A weekend of football worth relishing/Paul Peterson
One has to go back a long way to remember a football weekend as satisfying as this past one.
It started on Thanksgiving (for Detroit Lions fans) with a 40-10 beatdown of the Green Bay Packers.
Granted, the injury-riddled Packers were still without quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But the Green Bay defense was so horrendous, it’s doubtful a return by Rodgers will be able to salvage their season.
I think you have to be at least 50 years of age to understand just how bitter the rivalry between Packers and Lions fans is in the Upper Peninsula.
Detroit fans had to put up with 30 straight years of nothing but Green Bay football television coverage. Even today when every NFL game is available on the tube, local cable viewers are subjected to seeing just a portion of Lions games.
WLUC-TV in Marquette has taken a lot of heat for officially becoming the Home of the Packers last year. And they will undoubtedly take some more the rest of this season.
It’s not entirely their fault, however. Charter TV chose to drop a downstate station that carried Lions games and some of the blame has to fall on them.
The Ishpeming victory over Detroit Loyola in the Division 7 prep football championship was another event worth remembering.
The Hematites handled Loyola just like they did a year earlier, using teamwork and hustle to beat a team that was athletically superior to them.
IHS coach Jeff Olson and his team have done more for the prestige of U.P. football the past two seasons than can be described. They’ve raised the bar for future teams.
One disappointment for fans was Menominee’s loss to Grand Rapids West Catholic in the Division 5 championship. The downstate team has figured out how to handle that outdated but effective offense the Maroons have used forever.
The Ohio State-Michigan thriller was also a disappointment for many fans around the state. A gutsy but perhaps ill-advised decision by UM coach Brady Hoke to go for the win rather than a tie will be debated for a long time.
But the heavy underdog Wolverines showed a blueprint for beating the Buckeyes, and that is to pass over their suspect secondary.
Michigan State, which finished at 11-1 with a Saturday win over Minnesota, will get the chance to use that game plan – and a stubborn defense – when they meet OSU in the Big 10 championship in Indianapolis this coming Saturday.
MSU has a better chance of beating the Buckeyes than most people are predicting.
And finally on Sunday, the lowly Minnesota Vikings handed the Lions an important leg up on winning the NFC Central title by spilling Chicago in overtime.
Of course, the Lions must take care of business in the next four games to accomplish that, and we all know how they can self-destruct at inopportune times.
But it was a great weekend, one to relish.