Trip to Chicago topped off with another Big win
EVANSTON, ILLINOIS OCTOBER 30, 2005 Despite being up 16 late in the fourth quarter, few of 10,000+ Michigan fans that attended the Northwestern game Saturday night could relax. Not after watching the fate of the previous five games being settled in the final seconds. Only when the Wildcats exhausted their timeouts and Michigan picked up a well earned first down did the maize and blue fans breathe easy.
In fact, the only group that really seemed relaxed the entire game was the Michigan sideline. Sitting three rows behind the bench for this crucial 33-17 victory, one of things I took away from this was how calm, poised, methodical and perhaps unemotional the Michigan machine really is. The only real excitement out of this team was after Grant Mason’s outstanding interception late in the second quarter, and of course when the game was over.
Overall, this was a much needed win and continues a stunning revival of a team that was left for dead four weeks ago.
Here are the takes on this game:– Depth. Lloyd Carr consistently gets criticism for not challenging for national titles despite having highly ranked recruiting classes year after year. This is certainly a valid discussion point, but I hardly ever hear Carr praised for delivering the depth and talent that Michigan possesses. There are several dimensions to this. You can read more on this topic here.
– No Kick? A lot of fans are still puzzled why Carr went for it on 4th and 6 inside the twenty five. A very makeable kick for Rivas, and run was not really any option. He kind of joked about it after the game with Jim Carty, but I still don’t have a good explanation.
– Rivas, Ryan Righteous. M’s special teams were certainly a high point here. Garrett Rivas was solid, hitting all 4 of his field goal tries. We actually sat right next to his parents. It was pretty funny, Mr. Rivas was taking pictures all game and Mrs. Rivas covered her eyes each time her son attempted a kick. Other than the first kick-off that drifted out of bounds, Ross Ryan was spectacular. Northwestern did not return any of Ryan’s punts or kicks all game. Here’s a question: Ann Arbor News columnist John Heuser gave the Special teams unit a B+. What do they have to do to get an A?
– Hanging Chad. Henne didn’t look very sharp at all, and the entire offense is fortunate that Northwestern’s offense was shut down in the second half. Something still seems to be wrong with his motion, and some balls are floating on him. While it won’t be a factor when Indiana comes to town in two weeks, it will be a concern for the Buckeyes. Michigan fans usually don’t miss much, I bet he’ll get beat up this week on the radio shows.
– Naughty, Naughty. The lasting impression from this roadtrip was the bad, bad girls we ran into. After the game we were delighted as a young lady stepped onto the L train and loudly declared her dissatisfaction for having to ride with so many “f*cking Michigan fans”. An hour or so later we had a drink in the Hyatt hotel during a raging Halloween party. Many of the fine ladies of Chicago wore costumes that would make Hugh Hefner blush. Some of the best outfits:
– Little Bo Peep. She lost her sheep but there plenty of guys trying to help her find them. I might have found two of them.
– Girl Scouts. Troop 69 left the place dirtier than they found it.
– Naughty Nurse. “Do you want your shot in the arm or in the tush?”
– Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island. They would have never left that Island.
– Selling Their Souls. Northwestern will sell just about anything to boost revenue for their program. Granted, they don’t play Michigan every week and have trouble filling the tiny Ryan Field. Consider this: despite it being Homecoming, a huge game, and Michigan fans buying around 10,000 tickets, there were still tickets available last week. So, Northwestern has had to find other ways to generate revenue. A mini-UPS truck rolled out and delivered the ball for kick-off. Just check out the Ryan field scoreboard. They couldn’t find enough room on the scoreboard to spell out “Wildcats” digitally, but they found plenty of room for the following sponsors:
Lexus La Salle Bank
Federated Insurance Adidas
Nextel All State Insurance
American Airlines Pepsi
– What’s Next? A much needed bye week to rest up. You have to assume Mike Hart and LaMarr Woodley will be ready for Indiana and more importantly, the Buckeyes. Win out, and Michigan has a shot at a share of the Big Ten title and to continue Lloyd Carr’s steak of consecutive Jan 1 bowl games. Here’s where the experts have Michigan ending up as they will make their 31st consecutive bowl appearance.