Once every two years Columbus, Ohio hosts a football game that is apart of one of the most impassioned and bitter two-way rivalries in sports. That game is of course, the Ohio State-Michigan game. Believe it or not, I have never attended a Michigan game. That is, prior to last Saturday.
My dad purchased two tickets and then found that he couldn't go after all. He handed them off to me and I asked my friend Josh, AKA Captain America. (He served in Afghanistan).
So there we were, two OU guys sitting in the OSU student section cheering for OSU with OSU student tickets. Walking into Ohio Stadium with an OSU student ticket means that we had to present student id's, or so I thought. Situations like this make me nervous. I hate getting in trouble and the embarrassment of getting rejected because of a lack of credentials is too much for me to handle calmly. Some people don't mind getting busted, it rolls off their back. I have a friend, who we'll call Jason Rose, who used to do what he called, "Danger stealing". This is where you go into a store, call over the manager or one of the employees, and then you try to shoplift in front of them without getting caught. The insanity of getting through that situation calmly and successfully blows my mind and would be impossible for me. I'm the worst at sneaking in places or doing anything dangerous because I over-compensate. It's why I never had a fake id in college and why I waited until my 21st birthday before I ever hit the bar scene. So, I sat there and worried about flashing a fake Buck ID to the ticket taker. I practiced my technique of holding the card in one of my oversized leather mittens (godsend by the way and I'll explain why later)so I obscured the picture of another human that isn't me. We got to the door and the guy just scanned my ticket with that thing that looks like a massive palm pilot and we were in. He didn't even ask to see the ID and once I got past the gate I almost felt bummed that I didn't get to show my composed fake ID flash.
Our seats were somewhere in between the bottom of South Stands and the Sun, but there was no complaining from either one of us especially when the stands bounced up and down before each kickoff. Sidenote: The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" is the best song to happen to sports since "Sandstorm".
Some thoughts on the game:
Ohio State wore "throwback" uniforms that were intended to represent the 1942 National Championship which had several members go on to serve in the second World War. I like the sentiment though I prefer to have anniversary celebrations fall on more commonly celebrated anniversaries (25, 50, 75), but I can stand by that. What I can't stand is how Nike executed the throwback uniforms. They broke a few uniform pet peeves of mine. They used a metallic red helmet when the rest of the uniform is completely matte. Pick one or the other, fellas. The only redeeming quality, the number font (which is pretty awesome in a Les Horvath kinda way), looked like a standard block from where I was sitting. The bottoms of the uniforms were the biggest mess. The team wore gray pants with full-length gray socks creating a look that resembled the gray leggings worn by many a coed. The only thing missing were the tan ugg boots.
(not pictured: uggs)
(note: If I had a dime for every time I've googled "gray leggings" then I'd have one dime)
Off topic, that is a fashion trend that needs to die. I hate the look because I love it so much and I'm tired of seeing it worn improperly. Leggings worn in lieu of pants on the right girl can look so good that it's borderline illegal. The problem is, more than 3/4 of the people who wear it are incapable of pulling it off. If you aren't blessed with nice legs or have a large posterior, spandex pants won't do anything except accentuate the many flaws in reardom that you exhibit. Why this doesn't cross their mind when they squeeze into them is beyond me.
Back on topic, I can ignore those problems, but my biggest issue with these throwback uniforms is that this is the Michigan game. It's the biggest game of the year, your oldest most storied rival. This game has looked the same since my parents were kids and the last two years it's been different. I want Michigan v. Ohio State to look like Michigan v. Ohio State, not Michigan v. the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives. I understand critical mass and getting the most people to see the jersey will result in more jersey sales, but do the right thing, Nike. If we have to do a throwback uniform every year then can we schedule it against Purdue or Illinois and not in the biggest game of the year?
It was really cold. I like cold weather, I'm a hockey player, but the cold also meant that I had to wear my thermal long johns. This is okay if I don't have them on for very long, but when you have leg hair like I do (think shag bathroom rug) then fabric pressed against my legs for extended periods of time results in discomfort. I also lose the feelings in my ears rather quickly thanks to neglecting to wear a cap while working at an outdoor ice rink in high school. With my leather mittens (as previously mentioned), my frosty ears, and long johns, it wasn't the cold that bothered me. It was the damn long johns constantly moving my leg hair.
For real, thoughts on the game:
It is always nice to see Ohio State beat Michigan. 9 out the last 10 years is unbelievable and growing up in Columbus in the 90's with John Cooper, this is nearly surreal. That said, it's safe to say that the rivalry has lost some of its luster because Michigan isn't pulling its weight. The last true OSU-Michigan game was 2006. A rivalry where one team always wins isn't a rivalry. Walking around campus before the game I noticed that there was no worry in the air. There was no fear of Michigan ruining our season again. The nervous anticipation in the atmosphere was gone and even Michigan fans seemed to give off a sense that they didn't stand a chance even if Bo Shembecler were to be resurrected. The atmosphere was not what I've felt in years past. If it was 90 degrees then I would've thought the Buckeyes were playing Ohio U again. For the rivalry to reach the intensity it held in previous years then Michigan is going to need to win a few of these, probably in Ohio Stadium with a national title on the line. Let's hope that never happens.
The game itself began slowly. OSU struggled for the first three possessions before taking off. Denard Robinson as Michigan's quarterback is an incredible talent, but his size and fragility showed early in the game and backup Tate Forcier made another appearance. I'm convinced that there's a reason you don't see offenses like Rich Rodriguez's work in the Big Ten and that's because they become more difficult to run the longer and colder the season gets. Michigan's notorioulsy bad defense lived up to its name and their high scoring offense failed to deliver. Ohio State actually had a special teams play go in their favor with a punt return touchdown to start the second quarter and the half time lead was a comfortable 24-7. Michigan's band played songs by Lady Gaga. Could they have made a worse choice? Aside from a bunch of excessive celebration penalties (Big Ten, let's be more stringent on these calls how about? The gloves were given to them by Nike so the players could form an O!) the second half was mostly uneventful.
In all Ohio State won its 7th straight against Michigan, Josh and I had a great time, and I made it home safely. Can't wait for 2012. Who wants to take bets on how far away Rich Rodriguez will be by then?
There you have it. If you agree, disagree, or have thoughts of your own. Share them with me at sportshatemeSHM@gmail.com OR follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/SeanMcCarthySHM