5. Finally seeing "speed in space" against Sparty
After eight months of preseason hype, the excitement for new coordinator Josh Gattis' offense was off the charts.
And then the season actually arrived.
Sure, there was that one quarter against Middle Tennessee that intrigued us. But Michigan's offensive execution was, well, something we were in favor of the first half of this season. Inside zone runs for little gain. Not getting the ball to all those talented wide receivers. And those were the positives, because the Wolverines were a turnover waiting to happen.
Michigan stabilized its offense behind the running game, beginning with Illinois. But it wasn't until Michigan State that we finally saw what we had all hoped for, and not coincidentally it was Shea Patterson's finest hour. He had the best game any Michigan quarterback has ever had against the Spartans.
I had just written here after the Maryland game that "speed in space is dead" in 2019. I was so glad to be wrong.
4. Seeing Michigan in the NCAA Tournament
The 2018-19 Michigan basketball season was so enjoyable to watch, even though it didn't include any hardware in the trophy case when it was all said and done. Still, another 30-win season, and spending most of the season in the top 10, is nothing to complain about. Not to mention, it was such a fun group to watch every night (depending on Jordan Poole's shot selection).
Thus, getting to see them in person in the NCAA Tournament when the team was slotted for my hometown Des Moines was a thrill, especially getting to see them win and advance with my son. A match made in heaven between my favorite team and my favorite sporting event.
3. Michigan finally beating Iowa
This is a totally self-serving choice, but it is my list after all.
Michigan has had it share of gridiron struggles with what WTKA's Sam Webb calls "fricking Iowa" in the past decade. And living here in the Hawkeye State, I am constantly reminded of them. I know I'm going to be the most popular guy at church the Sunday morning after losing to Iowa in football. And it's not going to be because folks are interested in my thoughts on the begats.
Hence, when the Wolverines beat Iowa, 10-3, in an ugly offensive game in October, it was a thing of beauty for me. And with the Hawkeyes not on the schedule again until 2022, all is blessedly quiet here on the home front.
2. 14 years of "scoreboard" on Notre Dame
It was a win almost none of us saw coming, mainly because of the way it went down.
In a legendary primetime monsoon at Michigan Stadium, the Wolverines absolutely destroyed No.8 Notre Dame. Trucking the Irish's playoff hopes with one of the most dominant wins in the rivalry's history -- running for well over 300 yards.
I'm 46 years-old, and grew up watching the four straight years Notre Dame broke our hearts. Smacking a 1987 team Beano Cook picked to win the national championship. Reggie Ho's five field goals in the 1988 thriller. Rocket Ismail's kickoff returns in the No.1 vs. No.2 showdown in 1989. Lake Dawson catching that miracle deflected pass to bring the Irish back in 1990.
The tension and stakes in those games scarred me forevermore, and I'm firmly in the "to Hell with Notre Dame" camp. Therefore, crushing Notre Dame like we did on October 26th, when it was least expected, was sweet. Throw in the fact the series is dead until 2033, which means we have 14 years of scoreboard, and that's going to be one, long sugar high.
1. Seeing Michigan in the College World Series
Erik Bakich's team captured the imagination of the Michigan fanbase, as well as the college baseball world, with its improbable run to the final game of the College World Series.
After a school-year that included post-season disappointments for football (the Peach Bowl) and basketball (Texas Tech in the Sweet 16), Wolverines everywhere were ready for a Cinderella story. And the slipper fit the Michigan baseball team all the way to Omaha.
I was also caught up in it, which is why with the College World Series a short drive away from me in neighboring Nebraska, I made sure to take my son over there for the Wolverines' opening game against Texas Tech to witness history.
What a ride that was. What a team that was. What a moment that was, and that's why it's number one.