Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Saturday, October 22, 2005

A house divided

Can a young man get in a quickie Michigan-Iowa blog before the game is over? I wanted to post this yesterday, but something... er... hell, I don't know what came up. Anyway. Just before the game starts, I'll try to squeeze some predictions in. But first, please indulge me as I fill in some background.

It's a conflicted day for Casa de Casselberry, largely a Michigan household. But for one Saturday a year, there's one lone holdout. Me. See, I was born and raised in Ann Arbor. Michigan has always been my team. Virtually every Saturday, I'd sit in front of the TV with my Dad, watching the Wolverines, and agonizing over every play. If they won, of course it was a good day. If they'd lose, we'd spend hours wondering what the hell happened. Just like every other Michigan fan. And life moved on normally.

Then I had to go to school at Iowa (I'll spare you the "why" details), and things changed a little bit. Of course, I still rooted for Michigan, riding the emotional roller coaster with my Dad each Saturday. And I knew Iowa City was only going to be a temporary stop for me, so I never really fully embraced the place. But a little trickle of black-and-gold found its way into my maize-and-blue blood. I couldn't help it. The people were just too nice, and the school was very, very good to me. It took two years, but somewhere in my chest, there's a soft spot for the Hawkeyes. And that's made the Michigan-Iowa football game a little more interesting in my family.

Now that I'm back in Ann Arbor, however, it's been difficult to keep up with all things Hawkeyes. (Hell, I've learned more about this year's Iowa team, and how they look going into the Michigan game, from mgoblog than any other resource. And I owe a tip of the gratitude cap to Brian for linking over here the past couple of weeks and giving my fledgling readership a boost. Thanks, YMMFer.) I've fallen back into the old patterns with Michigan. It's like slipping back into that old comfortable pair of jeans that you haven't worn all summer but feel great when the weather gets cooler.

So what about the game, Ian? Okay, okay - enough of the sepia-toned nostalgia. Here's what I think: I wonder if the spectacular win over Penn State covered up the flaws that this Michigan team still has? Chad Henne, up until the fourth quarter, wasn't playing that well. And the defense let Penn State put together some big drives. If Michigan hadn't scored with no time left, and there would've been an opportunity to drive back down the field, could the defense have stopped Penn State? Of course, we'll never know and it doesn't matter. That was the kind of win that can ignite a team and turn around a season.

Iowa's struggled, too. They had two bad, 20+ point losses to Iowa State (??) and Ohio State. And it's difficult to say just how good this team is, when their last three wins were earned against Illinois, Purdue, and Indiana, the chafe of the Big 10. The defensive line lost key players to graduation. And the secondary is banged up. But if the linebackers can manage a pass rush, Henne's shown he doesn't always react well to pressure.

Another encouraging thing for Iowa is its running game. It's back, which is to say, they actually have one. Last year, virtually every single running back on the roster got hurt. The Hawkeyes were about three pulled hamstrings and sprained ankles from asking me for a tryout. And, well, I can't run. Shifty, but no speed. And I'm short. Healthy hamstrings, though. Anyway, Michigan's struggled defending the run, so if Iowa can gain yards on the ground, its offense - despite the injury to #1 receiver Ed Hinkel - looks damn good. Michigan's defense was already going to have a hard time trying to keep tabs on the elusive Drew Tate, who runs and throws well.

My sister tried to give me shit this week; "You're not going to root for Iowa, are you?" Well, Lil' Sis, I'm torn. (See above.) A loss to Iowa would essentially crush Michigan's chances for a Big 10 championship (admittedly slim) or a New Year's Day bowl game (which has become something of a given for Wolverine fans). Yet I know how special a win over Michigan would be for Iowa. The PedMall would be a non-stop party Saturday and Sunday.

So maybe it's a copout, Lil' Sis, but I just want a good game. Am I biased? Maybe, but your guess is as good as mine which way that turns. Call it a gut feeling, with a little bit of Crash Davis ("Never fuck with a winning streak!") thrown in for Iowa's record at Kinnick Stadium (22 wins in a row), but I think we're looking at a divided Casa de Casselberry.

Iowa 20, Michigan 16.

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  • At October 24, 2005 2:23 AM, Blogger mayday said…

    Glad you were wrong. Must be tough to reconcile your allegiances. I have often toyed with adopting new NFL teams out of fury with the Lions' utter predictability (but the one I have the longest-standing affection for is the 49ers, which does me FA good in terms of distracting me from futility!) but can't ever imagine anything competing with my devotion to Michigan. Hell, I like State okay too, and am disappointed when they lose inexplicable games like on Saturday, but it'll be cold in hell the day I feel conflict over the U-M/MSU game.

  • At October 24, 2005 6:50 AM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Reconciling my allegiances came sort of unexpectedly. I never thought I'd possibly be rooting for Iowa against Michigan. But I just felt myself doing it the last three years. However, it depends on circumstances. If Iowa had no chance for a Big 10 title, I wouldn't want to see them play spoiler to Michigan.

    But really, I'm just glad it was a good game.

  • At October 26, 2005 9:04 AM, Blogger Chris of Dangerous Logic said…

    That makes here probably the safest place to admit this (although if Brian finds out I'll undoubtedly be delinked, banned, and maybe actually killed):

    I went to Michigan State and am still a Michigan State hockey fan.

    Make no mistake - I love Michigan football and have since Dennis Franklin was QB. Going to MSU was mostly an economic decision (although in the early '80s, MSU's CS program was generally considered superior to Michigan's), and while I was there I discovered college hockey. Now during that time frame, State was on top, Michigan was bad - REALLY bad - and MSU's primary rival was actually Bowling Green. Maybe if Michigan had been good during that time, I would have stuck with them. Who knows? At any rate, the 1986 National Championship is a fond memory. And we didn't even burn any couches in celebration!

    OK, my secret's out. Be gentle.

  • At October 26, 2005 7:27 PM, Blogger Ian C. said…

    Chris, you're safe here. The eventual permutation of this blog might end up being a support group of people who were raised Michigan fans, yet found themselves going elsewhere, only to come back and wrestle with conflicted loyalties.

    Now if you can come up with a name for that blog...


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