The college football season started in full on Saturday, Sept.1. On that date, the University of Michigan Wolverines were ranked fifth in the nation and, on that date, Michigan was playing Appalachian State University. For those who are unfamiliar with the Appalachian State Mountaineers, it is a school located in Boone, N.C. It is also part of Division I-AA, which is considered a second tier in comparison to Division I-A – the schools you see on television. For Michigan this was a warm-up game, a gimmie – or was it? The Wolverines forgot two simple things. Number one: the Mountaineers have won the last two Division I-AA Championships. And number two: you have to actually show up to play.

From the beginning of the game to the end, the Mountaineers showed that they came to play. The spread offenses of the Mountaineers made the Wolverine defense look like Swiss cheese. In front of a stunned crowd of 110,000 Michigan fans, the Mountaineers stayed with the Wolverines step for step. The Mountaineers took the lead with 26 seconds left on the clock. Michigan quarterback Chad Henne threw a 46-yard pass to Mario Manningham to put Michigan within field goal range. With six seconds left in the game, the Wolverines special teams unit came onto the field for a game-winning field goal try. Like the rest of Michigan’s day, this try went terribly wrong. Poor execution on the play allowed Appalachian State’s Corey Lynch to knife through and block the kick to end the game.

The result sent a shockwave through the nation. For the first time in the 11-year history of the Associated Press, a Division I-AA team defeated a ranked Division I-A team. Michigan fell out of the AP Top 25. To add insult to injury, the upcoming opponent was the University of Oregon. The Ducks are a much more prominent team than Appalachian State. Like Appalachian State, Oregon utilizes the spread offense, but Michigan was home, and the “Big House” is still a great advantage.

Considering how unprepared the Wolverines were for the Mountaineers, one would figure that they would be better prepared for the Ducks. Michigan could not possibly lose two straight home games to start a season, right? Wrong! Oregon rolled into Ann Arbor and absolutely shellacked the Wolverines. At the end of the game, the scoreboard read Oregon 39, Michigan 7. It was the worst loss that Michigan had suffered since 1968. This is the first time that Michigan has opened a season with two straight losses at home since 1959. Michigan is now more than likely out of BCS bowl contention. It is unquestionable that the Wolverines appear to be in massive trouble. This is a premier team that has one of the best home advantages in all of sports. The mighty Wolverines seem like they are about to have a massive fall from grace. Coach Carr, who always seems to be rumored to be on the chopping block, is now legitimately in trouble. Carr’s discomfort with his job security could be in worse shape if Michigan does not turn around their season.

Here is the real question: how can mighty Michigan possibly start so poorly? There are a couple of possible reasons. One is the loss of talent. Michigan lost a large number of seniors, especially from the defense that last year ranked in the top 10 in Division I-A. In conjunction with that, we could say that the relative inexperience of the current players factored into poor performance. The second and even more important reason is the fact that Michigan was not ready to play. The players came out in each game and did not seem to be focused. The fact is that the team did not “show up.” They felt that their helmets and their home stadium would equal a win. All this adds up to an embarrassing 0-2 start and trouble in Ann Arbor.

Gillenson is a member of the class of 2010.



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