Saturday, November 17, 2007

No Storybook Endings

I stood in the midst of section 31 of Michigan Stadium on Saturday, layered in two T-shirts, a hoodie and a maize raincoat, my glasses speckled with the drops of rain that were constantly falling from the grey sky.

The Big House was packed and it was a full thirty minutes before kickoff. It was Ohio State, and despite the disconcerting amount of red in the crowd, in my mind it was Michigan's day.

I was part of something great, I was connected to those around me as we cheered the seniors and booed that stupid script Ohio. When the game began, we were loud, the loudest I had experienced the crowd in my two short seasons as a student. The energy was palpable, the cow bells were clanging and the pompoms shaking with excitement.

This was it, it was finally here. My first OSU game, my chance to storm the field and dance with greatness. The redemption that we all deserved so much was at hand, and I would be there, smelling the roses.

It was all so real for a quarter, for nine hundred ticks of that clock. Michigan was actually moving the ball, the defense was stopping the Buckeyes and the crowd was on there feet (if only because their seats were so wet) yelling. It was Big Ten football at it's finest. So what if our drive stalled? We got a field goal out of it, and we were up by three at the end of the first.

And then, well... we switched sides of the field and everything went to hell. OSU scored a quick touchdown and it never was the same game. While the defense had an extremely solid performance (with the exception of giving up two big runs), the offense could get nothing going for the rest of the game, despite OSU continually giving us the ball back with plenty of time for Henne, Hart and Manningham to pull together one more magical drive...

But it never came, and slowly that realization sunk in, just as the chill sunk into my bones. I was surrounded by thousands, but I felt isolated and alone there on my bench, eighty-four rows above the field. My socks were soaked and my hood pulled up around my face in a futile attempt to fight back the cold, my hands shoved deep into my pockets because there was no need to have them out, there was nothing to clap for. A loud, wailing cry was the only thing that left my lips time and time again as I tried to spur on the defense to make one more stop, just one more before Henne lead us back from the brink of defeat. The defense came through time and time again, but the clock just kept ticking away until it was all over...

All I could do was stare at the field in disbelief, kick the puddles off water that were forming off the bench I was standing on and wait there feeling alone until I could take no more, until I could no longer bear to watch the inevitable, and I fled.