Back in the day, Brian Stouffer—yes, one of the puppet geniuses—and I had an annual GChat conversation that invariably took bizarre turns towards luchadores and sea mammals that incidentally discussed the looming game of the century of the week. I'm happy to report that we have resurrected this tradition, possibly made it even weirder.
Well, I guess we should start with the looming subplot everyone's been talking about all week: Jameis Winston.
Let's just talk the whole time about him.
I think we should also talk about how Mack Brown did not recruit him. I certainly hope Michigan's coaches check with each and every QB prospect they recruit about this.
"Son, does Mack Brown have any idea who you are?"
"We would like to offer you a scholarship, son."
"I have never played football."
I think I am literally the only human being alive who both did not get a scholarship offer from Mack Brown and did not become a megasuccessful quarterback.
Johnny Unitas, Vince Young, Barry Sanders, and John Flansburgh are amongst the many incredibly successful quarterbacks Mack Brown ignored.
I was in fact offered two scholarships to play quarterback at Texas.
That makes sense, since I saw you separate your shoulder throwing a ping pong ball at a tailgate a few years ago.
Right. Anyway. This is going to be over soon. How are you feeling about this?
This game or this chat?
I don't think we've got enough content for the chat yet.
I dunno, Courier New, 14 point, 2 inch margins. Let's turn it in and hit happy hour.
We can watch my DVD of the classic 1973 ND-Michigan game. Mark May said it was the best of the whole series.
The internet doesn't have margins. We'll have to soldier on, even if I want to fire up the 1968 classic in which Kirk Gibson hits a walk-off home run to send the game to a shootout.
Rob Ufert's call of Kork Gorbson's game-tying walk-off digeridomer was perhaps the best Michigan Manment of all time. Of all time!
Man I love imaginary games. Although I think we can all agree that the best one was the Christmas Day Notre Dame-USC game that the security guard at Nakatomi Plaza was watching.
All of our games are about to be imaginary. We'll have to hop on Google Chat in 2015 and say "I killed your quarterback" / "nuh-uh, he's got a force field" / "my defense has a force field disruptor" / "Well, my defense oversigns"—RECORD SCRATTTTTCH
"Well I'll be, your downfield throwing field-adjusted VORP is higher than ours. I concede you have the superior side. And nobody had to get hurt in the process!"
But hey isn't it better that we work out our differences with words instead of violence and tackling?
I think you know the answer to that is "hell no."
[AFTER THE JUMP: things cease being strange. lol jk]
I'm pretty shattered Michigan and Notre Dame are about to be over. I got nervous firing up the second half of the Central Michigan game this week because I was hoping the offensive line would continue to look pretty coherent. (They did.) When this game comes around, I just about lose my mind. I can't believe its come to the point where we won't have it anymore.
It's been quite a ride… there's nothing quite like having a sort of make-or-break game right at the front of the schedule when both teams are still kind of wearing their training wheels.
Things get very very flammable when you go into a big game like this with only a very rough sketch of what you actually are working with as a team.
The story behind each game has been compelling. I grew up thinking that Notre Dame Stadium was a haunted place where you go to put your hopes in a woodchipper.
Center: Notre Dame Stadium. Left: remainder of South Bend.
I remember my whole self deflating into a shell of defeat when Kyle Rudolph went 97 yards past Cam Gordon and a friggin' rainbow popped out over the stadium. My life was ash and defeat, and this damn place I was in where everyone was being nice to me was always going to be the place where I stopped hoping. Then Denard. And then the next year.
And then last year, I was there for INT INT INT INT and I was of course miserable, but I felt that stadium *heave*. It was like each person in there was having a personal exorcism.
How can that just go away? It's brutal.
Re: the haunted woodchipper, it's a real thing and I've seen it with my own eyes, although it's pretty indiscriminate about who it mulches. And yes, I think that both sides feel the emotional paroxysms of insanely close games much more acutely with all the, ahem, emotional baggage in this matchup.
So, yeah, that's all been quite special. It's not like that's an easy thing to create, so it will be odd when it's gone. But you'll learn to love again. Maybe someday you'll meet a handsome non-conference stranger who will sweep you off your feet and give you years and years of eyeball-melting insane last-second finishes.
You just theorized Arkansas or Virginia Tech as this handsome nonconference stranger. Rebound city, man.
I get the feeling you're not as broken up about this as I am.
Well, I'm easygoing. I like the idea of playing Texas and, you know, sleeping around with people other than you. They're a quality, prestigious program, and I'll bet you can actually use the bathroom in less than two hours at Darrel K Royal.
That's what I'm saying! EVEN THE BATHROOM SITUATION HAS HISTORY
Okay, touche. Brian Kelly might not consider Notre Dame-Michigan a historic, traditional rival, but the Brian Stouffer-toilet line at the Big House rivalry is right up there with Edison vs. Tesla.
artist's impression of Stouffer-toilet rivalry
Texas isn't going to give you a furious meltdown half about football and half about logistics, that's what I say.
On that we can agree. The second week of the season will get a lot less "flaming ambulance with cut brake lines full of shrieking koalas" without this game.
But we should probably talk about the game-thing before it actually occurs.
Right, yes, football.
I have no idea what is going to happen.
I always say I have no idea what is going to happen, but this time I really mean it.
I have a very unscientific theory about this series that the advantage usually goes not to the more talented team, but to the team that has more to prove. I'm having trouble deciding who that is this year.
My theory is find out what the Vegas line is, set a bomb, and run.
Also a valid option. Anything that keeps you from actually rationally assessing the two teams will likely improve your chances of predicting the game.
Exactly. Let's rationally assess the two teams now.
What could go wrong?
Tommy Rees: what's up with that guy?
Yeah, I wish I could tell you. I had sort of mentally prepared myself for what another season of classic Tommy would look like, but then this guy showed up on Saturday with a mustache, beret, and tiny cup of espresso and started throwing the ball around like a senior quarterback. I don't know if that means he's a new guy, or just the exact same guy who just looks a little different.
He's got a couple of nice receivers in Jones and Daniels. Is Daniels good to go? Groin stuff can be tricky.
Hey you don't have to tell me that, "Groin stuff can be tricky" is my middle name.
The first GIS hit for "groin stuff can be tricky" is a knife eating into a car, for some reason. These are 2 and 3. Google Image Search is magic.
Let's not talk about high school.
But, yeah, looks like he's playing. Hopefully he's up to speed. He made a huge difference last week. I haven't seen any updates at @davarisdanielsgroin, but I'm keeping a close eye on it.
Let's not talk about high school, I said.
Why are all of your running backs slot receivers?
Strategy. Or something. Yeah, I wish there was a bruisinger prototype back there, but I feel like we've got sort of an interesting mix of talent back there.
You seem to have drafted the leprechaun.
There's some good speed, and enough depth to keep rotating around. If you can't win a football game with five magical elves in your backfield, you shouldn't be drawing a paycheck is what I says.
It is a fit for the offense, don't get me wrong. I'm just hoping Michigan can stiffen inside the 20s.
Personal foul, unnecessary double entendre.
Replay confirms it was not "targeting", though, so you're not ejected.
Okay, so now my question...
Right, so Devin Gardner. Tell me about him without using the phrases "rose-scented adonis", "harbinger of all happiness in the world to come", or "timeless, wondrous merman". I know, this will be difficult.
You didn't prevent me from comparing him to Vince Young, so he's Vince Young. Except fast! And even more good-looking! And capable of morphing from man to fish in certain situati—right. Hmm.
He's an explosive athlete who is too willing to unleash his inner Rex Grossman right now and has fits of inaccuracy. He could be insanely, insanely good; he could be pretty good but way too prone to turnovers.
One thing about him is his incredible red-zone efficiency. He can throw and scramble and even when he's scrambling he has a knack for flinging balls to receivers who just saw their defenders leave them. Maybe a hidden key.
And he smells like jasmine
Right, so that sounds impressive. I guess the question is will the line be able to give him enough time to make flowers bloom in the stadium with the magic of love? I'm not sure if you've heard, but there are some large, strapping gentlemen on the Irish defensive front who would strongly prefer that not happen.
And, just between you and me, they are ill-natured. Hungry and ill-natured.
[WILL DERRICK NIX EAT EVERYTHING? WHAT'S WITH NOTRE DAME'S KICKERS? IS MICHIGAN'S SECONDARY GOING TO GET TORCHED? WE DON'T KNOW, BUT THE THRILLING NON-CONCLUSION IS AT HOUSE ROCK BUILT! FEATURING: A TEMPLE OF BLOOOOOOOOOD!
(seriously, there's a temple of blood)]