Rich Rodriguez Redemption: A Preview of Coming Attractions

Bart NielsenContributor ISeptember 28, 2008

Okay, I'll admit it. I thought about doing something useful on my Saturday afternoon when halftime rolled around during the Michigan-Wisconsin football game. But curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see just how badly this could get out of hand. 

Wisconsin led, 19-0, and Michigan's offense was sputtering and faltering like an investment bank loaded with mortgage-backed securities. The special teams crew was considering having the kicker return kicks after Morgan Trent fumbled the most recent kick off his own knee.

Of course, the Badgers should have been up by more. They were gift-wrapped field position for most of that first half, but couldn't quite get the ball in the end zone against a stout Michigan defense.

Most years, I would reassure myself that a comeback was surely in order after Wisconsin couldn't take full advantage of its opportunities. This year...not so much. I had written them off. The second half would merely be another showcase of awkward lateral passes and Sam McGuffie getting swallowed up behind the line of scrimmage.

Then something happened. Steven Threet started connecting on his passes. Before you know it, a tight end named Kevin Koger (yet another freshman) caught a 26-yard skinny post pass and cracked the egg on the scoreboard, 19-7. Is this how the spread is supposed to work?

On the next drive, one of the old fogeys, Brandon Minor, got in on the action and scored on a 36-yard touchdown run. I forgot how fast this guy was.

Suddenly it's 19-14...are you kidding me? Do they have a shot at winning this thing?

Then I remembered there was this guy named Mike Barwis, a psychotic strength-and-conditioning coach who could not only make you run sprints for two hours straight but also give a two-hour dissertation on the mechanics of your muscle fibers. He helped these Wolverines become lean and mean. Your daddy's Michigan defense wouldn't have withstood being on the field for so long after the offense went three-and-out almost every possession.

Wisconsin, on the other hand, had seen a third quarter where its defense labored through back-to-back long sustained Michigan drives, and the hands started going to the hips.

The maize and blue jerseys suddenly became a bit more slippery. Before the Badgers knew it, they were down, 27-19. That's 27 consecutive points, the biggest comeback in Michigan Stadium history.

Wisconsin almost tied it up late, but a penalty followed by an overthrown pass failed the two-point conversion in the 27-25 final.

Now, let's not get too excited. This will be a season filled with frustration and turnovers, and, yes, that means Big Ten losses.

What we can take from this is reassured faith in the future of this team. With continued recruiting success and the type of athletes that fit Rich Rodriguez's system, U-M football will be just fine. Enjoy the process, and remember this win.