Pregame Predictor: The Ghost of Ann Arbor
Well folks, all the talking heads, and preseason predictors have finally gotten their wish: a fully loaded, firing-on-all-cylinders, Jim Harbaugh-led Michigan squad. The playoff gods are sharing toasts of bubbly as we speak. To hear them tell it, we may as well not even waste the plane ride over. Victory for them is all but a foregone conclusion. So they say. They claim they’re on a ‘Revenge Tour' this season (their words not mine) and Penn State is nothing more than a minor speed bump along the way. Some kind of mumble jumble about us running up the score last year and actually going for first downs towards the end. Egad….we shouldn’t have. We stirred up the Ghost of Ann Arbor and now there’s no turning back.
You hear it every August and this one was no different. Michigan this, and Michigan that, only to watch Michigan fall flat. And it’s been that way long before Jim Harbaugh ever brought his circus act to town. This time around they’re 7-1 and all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. You know, because they’re Michigan. Kinda nauseating isn’t it? This, despite getting run over at Notre Dame (another overrated flop in my book), in a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggested. And this, despite playing no-one of real substance since. Sparty left it all out on the field in Happy Valley and Wisconsin is just a shell of what they were supposed to be due to injuries. The rest is just a hodgepodge of mid-level to low-end Big Ten and out of conference appetizers. The Ghost of Ann Arbor may be angry, but consider me unafraid.
Two years ago, the Ghost of Ann Arbor darn near ripped out our soul. A leader we hardly knew was left with nothing more than an apology as a young Trace McSorley made a promise that what we saw, would never be seen again. Two years ago, we were down 6 linebackers due to injury and watched as freshman walk-on Jan Johnson did his best to plug up a leaking hole in the middle of our D before going down with an injury of his own. Two years ago, we limped away from Ann Arbor and haven’t been the same since. They tried to finish us off but instead, that trip to Ann Arbor made us stronger. Things have changed since September 2016. We're not a program struggling to find its way and they finally appeared to turn into the monster that every preseason prognosticator predicted they would for the past decade or so. Off of what body of work, I’m still left scratching my head. The Ghost of Ann Arbor may be seeking revenge over nothing but it will be McSorley and Co. that get the last laugh as we take a little revenge of our own: Penn State 31 Michigan 27.