1. Before I get into The Game itself, I'd like to spend a few minutes talking about The Rivalry. Ohio State has now played Michigan 112 times since 1897. It is a long rivalry. It is a storied rivalry. It has often been a painful rivalry. Along the way, legends have been made, glory has been earned, perfect seasons have been dashed, championship hopes have been crushed. We have seen massive upsets, miraculous comebacks, record-setting performances, ten year wars, snow bowls, shanked field goals, banners torn down, double birds flipped, and so many other memorable moments. But that's all in the past now. It's time to move on.
I have heard so many Buckeye fans say that they want Michigan to be good again, "for the sake of The Rivalry." They say it with longing in their voices. Reverence even. Maybe a touch of pain, as if it really does hurt them that Michigan just isn't quite good enough to beat Ohio State. Quite frankly, I say that it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard, wanting your rival to be good.
In the real world, do you really think that businesses and organizations want their competitors to be good? Does the Board of Directors of McDonalds get together and pray that Burger King will produce better burgers? Does Ford secretly hope that GM will produce better cars? Does Coke want Pepsi to win a few taste tests now and then? Will Hillary Clinton's team be upset if the Republicans nominate an unelectable candidate? Of course not!
Even in the world of sports, this love of your team's rivalry, as opposed to love of your team, seems to be unique to Ohio State fans. I have never heard a Pittsburgh Steelers fan wish that the Cleveland Browns would be good again for the sake of the rivalry. Same thing with Auburn-Alabama, Packers-Bears, Yankees-Red Sox, Harvard-Yale, and every other heated rivalry you can think of. Army-Navy might be the only exception, but those guys will eventually shed blood for each other, they're all part of the same team in the end.
I think that this perverse love of The Rivalry is some lingering mental disorder from the Cooper Era, a sort of Stockholm Syndrome response from some of us who survived those dismal years. Back then, when we could never beat Michigan, we at least had comfort in the fact that we were part of the greatest rivalry in sports - we could still share in the greatness of The Rivalry even if it wasn't great because of us. We were like France: "Yes we lost the War, but it was the greatest War of all time."
We don't need The Rivalry any more. We are great because we are great. Let Michigan fans bask in the glory of The Rivalry, hoping that some of our greatness will rub off on them. Get over your love for The Rivalry, and don't ever let it cloud your hate for Michigan.
2. Here's a breakdown of each team's performance in three segments:
Team Years Analyzed Overall Record -Win Percent- Record in Game Big Ten Titles Nat'l Champs Michigan Wolverines 1879 to 1950 416-115-24 .771 29-12-4 20 8 Ohio State Buckeyes 1890 to 1950 328-157-38 .663 12-29-4 8 1
Team Years Analyzed Overall Record -Win Percent- Record in Game Big Ten Titles Nat'l Champs Michigan Wolverines 1951 to 2000 389-147-12 .721 27-23-2 20 1 Ohio State Buckeyes 1951 to 2000 397-130-15 .746 23-27-2 20 5
Team Years Analyzed Overall Record -Win Percent- Record in Game Big Ten Titles Nat'l Champs Michigan Wolverines 2001 to 2015 119-69-0 .633 2-13-0 2 0 Ohio State Buckeyes 2001 to 2015 161-33-0 .830 13-2-0 8 2
Michigan was clearly the better team back in the leather helmet days. During the latter half of the 20th Century, the two teams were fairly even. Since the dawn of the 21st Century, Ohio State is clearly the better team. Let Michigan fans live in the past, recalling faded glory that they never knew. I prefer to live in the present.
3. Ezekiel Elliott reached some milestones yesterday. Zeke had 30 carries for 214 yards and 2 touchdowns, his 21st career 100-yard game (passing Eddie George for second place at OSU) and 5th career 200-yard game (tied with Eddie George for first place at OSU).
4. Zeke (3,812 yards) also moved past Eddie (3,768 yards) and into second place on the Buckeyes' list of career rushing leaders. With 39 career rushing touchdowns, Elliott is now in sole possession of 4th place at Ohio State.
5. For the season, Elliott has 1,672 yards rushing, which is already the 5th best single season in Ohio State history trailing only Archie Griffin (1,695 yards in 1974); Keith Byars (1,764 yards in 1984); himself (1,878 yards in 2014); and Eddie George (1,927 yards in 1995).
6. With one sack yesterday, Joey Bosa now has 26.0 for his Buckeye career. He is in third place at Ohio State, trailing only Jason Simmons (27.5 sacks) and Mike Vrabel (36.0 sacks). Bosa also had his first career interception in the game.
7. Urban Meyer becomes only the second Buckeye head coach to win his first four games against Michigan. The other was Francis Schmidt (1934 to 1937), who won all four games by shutout. Schmidt then lost three in a row (1938 to 1940) and was replaced by Paul Brown for the 1941 season.
8. It looks like The Agony in Ann Arbor will keep the Buckeyes out of the Big Ten Conference Championship Game. I don't care - I still love that play. There will always be other CCGs, but there will never be a fail quite so epic as that one.
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