Pappas: U will crash “Big House” party

By By Nick Pappas

By Nick Pappas

There’s no place like home. Especially if home is “The Big House.”

More than their on-field Michigan opponents, the U must defeat a crowd of 111,000 fans spitting golden bile this Saturday. The Wolverines will be looking to not only beat the Utes, but also avenge a loss that occurred one year earlier.

And Utah had nothing to do with it.

One of the greatest upsets in college history started the downward spiral of last year’s Wolverines. From the town of Boone, N.C., the Appalachian State Mountaineers came to Ann Arbor and shocked the then No. 5 ranked University of Michigan by a score of 34-32. It was the first win ever by a Division I Football Championship Series over a ranked team in Division I Football Bowl Series. Sports Illustrated chose the game as college football’s “biggest upset of 2007.”

On the other side of every great upset is an even greater flop. A team that should have been in the running for a BCS birth ruined their season just one game in. The repercussions of the loss were swift. Lloyd Carr, a coach with overwhelming success and a record of 122-40, retired at the end of the season.

In came Rich Rodriguez, a man who didn’t even coach his team in last year’s Fiesta Bowl. With him came 20 new staff members, a rough personality, and the kind of changes that caused several of Carr’s recruits, most notably offensive lineman Justin Boren, to jump ship8212;to rival Ohio State nonetheless.

The team, to be kind, is in shambles. Michigan’s choice for starting quarterback is one red shirt or the other. The offensive line is a concoction of players thrown together in a terrible smelling stew.

And Michigan is still ranked 24th in the coaches’ poll. The U has a chance to play underdog against a whimpering giant.

The Utes can and should win this game. The “Big House” fans may not even recognize their team anymore because they’ve lost their best passer in Chad Henne, best rusher in Mike Hart, and the best lineman in the draft in Jake Long. Utah has the edge in experience.

There is no better opener to move the Utes from potential to real possibility. As much as any opener can be, this is a must win for a team that needs to continue their late 2007 season success.

The BYU Cougars, ranked 16 in the AP Poll and 17 in the coaches’, could easily run the table this year. Even one loss for this talented Utah team is too many to keep pace.

Before that race even starts, Utah needs to crash the party in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have cleaned house and the Utes can be the first to mess it up again.

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Nicholas Pappas