The Game

That’s how it’s known, both north and south of the Michigan / Ohio border. The annual rivalry game between the University of Michigan and Ohio State University is one of the oldest, and nastiest in college football. This year, the battle will take place at The Big House in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines are playing their best football in years, so they have a decent shot at kicking the Buckeyes in the teeth. Hopefully, knocking them out of their #1 ranking as the best team in the country.

I became a Michigan fan back in the 70s when the sidelines were patrolled by two lunatic coaches named Bo and Woody. The contest of who was more asylum-ready was won by Woody Hayes when he actually struck a Clemson player in the 1978 Gator Bowl. However, Bo was a bit of a nut job as well. Watching him lose it on the sideline was always the comic relief within the game. Ironically, Bo used to be an assistant coach under Woody. So, when he took the job with “that team up north” (Michigan), The Ten Year War began. Of course, it ended in a 5 – 5 tie. The legendary rivalry became epic.

My mania for the Maize and Blue was well known back in the day, but year after year of OSU wins have left me frustrated and jaded. Even when the Wolverines seem to have the Buckeyes on the ropes, something inexplicable always happens, and OSU escapes with another win. Last year, #4 UM was slightly favored over #10 OSU, and they wound up getting pounded 62 – 39. Honestly, it looked like OSU was playing St. Mary’s Home for Wayward Girls, instead of the #4 ranked team in the country.

So yes, I have become a warped, frustrated old fan. So much so that I don’t even watch the game live anymore. I can’t bear to witness another disaster as it unfolds. Instead, I set up my DVR to do the dirty work, just in case the Wolverines manage to pull out a win. Since I work Saturdays, I wouldn’t be able to watch the game anyway. However, last year’s reaction of my co-workers to The Blue Debacle was enough to let me know that we were blowing another one, badly. This was all pure joy for my next-cube-neighbor Don, who went to OSU, and actually played for Woody Hayes. Another year of Don’s smirking will be enough to drive us all to drink. Especially when he wears his alumni National Championship ring from 2014. It’s too much to bear.

Despite how the Wolverines have been playing lately, I still have a horrible feeling about this game. We’re in year five of Jim Harbaugh’s reign as coach, and I’m afraid we’re no closer to beating the Buckeyes. I anticipate another blowout or a close loss. But we will lose, again. I hope to God I’m wrong. If so, I will gladly eat a plateful of crow. Especially, if it means that Michigan knocks Ohio State out of their #1 ranking!

So go get ‘em, boys! Remember The Ten Year War and play like Bo is ready to tear you a new one if you screw up! Go Blue! Beat Ohio!

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Saturdays at The Big House

Let’s Go Blue!

Have you ever been to a college football game on a crisp autumn day? Been packed cheek-to-cheek with over 100,000 crazed fans inside a packed coliseum? Seen a marching band take the field with practiced precision? If so, then you are one of the thousands of college football fans who pack stadiums every weekend across America. I did not attend Michigan, but I have been a fan since the seventies. When a crazy guy named Bo used to prowl the sidelines screaming at the players, coaches, and refs. Good times. While I have become ambivalent about the team lately, there are a few things I enjoy more than the atmosphere surrounding college football. And nobody does it better than The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

After many years of trial and error, my wife and I have refined our system. Leave two hours before game time, catch the shuttle bus from the Wyndham to the stadium, bypassing all the traffic and parking frustration. However, there are pros and cons to this approach. On the plus side, you get to chit-chat with fellow Wolverines along the way. The down-side is that we’re packed in as tight as a sardines and we all explode out of it at Gate 2, like a paper snake out of a can. It’s all part of the experience. Hey, at least I didn’t have to negotiate all that traffic. Those bus drivers have it down to a science.

A B-52 Bomber does a flyover, scaring the crap out of anyone who doesn’t see it coming. All part of the show. A quick walk to Section 8 and we’re ready for some football. Despite the section number, I don’t think these fans are any crazier than the rest of The Big House crowd. Since the line to get in is rather long, we stop for pop and pizza before joining the mob. Our friend John’s seats are in the corner of the end zone, and we’re fortunate enough to see Michigan score on their first drive against Iowa. The place goes nuts. However, on this Saturday, Iowa was the favorite, and I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never did. UM wins 10-3! Go Blue!

Since it was Homecoming Weekend, the game had the added attraction of watching senior cheerleaders doing their thing. I’m not talking about the kids who are graduating this year, I’m referring to senior citizens in their seventies and eighties. They always do some sort of locomotive cheer I can never quite figure out. However, one old guy did a handstand and held it for what seemed like thirty seconds. Wow! After the game, the Iowa fans leave The Big House dejected, again. We hop on the bus Gus and head back to our car. All in all, it was another picture-perfect fall day, with another big win for the Wolverines. What could be better? Wait, is that some cider and donuts? 

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