The conference went 0-2 Thursday night, with Minnesota joining Michigan in the loss column. The Gophers scared the bejeebers out of visiting No. 2 TCU before falling 23-17. Now, everyone else gets into the fact, with a special caveat for me: both of my alma maters are in B1G action.
For (my) starters, Illinois gets under way tonight against Kent State at Memorial Stadium, where they’re riding a 17-game win streak in openers. The big news, obviously, is Bill Cubit taking over for the dismissed Tim Beckman as coach. My bigger concern is with QB Wes Lunt’s gimpy knee. Guess I can relate to Eagles fans freaking out over anyone coming near Sam Bradford’s knee better than I thought. Hopefully, this also marks the start of a HUGE senior campaign for Illini RB Josh Ferguson, who is one of the most dangerous players in all of football in space (or even not) with the ball in his hands.
For (my) seconds, Temple hosts Penn State tomorrow at Lincoln Financial Field, trying to snap a winless streak against the Nittany Lions that dates back to 1941. Oddly, while you’d think this has been complete domination on the field, it really hasn’t been – which is what makes the series all the more frustrating for Owls fans. Oddly No. 2, Temple coach Matt Rhule played LB at Penn State and, frankly, he really doesn’t grasp the frustration shared by the Cherry & White faithful … which may be a good thing since he’ll never be overwhelmed by the matchup. He also has three All-America candidates on defense, one on offense and a QB (P.J. Walker) who will challenge PSU’s Christian Hackenberg for title of “best in state.”
Northwestern hosting No. 21 Stanford tomorrow afternoon, No. 20 Wisconsin facing No. 3 Alabama tomorrow night and No. 1 Ohio State visiting Virginia Tech Monday night obviously highlight the rest of the B1G slate this weekend. Good luck to all … except, ya know, Penn State.
Enjoyed it. I really did.
Watching Jim Harbaugh’s University of Michigan football coaching debut go down in turnover-fueled flames somehow seemed poetic justice, a sentence richly deserved by the Wolverines’ snobbish, blow-hardy fan base, the man’s cult-like supporters in the media and, frankly, the ego-maniacal man himself.
Be it fear or foolishness, the ceaseless rantings, ravings or inferences about an “immediate” turnaround by a foundering program now under the “you just don’t understand how brilliant he is” brilliance of a favorite son had gotten, oh, just a bit out of hand.
So, for those of us living in reality, thankfully, the initial comeuppance of the sanctimonious squared-jaw one and his now-blessed maize-and-blue operation was welcomed with open arms.
Sadly, none of us should be too cocky or confident about things remaining that way.
The truth of the matter is, Michigan played a better team, holding serve in its own backyard, pretty much to a standstill, losing, really, only due to a couple bad decisions and one brilliant defensive effort by host Utah. Ummm, take away nickel back Justin Williams 55-yard “pick 6” and me and my anti-Harbaugh hyperbole crew might not be sharing any “told you so” nods of approval on the day after Michigan’s 24-17 loss.
Frankly, Jimmy Jaw, annoyingly, maddeningly, was even gracious in defeat, complimenting Williams and remaining steadfast in his support of Jake “3 INTs” Rudrock. About the only poor move that me or anyone else could lay at the feet of Harbaugh was his choice to switch the Wolverines to white pants on the road.
What’s next, the entire coaching staff becoming one unified Khaki Crew?
Oops, looks like that one’s already been covered.
Safe to say, between the lines, even in defeat Michigan looked a lot more organized and legit than it has for about a decade. It didn’t back down in the face of adversity, instead rallying each time to keep the Utes on red alert – which, in their day-glo unis, doesn’t seem like it would be that hard to do.
That’s not to say No. 1 Ohio State or No. 5 Michigan State have a lot to worry about this conference season. But the rest of Michigan’s Big Ten opposition certainly may.
The Wolverines’ opener at Maryland on Oct. 3 should be quite telling, and serve as the barometer to determine if this will be a quick fix under Harbaugh, or an even quicker one.
Michigan is coming back, unfortunately. Whether you like, I like it ... or not.
But it was nice to enjoy this little smack upside its overbearing and obnoxious head.
- Jack Kerwin | firstname.lastname@example.org