Point-Counter Point: Ohio State vs. Michigan, 11/26/2011

In a Pole Position first, yours truly welcomes a guest writer and devout Wolverine fan to debate point and counter-point the 108th meeting of “The Game”. Though we have been friends now for 11 years, Taylor and I have not so much as watched the game together once, and for good reason–the thought of having the other around in the event of a loss was possibly too much to swallow. But with the holidays upon us, and hopefully the temperance that comes with old age and maturity, we will not only watch the game together, we will do so in Ann Arbor at Michigan Stadium.  Ahead of the game, we share our perspectives in this point counter-point (and as for that maturity thing, well see the thing is, it don’t exist).

TAYLOR: I have no interest in visiting Ohio anytime soon.  Not because of its zombie-like horde of Katzenmoyer-jersey wearing restaurant waiters, or its pithy “Muck Fishigan” witticisms, or its zealous efforts to return the mullet and mesh midriff shirt back to the mainstream.  In fact, there are many good things about Ohio in general:  its contribution to making the Midwest anatomically correct (by supplying the armpit), as well as its generous donation of Heisman trophy winners and All-Americans to the Wolverines. No, my concerns are biochemical, or environmental, in nature.  Because apparently there is a chemical there–in the soil perhaps, or the water, or the air (an atmosphere constantly being sucked in and out by a city of spittle-flying mouth-breathers)–that, like the Stygian waters, wipes clean the memory of the Ohio fan.  Because if you were to pull any of these coozie-toting chaps aside on the street and ask them when Ohio football began, they would pinpoint it at approximately the third week of November 2001.  Which coincides with the beginning of the Tressel era, and the beginning of the run they have had against the Wolverines.  They would talk about a game in Ann Arbor, when apparently the U-M team from 2007 (the one that bungled around for 4 quarters against Appalachian State) apparently jumped in a time machine and played the first half.  The Ohio fan would then boastfully talk (always in the plural “we”, as if this morbidly obese mortgage broker/ Ohio fan you had pulled aside was in the two-deep for the Buckeyes’ defensive backfield and you were interrupting his stretching time) about the string of successes since then, punctuated only by a single win by the Wolverines in 2003.  And hey, facts are facts. But the beauty about the Alzheimers-like contagion that apparently plagues the whole of Hairless Nut-Nation is that it filters out “bad facts”.  Facts such as that entire decade known as the 1990’s.  And with good reason:

1990 Michigan 16 Ohio State 13 Columbus
1991 Michigan 31 Ohio State 3 Ann Arbor
1992 Michigan 13 Ohio State 13 Columbus
1993 Michigan 28 Ohio State 0 Ann Arbor
1994 Michigan 6 Ohio State 22 Columbus
1995 Michigan 31 Ohio State 23 Ann Arbor
1996 Michigan 13 Ohio State 9 Columbus
1997 Michigan 20 Ohio State 14 Ann Arbor
1998 Michigan 16 Ohio State 31 Columbus
1999 Michigan 24 Ohio State 17 Ann Arbor
2000 Michigan 38 Ohio State 26 Columbus

(yes i included 2000; you go by the definition of a decade your way, i’ll calculate it mine).

Some of those years were more painful for Ohio than others:  1993?  1995?  1996?  Undefeated each year?  Superior talent to Michigan?  [Alzheimer-like fog starts to part, as the Mike D’Andrea jersey-wearing Ohio fan tosses fitfully in her Horseshoe-shaped waterbed].  think about it, Ohio:  three potential national championships, ended–like a period; like a silence; like Death itself–permanently, by Michigan.  And…


(Sorry for the pause, I was momentarily distracted by what I thought was the sound of a gaggle of geese flying south for the winter; I just figured out it came from the Big 10 Network’s replay of the Ohio-PSU game showing Braxton Miller throwing the ball).

Okay, I’m back.  As I was saying:  I don’t blame you, my memory-impaired vandals down south.  I wouldn’t want to remember either. But thinking ahead isn’t much fun right now, either, is it?  In particular:  thinking ahead to 11/26.  Don’t  forget to take your happy pills before you jump in your Minnie Coopers to make the trip to the Big House.  Because there won’t be much fun for you once the game actually begins.

MICHAEL: Let me see if I understand your weaselly argument–you blast imaginary Buckeye fan, in what can aptly be described as mostly monosyllabic grunts, for championing the decade of the aughts by harkening back some two decades to a time when televisions sets didn’t shut off in unison in the HDWB (that’s Hot Dog Water Beltway) at the end of the first half.  Apparently still clad in Zubaz pants and an eight ball jacket, I guess the nineties have not ended for at least one guy.  Oh well, at least you’re still not dressed up like James Crockett and break dancing in Michigan clubs (how did you get that gel out?).  Hopefully Springsteen won’t drown out the words that follow.

You are welcome for the scores of turncoats we sent your way in an effort to make the rivalry competitive.  Despite having more than a decade’s head start (Michigan started playing “football” in 1879, Ohio State 1890), it wasn’t long before the superior talent base in Ohio culminated in a distinct advantage (those who stay will be beaten by champions!).  And examples abound my friend, as your legendary head coach was but an Ohio State assistant first, your two most cherished standouts in your frozen-in-time golden era (what I like to call the “half a championship era”), Woodson and Howard, hail from the Buckeye state.  Even Brady Choke, the coach you brought in to save the program, a former coach from that stalwart program that is Ball State, is but one more Ohioan  (the one time you guys hired your own guy, you brought in the CEO of a shitty national pizza chain.  In a bastardization of an old and tired joke, how do you get Michigan’s AD out of your office?  You pay him for the pizza).  Hell, the NCAA had to intervene and run Tressel out of town, or he would have gone on busting you guys up for another decade.  While you were scrapping with FCS and MAC teams (thanks for giving us Toledo, or East Detroit as I call it.  Since were stuck with them, we decided to build them up into a program that could also beat scUM), we were busy winning Big Ten Championships, playing in National Championship games, and ordering gold charms by the truckload (and Oh, I didn’t miss your not so sly and strained effort to refer to us as “Ohio,” yet one more cheap rip off of an Ohio State original). But no worries my friend, because if there is one thing we agree on, it’s that “The Game” is the best rivalry in all of sports, which means it’s too important to let you guys screw it up.

But enough about the past, let’s talk about Saturday.  Looks like I’m dealing with a “Walmart Wolverine” so I’ll dumb it down for you.  If this were a math contest, you guys might win.  But it is not, it’s football.  We’re better than you, because, well, you’re Michigan and were Ohio State.  I can’t even remember the last time a wolverine got the best of a Buckeye (and no, turning to a drunk Ohio State girl in the Big house after another beat down and getting a fake number is not getting the best of a Buckeye.  Even though she winked at you, the only time you are going to see her is one day every other year).  Oh wait, yes I can, 2,921 days and counting,  the same as the average UM grad’s salary as an assistant car wash manager in that infamous city of whores (though after what I  saw at the airport, which was either TSUN coeds, linebackers in DickRod’s 2-2-6 defense or both, this is not the boon it would seem).

Since you have already decided 11/26 will be unpleasant, even though it was two Michigan Coopers ago since you last won, perhaps you can give us a little more insight.  What is the over/under on the number of arm-punts we can expect from your Denarded quarterback?  Will Brady Hoke’s titties bounce when he does the Toyota jump trying to touch the banner running out of the tunnel?  And with all the changes in the B1G, will Michigan and Ohio State continue to use the same format, with the game played in the Shoe one year, and at a neutral site in Ann Arbor the next (see video below)?  Since I know we’ll beat Michigan on Saturday, because ,well, that’s what we do, those are the questions I’d like you to address…

TAYLOR:   Forgive my counterpart for relying on YouTube embedded images and kindergarten drawings of Ohio players toting around fellatio-performing monkeys dressed in Michigan cheerleader outfits (apparently this is preferable to the Ohio male than dating any of the wildebeasts in Ohio that claim to be women); he is the product of the Picture Pages education of Ohio, and prefers the warm blanky of pics over words.  Because, well, let’s face it, the written word–or even the spoken one, for that matter–have not been kind to Ohio:

“The University of Oho State”.–Terrell Pryor.

“I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever”.–(yes, him again)

“Christopher Cicero?  Who the hell’s this from?  Ah hell, I’ll just put this in my “saved emails” folder.”–Jim Tressel

“Of course I know you’re a hooker!  Why do you think I brought my ATM card?” –Antonio Henton

“I feel really good about this year’s game against Michigan!”–John Cooper

“Hello officer? Yes I’d like to report a car burglary.  What was taken?  Well, uh, about 99 CDs…uh, lemme get back to                           you…”–Maurice Clarett

“My name?  My names Maurice.  Clarett.   See?  I’ll even take off my mask.  Now gimme that money!”–same

“Yeah, Coach Coop?  This is Chuck…yeah, I’ve decided to commit to Ohio State….PSYCH!”–Charles Woodson

“Yeach, Coach Coop?  this is D…yeah, I’ve decided to commit to Ohio State…PSYCH!”–Desmond Howard

“No matter what, make sure you punt to Woodson.”– Ohio special teams coach (speaking to Ohio punter during pregame warm-ups of 1997 michigan-ohio game).

There are other memorable quotes, but my hard drive is only 1.5 terabytes.  Oh—wait—this just in:   “It’s the education part.  I know all these schools athletically can offer me the same thing. The academic support at Ohio State, there is no way you can fail. Even if you’re giving minimal effort there is no way you can fail.”–Adolphus Washington.


Catchy, no?

MICHAEL: Excellent fiction my friend.  I suppose any U of M pup would have to create an alternative theory of reality to survive developments of the new millennium.  Fortunately for Buckeye fan, I need not do this.  Now, to fully appreciate this, you need to summon your best West Virginia hillbilly drawl, be on the verge of tears, and stand up spontaneously and in an act of utter 4 and 8 desperation, clutch the man or woman’s hand to the left and to the right, and belt out this pathetic tune in your best prepubescent high pitch seal squeal:

When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary;
When troubles come and my heart burdened be;
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence,
Until you come and sit awhile with me.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

There is no life – no life without its hunger;
Each restless heart beats so imperfectly;
But when you come and I am filled with wonder,
Sometimes, I think I glimpse eternity.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains;
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas;
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.

You raise me up… To more than I can be.


If you are having a hard time picturing such a thing, perhaps this will help.

Did you really hire that Hillbilly?  I mean, he went to Tucson, a basketball school, and they actually were excited to have him.   YOU’RE MICHIGAN!

If you were trying to put a stop to the video montage, no chance my friend.  Simply put, too much material.

Now, where was I?  Oh yes…We can’t all be articulate like this guy:

Was he discussing his game plan for Saturday, or was he warning Brutus to take cover when Denard takes the field?  When will he release the Wookie?

Since you like quotes so much, try these on for size: Upon running low on gas in southern Michigan returning from a recruiting trip: “Stop for gas?! We’ll push the damn car all the way to the Ohio state line before I contribute one penny to any business in the state of Michigan!”  Or this one: “When asked why he went for two despite a 36-point lead against Michigan, Hayes quipped, “Because I couldn’t go for three.”  Or my personal favorite: “There’s nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you.” (Is that true Michigan fan?  Before you answer, repeat after me– they got THIRTY-SEVEN, we got SEVEN).

That of course is the great Woody Hayes.  The same man who refused to even say the name of That School Up North.  The same man who once said “If anybody congratulates you, you kick them in the shin, unless it’s an old lady over 80.”  The same man who wanted to win so badly, he crossed the line between coach, player, and good sportsman, when he stepped on the field and punched a Clemson player in the middle of the game.  This is what The Ohio State University brought to the rivalry.

And one can argue HE IS THE RIVALRY.  We all know that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Everything, from Choke’s refusal to call us by our name, from your legendary coach, to even your vague reference above about not wanting to visit the state of Ohio is Woody Hayes.

I could go on busting you up all day long as well.  Instead, I’d like to talk about “The Game,” it’s significance, and why it’s the best rivalry in all of sports.  I have lots to say on this, but following your lead, I’ll keep this response brief, and simply open the discussion with the best video I’ve seen on the subject.  It gets the juices flowing, it captures why I would never have grown up anywhere else but the Midwest, and why on the last Saturday in November, for at least those three hours, beating _ichigan (you’ll get the “M” back when you deserve it) is the only thing in the universe that actually matters.

Now, try not to embarrass yourself further.

TAYLOR:  Woody was a part of The Rivalry.  But he wasn’t THE RIVALRY.  Nor was his apprentice who bested his teacher, leaving the 10-Year-War with a 5-4-1 record.  Nor was any one player:  not Archie, or Desmond, or Charles, or Eddie.  They are all porcelain tiles in the mosaic of The Rivalry.  And, despite the expletive-and-beer-hurling fans (on both sides, although I see more from Ohio, but hey, I acknowledge my bias) who add nothing but bad memories to the event known as The Game, its reach is much deeper in the souls of its Midwestern fans than simple stat sheets and win-loss records.  Because The Rivalry, and The Game, embodies those qualities of the American (in particular the Midwesterner) that TMZ, the fashion mags, and the celeb rags all neglect (or even mock), yet which is the life-blood of this country.  It is about loyalty (cheering for a team even after a decade of losses to its rival [Ohio in the 90’s, Michigan now]).  It  is about community, complete strangers in the stands sharing joyous hugs or frustrated curses.  It is about folklore, as fans describe where they were the day that Touchdown Tim ran for 313 yards against the Bucks, or when Troy Smith put on a carnival show in The Game of the Century.  It is about fortitude, braving miserable ice-cold rain and wind (and in Chad Henne’s case, an injury to his shoulder that plagued him all season) to sit and watch your team score 3 points.  It is about fathers and sons, and the wordless love known only to fathers and sons, sitting huddled together on the cold, narrow metal benches of The Big House, or in the steep upper deck seats of the ‘Shoe, eyes fixed in the rapt hope of a victory that will fill them with a shared joy.  Most of all, as this country suffocates on the fashion and cultural objects du jour of the Left and Right Coasts, this Game is about the Middle:  about the midwesterner who fills the stadium stands, and then, win or lose, returns to the quiet struggles of life, dealing with them without fanfare or attention:  attending the PTA meetings, or coaching the Little League teams, or shoveling the driveway of an elderly neighbor not out of HOA-given ultimatums, but out of a kindness and concern for those who share their world with them.  While America continues to reward fashion celebs for bad behavior, the heroic values that maintain this country move on– in silence, without fanfare, but with a strong, beating heart, and a benevolent devotion to family and community that you see, and feel, in those tailgating gatherings, in those sold-out stadiums in Columbus and Ann Arbor.  The Rivalry is both the product of, and the tribute to, that eternally good spirit of the Midwestern people.

MICHAEL: Very well put my friend.  I’m not sure I have much to add or quibble with in regards to the eloquent prose that appears above, as much as it pains me to agree with a blue bellie on anything at all.  In reading your passage, I was struck by how inextricable the link that bonds the two programs, the cities, and the people who drape themselves in maize and blue on the one side and scarlet and gray on the other.  And here, I speak not in a general sense that such a rivalry could not exist but for the other, in a Superman needs his Lex Luther sort of way.  While this of course is true, the bond I speak of is a much more personal one, one that mirrors the history that will deliver us to Ann Arbor on Saturday.

As we know, and much to the chagrin of Ohioans, our kids cross the line to play for the Wolverines from time to time (and vice versa).  That means, on that one Saturday, kids line up on opposites sides of the gridiron for bragging rights that last 365 days, in some cases pitting life long friend against life long friend.  And in the annals of history, the Ohio Governor once dispatched the National Guard to defend the boundaries of Toledo, leaving a town irrevocably divided down the middle–one half Wolverine, one half Buckeye.  And finally, though the rivalry between Bo and Woody resulted in a ten year war characterized by two men who never spoke off the battlefield (and rarely while on it), they remained best of friend when the smoke cleared on the era that defined “The Game”.

Come tomorrow, two of the best of friends will find themselves divided in a way that, but for the bond that you speak of, could test the mettle of two men whose passion for the greatest rivalry in all of sports defines in part who we are.  Know this–come Saturday, I hope you find the weather bitterly cold.  I hope a hushed silence falls upon Michigan Stadium.  And I hope you find the ride home unbearably long.  But also know this, in 365 days, regardless of the outcome, I hope to do it all over again.

TAYLOR:  Okay, now, on to the pre-annihilation–I mean, pre-game–analysis:  In all seriousness, I don’t expect either offense to air it out and rival the 42-39 game score of the 2006 game.  I actually expect more of a game flow like the 1969 game, where the game was decided by halftime.  I say this because Michigan will be more inclined to keep the game low scoring (and bet on its defense against Quack-ston Miller) than to try to air it out (and heighten the risk of interceptions, of which there have been 14 thrown this year by D-Rob).  Defensively, the key for Michigan will be the play of its ‘backers, in particular freshman Desmond Morgan and r-freshman Jake Ryan.  Ryan, a without-a-doubt playmaker, has also had the capacity to make bad plays–failing to read the o-line on delayed run plays and overrunning the QB in his zealous pursuit of the ball.  Similarly, Morgan–an excellent tackling technician with a relentless motor–has been caught up in the wash on numerous occasions misreading run plays.   Both of these would be deadly against Quack-ston, who is a legitimate scrambler with game-breaking change-of-direction ability.

The U-M d-line is experienced enough that it should do a decent job maintaining leverage and rushing directly upfield, leaving it up to the linebackers to ensure that any gaps (especially backside holes on plays to the strongside) stay closed.  The interesting x-factor in this game for the U-M defense will be how much the U-M defensive coordinator, Greg Mattison, decides to unleash his myriad NFL blitzing packages when they put Quack-ston in 3rd and long.  My guess is that such blitzing will be moderate, at least in the first half (although you could see more in the 2nd half if Michigan builds a double-digit lead by halftime).  My suggestions for the Michigan defense:

1)  go cover 3 or man on majority of first and 2nd down plays, keeping Kovacs close to the line in run support against the speed option and lead draw.

2)  employ the mattison-hatter blitz schemes only moderately in the first half, and let Braxton kill himself by simply running into the wrong holes on designed run plays and plays where he opts to scramble (he has a history of choosing the wrong running gap);

3)  have Michigan cornerbacks blow duck whistles to confuse the Ohio receivers, so they can’t tell from what direction Miller’s thrown balls are coming.

Michigan Offense:  Of course, this is the greater question for Michigan.  After three and a half years of an extended absence, a feature back other than qb1 is beginning to emerge in Fitzgerald Toussaint.  Still, the offense (and how opponents scheme against it) starts with Denard Robinson, obviously.  There has been some scrutiny (and even concern) about his seemingly diminished speed and poor running angles, having been tackled in situations that seemingly would have resulted in more yardage last year.  Putting speculation aside, the most important fact is that Ohio’s defense will game-plan for the fast version of Denard.  this will open up opportunities for the receivers, putting them in man situations.  The question is how often will Denard be asked to throw, and what types of passing routes will the plays require?  If I see Borges call one waggle play (requiring the fastest player in the history of anything to turn his back to the line of scrimmage), I will….be pissed, sitting up in row 56 south corner end zone freezing my ass off.  and then I may text some really mean things.  About things.  Seriously, the entire universe at this point knows that, putting Denard in shotgun and letting him see the field untrammeled, and having him throw from the quick 3-step drop instead of under center, is vastly better than putting him under center and asking him to read through his progressions.

Michigan has really gotten away from using bubble screens, backside screen plays, any play ending in the word ‘screen’.  I hope it is because they wanted to save it for this game.  Forcing the other team to respect the receiver screen spreads the linebackers out in space.  Putting defenders in space against Shoelace is, well, a good thing if you are rooting for the maize & blue.

Another key for Michigan will be play call selection and execution–both of which hurt us in 2009.  In the rivalry game losses over the past 3 years, more than a few began with a promising Michigan offensive drive in the first half that ended in an interception or fumble in the red zone.  Ohio will be daring Michigan to pass, especially in the red zone.  How Michigan handles that (preferably with the old reliable fake-denard-running-then-step-back-and-pass-to-a-wide-open-roundtree play that worked ridiculously well, and that we no longer see) will determine how this game plays out.  Expecting Denard to hit a receiver in the red zone on a crossing route over the middle is not the play that will win this  game for U-M.

Yes, Ohio is down, but they are still Ohio, and this is still The Game–where point spreads go to die.  Also, Posey is back, has a warm-up game under his belt, which makes this game somewhat incomparable to the previous games this year–at least in the sense that there is a reliable  play-making deep threat in the receiver corps.  They still have talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

But this game is in the Big House, on Senior Day, and will include a lot of seniors starving for its first win over Ohio.  And the difference this year compared to the previous three, is that they know they can.

Michigan 27, Ohio 17

MICHAEL: It’s funny to hear UM fan say Ohio State still has talent (you will see it on Saturday.  D-Rob, as in “the d robbed you of the ball again”, meet Mr. Shazier), oblivious to the fact that, except for last year, Ohio State’s recruiting classes were ranked higher than UM’s (albeit by very narrow margins).  And while we continue to hear about Michigan pulling kids out of Ohio. it’s worth noting that, of the 21 kids on UM’s roster from the Buckeye state, only one received an offer from The Ohio State University.  In other words, it’s still the kids that we didn’t want.

I have seen parts or all of seven of Michigan’s games this year, and honestly, still have no idea  what to make of them.  It is clear that the defense is better this year under Mattison, but how good are they really, with mostly the same kids that let the FCS Minutemen hang 37 on them?  This is the thing about Michigan’s smoke and mirror’s season–other than wins over Nebraska and Notre Dame, both overrated, who has “meat chicken” really beaten?  Somehow you avoided both Penn State and Wisconsin, two of the three best teams in the conference.  And the other was little brother sticking it to you again.  Arguably the next best team in the conference, Iowa, also ended in a Michigan loss.  And these teams above, plus The Ohio State, are typically your best defensive teams in the B1G.

Having said that, Ohio State has been a bigger enigma to me this year.  Some games they have come out ready to play, taking big leads against Nebraska in Lincoln (much different team in their backyard my friend) and Wisconsin, probably the best team in the conference (they will win the B1G).  And then there was Indiana, Purdue, and Penn State, the last three games where we (and I’m not an obese mortgage broker) fell behind 10-0 to start the game (and strangely,in the wackiest of Big Ten seasons, only Indiana of those three has a solid offense).  This is key, because, whatever you think of Bollman’s wildcat option offense (why is your third string tailback trying to hand the ball off to your second string tailback inside your own ten yard line), it ain’t built for comebacks.

So, I think you will see a few things this weekend as OSU tries to get on top early:

Ohio State will bring extra guys up into the box.  And why not?  While Michigan’s receivers are solid, I don’t see a lot of guys on the outside with game breaking ability, at least not by typical Michigan standards.  But a couple of other things factor into this:  1) Robinson has been incredibly erratic in the passing game.  Bringing guys into the box allows you to stuff the run, and blitz the quarterback if you so choose (a source of frustration for OSU fans is that Heacock refuses to blitz in his risk adverse defense despite good corner back play from Bryant and Howard)–This will only happen if regular pressure cannot be generated from the down four.  Now, if corner back Christian Bryant doesn’t play, you have more chances of seeing Bauserman start and throw 40 balls than regular OSU blitzes; and two, Robinson hasn’t been the running threat he was last year.  I don’t know if this is a function of Choke running an amalgam of last year’s read option and his desired pro-style offense, but the Dennarded one has not averaged five yards a carry since early October.  It would appear that TSUN is instead focusing on a more traditional running attack, and this plays into Ohio State’s hands as they still have a very good defensive line and should be able to contain the run.  Just ask Wisconsin.

On offense, some on the web are speculating that Bollman is reading the tea leaves, knows that he is coaching his last game at tOSU, and will open it up a bit.  Let me dispel this rumor, it ain’t happening.  Bollman only has three plays in his playbook–Boom up the middle, the wildcat (with 74 nauseating variations), and slow developing pass routes executed by receivers who can’t get off the line and get open.   Even though Michigan’s defense is ranked 40th against the run (and it helps that that they didn’t really face one team all year with a dominate tailback, like Wisky’s Montee Ball), Ohio State has traditionally been able to run the ball against Michigan, to include other seasons like 2001, 2002, and 2008 when the offense also featured a lackluster passing attack.  Though this is a young team, the offensive line has mostly been together now for two years, and of course, Boom is a determined hard runner who will make the most of his last regular season game at tOSU.  I make this assumption on reports that have lead me to believe that JB Shugarts will likely play–when he has, the offensive line has gelled and Boom has gone off.

Finally Jim “Bolled over man”, I want to see two things on Saturday: 1) when you have to pass, get Braxton Miller out of the pocket.  He is not Aaron Rodgers, so he isn’t going to sit in the pocket and go through his progressions. And  I’ll go through them for you right now–receiver number one isn’t open.  Receiver number two, he fell down.  And receiver number three was jammed at the line and then thrown out of bounds.  Any chance for a successful down the field attack will start and end with Braxton buying time for the receivers to get open and by breaking down the Wolverine secondary with the threat of a run.  As for TE Jake Stoneburner, apparently it is part of our self imposed sanctions that we not throw the  ball to him in 2011.  It’s worth noting that the two biggest plays Brax’ has made occurred when he kept the play going–here I speak of the last second pass to Devon Smith against Wisconsin and the last second TD to Jordan Hall against Purdue; and 2) we have an embarrassment of riches at tailback.  This means we do not need to use Jordan Hal as a traditional tailback.  Put him in the slot–he immediately becomes a mismatch for Michigan, and short completions can turn into game breakers just like that.  It has been clear that tOSU, circa 2011, is not a 14 play 82 yard type team.  It’s lightning in a bottle or struck by lightning for Bollman’s offense, and since we do not have a lot of play makers, you need to get as many as possible on the field at all times.

I must admit, I’m not exactly sure how it will happen, but I will not bust out the Michigan mantra of “you know, records don’t matter and the best team doesn’t always win the rivalry game.” I needn’t go there because I’m convinced that while we’re young, we’re still more talented, albeit by the narrowest margin we have seen in years.  My gut feeling is that we will initially shut down Michigan’s run, will eventually establish a running game, and will win the turnover battle.  Truth be told, we probably need all three of these things to happen on the road to win.  I also think we see a big special teams play from tOSU, possibly from Jordan Hall.  Finally, I think Brax has one more miracle comeback in him (and that pass may very well “quack” as it finds its target, but find it’s target it will–again, ask Wisconsin), resulting is a win in the waning moments, yet another instant classic in the annals of this great rivalry.  So, I’ll go with something like…

Ohio State 24, Michigan 20. 

Sorry weasels, but despite your best opportunity in years, the beat will go on…

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4 replies

  1. Mike, you have a great imagination, but unfortunately, OSU defense is terrible for the first time in 10 years. Yes Michigan’s defense still had holes but in reality this game should of been put away in the 2nd half. Miller was the only person on OSU’s team that kept them in the game. Herron was a non-factor and your Defense gave up 100 yrs to 2 different Michigan players (Robinson and Toussaint). Miller will be a stud if he improves his accuracy, but other than that, OSU will have alot of trouble with future Michigan teams that has found their swag back thanks to Coack Hoke and Mattison. By the way Coach Fickell is a class act and for how well he coached and kept the team from falling apart, I commend him on a great job. He should of been given 2 more years and I believe the Michigan OSU rivalry would have reverted back to the 10 yr war. Urban Meyer is not the guy to bring you guys back.

  2. Bryan, where were these comments ahead of the game? Predictions are much easier after the game has been played! And while your observations about OSU’s defense are spot on, and the limitations of OSU’s offense, at least this year, are also accurate, from what I saw, Michigan was also a one trick pony on 11/26/2011. There was very little difference between these two teams, so much so, that Ohio State was one over thrown deep ball away from winning the game (a prediction I made BEFORE the game). As for UM’s win, I am sure they are happy to end the streak, and it appears to this guy, that Michigan’s program is heading in the right direction. But before you get too excited, I don’t see one win on Michigan’s slate this year as evidence that this ship has been completely righted–the two best defensive teams they saw this year, Iowa and Michigan State, were both losses. As for the future, who knows how “The Game” will play out, but will suggest to you that with Urban Meyer on board, it will completely take on a shape of its own. I agree with you about Fickell, classy program man who guided the team through maybe its most difficult time ever. I see him one day again as head coach at Ohio State. Thank you Bryan for your comments, I always appreciate feedback on my work.

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