In 1998, I was forced to miss a Detroit Red Wings/Dallas Stars Western Conference Final game so I could have the privilege of double dating with my best friend, his girlfriend and one of her best friends who I ended up dating for awhile. What movie you ask? “Hope Floats,” starring Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr.

Mira Levitan

A Red Wings’ playoff game en route to a Stanley Cup Championship for “Hope (f#&!ing) Floats.”

I never thought I would have such monotony enter my life again after that. But then I was forced to watch “Meet Joe Black” and “Ever After” more than I would have liked.

Then Saturday happened. An emotionally-drained team won a predictable game in front of a lethargic crowd.

Not even the fantastic speed of Steve Breaston could awaken the 110,000-plus that attended for more than just a few moments, nor could the consistent defensive stops garner much more than scattered applause.

In fact, I was reliving “Hope Floats.” Not because of content – the defense’s performance alone was better scripted than the film that gives the term “chick flick” a bad name. It just seemed as though there was somewhere else we all should have been – mentally or physically – instead of the corner of Stadium and Main.

Maybe another week was needed before Michigan returned to action, same for me needing another day before I tortured myself with a predictably poor plotline.

Coach Lloyd Carr even admitted his team wasn’t at its “emotional peak” due to the highs experienced against Notre Dame and the new lows from the loss at Oregon.

So where is this team? In limbo, wondering whether it should take on the exuberance of its defense, or the awkwardness of an offense that went from being considered the nation’s best to maybe amongst the top five of the Big Ten.

It’s an offensive line that finds difficulties clicking consistently, while the playmakers are making plays for the other team: Two fumbles and two interceptions Saturday.

It’s a defense that plays the role of the “good guy,” biding his time as the “jerk” continues to get the girl … at least until Jeremy LeSueur returned one to the house, giving this predictable movie its predictable happy ending.

The “good guy” wins, the final scene has him making out with the girl, getting married or something corny like that. And all rejoice.

But doesn’t anyone ever wonder what happens after the happy ending?

Everything always looks so easy when the two main characters fall in love, but where’s the hard work of building a working relationship that isn’t just sex?

That’s where Michigan needs to differentiate itself from the “chick flick” of a game it produced against Indiana.

Iowa’s coming off an embarrassing loss to upstart Michigan State, and it would love to take out some anger on the Wolverines in its hometown.

A drive like Indiana’s at the beginning of the second half is something that can’t cut it anymore going into the Big Ten season. The defense is not going to be perfect, that is understandable. But to be pushed for 3.89 yards a play over 18 plays and over eight minutes is something that will wear down a defense as a season goes on.

To resolve that, the offense needs to keep the ball much longer and not get outdone in time of possession, especially against teams like Indiana. The Hoosiers had already taken a three-minute lead over Michigan going into the half, and finished controlling the ball four minutes more than the Wolverines. And even when a team is as inept as Indiana on offense, it is only a matter of time before running up the gut takes its toll on the front four, so that a one yard gain becomes three.

It would be one thing if Indiana decided to do something with the ball and make large gains in the air, but 2.7 yards per offense play was as entertaining as “She’s All That” when you could have been watching World Championship Wrestling when the New World Order was at its highest peak of popularity… I mean, come on!

Sorry, high school nightmares aside, it is now necessary for Michigan to look past this win that was already determined when it was scheduled, and begin to write a script for Iowa that has a little more life and emotion behind it than a Sandra Bullock movie.

– Kyle wants everyone to know the Red Wings did win 4-2, and he was very happy with the tiny radio he snuck into the theater. He can be reached at kylero@umich.edu.

 

 

 

 

 

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