Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Boring? We'll take it.

First of all, I'd like to say that I'm not interested in leaving this blog for any NFL job. Hey, Charlie Weis got a 10-year extension from doing that, so I'm trying it too. A 10-year extension for a guy who hasn't yet coached a full season at Notre Dame (and was far from their first choice for the job)? Wow. Can I find anything like that in the classifieds?

Okay, moving on to last night's game, I don't think I've ever enjoyed a snoozefest of a game more. Well, "enjoyed" is probably too strong a word, but after the last five weeks of nail-biting, defibrilating football from Michigan, it was nice to sit back and relax.

(Image by John T. Grelick/ The Detroit News)

Hell, midway through the fourth quarter, I was checking to see what I'd received in the mail from Netflix and debating whether to start Donovan McNabb or Mark Brunell on my fantasy football team. I watched the game to the end, but it hardly received my undivided attention once it became clear that Northwestern's offense just wasn't going to do anything against that Michigan defense.

And that last sentence isn't one I thought I'd be typing after last night's game. 17 points from Northwestern? Sure, maybe after the first quarter. That didn't quite happen, but it looked possible after Brett Basanez rolled up 149 yards passing. But the Michigan defense ensured there wouldn't be another 50-point outburst in Evanston (and can you imagine if this U-M offense had to keep up in a shootout?) in possibly its best effort of the season. Are spread offenses still scary for Michigan fans? Not so much. Mobile (semi-mobile, in Basanez's case) quarterback? Contained, flustered, and flattened.

The defense received a little help from a run-heavy, ball-control game plan that kept Northwestern's offense off the field. Mike Hart's not playing? Oh no! But the redemption of Jerome Jackson continued, as he rushed for 105 yards. And Kevin Grady added another 64. Oh yes. Garrett Rivas also deprived me of much material by converting all four of his field goal attempts.

Of course, it wasn't perfect. If there's nothing to complain about, there's nothing to write about, right? Chad Henne still isn't playing well. He completed 17-of-30 passes for 174 yards and three interceptions. Most of those passes were of the quick throw/ skip/ screen variety to the wide receivers. (Actually, most of those probably counted as running plays.) And one of those interceptions - a Hail Mary throw just before halftime - basically didn't count.

The end of the first half, however, was infuriating. After Grant Mason intercepted Basanez, Michigan had a chance to put the game away before halftime. But three straight runs into the line and settling for a field goal gave Northwestern a break - which they immediately capitalized upon, taking only 49 seconds to score a touchdown, cut Michigan's lead to 27-17, and send me into a swearing, throwing-things tirade that would've made my mother wonder how well she raised me. But any and all momentum Northwestern gained from that play ended at halftime. Who would've predicted that to happen?

All I have left is one question: Is this too late in the season for a bye week? Lloyd says no way.


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