Gravity brings Michigan back to Earth

Originally Published: October 15, 2013
By Mark Schlabach |

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The Bottom 10 inspirational thought of the week:

Mission Control: "Explorer, this is Houston."

Dr. Ryan Stone: "Go ahead, Houston."

Mission Control: "Mission abort, repeat, mission abort."

Matt Kowalsky: "Explorer, this is Kowalsky confirming visual contact with debris. Debris is from a BSE sat. Repeat."

Dr. Ryan Stone: "Dr. Stone requesting faster transport."

Matt Kowalsky: "We have to go. We have to go, go, go!"

Mission Control: "Kennedy reporting meteorological conditions, no-go for re-entry."

Dr. Ryan Stone: "Houston, Explorer, copy… Explorer, Dr. Stone requesting faster transport to bay area. Explorer, do you copy?"

Matt Kowalsky: "Explorer, permission to retrieve Dr. Stone."

Dr. Ryan Stone: "You're a go, Kowalsky. Houston, this is Explorer, copy. We've lost Houston. We've lost Houston."

Matt Kowalsky: "Look, we need to get the hell out of here. No, don't wait for us."

Matt Kowalsky: "Explorer's been hit! Explorer, do you read? Explorer, over. Explorer. Astronaut is off structure. Dr. Stone is off structure!"

Dr. Ryan Stone: "What do I do?"

Matt Kowalsky: "Dr. Stone, detach. You must detach. If you don't detach, that arm's going to carry you too far. Listen to my voice. You need to focus. I'm losing visual of you. In three seconds, I won't be able to track you. You need to detach. I can't see you anymore. Do it now!"

Dr. Ryan Stone: "I'm fine."

-- Ed Harris, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, "Gravity"

If only the Bottom 10 could abort its mission this season.

As we reach the second half of the 2013 season, eight teams are still searching for their first victories of the season. Massachusetts detached itself from the Bottom 10 by defeating Miami (Ohio) 17-10 in last week's Pillow Fight of the Week.

Several other Bottom 10 teams actually held second-half leads last week, but gravity -- and their lack of talent and execution -- pulled them back to Earth.

The Michigan Wolverines know about gravity all too well. After avoiding disaster against Bottom 10 stalwarts Akron and U-Conn't earlier this season, Michigan's luck finally ran out in a 43-40 loss in four overtimes at Penn State on Saturday.

The Nittany Lions trailed 34-27 with less than one minute to go in regulation, but freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg fired a long pass to Allen Robinson, who caught the ball at the Michigan 1. Hackenberg scored on a 1-yard run with 27 seconds to go to tie the score at 34. The Wolverines lined up for a winning field goal in the final seconds, but Brendan Gibbons' 52-yard attempt fell just short.

Michigan had two chances to win the game in overtime, but Gibbons had a field goal blocked and missed another attempt. PSU won the game on Bill Belton's 2-yard run in the fourth overtime.

While "Gravity" brought in a whopping $124.3 million at the box office in its first 10 days in theaters, we're guessing ticket sales will be significantly smaller for Saturday's Pillow Fight of the Week between winless Miami (Ohio) and 1-6 Akron. Like Bullock and Clooney in "Gravity," the RedHawks and Zips are tethered to nothing but each other, while spiraling into darkness.

With apologies to Steve Harvey and Bullock, here's this week's Bottom 10:'s Bottom 10
1. Southern Miss 0-5 "Two Weeks Notice" By Saturday's game at East Carolina (Bullock's alma mater), the not-so-Golden Eagles will have stewed over a 24-23 loss to Florida International for two weeks. It was their best chance to end a 17-game losing streak, the longest in FBS.
2. Miami (Ohio) 0-6 "Premonition" Despite dropping the past 10 games, the RedHawks might even have premonitions about beating Akron this week. The Zips haven't won a road game since defeating Eastern Michigan 42-35 on Oct. 18, 2008.
3. New Mexico State 0-6 "Murder By Numbers" The Aggies probably didn't spend much of their off week trying to figure out how they lost to rival New Mexico 66-17 on Oct. 5. The Lobos killed them by running for 541 yards.
4. Western Michigan 0-7 "Miss Congeniality" The Broncos were more than congenial hosts against Buffalo on Saturday. They entered the Bulls' red zone only once in a 33-0 loss, their first shutout defeat since 2004.
5. Michigan 5-1 "Crash" The Wolverines had been living on the edge for the past month, and then their undefeated season came crashing down in the four-overtime loss at Penn State. The good news? They don't play another ranked opponent until the Nov. 30 finale against No. 4 Ohio State.
6. Temple 0-6 "All About Steve" Army might be looking for revenge when it plays at Temple on Saturday. Last season, former Owls coach Steve Addazio left Montel Harris in the game in the fourth quarter to pile up 351 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in a 63-32 rout.
7. Georgia State 0-6 "28 Days" The Panthers scored a season-high 28 points and actually had a 28-21 lead over Troy in the fourth quarter Saturday. But the Trojans threw the winning 54-yard touchdown pass with 3:17 to go in a 35-28 victory.
8. Hawaii 0-6 "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" Hawaii silenced UNLV's home crowd in Las Vegas by rallying from a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take a 37-36 lead with 1:44 to go. Alas, the Rebels kicked a 44-yard field goal at the buzzer for a 39-37 victory.
9. UConn't 0-5 "Forces of Nature" We knew something had to give when the Huskies hosted South Florida on Saturday. Remarkably, the Bulls won 13-10 -- without scoring an offensive touchdown!
10. Eastern Michigan 1-5 "Hope Floats" Sure, the Eagles are coming off a 50-25 loss to Army on Saturday. But they might actually have a chance against Ohio, which somehow fell to Central Michigan 26-23 last week.

Waiting list: Akron (1-6), Air Force (1-6), California (1-5), Florida's offense, FAU (2-5), FIU (1-5), Georgia's defense, getting pepper sprayed at Penn State, Idaho (1-6), Kansas (2-3), Kent State (2-5), Kentucky (1-5), Louisville's BCS title hopes, Memphis (1-4), New Mexico (2-4), North Carolina (1-4), Purdue (1-5), rubbing salt in Wisconsin's wounds, SMU (1-4), UTEP (1-5), UTSA (2-5).

Mark Schlabach | email

College Football and Basketball


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