Desmond Morgan, left, and Joe Bolden will be looking to crush some nuts, like Carlos Hyde, on Saturday at Michigan Stadium. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Someone has to make a stand, and it’s up to our fine state to do it. Someone has to defend against the gathering scourge, because like a recurring rash, here come the Buckeyes again, all riled and red-eyed, itching and scratching to make a statement.
As thousands of scarlet-nosed Ohioans truck into town, clogging the White Castles, it’s important to remind our friends of a couple rules.
■No. 1, Tasers are not toys, not even after 16 beers.
■No. 2, we strictly enforce BYOPP (Bring Your Own Porta-Potty).
Thankfully, our state gets two shots at the unbeaten Buckeyes this year, and the Wolverines could use the help. I’m not saying they’ve been playing possum, because that sounds like a jab at the second-most popular Thanksgiving dish in Ohio. But maybe the 7-4 Wolverines cleverly saved all their good plays — you know, the ones that go forward — for The Game on Saturday.
The hope is, Michigan at least can soften up Ohio State with a series of glancing body blows, and then Michigan State can finish the job next week in the Big Ten championship game. The Spartans made a horrible miscalculation and clinched early, so they’ll warm up Saturday by whacking the Gophers in front of a tidy gathering of family and friends.
If you think Michigan, a two-touchdown underdog, is afraid of Ohio State, ha, you don’t understand this great rivalry. First of all, once you’ve rushed for minus-69 yards in back-to-back games, you’re not afraid of any embarrassment. And second — and I mean this in the most-respectful way — Ohio State is in the midst of the worst 23-game winning streak in college football history.
Am I being too harsh? Not really. I’ve done investigatory work with my assistant — the talented Ms. G. Oogle — and in this 23-game stretch, Ohio State has precisely one notable road victory — in overtime against Wisconsin last year. This season’s slate includes the standard Big Ten wrecks, as well as the likes of Buffalo, California, San Diego State and Florida A&M. Cripes, why not just complete the cupcake run and schedule Florida?
I do give the Buckeyes credit. It didn’t take them long to recover after the NCAA cracked down on the Sweater Vest’s Buckeye Tattoo & Trinket Emporium. Thanks to Suburban Meyer, they’re relevant again nationally, although that’s not necessarily a good thing. No one wants to see them in the BCS championship game, which is why Ohio State is ranked behind Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, Missouri, South Carolina, LSU, Texas A&M, both Mississippis, Georgia Southern, Northern Illinois and Ball State.
In a desperate attempt to impress voters, Ohio State is breaking out its all-white uniforms, with matching accessories. The theory is, after 60 minutes of getting “blocked” and “tackled” by the Wolverines, the Buckeyes outfits will remain crisp and clean for postgame photos.
I’m not saying it could get rough as the Buckeyes go for their 11th win in 13 meetings. I’m just saying there’s a chance Ohio State’s i-dotting tuba player will run more freely than Michigan’s tailbacks.
This is a difficult time for Brady Hoke, who stirred hope when he replaced The Coach Whose Name Shall Never Be Spoken. Hoke is 1-1 against the Buckeyes, but nobody thinks the Wolverines have a shot, primarily because Hoke doesn’t wear a headset. It seems silly, but apparently the difference between 7-4 and 11-0 is a set of Beats by Dr. Dre.
It’s too early to panic — as always, I’ll let you know when the time is right. But the Wolverines have to be careful, because those nasty Spartans are threatening to swipe their big rival. Ohio State always girds its loins (football term) for Michigan, that School Up North. But now it has to pay attention to Michigan State, that School Up Norther.
I doubt the Buckeyes will look ahead to the Spartans, but if they do, they might not like what they see. In the meantime, I spent hours dissecting game tapes and came up with a path to victory for Michigan that doesn’t include tinkering with the ventilation system at the Ohio State team hotel.
Here it is:
■Show some confidence. Remember, Michigan is 19-1 at home under Hoke, and not all the victories were against Akron.
■Stare at those white uniforms and imagine you’re playing Penn State. At least that’ll get you to four overtimes.
■If not the ventilation system, gain access to the hotel water supply.
There. If I can figure it out, so can Hoke and offensive coordinator Al “Not Quite As Gorgeous” Borges. No one should concede anything, no matter how many slobbering visitors with Buckeye-nut necklaces invade the Big House. Of course Michigan has a chance, theoretically and historically. Some have mentioned the Great Upset of 1969, when Bo’s boys stunned Woody’s boys and launched this craziness.
Times have changed, I know, and John Cooper is but a sweet, fading memory in Ann Arbor. But the Wolverines will take their best shot, then so will the Spartans. And when the Buckeyes and their fans are loaded for beer, it’s always interesting to see how long they can stay upright.
Pick: Ohio State 24-9
■ Minnesota at Michigan State: Although the game means nothing in the standings, the 10-1 Spartans deserve a packed stadium to honor their division champs. As an inducement for fans to attend, school officials are considering showing the Michigan-Ohio State game on the scoreboard, for scouting purposes only. Michigan State 27-10
■ Penn State at Wisconsin: In a budding controversy, some think the 9-2 Badgers could snatch a BCS bowl bid from the Spartans. If that happens, Mark Dantonio will set a personal record for Scowl and Brow Furrow levels. I’m sure the Badgers won’t try to hammer the point either. No, not at all. Wisconsin 70-24