Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Victors: Team 137, Game 11

Saturday, 19 November 2016 / Michigan Stadium
(№ 2) Michigan 20-10 Indiana
10-1, B1G 7-1

Through the first ten games of the 2016 campaign, the valiant Wolverines boasted a formidable offense, putting up points in bunches that few had thought possible before the season began; even considering Coach Harbaugh's nigh-legendary quarterback-development skills, no one quite saw the joyous, point-a-minute days of September & October coming. Under Coach Kevin Wilson, the wily Hoosiers of Indiana had become a respectable football club, following the Rich Rod pattern of pairing a prolific offense with a purely hypothetical defense. Concentrating all efforts on playing just one of the three phases of football had not worked out so well for Rodriquez at Michigan & it had produced only middling results for Wilson at Indiana. However, with the haplessness of Indiana football over the years, "middling" was a substantial improvement. The 2015 Michigan-Indiana game had gone into double overtime time, before the valiant Wolverines emerged as 48-41 victors. Many signs pointed to a similar shootout in 2016.

Quite the opposite occurred, as wintery weather descended on Ann Arbor, the swirling winds & precipitation reducing the contest to a defensive struggle. The advantage then lay with the valiant Wolverines' brutally efficient defense, Uncle Don's Murder Machine; predictable, the wily Hoosiers were held to just seven points in the first half. Unfortunately for Michigan, the adverse weather coincided with Houston transfer John O'Korn's first start wearing the famous maize-&-blue winged helmet, substituting for Wilton Speight, who had had more than just his pride hurt in the dispiriting loss at Iowa the previous week. Indiana may have only scored seven points in the first half, but Michigan managed only three, to trail at halftime on Senior Day in the "Big House."

The valiant Wolverines' offense came alive in the third quarter, churning out yards on the ground from both workhorse running back De'Veon Smith & scrambling quarterback O'Korn. Michigan outscored Indiana seventeen to three in the third to seal the victory. Snow started falling in the fourth quarter, rendering both offenses even more one-dimensional than before, & neither club scored in the final fifteen minutes. Near the end of the game, with the valiant Wolverines holding onto a seemingly unassailable ten-point lead, the Michigan cheerleaders ran into the field turn stoppages of play & made snow angels. It was the most fun anyone had all afternoon, a joy to behold from home & a delight, I am sure, for all involved at the Big House. Everyone, that it, except for the Indiana faithful.

Next: The Game, the valiant Wolverines of the University of Michigan @ the hated Buckeyes of THE Ohio State University.

The putrid pundits at the Entertainment, Sports, & Programming Network (never forget that at E.S.P.N., in their very name, entertainment comes before sports) bleated on about College Football Playoff implications & whatnot, but if you have to think about that stuff to understand the significance of The Game, then quite simply you'll never understand The Game. Nothing else matters, nothing else is of even trifling importance.

Go Blue!

Post Script: Indiana finished the regular season 6-6, which is none too shabby for Indiana, especially since the wily Hoosiers earned their second consecutive bowl bid, something that had not happened at Indiana in many moons. Before the 2016 season, Coach Wilson had gone out & hired a credible defensive coordinator, Tom Allen, addressing Indiana's most significant weakness; the wily Hoosiers's defense improved dramatically in 2016. The future looked bright, so bright that Wilson signed a multi-year, multi-million-dollar contract extension to stay in Bloomington through the year 2021. Days after the regular-season finale, a trouncing of the wily Hoosiers' in-state rivals, the ill-starred Boilermakers of Purdue, Wilson abruptly resigned amid opaque public statements about "philosophical differences" between the head football coach & the university athletic director, including murky allegations of mistreating players, including injured players. Indiana's defensive coordinator, Allen, was named the new head coach, while Wilson was signed as offensive coordinator at Ohio State. Given the offensive prowess Indiana evinced during Wilson's tenure, even without the caliber of personnel available in Columbus, that augurs nothing good for the Wolverine Nation.

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