Big Ten Rambler, Week 12: In Defense of The Game
An Iowa student with a Michigan bias -- and Wazzu ties, too -- breaks down the Big Ten conference with attempted objectivity, week by week
I just can't do it.
I want to. Bad. But I can't. Picking Michigan over Ohio State would have to be considered dumb at this point.
I want to be clear, this has nothing to do with the Wisconsin loss last week. But, man, how bad was that? Michigan didn't just lay an egg in Madison, it faxed the whole damn chicken. What should have been "No Henne, No Hart, No Problem" turned into a flat showing, through and through. Even the coaching was uninspired. When the Wolverines were down 16 late in the game, Lloyd opted to kick extra points instead of going for two. So, of course, Michigan went on a 14-0 run and found itself down two points late into the game. No worries, though, Wisconsin scored two nail-in-the-coffin TDs to make the game look like a borderline rout.
As for Jim Tressell and the Sweater Babies? Wow.
I told myself I wouldn't write "OSU got juiced," but I just can't help myself: Ohio State got JUICED.
Juice Williams and the Fighting Illini made Michigan's impossible quest look not so tough. Illinois went into Columbus and left with a victory. Simple as that. It was like the Staples commercial catchphrase. I could see it now...
Ron Zook: Beating OSU on the road? That was easy!
(Commence jet ski death stunts)
Even as a Michigan fan, I found myself rooting for the Buckeyes. An Ohio State victory would have at least given this week's game some meaning on a national scale. Although it still has some -- I guess -- it's not the same as being able to prevent OSU from going to the title game. The storyline wrote itself: Lose to a Non D-1 Team Week 1, Beat No. 1 Ohio State Week 12. Full circle and all that garbage.
But even with the Buckeyes out of the title hunt, it's still Michigan-Ohio State. I don't want to sound like a Red Sox fan talking up the Yankees rivalry, but this game would still have meaning if the teams were .500 or worse.
So, the big news this week is Lloyd Carr's probable retirement. As usual, the fine Brian Cook of mgoblog sums up my thoughts perfectly:
...some sort of crowd acknowledgment of Carr's career is called for. I know I've spent a large part of this year pointing out the flaws in the program that drive me crazy, but in 13 years at Michigan Carr has brought home a national title, is .500 against OSU, and has a winning record against Notre Dame. He's also dominated Michigan State and Penn State. The Wolverines were the 9th best program in terms of winning percentage over his tenure going into the year and are likely to pass Miami and Nebraska for 7th by year's end. And he's done this without a whiff of scandal. By any standard, he's been a success, and his accomplishments should be acknowledged. Hopefully the team sends him out in style Saturday.
I'd love to see Carr go out with a win, but if Big Blue can't even win one for Bo...
Meanwhile, in Columbus, spirits can't be that high, but to suggest OSU won't get up for this game would be foolish. The Rose Bowl is still on the line, and in what should have been a rebuilding year, the Buckeyes could still finish ranked in the top five.
Count me in the majority who thinks that Henne and Hart are locks to play in this game. If those two -- along with tackle Jake Long -- want any semblance of a legacy at Michigan, they will must, to paraphrase Rush Propst, seize the moment.
My passion is starting to override my logical thought right now, because I'm considering picking Michigan.
I can't. I won't. Fuck it.
The Pick: Michigan. For Lloyd.
Wow, I already feel stupid.
What Else, What Else...
The College Football Bandwagon: The RIP, Dennis Dixon-edition.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL BANDWAGON 2007
Kansas - Say what you want about the bandwagon's merit, but Kansas has been with us for some time now, and even though it hasn't been a full season, it's been a solid 9 weeks. The Jayhawks were featured when the this year's bandwagon debuted during Week 3. I wrote, "Kansas - Just like basketball season...oops." Well, Kansas has come a long way since then, but they've still got a ways to go. After that awful non-conference schedule, Kansas is set to debut at No. 2 in the nation with a win this weekend against Iowa State.
Even though this is the last column, we might have to check in with the bandwagon periodically if KU goes down. If not, Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Hawaii - Concussed Colt Brennan should be back in the lineup tonight.
#6 West Virginia at #22 Cincinnati: The Mountaineers try and thrust themselves back into the national title picture. How about NOT losing to South Florida earlier this year? That could have maybe helped.
Matchup of the Week: #7 Ohio State at #21 Michigan - For all the roses.
The Big Ten
It's been real fun writing about Big Ten football here at TUP this season. Thanks to anyone for support and comments. While this is the last regular season Big Ten Rambler column, I'm sure I can find some time to throw together bowl previews and all that there at some point. Maybe I'll even weigh in on The Game next week with a post or something. Until then, later.