Thoughts on Michigan’s Loss

Seems fitting for me to write something about the excruciating loss by the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday. It was one of the most surreal moments I have ever experienced in my life (I know, #FirstWorldProblems). With 10 seconds to go it sure seemed like the only way Michigan could lose is if everything possible broke against them, and then it did. Looking back at the final play, so many things had to go wrong. Not only did the ball have to get fumbled, but fumbled in a way that Michigan St. could scoop it up without just falling on it. Then that had to be quick enough for them to get some speed and blockers. Then the runner had to stay in bounds and not get tackled before the goal line, which very likely would have meant time would have expired.

The perfect storm.

I saw a statistic that MSU had a 0.2% chance of winning the game at that point, or 1 out of 500 for those of you bad at math. That means that there was a chance. It’s possible MSU could have returned the punt for a TD, but in this case they had no one back. This meant that if Michigan gets the punt off it’s going to bounce and roll and eat up much of the remaining 10 seconds. It’s possible that the punter could have fallen on the ball and MSU could have completed a hail mary, but Michigan’s secondary had been great all day. It’s possible they could have kicked a field goal, but they were going into the wind and their kicker has been lousy all year. They knew this was their only shot, and they rightfully brought the house.

This is the worst way to lose a game. It was The Play without the band on the field. I have said numerous times since it ended that I would rather have lost 55–0. Because at least in that case hope would have been long lost. I wouldn’t have already received congratulatory text messages from so many, including the comical exchange of my cousin saying “now beat OSU” before texting me back two hours later to tell me he just found Michigan lost. I hadn’t turned the game off, but after they stopped MSU on 4th down I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. I hoped Michigan would get the one first down they needed to take a knee to end it. Of course that never happened.

I am rarely anything but an emphatic pessimist, but I think back to August. There is no way I thought Michigan would be ranked 12th at any point this season, let alone heading into the Michigan St. game. I didn’t think they would outplay MSU for 59 minutes and 50 seconds the way they did. I didn’t think this game would matter. I was hoping for 8–4. I would have been happy with 7–5. Jim Harbaugh has been everything I hoped for and more so far. These guys could still beat Ohio St. this season. And sure Brady Hoke had a monster season in his first year out too, but this feels different. They are doing this with a quarterback who is just out there to not lose the game.

This loss stings. It stings worse because it was against Michigan St. But that is old hat at this point. Michigan played this game tough. They are trending in the right direction and have a bunch of winnable games left. It sucks to lose that game. Hats off to Michigan St. for never giving up. I am not from Michigan. I didn’t go to Michigan. I can’t understand the “little brother” mentality because of that. MSU hasn’t looked that way in the last 12 years I have been following Michigan football. But Michigan is still ahead of the curve. And these guys could beat Ohio St.