Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ohio State 42, Michigan 41. It Was Not to Be

Fall in the Big House. The air is crisp. The sky is clear. The temperature is a freezing 30°. The leaves are turning. The Big House is a sea of maize and blue, scarlet and grey. Tens of thousands Ohio State fans teemed into the Michigan Stadium savoring a smackdown by their beloved, undefeated Buckeyes of the offensively inept Wolverines. It was not to be. Detroit Metro Airport is usually a sea of maize and blue on football weekend. Not this weekend. Only the true faithful showed up. O ye of little faith. If you watched on TV you missed the falcon flying onto the field before the flyover, the rainbow hanging the stadium in the second quarter in the clear sky (Was it an omen?), and Ohio State’s Best Damn Band in the Land performing their inspiring Gettysburg Salute at halftime. 113,511 stood frozen in place for 3 hours, even during halftime, because of the cold and the 42 points split evenly in the first half. 83 points total in the game. Up and down the field the bitter rivals marched, ran, and passed. Ohio State couldn’t stop Michigan’s passing attack (451 yards). Michigan couldn’t stop Ohio State’s running game (393 yards). You missed a great game, the 110th time the behemoths of the gridiron met. The Michigan that beat Notre Dame 41-30 in game 2 showed up to play. Where did that Michigan go? Michigan played a wide open attack. 99, 84, 83, 78 yard touchdown drives. Where was this Michigan hiding in the preceding 9 games? 603 offensive yards. Where did that come from? Not Akron. Not UConn. Definitely not Penn State, Michigan State or Nebraska? Did Al Borges have a secret plan all season to keep the Michigan offense under wraps to fool Ohio State? No more ties in college football. Too bad! Fairness deserved a tie in this evenly matched, evenly played game. But one team had to win and one lose. Thus, after scoring a touchdown in the last 32 seconds Michigan went for two – to win it all. The Wolverines had nothing to lose. Go for it. It was not to be. David did not beat Goliath. Not this time. Ohio State gets the W in the records book and Michigan the L. Ohio State moves on, perhaps to the BCS National Title game. Tressel won the title in his second year at Ohio State. Meyer may match that mark. Go Blue. Go Sparty! Tressel and Meyer have owned the rivalry in the New Millenium, winning 11 out of 13. Michigan controlled the previous Jim Cooper years 10-2-1. Michigan won the game. It won redemption and respect. The players regained their pride. They played equal to the best. The Wolverines gave their all. They left it on he field. Alas. Al Borges called the wrong play on the two point conversion. His conservative DNA returned. He called a play that had no options – only a pass to Drew Dileo, the “hands” receiver. Dileo never had a chance. Ohio State knew it was coming. 4 defenders covered Dileo. It could not reach him. Al Borges still must go. Side notes: Marcus Hall of Ohio State double bird flipped the stadium. Devin Gardner, the banged up, gimpy Michigan quarterback, proved he is worthy of filling Tom Brady’s shoes and wearing the hallowed 98 Jersey of the revered Tom Harmon. Had Michigan defeated The Ohio State University, the fans would have mobbed the field. The game would have entered the lore of Michigan football with that of “Bo, Who?” stomping 24-12 Woody’s great 22 game undefeated, returning national champions – once considered perhaps the greatest college team of all time, or at least until November 22, 1969. It is not to be.

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