Special Thanks to Mark Kolanowski
Finally the fans in Michigan Stadium got to evaluate this year’s edition of their Wolverine’s against a well-coached and ranked team with talent, grit, a physical capability and aggressive attitude. At game time, M was ranked 4th in the nation.
Wisconsin’s Badgers entered the Stadium as the eighth ranked team in the nation, undefeated in four games. The Badgers held notable victories over LSU at home, and Saturday before last Spartan Stadium rang with the Badger’s victory cheers. The tough Badger’s defense swarmed and smashed the Spartans 30-6, displaying unexpected excellence.
Badger LB, J.W. Watt was outstanding in that game, making 6 tackles, and nailing 2.5 sacks plus 2 QB hurries, again Saturday. Week before last he was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He was outstanding against the Wolverines Saturday, too.
Wisconsin unveiled a Freshman QB in his first start at MSU. He was up to the occasion, tossing for 195-yards and a TD. He was named Big Ten Offensive player of the Week for facing down the Spartans. He did not produce as well against the Wolverines. He threw for 88-yards on 9 completions. He also threw 3 interceptions, with no TDs.
THE REMARLKABLE JOURDAN LEWIS INTERCEPTION: The Wolverines got three interceptions, one of which was by Jourdan Lewis. That interception was “Woodsonesque” in the difficulty and improbability of its execution. Much like Woodson’s storied side line grab against MSU in 1997, which helped pave his way to a Heisman Trophy. This Woodson catch still radiates and is recalled with awe.
The Lewis effort came as he was airborne and falling backwards and leaping upwards with the intended receiver close behind him, he stretched one arm up and filled his hand with football, caught it against his thigh, and hung on. Harbaugh indicated that he thought Lewis had jumped a tad early, but he hung at the top of the leap long enough to make the grab. Jourdan’s catch will have a similar half- life to Woodson’s.
The anxiously awaited 2016 Wolverine Football season finally arrived Saturday on a beautiful afternoon, as it has on so many Saturday afternoons. There was a two jet flyover, the usual spectacle of band, cheerleaders, dancers, and luminaries such as Honorary Captain Michael Jordan, and former Michigan greats. The stands brimmed with over 110,000 fans.
But this year it was different. It was too early for the smell of burning autumn leaves, but after the game started there was the faint odor of 17 burning redshirts as 17 freshman committed themselves to using their first year of eligibility. What! Unheard of!
This year expanded fan expectations and a ton of hype roared down the tunnel along with the Wolverines. The Wolverines started the season projected as seventh nationally in the AP poll, but second to Ohio State in the Big Ten East race.
The demolition of the Rainbow Warriors Saturday will not diminish expectations, but maintain and encourage them. Even after careful consideration of the Rainbow Warriors many football shortcomings this year, this was an outstanding opening performance by the Wolverines, by both the youngsters and the old guard. The defense as a unit had ten TFLs, four sacks, two pick sixes, and a forced fumble. Hawaii was 1 for 11 on third downs. LBs Mike McCray, Jabrill Peppers and Ben Gedeon combined for 24 tackles.