Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Victors

Saturday, 8 October 2016 @ (corporate sponsor) Stadium
(№ 4) Michigan 78-0 Rutgers
6-0, B1G 3-0

I am still not exactly reconciled to Nebraska's membership in the B1G, but this is largely a personal aminus (based largely on 1997); the State of Nebraska is undeniably Midwestern & the conniving Cornhuskers have a long record of success in football. I'm not a fan of Maryland's membership in the B1G, because the State of Maryland is most definitely not remotely Midwestern, but at least the terrible Terrapins have a long history of success in college basketball & a century-old rivalry with Penn State in football. There is nothing at all to like about Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey's membership in the B1G. It is appalling that due to conference expansion & divisional schedules Michigan & Wisconsin did not play in the five season betwixt 2010 & 2016—& yet Michigan has to play Rutgers every damn year.

Such is my deathless hostility to Rutgers's membership that in the midst of the rout I texted a kinsman & fellow Wolverine:
No, I will never let this go. Rutgers? Really? Rutgers?!
His response was:
Your outrage is appropriate & correct.
Even beating the alien Scarlet Knights by a Fielding Yost-esque 78-0 wasn't very much fun, because that score wasn't even about Rutgers. Instead, it was puerile one-upsmanship against the hated Buckeyes, who the week before had dominated Rutgers 58-0 in the Horseshoe. Rutgers's membership in the B1G is an embarrassment. Rutgers ruins everything.

Saturday, 15 October 2016
bye week

My fall has been hectic, even moreso than usual. So, it was a slightly irksome that in a weekend when I had unusually free of commitments, there was neither a Michigan football game nor an F1 grand prix. The next weekend, when I was to attend a two-day diocesan assembly & thus be away from both home & television, there was both a Michigan football game & an F1 grand prix. Nobody ever asks me before they schedule these things, so I'll chalk this up as one of those things for which I should pray for the serenity to accept.

In the course of the bye week, № 3 Clemson looked unimpressive in a 24-17 victory over unranked N. C. State. The Associated Press voters, in whatever wisdom they possess, thus promoted the valiant Wolverines to № 3 & demoted the epithetless Tigers to № 4.

Saturday, 22 October 2016 / Michigan Stadium
(№ 3) Michigan 41-8 Illinois
7-0, B1G 4-0

The first half against the feisty Fighting Illini was essentially perfect: at halftime the valiant Wolverines lead 31-0 (with the four touchdowns, two passes & two runs, being scored by four different players, showing the diversity of weapons at the Maize & Blue's disposal) & Illinois didn't have a single passing yard. In the second half, Michigan's offense ground to a halt, scoring on ten points & allowing Illinois's defense to assert a regrettable degree of pressure on sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight. The sense is that Coach Harbaugh & co. called off the attack, but given the relentless nature of previous victories that is a not entirely satisfactory explanation. I freely admit that after the Lost Decade (& last season's defeats at the hands of Michigan State & Ohio State) mine is a dark & suspicious disposition. I have a hard time believing that the valiant Wolverines are a good as they appear to be (& they appear to be very, very good), & I see a dark cloud behind every silver lining. I am always looking for fault, for chinks in the armor, for disaster around every corner. I hope that is what's going on in my looking askance at the second half against Illinois. Not every club is as woebegone as Rutgers, after all.

It is a tribute to Coach Harbaugh's status as the Impossible Unicorn of Our Dreams, bolstered & justified by the massive turnaround seen in teams 136 & 137, that the old Michigan "arrogance" has so quickly returned. Who else could be anything but completely satisfied by a 41-8 drubbing of a respectable conference opponent?

Next: The dastardly Spartans of the Michigan Agricultural College (or whatever "Moo U." is calling itself this week), in East Lansing.

The dastardly Spartans are in the midst of a five-game losing streak that has seen them tumble from № 8 in the A.P. poll to near the bottom of the B1G standings. I had observed this collapse with unabashed glee, reveling in the Schadenfreude. The Lost Decade of Michigan football coincided with possibly the most consistently successful decade in Michigan State football history, & the Sparty hubris flowed freely. Green & White paraphernalia was to be seen everywhere; this fall, though, there is hardly any Green & White to be seen. A huge number of the dastardly Spartans' fans have proven themselves to be fairweather scum, the dregs of the sports world. This has been a source of additionally glee. Bwa ha ha ha ha!

The only shame in all this is that it will make Saturday's victory (for the valiant Wolverines will be victorious) marginally less satisfying. The "Fighting Harbaughs" of Team 137 are so fierce, so unrelenting, so ready to revenge last year's defeat, that even the best, most able squad of dastardly Spartans would fall before them. It would have been ever so much fun to watch Uncle Don's Murder Machine murderize a high-flying squad of illiterate Green & White-clad thugs. However, it will have to suffice to put an unholy hurt on this year's squad, a spineless crew that has already dropped games to unranked Indiana, B.Y.U., Northwestern, & Maryland, & seems to have quit on their bilious coach, Mark Dantonio. I say again, Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Champions of the West
There are presently (week nine) five B1G clubs ranked in the Associated Press Top 25.

№ 2 Michigan, the valiant Wolverines (7-0, B1G 4-0)
№ 6 Ohio State, the hated Buckeyes (6-1, B1G 3-1)
№ 7 Nebraska, the conniving Cornhuskers (7-0, B1G 4-0)
№ 11 Wisconsin, the pesky Badgers (5-2, B1G 2-2)
№ 24 Penn State, the ferocious Nittany Lions (5-2, B1G 3-1)

Ohio State fell from № 2 to № 6 after losing to unranked Penn State; the hated Buckeys are the highest-ranked club with a loss. Penn State entered the rankings on the strength of beating Ohio State. Wisconsin fell out of the Top 10 after a victory over unranked Iowa (leapfrogged by undefeated West Virginia), but the pesky Badgers remain the highest-ranked two-loss club. Michigan advanced from № 3 to the № 2 spot vacated by T.O.S.U.

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