It's late...and I can't sleep. Spartans are flooding the streets of AA and I wonder if we can handle the emotional stress of the coming clash. State, a monolithic entity that represents the barbaric hordes that invaded Rome, violent and mostly stupid, inferior and yet not explicitly so; after all the last two meetings have seen us come up on the short end of things. There is very little to say that hasn't already been said. I know this, but I still must say my peace.
I remember watching the 2007 Michigan-Michigan State game in my dorm room in West Quad, running down the halls and yelling until my lungs gave way after one Mario Manningham hauled in the game-winning touchdown. And yet, it all seems like a vague memory, something that might not have actually happened because it seems like it occurred so long ago...and yet, it did. We beat State. We haven't beaten them the last two years, but we can hope to write that off, a mere blip on the radar. We hope.
This year is different. I can feel it, and I know you can too. Denard Robinson won't let us lose, I know he won't. I watched him take the energy out of a stadium last week at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington. It was something. If you weren't there, you really missed out on something special. A Michigan away game, in general, is something to see. We are so hated around the Big Ten, even moreso this year. We have our own Tim Tebow, humble yet reviled because he is so good and so fast that he outruns the petty hatred of opposing fans, not even giving them a chance to catch their breath before he's in the endzone; kneeling, praying.
Other than the fact that we are Michigan, we have an indefatigable entity driving our team, a force that will not quit until he is partially broken, and even when he is dealt a blow that forces him out for a brief moment--comparable to the brief period of time that sees one Denard Robinson run from Michigan territory to the opponent's endzone--he is still there, still ready, in all his humility and skill, ready to do it all again. The same plays over and over again, because we need not do anything else. In life, you do what works until it fails, and until this point, we have not failed. Undefeated...invincible.
Amongst the rabid hysteria that is State weekend, I would like to pause and recognize Denard Robinson. Many have seemed to already take him for granted, as if he were some impersonal force that produces at will and without any sort of external influences. This is not the case. Denard is a product of the team. Yes, he is perhaps the greatest individual talent this team has seen since the 1997 campaign and Charles Woodson's run towards immortality; yet, it would do us all well to remember that it's all about The Team. Denard is but one. He is the heart and soul of this Michigan team, no doubt, but when you're heart and soul is ripped from you you cannot simply quit, give in to the forces that have impinged upon your the source of your comfort, the epicenter of your football world. If Denard goes down, support Tate, support Devin...too many times have I seen a Michigan crowd give up too early on a Michigan team. Please, don't give up. Whatever you do, support the team until it's over, until the last shred of potential victory has been eliminated, sent away, gone with the wind. Not today. Today is different. For once, State actually means something to us. It's okay to admit it; I really want to beat State, and not in a Hart-ian "we are Big Brother and you are Little Brother and therefore it is our divine right to beat you" kind of way, but a "we are equals, for once in our long and embattled history, and therefore we will beat you because we are simply better at what we do than you are at what you do" kind of way. It's okay. Accept it. We are at that point. We cannot rise until we beat those who so badly want to beat us. This is all a part of the resurrection. We are not truly "Michigan" yet, but, when we are, you will know that we are. It will hit you, and you will know. We are back; but, we are not. There is work to be done.
Unfortunately, emotion plays its part, and yet...it all comes down to execution. It seems cold and impersonal, but it is what it is. A missed block here or there, a Cam Gordon missed tackle in the secondary, etc., could swing the needle any which way. Football, this game, is often incomprehensible in its verdicts. All we can do...is hope. As fans, all we can do is yell, scream, and hope. Primal manifestations of our football fandom are all we have. And, I'm okay with that. I have my place, and so does Denard, and Coach Rod, and all the way down the line. We all have our part. Do your part.
Go Blue. Win...please.