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MSU Potluck: Making it Work with Vernors Original Ginger Soda

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NCAA Football: Maryland at Michigan State
Just how they drew it up...I guess
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Because this is my third Potluck and I’m running out of ideas, this year’s MSU Potluck series will feature the homemade beverages of Michigan. First up, one of the oldest soft drinks still produced: Vernors Original Ginger Soda.

Vernors was supposedly the product of a pharmacy clerk experimenting with drink ingredients, leaving for the Civil War, and returning years later to find the barrel’s aging process had produced an excellent beverage. That...later turned out to be a myth, but Vernors has been the main ingredient in the excellent Boston Cooler concoction for over a century; just drop a scoop of vanilla ice cream and two shots of your preferred gin into a mug of Vernors, and you’re on your way.

Most children in Michigan, however, know Vernors as the subsistence you get when you’re sick; something about the intense bubbliness and ginger in the drink soothes a flu-wracked kid like nothing else. It may not be the intended use of the drink, but if it works for that too, it’s a bonus, right?

MSU’s offensive line fell somewhat short of lofty preseason expectations in 2015, as a series of injuries disrupted the group’s chemistry. However, the lethal combination of Connor Cook and Aaron Burbridge bailed out the offense time and again, even - maybe especially - on 3rd and long, when defensive coordinators were selling out on the pass.

That said, please relate a time, either in your personal life or in your team’s history when things didn’t go as you planned, worked out anyway, but left you scratching your head as to how (Speth, I expect results here).

Candystripes: I’m fairly certain last year’s game against Maryland qualifies for IU. Indiana kicked a field goal three and a half minutes in, then gave up three consecutive touchdowns to the Terps. The Hoosiers then scored the next 27 points to end the half up 30-21. Maryland scores a touchdown less than a minute into the third quarter to pull it back to two points, and then Indiana drops 17 unanswered points to wrap up the third quarter and the game. Baffling, I tell you.

Speth: I’m a 24 year old bar manager/blogger who ended up at a school not even in his top 10 his junior year of high school. My entire life is one continuous string of “didn’t go as panned, worked out anyway, left scratching head”. As far as the Badgers go, remember that time the Badgers rolled into Indy with a sparkling 7-5 record and then clownfucked the shit out of Nebraska 70-31 only to have Bielema leave 3 days later for Arkansas?

Yeah well 31 wins in 3 seasons later and I’m still scratching my head.

Creighton: I met my wife working at the University of Iowa’s KRUI student radio. The station director was my co-host on a pretentious talk show about the music scene in Iowa City. One spring, he gave my time slot to someone else and moved me to a much less favorable one. I had a few very angry words with him, and begrudgingly accepted my new slot. When I got to the broadcast studio for my new show I met the very pretty young woman with the slot before mine for the first time. I talked her into going to a Fruit Bats concert with me later that week and a few years later she (for still unknown reasons) agreed to marry me.

As for the Hawkeyes, the Hail Mary in the 2005 Capital One Bowl has to be mentioned. LSU, the defending national champions, took a 1 point lead with under a minute remaining. Drew Tate started marching Iowa down the field as kicker Kyle Schlicher started warming up for what was about to be the biggest kick of his career. After a short completion across the middle, Tate lined everyone up and spiked the ball, but a false start penalty was called. Iowa lined up again at their own 44 yard line. The clock started to tick again, and not a single player on the field for Iowa seemed to notice. Thinking they still had time for 2 or 3 plays to get into field goal range, the ball was snapped with only about 9 seconds left. Iowa’s chaotic final snap caused confusion in LSU’s secondary. Coverage broke down, senior Warren Holloway caught his first career touchdown, and Nick Saban was ruined and went on to do absolutely nothing for the rest of his career [citation needed]

WSR: There’s been one time since 2005 where I had to force myself to go to a game. 2010 was a goddamn disaster from the 2nd half of the opener against MTSU in scenic Murfreesboro onward. Tim Brewster getting fired was pleasant, but having that get followed up by a loss to PSU and a shellacking by tOSU wasn’t inspiring. Even a win over vaunted B1G West sleeping giant Illinois couldn’t get me excited for the season-ending showdown with Iowa. The Hawkeyes had tossed back-to-back shutouts, including THAT game, but having not missed a game at TCF Bank Stadium (a streak that will be ended only by my eventual demise, which will probably be caused by the Gophers somehow) I drug myself to the game to spend a balmy 23-degree afternoon with 20,000 black-and-gold wearing stooges. All I wanted in the afternoon was a FG to shut them up about not being able to score and for nobody to get hurt on Senior Day. I got the FG on the opening drive, and followed it up with a TD after recovering an onside kick. Iowa didn’t even touch the ball until the 5-minute mark of the 1st quarter, and by that time Gopher fans had replaced dread and the sense of impending doom with carefree delusion and decided we were going to win the game. The Iowa fans around us kept their smug veneer, saying how they’d wear us down and easily win the game in the 2nd half. It didn’t happen. Nearly everything from the 2nd half was a blur, up to the point where we ended up on the field because why not? Ending Tim Brewster’s last season rushing the field still brings a smile to my face when I think about beating Iowa.

Al NamiasIV: It was early 2000, I was living in a dive in Asbury Park, NJ and just beginning grad school at Rutgers (it’s funny that for all the crap I give RU, it is the only B1G school I have actually enrolled in, though I’ve taken some classes at UW). I had just gotten my first computer primarily as a research and word processing tool that I expected to need for grad school. I didn’t expect to use it for social crap and such which wasn’t as much a thing back then as now. Anyway, it was late Friday night and I ventured into an AOL Chatroom. I had never been in a chatroom before then, but before I knew it, I had engaged in a discussion about superheroes with some broad from Iowa. It is now 16 years later, and I didn’t finish my masters at RU, but the Iowa girl and I have been halfway around the US and back and are still together. And for whatever it’s worth, she’s the reason I got into the Hawkeyes, college football, and am basically writing this right now; as I still maintain that New Jerseyans’/New Yorkers’ interest in college football is (or at least at that time, was) non-existent.

I couldn’t have said it better than Creighton. Probably Iowa’s most famous individual play in a bowl, and it was a lesson in how not to manage the clock.

Jesse: I was sitting in the stands with our very own MNWildcat. The year was 2013 and it was an unseasonably warm day all things considered. Nebraska played terrible, and just because it would be fun, Northwestern also played terrible. Anyhow, consider that ending sequence before the Hail Mary for a second and we can talk a little about things going awful before they turned out ok-ish.

Nebraska and Northwestern had not scored an offensive Touchdown since 6:30 minutes of the second quarter. Nebraska had thrown two interceptions. So like, there’s three minutes left in the game and what do you know, Nebraska throws its fourth interception of the game. Unreal. Northwestern has the ball in a tie game with two minutes and change at the Nebraska 7. Game over, right? Like, best case scenario is Nebraska tying the game with heroics.

So Kain Colter gets the ball to the 1 on the first play, Northwestern bleeds some clock and Nebraska fans are openly wondering if you let Northwestern get the TD to preserve clock. And what does Northwestern do? They get stuffed on two rushes and settle for the FG. So here I am, hanging out in the Northwestern section at Memorial, asking myself about my good decision making.

Nebraska faces 4th and 15 and gets it on the “need to get a TD or in FG range” drive. Oh, and then from about midfield, Ron Kellogg III (who is not the ideal QB in this situation) chucks it in the endzone as time expires and wouldn’t you know? Jordan Westerkamp catches it. Nebraska wins. Northwestern fans drink. I still don’t know how we won, but I was happy about it.

Aaron Yorke: I think you just described every Penn State dramatic win over Northwestern. Usually we go into that game expecting to win before things go completely wrong and the fans realize we’re not all that much better than Northwestern, but then everything works out in the end (at least before the James Franklin era began). Just look at 2005, when Penn State turned the ball over a bunch and appeared doomed until Michael Robinson completed a 4th-and-15 pass to Isaac Smolko on the final scoring drive. That led to a game-winning touchdown pass to Derrick Williams.

Five years later in 2010, the Wildcats took a 21-0 lead on Penn State at Beaver Stadium before Matt McGloin put on his superhero cape and threw four touchdown passes to lead the Lions to a 35-21 win. The script was very similar in 2012 when Northwestern took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter before McGloin threw for one touchdown and then ran in another to put the Lions over the top.

In fact, those wins are like microcosms of the entire McGloin era. We started out planning to watch Rob Bolden lead Penn State to a national title, only to have McGloin surpass him as starting quarterback. With the red-headed gunslinger at the helm, thing often didn’t go as planned, but McGloin made a habit of leading Penn State to victory anyway. The way he went from walk-on scrub to NFL backup quarterback is what makes him one of my favorite players ever.

Stew: I was at that 2005 Cap One bowl, it was insane. But since it’s already been mentioned, I’ll go another way. 2009 was a crazy year, and one of the craziest games was against Indiana. It was super windy, and Iowa was dead set on attempting to throw against the wind. It did not work. Ricky Stanzi threw 5 interceptions. 5! The full Armstrong. And Iowa was down 24-14 entering the 4th quarter. Indiana being Indiana, it worked anyway, and Iowa scored 28 4th quarter points and still covered the spread. Tyler Motherfucking Sash (RIP) intercepted a pinball pass near the goalline and returned it ~95 yards for a TD. Bill Lynch threw his gum. It was pretty great, still no idea how it happened.