bowl pool sheet nowadays).

As you might have guessed, like most college football fans, I'm sporting full wood just thinking about this donnybrook. I mean, how can one even fathom looking ahead yet to the Poinsettia Bowl (being played in...oh, screw it) when these two traditional powers are set to square off tonight? Pinch me, honey, and clear that Desperate Housewives shit off our Tivo. Daddy smells Instant Classic.

Therefore, after giving careful consideration to strength of schedule, talent levels and injury reports while also factoring in Chris Dufresne's "Want to be there" element mentioned below, I threw all that crap out the window and based my pick one thing: Titty Bars.

As you may recall, UTEP head coach Mike Price had a George O'Leary-esque run as coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide after a little trip to a Pensacola strip club. So I figure, as a 20 year old college kid, that's the kind of coach I would play my ass off for. I mean, you think the Michigan Football Bust is fun? Ha! Puh-lease! What kind of entertainment you figure ol' Mike is pulling in for the UTEP football banquet? "This year's team MVP is quarterback Jordan Palmer! Now, Lexus, Lexus to the main stage to announce the team spirit award..."

Thus, for that mature, informed reason -- and that reason alone -- my Bowl Pool pick for tonight's GMAC Bowl being played in beautiful, downtown somewhere is UTEP. And as the band strikes up the school fight song -- along with Motley Crue's GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS -- I say, "Go Miners!"

Confidence rating: 11

Just End the Bowl Pool Now

Off to a rousing start in Haji-Sheik's Bowl Pool. Had Southern Miss tonight with a confidence rating of 27. The only reason I even post this is, I've learned from past years participating in this pool that, how should I put this? Oh yeah - I suck. This was made painfully clear a couple years ago I talked my wife into doing it just because I thought it would be my cunning PsyOps ploy to trick her into not minding that I wanted to watch 28 mostly-meaningless college football games over the holidays. That part worked. What I didn't expect was for her to kick my ass and finish in the money while I was pretty much eliminated by the Peach Bowl.

So, since I'll be out of the running come my bold Utah over G-Tech premonition in the Emerald Where-the-hell-is-that-played-again?-Bowl, thought I'd puff my chest out after my strong start with one of the most obvious picks of the entire bowl season.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

But Do They Really Want to Be There?

In yesterday's LA TIMES, college football writer Chris Dufresne makes a pretty good point in saying forget point spreads and coaching and talent when picking who will win bowl games. According to him, the biggest predictor of bowl success and failure is much simpler: Does the team really want to be there?

For examples, among others, he points out Texas in 2003 being miffed after not receiving BCS bid then getting smoked by Wazu in the Holiday Bowl and Cal last year getting spanked by Texas Tech after similar "displeasure" with their non-BCS bowl invitation.

Thus, using that as his indicator, he says the following about the upcoming Alamo Bowl:

"Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr is so miffed that Iowa got the Outback bid he is now in favor of a 16-team playoff. Winner: Nebraska"

You know what? Dufresne might be right. Because the truth is, nobody associated with Michigan - from the fans to the players to the coaches - wants to be in San Antonio while Nebraska is dying to prove that it doesn't, uh, suck as much as it appeared to most of the last two seasons.

And if Nebraska received BaggyPantsDevil's Xmas gift below, it could be a long night on the 28th.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Thanks to Will and the folks at Deadspin.com who mentioned The M Zone on their site today. We appreciate it.

If you haven't checked out Deadspin before, it's a must for any sports fan.

Big 10 Christmas List

With Christmas just around the corner, we here at the M Zone have been racking our brains on what to get each Big 10 football team. It's been tough to find the perfect gift for everybody, but after scouring Amazon.com, eBay and the Pottery Barn, we think we've found just the right things.

Indiana - a basketball season that starts in September and a good realtor for their head coach.

Stocking stuffer: Subscription to Maxim and Breaking Away DVD.

Penn State - :02 fewer seconds, a ban on post-game press conferences after tough losses and unlimited space on all the Nittany Lion message boards so their fans can continue to bitch/whine/complain/swear/moan about the '05 game from now until the end of time.

Stocking stuffer: Offer to buy all those FireJoePa.com, JoePaMustGo.net and JoePaYouSuckBigHairyAssSoBlowMeAndQuit.org websites that we assume aren't being used as much anymore around Happy (Again) Valley

Wisconsin - a calendar that includes November since they usually stop playing each year around October 31st.

Michigan State - a calendar that only has September, therapy sessions to get over their Michigan inferiority complex, Steve Mariucci's # on speed dial so they can replace one mediocre coach with another. (Note: we usually give a hand-me-down to our in-state little brother. And knowing how much they liked our old Alamo Bowl bid from 10 years ago, we were going to wrap it up and surprise them with it until we realized we still needed it. So, we had to scramble this year)

Stocking stuffer: A kicker. Any kicker.

Iowa - Full can of "NFL Be Gone" spray to apply around Kirk Ferentz's house and time-shares in Florida to be used each season for their bowl appearances

Illinois - Oops, forgot to get them something. Again. Are they still in the league and playing football? Shit, might have to re-gift $10 Sharper Image gift certificate M Zone staff got at Fark.com Christmas/Chanuakah/Kwanzaa party.

Minnesota - After giving them the same gift of a 5-0 start the last couple of years (they're so hard to buy for), we decided to get them something different this Christmas because they never know what to do with our usual present and always break it. That's why this year we're giving them a real stadium that doesn't cause games to have to be rescheduled to Tuesday around lunch if the Twins make the MLB Playoffs

Purdue - We thought last year's gift -- the easiest Big 10 schedule in the history of the league -- was enough. Apparently not. As such, this year we're giving Joe Tiller's squad a MAC invitation so they can finally live up to expectations

Stocking stuffer: Something hipper than an "Old Oaken Bucket" to play for in their "storied" rivalry game with Indiana. Maybe they can play for IU's new Maxim subscription.

Northwestern - Unfortunately, somebody stole our big gift idea for the 'Cats a couple years ago which allowed them to rename their stadium. 'Cause when you thought of intimidating places to play - The Swamp, The Big House, Death Valley - going down to the Dyche didn't quite cut it. So this year, we got them a "D" to go along with their "O". Because while their spread offense has done wonders, their "spread defense" hasn't worked out so well for them.

Ohio State - Yes, in the holiday spirit, we even got something for our hated rival to the south. We were going to get them all "Fuck Michigan" shirts but, after a recent visit, we realized everybody there already owned one. Then we were going to just give the entire team cash until we heard that's what their boosters give them each year. That's when inspiration struck and we decided to get a big replica of the Michigan team bus so their "bomb sniffing dogs" can prepare for Michigan's trip to Columbus next year and their AD can practice his "We do that to everybody" speech with a straight face.

Stocking stuffer: regular customer discounts at Ernie's Taco Shack in Tempe

Michigan - Ah, the Wolverines. What do we get the beloved 7-4 home team? Naturally, we bought them the most gifts. But it was tough this year. Sure, Wangs wanted to see about getting that old PSU FireJoePa.com site and changing it into a FireLloydAndBringBackMoeller.com site but Benny and I talked him out of it. So we finally decided on the following: A road win in September (or a revamped schedule with just MAC teams, Purdue included), a rule that all games must go to OT (sorry MSU), a Yes-We're-Allowed-To-Pass-If-We're-Winning-In-The-4th-Quarter sticker for Terry Malone's offensive playbook and a defensive stop in the 4th quarter when the game is on the line.

That left only our big, special gift from Santa to Lloyd: John Cooper coming back to coach at Ohio State.

Oh, and we have one more gift in our bag that contributor BaggyPantsDevil just brought...

Every up and coming team in college football - The opportunity to launch your star player’s Heisman candidacy, start your run for a national championship, get a victory that announces your declining football program is back, or get a victory that announces your football program with no winning tradition whatsoever is for real by defeating an overrated—but still the winningest ever—Michigan team in a nationally televised game with a huge audience. Additionally, you’ll win the game in an exciting fashion with a score in the final minutes—don’t worry, Michigan will make sure you get just the right amount of time left so that you, and only you, can score—and ESPN will declare the game an “Instant Classic” so that it can be rebroadcast over and over for everyone’s enjoyment.

Well, hope everybody likes their presents. And don't worry, we have gift receipts if you need them.

Happy Holidays!

The M Zone Staff

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Matt Leinart Pictures - The Real Story

You probably already saw the pictures yesterday when they arrived in your inbox with about 9 "FW:"s in the subject line, an indication of how wide and how quickly they swept the Web. Passed around the country faster than a booster's checkbook at an Ohio State practice, one would have thought these photos showed the long-rumored second gunman pulling the trigger atop the grassy knoll. Instead, they show an All-American quarterback hitting on a hot girl. Oh, the scandal.

"Have you seen the Matt Leinart pictures?"

Now, if you got that call or email before actually seeing the photos, like me, I bet you were thinking, "Man, these must be pretty juicy!" But when I was finally sent the pictures, my first thought was, "Uh...is that it?" Hell, I was at least expecting nudity. Or maybe him flipping off Bush as he gave his Heisman speech. Or, bare minimum, the good-looking QB and one of his lineman sneaking into an afternoon showing of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. Something. Instead, all we got were the pix above which were about as "forward worthy" as a picture of any random bar outing posted on MySpace.com.

According to the email that came with the photos, apparently Leinart was at some hip Manhatten bar Saturday night after losing the Heisman and was hitting on the girl in the pictures above all evening. Allegedly, Leinart was pretty drunk (which the top picture seems to show) and made a pass at her of some sort so -- ALLEGEDLY -- she slapped him and left.

Ok, where are those pictures?! Now they would be something to forward! But, alas, we just have the photos above. And you can't tell what the hell is going on from them.

Or can you?

I mean, if these pictures really are not that big a deal and don't show anything interesting, why write an entire post about them? Because I believe they do show something. Something far more sinister. A much bigger problem than an All-American QB making a drunken pass at a pretty girl. See, if you look closer, I think they show the real reason the night didn't go well for Mr. Leinart and the girl left. Answer: the "Bitchy Friend" in the first shot, otherwise known as The Grenade.

I can almost see the knowing nods of every guy reading this post. Because we all know this girl, right? Little Miss, "C'mon HOT BRUNETTE GIRL THE GUYS LIKE INSTEAD OF ME, we should get going." "No, she doesn't need another drink or she'll be drunk." "Let's go, H.B.G.T.G.L.I.O.M., I'm not going without you." To quote comedian John Heffron, these Bitchy Friends that he calls "We Gotta Go Girl" are like Marines -- they don't leave anybody behind. Especially when you're trying to score with their cute friends.

"No, she doesn't want to see your Heisman Trophy or whatever you call it!" (TURNING TO THE HOT GIRL) "I'm going to go call us a cab right now."

Unfortunately for Leinart, since Reggie Bush was probably out celebrating his own Heisman win, no one was there to take one for the team and fall on "The Grenade" in the picture for him. Which you just know is really why The Hot One left ("I have to get up early. Let's! Go!").

So the question shouldn't be "Have you seen the Matt Leinart pictures?" The real question in those emails and calls should be, "Have you seen the Bitchy Friend Running 'Pass' Interference pictures?"

And the lesson here, for all of us, is this: even if you're a Heisman Trophy-winning QB with model good looks, never ever try to pick up a girl who's out with her friends unless you bring your wingman.

Yes, now pass it on.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tom Terrific

I just watched the interview with Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, Tom Brady, on Costas Now. If you have HBO, be sure to check it out. When the University of Michigan lists its famous alumni, along with Gerald Ford, Arthur Miller, and James Earl Jones, Tom Brady has to be high on the list. His success on the field is beyond reporach, his teammates love him, and even though he's super competitive, he's not a dick. Oh, and he's easy on the eyes.
He is a great representative for the University. Should he be mentioned above everybody else when it comes to talking about famous Michigan football players?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bowl Predictions

How about a little Bowl Pick'em Tournament? Pick the winner of the most bowl games and you are anointed King of Michigan Football Forum for the next 12 months? Who's in?

AP All-American Team

The AP All-American team was announced yesterday and Michigan didn't have one player on the first, second or third team. When was the last time that happened?

Points out either a) the talent was really bad this year or b) that injuries so depleted us of our star players most of the season (Long, Hart, etc.), it's easy to see why we went 7-4.

Looking back with a small bit of perspective now, I think we were hit unusually hard this year by injuries.

The Line

The line on the M/Nebraska showdown in the Alamo Bowl has dropped from 13 to 11 1/2 points. Apparently the bookmakers in Vegas have actually watched a couple of our games now.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Only in Ohio

So this doesn't really have anything to do with football or Michigan but a) it's about a guy from Ohio so for the sake of this site, let's assume he's a Buckeye (which will become even more obvious why when you read the story) and b) it deals with a sports bar which would be showing college football in the fall thus tying the story nicely back into our little college football blog here. Anyhoo...

Turns out a some would-be bar owner made a pretty bad choice of locations for his new watering hole. After investing over a half million dollars into his Legends Sports Pub and Grille near Akron, he learned a bit too late that he picked a dry district for his new bar!

True story. Here's the actual AP link.

Yes, folks, sometimes the comedy just writes itself.

Apparently, the state's Liquor Control board won't give him a liquor license so the guy is just going to serve food until a May election when residents will vote on a measure to allow alcohol sales in the district.

My question is, how does a guy this stupid have $500K to invest? And I guess he never heard of the old adage, "If it's too good to be true..." Can't you just see him telling his friends about his new venture: "I found this awesome location for my new sports bar. Get this - I'm only bar in the whole area! I'm gonna clean up! Can you believe it?!"

And God reached down from the heavens, touched the bar owner and said, "Lo, thy name is genius."

Thus, today's Darwin Award, Ohio Chapter goes to Mike Bolognue, restaurant (but not bar) owner

Monday, December 12, 2005

Our Ad Kicks Your Ad's Ass

Loef sent me a link to a great college football blog, EVERY DAY SHOULD BE SATURDAY. They have an occasional "series" in which they profile college promotional ads, those usually tacky spots we see each and every Saturday during the games. The link above is the post they did for their look at the Michigan spot. Very funny. It's a must-read.

This is why I NEVER want a college football playoff

Reading about the Colts winning their 13th consecutive game, came across this passage from AP writer, Mark Long:

"Indy became the fourth team in NFL history to start 13-0, locked up a third consecutive division title and secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Colts have accomplished every goal established by coach Tony Dungy - aside from winning the Super Bowl - and they have little left to play for over the final three games.

Well, except for that one elusive record.

Now, Dungy will have to decide whether to rest players and reduce the risk of injury or try to run the table and become only the second team in NFL history to finish the regular season unbeaten. The Miami Dolphins went 14-0 in 1972, then added three postseason wins to end up 17-0."

And that is precisely why I hope there is never a playoff in college football. How sad that with 3 games left, a team has "little to play for." Such a "rest the players" decision is not an option in the college game because each game matters.

I would hate for Michigan/Ohio State to ever be just about seeding.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Is the Heisman Show Still Going?

Why on earth is the Heisman Trophy Show an hour when there are only 3 finalists?! It was an hour last year with 5 and that was too long! That is by far the worst awards show on TV. Period. Hell, it almost makes me want to watch the Tony Awards (I said almost).

Do us all a favor, ESPN - Show a little restraint and cut the show to a half hour. Nobody needs to see every highlight of a player from Pop Warner football on as well as those sappy family/team/personal retrospectives. Enough already.

Friday, December 09, 2005

M Go Shopping

As the holidays near, it's time to start thinking about what to get that Michigan fan on your shopping list. Sure, you could get the the basic #7 jersey or some other typical M gift. But why do that when there are so many really, shall we say, "unique" Michigan gifts out there?

Thus, in an effort to help you with your holiday shopping, here are some of the most interesting Michigan gifts we could find on the web.

For that special white trash Michigan fan (yes, as much as we hate to admit it, Tosu doesn't have a monopoly on such fans), might we suggest this handsome Michigan belt buckle. While many thought belt buckles like this fell out of fashion in the 70s along with bell bottom jeans, this listing on eBay proves that's not true (CB radio not included).

For that sex kitten (or rather, Wolverine) on your list, check out this University of Michigan women's thong. What struck me is that it's available in sizes medium and large. Now, no offense, Lady Wolverines, but if your thong size is "L", might we suggest another style of undergarment.

Here's a print that make us just scratch our head and go...uh, what? It's a U-M/MSU outhouse picture. It also comes in M/Tosu and M/ND if, for some unknown reason, you feel you need all three of these collectors items.

Now, you've probably been asking yourself what to get that Jewish friend on your Christmas shopping list. Well, that problem is solved with the Michigan Menorah shown below. Shalom!

But the topper this holiday season is this one of a kind (thankfully) Michigan leather jacket. Nothing says "Go Blue!" like this beauty (mullet optional).

If he turned around, do you think he's already wearing that belt buckle above?

Well, hope this helps with your holiday shopping. If you stumble across any other really "unique" Michigan gifts, please drop us an email or add them to the comments page.

PS Hey, Benny, what size jacket do you wear?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Truly Tasteless Buckeye Site of the Day

The "Screw Michigan Store" post below got me thinking: Man, there are a lot of tacky and tasteless Buckeye fans out there taking up valuable space on the Internet, space that could be much better used for another online poker room or porn site. But I digress.

So, in an effort to bring you "The Very Best of the Worst Buckeye Sites on the Web," this post is the first in an occasional "series" listing some of those truly tasteless sites.

Today's listing comes to us from Yahoo Groups and is simply and eloquently entitled (surprise, surprise) "FuckMichigan". First off, the proprietor of this site must be given props because, as you can imagine based on how popular this salutation is in Columbus, he was the first to get in there and claim this coveted name. Well done, sir.

Even more impressive, in his introduction to his "club," there are only a handful of spelling errors so we're obviously dealing with a grad student.

But what I love most of all are the ads at the bottom of the page where a company advertises "related" items on the site based on key words used on the page. They change each time you view the site (so yours might be different) but do you really think the corporate brass at Target know they're advertising their "OSU Throws and Pillows" on the "FuckMichigan" site? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess no. And best of all: next time I clicked on the site there was an ad for - believe it or not - Michigan State! Classic.

If you've found a totally tasteless Buckeye site, please email us.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Worth Its Own Post

BaggyPantsDevil found an excellent site, The Blue-Gray Sky, detailing the points he raised re: the final Coaches' Poll. And while it pains me to put up a link to a Notre Dame site, it's worth a look.

GUEST POST: The Final USA TODAY Coaches' Poll

As we at the M Zone slack off as the holidays near (not unlike a Michigan defense in the 4th quarter), luckily BaggyPantsDevil is filling the pipeline with another guest post. Please pardon any spacing errors as cut and paste out of an email sometimes doesn't translate well here on Blogger.

The Coaches' Poll (I Guess it Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time)

This year’s final coaches poll included—for the first time—how the coaches voted. I was curious to see if there were any anomalies in the voting. There are seven Michigan opponents on the Board of Coaches, two coaches apparently felt Michigan was indeed better than its record, Terry Hoeppner voted Michigan at 14 and Randy Walker voted Michigan at 16. Maybe Terry Hoeppner is just trying to make sure Michigan continues it’s tradition of not running up the score against Indiana and playing the second string in the second half.

What was kind of interesting to me concerned Oregon. They are at 5 in the final poll, but three Big Ten coaches voted them somewhat lower. I think this is interesting since the Big Ten as a conference stood to gain from Ohio State getting the BCS at large bid instead of Oregon. Jim Tressel—whose team was pretty much “competing” with Oregon for that at large bid—voted Oregon at 9. Also, Barry Alvarez and Randy Walker—who through a domino effect also gained from Ohio State getting a BCS at large bid—also voted Oregon lower at 8 and 9 respectively.

Charlie Weis apparently knew—like everyone else in the country—that Notre Dame was getting an at large bid, he had Oregon at 6. Lloyd Carr voted with the average and had Oregon at 5. I can only guess that his integrity might be even greater than we think or that he feels the season’s a wash and isn’t too worried about getting into a “better” bowl game.

Now, I don’t think Oregon is more “deserving” or that they’ve been cheated out of something and definitely don’t want to listen to them or anyone else from the PAC-10 whine about the “east coast bias” anymore. Besides, PAC-10 coaches did the exact same thing! Notre Dame was 6 in the final poll, but Mike Bellotti voted them 9, Jeff Tedford Voted them 10, Bill Doba voted them 12 and Tyrone Willingham voted them 9. Of course, since Washington is 2-9, Willingham’s vote may be for more personal reasons.

Now it shouldn’t be any surprise to anyone that this sort of thing is happening. The coaches poll has always struck me as a bit suspicious, yes, I’m looking at you Phillip Fulmer. I can even understand the logic behind getting the gentlemen who know the most about college football to vote. But, it’s called CONFLICT OF INTEREST people! Plus, the coaches are asked to vote during the busiest time of the year for them. I don’t have enough time to watch enough college football games to make me feel comfortable picking the best 25 teams, I know coaches during the season have even less.

Although the Big Ten coaches don’t look so hot, I do find it suspicious that that PAC-10 coaches all picked on the same team, Notre Dame. Personally, I think that was a tactical mistake, Notre Dame was getting into BCS game this year, PAC-10 coaches might have been more successful targeting Ohio State. So, was there collusion on the part of the PAC-10 coaches as to which team to try to drop in the polls? And, was it Ty Willingham who suggested Notre Dame?

What’s really shocking to me is that there’s barely a mention of this in the sports media. What’s the point of freedom of the press—and yeah, I know it’s just football and not really that important—if the press doesn’t go after a story about how college coaches vote in the polls to benefit their teams. Right now, the sports media is too busy gushing about the USC-Texas match-up in the Rose Bowl. It makes me wonder, are these guys in journalism or are they in marketing? It seems like the relationship between ESPN and the NCAA is as incestuous as the relationship between coaches and the Coaches Poll.

Anyway, I still think Notre Dame-Ohio State is a better matchup for college football even though I view it like the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, I can’t say I really want either side to win.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Question for Nebraska Fans

I set out to write some real smart-ass trash talking post today. Something to rile up the opposition. But damn, just didn't have it in me. It's the f'ing Alamo Bowl for cryin' out loud. Man, I hope we don't go 7-4 again next season (or worse). This blows.

Thus, I have a quick question for any Nebraska fans who stumble up on our site:

Before we (hopefully) get to the football smack talk, I wanted to ask you folks about that whole "Tommy Lee Goes to College" TV show they shot on your campus. Did your school's administration stop for one second and think how bad that made the University of Nebraska look? What was the thinking there: "Hey, I have a great idea! Let's have the drummer for Motley Crue, a band known for its drug use and sexual exploits, to enroll as a student even though he was a high school drop-out. Then we'll tape the shenanigans for a reality TV show! Sure he went to jail for kicking his ex-wife, but trust me, it'll be a great way to promote the university. I mean, look what he did for Internet sex tapes."

Pure genius. Maybe next year they can get Robert Downey, Jr. or Tom Sizemore.

So wondering if Nebraska fans feel the same way about the Tommy Lee thing. Just doesn't make sense to me. Then again, neither does the AD firing your football coach after going 10-3 (two years removed from the national title game) to hire some guy who ran the Oakland Raiders into the ground and didn't get along with his players.

What happened to you guys is the cautionary tale I tell Michigan fans who bitch and complain about Lloyd Carr all the time. Have to be careful what you wish for.

PS Is it true Cornhusker fans applaud for their opponents after home games? Even after losses to bitter rivals such as CU?

Vegas Speaks

Saw that the line was 13. I don't think we've been favored by that much this year since EMU. Now that should offend Nebraska fans.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Does Nebraska Need M Zone to Fire Up its Team? Really??

Noticed from our tracker that someone on one of the Nebraska boards linked to us due to my post below. The headline of one of the comments was, "Article sent to Husker locker room!" (Exclamation point theirs, not mine). Apparently the poster wants to use the comments here on the M Zone to fire up the Huskers.

First of all, I ask Nebraska fans -- are you really offended by my comments on the original post saying your team isn't up to expectations these last two years? Do any of you really think Bill Callahan has improved your program? I'd bet if you asked the same of M fans after a losing season then a mediocre 7-4 season, they wouldn't complain, they'd agree.

Furthermore, by predicting certain victory for Michigan in my post, I'm a) supporting my team and b) basing it on what I've seen this year. Michigan lost 4 close games, all to bowl teams, two to top 10 teams in which it came down to the final minutes. In addition, we beat a top 3 team. Based on what I've seen so far, I stand by original assessment in saying that, sorry but, Nebraska stinks this year. Don't shoot the messenger, talk to your AD.

Second of all, does the Nebraska squad really need posts from some random blog to motivate your team? If so, that is really sad and just confirms how far your program has fallen in such a short time...which was the point of comments to begin with. However, I must say, I'm flattered that you give us here at the M Zone such power. Thank you.

On the positive side, I must give Husker fans props because, we've been linked to their main fan board on Rivals.com and we've yet to receive one death threat, one obscene post or anything questioning the sexual orientation of every Michigan fan. Toto, we're not in Columbus anymore.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Why I Hate the BCS (But Not the Reason You Think)

Unlike all the pundits (and Wangs) who bitch and moan ad nauseam about the BCS simply because it's not a pro-style playoff, I have entirely different problems with the current bowl system.

First and foremost, as I've stated in the past, I don't like the BCS because, aside from the "championship" game, it relegates all the other major January 1st bowls to meaningless oh-by-the-way status. I used to love waking up on New Year's Day and watching from morning to night -- even sitting through the over-hyped, usually-boring Orange Bowl halftime show -- as I pondered the various scenarios that would crown the national champ. Thus, I would love nothing more than a return to the days of the conference tie-ins to the Big Four bowls with one addition: a "+1" Championship game after the traditional January 1st bowls are played.

But this post isn't about that. It's not even really about football. It's about the fans, specifically students. This is about how the current system makes it much harder for students to travel to watch their school play in a bowl game.

Back when I went to Michigan (during the Paleolithic Era otherwise known the pre-BCS days), money was tight, as it is for most students. But I swore if the Wolverines ever made the Rose Bowl when I was in school, I would go. It was one of those unique college experiences I didn't want to miss. Luckily, when we beat Ohio State to grab the Big 10 title on the Saturday before Thanksgiving of my junior year, we knew Michigan would be heading to Pasadena right then and there. So, with over a month to spare, my friends and I were able to start trying to get air-fare and reserve hotel rooms before the cheaper stuff was all booked up by holiday travelers.

Not so today.

Penn State clinched the Big 10's BCS berth on November 19th but, almost two weeks later, their students still can't book flights and make travel arrangements because nobody knows what bowl they're going to. And by the time they discover their destination Sunday afternoon, you can bet many flights and hotels, due to the time of year, will already be sold-out - at least the lower priced fares and rates will be. Yet I know when I was still in school, and Michigan was heading to the Rose Bowl, I would have probably taken out another student loan and booked a connecting flight through Guam just to be in Pasadena. So with their team playing in its first major bowl in a long time, many Penn State students will bite the bullet and shell out the big bucks, even though students are a college team's fans who can usually least afford to do so.

Even more upset about the BCS should be the sponsors and organizers of the "second tier" bowls such as the one - whichever it is - that Michigan will be playing in sometime between late December and January 2nd. That's because the Who Gives a Shit Bowl (not to be confused with the Motor City Bowl) is more of an impulse buy for Michigan students thinking of attending. Sort of like picking up a copy of the National Enquirer with the "shocking photos of Charlize Theron" in the checkout line at the supermarket. But if I couldn't redeem frequent flier miles and my hotel cost more than dinner at Cottage Inn, something like San Antonio on the 28th would probably be a pass.

Point is, my trip to the Rose Bowl junior year is one of my most cherished college memories. Unfortunately, I believe the current BCS system is probably cheating many students, both Michigan and non-Michigan alike, out of their own similar, once-in-a-lifetime experience. And that's more of a shame than whether this team or that gets to actually play in the game.

How You Can Tell The Season is Almost Over

Talk about excitement. Somebody pinch me and tell me I'm not dreaming after getting the email about the games for tomorrow:

11:00 AM
Ch. 775 - Nothern Iowa @ New Hampshire
Ch. 776 - North Alabama @ Northwest Missouri State
2:30 PM
Ch. 777 - Southern Illinois @ Appalachian State
6:00 PM
Ch. 775 - Furman @ Richmond

All I have to say is, thank God Southern Illinois vs. Applachian State isn't on at the same time as the Furman-Richmond brawl. Ok, time to go set my TiVo.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

An Entire Store?! Why am I Even Surprised?

So I stumbled across a site for something called, get ready for this, The Screw Michigan Store. Now, I know Buckeye fans have a strong dislike for the Wolverines but, I kid you not, they have literally about 300 items, ALL just variations of "Screw Michigan" and even more with the always-classy "Fuck Michigan". And I mean these "slogans" are printed on everything, from t-shirts to journals to mugs to throw pillows to thongs (yes, thongs). But what I couldn't believe were the two items below...

Are you kidding me?! An infant one-sy and a baby's bib!? Yes, nothing says class like a 5 month old sporting the word "Fuck" across his chest.

I hear in time for next year's M/Tosu game in Columbus, this fine store is going to sell a "Fuck Michigan" baby bottle so that proud Buckeye parents can fill it with beer and teach little Junior how to throw it at Michigan fans walking down High Street.

People who buy this stuff have serious issues.

The Worldwide Leader - at least that's what they say

I found a great post at Every Day Should Be Saturday that listed 52 reasons why ESPN/ABC/Disney sucks. The site is focused on college football, though some of the 52 reasons relate to other sports. I thought that #51 was particularly funny. It's interesting, because I think college football is one of the few things ESPN hasn't completely ruined. I still will watch a few minutes of "Gameday," while the network has taken away from my enjoyment of the NFL. And the NBA. And the NHL. And major league baseball.

What would you add to the list of 52? And remember, this also includes ABC's coverage of college football.
Here are some of mine:

53. Tim Brandt. Just such a blowhard. I consider getting him for a Michigan game is punishment for us not having a good season and getting Gary Danielson instead.

54. The fact that Trev Alberts was there for so long, spouting "opinions" you know he didn't believe, but said just to create controversy

55. The completely useless halftime show on ABC. I'd rather they just put up test patterns with a little clock that said how much time until the second half kickoff.

56. The fact that they actually show Corso and Herbstreit's picks on the crawl at the bottom of the screen. I don't care. Just give me the scores.

57. Beano Cook's chins.

Street & Smith Got it Wrong

To our readers,

We here at the M Zone pride ourselves on having a long, distinguished history of biased, pro-Michigan journalistic integrity going back almost two months. If you recall, it was only a few short days ago that this very site blew the lid off the
fake "OSU Potty Training" photo, exposing it for Photoshopped fraud that it was.

And after you read Yost's expose'
below which sheds light on Street & Smith's smear campaign against U-M, the M Zone will take its rightful place among the pantheon of investigative journalism, joining such benchmarks as Woodward and Bernstein exposing Watergate, Edward R. Murrow bringing down Joseph McCarthy and that x-rated website which first aired the Paris Hilton video. But we couldn't have done it without you, our readers. That's why we'd especially like to thank those of you whose posts helped uncover this Plot Against Michigan.


The M Zone Staff

As I stated in my post Monday, I was quite surprised to read in Street & Smith's "50 Greatest College Football Programs of All Time" that Michigan allegedly had 3 "Major NCAA Infractions" in football (which was one of the rankings criterion a school was penalized for). I was always under the impression we had no violations.

Well, lo and behold, after somebody posted a link on this site to the NCAA's own database for infractions, it turns out, just as I and most of you thought, Michigan's football program has never been cited by the NCAA for any major infractions.

Furthermore, regular M Zone contributor BaggyPantsDevil did a little more research and discovered ours wasn't the only error. The number of major NCAA infractions among the magazine's top ten should look like this:

Southern Cal - 5 (Street & Smith listed them as having "O". Talk about being off)
Oklahoma - 5
Alabama - 3
Nebraska - 3
Notre Dame - 3
Texas - 3
Ohio State - 2
Michigan - 0 (Street & Smith listed us as having "3")
Princeton - 0
Yale - 0

Now, I could give a rat's ass about Street & Smith misstating this information for the purposes of their poll. These polls are only created to foster debate in order to sell magazines. No big deal. What does upset me, and should upset any Michigan fan, is this information being presented as "fact" out there on newsstands by a reputable sports magazine. When others read it who aren't as familiar with Michigan's program, they will be under the impression that error is true.

Thus, below is the contact info for Street & Smith's Specialty Publications so Michigan fans can drop them a line to let them know about their mistake. Hopefully it will be corrected for future publications.

Michael J. Fresina, Publisher and Executive Editor
704-973-1300 (main switchboard)
704-973-1575 (24-hour voice mail)

UPDATE: BaggyPantsDevil got an email from Mr. Fresina admitting they made a mistake. To read it, click on the comments below.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Greatest College Football Programs

Traveling over the holidays, I saw a magazine by Street & Smith on the newsstand called "50 Greatest College Football Programs of All Time." Their stated goal, as the title suggests, was to rank college football's top programs over the entire history of the sport.

The magazine's top ten were:

1. Notre Dame (no surprise)
2. USC (#2?)
3. Oklahoma
4. Alabama
5. Nebraska
6. Michigan
7. Yale (let me get to criteria below)
8. Ohio State
9. Texas
10. Princeton

Other notables:

12. Pennsylvania State University
15. Minnesota (remember, they count the ENTIRE history of a program...obviously)
24. Sparty (which is ahead of such schools as Florida, UCLA and Wisco)

Now, while the very reason for lists like these is to stir debate (I don't think Michigan should be #1, but I don't think 'SC or Okie should be ahead of us), I wondered how they figured out their rankings. According to the magazine, the criteria were as follows:

* National Championships (total multiplied by a ranking value of 7)
* Undefeated Seasons (total multiplied by ranking value of 4)
* Major Bowl Wins (defined as victories in a postseason game against a Division 1-A opponent, then multiplied by ranking value of 3)
* Major Bowl Appearances (same definition as above, obviously Michigan and the other Big 10 schools get hurt by the "Rose Bowl or No Bowl" rule until the mid-70s)
* Winning Percentage (multiplied by ranking value of 40)
* Graduation Rate (worst in the top 10? Surprisingly it was Texas)
* Consensus All-Americans
* Heisman Winners
* No. 1 Overall Draft Picks (personally, I think this is a bogus category for the stated aim of the rankings)
* Mascot Ferocity (uh...huh? Their reasoning was, "Because we wanted to spice up what would otherwise be a straight statistical analysis of each program's history." Mascots were ranked on a scale of -5 to +5. The Wolverine landed at +2, somehow the "ferocious" symbol of a "fighting Irishman" garnered +4 while the lowest in the top 10 was, you guessed it, the mighty poison nuts of Tosu at -4).

But the one that caught my attention was this final criterion:

* Major NCAA Infractions (stating that a "program was penalized for each major violation of NCAA rules, as reported by the NCAA.")

Under this category, Michigan was said to have had 3 (whereas Tosu was listed as having 2, while Alabama, Nebraska and Texas also had three, everybody trailing Oklahoma with 5).

Ok, maybe I'm wrong, but I don't recall -- past or present -- the Michigan football program (not bball) being penalized for ANY "major violation of NCAA rules." Am I incorrect? Help me out fellow Wolverine fans as I'd really like to know if I'm off base here.

Monday, November 28, 2005

That Buckeye Sense of Humor

After the Ohio State game, I heard from a lot of Buckeyes. Besides the comments they posted on this site showing off their mastery of the F-bomb and questioning the sexual orientation of all Michigan fans, I was also sent the "funny" picture below. Folks, I have to tell you, it made me laugh out loud...because it's so damn bad! Check it out:

Uh, what team's helmet is that supposed to be? The University of Maine or something? Because it sure as hell isn't a Michigan helmet. Apparently mastering Photoshop is an upper level course for Buckeyes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Men for All Seasons

Reading and responding to some interesting recent posts has led me to consider how to evaluate Michigan football seasons. Records vs. top ten teams, vs. unranked teams, even overall records often fail to capture precisely what kind of season Michigan has had.

I propose the following scale for judging Michigan football seasons in the Carr Era:

* Amazing-Win national championship (97)

* Great-Win Big Ten and Rose Bowl (X)

* Very Good-Win Big Ten and lose Rose Bowl (03, 04)

* Good-No Rose Bowl (NRB) but defeat three of ND, Sparty (sorry, Wangs), tOSU, bowl opponent (99, 00)

* OK-NRB, defeat two of top rivals (96, 98, 02)

* Pretty Bad-NRB, defeat only one top rival (95, 01*, 05) (*-the 01 team gets put here on a technicality because they did not play ND; but consider that the 01 team lost to Sparty after LaSeur committed that personal foul on 4th and 15, put forth an astonishingly bad effort in a home loss vs. tOSU, and finished the season by getting by getting devoured by Tennessee as if we were a pulled pork sandwich on the plate of Phil Fulmer.)

* At Least We're not the Lions-Do not qualify for a bowl (X)


Me, a Buckeye? Bite Your Tongue!

Was checking our tracker to see where folks were coming from today and I noticed a link from TheWolverine.com football message boards. Someone had put up a post about my "Fan Report Card" below and in response, a FELLOW WOLVERINE had questioned my maize-n-blue-ness! Even worse, he called me a *&^% Buckeye! Sweet mother of Pearl!

I can only assume this is because I criticized the fans in the stadium for not making enough noise. I hope even the most casual Michigan fan understands the difference between contructive criticism b/c one is a diehard Michigan fan and wants to make the Big (Usually Quiet) House a better home field advantage for our team and (ugh!) a Buckeye. Ouch.

But in my opinion, being a true Michigan Man doesn't mean blind loyalty. It also means you offer suggestions, and yes even criticize, if you think something is amiss. Yet at the core of such critiques, it's all about wanting the program to be the best. Hell, look at Wangs' most recent post. He has big problems with the coaching, starting at the top. And while he and I disagree completely on the subject discussed, Wangs is 100 % True Blue. His complaint stems from that 100%-ness, not a lack of it.

So I hope this clears it up if the person who posted that vile suggestion stops by.

Then again, maybe the critic who questioned my M street cred is one of those "Down in front!" or "Key Play" fans.

Rivalries? Or not.

People talk about Michigan (Lloyd's) record in big games. Of the three biggest games on our schedule - Notre Dame, THE osu, and the Bowl game - Michigan is 3 and 10 over the past five years. We've lost 6 of our big games in a row.

2005 ND - L, tOSU - L, Bowl - ?

2004 ND -L, tOSU - L, Bowl - L

2003 ND - W, tOSU - W, Bowl - L

2002 ND - L, tOSU - L, Bowl - W

2001 ND - did not play, tOSU - L, Bowl - L

Five years is plenty of time to see a trend. Changes need to be made. Hopefully, they will be made voluntarily. I will be thrilled to see Lloyd replace the yachtsman at the helm of our athletic department. And I will be excited to see a change in this pattern of losing our big games. Obviously, there is risk in change. But what are we really risking at this point? This team of coaches cannot win the big game - they are too tight, they are too conservative, the ball bounces funny, the clock runs out too early, whatever - they aren't getting the job done. Time for change. I hope it isn't bloody, but I'm more concerned that it won't happen.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Fan Report Card

After each Michigan game, the Detroit Free Press and many M football sites hand out grades for the team (Offense, Defense, coaching, etc.). But, in my opinion, at least for home games, they leave out one critical element: The Fans.

As I've stated in numerous posts in the past, I think Michigan's fans are some of the worst in the country. Yes, they show up but big deal. Because most of the time they just SIT there and don't make noise. Even worse, they often yell "Down in front!" to those those that are fired up. And please note, I'm not talking about drunken belligerence. I'm talking about fans knowing how important it is for the other team to hear offensive signals which, if disrupted by crowd noise, can hinder a team's play calling and, most importantly, sometimes cause penalties.

Thus my point is, I'd rather have 80,000 rabid Michigan fans than a "full" 110,000 that don't provide a true home field advantage to the Wolverines.

Again, I DO NOT buy into "it's the shape of the stadium" argument AT ALL as the reason our stadium's noise level doesn't match up to that at other venues. As I always say, the only shape that matters is that of each Michigan fan's mouth which, if closed, is the ONLY problem with "acoustics" that the Big (Often Quiet) House has.

My other big beef is that our fans only get loud in the 4th quarter during close games or during a potential game-losing drive by the other team. EVERYBODY at EVERY stadium does that. The difference at the intimidating places is that the noise is there all game, not just the obvious times. A false start that kills a drive in the second quarter may mean we don't need a big 4th quarter stop to win the game. So the sound level needs to be there all game.

Put it this way, you always hear about Michigan practicing with pumped in sound for games at the 'Shoe or some other hostile stadium. But have you EVER heard of an opposing team doing that before they come to A2? Never! Why? Because they don't need to. And that is a shame.

Thus, from time to time I'm going to give "grades" to the fans. Here is their first "Report Card":

Student Section: This is one of the best displays from the student section I've seen. They started off fantastic on tOSU's first drive. Looking over at them, the pom-poms were out and waving and the noise was there. However, in the second half during first and second downs, you noticed less pom poms and less noise. They need to be much more consistent. And like it or not, it is the students' responsibility to fire up the rest of the stadium. Others take their cue from you. In the fourth quarter, the student section was great. Again, as they should be. That's when it's easy. Still, they were about as loud as I've heard during this critical time.


Cheerleaders: I have a question for whoever is in charge of the cheerleaders -- Why in the hell do you station them all in front of the student section? These are the last people you have to cajole and beg to make some noise! That's what the student section is for! How 'bout scooting your asses down to the 50 or the other endzone where the "Down in front!" crowd lives and get them off their butts and fired up?! To me, this is common sense. The only reason I'm not flunking them is b/c I saw the "NOISE" signs as opposed to "DEFENSE" or, God forbid, the "KEY PLAY" placards. It is NOISE that makes it hard for the opposing team to call plays and noise along.


Scoreboard Operator: Instead of showing the play again, why don't we put a giant graphic up saying "MAKE NOISE" before big plays like so many other stadiums do on their jumbotrons? Or how 'bout a little appropriate music to incite the crowd? Something. Anything. This person (and I assume the administration or AD must approve the SO doing this) can control the tempo of the crowd like a good wedding DJ. Right now, the Big (Usually Quiet) House has the equiv of somebody spinning old Lawrence Welk tunes running the show. Obviously Lloyd and the team want more noise as he states it all the time and the team begs for it on the field. So turn this person loose and let him get creative. Let the SO help amp up the crowd as much as the cheerleaders are supposed to. It's not just about showing plays over. If folks want to see a "replay," they should stay home and watch the game on TV.

GRADE: Auditing course. Grade next semester.

Non-Student Section Fans: This was a mixed bag but still unacceptable in the biggest game of our season. On the positive side, many sections stood for the entire game, rarely sitting even in the first half. Unfortunately, this was not out of a desire to make more noise but simply to see as, at least on my side of the stadium opposite the press box, it was a simple chain reaction necessitated by those in front standing. At least there weren't a lot of "Down in front!" calls. In addition, especially in the first half, those around me weren't making ANY noise during first and second downs and only rarely on third downs. I even got a few of those "looks" like, "Why is he screaming so much?" (which was not obnoxious, just clapping and trying to create sound). However, the sound was noticeably better in the obvious parts of the 4th quarter from these alum/non-student sections. Best of all, at least in my section, I didn't see any damn keys during "key" plays. Still, they need to do much better. The student section can't do it all.

Grade: C-

Overall: Longtime ticket holders to M games might find my grading scale harsh saying, "But it was better than I've heard in the Big (Usually Quiet) House." But I'm not comparing the fans/noise in A2 last Saturday against tOSU to the noise during past M games at what most agree is the lamest home field advantage in college football. I'm comparing us to the bar set at other loud stadiums such as Oregon, Iowa, Notre Dame and, yes, the Horseshoe. Against that standard, while we were good "for a Michigan crowd," we still have a long way to go. But I was very impressed with the student section and think they are on the verge of creating something special. Now if only they can help spread that enthusiasm.

Final Fan/Stadium Grade for tOSU Game: C+

PS If you're a student and agree, please pass this on to fellow students. And no matter what you feel, please post your comments. We always love hearing your thoughts.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Of all the guys who post to this board, I'm the last one who mentions a shakeup of the staff as a way to improve the Wolverines. I've always felt coaching is overrated and have adopted the "Moneyball" philosophy about the head guys, though it's less true in football than in baseball. I believe it's not so much the X's and O's, it's the Jimmies and the Joes: Players win and lose games. That's not to say coaches don't make any difference. I just believe that their role is overrated and the calls of firing coaches is usually just frustration, rather than education, on the part of fans.
Now this is not a rant about Lloyd. I don't believe he's on any sort of hot seat next year, and I don't think he should be. His record stands on its own and, despite a disappointing season this year, he has built up so much winning capital - we've just come off back to back Rose Bowl seasons - that when he leaves as head coach is totally his call.
But I just watched tOSU's final drive again even though I promised myself I wouldn't. I can't get over the complete collapse of our defense. We didn't even force a third down. We missed tackles, didn't get off blocks, never made a negative play that could have won us the game. Actually I'm not surprised. The defense did the same thing all year - four times they were on the field at the end of the fourth quarter, where a stop would win us the game and once where a stop would force OT against a backup QB. ALL FIVE TIMES THEY FAILED. Just by chance, you'd think the opponent would screw up once, but no. Wisconsin drove for a game-winning TD. Minnesota broke off an inexplicable 60+ yard run to set up a winning FG. Iowa drove for a tying FG. Pennsylvania State scored a TD. tOSU drove twice for TDs. In their defense, the D stood up to Iowa in OT, but they were bailed out by the offense against Pennsylvania State.
So even though the D was improved over last year - we didn't get gashed as we did so many times last year - and even though the offense was largely to blame for the losses to ND and Wisconsin, and even tOSU to a degree, the defense showed a continual lack of being able to make a play when it counted. And I'm not just saying this because of the frustration against tOSU. This happened five out of a possible five times.
So despite the overall improvement in the defense, despite the more effective play against the spread offenses that killed us in '04, and despite probably playing better than the offense in most of the games, I think it's time for a change.
Jim Herrmann is undoubtedly a Michigan Man, moreso than anyone of us posting to or reading this board. He was a player in the early '80s under Bo and has been on the coaching staff 20 years, including two as a grad assistant and two as a volunteer coach. His first year as defensive coordinator was, by far, his best, leading to the National Championship in 1997. But the defenses have been disappointing since, and have, no doubt, underachieved. The last two years, the defense has cost the team from accomplishing major things. It's time for a new defensive coordinator at Michigan.
I doubt Lloyd will make the change. He rightly values loyalty, and he certainly knows more about his team and his staff than I do. But if Lloyd wants more people to think about him the way I do, he needs to make some changes, and the defense needs a change the most.

Friday, November 18, 2005

A Few of My Favorite Games

There's no doubt most Michigan-Ohio State games rank right at the top of the greatest sports memories that I have. Saturday's game will be the 33rd straight game that I will be able to recall vividly. It will only be the 7th game in the rivalry that I've attended - I know someone who's been to 25 in a row - but each game is pretty much seared into my mind. No other matchup in any sport has that kind of hold on me.
My sports fan teeth were cut from 1973-1975 on a number of early heartbreaking losses (and a tie) that made me question why anyone would ever be a sports fan. The 22-0 shellacking of Woody and the Bucks in '76 made me finally believe that my team could win. I remember in 1978 watching the Flint boys - Rick Leach and Gene Johnson - dominate the Buckeyes while I was spending Thanksgiving weekend in New York City. I remember inveterate gambler Art Schlichter run for a winning TD with snow piled high on Canham's carpet in 1981. My college years were highlighted by Jim Harbaugh backing up his guarantee in 1986 - thanks to Matt Frantz pushing a FG just wide. Thanks Matt, I enjoyed my trip to Pasadena. And we can't forget about John Kolesar saving Michigan from a massive collapse in '88.
I have to admit, the rivalry lost a little luster in the '90s during the John Cooper years. I'm happy we were on the right side 10 out of 13 years, but many of those years tOSU just wasn't that good, and many others they were a lot better than us and it was frustrating to play so well against them, only to be left to wonder how we could have lost four games.
The last few years, the hatred for tOSU has rekindled, both because I've actually gone to Columbus for a couple of games and experienced the culture that could breed such boorish behavior and also because they've beaten us three times out of the last four years, including a couple of years we were higher ranked.
While looking over that past 30 some games in this rivalry, there were five games I could single out above the rest. In adcending order, my favorite Michigan-Ohio State games are:

  • 5. Coming off two straight losses to the Buckeyes in 2003, there was a lot of pressure on a senior-laden team to show that Tressell didn't have some sort of whammy over us. We jumped out to a quick lead and held on for dear life thanks to a warrior-like effort from Chris Perry.
  • 4. I mentioned 1976 above and post it here because it was the first time in my life I remember beating Ohio State. And to do it in such convincing fashion, in Columbus was extremely gratifying. I can still remember safety and holder Jerry Zuver running in for a two-point conversion on a PAT.
  • 3. Harbaugh's guarantee in 1986. We were coming off a pretty inexplicable loss at home to a middling Minnesota team, knocking us from #1. We've all debated Harbaugh's value as a human being, but there's no doubt he was a Michigan man. Thomas Wilcher's fumble almost cost us, but for once the other kicker's inability to make a FG won us a great game.
  • 2. The 1997 game has to be near the top of any Michigan fan's list. It was the first time since '73 that one of the teams entered the game ranked #1 and the first time for Michigan since 1948. What often gets forgotten is that tOSU was ranked #4, with only a four-point loss to Pennsylvania State keeping them from being undefeated. In perhaps the most intense Michigan game I've ever seen, Charles Woodson put on a show for the ages and we were on our way to the National Championship.
  • 1. My second favorite Michigan team (after '97, of course) was 1980's squad. We lost the Harry Oliver game in South Bend, then the next week at home to a coked up George Rogers and South Carolina. But around mid-season our defense just said no one's going to score on us. And they pretty much didn't. No TDs over the last five games. This was Anthony Carter's only win over tOSU, and somewhere in my crawl space I have an autogrpahed picture of him right after he scored the lone TD in this game. A missed PAT kept the Buckeyes alive, but Robert Thompson's sack of Art Schlichter on tOSU's last drive sealed the deal as this team finally went on to give Bo a win in the Rose Bowl.
Now that I've gone on and on about my favorite M-tOSU memories, I'd be interested to read about what others remember best about this rivalry and where they'd rank some of the games. It would even be interesting to hear from some of the civilized Buckeye fans to hear the other side.

Thanks to Robert at BlahMetoDeath.Blogspot...

For the nice mention on his Michigan site. Check it out. Good stuff.

But hey, what's wrong with our font?

Who's It Going to Be?

Who is going to make the plays that bring Michigan a victory over tOSU on Saturday? Who will cement his reputation as a clutch legend in Michigan Football lore? Most importantly, who will Brent and Gary be talking about as the man who delivered the Pontiac Game Changing Performance, adding $5,000 to the University of Michigan's general scholarship fund?

Submitted for your consideration:

Mike Hart - Our emotional catalyst; he's rested, ready, and the toughest guy on either team.

Jason Avant - The only non-lineman UM starter playing in his last tOSU game and near the top of the list of Steadiest Wolverines Since 1975.

Steve Breaston - He's healed. And he's spectacular.

Chad Henne - Can he put together four quarters of the kind of play he demonstrated in the first half vs. Sparty and at the end of the game vs. Penn St.?

Unsung Hero - Lots of candidates: Mario Manningham striding past diving Buckeye defenders to paydirt; Antonio Bass executing a sandlot play to perfection and six; my personal favorite, the underutilized Tyler Ecker snagging a pass across the middle before flattening would-be tOSU tacklers on the way to a crucial score.

Woodley? Watson? Rivas? Who's it going to be? Who will add his name to those of AC, Biakabutuka, Woodson, and Perry as a player forever linked to a huge win over the Buckeyes?