Friday, September 08, 2006
A long time ago, in a blogosphere far, far away, a guy named BaggyPantsDevil used to be a frequent contributor here at the MZone. But then he got busy with something called "work" and, even more frightening, his employer blocked access to blogs! Like they expected people to do their jobs and shit. Yet somehow, some way, Baggy is back and has secretly managed to submit the post below.
In case you haven’t heard, this week, the Ohio State Buckeyes play the Texas Longhorns. The college football world is all lathered up about Saturday’s game between the Number 1 and Number 2 ranked teams in the country. Also, both teams have a somewhat special connection to Michigan although they kind of lie at opposite ends of the spectrum.
Ohio State—of course—is Michigan’s most hated rival and most frequently played opponent (they’ve played 102 times). Michigan fans and Ohio State fans generally despise each other. Ohio State fans hurl adolescent insults around the internet like they hurl beer bottles at anything maize and blue on the streets of Columbus.
Michigan and Texas have only played once, but it was one of the most memorable games in recent history. Michigan fans and Texas fans seem to have a mutual respect for one another. Texas fans generally compliment Michigan and seem more likely to buy a Michigan fan a beer than throw one at him.
That the current top two teams in the country playing each other only partly explains all the interest in this game. One of the great things about college football is that it has no post-season playoff (don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a dissertation on why bowl games are better than a playoff). The lack of a playoff means every game your team plays matters and many games that don’t even involve your team matter as well. Saturdays aren’t just about watching your team play, they’re about watching your team and then watching every other game that can effect your team. Although wives may never accept this, that is usually most of the other games.
Watching teams that are not Michigan means having to decide who to root for. It’s just not as much fun unless there’s something at stake in the game. I generally apply two simple rules to deciding who I should root for in games not involving Michigan:
Rule 1: Root against any team ranked higher than Michigan.
Rule 2: Root for any team that has or will play Michigan this year.
These rules should be obvious as the desired outcomes help Michigan. Whenever anyone ranked higher than Michigan loses, Michigan moves up (assuming they win). Whenever a team Michigan plays wins, Michigan looks better because they’ll have a stronger schedule. Yes, sometimes I want Ohio State to win. I was even hoping Notre Dame would beat USC last year. After that, I have a less rational and almost irrelevant rule:
Rule 3: Root for the underdog, especially if it’s a perennial loser surprisingly hanging in there against a perennial powerhouse.
Rooting for teams I really should care nothing about enlarges the whole college football experience. Saturdays aren’t just about watching Michigan for three hours and then washing the car. I have a cornucopia of games that actually matter to me and in which I have an emotional investment. In 1997, I suddenly became a Missouri fan and was thrilled—although eventually saddened—to see them stand up to the Red Army-like juggernaut that was Nebraska. Last year, I was surfing through the channels and stumbled across an exciting game that found lowly Vanderbilt going at it against Florida. It was inspiring (and ironic) in 1999, to see East Carolina—it’s campus under water from Hurricane Floyd and having to play in Raleigh—overcome a 20 point deficit to beat the Miami…Hurricanes.
Which finally brings me back to my point. Applying my rules to the Ohio State-Texas game.
Both teams are ranked higher than Michigan and—at Number 1 and Number 2—neither is really an underdog, but Michigan will eventually play Ohio State. Therefore—according to my rules—I should be rooting for Ohio State. For some reason, though, it’s not that simple. Thus, the dilemma.
I find myself kind of sort of liking Texas lately. Maybe it’s the sense of kinship now that they’ve experienced Ohio State fans. Maybe it’s the respect one has for an honorable foe that’s the result of the 2005 Rose Bowl. It could be gratitude at the Longhorns ending the tongue worshipping of the GREATEST COLLEGE FOOTBALL TEAM EVER. It might be that Mack Brown—a coach long derided for underutilizing his talent, playing too conservatively and predictably, and not being able to beat his archrival—has provided an example of hope for us Michigan fans. I could even be that Texas is the Number 1 party school in the country. Actually, it’s probably because the Texas Pom Squad wears hot-pants and chaps.
Anyway, I’m having a problem wanting Ohio State win this one even though it will help Michigan out. Of course, it could have something to do with wanting to just shut up Ohio State fans and put an end—or at least turn down the volume—on all the “OMG! Ted Ginn AND Troy Smith” chirping. I was hoping Georgia Tech would beat Notre Dame last Saturday for much the same reason, to shut up the “returning to glory” talk, at least for a little while. Besides, I’m starting to think it’s true that humanity loses every time Ohio State wins.
So, for all the Michigan fans, who do you want to win?
Me, I’m going for hot coeds in hot-pants and chaps.
Posted by BaggyPantsDevil at 11:59 PM