Following an exciting win against Penn State, Michigan football had the day off on Saturday. My wife was out of town at a conference, so on a day that I might normally spend with her I was left to find my own entertainment. There was plenty of good football on TV but the game I was most interested in seeing was down the street at Michigan Stadium. The Big House played host to Slippery Rock and Mercyhurst Universities, two Division II teams in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. This was the third time ‘The Rock’ had played a game at U of M, and the first since 1981. You can read more here about how the relationship between two schools with vastly different athletic programs developed. Despite the cold and on/off drizzle over 15,000 people showed up to watch, many of them part of or there to support the dozen high school bands that played during the game.
It was a strange experience (the stadium was at less than 15% capacity, I sat in the fancy chair back seats for free, and I DROVE to the stadium and parked at a nearby meter) but this was without a doubt the most fun I have had at a football game in a while, certainly this season. The game moved so much quicker; there were no TV timeouts before and after kickoffs and both offenses moved with impressive speed. Slippery Rock scored on a 45 second drive towards the end of the half and then with barely 30 seconds left on the clock Mercyhurst managed to run a drive to kick a FG. The Slippery Rock fans traveled very well and the night before the game Main street was a sea of green shirts with giant S’s on them (a little disconcerting at first). When Slippery Rock scored the first TD of the game on a long pass play I found myself cheering wildly with several other Michigan fans curious to see the team from Western PA. Nobody spent the game complaining about ticket prices, PR snafus, or how much money it would take to get a Harbaugh to coach at Michigan. Everyone who was there was so incredibly happy and excited to be there. If this photo from The Ann Arbor News’ Tyler Stabile is any indication, perhaps next time they return to the Big House Slippery Rock will simply be known as ‘The Bread’.