It's about 55 hours from kickoff...time to begin my discussion of The Game, 2006-style. You've heard every sportscaster and read every sportswriter, and they'll all say the same thing. Yes, this IS the biggest game of the year, and the biggest game of the 21st century. And it's ALL been said before, so I'm just going to give you MY take on things.
Am I scared? Yes, a little. I'm nervous like I was heading into the Texas game. Like I was heading into last year's That Team Up North game. But deep down, there's a peaceful serenity. Because I know I have the three strongest earthly forces I could have heading into this matchup. Troy Smith, Jim Tressel, and the loudest crowd the Horsheshoe will ever hold.
1) Smith plays better when he's up against stronger competition. And Saturday will have the toughest opponent he's faced yet. However, EVERY year, That Team Up North is the toughest opponent Smith has faced.
- In 2004, he went 13 of 23 for 241 yards and 2 TDs. He even ran for another 145 yards and a TD.
- In 2005, he went 27 of 37 for 300 yards and a TD. He ran for another 37 yards and a TD.
That's a total of 723 yards (541 passing/182 rushing) and 5 TDs. Those are the type of two-game numbers you expect to see against Indiana or Northwestern. The guy is having MONSTER games against the best team on our schedule. That's inspiring.
2) From the day he was offered the job, Tressel has shown everyone that he gets it. It's all about beating Michigan. He gets it. He showed it to us in January 2000 when he was introduced to the crowd at an OSU/TTUN basketball game, and he's shown it to us every day since then.
Every weapon he has (and damn it, he's got a LOT of them this year) will be utilized. If the situation calls for it, he'll use it. I wouldn't be shocked to see Ginn throw a TD pass....to Smith even. Nobody knows the power on this team more than Tress, and nobody knows how to exploit defenses better than Tress. And since he "gets it", he'll unload the arsenal on Saturday afternoon.
Really, is there anything more I can say than that?
3) The 'Shoe. Just be loud, please. I know you can, so just do it. If the guy next to you or in front of you is sitting down on third down, MAKE him stand up and scream. If I can't be in the 'Shoe, then dammit, someone who can be there BETTER be screaming like mad on my behalf.
OK, now for the remaining factors....
A lot of discussion recently about Mario Manningham returning to the Wolverines lineup. It doesn't scare me, and I'll tell you why; In 2005, a high-profile offensive player was injured for most of the season and made a triumphant return for The Game. He was supposed to be the savior, and the key to victory for That Team Up North. Then, he took the field. Mike Hart rushed for 15 yards that day. Not a factor at all.
Steve Breaston, however, does scare me. He's always been a threat, but never produced jack squat. However, Kirk Herbstreit woke him up by calling him out. He's had great games since that, and I expect him to be the most fired-up Wolverweenie on the field.
Adrian Arrington will be this year's folding tent. He's not going to handle it very well, and he'll end up being benched late in the game for dropping too many passes and making an ass of himself. For all the trolling from TTUN fans about Ohio State's players, why is it that they never seem to notice that their team has the only player currently facing a criminal trial?
Lloyd Carr has quite possibly his best team ever. He's made all the right moves this year, dominated every opponent, and his team is undefeated. They look strong and they look ready. Next up is the biggest rivalry in the entire sports world.
Now re-read the above paragraph and replace the words "Lloyd Carr" with "John Cooper". That's all you have to say about that.
Ohio State 34