The more I think about the unthinkable happening on Saturday, I keep coming back to the same thing: Why didn't we think it could happen?
We all knew that playing App State was probably more like playing a strong MAC team than playing the typical I-AA doormat. Not a team that you should be scared of by any means, but a team that can beat you nonetheless.
We knew that Michigan tends to not exactly put out their best effort against the teams that they're supposed to blow out.
We knew that by nature, Michigan is a fairly conservative team and isn't prone to blowing out opponents.
We knew that App State had a mobile quarterback and ran the spread offense--two of the things that have given Michigan fits consistently for the last 10 years.
We knew that our defense had some major question marks in the secondary.
We knew that this game was App State's Super Bowl. That they have been pointing to it since the minute it came on the schedule as their chance to make a statement and do for their program what beating Oklahoma has done for Boise State's (seriously, did you ever think that you'd see a Boise State player on the cover of NCAA Football?). Alternately, Michigan probably cared about this game less than any other on their schedule with the possible exception of Eastern Michigan.
We knew that Michigan would likely play it pretty vanilla, with the upcoming slate of games against Oregon, Notre Dame and Penn State. It wouldn't be the first time.
We knew that our field goal kicker was not only a walkon, but not even the walkon that we all thought it would be. (Not to pin the blame for this loss on him by ANY stretch. I never saw the first blocked kick, but there's not a kicker in the world who could've made the second one.)
And yet, with all that out there, we all still thought that this was going to be an easy win, because let's face it they're a Division I-AA team and we're a top five team in the country. I threw the 49-9 number out there, more as a joke than anything, but I did think it would be fairly close at halftime and Michigan would end up winning by 25-30.
Never did I see this coming, and now I feel stupid for not expecting at least a battle. Look at the past history:
-Against an eventual 4-8 team in Vanderbilt last year, it was 13-7 until late in the third quarter.
-4-8 Northwestern had us in a 10-3 game late in the third quarter and we ended up winning 17-3...granted the weather was awful in this one.
-5-7 Ball State (who lost to North Dakota State and Indiana) had 5 shots inside Michigan's 10 yard line (as deep as the 2) with a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter of that tilt.
-4-7 San Diego State (whose wins were against Air Force, UNLV, Idaho State and Nevada) led 21-17 at halftime, and missed two field goals in the second half that would've tied the game back up.
-Utah, who ended the year at 5-6 and only beat Indiana, Utah State, UNLV, BYU, and Wyoming, only lost 10-7 and had the ball on their own 32 with a chance to tie or win in the closing minutes.
-Miami (OH) (who did end up 7-6) trailed 17-6 in the third quarter and was driving, but had a pass picked off in the endzone. That was their last real threat as Michigan then won going away.
Like I said, it's not like it's anything new for Michigan to screw around with opponents who are theoretically cupcakes. That's six times in the last six years where the Wolverines have played fairly tight games against bad opponents. And three of those games (Utah, San Diego State, and Ball State) we legitimately could have lost.
It shouldn't have been a shocker that this game was close or that Michigan actually had a chance to lose to one of our "cupcake opponents". After all, it happens about once a year where we're in an unexpected nail-biter.
The shocker is that the red flags were there, and no one seemed to pick up on it.