|Way to go, I-da-ho! (Jacob Hamilton/MLive)|
"Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years
And though you've tried you just can't hide your eyes are edged with tears
You better stop, look aroundHere it comes, here it comes, here it comes, here it comesHere comes your nineteenth nervous breakdown"
--"19th Nervous Breakdown" by The Rolling Stones from the 1966 single of the same name.
Having listened to Ryan Nanni's very fun new podcast series "We're Not All Like This," where he talks to members of various college football fanbases to try to understand the similarities and differences among the various fandoms of the college football landscape, I am hesitant to assign any particular neuroses to be unique to Michigan, though we do have some very specific quirks. That said, Michigan fans' willingness to believe that everything is about to go on an express elevator straight into the depths of hell is definitely one that Michigan fans seem to have written into their default programming.
So it was no surprise that when Rutgers scored on a long passing play on a busted coverage on the third play of the game, there were some folks who felt the bottom rumbling under their feet. This was exacerbated by a quick Michigan three and out, and then a Rutgers three and out that saw Michigan pinned back inside their own ten after a booming punt and roll by Rutgers Aussie punter.
That is when Sherrone Moore's playcalling got Michigan back in business, whether it was the unleashed wheel route for Donovan for 33 or the flea flicker+ that found Colston Loveland for 35 and brought the ball inside the five. Quick work by Blake Corum on the goal line (so unlike last year's first-half adventures in Piscataway), and Michigan had the ball game tied up.
While this should have stabilized the situation, the traded missed field goals felt like so many dumb things were still afoot in this game. But the defense got another three and out, which was followed by a long and fruitful drive ending with Semaj Morgan's first career TD, and Michigan headed for the locker room up 14-7. Not great, but certainly better than being down or being tied at the half.
After the annual Blast from the Past wrapped up, the field goal drive to open the second half seemed to take a bit of wind out of the sails of Michigan Stadium, especially as Rutgers put together a sustained drive, built off some interesting officiating decisions on a day full of them, and it felt like Rutgers would be rewarded for their aggressiveness on going for it on fourth and two.
So when Mike Sainristil sniffed out a screen pass, picked it off, cast off an airborne Junior Coulson, and then got Kenneth Grant and a couple of other friends to come with him to the end zone, the ensuing 24-7 lead completely altered the feeling in the stadium. Relief settled in as the crowd started doing the math on how little Rutgers had done on offense since the opening drive and felt confident that this one was in hand One more touchdown by Michigan and a clock vampire drive to end the game that burned seven minutes in ten plays and Win 993 was in the books.
I have no idea if Rutgers is good. I don't know if Rutgers knows if they're good. They're definitely not bad. I don't know if Michigan is great, but they're definitely very good. But it's also September, and rendering judgments on an incomplete body of work is a thing we have done for years, with limited success, and while we should know better, I don't think we want to because we need to be able to quantify how we feel and why. We've seen too much in our years, after all.
Tales from the Spreadsheet
- Win 0993
- 31-7 is NOT a Scorigami (seventh ever, most recently September 5, 2009, against Western Michigan.)
- 109,879 is the 100th-largest crowd Michigan has played in front of, just ahead of, 2001 Western Michigan.
- Michigan moves to 9-1 all-time against Rutgers in the battle of the two oldest programs in FBS.
- Michigan has won 9 straight over Rutgers and 4-0 vs. the Scarlet Knights on Homecoming
- Michigan moves to 9-0 all-time on September 23.
- Michigan moves to 43-4 when scoring exactly 31 points
- Michigan moves to 109-13-4 all-time when allowing precisely 7 points.
- Michigan has won 24 games all-time by precisely 24 points.