Monday, September 29, 2008

How Do You Spell Relief?

If you're a Michigan fan who watched the first half of the Michigan/Wisconsin game on Saturday you surely needed to break out the Rolaids at some point. Fortunately, I was out disc golfing with friends and I missed a first half in which Michigan had: 21 total yards, no first downs, and five turnovers. When I got home, as the first half expired, they trailed 19-0. (And the fact that Wisconsin only had 19 points after all that is a testament to how well the defense played.) It's a good thing too, because if I had seen it, I'm not sure I'd of tuned in for the second half.

And what a second half it was. Michigan rallied, putting up 20 points in the span of about seven minutes (on the game clock) and ended up winning 27-25 after Wisconsin had a last minute, game-tying two-point conversion called back on a penalty. (They then failed to convert on the second attempt.)

When it was finally over there was much hooting and hollering at casa del Brakke, but more than that, I felt enormous relief. Those guys needed that win, very, very badly. Not for the sake of salvaging the season but for the sake of believing that this whole regime change will work. You tack a whole game like that first half onto the way things looked during the Utah and Notre Dame losses and it doesn't take much imagination to picture the media headlines, nor the insane fan base taking to the radio call-in shows. (Incidentally, I hate radio call-in shows.) It's already too easy write off the season and I've been increasingly worried we'd see the public narrative prematurely write off the coaching change too.

It's gonna be interesting to see where the season goes from here. Was the first half the fluke? Was the second half a fluke? I'm sure we'll see a lot more of the same for the rest of the season. Long stretches of horrendous football followed with stretches where the team can do no wrong. It'll continue to be schizophrenic, I suspect, but hopefully we'll see more and more of the Michigan we saw in the second half, especially if QB Steven Threet -a freshman who sat out a year after transferring from Georgia Tech- can continue to progress. It's easy to forget the kid was a four-star prospect that had rated as the No. 9 QB in the nation.