Sunday, September 11, 2011

Treezy Like (Nearly) Sunday Morning

In Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby writes: 

"For a match to be really, truly memorable, the kind of game that sends you home buzzing inside with the fulfillment of it all, you require as many of the following features as possible. 

(1) Goals: As Many As Possible. 
(2) Outrageously bad refereeing decisions 
(3) A noisy crowd 
(4) Rain, a greasy surface, etc. 
(5) Opposition misses a penalty (or a late game field goal to win it.) 
(6) Member of the opposition receives a red card. 
(7) Some kind of 'disgraceful incident'" 

OK, so let's look at this in terms of Michigan's win, and adjust for American football: 

(1) Goals: As Many As Possible. 
Well, let's see. With 15 minutes go in the game, it was 24-7 Irish, which is not really that high scoring. By the end of the game, it was 35-31, so yes, we have that. 

(2) Outrageously bad refereeing decisions, preferably against your team that do not cost your team the game. 
Oh, well, which one would you like? Any of the three pass interference calls against Michigan (OK, not the late one on JT Floyd, he was holding Michael Floyd's jersey)?  The lack of a pass interference call on the Blanton interception?  Yes, that will do nicely.

(3) A noisy crowd 
I always used to say that the 2004 Michigan State game was the loudest that a Michigan crowd has ever been in my experience and that includes after the 1997 Ohio State game. But the combination of the new towers, the night game, and the selective use of music cues by the DJ, and yeah, it worked.  It was noisy.

(4) Rain, a greasy surface, etc. 
The mystique of this game will be in the fact that it was the first night game, so the conditions were unfamiliar to all of us.  And yet, as with Michigan State 2004, as with Penn State 2005, some of the greatest moments in Michigan football history have come in the gloaming.  This was pure dark and it was amazing.

(5) Opposition misses a penalty 
This one is lacking here, but Rees's "whoops" fumble on the nine when Notre Dame could have put the game away does feel sort of like a missed penalty now that I think about it.

(6) Member of the opposition receives a red card. 
Does Brian Kelly's face count? Props to the Michigan Stadium video board guys for capturing Brian Kelly chewing out Tommy Rees after Rees needed to call a time out early in the third quarter, only to then have Notre Dame fumble the ball away on the next play.

(7) Some kind of "disgraceful incident" 
Weirdly, this is lacking.  Very little in the way of injuries or ill-temperament, no pushing and shoving.  Really, beyond the Backpfeifengesicht a-hole in our section, this was lacking.

Now, I will add three personal criteria that I also think you need. 
(8) It is better if it is a rivalry game. 
Had Michigan rallied to beat, say, Indiana, I don't know it would have been AS exciting. Knowing that they rallied to beat Notre Dame, for a third straight year, all in last second fashion, is a tremendous thing. 

(9) Spectacular plays, especially for scores. 
Between Roundtree's two catches, Denard's "Oh, the ball has come loose, let me pick that up for you", the Vincent Smith "Hey, screen pass!" and Treezy's jump ball, there was so much pretty in the House tonight.

Part of the reason that I am not a sports journalist is that I know I am not able to fully convey what I saw on Saturday, and certainly not with an even-handed approach. But I do know when Denard found that fumble and ran it in, maybe all hope was not lost.  

The Under the Lights game was always a marketing effort, admittedly one put together in a way that you say "Hey, this is going to be pretty awesome."  It sold me, from day one.  Everything else, the jerseys, the Desmond thing, sold the hell out of me.  I wanted to be a part of it.  By the end of the night, I was singing along with the Michigan Stadium crowd.  I didn't know I knew all of the words to "Dynamite" by Tiao Cruz, but there it is.  By the end of the night, all of the things that bugged me, that I normally hate, I didn't care. Michigan won, all was right with the world. Under the Lights, Michigan moved to 2-0.  So many things to fix, but it's so much better to know you can fix them when you're 2-0 than 1-1.  Even Journey doesn't need to be damned at 11:45 at night.  Victors Valiant.  Let them sing.

Welcome next week Eastern, hats off to you.  You've got a tough act to follow.

No comments: