I was hoping that post #200 for The Blog That Yost Built would be celebrating a trip to the BCS Championship Game, but sadly it is not. Great football game, though. Both teams obviously made mistakes, but it really doesn’t get a whole lot better than that (ignoring the outcome). 1 vs. 2. Michigan vs. OSU. Michigan coming back to possess the ball, down by 4 points with a chance to go ahead late in the game.
I’m obviously biased, but I will stick with what I said before the game: They lost a very close game, so they deserve a chance to prove it on a neutral field. If a one-loss team is going to the BCS Championship, then how do you not take the team whose only loss was by a field goal against the #1 undefeated team? By definition, every one loss team has a “worse” loss than us.
The only acceptable alternative in my eyes is if Rutgers wins out. If people were talking about Louisville and West Virginia having a shot at the title game, then it’s only fair that if Rutgers does everything that was asked of them that they get a chance to play for it. Especially considering an undefeated Rutgers team will have beaten Louisville and West Virginia on the road. That said, they would lose by 30 to Ohio State.
If the goal is to get the two best teams playing for the national title, then it has to be Michigan vs. Ohio State on a neutral field. Has to be. My only fear is that the voters in the South are going to kill us in an effort to make sure it doesn’t happen, opening the door for an SEC team to perhaps go.
So far, Herbstreit (I believe), Davie, Holtz, Flutie and John freaking Saunders of all people have said they favor a rematch after seeing that game, and the best thing that could happen for us would be for them to keep saying it. Several of them were firmly against a rematch before the game and the performance swayed them. Hopefully it did the same to a lot of the voters. Honestly, I can’t imagine that people would be against seeing these two teams duke it out again on a neutral field. Give each of them a month to prepare for it too? Man.
On to the game:
You have to tip your hat to Jim Tressel, Troy Smith and the Buckeyes. They came out with a gameplan that attacked Michigan’s big weakness—the nickel and dime corners. Oh and Morgan Trent.
I’m sure in the coming weeks we’ll hear that only the fumbled snaps kept this game from being a blowout. And that may be true, but at the same time, Henne missing Manningham on the second drive, Crable’s late hit, Crable’s missed tackle on the first long touchdown run (which is just as much of an execution error as a bad snap), and some questionable (in my eyes) calls on third and short kept Michigan from winning this game. And frankly it would’ve only taken one of those things going the other way to swing the outcome of this game.
Losing Willis absolutely killed us because the backup safeties played like hell as far as I’m concerned. I’ll be curious to see what the final “Yards After Mundy” total is for this game because it has to have been astronomical. The other safeties had some missed tackles as well.
The field conditions hurt Michigan worse than they hurt OSU and I’m not really sure why. Is OSU more used to playing on that surface than Michigan? I find that questionable since it was just installed (unless their other surfaces this year were just as bad). Were they wearing longer cleats or something? I don’t know. But I will say that I can think of at least 6 or 7 plays off the top of my head that resulted in probably close to 200 yards for Ohio State simply because a Michigan player slipped. Add in a couple of them on offense and it was a big problem. You can’t use it as an excuse because both teams had to play on the same surface, but Michigan was definitely hurt by the conditions worse than the Buckeyes. Part of playing at home I guess.
Henne didn’t make any mistakes as far as turnovers go, but he didn’t play a GREAT game. The overthrown ball to Manningham cost us 7 points and with those markers, it’s a completely different game. He wasn’t under any pressure on the play, Manningham didn’t have anyone close to him, and he just missed the throw.
I also thought he was too slow to react to the pocket collapsing around him. And when he did react, it seemed that he was moving back into the rush instead of away from it. Even though Henne played well (don’t get me wrong, he DID play well), we left a lot of points on the field.
The clock management was problematic. Under no circumstance should you have to burn a timeout coming off a kickoff return. That timeout could have been big at the end of the game.
Mike Hart: What can you say. That kid just never quits, he never loses fumbles (I know, I know), he runs for 100 yards or more on everyone, and had Michigan pulled that game out, I think there’s at least a decent chance that HE would be the favorite for the Heisman.
Where Michigan really missed some opportunities was that they didn’t capitalize on their takeaways. 10 points on 3 takeaways isn’t awful, but after we recovered the Smith fumble on third down with a chance to take the lead, I’m pretty sure we went 3 and out. And there was a crucial drop on first down by Manningham, I believe. (Note: I would double check these things, but my grandma has a dialup connection that works off her only phone line so I have to type this post offline)
All in all, it was a great football game and it will go down in the archives as one of the best in this series. I’m sure Classic Sports is licking their chops, as they won’t be able to play this game enough…since we lost and all.
When figuring out who should play in the title game, I offer this in Michigan’s defense.
A) Who are the two best teams in the country? Clearly Ohio State and Michigan.
B) If a one loss team is going to be in the title game, what one loss team has the “Best” loss? Michigan.
C) Las Vegas indicates that homefield is worth 3-4 points. I don’t think anyone would really dispute that. Well, Michigan lost by 3 points on the road to the undefeated #1 team in the country. Play it on a neutral field and what happens?
D) Is there another team in the country (other than OSU obviously) that has been more impressive throughout the entire season as Michigan? USC has been in several close games, and lost to a bad team. Florida has been in several close games, some against bad teams. Arkansas got it put in their pooper by USC. Notre Dame shouldn’t even factor in. Our loss is to #1, their loss is to us, by more points, and at home.
E) (And this point should factor in significantly less than the others) What would be the best matchup for the title? I think we just saw it.
Michigan/OSU for the national title would be epic. Frankly, Ohio State should probably already get the crown as National Champions, but in the system we have that is designed to put the two best teams on the field, I don’t see how you could possibly send another one loss team to the title game over a team that barely lost to the best team in the country, on the road no less.
And if a rematch doesn’t happen, you can go ahead and give OSU the title, because there’s no one in the country other than Michigan that I think could beat them.
If it doesn’t happen, we will have another 12 months to think about the missed opportunities in this one. Because there were a lot.