5 Michigan Excuses for Losing to Michigan State and How to Shut Them Down
Michigan State has beaten Michigan in college football, so you know what that means: Let the excuses flow!
The rationalizations are out in full force, ranging from conspiracy theories about officials to the belief that Jim Harbaugh is so great that he actually outcoached himself.
There's no explaining this away, though:
But since we live in a divided state, and since many of us in green are having to suffer through a deluge of excuse-making from our blue counterparts, here are a few of the top evasions of reality I'm hearing from skunkbears, complete with a response for shutting each and every one of them down.
Actually, I agree with Michigan fans on this one. However, Bolden was still guilty of a late-hit penalty.
I can understand the official initially flagging Bolden for targeting considering the game happens quickly in real time, and officials are programmed now to do everything they can to keep quarterbacks safe. However, upon further review in slow motion, it's evident Bolden wasn't intentionally trying to go head-to-head on a defenseless player.
Even so, it was still a late-hit, which would have resulted in the same 15-yard penalty. And did Michigan even miss Bolden in the second half? I don't think so: Its defense still played pretty damn well.
This is rich.
There's an arcane rule in college football that a team setting up to receive a kick may not initiate contact with the long snapper until one full second after the snap.
It's one of those things that's never enforced, though. In fact, in all my years of watching and playing football, I've never witnessed a penalty called for that infraction.
What's more, it's really splitting hairs to even bring this esoteric rule up. But if you must (and make no mistake, many Michigan fans must), you've got to be fair about it.
What exactly do I mean by that? How about mentioning that second touchdown from Michigan? You know, the one where the Wolverine ball carrier never broke the plane of the goal line. The same play where MSU stood Michigan up behind the line, and officials ran in to start pulling players off the pile before an extremely late whistle was sounded?
If some wolverine is intent on invoking the antediluvian roughing-the-snapper rule, you should bring up the equally antiquated aiding-the-run infraction. That rule states that a ball carrier's teammates are not allowed to push him forward to gain yardage or, in this case, the end zone.
So when Sione Houma was leveraged forward by his teammates for a touchdown, by Michigan fans' logic, that also should have been flagged and disallowed.
Look, the officiating was questionable and bad at times on Saturday. But that works both ways. And anyone with an iota of objectivity will tell you that the calls did not ultimately determine the winner.
This is classic Michigan fan. It's always about them and what their team didn't do, not what the other team did.
Bottom line is MSU made one more play, and it came in the phase of the game that Michigan actually owned for 59:50 on Saturday. And it's not as if the bad snap on the punt attempt was an automatic victory for the Spartans. Give credit to Michigan State for having the alertness to quickly corral the loose ball and build a convoy around Jalen Watts-Jackson, who adroitly navigated the chaos on the field, stayed in bounds, leapt into the end zone and sacrificed his hip for one of the all-time legendary Spartan victories.
This is the easiest one to dispel as abject falsehood. And that's because numbers are antiseptic and not up for debate.
- MSU outgained Michigan in total yardage by a margin of 386-230
- MSU outgained Michigan in passing yardage by a margin of 328-168
- Rushing yardage was practically even as Michigan out-rushed MSU by a margin of 62-58
- MSU compiled 20 first downs to Michigan's 10
The numbers paint a pretty clear picture of domination and who was doing it unto whom. Give Michigan credit, though, as they owned the special teams portion of the game, outgaining the Spartans there by 100 yards. (Which makes it even more incredible that MSU won the game in that phase.)
This one will be the most fun to dissect as Michigan fans will fight to the bitter end to defend their infallible coach. And that's just it: Harbaugh is fallible. But give Michigan fans a break--it's hard finding out your god isn't real.
Don't get it twisted: The dude can flat-out coach. Don't pull a Michigan fan and try to minimize his accomplishments. But also don't pull a Michigan fan and defer to him as if he's a deity.
First of all, Michigan State beat Michigan in the phase of the game the Wolverines had dominated for the preceding 59:50. For some reason, Harbaugh, knowing full well State was coming for the punt block, left two gunners out wide--one of them completely uncovered. MSU had no one back for the return, meaning 10 guys were at the line of scrimmage. Michigan had eight men on the line to block, with one back to punt and two split out wide to cover the kick (for some reason).
At the very least, the uncovered gunner should have been shifted in as an added blocker against MSU's mathematically superior rush. Instead, Harbaugh left him out there all alone, meaning Michigan was basically playing that play down a man.
On that specific instance, Dantonio obviously outcoached Harbaugh. You have to have some kind of protection contingency in place, and for some reason Harbaugh did not and ultimately didn't put his players in the best position to win. Dantonio did.
In the overall scheme of things, it's even more obvious that Dantonio outcoached Harbaugh. Think about it: the Wolverines had everything going for them heading into this game. They had the home-field advantage. They had the hot streak of three consecutive shutouts. They had Michigan State limping into Ann Arbor without nine starters. They had a nine-point lead with less than 10 minutes left to play.
One of the head coaches had his team playing at its highest level, healthy and at home. The other one's guys were decimated by injuries, having barely gotten by cellar-dweller teams and on the road, and he won. Deal with it.