Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Just read online today at cfbnews.com that Saturday's game with Northwestern will be the first time since 1959 that the Wildcats will be the higher ranked team going into the Michigan game. Coming on the heels of the MSU game in which they were favored for the first time since 1967, I'm starting to think maybe we've crossed over into some alternate reality this season. What's next? Is "F*ck Michigan!" no longer going to be the most popular chant in Columbus (ok, let's not get carried away).
Saturday's game really does present some problems. The (no longer mild) 'Cats have one of those pesky spread offenses and a QB who refuses to stay in one spot so we can tackle him. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for a Michigan defense which, after practicing with John Navarre all those years, apparently is still under the impression that such tomfoolery was banned and thus refuses to tackle any quarterback outside a 3 foot radius of the pocket. Of course this also assumes our defense could actually reach the quarterback before he either a) completes a 14 yard pass on 3rd and 12 (which is cheating to begin with because as every Michigan fan knows, on 3rd and 14, a team is only allowed to throw a 5 yard out pass) or b) the opponent's offensive line chants "Red Rover, Red Rover send your linebacker on over!"
However, what gives me hope is that Northwestern has some misconceptions of its own, apparently believing that because their offense is so good, they are no longer required to play defense. The NW "defense" is ranked dead last in college football giving up an impressive 504 yards per game with a we're-not-even-really-trying 316 of that through the air. That being the case, Chad Henne should be able to pass for 900 total yards Saturday (300 to Jason Avant, 550 in lateral sideline passes and 50 to either Manningham or Breaston -- but only late in the 4th quarter when the game gets tight and never to both as using all our offensive weapons in the same game, for the entire game, is prohibited in the Michigan playbook).
Which means Saturday's showdown will unfold something like this: because NW being higher ranked is as insulting to Michigan as being told there's a one plate limit at a wedding buffet is to Jim Brandstatter, Michigan will come out firing on all cylinders and quickly race to an insurmountable 7-0 lead with 10 minutes left in the first quarter, after which they will go into a shell to protect the lead and run out the clock.
Then, when that doesn't work and we surprisingly find ourselves down 28-7 in the third quarter (after injuries to our first through sixth string tailbacks, our starting left tackle, any remaining DBs on scholarship and the kid who carries Lloyd's headset), Michigan will mount a furious comeback and, by the grace of God (as well as a few well-timed instant replay reviews), will be ahead 35-31 with three and a half minutes left in the game and possession of the ball at the NW 35. That's when Lloyd, having learned from his mistakes the last two weeks, will take destiny by the throat and try to ice the game right then and there.
So after three consecutive QB sneaks, he will confidently direct his punting unit onto the field in order to pin NW deep and turn the ball over to his stout defense, figuring NOBODY marches down the field for a game winning fourth quarter drive against a Jim Herrrrrrmannnnn coached defense more than 68 times in a row. Nobody.
But, this is 2005. So...
After Michigan's punt is blocked and recovered by the punter-nobody-can-name-this-year in the Wolverine endzone for a 65 yard safety, Michigan is faced with a dilemma: With just under a minute left on the clock and only up by 2, the coaching staff now finally sees the light, realizing that kicking the ball away will almost certainly lead to another heartbreaking defeat.
Thus, Michigan surprises NW with an onside kick and recovers the ball at its own 30. But faced with 4th and 10 with :08 seconds left on the clock, instead of kicking the ball away with so much time left for an opponent's offense to work with against the Michigan D, the Wolverines opt to have the punter run around to kill off the remaining eight seconds before falling in the endzone for another safety in order to get the game into the slam dunk that is overtime.
Once there, knowing resistance is futile, Northwestern head football coach Randy Walker will instruct his once high-flying offense to do it's best "Michigan with three minutes and the lead at our 25 impression" by calling three straight off-tackle running plays before kicking the go-ahead field goal. With the trap now set, Michigan will win the game on Jason Avant's TD pass on 3rd and goal as Chad Henne tries to throw the ball away.
Motor City Bowl my ass!
Note: Funeral services will be held for Bo Schembechler next Thursday. In lieu of flowers, donations should be made to the Make a Defense Foundation.
Posted by Yost at 2:14 PM