Nine days ago, this Michigan football team was viewed as a subpar Michigan team. An 8-4 team with a 12-0 schedule. A team that was winning because the Big Ten wasn”t as good as it normally is.
After all, Michigan had only rushed for 190 yards in its last two games your average Michigan team grinds that out in 60 minutes.
A Michigan defense stops opposing offenses during crunch time, regardless of how much time it has to stay on the field to do the job.
If I”ve learned anything in my 15 years of watching this team, its that your average Michigan team encounters one or two tough losses a year. I have a number of theories why that is every team is gunning for Michigan, and while Michigan has too much talent to ever get blown out, it does not have enough to win every game. Michigan doesn”t have what it takes to blow every team out, and if you find yourself in enough close games, you”re bound to lose a couple no team is ever going to dominate the Big Ten, because of the nature of the conference with the exception of 1997, every Michigan team has lost one or two tough games.
The difference between an average Michigan team and some better than average Michigan teams is how it encounters adversity once it faces it. During Michigan”s four-straight four-loss seasons, it would let a bad break become two bad breaks. In 1996, a sloppy 9-3 loss to Purdue became a two-game losing streak when Penn State handled a down Michigan team.
In 1995, a tough loss at Michigan State led to a flat 5-0 win over Purdue and then a 27-17 loss to Penn State.
In 1994, a last-minute home loss to Penn State, led to a sloppy 19-14 win against Illinois and an even sloppier 31-19 loss at Wisconsin.
During these years, when adversity hit Michigan, the Wolverines winced.
Nine days ago, adversity hit Michigan. And Michigan responded against Minnesota.
Yes, this team”s been higher before.
Michigan coach Carr even said he was nervous that the Wolverines were lethargic in the lockerroom before the game.
“The kids responded to as tough as difficult a situation as I can remember,” Carr said. “It was like being at a game at (Westland) John Glenn (High School)”.
But at the end of the day the Wolverines took care of business in business-like fashion.
It would have been easy for Michigan to let Minnesota hang around the whole game, especially after Minnesota”s Ron Johnson scored a game-tying touchdown because of a communication breakdown in the secondary.
But from that point on, Michigan ran the ball down the Golden Gophers” throats in typical Michigan fashion. Seven yards on a draw to B.J. Askew, six yards on a sweep to Chris Perry. Even Bo was impressed with the running attack.
And while Michigan”s passing attack struggled at times, only recently has it become such a passing-oriented offense. The defense the unit that gave up the fatal, last-second touchdown last week dominated the undermanned Gophers as they only finished with 290 total yards.
While Michigan wasn”t dominating, it was impressive for most of the game at least impressive enough to dominate Minnesota.
And its not easy to recover from games as emotionally draining as last week”s game was. Just ask Michigan State.
Raphael Goodstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.