ANN ARBOR — They had never met before, these two big-name football teams, so they invited 105,000 people to their coming- out party, lined up across a green-and-white dance floor, kicked off, and thus commenced in formal introductions.
Michigan, meet Maryland.
Maryland, meet Michigan.
Before you could do one verse of the hokey-pokey, Michigan was dancing with itself, center stage, and Maryland was calling Daddy for a ride home.
See ya later, Terps — is it Terps, Twerps, Terrorpins? — whatever, whoever, the pleasure was all Michigan’s. And the Wolverines waltzed off the field with a 20-0 victory and to the echo of an increasingly familiar refrain:
It’s our party and we’ll fly if we want to.
And, man, fly they did.
Twenty passes, 16 complete. More yards by air than by ground — and two, count ’em, two aerial touchdowns.
Yep. Stop blinking. For the Michigan offense, Ol’ Mighty Feet, has developed an arm, and has harpoooned three straight Top 20 opponents.
And the defense hasn’t given up a touchdown.
I hear a rumbling.
Like distant thunder. Do ya wanna dance?
Remember that this game was to be the last swamp in the jungle, that dangerous lineup of three straight non-conference opponents on Michigan’s schedule. All of them BIG NAMES.
Notre Dame had been here. Forget it. South Carolina had the Wolverines over for lunch. A massacre.
And now Maryland, a team some had tabbed national champion material in pre-season polls. You remember pre-season polls, don’t you? Those things Michigan was left out of completely?
Not after their defense swallowed Maryland in one juicy piece.
Not after quarterback Jim Harbaugh and tight end Eric Kattus connected six times — including two touchdowns — and proved the Wolverines’ Big Play needn’t always be a fumble recovery.
Not after Bo Schembechler laid down the ground rules for the third straight week: You come to our party, you dance to our music.
And it’s a slow dance. A slow, grinding dance that pulls you forward with offense and pushes you backward with defense and spins you round, round, until you suddenly find yourself in the fourth quarter down by 20 with no time left.
And if you try to get fresh — try to score? — well, slap, smack, baby. None of that ’round here.
Maryland tried that a few times Saturday. Went for fourth- and-four at Michigan’s 29.
Had third-and-goal on the Michigan 6.
Even tried a last-minute snap 11 yards from the Michigan end zone.
Nope. Shut out. Shut down. Shut up.
That makes the composite score this season Michigan 74, Opponents 15.
“We got beat,” said Maryland coach Bobby Ross, “by a very good football team.”
I hear a rumbling.
Like an engine on a midnight highway. So now we know, Bo
The jerseys get familiar from this point on. Big Ten rivals, some of them much weaker than the corpses already behind Michigan.
Which means Wolverines fans must be dancing on their ceilings. For not only has the team won three straight, it’s gotten better as it’s gone along. Gave up 12 points to Notre Dame, three points to South Carolina, zip to Maryland.
What should it do Saturday against Wisconsin? Keep score in minus-zero?
All this from a team that went 6-6 last year, and was cast in gloomy colors for 1985.
At a pre-season breakfast last month, Schembechler was asked about the wisdom of playing three such tough non-conference games as these. He was prepared with an answer.
“You know,” he said, “a lot of teams try to pad their early schedule with weak non-conference teams. That way they start out 3-0, go .500 in the conference, and get invited to some bowl.”
He paused to belly up to his next sentence, raising his voice several decibels.
“Well, gentlemen, I guarantee you after our first three games, we may not be undefeated, but we’ll know what kind of football team we have.”
Now they know. And others are finding out.
Last week, a well-known TV analyst predicted Michigan would end up — hold your breath — vying for the national championship this winter.
And in the press box here Saturday, there were whispers again.
I hear a rumbling.
Like a drum from a distant camp fire.
And it’s getting louder.