Sunday, October 25, 2020

Radiation Vibe

The Big Ten returned with, among other things, a fullback diving for the pylon for a touchdown.  Welcome back.
(David Berding/Getty Images)

"Are you alone now
Did you lose the monkey
He gave you backaches
And now you slouch"
"Radiation Vibe" by Fountains of Wayne  from the 1996 album Fountains of Wayne

Like so many of you, I want to start by acknowledging that playing football in a global pandemic is probably not a good idea.  I respect those of you I know who have opted out of your fandom this season on principle.  Were that I had the willpower to do it.  But Michigan football is back and I want to talk about it because, once more, it has brought me joy.

It has been a long road to get here and for many a challenging road with unexpected twists and turns.  The feeling that time has lost all meaning struck me as I was trying to determine which musical artist to use as the theme for this year's game columns and I was reminded that it's only been just a shade over six months since we lost Adam Schlesinger, the multi-talented songwriter known best for his work with Fountains of Wayne, but also a multitude of other projects, including writing "That Thing You Do" for the movie of the same name and being a leading member of the tremendously underrated Ivy.  We've had so much loss, so much anguish, and so much unknown in the weeks and months since all of this began.

Over the last week, I opened up the window to Blogger and began to try to write a column about how everything about this season felt unknown and unknowable.  There was a tempering of the excitement, not just coming from the circumstances of the delay to the start of the season, but the sheer number of things that Michigan was having to replace.  I felt validated in this thinking when Raj said as much, and so much better, in Punt/Counterpunt on Saturday morning.

Could you blame the well-worn Michigan fan for going into a shell when, following a nice run by freshman Blake Corum, Michigan saw Ben Mason earn a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct flag for excessive blocking, then an incomplete, then an eight-yard loss, and then a blocked punt and a quick Gopher touchdown later, everything felt bad and wrong.

So thank you to Zach Charbonnet, who hit a gaping hole in the line and just went for 70 yards and a score in all of 11 seconds to tie the game at 7.  Michigan would never trail again, thanks in part to Michael Barrett's monster hit on Tanner Morgan leading to Donovan Jeter's fumble return touchdown and Ben Mason's pylon dive (as seen above.)  Michigan got the job done. 

(Side note: Welcome back Chris Evans.  The sheer variety of options in the Michigan running backs room brings a smile to my face.)

There was a lot to like last night.  Yes, there are things to fix, concerns over the Dax Hill and Quinn Nordin injuries, there are concerns that Joe Milton will need to do better in the passing game against perhaps more stout Big Ten East opponents.  But on a cold night in Minneapolis, the Jug was retained until at least 2023, the Michigan football family felt like they could celebrate, albeit in a socially distanced way, and Michigan heads into Halloween with a Paul Bunyan Trophy showdown brimming with confidence.  This does not erase the realities of anything beyond football or larger than football.  But, if only for one night, a Michigan football season exists, and a victory was attained.  Shine on.

And now it's time to say
What I forgot to say
Baby, baby, baby
Come on, what's wrong
It's a radiation vibe I'm groovin' on
Don't it make you want to get some sun
Shine on, shine on, shine on.