For the second week in a row, there's only a couple of games to look back on for Sept. 6. Both happened in the same seasons as last week's games, but instead of a split, Michigan hasn't lost on today's date, blowing out the Houston Cougars 50-3 in '03 and escaping the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks 16-6 in '08.
There's really no contest for which W was better. The #5 ranked Wolverines stomped the Cougars out of Ann Arbor behind a solid performance by running back Chris Perry: 27 carries for 184 yards and two touchdowns. By halftime, Michigan led 22-0, and after Houston scores its only points - a field goal in the third quarter - the Wolverines went into overdrive, scoring four unanswered touchdowns to end the game. Early on in the contest, it didn't look like a potential blowout, as the Cougars defense held the Wolverines to a mere three yards on their first three possessions. But Michigan's defense responded by forcing a fumble, and the offense turned it around to score 22 points in the next 16 minutes.
Besides the fact that the Wolverines could barely top the RedHawks, it marked the first victory in RichRod's tenure in Ann Arbor. As he put it after the game, "I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty." It's too bad he seemed to make "win ugly" his mantra for three years. Favored by two touchdowns over Miami (OH), the Wolverines looked capable of a big win early on as they jumped out to an early 10-point lead in the first quarter behind a nine-yard Steven Threet run and a K.C. Lopata field goal. Then, crickets. The Wolverines accomplished nothing on offense for the next two quarters while giving the RedHawks a pair of field goals to cut Michigan's lead to 10-6 heading into the fourth. Eventually, Brandon Minor sealed the win with a 15-yard touchdown run in the middle of the final frame. For the cherry on top of the ugly victory, Lopata missed the extra-point.
Overall Record on Sept. 6
2003 vs. Houston, 50-3
2008 vs. Miami (OH), 16-6
So, a pair of wins on Sept. 6 against lesser opponents never hurts. Like last week, let's go further and look at how Michigan's fared in Week 2 based on circumstances related to the Wolverines current situation. I've decided to narrow the situations to three: after winning the season opener, and facing a ranked opponent or Notre Dame in Week 2.
|Season Characteristic||Record in Week 2|
|Won Season Opener||81-17-5|
|Ranked opponent in Week 2||16-12-1|
|Notre Dame in Week 2||8-6|
(NOTE: I limited my study to include season's with a minimum of five games, so this excluded Michigan's first eleven seasons, i.e. I started in 1891)
Three Reasons for Optimism
1) After winning the season opener, Michigan has won about 79% of its Week 2 games
Pretty self-explanatory, but out of 103 Week 2 games following a win in the season opener, Michigan has won 81 of them, or about 79% (78.64%, to be exact).
2) In more difficult matchups, the Wolverines hold the edge in Week 2
Michigan has a winning record against both ranked opponents and Notre Dame, including a 6-5 mark against the Irish when they are ranked in Week 2.
3) The lower ranked team performs better in the Michigan-Notre Dame rivalry
In eleven Week 2 games when at least one of the two teams were ranked, the lower ranked team came out on top nine times.
Three Causes for Concern
1) Like most studies diving into the deep past, the win count is pulled due to inferior opponents
There are countless examples, so I'll give you the most ridiculous: in 1896, the Wolverines defeated Grand Rapids High School in Week 2.
2) Michigan has never beaten a ranked Notre Dame team two years in a row in the second game of the season
Granted, this depends on the Irish being ranked, but from 1978-82 and 1993-94, Michigan had five different combinations of situations where it could have beaten a ranked Notre Dame squad in back-to-back seasons and never did.
3) There's no rhyme or reason in this rivalry
This could be a positive or negative depending on how you look at it, but it seems like no matter the situation heading into a game against Notre Dame, anything could happen on the field. The expected, the unexpected, it has all happened multiple times throughout the years.
Michigan's history in Week 2 points ever so slightly to a win, but against the Irish, common sense and analysis can be thrown out the window. Here's to something crazy happening in the last game against Notre Dame for a while. Go Blue!