By Brent Schrader
Before I begin I must warn everyone who read this article. It’s going to come off salty. That’s because I am salty. As I and every U of M fan have the right to be currently. Consider yourselves warned. Yesterday was “The Game” and as a Michigan fan this was supposed to be a coronation of a program led by Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown to national elite status and introduce U of M football to the College Football Playoff. It was supposed to have been a payoff of all the years put in by the coaches and the players to finally be favored against our most bitter rival Ohio State. To finally beat them after being humbled by them for the majority of the last decade. It was supposed to be our time. When suddenly it wasn’t.
In an overwhelmingly disgusting display from the very first quarter. Michigan was beaten to the ball, off the ball and to the end zone in a 62-39 ass kicking that has us fans wondering “What the hell happened?” Many are blaming Harbaugh , many are blaming Don Brown for not having the defense ready for the crossing routes OSU hit time and time again. Many are blaming a lack of speed. Some are calling for firings and coaching changes while others want several player changes. None of these are the issue. Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown has brought the program back to a position that we haven’t seen in over ten years. The players are fast and talented. Harbaugh recruits well. Here is the issue and it’s the biggest difference between Michigan and Ohio State’s football programs currently. Ohio State since 2012 has played with a chip on their shoulders from the staff down to the fourth string linemen. While Michigan, when it matters most has not had that chip on their shoulders.
Case in point. In 2012, Urban Meyers first year at OSU. The Buckeyes were prohibited from playing in any kind of post season. No conference championship games, no BCS, no bowl, nothing. Many coaches in their first year with the program may have mailed it in for that season of ineligibility while putting their stamp on the program. Not Meyer, he led that 2012 Buckeye team, with a chip on its shoulder to a 12-0 season and almost the AP share of the National Championship without even being in any kind of postseason activity. That season also included a win the “ The Game” against the Wolverines. Many other programs, Michigan included would’ve played for next season. Not Ohio State, they infused a winning attitude and swagger that has stuck with them since that season.
As for the rivalry. The Buckeyes have won “The Game” every year since that 2012 matchup. They have participated in two College Football Playoffs and won a National Championship. The Wolverines have not won “The Game” and have not reached the College Football Playoffs a single time . For a program with the most wins in NCAA history. This is unacceptable. During this years game you could see the differences in attitude. Right after halftime I saw a clip of the Michigan sideline. I didn’t see any energy even though we were only down 24-19. No swagger, no attitude, no desire. While on Ohio States end, we saw the fierce determination like we see every year we play them. They wanted to be there. Whereas it looked like our team and defense did not want to be there. I believe Harbaugh is a smart enough man to see these things when going over video. I saw a play where an OSU receiver caught a pass and instead of trying to pursue, one of our defenders seemed to back away from him. There was no fight. They wanted it more and have wanted it more since Urban Meyer took over. This years game showed the difference in attitudes between the two schools. Michigan expected to win, while Ohio State went out and took it in dominant fashion. Not expecting anything, just playing fearlessly and executing.
If Michigan is to get to elite status and play in the playoffs, it starts and ends with beating Ohio State. On the field they don’t fear us and they sure in the hell don’t respect us. Why should they? They come out with a victory every single game for almost the last ten years. None of that is going to change until we play with an urgency that at least matches theirs and beat them. Not only beat them, but thrash them. Thrash them in the way that would demoralize their program for an entire decade. Because as it looks right now, OSU is playing against us like it’s the last time Urban Meyer will ever face us. That they want to send him out without a loss to Michigan. At this rate they may accomplish just that. For college football and Ohio State to Fear The Blue, we can’t expect our greatest rival or anyone else to give it to us. We are going to have to take it!