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Sunday, September 17, 2006

9/16/2006 - Michigan 47(!)-21 Notre Dame - 3-0

They did it, you know. Notre Dame read the damn preview and decided to execute the Plan of Fear outlined therein. They shoved every available player within six yards of the line of scrimmage and dared him. They dared him to do something about it. To prove it.

One double move from The New Math and a ball that sizzled fifty yards through the air before nestling itself between the "8" and "6" that at once seem so wrong and so right on Mario Manningham's jersey, he lined up three dots in a triangle, placed a comma, and said: QED, MFer. This problem is solved. But they asked twice more, and he repeated the proof.

Sometimes -- not always, but sometimes -- Chad Henne is just gangsta like that.

And thus the biggest win since... OSU 2003? Probably farther back in the mists of prehistory than that. Certainly the biggest win since this star-crossed blog came into existence. 47-21. Aided, certainly, by Notre Dame's five turnovers, but when one team is forced to bring every player available within ten yards of Mike Hart to prevent getting ground to bits and the other spends its time definitively proving that Laura Quinn may not have gotten the family's looks but she definitely picked up its balls the outcome of the game is something of a foregone conclusion. As long as Chad dots that triangle. Which he did: quod, erat, and demonstrandum. (via IBFC)

And God, it feels gooooooood. Last year provided but one comparable moment, not coincidentally also delivered by The New Math, and even that was a momentary blip that prevented us from falling under .500. This is different. This is staring at an apparently weak Big Ten with a defense that can be compared to that of 1997 with a straight face for once.

Yes. It's time: 1997. Not to be lost in the point orgy is the 248 yards yielded by a Michigan defense in the full phoenix-bloom of remembered glory that Ron English has brought forth. Even Georgia Tech's blitzing monstrosity yielded almost 400; Penn State's dedication to bending, then breaking held down the possessions enough to keep them under 400. Neither did anything approximating what Michigan did. Notre Dame averaged 4.6 yards per pass and 0.2 per run. Seven of the points yielded were a gift from Henne's first pass; seven more were due to a Hermannesque soft zone on the final drive before the half (English would later say "that's more on me than the players"); Notre Dame's final touchdown was heavily aided by questionable refereeing decisions.

This was domination. Notre Dame totaled four rushing yards. Brady Quinn spent the day attempting to remember where he was, then quickly attempting to pretend he was anywhere else. Sorry, kid: there's no happy place on this field. There are only angry places filled with men named Crable, Woodley, Branch, and Burgess. By the end, Quinn was scrambling from freshman Brandon Graham and cipher Jeremy Van Alstyne, flinging passes anywhere in an attempt to prevent the next crippling blow. It was less fooball and more bloodsport by then.

By the time Crable and Burgess doused Lloyd Carr with a well-deserved shower of ice water, Michigan had demonstrated they are not back but simply here. There is a resiliency in this program dating back to the day Bo took Michigan out against Woody in 1969 and beat the Buckeye monstrosity back to Ohio. You tell them they cannot, and they do. You tell them they don't matter, and they do. They are constant, something that has been more curse than blessing over the past few years, but now Michigan says: I am here. I have been here. I will be here. I have proven that much.