Punt-Counterpunt: Ohio 2012

Submitted by Brian on November 24th, 2012 at 10:14 AM

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Something's been missing from Michigan gamedays since the free programs ceased being economically viable: scientific gameday predictions that are not at all preordained by the strictures of a column in which one writer takes a positive tack and the other a negative one… something like Punt-Counterpunt.

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By Ken “Sky” Walker
11/24/2012

It’s been about 24 hours and I’ve finally feeling somewhat normal. There’s nothing like getting the holiday season off to a glorious start: a mid-week bar night, followed by gorging on turkey and then falling into tryptophan induced lethargy. Good thing I had no interest in taking advantage of any “Black Friday” deals. Venturing out to a retail establishment the day after Thanksgiving is much like attending a football game in Columbus: jostling thru red clad crowds, resisting the urge to respond to some unkind words and fending off the occasional elbow. Been there, done that, no need to ever do it again.

I managed to get myself together in time to watch the Nebraska – Iowa game. I knew Michigan would get no help from the Hawkeyes after the first half. My friend CR3 chided me for being negative, but I knew Iowa’s goose was cooked once they squandered three Nebraska turnover opportunities. It’s a damn shame—the Cornhuskers were ready to be shucked! I couldn’t believe how conservative Iowa’s play calling was. The coaching staff should be ashamed of letting their seniors go out with a whimper. It’s hard to believe Michigan was once courting Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz to take over in Ann Arbor. We dodged a bullet there.

Winning the Legends division and playing for the conference title is now out of the question. Coach Hoke has emphasized the fact that the Wolverines were playing for the conference championship. So what’s Michigan’s motivation now? Spoiling the Buckeyes undefeated season? Sending the Columbus crowd home choking on their buckeyes? Ending the season with a signature win in the Horseshoe? Sticking a pin in Urban Meyer’s swelled head?

Obviously, all of the aforementioned are reason enough to want to beat Ohio. The question is can it be done? Frankly, I’m having some doubts. Certain television prognosticators have made it clear they feel Michigan’s only chance is with Devin Gardner at quarterback. I agree. Even with a fully healed Denard Robinson, Gardner is the Wolverines the best bet at completing the downfield passes they’ll need to stretch the Buckeye defense. Having both of them in the backfield at the same time is crucial. Alternating won’t work. But can Robinson be as effective taking the hits he’ll get playing running back? I’m not so sure.

I’d love nothing more than to watch Coach Meyer’s postgame interview after getting beat by the Wolverines (Remember the one after Michigan beat Florida a few years back? Urban looked like he’d just crapped his pants!). The Buckeyes certainly don’t deserve any props for winning while serving penalties for cheating. But Braxton Miller is having a Heisman worthy season and I think he’ll be the difference. Not to worry Michigan fans – there’s always next year.

Michigan 27 – Ohio 31

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By Nick RoUMel
11/24/12

Do not feel betrayed by Punt’s pessimistic prognostication. I have a shocking confession. I have actually rooted for Ohio State to beat Michigan.

This distant memory seems as anathema to me today as some other “I can’t believe I really did that” moments when I was young and stupid (today, I’m older and stupid. Maturity is still my Valhalla.) But it is true that I have not always been a Michigan fan – even after receiving my diploma from the U of M.

A little history is in order here. I grew up in Pittsburgh and came to UM just as two unbelievable football planets were aligning: the Pittsburgh Steelers were suddenly winning Super Bowls, and the University of Pittsburgh was a national title contender. While I was attending UM in the 70’s, every Monday, my father faithfully sent me the newspaper clippings of Pitt and the Steelers’ weekend games, and my football heart remained in Pittsburgh, even as Bo and Woody clashed in the Ten Years War. Every year I sold my UM season tickets—probably getting close to $10 for the OSU contest alone—spending it on pinball and pizza.

In 1976, with Heisman Trophy winner Tony Dorsett, #1 Pitt went undefeated and played Georgia in the Sugar Bowl for the national title, and #3 Michigan battled #2 USC in the Rose Bowl. As I cheered for Pitt, my friends rooted for Georgia. To pay them back, I decided to root against Michigan in the Rose Bowl. Pitt won 27-3 and the Wolverines lost a heartbreaker 14-6. This pair of results made me glad.

In the next couple of years, to keep up my spiteful, childish ways, I occasionally rooted against Michigan in games that mattered. Pitt was still a national title contender and I had yet to switch allegiance. But then a funny thing happened.

My father, Bill, was introduced to Bo Schembechler, and pegged to help with recruiting efforts in Western Pennsylvania. Dad’s blood began to run maize and blue. I too began to pay more attention to the football Wolverines. I grew to have great respect for Bo and the program he ran. I became a fan.

I have come full circle. When Michigan’s basketball team played Pitt this week in the pre-season NIT, I rooted ardently for the Wolverines, and against the Panthers. Today there is no other team, anywhere, that I would rather see do well, than my Michigan Wolverines.

As I have come along on this journey, it has also helped to see that Ohio State is truly the embodiment of evil. There are so many reasons. There is their long history of rampant cheating; their complete lack of academic standards; and their rabid, beady-eyed fans that make death threats to players who drop passes. Oh yeah – and their “fan” who once tried to stab me after an Ohio State victory. Yes, I’ve pretty much come around.

This year’s Michigan team is one of my favorites of all time. Brady Hoke is as heartfelt and blue collar as they come, and it’s truly his team, scrappy and competitive without being glamorous. He’s made a motley assortment of players gel together to make one of the tougher defenses in the NCAA, and an offense that is exciting to watch. And of course who can deny pride watching Denard Robinson’s thrilling career trajectory, ending with he and Devin Gardner enthusiastically switching positions, just for the sake of “The Team.”

I root for Michigan. I am bouncing up and down with anticipation, to break Ohio’s undefeated seasons and their dark, sinister hearts. (Not to mention the salacious possibility watching Urban Meyer again crap his pants.)

We can do this today. We will do this. After all, we are the Wolverines. And it is indeed great to be one.

MICHIGAN 17, OHIO 13

Comments

TXmaizeNblue

November 24th, 2012 at 11:01 AM ^

The O$U fandom - Black Friday comparison. PERFECT. I was thinking more along the lines of Walking Dead Zombies as a good Ohio fan base comparison, but Black Friday crowd might be better.

Cleveland Wolverine

November 24th, 2012 at 11:01 AM ^

I grew up reading punt-counterpunt in my coveted newspaper program while waiting for the game to start & was soooo glad to see this recurring column come back to life online. Every year I know I can find a compelling reason why this year's win would be important. Living in Cleveland I can't bear 9 months of undefeated bragging. The cheaters don't deserve the credit for an undefeated year without the pressure of actually chasing a title. Hoping and praying for a 27-24 win while thinking of brunettes!