Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Indiana Road Trip Summary

With a couple of other friends of ours, your correspondents here at the Hoover Street Rag were foolish intrepid enough to attempt the Indiana road trip this year, so this is the eyewitness account from Memorial Stadium.

  • On the drive down to Bloomington, I saw at least four other cars that were obviously Michigan fans going down to Bloomington and didn't see any obvious Hoosiers.
  • I pulled into the lot north of Memorial Stadium at about 12:40 or so and parked in a sea of maize and blue. I guess Hoosiers don't tailgate. The lot, by the way, was only about 15% full with fewer than three hours left before kickoff.
  • We must protect this house!
    On the west side, Memorial Stadium is protected by a pair of WWII-era anti-aircraft batteries.
  • Indiana's campus is gigantic when compared to our Central Campus. I had plenty of time to kill, so I went wandering in the hope of finding something to eat. Half an hour later, I found a strip mall with a pizza joint (closed), a bar (closed), and a restaurant (closed).
  • On the plus side, I walked around campus for over an hour in full Michigan gear without being harassed by anyone, and the campus itself is beautiful. The buildings are all made of the local limestone and they're architecturally coordinated.
  • The alumni association tailgate really is a good thing to find when you don't know the area.

The game itself was just shy of being everything a Wolverine fan could ask for. The defense allowed two drives worthy of being called such, and only let the Hoosiers get three points out of them. Michigan got up early and set the cruise control after Steve Breaston finished his 83-yard punt return in the north endzone. Several times in the second half, I declared, "I love boring football!" to anyone who would listen.

I expect so much out of the defense these days that I got upset every time Kellen Lewis made a play with his feet, despite the fact that he finished with 37 positive rushing yards...and 32 negative ones. Almost every time Lewis escaped from a sack, he found all of his receivers covered downfield and a Wolverine coming up to put him down. Allowing only 131 yards to an offense as potent as Indiana's is a bigger deal than it sounds.

Learned his refereeing "on the ghetto."

In other news, Morgan Trent was again called for a ridiculous, weak pass interference penalty on a ball that would've been uncatchable anyway. The ref who flagged him, oddly enough, looked a lot like Stanley from The Office.

Special teams were good enough. Indiana seemed to take the ball out to the 30 every time and got one out closer to the 45, but we contained them. Getting into a field position game with Ohio State makes me uneasy, but it's not as scary as the Ted Ginn-shaped beast in my nightmares. Rivas had his random flake-out miss on the extra point (which doinked off both goalposts, it looked like), so now he doesn't have to do that in the OSU game.

The offense just rolled. It was 14-0 before Indiana had a chance to wake up and get their only points of the day. Michigan continued to grind through their line all day long, spreading 43 attempts between six tailbacks and getting 202 yards out of them. They pulled out one long throw of the day and Steve Breaston hauled it in. Henne only had 16 attempts on the day, so you can't draw much of anything from the pass game.

That was the sort of rock-solid performance I like seeing from the team before going into a big game. And this is the biggest game any of them have ever played in, the biggest game in this rivalry since the mid-'70's, and the only time they've met as #1 vs. #2. I should write myself a reminder to breathe.

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