Monday, September 12, 2011

Game Week

TigerBlog was coming out of the supermarket Saturday evening when he saw ticket manager Stephanie Sutton on her way in.

She was clearly in a big hurry, stopping only to explain that she had to get home for the start of the Michigan-Notre Dame game.

As it turned out, hurrying home for the kickoff wasn't that big a deal. It was staying with the game to the end that would have been better.

After all, Michigan and Notre Dame played the best final minute of a college football game since, oh, Doug Flutie knocked off Miami with his "Hail Mary" pass in 1984.

In case you either turned off the game at 24-7 Notre Dame in the third quarter or simply fell asleep (TB did both), you missed an extraordinary final 15 minutes. Michigan scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter - including two in the final 1:12, TDs that happened to be sandwiched around a Notre Dame score that briefly put the Irish back on top after Michigan had taken the lead.

Michigan had 240 yards of offense in the fourth quarter. Denard Robinson, who threw for 338 yards on just 11 completions, had a Jeff Terrell-type moment when he scored after a running back was stopped near the goal line (though Robinson picked up a fumble as opposed to Terrell, who famously took a pitch from Rob Toresco against Penn in overtime in 2006).

The final 1:12 saw Michigan go up, Notre Dame calmly answer and the Michigan win it with a 16-yard touchdown pass with two seconds to go. Had the pass been incomplete, Michigan would have been able to tie it with a field goal or go for the win again.

As an aside, TigerBlog always rooted for Michigan before the unrootable Rich Rodriguez showed up to coach the team. From what he's seen, TB likes Brady Hoke.

TB assumed Notre Dame had won, until he flipped open his computer Sunday morning to see a picture of Michigan's celebration on and shook his head.

Had a BCS championship game ever ended the way Michigan-Notre Dame did, it would be instantly considered the greatest game ever played.

Another dramatic game from Saturday, albeit not on the Michigan-Notre Dame level, saw the teams combine for 953 yards of offense (731 of them through the air) and 52 first downs and the losing quarterback throw six touchdown passes.

This particular game was tied 41-41 at the end of regulation after one team came from 18 points to take the lead, only to see the other team tie it and then win 48-41 in OT.

The two teams were Lehigh and New Hampshire, who walked away with a thrilling 48-41 win over the Mountain Hawks in a game played at the very picturesque Goodman Stadium at Lehigh.

This coming weekend will be Week 3 for most teams in college - and high school - football.

In the Ivy League, it's Week 1. For Princeton, it means a home game Saturday at 6 against those same Lehigh Mountain Hawks.

It's a huge disadvantage for Ivy League teams to play opponents that have two games under their belts. A year ago, Ivy teams went 4-4 in season-openers - including a 19-14 Penn win over Lafayette that might have been a bit more one-sided later in the year.

By Week 2, Ivy teams were 3-1 outside the league.

Back in 2000, Ivy teams went away from opening with a league opponent in favor of non-league opponents in Week 1. Since then, Princeton is 3-8 in its openers - all of which have been against either Lafayette, Lehigh or The Citadel - for a winning percentage of .273.

In Weeks 2-10 in that time, Princeton has a winning percentage of .474.

The logic of not playing a league game in Week 1 is obvious, since the team that loses would be in a huge hole one game in and since teams probably aren't at their best in their first game.

This isn't unique to football, by the way. Ivy League schools are playing catch-up in field hockey and soccer as well.

Still, for Princeton football fans, there are worse ways to start a season.

Week 1? A very strong - and apparently exciting - Lehigh team.

Week 2? A Bucknell team coached by former Princeton offensive coordinator Joe Susan.

Week 3? Ivy opener against Columbia.

All three at home. All three at 6.

Ivy coaches and players - and fans for that matter - have to wait longer than anyone to get going. Still, once kickoff rolls around Saturday evening, that won't be an issue anymore.

Game week is here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the evening starts and hope it will bring more folks to the games.