By Mark | December 5, 2013
There’s only one game, and we won. And I was lucky enough to see it live in person.
The Buckeyes managed to escape a hungry Michigan Wolverine team by a mere one point. Earlier that morning, on the drive up to the land up north, I made a bold prediction to my father and brothers: “After it’s all said and done, I’m betting this will be the most convincing Buckeye win of the entire season.”
I spent the previous night watching the HBO special on the classic college football rivalry three times (along with some of my favorite Breaking Bad episodes to pump up for the game…I’m one of those guys…)
We were on the road for about 3 hours. The majority of it I spent talking to my dad in the front seat about sports and school while my brothers snoozed in the back. Usually, I think it would be me resting during a car ride, but this time was so much different – it was impossible for me to shut my eyes for even a second. This was my first trip to the Big House, let alone my first Michigan game.
When we finally arrived, we parked on the university’s golf course in addition to the thousands of people already there (apparently, golfing is not a major priority up north, because their own fans absolutely trashed the place – it was quite a sight to be seen). There, we met with my dad’s friend from high school who is a UM alumnus, and the tailgating began promptly at 8:30 in the morning. I could count on one hand how many ribs I’ve ever eaten prior to the game…I think I tripled that number in 3 hours.
Soon enough, we were in the Big House ready to cheer on my university and hometown team. Now, Michigan Stadium is by no means intimidating in stature when looking at it from the outside, but it would be wrong to judge a book by it’s cover. It actually dips down into the ground to seat over 110,000 fans which, according to Wikipedia (reliable), makes it the largest American football stadium according to capacity. Simply put, the place is huge.
The game itself was likely the greatest experience I have ever had. Michigan was up early, and then we score, and then they score, and the entire time it was bedlam – the entire place was just shaking. Michigan came out and played their best game of the entire year, hands down. But we would not be denied. OSU was going to do whatever it took to increase our winning streak with Coach Meyer to 24 games.
Ultimately, we pulled out a victory, 42-41 Ohio State. Many will argue in the coming days that we did not deserve the W, crediting Brady Hoke’s decision to go for the two point conversion ill-advised and cowardly rather than “having the stones to take his team into overtime against the Bucks,” in the words of one UM radio talk show host we listened to on the way home. A win is a win, though, and I’ll take it any way we can get it.
However, I note something about the UM fan base that we encountered during our time in Ann Arbor. Before, during, and even after the game, there was never a time where any fan (aside from a few visibly drunk ones, but everyone has those) was openly hostile to my family or me. In fact, they were very polite, giving the OSU team credit where it’s due while remaining loyal to their own university. I full-heartedly expected to get in a war of words with the maize and blue crowd and hoped to God none of them would start any physical altercations. But it never happened. They treated us with respect while keeping the fire of the rivalry alive and well, and for that, I sincerely thank them.
Tired, hungry, and in need of a good stretch, we stopped on the way home to eat at some country restaurant called Henry’s. While digging in to the fried chicken and mashed potatoes on my plate, customers in the other room started roaring with applause and cheer. We ran into the bar room to discover the score of another college football game, 34-28 Auburn over Alabama. ALABAMA. WAR EAGLE.
Let’s hope we can win versus Michigan State next weekend, because there is a national championship that may have our name on it.
Cheers and Go Bucks,