Michigan Wolverines out to prove lightning doesn’t strike twice


Michigan quarterback Chad Henne leads his team toward the Appalachian State endzone during the Wolverines 34-32 loss to the Mountaineers in the 2007 opener for both teams. (Credit: Derrick S. of flickr, CC-BY-SA)

It’s been implied that the Michigan Wolverines football team has been cursed since the epic loss to huge underdog Appalachian State in the 2007 season opener.

While it’s true Michigan has suffered seven years of bad luck since the Mountaineers blocked a late field goal attempt to secure the 34-32 victory, there’s no way you can blame Michigan’s demise on a harmless non-conference loss.

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Sure, Lloyd Carr’s Wolverines were crushed the following week by Oregon (39-7), but they did run off eight straight wins before losing at Wisconsin and at home to Ohio State.

Now if you really believe in sorcery, look no further than the “little brother” jab made by Michael Hart at the Spartans after the 2007 Michigan victory. It was the Wolverines sixth straight win over Michigan State.

Spartans’ revenge 

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio obviously took offense to the barb, and the Spartans went on to win five of the next six games, including a 29-6 trounce last season.

Curses, spells and jinxes are a huge part of sports folklore. Down I-94 in Detroit, the Lions made the mistake of trading quarterback Bobby Layne a season after Detroit won the 1957 NFL title. Layne, quite miffed, predicted his former team wouldn’t win another championship for 50 years.

Now that spell’s been tough to break.

Any Lions fan knows it’s been 57 years since the Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns, 59-14 at long-since demolished Briggs (Tiger) Stadium.

It hit the Red Sox too

Probably the most famous jinx in sports is what’s been widely known as the Curse of the Bambino.

George Herman Ruth, who was revered as a talented left-handed pitcher in his early days, was sent to Boston from Baltimore in 1914 in a cash-only deal. In his five seasons seasons with the Red Sox, the “Babe” won 65 games while leading the Bosox to three world series titles.

By 1919, Ruth had perfected his swing, lashing out a league-best 29 homers, thus becoming a national hero.

With his value soaring, the cash-strapped Red Sox were forced to sell Ruth’s contract to the rival new York Yankees in 1920. The rest, of course, is history. The Yankees went on the win 26 world series before Boston won its next one in 2004. In 1927 the “Bambino” hit a major league record 60 homers, a mark that lasted until Roger Maris hit one more in 1961.

If it’s true that Michigan is under some type of curse, it was evident late in 2007 when Carr decided to retire.

Miles said no

A rift between Carr, athletic director Bill Martin and the powers that be turned the coaching search into a nightmare. Granted, Michigan hadn’t been required to hire a coach for 40 years, but the failed courtship of LSU coach Les Miles looked amateurish at best.

Michigan was forced to settle for West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez, who unfortunately never fit into the Michigan family.

Even after Rodriguez departed, new coach Brady Hoke found things difficult.  Just last season, Michigan nearly lost to lowly Akron and Connecticut on successive Saturdays.

Was it a spell or just the discouraging play of the offensive line. Two straight weeks of negative rushing yardage is tough to take.

Michigan football’

Which leads us to wonder if Michigan can overcome its ailments and begin to play the type of football that spoiled Michigan fans for years. Anything less than a convincing victory might force the Michigan brass to contemplate another coaching search.

Oddsmakers, who made the Mountaineers 33-point underdogs in 2007, have listed App State as a  34.5-point road dog this time around.

Other than a few of the 1,500 Appalachian State fans who are making the trek to Ann Arbor, most football fans believe that         lightning doesn’t strike twice.  But a trip to your local psychic might make sense.