In advance of Saturday’s game against Washington, there had been much made about the potential atmosphere within Michigan Stadium. Social media feeds buzzed with lines like “if you don’t plan to be loud, don’t come,” and while that sort of gatekeeping seems odd, all of the elements for the loudest atmosphere the Wolverines had played in front of in years. Primetime television, a full-stadium Maize Out, a Power Five out-of-conference opponent coming to Ann Arbor, and the type of “this is our year” energy that Michigan faithful are so familiar with all combined to set the stage for what many expected to be an electric night.
Those in Michigan Stadium did not disappoint.
It was as evident as could be on the first play of the game with Washington having a delay of game penalty,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “There was just an eruption from [the student section].”
A delay of game penalty is the highest honor that a loud stadium can earn, possibly matched only by a false start. It takes a lot of noise to make it so difficult for the other team to communicate that they can’t get a snap off in time; that’s a high enough bar, but that doesn’t even fully describe what happened on Saturday. It was the first play of the game, the one that the Huskies had a full week to script. Washington presumably came to the line of scrimmage with a play ready to go, and even potentially a back-up plan, but they were still unable to beat the play clock. Aside from drawing the same penalty on a 4th and one at the goal line, there is no larger statement that the Michigan Stadium crowd could have made.
“In terms of environment, I don’t know what more you can do,” Harbaugh said. “[I don’t know] what more the University of Michigan could do to represent themselves. Great job by all — let’s put it that way!
And, for the Wolverines future development, Saturday was a great time for such a stellar fan performance. Michigan played host to a plethora of five-star and four-star recruits, led by five-star, no. 5 recruit in the country, Domani Jackson. With Jackson’s recruitment seeming like it just opened up following the dismissal of now-former University of Southern California head coach Clay Helton, the stakes were high for the posterity of Harbaugh’s program.
Harbaugh and his staff certainly wanted the visiting players to experience a dominant win and dynamic atmosphere, and the Wolverines’ head coach feels confident that they were not disappointed.
“Yeah, that was awesome with a capital ‘A,’ Harbaugh said. “It was fun just taking the headphones off just to feel it and hear it. It brought a smile to my face; I was fired up.
“I would think that someone who works here or is a student or prospective student here or is a prospective student-athlete, it would be pretty tough to pass up.”
The Wolverines’ 2021 season and those that will come after it depended on Saturday's result, and with 100,000+ decked out in Maize bearing witness to a 31-10 imposition of will, each of those seasons is looking to be in better shape.