Saturday, November 26, 2022

Shiny Happy People

WITH A BROKEN HAND!  TWICE!  (Photo credit: the incomparable Patrick Barron.)

Shiny happy people laughing

Meet me in the crowd, people, people
Throw your love around, love me, love me
Take it into town, happy, happy
Put it in the ground where the flowers grow
Gold and silver shine

Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people laughing

--"Shiny Happy People" by R.E.M. from their 1991 album Out of Time

All that matters is that the players knew they could do it, and they would do it.  It would have been so easy to tell ourselves, "touchdown underdog on the road to a team bent on revenge in a place Michigan hasn't won since 2000 and the status of Blake Corum unknown," that it just wasn't Michigan's day, the stars were not aligned.  It wasn't a great feeling, but it would have been understandable.  It could have allowed the national pundits to declare last year a fluke and "great season Michigan, but Ohio State is just that much better." and the like.

You look for signs.  A 28% chance of winning is roughly about flipping two quarters and both coming up tails.  On Tuesday, I flipped a quarter twice while standing in the hallway between classes at work.  Both came up tails.  Well.

Everyone around, love them, love them
Put it in your hands, take it, take it
There's no time to cry, happy, happy
Put it in your heart where tomorrow shines
Gold and silver shine

In a promotional video earlier this week, talking about the rivalry, JJ McCarthy was wearing a knit cap to help promote the "Sack The Stigma" campaign for mental health help awareness and to let people know about the new 988 Suicide and Mental Health Crisis Hotline number.

Today's victory in Columbus was Michigan's 988th win of all time.  The signs were there if you were willing to see them.

Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people holding hands
Shiny happy people laughing

Whoa, here we go.

It felt like Michigan was lucky to be only down three at the half.  The Cornelius Johnson long-bomb TD was nice but did not feel sustainable.  Michigan was getting stops on defense, but it felt like Ohio State was just lurking, waiting; they'd come out of the locker room and start gashing Michigan.

But Michigan got the ball to start the second half; they needed a touchdown to get the feelings flowing.  And we decided that Donovan Edwards would have to carry the load, which he did, broken hand and all.  Still, it was JJ McCarthy's 19-yard run, which included his second effort to push the tackler back to set up another long touchdown, this time to freshman Colston Loveland.  Michigan would lead 24-20 and never looked back.

It didn't feel like it, but ESPN analytics said it was true:

Michigan's defense forced Ohio State into a three-and-out (thanks, in part, to a combination of a holding penalty and a personal foul), and while CJ Stroud clearly wanted to stay on the field and try and convert the fourth and five in plus territory, a false start on the punt led to a touchback and a net gain of 28 yards.

For all of the quick strike and explosive plays that Michigan had converted on, it was a classic Michigan long march drive, a combination of patient runs by Donovan Edwards, a trick play from a linebacker turned running back turned jump passer Kalel Mullings to get a critical first down, a great football IQ play by Ronnie Bell to get a PI in the end zone on a third down on a ball that was high but probably not an easy catch, and a J.J. run to get into the end zone and go up two possessions, there was still a lot of time left in the fourth quarter.  Though Michigan forced another Ohio State punt on a three and out, another OSU unsportsmanlike conduct put Michigan in business on their own 43.

You can be forgiven for thinking that the Jake Moody missed field goal from 57 yards, which would have been his career long had it been made, was going to loom large in the final outcome.  It was the years of pent-up knowledge that these things, these Games, turn on poor decisions.  But Mike Sainristil made an absolutely textbook pass breakup, forced Ohio State into a field goal try to bring it within eight, and tension returned.  Too much time, too many things that could go wrong.

Donovan Edwards didn't care about the past.  With most of the fanbase thinking that Michigan just needed another long drive that ended in points for Michigan, Edwards, with a busted up hand, said "Nah" and went 75 yards in one play and got a touchdown to put Michigan up 15.  It was this absurd "no, I do not accept this" reality moment where suddenly, everything felt possible and real.  But Ohio State now got the ball back with a lot of time left and began moving the ball down the field again.  But, despite not having Mike Morris, the Michigan defense got some pressure on Stroud and forced him into a bad shovel pass that was picked off by Taylor Upshaw, of all people.  Michigan had the ball on their own 8, and two plays later, Donovan Edwards decided if one long touchdown in The Game was nice, two would be legendary and went 85 yards in one play to put Michigan up an absurd 22 points.

Ohio State only had a shade over three minutes to try and rally, but after an Eyabi Okie sack that should have included a fumble, Makari Paige proved ball don't lie and got a second pick (trying to put Michigan up by 30+ but really just sealing the game.)

As fans, we spent much of the last year hoping that this was possible, but as the wins piled up, it seemed like Michigan would have another exceptional season that would end in disappointment.  It was not to be, and for another year, Michigan and its fans get to revel in the fact that Ohio State has, once again, been vanquished. Another trip to Indianapolis, a place that seemed so far away just 364 days ago, is in the offing, facing a Purdue team Michigan has not seen in five years, awaits as Michigan tries to win back-to-back Big Ten championships for the first time since 2003-04.

As much as people do not love "Shiny Happy People" thirty years on, it does represent a certain level of joy.  It's too treacly, too saccharine   But, as so many Michigan fans of a certain vintage know, the song and the lyrics we were really thinking about at the end of the game were a different manifestation of joy:

And sometimes when you're on, you're really fucking on
And your friends they sing along and they love you
But the lows are so extreme, that the good seems fucking cheap
And it teases you for weeks in its absence

But you'll fight and you'll make it through
You'll fake it if you have to
And you'll show up for work with a smile
You'll be better and you'll be smarter and more grown up
And a better daughter or son
And a real good friend

You'll be awake, you'll be alert
You'll be positive though it hurts
And you'll laugh and embrace all your friends
You'll be a real good listener
You'll be honest, you'll be brave
You'll be handsome and you'll be beautiful
You'll be happy!

Your ship may be coming in
You're weak, but not giving in
To the cries and the wails of the valley below
And your ship may be coming in
You're weak, but not giving in
And you'll fight it, you'll go out fighting all of them

Once more, Ohio beat.
Tales from The Spreadsheet
  • Win 0988 (as previously mentioned)
  • 45-23 is not a Scorigami (only one other time, 11/5/94 at...Purdue)
  • 106,787 is the 175th-largest crowd Michigan has played in front of, 12th largest road crowd

  • Michigan moves to 60-52-6 all-time against Ohio State.
  • Michigan remains undefeated against OSU in the 2020s.
  • Michigan moves to 4-3 all-time on November 26 (2-2 vs. OSU)

  • Michigan moves to 22-0 when scoring exactly 45 points
  • Michigan moves to 9-13 all-time when allowing exactly 23 points.

  • Michigan has won 24 games all-time by exactly 22 points.
  • Michigan's first 20+ MOV over Ohio State in Columbus since 1976's 22-0 win.
  • Michigan's first 20+ MOV over Ohio State since 28-0 in 1993.
  • Michigan is +278 all-time over Ohio State.

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