Sure, it's just a game played by a group of young men, most of whom can't order a beer at a bar. But for those of us that live and die by Michigan Football, that dream of perfect seasons, those boys hold in their hands the keys to our sanity, our sanctity. The ramifications of Michigan-Ohio State do not define us, for over 125 years of football history will cover the outcome of Saturday, win or lose. But Saturday WILL define the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. Yes folks, it is tough to say, especially when I am young by comparison to the amazing history of this great rivalry, but everything we've accomplished in this rivalry, especially that which has occurred in the last 15 years, will be on the line at 3:30pm on Saturday. Ruining their lives in 1995, again in 1996, and shoving it in their face in 1997...all gone. John Cooper...a distant memory. All that anyone outside of Ann Arbor will remember will be the game between Michigan and Ohio State in 2006. This is it. This is everything. The idea that Buckeye football begins and ends with that son-of-a-bitch in a sweatervest can come to fruition.
And for us, the die hards, the faithful, it will not be the hours or days following the game when you are either basking in the glory or licking your wounds, when you are glued to the television coverage or simply sitting alone in a fetal position in the dark. Time will pass, and time heals all wounds and mutes massive accomplishments. But mark my words...this will be the toughest to shake. Six long weeks will pass, and with the piles of crap that are at the top of the college football heap, you will only be hearing about one team for those 42 days, the winner of this game, and how they are by far the favorite over whomever the BCS decides to plop in there, and we will be inundated with "we take you back to how they got there back on November 18th." ESPN Classic will air the game 20 times and people will cover their walls with the Sports Illustrated cover.
On January 1, someone will be playing in a Rose Bowl...and they will be disappointed about it. What a shame to hate to go to Pasadena. On January 8th, someone will be playing for the glory, the ring, and for history...even after having already made it.
- Enrollment 51,818
- Mascot: Brutus Buckeye
- Founded: 1870
- Dwight Yoakam
- George Steinbrenner
- Jack Nicklaus
On the Line:
- Outright Big Ten Championship...which the Buckeyes haven't won since 1984
- A trip to Glendale for the National Championship Game
- Two perfect seasons
- Michigan leads the series, 57-39-6 including a 27-21-2 record in Columbus
- Michigan is 271-83-10 when ranked in the top ten
- This will be the 32nd time Ohio State will be undefeated going into this game...they've only won 12.
- This will be only the 2nd time under Lloyd Carr that Michigan will face the #1 team in the country. They lost their first such meeting, 28-14 to USC in the 2004 Rose Bowl.
Watch out for:
- Ohio State fans, whose level of class on a scale of 1 to 10 is equal to their number of teeth.
- Troy Smith, who has owned the Wolverines for the last two years.
- Antonio Pittman, who averages just over 90 yards a game.
- Ted Ginn Jr....who "did everythin'"
- Anthony Gonzalez, Ohio State's 2nd leading receiver by just 2 yards behind Ginn
There are always two sides to every story. And it's often very hard, especially if you're a Michigan fan, to see how the Buckeyes fan base has the confidence in their team and fifth year senior quarterback, after all what can Michigan do that Troy Smith hasn't seen already. Adam Liberman asked me this question yesterday and I have dwelled on it ever since. Some say we've waited 10 years for a team like this. I've waited a lifetime. The '97 team had extra special meaning to me. I was a senior at Michigan, one of my suite mates and pledge brothers was a member of the team, I had class with countless Wolverines and there was a personal attachment to each victory. I cried after the final whistle blew and as the sun set over the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, I reached into my pocket and procured three Phillies that I had left over from New Years (appropriately enough there were three of us sitting together, Myself, Daris Dewbery and Jason Trombley). I thought to myself, this is what heaven must feel like. And yet that team was centered around a devastating defense that was led clearly and unquestionably by one player, the greatest college football player of my generation, Charles Woodson.
And this is why I've waited a lifetime for this Michigan team. We are more than one player. The talent depth, the determination, the absolute domination this team is capable of is like nothing I've seen in a Michigan team. USC in 2004 is what immediately comes to mind. And maybe Henne isn't Matt Leinart (albeit he is a Junior, the same year Leinart was when he won his first NC as a starter) and Hart is clearly not Reggie Bush but this team is dominant. Maybe not to the casual observer but its there, sitting quietly in the corner waiting to explode as it did in South Bend in September. Obviously Ohio State isn't Notre Dame. The Buckeyes have the most offensive balance we'll face this season. They have replaced nine lost starters on defense from last year's team and have performed well above national expectations. And we're still going to win. Jim Tressel, Columbus, Ohio, Troy Smith, Ted Ginn...remember those names and places. Remember this team. I urge you to take five minutes out of your day and relive what has to this point been the greatest season in Michigan football. Soak it in and breathe deeply. It's just beginning. Don't fret. Have faith. Remember we have Hart and Henne, Branch and Woodley, Manningham and Arrington, Hall and Harris. These are Wolverines. These are our student athletes. And most importantly these are our Victors. Prediction...27-17. I love this team. David Harris DMVP, Hart OMVP.
The game of the aughts is sure to be a dandy. I am not scared of t. Smith, unless he gets it to G & G a ton so its on Mo T. and Leon. If they stand tall then the rest will be history as hart hits 150 for 2. Super Mario gets two plus Arrington's one and the final one in garbage time from Minor. A three pointer from pudge brings the total to 48. OSU catches up a little late but not enough to scare anyone and definitely not enough to deserve a rematch. Nice season, please represent our conference well in the Capital One Bowl, cuz after that ass whippin, the Badgers are going to Pasadena.
UM 48 TOSU 28.
Michigan 44, Ohio State 24
Michigan has answered all of their critics. It seems like the Alamo Bowl occurred in a different century, a different dimension. The blown 4th quarter leads, the lack of a running attack, the stagnant defense...all of the follies of the 2005 Wolverines have been avenged and forgotten...all but one. And as this team prepares to take the field at the Horseshoe, they will know that. So much accomplished, yet so little. This is the final chapter for perhaps the greatest team ever to don the Maize and Blue...and it might as well be the whole damn book.
This game will not live up to the hype. And as Jason Forcier trots into the game near the end of the 4th quarter, the world will realize that this was not a matchup of #1 and #2, but instead a showcase for the new #1. Behind senior leadership and an aggressive gameplan, both offensively and defensively, Michigan will show the nation the type of team that belongs in Glendale. A team that took the #8 total offense in the country, and held it under 200 total yards. A team that flaunted its offensive weapons when it needed to, with near perfect balance. A team that continues to prove without a shadow of a doubt that they are the greatest college football team of all time. It is truly great to be a Michigan Wolverine.
"What the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve. And those who stay will be champions."
Michigan 31, Ohio State 10