It's that time of year again...
Once again it is late November, time for the 102nd meeting between Michigan and Ohio State. In what was called by ESPN as the best rivalry of the century the two rivals will meet in Ann Arbor on Saturday with a possible share of the Big Ten Title on the line. If by some miracle Sparty can beat Penn State on Saturday then the winner of The Game will have the Big Ten BCS berth.
People around here, California, have no idea as to the importance of this rivalry. The things that I've been a part of and heard about are insane and people out here have no clue that sports can make people so crazy since everyone here is just a bandwagon jumper. Here's some of the highlights if you want to call them that from me or people I know about this game and rivalry:
- Going into Columbus for the first time my sophomore year at Michigan we stop to get food at a Bob Evans and just like it is in movies the place quiets down and everyone stares at us as 4 Michigan fans are seated at this restaurant in Ohio.
- Same trip on the way back from Ohio, we won that year so we could stay in the state for a little while longer, we stop to get food at Ponderosa Steakhouse, as we walk in a father is eating dinner with his daughter, no older than 9-10 years old and says to her "Look it's Michigan people." Like we have some sort of disease or something.
- A friend of mine on the way to the game gets flipped the bird by a little kid, meaning like 8 years old and his dad pats him on the head and says "Good Job"
- This past year in Vegas during the summer I'm walking into the Mirage as I walk in head to toe in Michigan gear, my good luck gambling gear, an old grandma easily 60+ yells at me "Fuck Michigan!"
- The one that trips people out is the year Ohio State won the National Championship you can see their crowd in Tempe and read lips as they pan the crowd following the game people are yelling "Fuck Michigan!" Like we have any relevance at that point, that's how much they care about us.
- On that national championship ring it does not have the score of the Miami National Championship game but it has the score of the Michigan game.
That's just the tip of the iceberg, I am scheduled to go to the game again this year for the 7th consecutive year. As terrible as a place that Columbus is I have been there 3 times and will go as long as I can get tickets because this game means so much. Last year I was not planning on going to the game because I would not wish anyone to have to go to Columbus voluntarily but my boy Daly had an extra ticket and he caught me at the right time. I had just finished reading The 100 Year War which detailed the rivalry and the history behind it. It got me so pumped up, even though I told myself I would never go to Columbus again I had to do it. So I booked my red-eye flight from LA to Detroit, got picked up in Detroit and drove down to Columbus in time for the game. This rivalry means that much and there have not been as many sports moments that come close to my sophomore year in 2000 when we went down to the Horseshoe and beat Ohio State. Running down those stairs with all my fellow Wolverines chanting "It's Great to Be a Michigan Wolverine" is one of my greatest sports memories ever and I hope to have that feeling again.
Two years ago was the 100th game with a Rose Bowl Berth on the line and when we won that game we rushed the field. There are not many opportunities to rush the field at Michigan because we are expected to win most of our games, which is what makes our constant early season losses more frustrating but back to the point, and we did that for the 100th game as we beat Ohio State and went to the Rose Bowl. Just like it should the Game determined the Big Ten Championship as it does most years and possibly could this year. When I first saw this picture published it just made me smile as I knew I had been a part of history.
My brother is going with me for his first game at the Big House, when we were younger it was always a constant struggle for the TV on Saturday morning as my parents slept. I wanted to watch Michigan football, he wanted to watch the same Power Rangers re-run that had been played 20 times and it would inevitably turn into a shouting match then my mom would wake up and my brother would storm out of the room. Now on Saturday mornings we still have the same shouting matches and wake my mom up, except now we do it because we're watching the game together as I have turned him into a Michigan fan. It may be celebration yelling, complaining about the playcalling or even disagreements between he and I over personnel but at least we're on the same page as to what's important to watch on Saturday mornings now. Hopefully we can pull it out and he can truly feel the greatness that I know and love that is Michigan Football. It's Great to be a Michigan Wolverine.