The weekend is here and surprisingly there is a lot going on besides the Michigan-OSU game. Of coure none of it is as important as the 104th game between Michigan and Ohio State.
As has been heavily discussed, it’s an off year for the The Game. Funny to say that considering this is all the game used to stand for; a Big Ten Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Amazing what that BCS has done here. Oh well. It still UM and OSU. ‘Nough said.
The Game has plenty of story lines to get over the fact that both lost last week and are out of the national title picture (although OSU could get back in it with a convincing win and the Big 12 teams, Kansas, Missori and Oklahoma, all beat each other by the season).
There’s the “Is this Lloyd Carr’s final game against Ohio State?” story line. I say it is. I’ve been saying this is Carr’s last season even before the App State loss. He’s been feeling the heat for a while. He restructured his contract in the offseason to include guarantee jobs for his assistants for two years and he’ll pick up a bonus whether he is the coach or has a position in the athletic directors office. Those two things alone add up to someone who, if isn’t 100% leaving, is very close to it. Carr is close to the senior class. The only class who, if they lose, will never have beaten Ohio State. He could/should ride off with them.
There’s the “Michigan seniors who have never beat Ohio State” story line. Hart, Henne and Long said they came back for this game. Now they have to step up and prove they made the right choice in coming back to school. Hart said the right thing (for once) this week when he said how can he be considered one of the best backs in Michigan’s history if he never beat Ohio State. Same can be said for Henne and Long. They are a great class but it’s time for them to get the job done.
Along those lines, there’s the “Will Hart and Henne play?” story line. Of course they’ll play. As mentioned above, they came back for this game. There’s no way they don’t play. Hart’s leg and Henne’s arm would have to fall off for them not to play. They didn’t sit out last week’s game just to sit out again this week. With them, Michigan has a chance and the emotional edge. Without them, hello Alamo Bowl.
If Michigan wins, it’s a great time for him to leave. If they lose, he’ll have to leave because there will be so many people calling for his head. So yes, this is Carr’s final regular season game at Michigan.
So what’s going to happen in the game? Last week and early this week, I was scared OSU was going to pound Michigan. Michigan’s defense is weak and OSU has a pretty good offense. I just didn’t feel confident about there chances. But then I started thinking about it more. It’s a rivalry game. The best team doesn’t always win. And OSU isn’t that much better. When they were tested and challenged for the first time last week, they rolled over and died. Michigan has been tested all year. If you want to chalk that up to being a weaker team since all their games were close against the same teams, fine. But Michigan learned how to fight and comeback. Three times they had to make 4th quarter comebacks. The one time OSU needed a fourth quarter comeback, their coach called timeout on fourth down and allowed the other team to controll the ball for the final 8 plus minutes of the game.
Then there’s the emotional factor. Michigan is playing for their seniors and their coach. The senior class doesn’t want to be the only class to never beat OSU. Led by that same class, they want to send Carr off with a big time victory of the Buckeyes. In an emotional game, Michigan’s got more to play for and will come in with more emotion. The 111,000 plus people in maize and blue will only add to that fire.
I just can’t see Michigan losing this game. It might be a bias outlook but I really think, because of all that I said above, Michigan will come out on top. I’m not trying to talk smack to those OSU fans (although I’m sure I’ll get some ignorant comments from them. What else is new.) I’m just saying how I see the game play out. Hart will have a huge game. Henne will find Manningham for two scores and somehow, down the stretch the defense makes a big play to seal the win. It will be close and come down to the final minutes. It will go down as a classic but Michigan will make the big play when needed. Michigan 31, Ohio State 27.