Sunday, October 21, 2007

Michigan Survives Shaky First Quarter, Defeats Ilinois 27-17

A wide receiver reverse-pass for a touchdown? From Michigan? It was indeed a strange night in Champaign, where the University of Michigan football team, without their heart (no pun intended -- well, okay, maybe a little), running back Mike Hart, and without their starting quarterback Chad Henne for some of the game, held on and fought off a tough Illinois team to escape with a Big Ten road victory, their sixth straight after the team's disastrous 0-2 start.

It did not look good early for the Wolverines, who fell behind 14-3, and had lost their quarterback to an undisclosed injury. But, showing the fight which was missing the first two weeks of the season, Michigan refused to fade, and kept fighting back, eventually taking the lead for good in the second quarter. Carlos Brown filled in admirably for Mike Hart, and while true freshman Ryan Mallet looked shaky at times (a couple bad turnovers, and a sack which really raised the hackles of head coach Lloyd Carr) he had a beautiful touchdown pass to Adrian Arrington in the back of the endzone. And Henne continued to show he is tougher than most people give him credit for, coming back from not one, but two injuries which had knocked him out of the game.

Illinois, though, certainly helped Michigan out with their own poor play and mistakes. Time after time, Illinois seemed to hand Michigan unearned first downs, and eventually it came back to haunt them. A roughing the punter call (which admittedly was a bit weak), an unnecessary facemask personal foul on what would have been a fourth down, and 8 other penalties which led to 107 Michigan yards. Michigan won this game, but Illinois certainly helped out and did their part to blow it as well.

One more October game (home next week against Minnesota) and then the true test begins for the Wolvernes. A November featuring road games at Michigan State and Wisconsin, and a home showdown with Ohio State. With hopefully Mike Hart back healthy, and the team having some momentum, anything can happen (especially in this college football season. But, we can't count on teams beating themselves every week. If we do, it is going to be a long, cold November in Ann Arbor.

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