Ohio State douses Michigan in one-sided “blood bath”, 42-13
Ann Arbor, Michigan (Nov. 28) – In what collegefootballfan.com predicted would be a “blood-bath” in the first ever meeting between Ohio State and its Head Coach Urban Meyer and Michigan and first-year HC and alum Jim Harbaugh, turned out to be a one-sided blood-bath as the No. 8 Buckeyes overwhelmed the No. 10 Wolverines, 42-13. The Buckeyes racked up 369 rushing yards to the 57 gained by the Wolverines. Unlike the previous week when TB Ezekiel Everett carried 12 times for 33 yards in State’s first loss of the season to Michigan State, he was the workhorse carrying 30 times for 214 yards and two touchdowns against the Wolverines. QB J.T. Barrett carried 19 times for 139 yard and three TDs while passing for 113 yards and throwing for a score. For collegefootballfan.com, the trip from Detroit to Ann Arbor and on to Chicago morphed into an adventure to be entitled, “Trains, Planes, Buses, and ‘Ubermobiles’”. With an unexpected bus cancellation to Ann Arbor from Detroit, I landed on my feet thanks to a couple of football fans and their Michigan buddies who not only got me to the game on time, but hosted me at their pre-game tailgate party – another chapter in the growing tales of unique adventures that has now afforded us to attend 501 college football games since 1979, or should I say the first of our next 500?
OSU started the scoring late in the first quarter on a drive kept alive by a roughing the kicker penalty at their own nine-yard line. Two plays later, Elliott hauled it 66 yards to the U of M ten. Barrett finished off the drive with a seven-yard run for seven. It was the only score of the first quarter.
Michigan drew closer on a 25-yard FG by Ken Allen early in the second, but Ohio State pieced together a 25-yard drive mostly on the ground as Elliot capped it off with a five-yard touchdown run. The Buckeyes had the ground game clicking, but starting its next possession from the eight, the Wolverines had its passing game going as QB Mike Rudock, who started at QB for Iowa in the Taxslayer Bowl we attended as our last game of last season, connected with Jehu Chesson for a five-yard TD as he dove past the pylon. Michigan seemed ready to keep pace with the Buckeyes now trailing, 14-10, going into halftime.
Both bands, which probably play two of the greatest fight songs in college football (I included both in my give-away CD’s of “Collegefootballfan.com’s Favorite Fight Songs” as raffle prizes during the Game 500 bus rides) performed at intermission. Ohio State Scarlet was interspersed among the Michigan Blue throughout the Big House (which needs more restroom facilities by the way). Several Michigan fans told me their stories about their second loss of the season they attended against Michigan State back on October 17. MSU returned a misplayed snap to the punter resulting in a Spartan touchdown as time expired for a shocking 27-23 loss. Tom an Albion grad I met at the impromptu tailgate I got invited to, told me that he exited the Big House with his MSU brother with ten seconds remaining in the game figuring they’d seen the final score. As they walked out of Michigan Stadium, there was sudden, inexplicable silence. Tom said it was like being in some sci-fi movie. Time seemed to stand still. Finally, they heard loud screams coming from a lone Spartan fan quite a distance from them also leaving the stadium. Tom, a Michigan fan, turned to his brother and said, “I guess we lost.” A U of M fan who sat next to me, Chris, I believe, a season ticket holder, told me that a sixty-something year-old fan sitting up behind our location (great seats in Section 17, row 27) suffered a heart attack right after the play and died. It’s a true testament and a scary one that some fans really do take their teams to heart. The intense loyalty is real among college football fans, probably even more so than amongst other sports fans. The relationships are intense, life-long, and inseparable.
OSU took possession of the opening kickoff in the second half. The Buckeyes rolled the length of the field culminating in a diving catch by Jalin Marshall for a 5-yard scoring play. Following a Michigan punt, on their second possession of the half, the Buckeyes killed a lot of time advancing 84 yards on 16 plays before Barrett ran it over from the 13 to give the Buckeyes a 28-10 lead heading into the final period.
Despite the score, there was still an inkling that Michigan could get back in this game with a few quick scores as Rudock kept his team moving through the air (19 for 32 passing for 263 yards and one TD). U of M got into position for Allen to boot a 27-yarder early in the final period. However, the Buckeye offense covered 75 yards on six plays, 38 covered on a pass to Michael Thomas before Elliott carried it in from the ten for a 35-13 lead. Time waned but there still seemed to be some hope left for the Wolverines until a sack of Rudock by OSU DE Joey Bosa, hobbling and seemingly non-existent for most of the game, put a big hit on Rudock from behind which sent him to the sideline for the rest of the game. With Wilton Speight in at QB, Michigan turned it over on downs, and OSU put the game away with 8:43 left with Barrett’s 17-yard TD run. That was it, 42-13. The Scarlet conquered the Maize and Blue for the 11th time in the last 12 games of this heated rivalry. I headed back to the car to catch up with my new distraught U of M friends who had my travel bag in their car and who were anxious to get out of Ann Arbor after such a letdown.
With Michigan State’s trouncing of Penn State, 55-16, the Spartans will represent the Big Ten East against undefeated Iowa of the West in the conference championship with the winner most likely to play in this year’s College Football Playoff. Ohio State (11-1, 7-1) could end up in the Rose Bowl and Michigan (9-3, 6-2) will also await a bowl bid for New Year’s Day most likely. We may see one of them at this year’s Outback or Citrus bowl. We’ll wait until things are actually announced before we decide. As for our plans next Saturday, the originals were destroyed when Navy lost to Houston and Houston moved out ahead of Temple in the ratings this week to annul a chance to see the American Athletic Championship at either Annapolis or in Philly. Looking over the FCS, D2 and D3 choices amongst games within driveable distances this Saturday, we’re leaning to the D2 playoff clash between Slippery Rock (12-1) and the Shepherd Rams (11-0) in Shepherdsville, WV in the D2 quarterfinals. I was reminded of Slippery Rock leaving Michigan Stadium. A U of M favorite, the announcer came over the PA as most were heading toward the exits that Slippery Rock led Assumption College, 41-39. It was the loudest cheer of the day for Big Blue’s crowd, a record-setting 111,829. The Rock has played in the Big House before large crowds twice in the past. They are a Michigan small school favorite. I have three other close fans also interested in attending this one, so it looks like a go!
Extra points: As for “Planes, Trains, Buses, and Ubermobiles”’ here’s the great part of the story: I met some great college football fans. I had booked a flight out of Trenton, NJ for only $70 to Detroit one-way, a great bargain on Thanksgiving weekend. I could not get the return route back for less than $400, but after, I was able to find another flight on Frontier returning Sunday for only $140, but back from Chicago. To get from Detroit to Ann Arbor to Chicago or to rent a car for the entire weekend and drive all the way back to Trenton (ugh!), the rental car plus gas plus hotel plus time driving alone was just too much! For $40, I could get from Detroit to Ann Arbor to Chicago all by Greyhound bus (I blew it though on the taxi from the airport to Greyhound in downtown Detroit. Thought I had a bus route much cheaper, but the timing was inadequate). I got to the Detroit Greyhound station by 7 am to wait for the 7:45 from Detroit to “points west.” However, after a 7:30 bus, the 8 am bus to “points elsewhere” started to load its passengers. By 8:15, those of us waiting for Ann Arbor/Chicago hadn’t been told anything. The bus hadn’t shown up yet. A station manager finally told us the bus was running late, and the driver called to say he’d be there any minute. We were told to get on line so we would be ready to go when the bus arrived. It finally arrived, but the driver showed up only to tell the station manager he needed to take the bus in for needed repairs and he left. No plan, no word for how long, no back up bus. Maybe the next bus at 2 pm? Kickoff was set for 12 noon! It’s been 40 years since I last took a Greyhound Bus (and this will be the last), and I booked a bus to nowhere. Great! I saw a few people in Michigan garb scurry over to the ticket window. I didn’t have an option in the world I could think of without blowing my budget to get to Ann Arbor and on to Chicago that evening while still getting to the game. I broke out of the bus boarding line and approached the U of M fans talking to the woman at the ticket window with no success for vital information. I asked what they were considering as options. Turned out that Adam and Matt could get an Uber car and I asked if I could go with them if I paid cash for my share of the ride. “No problem,” they said. Rhonda, also wearing Michigan garb, had to get to Ann Arbor to go to her work. She joined us, too. A small Honda pulled up and the driver was reluctant to take us all at first, but then he agreed. He had gotten stiffed by two previous callers, and we were going to be his last run of the morning. Rhonda sat in front and Adam, Matt, and I piled in on the back seat with me sitting in the middle on the hump. Adam, a Western Michigan grad, was going to meet his U of M friends at a tailgate. Matt, a Delaware grad now living in Detroit in the same building as Adam was going along with him. I, of course, had to tell Adam my one WMU story when I saw them get clobbered by Virginia Tech down at Blacksburg, 63-0, the largest margin of victory or defeat I had ever witnessed. He said VT was one of the few major schools to return the favor of playing a game against WMU in Kalamazoo. I told Matt about the time I’d seen UD play with Joe Flacco play against Towson and lose a shoot-out after his transfer from Pitt. Matt was at Delaware back in those days. During the 40-mile trip, we began to hit some game traffic on I-94. The driver was caught by surprise and wondered what was going on this day that was so big. Evidently not a college football fan any way. Rhonda explained it to him. I asked Adam that rather than drop me at the bus depot where I was planning to get a locker to stow my bag for the day, if he thought I could possibly tag along and eventually leave my travel bag in his friend’s car when we went into the game. He thought it would be more convenient and save time as well so he invited me to join him and Matt. We all got dropped off at the corner of Stadium Boulevard and South Main Street by the Big House from where we treaded over the muddy lawns of Pioneer High School looking for Adam’s friends. Because of heavy rains the previous few days, parking was prohibited on the U of M Golf Course where general game day parking usually is. I was introduced to Tom (Albion College), another Matt (a Michigan fan who services concession stands at numerous stadiums throughout the country), another Matt (Michigan grad who had the car), and other guys Chris and Ben among them. We had a few beers, talked Michigan football, college football, and about some of my other adventures. We were basically sharing stories “Tales from the Tailgate.” I eventually had to walk away to do my radio interview with “Spadora on Sports” at 10:30 am. On the show, I regretfully predicted an upset feeling pretty good that Michigan would be fired up under Harbaugh looking to upset Ohio State’s season. Matt, the driver, told me that they probably wouldn’t tailgate after the game so I told him I’d be back ASAP after the game to get my travel bag out of the car so they could get going. I had really lucked out meeting with Adam and Matt after the fiasco at Greyhound. Not only did I meet a great bunch of guys to hang out with before the game, but I lucked out finding someone with a car to leave my bag with which I would have been prohibited to get into the game with because of heightened security measures as such were announced approaching the gates of the stadium. I also later found out that the Greyhound terminal in Ann Arbor was an unmanned window with a bus schedule posted on it. No ticket manager, no lockers, no restrooms, nothing Greyhound. When I saw this, I decided not to hang around Ann Arbor for a while after the game to wait for the 7:50 pm bus. I was able to get on board the 5:05 to avoid any possible mishaps or cancellations like the one faced in the morning. It was also good because I found out other things, like the bus was only going to one station in Chicago and not all four shown on the Greyhound website. So on the bus I asked a young passenger beside me from Chicago the best ways to get to O’Hare Airport to catch a free shuttle bus to my hotel. Luckily, the Blue Line Subway which I knew went direct to O’Hare had a convenient station near the bus depot in downtown Chicago. I took it to O’Hare, and when I got the gate three where the Days Inn shuttle made pick-ups, it had gotten there for another customer pick-up when I arrived. After that morning at the Detroit Greyhound station, things just seemed to get better regarding my travels. It was quite a travel weekend for one disappointing game, but everywhere I went things turned out well during the most heavily traveled holiday weekend of every year in the U.S. Even my flight back to Trenton arrived 30 minutes early. That has never happened to me before! I just wish Michigan could have made this chapter of this long storied rivalry more memorable than a 42-13 loss I travelled a long way out to witness. Thanks to Adam and Matt and all the other guys for making my trip run more smoothly than I could have hoped for under the initial, unexpected, bad circumstances. Good thing they were there for my sake. I told Adam to send me his address so I could send those copies of Tales from the Tailgate. Matt asked if they would be in the next edition. This is basically a great tale to tell among so many, so I’d have to include it!
Speaking of its storied past, Michigan honored careers of eight Michigan great whose jersey numbers had been retired: one for brothers Alvin, albert, and Francis Wissert; for former President Gerald Ford who played center and linebacker; Heisman winner Desmond Howard who made an appearance on the field; QB Bernie Osterbaan; TE Ron Kramer who played many years with the Green Bay Packers, and RB Tom Harmon, also known as Mark’s (TV actor and former UCLA QB) father.
In Trenton airport at the bar watching a game, I overheard one woman say she was going to the game to meet her father to attend her first college football game ever. Of course I had to tell her this was my 501st. I don’t know if she believed me or not, but another woman from the other end of the bar joined in as well. Turns out her boyfriend is Chris Partridge, former Paramus Catholic HS Coach who is now the Director of Player Personnel at Michigan. She told us about his original opportunity with Rutgers and that when Jim Harbaugh came calling, he couldn’t refuse. I was familiar with this history. She looked at me and asked me what my feelings were about that. I said I am a Penn State fan and that I was glad he at least didn’t go to Rutgers. She laughed and said that she was glad he avoided that situation as well. He’s going to play a significant role this off-season as he’s recruiting several top NJ High school football players for the Wolverines. That’s why Harbaugh didn’t go easy on Rutgers. More leverage We’ll see what happens.
Several other coaches among Harbaugh’s staff we are very familiar with from their playing days. Tyrone Wheatley is his running backs coach. The first time we saw Michigan play at PSU, Wheatley had a monster game running for the most yards ever against a Penn State defense in their win at State College. Secondary coach Michael Zordich was an All-American safety for Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions back in the 80’s. Michigan’s Strength Coach is Kevin Tolbert played for Navy back in the early 80s.