Originally written on Hokeamaniac.com  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Michigan Wolverines celebrate with the Paul Bunyan trophy for the first time in 5 years after their 12-10 victory over the Spartans on Saturday (Image/MGoBlue.com)
As I polish the Governor of Michigan’s Paul Bunyan trophy, I realize two things: 1) This is an ugly trophy, and 2) Saturday’s win was just as ugly on many levels.
As I predicted last week, the Spartans brought everything they had. Fortunately, for us they didn’t have much on the O-side of the ball. We shut down LeVeon Bell who is the only game in town on the MSU offense.
Our offense was mercurial as well. The Wolverines did not score any touchdowns. We got in the red zone—we just did not convert. That happens, but usually not to us. I would be lying if I said it didn’t matter. Of course it matters. We wanted to blow Sparty out—unleash four years of frustration on them and not just rain, but hail on their parade. It just didn’t happen that way.
“At the end of the day we did enough to win,” Jordan Kovacs said.
While that is succinctly true, it doesn’t say it all. There was much more riding on this game than just winning. Just winning or losing a football game would be the point with an opponent like Notre Dame; it’s always a pleasure to beat them but beating Notre Dame isn’t germane to the culture of Michigan football.
While on the other hand allowing MSU to make history with a 5-year winning streak that coincidentally ends our winning streak in the Big House, while staving off our 900th win is a very big deal. Why? A football program becomes what it does. The mark of a champion is performing like a champion. This was not a game for this homely trophy, or even state bragging rights per se. This was fighting for the right to legitimately say that we are “the leaders and best.” This was about not allowing our little brother to take something that we did want to let them have.
Our team is a work in progress. Each week we witness more progress. However, our offense is still iffy. While our defense seems to be a lot better—reading between the lines—there is much room for improvement, especially with our pass coverage, etc. etc. etc. While we all are glad that the Rich Rodriguez era is gone, and welcome the renaissance of Michigan football—the fact is, we are in transition.
Hoke doesn’t have his horses in the stall, and the players on board now are players recruited for a different game style than Hoke’s.
That is another reason why this victory was especially important. Hoke is a setting a precedent that even at it’s lowest point—and that is this year—Michigan is a force to reckoned with it. MSU’s program is in place. Dantonio has been there for a number of years. If he was going to ever establish any dominance over us—Saturday’s game was the time and place.
There are many great things about Brady Hoke. “This is Michigan for God sakes,” “Michigan football is not back, it never left.” He gets it. He understands that we don’t strive to make the bar in college football because we are the bar.
Of course we were the first college football program to achieve 900 wins—what part of “leaders and best” don’t you understand? Rich Rodriguez was an excuse-meister. One of his favorite excuses for his failures was “the team is young, they need time to grow up and get tougher.”
Conversely, Brady Hoke said, “if you’ll bite as a dog, you’ll bite as a puppy.” There you have the difference. One man looked at a challenge as what is was, the other as what is was not. Rich Rod looked at a young team as a valid reason to lose; Brady looked at a young team as an invalid reason to not win: mindset.
That is why winning this game was vital: mindset. It reminds us of who we are. That is, you don’t kick a good dog when he’s down because it’s cruel. You don’t kick a wolverine when he’s down because he will rip your leg off. So yes, it’s an ugly trophy, and it was an ugly victory, but the underlying statement was a thing of beauty: “The Leaders and Best”
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

PHOTO: Auburn coaches, players wear ribbons for Mason

Dustin Penner apologizes after sending rape joke on Twitter

Report: Cowboys to use franchise tag on Dez Bryant

Report: Panthers officially parting ways with Greg Hardy

Could the Eagles release LeSean McCoy?


AEG: Inglewood stadium would be a terrorism target

Former Knick Anthony Mason dies at age 48

Report: Blackhawks, Caps discussed Patrick Sharp trade

Giancarlo Stanton was 'angered' over $325 million offer

Colts, Cardinals, Cowboys interested in Adrian Peterson?

How much will Rousey and Zingano make for their fight?

Alabama recruits aim to bring the dynasty back

WATCH: Jon Jones, Rumble Johnson prank Dana White

Anthony Mason: The most 'New York' of the 90's Knicks

Ray Rice addresses domestic violence case, his future & more

Kentucky raffling off Wildcats-themed motorcycle

WATCH: Montrezl Harrell throws down monster alley-oop

WATCH: Tyler Hansbrough, Festus Ezeli ejected for fight

WATCH: Russell Westbrook literally gets dent in his face

WATCH: Knicks' Alexey Shved tosses wild pass into stands

Ten players ready to make the leap in 2015

WATCH: Reggie Bush says he won't quit football

PHOTO: ECHL team will wear Dr. Seuss jerseys

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Anthony Mason: The most 'New York' of the 90's Knicks

Could Eagles release LeSean McCoy?

AEG plays dirty with Inglewood stadium

Anthony Mason dies at age 48

Westbrook got dent in his cheek

Earl Lloyd and basketball’s cruel February

WATCH: Barkley rips analytics again

A-Rod: A con man returns to baseball

Bostick death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

Five-round NFL Mock Draft

Key offseason moves for every MLB team

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.