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Thursday, July 10, 2014
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Published: Friday, 10/11/2013

Commentary

UT’s win at UM was memorable

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

Frankly, as college football games go, it was far from a thing of beauty.

But, man, were the headlines huge. The next day’s Blade sports section simply led with a score. The numbers were three inches tall.

“13-10”

Yes, it is five years to the day, Oct. 11, 2008, that the University of Toledo’s football team beat Michigan.

It was a bad UT team beating an epically bad Wolverine squad. When the game ended both teams were 2-4 and they would manage to win just one more apiece the rest of the season.

Best win in Rocket history? I’d take 24-6 over Penn State in the 2000 opener. It was a so-so Joe Paterno team, for sure, but an exceptionally good Toledo team that would win 10 of 11. And the outcome was built on bully-like domination from kickoff to the final gun.

You could certainly argue that UT 35, Pittsburgh 31 in 2003 should be in the discussion. Merited or not, Pitt brought a No. 9 national ranking into that game at the Glass Bowl. There were 32,000 people wedged into the old yard and it was about as exciting a game as I can remember.

Some will vote for five years ago today and it is understandable. It was Michigan. It was the Big House.

There were some superlative performances. Tyrrell Herbert had two interceptions, including a stunning 100-yard return for Toledo’s only touchdown. Nick Moore caught 20 passes — TWENTY! — for 162 yards as the Rocket offense produced more annoying slaps than knockout punches.

Michigan, of course, was just awful, maybe even dreadful. Heck, is there anything worse than dreadful? Appropriately, the game ended with UM missing a 26-yard field goal that would have forced overtime.

I remember coach Tom Amstutz, who would announce a mutual parting of the ways with UT less than one month later, standing near the tunnel at Michigan Stadium with tears in his eyes as he watched the Rockets celebrate on the game’s biggest stage. And I remember UM coach Rich Rodriguez’s vacant, dry-eyed stare.

The game wasn’t a classic, but the memories sure are.

It was the day Toledo beat Michigan, which before and since had never lost to a Mid-American Conference team.

But it happened. And it happens.

Bowling Green seemed prime to pull one off a few weeks back, but produced a disappointing effort at Indiana, losing badly, 42-10.

It’s the Falcons’ only loss in six starts. They get another chance Saturday at Mississippi State, but are 10-point underdogs in part because of the Indiana outcome.

Still, who knows? As Toledo proved five years ago, things can happen when you least expect them.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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