11/24/2018 – Michigan 39, Ohio State 62 – 10-2, 8-1 Big Ten
From the start this blog has sought to detach itself from the furies of gameday. This column shows up Monday noonish and is thus the last one to appear. It usually tries to get a grip on the emotional tenor of what happened once whatever red mists have passed. Most games that are not abject humiliations are broken down play-by-play in an attempt to explain what actually happened, and gesture towards why.
So it's natural that people would ask me what happened; I am a person who would be able to venture some guess as to what caused the #1 defense in the country to give up 700 yards and more points than Michigan ever had to Ohio State. And, sure, there are some answers to be had. Ohio State ruthlessly exploited Brandon Watson and Devin Gil. Michigan's game plan was terrible because when you're the #1 defense in the country it's impossible to think your approach needs to be entirely different.
But these are weak justifications for the towering, Lovecraftian whole. They do not begin to explain what happened on Saturday. I struggled to put together anything that would be remotely satisfying. Then I figured it out: the fact that makes all the puzzle pieces slot together.
This is Hell.
I am being punished for some sin so colossal that it justifies me reliving my life over and over again, except the end of every football season has been replaced with every flavor of pain football can hand out. This may be my sin, and the simulation will reveal it to me at the very end. I will be permitted a brief moment of knowing the totality of my existence before being thrown back into the rebooted whole.
Or I may be a person who has committed grievous crimes against football and is being punished by living through this existence as someone who holds my true self in utter contempt. This would in fact be justice for Jim Delany's sordid existence: to bear the brunt of every money-grubbing decision on an annual basis and then get a metaphorical kick to the junk so powerful it might as well be real. The reveal at the end, as I download this into whatever qualifies as a soul before being moving into another college football fan, would be the kind of devastation that you really rely on Hell to dish out.
Other candidates to be placed in this particular hell include everyone involved with replacing Pitbull with Larry Culpepper, that one FOX executive who surrounded himself with prophylactic pictures of his kids and sexually harassed his way out of a job, and people who post pictures of their dogs with captions like "OHHHH WHO'S A GOOD DOGGO" somewhere other than Instagram.
So, good news: you don't exist. Or bad news: if the demons have decided that they can cram all of the above into the same simulation for efficiency's sake, your existence implies that you have sinned powerfully and long, and respite is not coming.
But they messed up, you see. I don't buy this latest one. Oh, I was willing to accept the one where the quarterback breaks his foot in the middle of the game and still nearly carries Michigan to a win, even though the offensive coordinator called the same play he had on before after an OSU timeout. I was willing to accept the one lost by a literal unknowable inch. I was willing to accept DJ Durkin checking out a week early and not being too bright to start with.
I don't buy this one. The one where Ohio State fires one of their coaches for abusing his wife before the season, and Urban Meyer skates. The one where Ohio State loses by 29 to Purdue and barely squeaks out victories over half the Big Ten that Michigan is simultaneously paving. The one where the same team that came one three yard pass to a wide open receiver away from losing to Maryland waltzes through, yes, the #1 defense in the country like it is not there. I know, now. I know this is not a random universe that happens to fall into a maximally painful configuration. I know this is one specifically directed to cause pain, and in that knowledge is… well, not exactly power, but mitigation.
I know what's coming, now, Satan. Bring it on.