Hangovers are the worst.
Your head is throbbing, your eyes are bloodshot, you reek of regret and stomaching food takes a Herculean resolve. Especially north of 25, death seems like a better option some mornings.
But enough about my Saturday’s.
In football, a hangover performance comes after an emotional win, and no game so far this season has been more emotional for Team 142 than last Saturday’s victory in Madison. Although, “Wisconsin sucks” nationally now, this win was imperative for the growth and goals of this team.
But now the Wolverines must quickly turn their attention to Scott Frost and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Presumed down, the Cornhuskers are a hard team to figure out. Currently 3-3, all of Nebraska’s losses have come by eight points or less and two of the losses are to top 11 teams.
Frost is presumably coaching for his job, and his history with Michigan is well documented. From sharing a national title in the ‘90s to “out-hitting” the Wolverines in a 51-14 loss in 2016 while coaching Central Florida, Michigan and Frost just can’t quit each other.
Last weekend, Michigan proved it had more in common with the 2016 and 2018 teams in terms of following up a lethargic performance with a statement win. Can the Wolverines take that momentum a step further and avoid the upset in Lincoln?
Let’s take a look back at perceived hangover games from the Jim Harbaugh era and how Michigan performed.
2015 - Michigan State
After a dominating 38-0 win over 13th-ranked Northwestern, Michigan welcomed rival and No. 7 ranked Michigan State to Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines came out prepared and held a 17-7 lead over the Spartans in the third quarter.
Michigan executed, shook off any perceived hangover notions and battled until the last seconds. However, this game will only be remembered by four words: “Trouble with the snap.”
I hate it here.
2016 - Rutgers
The Wolverines beat the seventh-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in an old school 14-7 battle in the Big House. This capped off a three-game stretch that also included Colorado and Penn State, which later proved to be an unexpected gauntlet early in the year.
Now, 5-0 and ranked in the top five, Michigan traveled to Piscataway to face an unbelievably terrible Rutgers team. This game was the equivalent of pistol whipping a blind kid; Rutgers finished with two first downs, five passing yards and zero points in this 78-0 football massacre.
In a game where the Wolverines could have had an emotional letdown, it would have never shown against such an inept team.
2017 - Cincinnati
Michigan only had one emotionally classifiable win in 2017 and it came at Jerry World on Labor Day weekend over the Florida Gators. The Wolverines overcame a small halftime deficit to topple the Gators 33-17 and rise into the top 10.
Looking at the box score, one would think the Wolverines crushed the Cincinnati Bearcats the following week. Michigan more than doubled them up in total yards and averaged 5.2 yards-per-carry. However, 17 combined punts and four combined turnovers made this game a slog to endure as a fan.
The Wolverines definitely experienced an emotional hangover, but fortunately these were not Luke Fickell’s Bearcats of the present, and Michigan prevailed 36-14.
This game was like the 1996 film The English Patient: sluggish, gets the job done and you never want to revisit it.
2018 - Rutgers
The Revenge Tour: Michigan had just beaten ranked Wisconsin (No. 15), Michigan State (No. 24) and Penn State (No. 14) in consecutive games. No hangover occurred during this stretch so one was long overdue at the end, right?
I mean, a three-game bender of victories of this caliber would warrant a letdown the following week and it did…for all of one quarter.
Michigan again marched into Piscataway and after one quarter of action, the Wolverines were tied with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 7-7. I am sure Twitter handled this slow start well.
Michigan quickly shook off the haze, entered halftime up 21-7 and would handily secure victory 42-7.
2019 - Maryland
Notre Dame; night game; say less.
The 2019 Wolverines were out for blood. Notre Dame had defeated Michigan 24-17 the year prior in South Bend, and this was the last scheduled matchup for several years.
In what is remembered as the ‘Hassan Haskins Game,’ Michigan rushed for more than 300 yards as a team in this rainy beat down of the Irish, 45-14.
The next week, Michigan traveled to College Park to face Maryland. This game had some added interest because first-year head coach Mike Locksley and first-year Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis were former colleagues at Alabama the year prior.
The two had exchanged some words in the offseason to add an edge to this game, and the hangover cloud could have made the Wolverines ripe for an upset.
It wasn’t and the game was never in question.
Michigan returned the opening kick-off, forced a three-and-out and scored a touchdown on an 11-play drive as they cruised to a win 38-7.
Petty Points Tally: Gattis: 1, Locksley: 0.