ANN ARBOR - I can say this unequivocally: Akron proved to Michigan that it couldn't just be bought for $900,000 this afternoon.
And the 107,000-plus in attendance at Michigan Stadium got their money's worth - and their worth in glazed donuts - in watching this game.
Forget the price tag Michigan paid to face one of the country's supposed punching bags. Akron punched back. Akron didn't just come to Ann Arbor in an attempt to fill its athletic department's coffers. It came to Michigan with nothing to lose, and to prove a point.
One of my favorite hashtags on Twitter? #MACtion.
MAC teams haven't had a lot of success this season against power-conference opponents - Kentucky beat Miami and Penn State beat Eastern Michigan, and both losses came by at least 40 points. Never mind that Baylor beat Buffalo 70-13. And FCS Maine beat UMass ( yet that's for another tangent on another day).
Akron's four-point loss to Michigan - yes, THAT Michigan - was a game that the early-season dog days of college football needed.
Akron coach Terry Bowden said after the loss that he knew the emotional weight Michigan’s win last week over Notre Dame carried - and that it could mean a letdown this week for the Wolverines.
“On the bus coming up here, we put the Notre Dame game on,” said Bowden, whose team trailed 7-3 at halftime. “We saw how emotional that was, how drained they were and how it was played. You kept saying to yourself as a coach, as an old coach, ‘they can’t get that type of emotion again after that.’ So I was crossing my fingers that it was the case.”
And Michigan coach Brady Hoke told reporters that he had a feeling Akron was going to come to Ann Arbor with its own expectations.
“Their kids came in here like most Mid-American Conference schools are going to come in here, to win the football game and play to win the football game, and they coached it that way, they played it that way,” Hoke said.
But at one point this afternoon, Hoke and Bowden had a chat. They may have been laughing about the circumstances. Maybe they were chatting pastries - today was a glazed donut day, after all, and Hoke is fond of those.
Bowden, however, divulged a bit of that conversation.
"As an old MAC coach, he understands building a program," Bowden said. "There's an appreciation of where he comes from and where I'm at now. I appreciate the comments he made."
And it's likely that Hoke and the Wolverines left Michigan Stadium with a little more respect for the MAC.