Friday, December 9, 2011

Sugar Bowl Thoughts and Army-Navy Wagers

As soon as I heard that Michigan was heading back to the Sugar Bowl, I let my mind wander back to my senior year in high school when Michigan played Auburn in 1984 in the 50th Sugar Bowl. It was a pretty big deal and I really didn’t know that much about the SEC as we didn’t have constant 24-7 coverage of collegiate football in the local newspaper - and the internet was still Al Gore's wet dream..... All I knew at the time was they had a running back named “Bo”, which frankly I thought was a cheap rip-off of the greatest coach that ever lived….However, it turns out that kid could play!

I remember the build up to the game was huge and the Rose Bowl was ticked because the Sugar was actually a better game on paper that year. Pat Dye was the head coach at Auburn and they had won 10 games heading into the game. Michigan had won 9 games and had a legitimate loss to Washington and a flukey loss to the Illini that year that sent them to the Rose Bowl where a very good UCLA team led by Eric Ball CRUSHED the Illini 45-9….It was not a good start for the Big 10 on New Year’s Day.

However, the Maize and Blue came out led by Steve Smith, the shortest QB ever to play a down for the Maize and Blue and Michigan kept it close and scored the game’s only TD in the first half when Stevie ran it in on an option keeper. What many people don’t remember about that play was that Triando Markaray had caught a pass right before that for a long gain and set up the TD. I really thought the game was in hand as for years Michigan, Bo, and his assistants adjusted and did most of their damage in the 2nd half….

However, it was not to be as the Auburn Defense tightened up and their wishbone running attack was eating up yards. Michigan never gave up a TD, but the Tigers got close enough to kick it through the uprights three times in the 2nd half.

Then, on the game’s final drive, Steve marched the team down the field. Michigan was inside the 50 yard line with about 10 seconds left on the clock. We had a kicker on the sidelines, Pat Moons, that had the stones to make it, given a chance. I was just praying he got a shot. Then, Steve found a wide open Triando Markaray on the side line and hit him perfectly at about the 23 yard line. Inexplicably, instead of going out of bounds, Triando tried to get a few additional yards, made it to the 17 yard line, but failed to step out with any time left on the clock. Moons never got a shot….I remember being crushed as I had figured Auburn would be an easy team for Michigan to beat and it was a loss that stuck with me for awhile….

I told you that story to tell you this one: Later, at the ‘87 Rose Bowl, I was at a hotel party where there were a bunch of former players hanging out. I was walking around meeting guys and I was introduced to Triando Markaray…Of course, it was New Year’s Eve, the MMQ had been tipping a few, and the first thing out of my mouth was, “WHY DIDN’T YOU STEP OUT OF BOUNDS AT THE END OF THE GAME IN THE SUGAR BOWL!????”

Somehow, I don’t think Triando thought it was very funny.

Anyway, the ole MMQ is looking forward to the Sugar Bowl this year and the opportunity to play what has to be one of the last coaching “legends” left. I mean, after Mack Brown, Beamer has to be the next most tenured coach at a major program. And I believe he might be thinking about hanging up the whistle or at least letting the thoughts creep in there.

Which is why it would be nice to take down the Testicle-less Turkeys (What, you didn’t know? Yes, sports fans: A “Hoakie” is a de-balled Tom-Turkey) while Beamer is still there, just to add one more “Beat ‘Em!” to the list of the defeated.

I wish I could go, but logistics and finances will not allow it this year. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t be there in spirit.

With the only action this weekend being the Army-Navy game (yes, I know, the FCS games are on all over the place…And how many of those teams have you followed all year? Can you say “Junkie?”) we’ll go a little easy on the steam this week. However, even if you don’t watch the game, be sure to tune into the opening ceremonies. Its still one of the best shows you’ll see on TV and if you’ve got a patriotic bone in your body, you’ll get more than a few chills.

Army (+7) vs. Navy O/U 58
Two teams that duke it out every year in a traditional rivalry game. Throw out the records (not really that good anyway 4-7 and 3-8) and let ‘em knock heads. Navy has owned Army the last 10 years and unfortunately, I don’t see anything changing this year.
Take Navy and lay the 7 for $100
And take the UNDER for $50
Navy Scores First (pays 1:1) for $50

Starting Bank: $1,342
BET: $200
Bank: $1,142

Enjoying the Ride…MMQ

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