Are you exhausted? I know I am. I think Saturday took a month off of my life. The Game between Michigan and Ohio State was actually a game that came down to the wire. Michigan went for two and lost and broke mine and all Michigan fan’s hearts. While the Buckeyes celebrated their win the Iron Bowl kicked off in Auburn and the insanity continued.
I don’t have the vocabulary to describe all of the emotions that happened with either game Saturday. For the Michigan/OSU game I was just happy it was a game. I apologize to anyone that read anything I wrote last week which made it seem like Michigan had no shot and I had almost no optimism heading into the game. Then the game started and it was a back and forth classic all the way to the bitter end.
Last week I said my feelings towards the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry were on par with Ramzy over at Eleven Warriors. The rivalry for me is more of a celebration between two different ways of life. There is almost a romance to it. (Yes I said romance, you can tell I am single can’t you?) When Funchess scored with 30 seconds left and the camera cut to Hoke giving the signal to go for two my eyes swelled up with tears. Part of it was because Michigan had a chance to win but also because I knew that it was a moment I would never forget. A moment that only a special rivalry could move me to such emotion. After a week of not feeling anything but despair it was good to feel some real optimism for the first time in months.
Of course reality set back in as the 2 point try failed and the Buckeyes celebrated their second straight 12-0 regular season campaign. It is always sucks to lose to OSU, doesn’t matter how. I remember them all and each of them stings in their own way. Saturday will sting because of what could have been.
After I did the only thing I knew how to do, congratulate the other side on their win and sit back down and watch more college football. Luckily the Iron Bowl was such a classic I didn’t have time to think about the Michigan loss. When Auburn’s Chris Davis returned that field goal for a touchdown I just sat there with my Dad in stunned silence. There was nothing to say other than looking at each other realizing we had just watched one of the most absurd endings to a game ever. Here is the radio call if you haven’t heard it or want to again. (Also read edsbs account of the game.)
Days like Saturday are the reason college football junkies like myself spend 365 days talking and thinking about it. Rivalries in other sports and leagues are great but they can’t match the intensity we saw that afternoon. Let me try my best to put my thoughts on it into words…
1. 2 point try: Good decision, bad play call: I think that is the universal response from everyone. Not just Michigan fans but Buckeyes and National media types as well. Carlos Hyde was eating Michigan alive and there is no way Michigan wanted to put its defense back out on the field. So the decision to go for the win right there was easy. The play call was obviously bad as OSU called a timeout once they saw the formation and Borges stuck with it. It is pretty funny on a day Borges called maybe his best game at Michigan he can still be held at fault for the loss. (I really don’t know what they should have run but they used the perfect play on the previous touchdown with the throwback pass to Jake Butt. That is a standard 2 point call. Wish that would have been it, even if they already ran it.)
2. Borges Watch: What would I do?: I would still get rid of him and the majority of the offensive staff. One good game doesn’t make up for a disaster of a season and running into 8 man fronts. Especially with the offense being so young next year Michigan should go for a “fresh start.”
3. Borges Watch: What will happen?: Borges will get to coach through the bowl game for his job. I expect this because Brandon kept Rich Rod through the bowl game in 2010 and I expect the same here. We will see if it is enough to keep his gig. At the very least bring in a QB coach please.
4. Where does this game rank?: In terms of where this game ranks within the rivalry it is easily the best game since 2006. I would rank it below that one just because of Michigan’s poor record this year but it definitely felt significant, which is nice. (In terms of an upset had Michigan won, it would have been number two behind 1969. Michigan was a 17 point dog in ‘69 and a 16 point dog on Saturday. I know Michigan upset a bunch of unbeaten OSU teams in the 90s but those Michigan teams were littered with NFL players.)
5. Moral victory?: Sure. I just think the expectations were so low that the fact Michigan had a chance to win that Michigan fans will see this as good. The big thing is Hoke can’t let this be his 2005 ND/USC game. For those of you not sure what I am talking about Charlie Weis and ND almost beat an unbeaten USC team in ‘05 and it ended up being the “best loss” he ever had that got him a contract extension. That can’t happen here.
6. Stopped the bleeding in recruiting: The one good thing it did was it stopped the bleeding in recruiting. Michigan missed out on Hand and Peppers looked like he was wavering but that boat seems to have calmed down. If Michigan can keep him and the rest of the recruits and get McDowell they will be in good shape. Also, all the underclassmen had a great time. This was some good news for those of us that follow things such as this.
7. The Fight: I loved it. Maybe its just because I am a hockey guy but that was a big moment for each side. Clearly Michigan won in terms of who got thrown out. We had a backup tossed while OSU lost 1.5 starters. The punching and grabbing of facemasks is dumb and I don’t want it to become a regular thing but all week I just wanted Michigan to show some fight and they did. It let OSU know it wasn’t going to be easy. Plus the Marcus Hall double middle finger flip was awesome, I don’t care what side you are on. (Also, Braxton should have gotten tossed for grabbing Dymonte’s face mask and pulling him. I think Delano Hill of Michigan should have as well but Braxton is lucky, just take a look. (Not that it would have mattered since Guiton would have put up points but still.))
8. New 98: The Devin Gardner of the ND game showed up. He was fantastic. He kept plays alive with his feet and played through considerable pain. He had a questionable fumble and the int at the end but it is clear who the leader of the team will be next year. He will have to be since he will be the only senior on the offense.
9. O line: Was functional, which is nice
10. I will miss Gallon and Dileo: The last of the munchkins will be graduating and I will miss each. Gallon had the best receiving day against OSU which is crazy given the receivers Michigan has had over the years.
11. Funchess, good and bad then good again: He lept over Doran Grant which was awesome. He also dropped a TD pass late that would have tied it but then caught the final one. He is a mismatch waiting to happen and now that he is a fulltime WR he should only get better. He will be Michigan’s primary playmaker next fall.
12. Ohio kids show promise: Deveon Smith, Jake Butt and Ben Gedeon all showed some ability in the game against their home state school. Smith and Green will be Michigan’s run game for the next few years and Butt had his breakout game and gives Michigan another weapon next fall. Gedeon has been talked about all fall and showed some skill as well.
13. Defense got run over: Not much to say here as what I thought would happen did. Michigan’s D held up for a half before getting steamrolled by Hyde and Braxton. This clearly will need to improve next year and thank God Hyde and 4 of the O lineman are gone.
14. Michigan won the turnover battle and lost again: They won early in the year despite losing the turnover battle and lost all November even though they won it. No idea.
15. Missed opportunities: The throwback pass to Gardner might have scored in the 2nd quarter. Gardner’s fumble that looked like his knee was down. Gibbons being hurt and Michigan going for it on 4th down and coming up empty. These things will haunt me.
16. The rivalry isn’t the most important thing in the world: It is close though. (For those that don’t know that is Hoke meeting with an OSU fan who named his tumor Michigan.)
17. Bowl game?: Sounds like either the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl or the Gator Bowl.
18. This season was a failure: Not that beating OSU would have made it a success because Hoke has set the standard at B1G championships. Michigan hasn’t even won the division in his three years. Saturday actually felt a lot like Michigan hockey’s last ditch effort to make the NCAA tournament last year by winning the CCHA tournament and coming up short in the final. As Brian labeled that team a failure so must this Michigan football team. A last ditch effort doesn’t cover up that fact. Only positive to take away from that is Michigan hockey is back to normal this year ranked in the top 5. (And beating OSU in OT on Friday night in the first B1G hockey game ever. I had to get that in there somewhere.)
B1G Title Thoughts
1. OSU’s Run offense is insane: Braxton and Hyde basically did whatever they wanted in the run game against a pretty damn good run defense. Michigan have up 225 more yards than they had all season. They did all this despite the fact Braxton completed only 6 passes. Hyde is a monster and I will be glad to see him leave.
2. OSU’s defense has some questions: It just gave up 600 yards to a horrendous Michigan offense. I get that Michigan had nothing to lose but they moved the ball with ease through the air and made Devin look like a superstar. This has to be concerning to Buckeyes fans not just for MSU but if they do get to Pasadena and game against Jameis and his band of elite receivers.
3. Sparty’s D (Narduzzi) vs Hyde/Braxton (Herman): I can’t wait for this matchup. Despite the fact I hate both teams even I can’t deny how awesome each of these units have been. This matchup will be awesome and I hope some other schools are smart and hire each of these coordinators for a head coaching gig so Michigan no longer has to face them. This is what I will be rooting for.
4. Bollman vs Fickel: OSU’s favorite former coach Jim Bollman goes up against his former colleague Luke Fickell. This may be where the game is won and lost actually. I have a feeling a breakdown by one of these units is going to leave one fanbase crying to have one of their coaches fired.
5. Who will I be rooting for: Goldfinger: Alright try and follow me here. So I don’t want anyone to die because I am not evil but at the same time I don’t want to see either one of my rivals happy. So instead I hope some Goldfinger like villain will spray some noxious gas rendering everyone inside Lucas Oil Stadium unconscious. From there he will then expose all of them to radiation, not harmful enough to kill but enough that everyone must be quarantined and live in a makeshift commune in Lucas Oil Field for 58 years. As you can tell I have spent some time thinking about this.
6. I will actually be rooting for Sparty: The choice is easy really. With Wisconsin losing and OSU now moving into the top two, MSU will being going to the Rose Bowl regardless of Saturday’s outcome against the Buckeyes. While OSU going to the title game will be good for the B1G or whatever, I can’t root for them to raise the Crystal trophy in just Urban’s 2nd year. This is just who I am.
7. Despite my hatred for OSU: If they win they should for sure be in the National Title game. I hate them more than anyone but Auburn, you know, lost a game and pulled 2 miracles out of their ass. If any team is like ND of last year it is Auburn, not OSU.
8. Hype: Hype
The Rest of the B1G
1. Penn State: Um Christian Hackenberg is going to be awesome and I don’t like it at all. PSU had probably the biggest upset of the year in the B1G and went into Camp Randall and beat the Badgers 31-24.
2. Wisconsin: This was a bad loss for Gary Anderson. His team didn’t look prepared and it cost them a shot at a BCS bowl. That is okay, Orlando is lovely.
3. Iowa: I take back all the mean things I said about you in the preseason. You are a competent team that will only get better.
4. Nebraska: Good God Bo Pelini. I really do think he was trying to get fired and yet they are going to keep him.
5. Minnesota: Progress in 2013. I know they lost their last two games but 8-4 is good work and the Gophers have something to build on which is rare in Minneapolis.
6. Indiana/Northwestern: Beat their rivals which is nice
7. Illinois/Purdue: Woof
8. Maryland: Went 7-5 and has some optimism coming to the B1G
9. Rutgers: Lost to UConn and has little to no optimism. Might be the only school in the conference with a job opening.
1. Auburn is trying to jump OSU: I mentioned this earlier but I doubt they jump OSU nor should they. I get the SEC blah, blah, blah and whatever but come on man. You can’t complain about the system now that has produced seven straight champs. (I know you will I am just trying to plead to the sky.)
2. No one feels bad for you Bama: Thus is life at the top. They actually played a great game but just couldn’t get up two scores and now McCaron’s #heismanmoment is wasted. You will just have to enjoy winning some meager BCS game. Rough life
3. Um, Missouri is good too: For all of the Auburn talk it is clear no one is thinking that Missouri can win the SEC title game. This, despite the fact that Missouri is actually the close team to being unbeaten. They blew a double digit lead to South Carolina and had they won they would be in the drivers seat for the Nati. Now they must win and hope Sparty wins. Both are for sure possible. (Either way the idea that Missouri or Auburn is even in this position is absurd given their record last year. Throw in MSU and Duke and all the preseason predictions are pretty stupid.)
4. Manziel goes out quietly: One of the most exciting players ever went out with a thud the past two weeks. He played alright versus Missouri but still not what one would expect from Johnny Football. One more game and then its off to Cleveland to have a torturous NFL career.
5. South Carolina Owns Clemson: I think Spurrier and Dabo need to be on the Real World or Amazing Race together or something.
6. Changes already at Florida: OC Brent Pease and the OL coach are out. Muschamp says they are going to go “no huddle.” Similar look to Washington and Oregon State this year.
7. UGA and Miss St had some good news: At least they beat their rivals.
8. Bret Bielema is a slow starter: 0-8 in his first season in Fayetteville. Good luck Bert.
10. Come on Birmingham, pick Pitt: You know you want to.
11. Baylor got to 10 wins: HOORAY. This not only wins me money but also makes me happy for the Bears. They still have an outside shot at a BCS bowl.
12. Other team people forgetting about: Arizona St: Just dismantled Arizona and now will host Stanford for the Pac 12 title game. The idea of a MSU/ASU Rose Bowl is not what traditionalists had in mind for the 100th Rose Bowl.
13. Washington got to 8 wins: He has since interviewed with USC. Apparently 8 wins was the goal
14. Tommy Rees goes out like only he could: With multiple 4th quarter interceptions. I will miss him.
15. Fresno State is out, Northern Illinois is in: Derek Carr is the first person ever to throw 6 touchdowns and somehow fall out of the Heisman race. Meanwhile Northern Illinois is a win over BG away from a 2nd consecutive BCS birth and Jordan Lynch is actually a Heisman contender. Speaking of…
16. Heisman Picks
1) Jameis Winston: This is still awkward as hell
2) Jordan Lynch: This is awkward but for different reasons
3) Carlos Hyde: I know he was suspended first three games but if I can put Winston on here I can put Hyde here as well. I understand Braxton has a better chance but I just watch Hyde turn Michigan into paste so I will go with him
17. BCS Projections
Nati: OSU vs FSU
Rose: MSU vs Stanford
Fiesta: Ok St vs Northern Illinois
Sugar: Missouri vs UCF
Orange: Alabama vs Clemson
18. Championship Week
Friday: BG vs No Illinois 8pm
Saturday: Oklahoma at Ok St Noon
Texas at Baylor 330pm
SEC title: Auburn vs Missouri 4pm
Pac 12 title: Stanford at ASU 745pm
ACC title: Duke vs FSU 8pm
B1G title: MSU vs OSU 815pm
I hope you enjoyed rivalry week. I know I am exhausted.