Michigan vs Bama: A tale of two halves

Michigan vs Alabama on New Year’s Day. If you are a fan of college football, being able to have these two historic programs start Rose Bowl Day (the greatest bowl game to ever exist) is a great way to bring in 2020.

Who did this game mean more to? Well that’s obvious, Michigan. The biggest critique on Jim Harbaugh is he can’t win the big game, he’s been mollywhopped by Ohio virtually every matchup and aside from the win against Notre Dame this year, you can’t identify a statement victory since he took over the maize and blue.  So, what would a victory here mean? Not much for this season but the momentum that it could carry over might be a program altering type of win. You can say to recruits that “we just beat arguable the greatest coach in the history of the sport and beat the best program of the last decade in a battle of top 15 teams”. With this victory, Harbaugh can identify two big wins this year – Notre Dame and Bama. The giant 55,000-pound monkey on the back of Harbaugh is the lack of success against Ohio. A win against Bama could lead to confidence within the program and their sights would be set on next November and beating the Buckeyes and righting the ship in Ann Arbor. This could be a win that changes a mindset, that proves Michigan belongs in the upper tier of college football teams.

Michigan jumped out to a 16-14 halftime lead and then the predictable happened. The second half began and from the jump, Michigan was outcoached, out schemed and Shea Patterson’s inefficiency to throw the deep ball was put on full display. In addition throughout various points of the second half, the Michigan defensive backs went on sabbatical and were torched up and down the field. As a Michigan fan, I am not one of those people who say get rid of Harbaugh. I will tell you why, Harbaugh has made Michigan relevant again and when people refer to Michigan’s “glory years” this is what they were, a 9 or 10 win football team with one National Championship since 1948. What I criticize Harbaugh for, is the lack of QB play since he has arrived in Ann Arbor. He is supposedly the QB whisperer and that position has flat out sucked since he has taken the reigns. Shea Patterson is so bad throughout certain periods of the game that I legitimately want to lay in oncoming traffic. They began talking on the broadcast whether Patterson can play in the NFL at an effective level … HAHAHAHA Give me a break, if NFL teams were smart, this would be the last meaningful football game Shea Patterson ever plays.

A huge glaring weakness throughout the season has been Offensive Coordinator Josh Gattis. Gattis was brought in after being the OC/WR Coach at Alabama for one season in 2018. The scheme throughout the season was questionable and the second half of Saturdays game was yet another example of the inability to evolve or do anything exciting with this offense. We cant place all the blame on Gattis because some of that might be a personnel issue.

What this game showed was that when big time coaches adjust at halftime, Michigan can be rendered useless and tossed around the field. That is exactly what occurred. Should Harbaugh be fired? I really think it would be a mistake because I don’t have confidence in the powers that be to bring in anyone who could do much better. Before Harbaugh got to Ann Arbor, Michigan was a collective 46-41 during a seven-year span under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. Since Harbaugh has become Head Coach, Michigan is 47-18 in five seasons.

This current version of Michigan will go out next season and be a 9 or 10 win football team yet again BUT if “The Victors” is going to be played on a Saturday in November against Ohio or any other meaningful opponent for that matter, things need to change and they need to change in a hurry. Michigan’s expectations are high. Frankly, they cannot compete against Nick Saban and Alabama, Ohio or any other top level program. Until then, Michigan fans should get used to playing second or third fiddle in the BIG 10 and playing in the Citrus or Potato Bowl because at this moment, the College Football Playoff is an unrealistic possibility.

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