Sunday, September 9, 2012

Game recap: Michigan vs. Air Force, 9/8/12

As I mentioned yesterday, I was able to score a pair of free tickets so Jeff and I could see Michigan's home opener against Air Force in-person.  We made it in plenty of time, the weather was literally perfect, and in the end we got to enjoy a very enjoyable (if extremely uncertain) Michigan win.  Some photos, highlights and comments:

As we awaited game time, we were reminded once again that this is Team 133.  The previous meeting with Air Force, by the way, was a Michigan win in 1964 (which was also the home--and season--opener). 
The band, of course, doing what they do best. 
Michigan legend Bennie Oosterbaan is the latest player to have his number "un-retired" in the form of a Legends jersey.  LB Jake Ryan graciously accepted the number and then proceeded to pretty much play the game of his life, coming up big in multiple spots in a close game.  By the way, if the name sounds familiar that's because Adam of MCM very awesomely sent his RC to me way back in January.
"We are #1; all others are number two and lower."  --The Sphinx, Mystery Men 
Denard leads the team out to touch the banner! 
Ridiculously awesome flyover during the National Anthem as this was some sort of Military Appreciation Week.  We were also treated to an eagle flying while the music played, but I didn't do a good enough job of snapping a picture of that. 
Unlike Ohio, we can spell.  That's the Michigan Difference©
The Game:

Kickoff.  Most of them ended up being touchbacks, and I'm not sure how much I really care for the new rule that brings them out to the 25. 
Denard scores on Michigan's second offensive play, a 79-yard run.  No surprise as he was the show again today with 20 carries for 218 yards and two scores, plus 14/25 passing for 208 yards and another two TDs.  He'd later tack on a 58-yard TD to start the second half after a brilliant kickoff return by freshman Dennis Norfleet.
Running out of the shotgun, I believe in the second quarter. 
KRs Drew Dileo (at the 11) and Dennis Norfleet await a kickoff. 
After Jeff and I enjoyed being in the shade for a while, it clouded up (but never rained), meaning the lights came on.  I reminded him that we were undefeated Under the Lights. 


The Air Force and Michigan bands put on an excellent halftime show, including "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."  What I learned today:  apparently I love a girl in uniform!
 At one point the girls started tap dancing on those tiny boxes, which looked great.

Second half: 

Denard's aforementioned TD after the outstanding Norfleet kick return to open the half.  "24 seconds" is misleading since it doesn't include the time the return took--what I'm saying here is that Denard is FAST. 

The only time Michigan Stadium ISN'T the home of the largest crowd watching college football on a given day is whenever we're not playing.  As I joked to friends later, that's more people than Buckeyes and Spartans can count!

Quick game recap:
Michigan looked a bit lost early against the Falcons' gimmicky triple-option, but after a long Air Force drive stalled with a missed FG, Denard took the second play to the house, and it looked like the ghosts of last week might have left the building.  The defense, however, continued to have a roller coaster of a game trying to defend everyone that could possible get the ball.  The Wolverines were bailed out when a wide-open Falcon bobbled a wide-open pass with nobody withing 30 yards of him, then fell to the turf.  Still, the defense showed some good flashes against an offensive scheme they won't see again.  And multiple times with the game in doubt, they came up huge when they needed to in the 4th quarter.

The offense was as much of an enigma with the usual display of dropped passes combined with great ones; awesome throws by Denard coupled with multiple "what was he seeing?"-type plays; Denard with all the success running and a surprising failure of the O-line to get anything going for Fitz Toussaint.  Fortunately Robinson ended up with the only turnover of the game, a pick that was the result of a high pass off a WRs hands and grabbed by Air Force.  Unfortunately, he couldn't keep things going consistently enough to give Michigan a comfortable lead.  Poor clock management by the team at the end of the first half didn't help either.

But in the end, we got what we expected:  a video game stats-type day out of Denard and another win for the Maize and Blue.  It was a fun experience as always, and I wanted to leave a few notes as well:
  • First and foremost, I'm very proud of our fans for doing so much to make the Air Force team and fans feel welcome.  This includes cheering (NOT booing) when the team was announced, and even giving an amazing standing ovation to all the service men and women at the game--probably the signature moment of the experience for me.
  • More credit is due to the Air Force band who, as small as they were, made themselves heard.  I also shouldn't forget their fans who traveled well and made sure to make some noise as well.  Kudos!
  • It took me longer than it should have to realize this was the first time I'd ever seen Denard play in-person.  If you think he looks fast on TV, you should see him live!
  • Like that new beer commercial points out, superstitions aren't weird if they work:  with Air Force killing us on 3rd downs all game, and with Michigan only up 6 points late in the 4th, I started sitting (when everyone else was standing) on key 3rd and 4th downs, which I think Brady Hoke will note was the difference when it counted the most.  Happy to do whatever it takes to help, coach.
  • There's still nowhere else I'd rather be watching a live football game in the entire world.  Ann Arbor > everywhere else!


  1. Great pics from a great day. Thanks again for the invite.

    I second your first point, it was a unique experience playing one of the armed forces. And I've read reports that the Air Force Academy were quoted that they were treated with respect from everyone. And that makes me proud of our fans and team.

    And you don't have to ask Hoke, I'll vouch that your staying seated worked. Good thing you were there.

    1. Yeah, definitely very cool--I wouldn't complain too much if we scheduled another service academy again at some point. I like to think we wouldn't talk shit about actually beating them...unlike NOTRE DAME.

      And thanks for backing me up.

  2. Glad you guys got to have fun at the game. And if you ever get the chance to see a football game at the Air Force Academy, I highly recommend it. Great fun and tons of pomp and circumstance.

    1. Yeah, I bet that would be pretty great, and that's saying something considering they put on an impressive show as it was in AA.

  3. I still plan to make it to Michigan Stadijm some day before I die. It is one of the few things I must do. Thanks for putting up the pics showing me what I miss everytime the Wolverines play a home game!

    1. Haha, no problem, glad you enjoyed it, sort of. If you ever make it out here I could at least give you a place to stay!