Lord Almighty, its here at last! After a painstakingly long offseason of twists and turns, the fruits of our fandom labor are about to be harvested. Whether those passion pomegranates are sweet or sour will be known by 7:30 pm EST. On the road, versus a higher ranked opponent, week one is not a must-win football game by any means. What tonight is, to borrow a term from my Catholic brethren, is a chance at perception salvation. Last football season, the Maize and Blue had the dullest, most unimaginative, and frustrating offense ever put onto a football field. It didn’t help that the Wolverines were forced to game plan with John O’Korn under center, but the coaching staff didn’t do themselves any favors, either. So, in a very un-Catholic move, Jim Harbaugh saw a glaring problem and replaced those in charge. A whole new offensive staff has moved into Schembechler Hall and, come tonight, will be under the spotlight of anxious fans. Nobody is worried about the defense. Don Brown has proven every year that he can coach his unit to be one of the best in the country. This season they return 10 starters, the most Brown has had return during his tenure at Michigan. Obviously, replacing Mo Hurst is going to be the biggest personnel challenge this season and should not be overlooked. Hell, Hurst was possibly the best interior defensive lineman to ever wear the winged helmet. But, I think its safe to say that if this year’s defense isn’t ranked in the top five nationally, something went horribly wrong.
Tonight’s game is more than just a game. I would love a Michigan victory, make no qualms about it. But, if they lose tonight it will be the way in which they lose that will determine how we should feel about this season. So no matter the result, Michigan football needs to move on to step “I” of the D.E.N.N.I.S. System. Inspire hope. If the Wolverines come out and Shae Patterson is 70% of what the beat writers have said he is, the offense looks balanced and competent, and the defense is as stingy as a rusted out hinge and still somehow lose, I’ll be alright. I won’t be happy that they lost, but my hope for this season will not be left on the field in South Bend. Harbaugh and Company just need to show me that something has changed since the end of last season. Show me progress, show me some creativity, show me that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, show me there is a reason to believe!
Now, we come to the headline question of the article. When the Michigan Wolverines take the field against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in South Bend tonight, who’s side will I ultimately be on? Michigan, the school I grew up loving, went to, paid tuition to, and graduated from? Or, Notre Dame, the school with the foremost connection to eternal salvation? It’s not an easy decision, that’s for sure. I’m not sure I can give a definitive answer because my soul rests in the balance. I will say though, that come January, I’d rather be staying up late on a Monday night than waking up early on a Sunday morning.