Seth November 17th, 2018 at 8:44 AM
By Bryan MacKenzie
I’m sorry. I tried, I really did. But I can’t make you feel better about this game. Because I think Michigan is going to win this football game. And so do you. And that is terrifying.
Sure, I have seen the last couple of decade. I’ve seen Troy Smith and Braxton Miller. I’ve seen JT Was Short and Chris Evans Was Open. I’ve seen Devin Gardner carry a football team on a broken foot, only to stumble three yards short. I’ve heard the O-H-I-O chants echo around Michigan Stadium. I know the history. And I try to steady myself against rising expectations.
But I have also watched the last ten weeks of football. I’ve watched Michigan coolly, methodically dismantle inferior opponents. But more importantly, I’ve seen Michigan put the hammer down on the best teams on their schedule. I’ve watched the defense toy with offenses. I’ve watched the offense put out exactly as much energy as necessary to snuff out a moribund Michigan State, Nebraska, Maryland, Penn State, Wisconsin, or Indiana, and store the rest for a defense more deserving.
[After THE JUMP: Things we've seen. And Raj gets scatological.]
Meanwhile, I’ve seen an Ohio State team get throttled by Purdue and struggle with TCU, Minnesota, Michigan State, Nebraska, Michigan State, and Maryland. I’ve seen a defense struggling to fill gaps, and I imagine it against a running game that forces teams to play gap-sound defense. I see them rely almost exclusively on their passing game, and I imagine it running up against the best pass defense in the country. I see a head coach straining under the stress of whatever the hell is going on inside Urban Meyer’s head, and I imagine the added stress Don Brown can add.
And that’s the problem. We start to imagine what it would be like to have that one moment go Michigan’s way. To have Shawn Crable pull up. To have Devin Gardner complete that two point conversion. To tackle JT Barrett a half-foot sooner. To hit an open receiver on 4th down. And knowing what it feels like to have those plays go the other way, it feels like we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Charlie Brown can only try to kick the football so many times before you can’t blame Lucy anymore. This sometimes feels like a 13-week march towards a single moment, and every year that moment goes the wrong way.
There are two differences this time. The first is that this team seems to have embraced the things with which the program has seemed so uncomfortable for a decade. Instead of the apologizing for slamming a stake into a rival’s sideline, they are announcing revenge tours, dragging their cleats, and declaring, sure, why not, I’ll guarantee a victory. The second is that Michigan might just be good enough to take the game outside the range of “one moment.”
I both love and hate that I expect to win this game. But the only consolation I can offer is that toe will meet leather in a couple of hours. Michigan 31, Ohio State 17
By Internet Raj
Six months ago, at the ripe age of 31 years old, I shit my pants.
Adulthood is full of unforgettable milestones: throwing back your first legal beer, graduating college, walking down the wedding aisle, holding your newborn child for the first time.
There’s a reason why shitting yourself becomes permanently etched into your memory, so firmly rooted in the deepest recesses of your consciousness. I suspect it has something to do with how the act forcefully interrogates its victim with existential questions. First, the denial that it happened at all; then, the sullen acceptance that follows the confirmatory pat on the seat of your pants; and, finally, the shame-inducing calculus one must engage in to determine whether the soiled underwear in question is worth (and capable of) saving. This final step involves the particularly dehumanizing process of holding up your soiled garments to an adequate light source, straining your eyes to survey the damage, and weighing whether you finally have a reason to fill your Tide detergent cap to Line 3 instead of Line 2.
Without risking hyperbole, that fateful day six months ago was my own personal Vietnam because, well, it actually happened in the remote jungles of Vietnam. While vacationing in Ho Chi Minh City, my wife and I visited the Củ Chi District, an epicenter of military activity during the Vietnam War and the home of the famous Củ Chi tunnels, an expansive network of interconnected underground tunnels used by Viet Cong soldiers to fight U.S. troops.
Earlier in the day, I had recklessly indulged in some street food, but it wasn’t until about 30 minutes into our four-hour-long guided tour that I detected the first signs of digestive danger. By that time, though, my fate was sealed—or, perhaps more appropriately, unsealed. You see, there are no readily accessible restrooms in the jungles of Vietnam. Mild discomfort soon gave way to crippling, pulsating cramps. Every muscle in my core was clenched with iron resolve to staunch the swelling tides of an undercooked pork satay. Every neuron in my brain was firing in synaptic harmony to form one singular and intensely focused mental mantra: “Do. Not. Shit. Your. Self.” And, for a full hour, I thought I was going to make it.
But then came the interactive part of the tour, where we were encouraged to crawl through a small section of the Củ Chi tunnels. Upon entering the dark and suffocatingly narrow tunnels, I knew I was in trouble. The cramped quarters forced me into an awkward crawl that pressed my knees up to my chest, generating untenable abominable pressure. At that point there was nothing to do but pray for the best, both for myself and the tourist crawling directly behind me. A slow, guttural rumble erupted and I caught myself optimistically thinking “maybe it’s just gas.” The thing is, when you catch yourself asking that question, it’s never “just gas.”
The stages of shitting your pants.
After exiting the tunnel, I was faced with the grim reality that it would be another two hours until I would see a toilet. Until then, I would have to gingerly walk through a sweltering jungle using an awkward bow-legged gait designed to minimize turbulence for the newfound passenger hitching a ride in my boxer briefs. I won’t mince words — it was a fucking horrible two hours. When we finally made it back to the bathroom, I took one last look at the garish Jackson Pollock mosaic splattered across my once proud Calvin Klein underwear. They were one of those fancy pairs, with the luxuriously soft micro modal fabric, the kind that aren’t available in 3-packs and you have to buy individually. Nevertheless, it went straight to the trash.
More than enough words have been written about Michigan-Ohio State. Words that predict who will win, what’s at stake, and how today’s game can shape the fortunes and fates of two larger-than-life coaches and football programs. There’s nothing I can add here that has not already been stated, re-stated, disassembled, and put back together.
What I want to talk about is the last 14 years as a Michigan football fan and how, for 14 damn years, we’ve been walking through our own jungle with a nauseating cocktail of shit and sweat in our pants. Sure, we had the fleeting illusion in 2011 that things would be different, that the tide was finally changing. We all took a deep breath after a solitary win and thought “hey, maybe it’s just gas” only for the next six years of shit to prove us wrong.
I’m tired of it. I’m tired of walking around with shit in my pants because that’s what this has been. It’s been a long, tortuous 14-year walk, but I think I finally see the bathroom. I liked my Calvin Klein boxers. They were insanely comfortable, made my ass look great, and dammit we had some great memories. And, I do feel that way about a lot of aspects of the last 14 years of my Michigan fandom—Denard, a Sugar Bowl win, Defeated with Dignity, and many more. But those 14 years will always be soiled by a Buckeye-shaped skid mark. So, while we're at a toilet, for the love of god, let’s flush these little scarlet-and-gray shits down the toilet once and for all.
Michigan 38, Ohio State 17