The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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58 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2022 F or those not wearing red on Nov. 26, 2021, that Satur- day proved to be a glorious afternoon in Michigan Stadium. Some fans in attendance openly wept when Jim Harbaugh's sev- enth U-M football team finished a 42-27 beating of Ohio State, led by dominant offensive line play, running back Hassan Haskins' 5 touchdowns, and edge Aidan Hutchinson's dominant defen- sive performance. Some fans we've spoken with were so nervous in the fourth quarter that they went to the concourse after OSU cut the def- icit to a touchdown with 4:45 re- maining. They feared they'd seen the end of the movie too many times before and didn't want to jinx it. The victory meant that much to that many. It still does … not just to the fans, but also to the players and coaches. Though they've turned the page at Schem- bechler Hall, they also know what a critical moment — perhaps a turning point — the 2021 win was for the pro- gram. "We're looking forward, but it's al- ways good to reminisce if somebody brings it up," junior receiver/return man A.J. Henning said. "That was probably the best game and best environment I've ever been a part of. "When I see a highlight from the game, it's always good to watch. When I see the picture of everybody storming the field, it's always fun to go back and look at that, too." He's heard about playing in Colum- bus from some of his older teammates, and now he's looking to the next one, as he should. Rivalries are only that if one team can invade the other's stadium with a legit chance to win most of the time. However, the Wolverines haven't won at Ohio Stadium since 2000 with Drew Henson (now 42 years old) at quarterback. It won't be easy. The list of Big Ten opponents to have beaten the Buckeyes in Columbus in the last 10 years reads like this: 1. Michigan State That's it. End of list. And that was a 2015 contest in which the weather played a major factor in a 17-14 OSU loss. Ohio State, in fact, has only dropped four home games total in that span, also falling to Virginia Tech, Oklahoma and Oregon (last year). That might be one of the reasons season ticket sales have been on the decline down south (until you smell it, east until you step in it). It's almost boring, frankly, when you go to a game so assured of the outcome. Yes, even drubbing a rival as hated as "Meatchicken" can become mundane. You knew something was wrong a few years back when OSU fans (and their young children … and their grandpar- ents) weren't spitting at the Michigan fans when they arrived in town or flip- ping off the U-M players on the bus. Heck, the number of gold pants play- ers got for beating Michigan still rivals Quinn Ewers jerseys as the most popular Buckeye items available on eBay. In short … it's time. A two-game winning streak with a win in Co- lumbus would make it "game on" again for the rivalry, and it might even be enough to make some fans storm coach Ryan Day's house with torches and pitch- forks. And having been there the last time it happened, we can state unequivocally that there's noth- ing quite like witnessing the fu- neral procession after a Michigan win in the 'Shoe. "I think this one's slipping away," the dejected press box P.A. announcer said to his spot- ter in the fourth quarter of U-M's 38-26 win in 2000, accidentally leaving his microphone on for everyone in the media to hear. Flat out, it was special, and it's something every Wolverine should experience in his Michi- gan career at least once. "I hope I top it this year," senior de- fensive lineman Mike Morris said, an- other indication that they get it. It's not about what you did, but about what's next. Even so, they have every right to ap- preciate how special last year's win was, too. "That's going to be a hard one to top," Morris continued. "That's going to be a core memory. We always talk about that … a core memory, for sure. "The atmosphere was crazy, like get- ting on a roller coaster. You just have the time of your life. There's not that pit in your stomach or nerves — it was just going around having the time of your life." That's the attitude it's going to take to do it again, only this time with 100,000 plus in red rooting against them. But it's long past due, and there's enough talent — and now, know-how among those who've done it before — to do it again. ❏ Chris Balas has been with The Wolver- ine since 1997. Contact him at cbalas@ and follow him on Twitter @Balas_Wolverine. INSIDE MICHIGAN   CHRIS BALAS Next Step: Beat The Bucks (Again) The next step in revitalizing its rivalry with Ohio State will be for Michigan to earn its first victory in The Horseshoe since 2000. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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