In southwestern Ohio in the 90s, Saturdays in late November were masochistic rituals filled with anger and hate for adolescent Johnny Ginter. He wanted nothing more than the ability to show up at school on Monday and taunt the contrarian little wieners who rooted for Michigan because of their helmets ("You're from Ohio! Ohio State! Why is this so hard for you?!"). That would've been cool.
Instead, a 2-10-1 record against That Team Up North during the John Cooper years fostered an intense, reflexive hatred of all things Michigan. A hatred that has lasted during a very successful decade which has sustained both myself and the Buckeye fanbase at large will now fuel a necessary and gleeful beatdown on this particular Saturday in late November. We've always been at war with Eastasia, and we love being at war with Eastasia.
Make no mistake of it -- Ohio State will beat Michigan in the Big House this Saturday. The Buckeyes will beat them by a lot of points, because they are a very good team with things like competent coaching, an excellent multi-dimensional offense led by very handsome running back, an opportunistic defense, and a starting quarterback not held together by chicken wire and children's letters to Santa. Michigan right now has none of those things.
Here's what the Wolverines do have:
• A rushing game that should come with a Werner Herzog narration and has put up fewer yards in a month than Braxton Miller accumulated in one half against Indiana.
• An offensive line comprised of CPR dummies.
• Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison's dog-eared copy of Eat, Pray, Love with inspirational quotes written in the margins.
• The growing feeling that after going 2-4 in their last six games, maybe this season isn't going quite the way they planned.
In response, my Wolverine counterpart for this column might bring up tattoos, shady clubs, suspensions, Urban Meyer's health, and maybe Ryan Shazier's alopecia if they wanted to be particularly mean. Which frankly I have zero problem with. It's all well and good and in the spirit of the rivalry.
You know what else is in the spirit of the rivalry? Both teams being good.
For the past several years, Ohio State has held up its end of the bargain, and this year has been no exception as the Buckeyes have brought a fun and exciting brand of football to a conference sorely lacking in that department. Michigan has not been doing its part, and for this grievous sin Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Ryan Shazier, Michael Bennett, and the psychically directed hate of 11.5 million Ohioans will punish Brady Hoke and company for 60 very long minutes.
In 2006, Ohio State and Michigan met on the field of play and fans cheered on two teams and programs at the height of their powers. It was a celebration of Midwestern football and a confirmation of what we still know to be true: This is the best rivalry in all of sports.
2013 is not that. 2013 is where we finally shake Michigan out of its cocoon of hubris and once again teach it exactly what Wayne Woodrow Hayes meant when he said that "There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
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