Saturday, October 29, 2016
Great performance by Michigan in the first half, wow though, other than the W-L columns, it's hard to come away from that one all that satisfied. Sort of reminds me of a time that I spent all day working on a model rocket (building, painting, taping a Lego guy to it, building a separate Lego vehicle to get him to the launch site, coming up with a full backstory of the expedition, including fake media coverage, even my brother was intrigued enough after awhile to come check it out) and then the dumb thing wouldn't even launch. I guess it was still kind of cool in its own way, but man after all that buildup and expectation for a cathartic explosion...
Of course, this was a game that was supposed to be defined by a controversial and pointless decision to go for two, right? Only the way it played out in my mind, it would be Harbaugh making the call, and it would be to run up the score and make it an even 50 (or 60, or 70) in Sparty's backyard and put all that "the ball is free" crap to bed once and for all. Then the dudes at the Freep could spend the next week dissecting whether or not it was a classless move, and Harbaugh would probably laugh about it, and Dantonio could use it to get the chips back on the shoulders and all that crap. As it happened in real life though...well I'll just say they could have converted it and it still would have been a stupid enough decision. My only thoughts on what Dantonio could have been thinking:
1. If it's 30-24 and we happen to get this on-side kick/hail mary, I don't want to take my chances on an extra point at 30-30. Just in case it gets blocked and Peppers takes it back the other way.
2. Maybe this idiotic call will help them forget all of the idiotic calls I've made today leading up to this.
How do on-side kicks work? I can't find a definitive answer and don't feel like calling Mike Perreira tonight (or ever). If Michigan touches it first, can State advance it? If State catches it cleanly, is there still a second on the clock? Can they try to knock it around but not actually possess it until it's in the end zone? This is the sort of obscure rule that is usually explained to me in the form of the Lions somehow losing because of it; it seems pretty out of character for Dantonio to not even bother testing the interpretation of whatever the rule is.
I can't decide whether this was a game that was "not as close as the final score indicates" or just the opposite, "closer than the score indicates". Or maybe the final score is an accurate depiction of how close the game was. All I know is that for the first 50 minutes, it didn't cross my mind that Michigan could possibly lose, but when State made it 30-17, there was still over 7 minutes left and the "the oh crap" feeling steadily increased with each sequence of plays right up until Dantonio lined up to go for two. You can say that Michigan got a big lead and called it an early day. You can also say that State left plenty of chances for easy points out there and would have been in a position to win if not for such desperate coaching earlier (the missed 4th downs in the red zone, the INT at the end of the first half). Heck, they were very nearly in a position to win even with all that.
With that said, great season for Michigan so far, and great to get the State monkey off the backs for the time being, regardless of how shaky they made things in the last few minutes. Only one more game left that matters to me.