SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/18/2006 01:48:00 PM
Live from Columbus
There is a different feel in the air today for the Ohio State-Michigan clash.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It’s game day, baby.
Greetings from the cavernous press box at The Horseshoe. I hope you understand, but I will not be doing my usual all-day Saturday observations on the college football scene today (at least not until the end of the night). My attention is focused almost entirely on one game.
As a journalist, I’m supposed to be jaded toward just about anything, but I definitely woke up with an extra pep in my step today. Perhaps it’s because of growing up in this part of the country that today’s game truly feels bigger to me than if any other two teams were playing a 1 vs. 2, season-ending showdown. It’s not that I grew up an Ohio State or Michigan fan. Quite the contrary: I was a Xavier fan (undefeated in football since 1971). But just as you can’t escape the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry in New York or Boston, you can’t grow up in the Midwest, not to mention attend a Big Ten school, not feel a special affinity toward Ohio State-Michigan.
I’m not old enough to remember too far back, but I will quickly offer my three favorite OSU-Michigan memories.
1) 1995: I was a sophomore at Northwestern and the Wildcats needed a Michigan upset of 11-0 Ohio State to get their improbable Rose Bowl berth. Most of my friends had already accepted that they’d be going to the Citrus Bowl, but I kept telling them: You watch – John Cooper always loses to Michigan. Sure enough, Tim Biakabatuka ran for 300-plus yards, the Wolverines pulled the upset and I spent the rest of that frantic day making arrangements to get to Pasadena.
2) 1997: In terms of the game itself, this was the most intense I remember. Michigan was 10-0 and needed a win to remain in national championship contention. Ohio State was 9-1. It was a classic, gray day in Ann Arbor. David Boston and Charles Woodson jawed at each other all day long. Just a fantastic game.
3) 2002: This was the first OSU-Michigan game I covered for SI.com, here in Columbus. The Maurice Clarett-led Buckeyes were 12-0 and one win away from the Fiesta Bowl. At the end of the game, with the Buckeyes up 12-7, I was standing behind the end zone Michigan was driving toward and remember seeing everyone around me holding their breath as John Navarre’s last-gasp pass to the end zone fell just short. And then I remember the cops pepper spraying everybody.
Anyway, the weather has turned out to be perfect. It’s a tad cold but clear. From what I could tell on the way over, fans from both sides seemed to be behaving themselves. This is going to be pretty freaking awesome. Let’s just hope it lives up to the hype. You know Bo will be watching.
Wish I could be there but I relocated to Dallas. Going to be watching the big game on the 92" projection screen with a bunch of Longhorns who may not be Buckeyes but know good football when they see it Man I hope your prediction is wrong. We all know Corso is the kiss of so I have a good feeling about this...GO BUCKS!
Hey, think of it this way: If it doesn't live up to the hype, you can always tune into the USC-Cal game an hour later and see what promises to be another good match-up. (Unless I get my way and USC bludgeons Cal into oblivion --as Steven Colbert said, Bears are Godless Killing Machines without a soul)
My heart, before this game, goes out to Michigan, as well as the rest of us, for having lost Bo. My heart will go out to Michigan after the game as well, as they watch OSU walk off to the championship game. All respect to Bo and Michigan.
Trying to watch this game from Switzerland. Is there anything on over here besides CNN? Even the European papers have been picking up on this game. All I can do is keep logging in on SI.com for updates. OSU just scored!!
I grew up hating both of these teams (still do) & yet am as juiced about today's game as I can ever remember being for a match-up not involving my school. Oh, the comment by "auburnfootballfan"? Hahahaha! The Iron Bowl should be renamed the Rust Bowl as it is out-dated & useless. Auburn is should stop waiting to be crowned champs from a few years back & concentrate on football & Alabama should realize that scoring is allowed in today's game. By the way, has anyone noticed that the "undisputed" best conference (SEC) has only one marquee non-conference win (UT's home blowout over an increasingly pedestrian-looking Cal squad)? Why is everyone content just to accept that supposed fact when no team has been tested out of conference (although South Carolina had that impressive 7 point win over Wofford...)? At least OSU went TO Texas & Michigan went TO Notre Dame where they both whipped the home teams. Give me a break.
If Michigan keeps playing man defense in the second half, they are done for. Why Ron English would think they could match up with OSU's playmakers I don't know, but they need to start having some sort of short zone over the middle and real soon, or it's going to be a very long day for the big blue. The deep threat might open up for OSU, but Michigan can't keep giving up 7 yards over the middle every play for the rest of the game. Please Ron play them in a way that lets michigan defenders keep up. Go Blue!
SeriouslY!? The game was decided like that?! Michigan DID play much better defense in the 2nd half, they DID rattle Troy Smith, and they DID stop the vaunted OSU offense. So how did they lose? It was pretty simple. All it took was a little yellow flag. The roughing the passer call against michigan on a 3rd and 15 in the 4th quarter was the deciding factor in this game. Maybe it was leading with his helmet, maybe it wasn't, but the fact remains that another borderline call decided a game in the final quarter. When are officials going to learn that throwing that flag when its close in the 4th quarter could ruin the game? Does it really have to take changing the outcome of the biggest college football game in the last 100 years? No, it'll take more than that. Thanks Big 10 officiating, for leaving a sour taste in my mouth for yet another year.
looked like a wac game out there, michigan and ohio state have a combined win total against winning teams, teams with more then a 500 record...5 count them, 5..notre dame, texas, and both of them penn state and michigan played wiconsin, how sad the national championship will be won by two teams that NEVER played anyone...use West Virginia as an example, they have the most god awful schedule in the country and they will end up playing 7 games against teams with winning records, can you really say these two teams are the 2 best teams in the country knowing they haven't played anyone?
The flag you're referring to was direct helmet to helmet contact, and it was indisputable--did you see it??? That, like facemask penalties, are SAFETY related and need to be called every time. It was very obvious.
As to calling penalties in the fourth quarter, are you suggesting that there should be a time of the game where penalties don't occur?? Maybe just say that in the fourth quarter, no facemask, roughing the passer, interference, etc. penalties will be called? C'mon. Penalties need to be called WHENEVER they occur. Undisciplined teams get hurt more by them, and yeah, sometimes late in the game they make a difference. That's what the game is about. But take a look at the tape of the helmet contact...it was a pretty clear case and should have been called.
It was direct helmet to helmet contact, but the player led with his shoulder first, and in that case, no, I don't think it should be a penalty. I understand the safety related rule, but you can't penalize a player for being 6'4'' and hitting a shorter player at full speed, especially if he leads with his shoulder and their heads bang together after. And no, I have no problem with penalties in the 4th quarter....When it's definitive. If a player commits a penalty, throw the flag. But if the penalty is extremely ticky tack, or if its pretty borderline, all I'm saying is don't throw the flag, especially late in the game when it could change the outcome.