This is tough for me to admit. Sunday morning, for the first time in like 17 years, I woke up in a warm puddle of urine.
Nightmares like the one I had would cause any respectable Michigan man to lose control of his bladder.
I dreamed that THE Ohio State University had taken over the World. I turned on CNN only to see Jim Tressel, the first president of the United States to be inaugurated wearing a gray sweater-vest and a scarlet tie, leading the rabid crowd in a rousing rendition of “Carmen Ohio.”
The U. S. Senate and House of Representatives were throwing down Natty Lights. The Senate handled the “O-H!” The House, “I-O!”
CLICK. I turned the TV off. That can’t be right. I decided to go outside my East Ann house and make sure things were still OK in Ann Arbor. Then I saw it. Riots on East Ann! Grad students tipping over cars! Jimmy Johns being looted!
It started to sink in. Ann Arbor had been taken over by Buck Nuts, and there was nothing any Michigan man could do to stop it.
So what triggered all this madness? If you watched Ohio State’s 28-9 win over Washington Saturday night on ABC, you know the answer. The Buckeyes were just that good. Soiling your pants good.
My subconscious may have taken things a bit too far Sunday morning, but it was a result of the jolt of reality I received from watching the Buckeyes make the Huskies look like impotent poodles.
I don’t know about you, but I honestly thought Ohio State wasn’t going to be a national championship caliber team this year – with or without Maurice Clarett. But after the Bucks jumped ahead 21-0 on Washington without their star tailback, I realized something: These guys aren’t going away.
President, I mean coach, Tressel may not be a genius like many Buck Nuts would like to think. But he’s returned Ohio State to elite status. He demands perfection. And most of the time, his team responds by giving him just that.
The Buckeyes finished with four penalties and two turnovers Saturday night. But in the first half, when they built an insurmountable lead against a top-25 team, they didn’t turn the ball over once and had just one penalty, a false start. That’s perfect, not because it’s pretty, but because it is mistake-free.
Ohio State had just 347 yards of total offense without Clarett, but it took advantage of every red zone opportunity it had, going 3-for-3 where it counts against a hapless Husky defense. Michigan put up 613 yards of total offense, having its way with Central Michigan, but went 2-for-4 scoring touchdowns in the red zone in the first half, which kept Central in the game until the middle of the third quarter.
The bottom line is that whether anyone at Schembechler Hall will admit it or not, Ohio State has set the bar for this season of Michigan football. And in order to function in this Buckeye world we’re living in, the Wolverines need to model their philosophy after Tress and the Bucks: Strive for perfection, or don’t strive at all.
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr spoke at this week’s media luncheon about how it’s unrealistic for his players to be perfect. I understand that. But I think the illusion, realistic or not, is necessary for players to actually play a perfect game.
Saturday afternoon, Michigan made too many mistakes for a team that believes it can win a championship. The Wolverines dropped touchdown passes in the red zone. They gave up 218 yards rushing to the Chippewas. There was Michigan’s token personal foul penalty, this one by defensive tackle Norman Heuer, which moved the Chips closer to scoring position. The kicking game once again looked out of sync, as Adam Finley made just 1-of-3 field goal attempts.
Not to focus on the negatives or anything, but this team has the potential to be great. We all know that. Unfortunately, the same can be said for each team I’ve watched the past three years. They all showed flashes of greatness, but were never consistently great.
Considering the reaction I had to watching the Buckeyes play the first time in 2003, I can’t imagine how the Wolverines handled it. Their reaction will be key. Did they turn the TV off and say “Washington sucks anyway,” or did they watch intently and think hard about why those Buckeyes are so damn good.
Until Michigan figures it out and plays with the discipline of its greatest nemesis, we’ll still just be Wolverines living in a Buckeye world.
And that’s something this Michigan man’s bladder can’t take.
J. Brady McCollough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .