Posts Tagged ‘team up north



I can think of at least three posts related to Saturday’s Michigan game, but we’re going to start with the one that will make this year’s edition memorable for me forever. We’ll get to the other stuff tomorrow.

These? These are important.

It could have been the lack of sleep. It might have been the altered schedule. It could have been the heroic amount of alcohol I had the night before.

But for whatever the reason, I was a bit off my game on Saturday. The tailgate party was a good one — except for the part about Suzette setting the sleeve of her coat on fire on the propane heater (Suzette was fine, her coat was not) — but I was struggling to hold it together from the time my alarm went off at 4:50 a.m. Saturday morning.

The early start was my idea, and we were in the lot close to 7:30, which had been my goal. And almost as quickly as we got set up, it was apparent that the day would be a struggle for me. Two examples:

  • It quickly became clear that the temperature was going to be cold enough that keeping my feet warm during the day would be a problem, even with the shiny, new propane heater. Did I bring my Sorels to Columbus? Nope, just my game Chucks and a couple pairs of socks.
  • What should have been a fairly simple cooking morning turned into a hassle. We had pancakes, and they should have been easy; Crappydad, as he does, had these well planned (instant batter, already mixed in the bottles; syrup warming in a pot of water on the stove). Fred had a pot in which to heat his delicious maple sausage. Mrs. Crappy and I had pre-cooked some bacon, which only needed to be heated in the morning. But: Our Coleman griddle wouldn’t stay lit. One bottle of gas for the Coleman stoves wouldn’t screw into anything but the non-functioning griddle. And because I didn’t bring our table from Pittsburgh, I was stuck making pancakes with our stove sitting on the grass outside Campbell Hall.

Frustrating things both, but neither one would have been enough to kill the day. Everyone ate, and seemed pleased with the food, and those little hand-warmer things took care of my feet all day.

One thing did work well. I wanted to start early — and finish early — to give my folks plenty of time to walk to the stadium. Michigan pregame stuff — senior day, Script (a special one this weekend, as a neighbor of my parents, Jocelyn Smallwood, was making history as the i-dotter), getting to hate on The Victors right there in front of me — is not to be missed. We did the toast, sent my folks on their way, and began packing up so the rest of us could head inside.

Truck is packed. I’m organizing the stuff I always take inside. And I am hit with a stunning, crushing realization.

I have no tickets.


Two things.

  • I have a velcro Ohio State wallet that I take into games. I pack it in my sister’s old bedroom before each home game: driver’s license, my debit card, whatever cash I have … and the tickets. On Saturday morning, though, I couldn’t find the wallet. It wasn’t in with my tailgating stuff because I had taken it out the weekend before when we came to Columbus to watch the Wisconsin game with Matlock and the Coochie Doctor, and I hadn’t put it back. I am certain that if I had gone through that part of my preparation before we left the house, I would have remembered the tickets. But I was in a hurry, I couldn’t find the damn wallet, and didn’t think about that other, fairly important step.
  • It is almost like clockwork. As we pull down the driveway, someone — usually my mother — asks if everyone has the tickets. On Saturday, no one did. I have no idea why.


OK. It’s about 11:15. Game time is listed at noon, but with all the extra stuff, will probably actually start around 12:10. I have to get back to my folks’ house. Right now.

But I am immediately presented with problems (and, fortunately, solutions):

  • My dad has the truck keys. But there’s always an extra set inside, and I can get in with the keypad on the door.
  • OK, I have the extra keys. But they don’t have a key to the lock Crappydad uses to lock the bike rack (he usually rides from where we park to the stadium, because it’s easier on his legs) to the truck. Miracle: He forgot to lock the rack to the truck on Saturday.

Once in the car and headed back towards Upper Arlington, I start thinking about the other things that could go wrong. I’m reasonably sure I won’t have trouble getting off campus — and I didn’t, reaching 315 south from the ramp by the OSU Medical Center without hardly stopping — but I have no idea if I’m going to be able to get anywhere close when I return.

But first, I’m concerned only with getting back to the house as quickly as possible. Our path home has been set for years, because while it’s slightly out of the way, it almost always keeps us out of football traffic after games; that ramp takes us to 315 south, which we follow to 670 west, the Dublin Road (Route 33) exit and that pretty much straight to my parents’ home.

And let me tell you, boys and girls: without revealing any incriminating details, I made that 10.3-mile drive in record time.

I got into the house without setting off the security alarm — given the way my day had gone to that point, it wouldn’t have surprised me a bit to screw that up too — grabbed the tickets and jumped back in the truck, all while saying a prayer to whatever Greater Being that might be paying attention that I could get reasonably close to campus after the trip back — and not get caught in any traffic.

McCoy Road? No problem, but I’m still miles away. Kenny? Nothing. I turned on to Woody Hayes Drive, and see signs that say “Parking passes only”: I’m expecting to get turned away before I get to Herrick … but no, I can make the right turn with no trouble. I’m panicking as I pass the cars parked along Herrick … but still no traffic.

I’m thinking the light at Herrick and Cannon is the point of no return; if I make it past there, I’m going to be OK. I’m probably the only vehicle the cops standing at that intersection have seen for a while; they look, but they don’t stop me. I turn left at the Neil Avenue Garage, wondering if I’m going to have to sweet talk the parking attendants to get back into our lot … and they’re not there.

In fact, the only people I see in the lot are Mrs. Crappy and Ann, Fred and Ethel’s awesome sister-in-law, who stayed with Mrs. Crappy while she waited on me; they were having enough fun, in fact, that they sent me ahead (once Mrs. Crappy secured her ticket in her hand) to the stadium.

I was just outside our gate when I heard the unmistakable roar that comes with an Ohio State touchdown. I had missed a bunch of stuff I wait all year to see — it especially killed me to miss Jocelyn’s Script — but my monumental mistake had cost us just one touchdown and only a few minutes of the game. I was panting when I reached our seats in 14C, but I took a healthy swallow from the flask I had shoved in my pants on the way inside, took a deep breath, and stood to cheer my Buckeye defense.

I needed breaks. I got them. And, via a circuitous, harrowing route, I made it home for the Michigan game.

A favor: If we text, tweet or follow each other on Facebook, set an alarm for 7 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 29. When that alarm goes off, by whatever means you have available, send me the following message: “Hey, dumbass — do you have your tickets?”


throw the kid out too.



It wouldn’t be Michigan Week without a couple things beyond the actual game part of The Game. And yes, we have a couple good ones already this week.


Maybe I’m mellowing with age. Perhaps my wary satisfaction of previous examples has caused me to relax somewhat on the issue of alternate uniforms.

And that’s a good thing, because Nike’s Moneygrab Alternate Uniform Freakout Program has returned.

Thanks, Eleven Warriors.

This is the pic that started circulating last week; it’s since been confirmed by the university. Apparently we’re going for an homage based on the 1968 team — the only one that hasn’t so far been honored by a throwback uni. The piping on the helmets and pants is wider, the jersey numbers are bigger and we’ll have to see what a “dull chrome” helmet looks like.

I’m still not entirely pleased with the whole idea that we need to have alternate uniforms of any kind — I know the kids dig ’em, and I realize that it’s probably a necessary part of marketing the program these days — but I’m mostly OK with these. As they have been in the past, the alts have enough basis in actual uniforms of the past, so we’re not just getting something completely out of left field on game day.

And, lest we forget: it could be much, much worse.


Hey, speaking of Maryland…

At some point this afternoon, officials in College Park, Md., will host a news conference in which they will announce that Maryland will join the Big Ten at the start of the 2014 season; apparently they’ll be closely followed by Rutgers, which will announce its move on Tuesday.

OK then.

Here’s why we’re adding two Eastern schools to our (mostly) Midwestern conference: television. The Big Ten Network will suddenly have access to two giant media markets — Washington and NYC — and that equals more eyeballs, more exposure and — here’s the important part, boys and girls, more money.

(Note: I’m not convinced that anyone in the D.C. or NYC markets actually give a shit about college sports. But, hey — money!)

The money, I’d guess is why the move is important to Maryland; it recently cut varsity sports to try to stem the financial losses suffered by the athletics department there. As for Rutgers?  The Big East — especially as a football conference — has looked like a loser for several years now, and if we’re going to ramp up conference re-alignments again, it might make sense for the Scarlet Knights to jump before their ship sinks entirely.

But if these additions make sense — on some level — to our new members, I’m not sure I can say the same for the existing ones. Maryland’s a great addition if we’re talking about basketball, but the Terps’ football history is spotty. Their last conference title came in 2001, and they’ve had a decent run of bowl games in the last decade (5-1, with the last appearance coming in 2010). With one exception, the entirety of Rutgers bowl history has come in the last decade, and they’ve put together a a 5-1 record in those games.

On the surface, not terrible. But then you think about the competition and you realize that these are Purdue- or Illinois-level programs at best; they’ll be good for a solid season or two every few years, but otherwise, we’re diluting a schedule that already seems a little thin to begin with. And with an actual playoff on the horizon, strength of schedule is going to be even more important that it is now.

Maybe the biggest thing is this: I was never a fan of conference expansion, but I was excited about the addition of Nebraska; good school, unmatched football tradition and solid athletics all the way around. The Huskers have held up their end of the bargain as well; depending on the outcome of this weekend’s games, they could be playing for the B1G title on Dec. 1.

In short: I was excited to add Nebraska as B1G member. I wish I could say the same about Rutgers or Maryland, but at the moment, I can’t.



Ohio State has won 11 games this season. That’s put us in the No. 4 spot in the country as of this week. It’s earned us the only hardware we were permitted to win this season.

And it’s prompted a lot of discussion about where a 12-win team that’s not allowed a postseason game will end up in the rankings.

Twelve wins would be outstanding. It would serve notice to the rest of the conference about who will be the team to beat in 2013. The rest of the country will be on notice as well, and Ohio State could top preseason rankings next August.

This week, I am not interested in 12 wins.

I am interested in just one.

At the start of every football season, I do two things that take me all the way from the first game through the bowl game. I pick — or have someone pick for me — a buckeye, that sits in my right front pants pocket for the duration of the season. And I pick one of my bracelets that goes on my left wrist and does not come off until Ohio State’s season is over.

I was aware that there was no possibility of a Big Ten championship in 2012. I knew that there wouldn’t be a trip to a bowl game of any kind.

And the sting of losing in Ann Arbor — something I hadn’t felt since 2003 — was still painfully fresh.

I normally pick one of the generic bracelets for the season. I don’t want to de-value the other games, and I don’t want to feel like I’m writing off everything that happens in September, October or the first couple weeks of November.

But this season, obviously, is different. Saturday is our championship game. Saturday is the bowl game. Saturday is the opportunity to ease the pain from last November.

It’s been the one I’ve been waiting for. And that’s why I picked the bracelet that’s been on my wrist since Aug. 31.

One game. This game. It’s time.


the week.


best. commercial. ever.


No comment necessary.


an unpleasant end.

The Season of The Unpleasantness is done.


best week of the year.

As of 6:49 p.m. Saturday, it’s Michigan week.

And while I’d rather look ahead than look back, I’m calling this right now: DeVier Posey will catch two touchdowns against the Team Up North a week from today.


stretch run.

If you hadn’t noticed — I hadn’t either, to be honest, but Crappydad pointed it out to me — the schedule for the rest of the year has been set. Here’s a look:

Penn State, 3:30. I’m very happy that this is an afternoon game, because we can give it the kind of tailgating attention it deserves. Yeah, I know, Penn State just became bowl eligible and they’re not having the kind of year that makes Happy Valley especially happy, but for me anyway, this game is second only to the Team Up North on the Big Ten schedule. And I’m looking forward to it as usual.

Iowa, 3:30. This one is tricky. No tailgating for a road game, of course, but the afternoon thing makes me unsure about where to watch. I’m 1-1 watching games at home, so that doesn’t really have a bearing on my position. Do we go out? Load up on stuff and stay home? Suggestions?

Team Up North, noon. I’ll be honest — I loved it in 2006 when this was a 3:30 game. Granted, that one was kind of a special circumstance, but damn, a long tailgate party for the Michigan game was the right way to go. But noon is the traditional spot for this one, and we’ll do as we always have … except that I’d like to do it even earlier than normal. Is a 7 a.m. start too much?


a slight distraction.

We’ll find out at 7 p.m. tonight what the 12-member Big Ten will look like, when the conference announces the division lineups that will be in place starting with the 2011 season. We’re apparently also going to get the answer about the future of the Michigan game, as we’ll get a glimpse of the conference schedules for 2011 and 2012.

Rumor: Ohio State and Michigan will be in different divisions but will continue playing The Game at the end of the regular season.

If that’s true, that’s pretty much all I need to hear.

2017 schedule

Aug. 31: vs. at Indiana, 8 p.m.
Sept. 9: Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16: Army, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: UNLV
Sept. 30: at Rutgers
Oct. 4: at Maryland
Oct. 7: Maryland
Oct. 14: at Nebraska
Oct. 28: Penn State, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: at Iowa
Nov. 11: Michigan State
Nov. 18: Illinois
Nov. 22: Indiana
Nov. 25: at Team Up North, noon
Dec. 2: B1G Championship, 8 p.m.

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