Tuesday, September 16

Worse Than It Looked

I remember I once lauded the Michigan Notre Dame rivalry as one of the nation's greatest because no matter how good the two teams were, the game was always a close one. Games that should have been blowouts were competitive, if not nailbiters. Then 2003 happened. #5 Michigan walloped the #15 Irish squad, 38-0. Ever since, the close games have been full of mistakes and the rest have been embarrassments for one team or the other, deserving of all the yakety-sax derision heaped upon them. Michigan's seven fumbles and two interceptions are all you need to know to determine which category this game belonged to. Though somehow, Notre Dame let the Wolverines hang around for nearly the entire contest.

Back to the game at hand. Friends who have seen other Michigan games this year claim that this was our strongest outing yet, and I believe them because they're honest, thinkin' folks. Plus, they seem to agree with MGoBlog's take. Still, that was pretty excruciating, not to mention disconcerting. What I once held up as one of the true pinnacles of college football is now a dead rivalry because one of the two teams is certifiably dead. And that team won the game. Because if Notre Dame couldn't dominate this Michigan team, especially when gifted six turnovers, the Fighting Irish are officially down for the count. After the game, Charlie Weis said, "We definitely showed up against a good opponent and it’s sweet." I can count at least three incorrect aspects to that sentence and one resides in a gray area. As I said last week, Notre Dame desperately needed to win this game. But to win it like this is almost worst. Had they lost - lost to the worst Michigan team since 1968 - they could have cut bait, thrown Charlie Weis and his bumb knee overboard and went about hiring a real head coach. This win is a reprieve of Weis and a reason not to eat his bloated contract at the end of the season. There is still a chance that such a thing happens, but Weis has now proven his hiring a failure. That's why, even though they won, Notre Dame lost. They won't be playing like champions any day soon, and I honestly feel badly for them. Heck. I feel badly for the game of college football. It never should have come to this.

At least I was finally able to watch some college football here in Buenos Aires. I found a bar here that was loaded with fans from all over - Texas A+M, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State (yikes!), USC, Auburn, UCLA (double yikes!), and a gigantic contingent from Georgia. It would have been a great time if it weren't for those damn fumbles. Heck, it was a great time anyway. I got to hear from fans of the Big 12, Pac Ten, and SEC how awful the Big Ten is. What fun! How peeved are they going to be when either Wisconsin or Penn State runs the table and ends up in Miami? Really peeved, that's how peeved! And I'll be at "El Alamo" with them to hear further grievances. The .500 bowl record versus the SEC is my lone trump card - a weak one at that, but I plan to continue playing it as long as I can (likely termination date - January 1st, 2009). The real test is if I come back next week when Michigan has a bye. We'll see.

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