The Rich Rod era did many a thing to my emotions including help me create an alter ego during OSU week. Tressel had beaten Michigan during the end of Lloyd’s tenure (6-1) but the majority of those games were close and often Michigan fielded a team that was on the same level talent wise with OSU. Under RR this was not the case.
I have the ability to look at Michigan relatively objectively at Michigan when they are playing every other opponent except for OSU. For example last week against Iowa I expect Michigan’s defense to keep them in the game but the abysmal offense to ultimately get bogged down and lose the game. This is what happened and while I wasn’t happy, I understood why it happened.
I lack this ability to be objective the closer I get to the Michigan/Ohio State game. During Rich Rod’s three years I would concoct some scenario in my head as to how and why Michigan would beat the Buckeyes despite that they were severely overmatched. I liked to call this man “Delusional Michael.” (He can also appear late night after many drinks.)
Even in 2008 when Michigan was starting a walk on QB in the Horseshoe I had made myself believe that Michigan was going to win the game. This of course did not happen as OSU won easily 42-7. I followed suit in 2009 and 2010 when Michigan lost each time by double digits.
I thought that I would be able to retire “Delusional Michael” after Hoke was hired in 2011 and Michigan beat OSU 40-34. Even last year when Michigan lost 26-21 they still matched up with OSU toe to toe and had they had any offense in the 2nd half, might have won.
Unfortunately this horrendous 2013 season for Michigan will cause me to break “Delusional Michael” back out this weekend. I am writing this days out from the game so I am still objective but I want to preview the Game from an objective view of what will probably happen and yet preview what my crazier side will say to himself the morning of the game….
When OSU Has the Ball
The Buckeye offense has been awesome all year and their lowest output of the year has been 31 points against Wisconsin. OSU’s offensive line is the best in the B1G led with four seniors and Carlos Hyde is a monster who is running for an absurd 7.7 ypc. Braxton gets all the hype and he is great but it is the run game that makes the OSU offense go. From there Braxton can work off the play action and find Philly Brown and all the other OSU pass catchers. For all the talk about spread offense with Urban it is a rather simple offense but run by extremely talented people.
The Michigan front seven has vastly improved over the course of the season and is greatly improved by the return of SLB Jake Ryan. He tore his ACL in the spring but returned midseason and is just rounding into form. The front four lacks the ability to get to the QB but is very stout in the run game with the emergence of two Glenville kids Frank Clark and Willie Henry. Inside linebacker Desmond Morgan and James Ross have also improved but both were hurt last week against Iowa. Each is expected to play but for how long is the question.
Objective view: I expect OSU to come out throwing to score much the way they did last year. They might struggle for a half but I expect this to be very similar to the MSU game who led by 7 at half before opening it up in the 2nd when the Michigan defense wore down.
Delusional view: The Michigan front seven stuffs Hyde all day and forces OSU to be one dimensional. Braxton is off all day like he was versus Northwestern and Michigan holds OSU to under 30 points for the first time all year.
When Michigan Has the Ball
The Michigan offense has been a disaster all of November. In four games the offense has scored a total of three touchdowns in regulation and two in overtimes against Northwestern. The leading cause of this disaster has been the interior of the offensive line. The unit has shuffled guys in and out of the lineup and can do nothing right. Michigan can’t run and they can’t protect QB Devin Gardner. The New 98 looks like a shell of himself and is tentative to screw up and will probably be sacked many a time. The only brights spots for Michigan have been WRs Jeremy Gallon and Devin Funchess who have been mismatches on the outside at times.
The OSU defense doesn’t get quite the love its offense does and that makes sense give the productivity on that side of the ball. Still this unit is led by playmakers Ryan Shazier and Noah Spence with Bradley Roby in the secondary. Shazier is a TFL machine and will probably live in the Michigan backfield. I look forward to him going to the NFL soon.
Objective view: The Michigan offense will continue to be a train wreck. It will generate some points off a turnover or two the defense creates but will ultimately stall out in the 2nd half and Gardner will get beaten to a pulp. Shane Morris gets in the game and is also sacked a bunch. I then walk aimlessly around the woods in hopes of finding Gandalf to fight all the monsters and the eye of fire.
Delusional view: Michigan has been playing coy all of November in hopes of springing a trap on the Buckeye defense. The Notre Dame version of Devin Gardner shows up and Gallon and Funchess eat the OSU secondary alive. (This all sounds fun)
Objective view: OSU wears down Michigan’s defense and breaks there will. The Buckeyes win 42-10 and the many OSU visitors in the Big House celebrate going 12-0 for a second consecutive season. I will then avoid the internet for the rest of 2013.
Delusional view: Every break falls Michigan’s way. Braxton has an off day. Hyde actually fumbles. Tom Herrmann has his brain wiped by Aliens. And none of that actually helps Michigan’s offense which is touched by a golden angel and can do no wrong. Michigan wins 31-28.
It has bwen a lot harder for me to get to delusional Mike this year than years past. We are still a few days out from the game when I am writing this but I am not sure when these delusional thoughts will start to kick in. As weird as it sounds I hope I still feel this way even though I know I am setting myself up for disappointment. Despite knowing I will get upset at some point Saturday and reality sets in I never want to have the feeling of no hope.
Each Michigan/Ohio State game is like Christmas morning, even if I know I am going to get a box full of coal. I will still dream the night before of getting exactly what I want and dancing around the house like a mad man. You never know unless you open the box.