At first, I was embarrassed. This is Michigan, for God’s sake. Are we ever allowed to rush the field? We had just beaten Little Brother; you certainly don’t rush the field after beating your little brother. But what if your little brother had beaten you the year before? And the year before that. And the year before that. And the year before that. And what if beating them this time was the program’s 900th win? And what if…Oh, come on, who has time to think about this as the clock hits zero and you want to celebrate?
So yes, initially I was embarrassed when the Michigan student section—and then some other sections, too—slowly but surely rushed the field Saturday after the Wolverines beat Michigan State 12-10. Act like you’ve been there before, I said, because we had—899 times. Megan halfheartedly suggested we rush and I gave her the Evil Stare of Doom. But after thinking about it these past few days, I decided that getting mad at the field rushers would almost literally make me an old man yelling at kids to get off a lawn. I don’t want to be that guy.
As for the events that preceded the field rush, many tailgates involved plenty of Michigan State fans. Since both schools are in the same state, it is different from Michigan’s other rivalries. Ohio State is unquestionably the biggest rival, but more Michigan students—and, remember, that includes football players—have friends that went to Michigan State than to any other school, so the bragging rights are bigger. Fans can be friendly before the game but as soon as it starts we’re reminded why we hate each other. On the field, I’ve read that this game is the hardest hitting game of the season for either school. Beating Ohio State is more incredible but losing to Michigan State is more depressing. It had been a depressing four years.
But Michigan snapped its losing streak despite not scoring a touchdown for the second time this season. As Denard Robinson goes, so goes Michigan, which is probably true for most teams and their quarterbacks, but especially the Wolverines. Denard was good enough on his final play, when he scrambled and found Drew Dileo for a 20-yard gain to set up the game-winning 38-yard field goal from Brendan Gibbons with five seconds left. Gibbons got the glory and rightfully so; he made all three of his attempts. But Matt Wile may have been the more important kicker for Michigan on Saturday. I’m not sure any other player in the country has the same set of roles as Wile, who is Michigan’s long-range field goal kicker (he hit a 48-yarder), short-range punter (he pinned the Spartans at their own 8-yard line), and kickoff specialist (two touchbacks and a beautiful squib to seal the win). Think of Wile’s right leg as a Swiss Army knife. Then think about how awesome that would be in a Quentin Tarantino movie.
Looking back on the rest of the week in college football…
Appropriate Name of the Week: Kasey Carrier, New Mexico running back. Carrier carried the ball 39 times for 338 yards Saturday against Air Force. He scored all three of his team’s touchdowns, but New Mexico still lost, 28-23.
Quote of the Week: “I couldn’t have done it without myself.”
—Adam Dingwell, San Diego State quarterback, after coming in for the injured starter and leading his team to a 39-38 overtime upset win over Nevada.
“Get Off My Lawn!” Observation of the Week: Michigan State’s helmets were silly. Megan thought they looked like green Christmas tree ornaments and I agree. At least they gave the design a fitting name: SpartyChrome.
Coach Who Makes You Feel Old/Unsuccessful: Jason Gesser, Idaho’s interim head coach. Gesser is only 33 years old. An assistant with the Vandals, he took over when Robb Akey was fired on Sunday. I believe Gesser is the second youngest head coach in Division I-A. The youngest is Matt Campbell, 32 years old and top dog at 7-1 Toledo.
Hottest Seat of the Week: Derek Dooley, Tennessee. The Volunteers have lost 11 of their last 12 SEC games. Since Dooley came over from Louisiana Tech in 2010, Tennessee is 0-14 against the Top 25. The latest was Saturday’s 44-13 home loss to Alabama, in which more than one-third of the fans were cheering for the Tide. (Source: Associated Press)
Coldest Seat of the Week: David Cutcliffe, Duke. Give the man a lifetime contract. Duke is going to a bowl for the first time since 1994. The Blue Devils may well lose their last four games—starting with a trip to Florida State on Saturday, followed by Clemson, at Georgia Tech, and Miami—but for now they are 6-2 and the Coastal Division leader.
Clown of the Week: Charlie Weis, Kansas University head coach. His latest move was benching Dayne Crist, the quarterback who followed him to Kansas from Notre Dame. You can’t read Weis’ quotes in this Kansas City Star article and convince me he has learned a thing about being a head football coach since he was fired from Notre Dame in 2009. Here’s one of his comments: “It’s not a question of whether or not we know what to do (with) X’s and O’s. I’d love to be able to do what Oklahoma did last week…sit back there and eat a hot dog and drink a soda.” And another: “This isn’t the question about whether or not we’re smart enough to figure out what they’re going to do and what to do against it. Sometimes you better go get some Jimmys and Joes. It might help you just a tad.”
Looking ahead to this Saturday…
“Play Like a Champion Today” Game of the Week: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma. Both schools claim to have come up with the iconic locker room sign. I’d say the loser of Saturday night’s game in Norman has to take down its own sign, but that doesn’t seem fair. We all know this is Notre Dame’s thing. Brian Kelly needs to walk up to Bob Stoops before the game and say, “If you guys were the inventors of the ‘Play Like a Champion Today’ sign, you’d have invented the ‘Play Like a Champion Today’ sign.”
Scrimmage of the Week: Ohio State vs. Penn State. Also known as the Ineligibowl, as both teams are banned from the postseason. If they weren’t, the winner of this game would have the inside track to reach the Big Ten title game. Wisconsin is the only eligible team in the Leaders Division with a conference win.
Kahn Family Smiles:
Upset Pick: Georgia over Florida. Sorry, Georgia fans. (season record: 2-6)