|History never looks like history when you're going through it. (Photo by Bryan Fuller)|
You want a revelation,
You wanna get it right.
But it's a conversation,
I just can't have tonight.
You want a revelation, some kind of resolution
Tell me what you want me to say.
History can be instructive, but we must remember that it rarely repeats itself. It echoes, it begs for comparison, it tells us what has been and what might be again, but in the final analysis, we cannot predict the future simply by looking at the past. If we could do so, we would be far less likely to repeat foolish mistakes. We would just make awful new mistakes. Which, really, is what we do.
As much as we want to think so, it is hard to pinpoint "the single moment" upon which the result of a football game turned. Of course, I say this knowing full well that Michigan had three games in which one could readily point to a single moment. But if I wasn't already in "this does not bode well" mode after the drum major dropped the mace after throwing it over the crossbar, but no, it was the photo above.
Punt block attempts are high risk/high reward. Michigan already had one punt block effort blow up in their faces this year, against Maryland. That penalty, though bad, ended up being meaningless in the grand scheme of that game. This one, on 4th and 7 from OSU's own 9 handed the Buckeyes a first down on their own 24 and two plays later, Ezekiel Elliott was off to the races for 66 yards and Ohio State figured out they just needed to run the Indiana offensive game plan writ large, coupled with a more solid defensive performance, and they would have this one. A game that was 14-10 at the half was 28-3 after the half and could have been worse if not for a solid stand late in the fourth after the game was well out of hand. No one can say for sure what would have happened if Michigan had not been flagged for a personal foul on that play (which I still think is specious, but, you know, biased.) but it did feel like that was going to be "the mistake" upon which the game would turn.
It is not a failing to acknowledge that Michigan just ran out of gas down the stretch, The stretch, in college football, is what separates great teams from good teams, and national championship contenders from great teams. Michigan's 9-3 mark this year was better than even the wildest dreamers would have allowed ourselves to believe in, even when Harbaugh landed at DTW eleven months ago. That doesn't mean we have to like that of Michigan's three losses, two were to rivals at home. But I think in the end, when you can reflect calmly upon it, it's just that Michigan did not have enough at the end, the attrition of football being football got to them. That will change. That will get better, but for now, we don't have a whole lot of answers. We await a likely New Year's date in the Florida sun against an SEC team. And that is certainly not the worst way to end Year 1 of a new coaching administration. More to the point, it was fun again. There were far few of these "what is the lesson of this terrible thing that has befallen our team" columns, far less gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. It was fun again, even when it wasn't on the scoreboard. But for the first time in a while, we end a season with hope, realistic, grounded hope. Not flights of fancy, not longings for that which is gone, but seeing a process and knowing that there's a foundation upon which to build.
Until we know where January takes us, as always, we fight for better days. My thanks to you for reading again this season and a blessed holiday season to you and your family. Go Blue!