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Buckeye Redemption: Time to Express Some Rage

Can the Buckeyes Salvage Lost Season Against Michigan?

The statement above is absurd, ridiculous even. But, given the current state of college football and the way in which the Buckeyes have arrived at a 10-1 record, it is very much an honest assessment of where things stand.

All I can really wonder is whether or not this playoff committee, four team nonsense is really the best way to decide a national champion. But, that's a discussion for another day.

Following last week's abysmal 17-14 loss to the Spartans, the season is effectively over barring a miraculous series of events that would include a blowout victory over Michigan, a Penn State upset of Michigan State, a blowout over Iowa in the Big Ten title game, and then complete and total anarchy for the teams currently ahead of them in the polls.

So yeah, looking at things from a realistic point of view it seems unlikely that any or even all of that could happen at this point. The Buckeyes got the benefit of the doubt last season with the aid of several dominoes falling correctly. To have that happen for a second straight season would be almost too much to ask for. The reality of the situation is that this Ohio State team is not as good as we thought they were and no one wanted to admit it despite weeks of evidence supporting that sad truth.



Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I'll be perfectly honest about today's game against Michigan. The Buckeyes don't stand a chance. If anyone can provide me with even one piece of evidence that suggests otherwise, I'm all ears. In fact, I would love it if someone could talk me off the ledge with this football team.

Here's what I see as we head into "The Game."

I see a team in the Buckeyes that is pulling apart at the seams. Ezekiel Elliot ridiculed the coaching staff following last week's embarrassment (granted, I agreed with him, but that's besides the point) and then declared he was heading for the draft. Cardale Jones also stated his intentions to head to the draft. The offense once again failed to move the ball with any sort of consistency on it's way to five first downs and 132 yards total on the day. The defense, full of top prospects, failed to stop a second AND third string quarterback. A team, fighting for it's season and a for sure trip to the Big Ten title game failed to get up on senior day and got pushed around by a team that officially views itself as their equal.

Meanwhile, the Wolverines are experiencing a renaissance under the leadership of Jim Harbaugh. At 9-2, they are having their best season since 2011 and are on pace for double digit victories for only the third time in the past 10 seasons. If not for a fluke last second defeat to Michigan State, they could be punching a ticket to the Big Ten title game and possibly the national semi-finals. The offense is putting up huge point totals and the defense has been among the most formidable in the country. Most importantly... Michigan believes. They believe that they're officially back and there is no better way to announce their return to prominence then by embarrassing the Buckeyes and finishing the Big Ten season ahead of them in the standings.



Now, tell me which one of those teams has more confidence in itself heading into today's game. More importantly, tell me which team YOU have more confidence in. Because as much as I want the Buckeyes to send the Wolverines crawling back under the rock of obscurity they've been living under for the past decade, I can't help but have this gnawing feeling in the deepest recesses of my brain that the Buckeyes are walking into the lion's den as a wounded wildebeest.

There is also the distinct possibility that I am 100% wrong about all of this. It's possible that the seniors on this team and the one's who know they won't be back in 2016 will have the game of their lives in their final match-up against that school from up north. For many, it will be an opportunity to finish their careers with a highly coveted distinction - Never Losing to Michigan. There is a chance that with the weight of a title defense officially lifted, the Buckeyes come out with nothing to lose and look like the team that dominated on their way to the national title. It's even possible that this reverse jinx actually works and the Buckeyes successfully make me look like an idiot. 

Hooray for optimism!



The bottom line here is simple. Forget about the records. Forget about the national title that could have been. Forget about the disappointment of the season. With one truly outstanding performance against Michigan, the Buckeyes can wipe away all of that disappointment. The fact of the matter is that even in 2015, a win over Michigan trumps anything else that happens during the season, both good and bad. This game and this rivalry, no matter how lopsided it might get, is still what college football, and college sports in general, is all about.

This is the first in what is expected to be many heated battles between the Urban Meyer led Buckeyes and Jim Harbaugh led Wolverines. Think of it as a teaser for what's to come - two historically important football programs back at the top of the college football ranks, battling it out for Big Ten supremacy. Get ready folks, "The Game" is about to change forever... and for the better of everyone involved.

Photo: Toledo Blade

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About Brian Heise

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