A Michigan Fan’s Journey To The Season Opener

Our resident University of Michigan fan, Joe Pasquali, went to the season opener against Western Michigan last weekend. He starts out pretty timid, but ends like any true Wolverines fan, cocky as hell. Here is his detailed experience from the season opener.

We drove up, parked in the same place off the Michigan Golf Course, fired up the same grill, played the same game of corn hole (or bag toss, whatever you want to call it) and downed the same beers. On the exterior the 2009 Michigan opening game would look like every opening game I have been to over the past years, this being my 8th in a row. But, if I told you it felt like any of the others, I’d be lying.

No Confidence

These are things I would never expect to feel at an opening game in The Big House. And frankly, I shouldn’t have to feel. But I did. And I can tell you 100,000 other people were feeling the same way. Sure, we hid it well by going through our normal routine and pretending this year is just like every other, when deep down we knew it wasn’t.

Even before the game started, one point to hammer it home was when a Western Michigan fan started trash talking to me while walking up to the gate. We had struck up polite speculation on the game ahead when all of the sudden he started into it.

“Man, we are going to hang like 40 on you guys, just like App. State, Utah, Oregon, and everybody else that comes into the Quiet House. You got no defense, I mean, who do you got??”
Any other year, ANY OTHER YEAR, I would have just spat back a few curse words and told him to head back to crappy Western and hope he gets to head back East sometime for the Motor City bowl. But not this year.

I actually found myself defending UM to a Broncos fan! I said, “Well, Brandon Graham is good, and Obi Ezeh, OH and Donovan Warren is a great cornerback.” The Western fan laughed, cursed Michigan and yelled a projected Broncos whooping in front of 100 Michigan fans. No one yelled back. Everyone was too nervous to back UM.

I say now, thinking of the pre-game and the Western fan, that a University of Michigan fan should never defend his team to a Western Michigan fan, or really, most fans for that matter. And I never will again. Ok, two bad years, yeah we had that. Lets start counting your teams bad years. Yeah thought so. Below are the teams that I will defend my team to in the future, because I have respect for their programs and their winning traditions.

Ohio State
Penn State

That’s it. Yeah, I know I left Notre Dame off. Why? Because I will not take trash talk from a Golden Domer, no sir. Sorry, I got my UM hat on for this article and if you are a Notre Dame fan feel free to send me hate mail at Radioguy1486@yahoo.com

Anyways, back to the game.

The environment at Michigan could not have been summed up better than the first two drives for both teams. Western gets the ball first, Michigan forces a punt after a 3 and out. Place goes nuts, the typical DEFENSE chants arise and the student section erupts, all is well and good.

Michigan gets the ball……. the place goes a bit quiet…. AND MICHIGAN GETS A FIRST DOWN. OH HAPPY DAYS. Literally, everyone wearing maize or blue starts cheering like we just won the game. FOR A FIRST DOWN. Oh, but it gets better.

Forcier is leading us on a pretty decent first drive and are already in field goal range and he has thrown some good balls. People in the crowd are murmuring about how well this freshman is playing, but still a bit nervous. Forcier runs a play action and rolls out of the pocket, he is looking downfield, he makes a read and lofts a ball to a breaking Junior Hemingway. In 2008 this ball is intercepted, the drive stopped and Michigan Stadium falls silent. But, THIS YEAR, the ball is just out of reach for the defender and Hemingway catches it falling into the end zone. Michigan Stadium lifts off the face of the earth. 100,000 plus people are yelling, screaming, hugging each other and praising Tate Forcier.

Tate Forcier, the second coming of Christ.
Tate Forcier, Tom Brady, Chad Henne, Brian Griese, all rolled into one.
Tate Forcier, who the f%$k needs Pryor.
Tate Forcier, with him all things are possible.

Not joking, this is how we all felt after that one drive. One drive. The rest of the game Michigan rolled and as the points stacked up us fans felt our confidence returning, slowly but surely.

One of the funniest parts of the game came near the end when my Dad looked to me in the third quarter and asked when I wanted to get out of here. Since we got a two hour plus drive home, in the past openers we usually left late in the game when Michigan was rolling. It had been at least two years since I could leave a UM game early because WE were beating on someone!

I turned to my Dad and said, “Yeah, we got this one. Let’s get out of here.”
Because really, Western Michigan, was there any doubt?
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