January 01, 2007

The Granddaddy of them all...

If it weren't for Ohio State-Florida, this game would be a fine ending to the year.

We're over at the sister and brother-in-laws house, getting ready for the start of Michigan vs. USC. I'll make a prediction now that you don't see Pete Carroll flummoxed in two straight games. Both teams are loaded with talent that will play on Sundays, however, Michigan would be losing two games in a row if they go down as well. This should be fun!

5:10 PM
- Michigan will get the ball first, as USC wins the toss and defers.

5:28 PM - Two heavyweights feeling each other out as both teams continue to exchange punts. A couple of first downs here and there, but so far this is a grudge match with either side unwilling to give in first.

5:33 PM - USC moves into Michigan territory on a pass from Booty to Jarrett. Another completed pass puts SC in the red zone. Trojans get a Mario Danelo field goal from 30-yards out to take the early 3-0 lead.

5:44 PM - First quarter ends with Michigan reaching SC territory but being forced into an upcoming third and long after a sack by Dallas Sartz and tackle for loss by Oscar Lua.
USC 3, Michigan 0.

5:50 PM - Michigan coverts on a Henne to Manningham pass down to the 30 yard line. The Wolverines bog down but get a 43-yard FG from Garrett Rivas. Michigan 3, USC 3.

6:00 PM - The first miscue of the game occurs as Booty fumbles after being hit, recovered by Alan Branch of Michigan. The Michigan faithful in the house feel fortunate.

6:07 PM - USC records three sacks on the Michigan "drive" and force the punt. Basically we have the issue of a Michigan line that is not blocking, giving Henne no chance to get the ball to their weaponry. The brother-in-law is not happy.

6:12 PM - The running games' are simply not there for either team. Third and longs are the norm as USC faces their third and long near midfield. The graphic just put up showed -19 yards for Michigan, 2 for USC.

6:17 PM - This game is a snoozer. Boring offense, tons of defense. 3-3 score. Six weeks since Michigan took the field, four for USC and both are showing the rust spots.

6:23 PM - Halftime. Michigan 3, USC 3. SC has ran the ball for 20 yards. Michigan has 24 yards on the ground. Quarterbacks are completing passes when they remain upright. 8-of-12 for 86 yards for Henne, 10-for-14 for 106 yards for Booty. Each team is containing the other not allowing a thing. Michigan got the only turnover of the half but could not move the ball. The offenses are sluggish, while the defenses are dictating the game. The first team to make a mistake could very well lose.

6:51 PM - Trojans come out, get eight yards on a pass then stonewalled on two straight up the middle runs. Carroll is playing not to lose.

6:55 PM - Lawrence Jackson stays at home and intercepts the Henne screen pass. Michigan had just gotten a first down off Hart running well, but now USC gets their first break.

7:00 PM - Touchdown SC. Booty to Chris McFoy wide open on a good play action roll out. SC capitalizes on the Michigan turnover, now the Wolverines will have to answer. Carroll still seems to be playing this game not to lose, helped by the turnover instead of a creative offense. Michigan was establishing the run with Hart before the INT, so it will be interesting to see if they go back to that. USC 10, Michigan 3.

7:08 PM - Coming up could be the old Carroll at his most lethal. Michigan needs to get a turnover after going nowhere again. Here is where Pete usually hammers down with a big play, deep.

7:15 PM - USC uses quick slants to negate the Michigan pass rush. One on one in the secondary leads to quick passes and missed tackles. Booty goes 22 yards to Jarrett for the score, but Danelo misses the extra point. USC 16, Michigan 3.

7:22 PM - Trojans get the fumble after the Michigan offensive line gives up another hit on Henne. Michigan might have a great offense, but these o-linemen all need to stay in school from what I am seeing.

7:25 PM - Fourth down attempt for USC is very close on a sneak by Booty. The Wolverines are on the block now, Carroll is ready to chop it off. Here comes the play towards the endzone.

7:28 PM - Michigan pushes SC to a third down, but the Trojans convert. You can literally watch the Wolverines lose all hope with each forward play. I think their hearts were in Glendale since December 3rd.

7:34 PM - Danelo makes it 19-3 Trojans. The question now is to Michigan's heart. They might not win the game according to the sister, but at least show us something. This is USC's moment where they will bring the house on every needed passing down. Someone on Michigan needs to make not just a play, but a belief-installing play. A LONG run or reception is in order.

7:39 PM - We head to the fourth quarter and I am surprised to see USC in prevent defense. I thought for sure there would be blitzing. Michigan has completed some passes and Henne just scrambled for a first down near midfield. This is Michigan's "restore hope" drive. They need to pour their whole season into these next plays.

7:46 PM - Mission accomplished. Michigan scores on a laser from Henne to Arrington after a half-the-distance penalty added to a Tyler Ecker reception. Mike Hart shows his heart, grinding out the 2-point conversion. USC 19, Michigan 11.

7:53 PM - There is the Pete Carroll I know and loathe/respect. 3rd down and 10 and USC goes up top to Jarrett for a strike behind the blitzing Wolverine defense. A beautiful play call that was a needed answer for a Wolverine defense that wasn't going to lose by playing passive. Danelo misses again. USC 25, Michigan 11.

8:00 PM - When Chad Henne gets time... this is the sentiment around the country, the booth, the fans, and this very house.

8:02 PM - 4th down comes, and the play called is short of the first down. Breaston got the ball but slipped before needing to make a move to get past the sticks. USC ball.

8:08 PM - Three straight medium length passes flip the field for USC and kill Michigan's will, capped with a Steve Smith TD from Booty. 4-for-4, 85 yards and like that, USC is your winner. USC 32, Michigan 11.

8:16 PM - The USC commercial is in full effect now as ABC suddenly turns into a recruiting service, putting up the names of their verbal commits for the 2007 class. At first thought, if Jarrett stays I might agree, if I believed in preseason polls. Without Jarrett and Steve Smith, the announcers are correct saying that would be the area of emphasis. I still say that Carroll doesn't run the ball enough and Reggie Bush resides in New Orleans.

Michigan's concerns point toward a defense that gave up 74 points in their last two games. How good is this team? Playing two elite teams ran them over. Michigan loses six starters per the depth chart pre-Rose Bowl. How do they respond? Storylines to be answered and we'll see if all the Michigan kids truly will turn down millions in the NFL.

8:27 PM - Michigan scores a meaningless touchdown ala the Ohio State game, but no fanfare here. USC 32, Michigan 18. Final.


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