Monday, November 06, 2006

Almost Losing to Ball State... NOT!

Recently, I've realized that I have a harder time coming up with my own talking points than responding to the misguided opinions of others, but I have enough built-up annoyance with such opinions that I should be able to craft a post that stands on its own.

First up, a spirited defense of Michigan in the face of this weekend's apparent squeaker over Ball State:
Anyone who has expressed the opinion that Michigan was in danger of being upset this weekend was not watching the game in question. I feel pretty confident about this, not only because the Wolverines were in control of the game throughout, but also because I think it was impossible to watch the game anywhere but in the Big House.
The simple fact is that M dominated the game when their players and game plan were in place. I'll admit that there were two glaring mistakes on the part of the starting offense, which led to exactly 9 Ball State points; however, the ground game was unstoppable (by the Cardinals, anyway), the first-string defense was solid and gave up nothing, except for a two-yard TD run on a play which began with the first-stringers still scrambling into position (I was watching). The same thing almost happened late in the game, when Ball State was threatening inside the Michigan 10 again; fortunately the coaching staff was wise enough to call a timeout to prevent the same stupid result. The first-string defense, given time to take the field, proceeded to stop Ball State on 7 consecutive plays to negate the threat.
Do the unfocused attitude of the team, exemplified mainly by the coaching staff's personnel decisions, and the obnoxiously close final score merit derision for Blue? Sure. Jokes are welcome, especially from fans of any team that hasn't survived a "scare" from a team it should have handled (or lost to a team it should have handled). This result does not, however, reflect at all on Michigan's ability or talent.
As a matter of fact, the word "scare" should be forbidden from all discussions on this topic. I reiterate: at no point did Michigan lose control of the game, nor was there any moment when Ball State had a chance to win. I was present and I was frustrated (because it was obvious what the talking heads who weren't watching the game would say), but I was never scared. The team should be ashamed of its performance, but I'm sure they were never worried in the fourth quarter on Saturday.
The fact is, Saturday's game had nothing to do with the Michigan team that will play OSU this month. Sure, phoning in a game and resting 75% of the starting line is a great way to lose against good teams and give mediocre teams a chance to put more points on the board than they should, but that won't matter in Columbus when the coaching staff does neither of those things. Do not be a fool - do not pretend that Michigan plays just as well when resting most of the first-string because they have been playing football for 10 weeks straight, with two more incredibly important games coming up with no break, as they do when playing all the starters, running all the plays, and examining all the angles.
Sound fair?
(By the way, you're not likely to hear me crow about OSU's "struggle" against Illinois. I didn't watch that game, but I'm willing to bet that the Buckeyes did what they needed to do for a win, which is all they wanted. Michigan had nothing to prove against Ball State, and Ohio State had nothing to prove against Illinois - Missions Accomplished.)

When I have time, I'd certainly love to take some shots at the obnoxious hype surrounding Louisville right now. Most of all, I'd love to slap some writers in the face with logic; coming to mind right now is Mark Schlabach of, who writes a recent column about the lack of respect Louisville is receiving; meanwhile, all of's CFB coverage is teeming with stories celebrating the renaissance of the Big East and Louisville's dominance (omitted: "[dominance] over lousy teams"). Even the AP report concerning the latest BCS standings takes a passive-aggressive swipe at Ohio State and Michigan, suggesting (I can read between the lines - I'm no fool) that Louisville might possibly deserve the #1 ranking in all of College Football. Sure, UL has critics, Mark - but evidently, so do UM and OSU.
So I'd like to develop that argument more fully some time, but it's late and I have to drive a bus early in the morning.


Blogger Joe (Livonia, MI) said...

Blue and Gold? When did you become a Cal fan?

5:30 PM  
Blogger john (ann arbor, mi) said...

To be perfectly honest - I'm not sure......

8:28 PM  

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