In Defense of the Cupcake

By Johnny Ginter on September 20, 2013 at 2:00p
36 Comments

Once upon a time in 2007, the University of Michigan thought that it would be a cool idea to put the twice-reigning FCS champions Appalachian State on their schedule to start their season. We all know how it turned out, but for the purposes of this story I thought I'd look up the game preview from the AP:

Michigan, entering its 128th season, made Appalachian State its 138th opponent when the school wanted to rearrange the schedule to add an eighth home game and 12th overall.

The Wolverines, who hadn't played a Division I-AA program, agreed to pay their opponent from Boone, N.C., about $400,000 as a tuneup before hosting Oregon, Notre Dame and Penn State the next three weeks.

Early season non-conference games against crappy opponents are always couched in jargon like this. There's always an implicit apology by the media for what people are about to witness, a mention of upcoming opponents that you actually want to see the team play, and a reference to the money that the school is shelling out to whatever patsy is willing to take an ass-kicking on national television.

Ohio State has scheduled and subsequently destroyed many unranked, out of conference opponents from both the FBS and the FCS since 2007. Tomorrow they're going to do it again, will likely win by a gajillion points, and soon the memory of the Florida A&M Rattlers will fade like so many episodes of Grace Under Fire from my memory. And that's sad, because I think a day is coming soon when we're going to have to take these games much more seriously than we do right now. The dark specter of parity is upon us, and Appalachian State was just the beginning.

But I don't want to lose the memories of these games, and because of that I thought that just for today we could pay homage to the beautifully and brutally stomped out of conference Buckeye opponents since 2007.

What that goal in mind, I identified 21 just straight up assy Ohio State opponents in the last six seasons that they were expected to roll. The average score of those games was a maybe-surprising-but-probably-not 40-11. 40-11 is the kind of score you look at in the newspaper the next day because you fell asleep halfway through the third quarter (and apparently subsequently traveled to a magical world where print isn't dead) and go "Huh. Yeah that seems right."

And for most of these games you'd be justified getting your beauty sleep rather than watching Rob Schoenhoft go 3/6 for 8 yards of passing.

But buried in those 21 craptacular games are little moments and incidents where you wouldn't, moments that justify a game that's essentially the football equivalent of porn: generally disinterested actors going through the motions for a paycheck (as an aside, there are like a million fun ways you can add on to that analogy).

In 2007, for instance, Louis Irizarry made his triumphant return to Ohio State by leading his Youngstown State Penguins to a 38-6 defeat in the season opener. Irizarry had been kicked off the team in 2004 for jumping and robbing another OSU student at 3 in the morning. Tailback Ira Guilford was also involved, and subsequently cut bait and testified against Irizarry, sending the latter to prison.

I'm not sure what Irizarry is up to these days, but back in August he tweeted a picture of a baby turtle so things can't be going too badly for him.

The next season Ohio State played the Ohio Bobcats, and for one brief moment in time Ohio QB Boo Jackson put together one of the most hilariously effective drives in cupcake history.

That drive is easily one of the funniest things I have ever seen on a football field. With any Jim Tressel game you always figured that the team had about a 30% chance to lose no matter what the opponent, but watching the collective buttholes of 105,000 people clench over the course of 72 yards as a lightly regarded Bobcat team looked kind of awesome while taking a 7-3 lead in the second quarter was incredible.

For five minutes and 21 seconds, Boo Jackson was a football god. Then of course the universe righted itself, and Boo would only complete six more passes for the rest of the game. Also Boo's Twitter sadly does not contain any pictures of infant sea creatures. Such is life.

The 2009 game against Navy was won through a last second pick of a two-point conversion by Brian Rolle. Ohio State fans mostly just discussed the travesty of the fact that the INT was necessary but in retrospect the whole thing was pure beauty from start to finish, not in the least because it prompted this exchange between Chris Spielman and Bob Griese:

Griese: I don't like the call.

Spielman: Woah, why?

Griese: I don't like the call. Y-You're taking, you're the weak- you're askin' your little quarterback to throw uh, a pass in... the secondary where all these little guluguhl all these buccaneers, all these... GUYS are back there!

Mmm you certainly do have a way with words Mr. Griese.

I was actually at the Eastern Michigan game in 2010, serving as Eleven Warriors' beat writer in those dark ages before we could hire dudes to do fun stuff for us. Most people remember that as the day Jim Tressel decided to punish Ron English to the tune of 73 points, but I'll always remember it as the day that Ohio Stadium got its first real taste of the Kenny Guiton experience.

It wasn't the first time that Guiton got snaps in his career, but it was the first touchdown drive that he led, and the shot I was able to get of Terrelle Pryor hugging Kenny G and yelling YAAAAAAAYYY is hopefully going to be etched on my tombstone. Also notable about that game: I parked too far away from the stadium so Tim May gave me a ride back to my car. I like Tim May.


That's not the end of it, of course. There's a thousand other weird little things that sportswriters try to wrong out of a game that most people consider to be an afterthought, but because our attention spans usually aren't long enough to ruminate for hours on the implications of a sweet stiff arm by Beanie Wells, so eventually that's what they all become unless something truly ridiculous happens.

Maybe that's why these cupcake games are a little sad. College football is entertaining because it has a purposefully hierarchical system that we love to see upended... as long as it isn't when our favorite team is playing. So we're forced to root for boring and predictable, and our soul dies just a little bit.

My take on it is this: enjoy it for what it is. No, Florida A&M is probably not going to put up even a little bit of a fight, and yes, having universities offer up their crappy teams as sacrificial lambs for big school money is weird and kind of wrong. But there's humor to be had, dammit, and maybe that's reason enough.

Because with the way the FCS is improving, at some point this will be us and it will be less ha-ha funny and more "oh God what is going on" funny:

Even though the Wolverines are expected to win easily Saturday at Michigan Stadium, they're treating Appalachian State with respect.

"They have won two consecutive championships, so obviously they have a good program," linebacker Chris Graham said. "They may not be at our level, but they have athletes that can hurt us if we overlook them."

Haha aw geez!

36 Comments

Comments

gwalther's picture

Lol Chris Graham. Michig*n style.

Class of 2008

Buckeye_Ryan's picture

Do you think if Michigan played Appalachian State now that Brady would just call them Appalachia?

Born a Buckeye, raised a Buckeye, will die a Buckeye.

gobucks96's picture

not before he says "uh, uhm" twelve times...

hit_the_couch's picture

Hahahahaha Appy St. was a tune up game to get ready for Oregon in '07. scUM lost that game vs. Oregon 39-7.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

Doc's picture

Then it was a good tune up, cause they learned how to lose at home in front of their moronic fans.

"Say my name."

BuckeyeSki's picture

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

NitroBuck's picture

if I could up vote that one, I would!

Ferio, tego

MN Buckeye's picture

You cannot underestimate top FCS teams. The North Dakota State Bison won the last two NCs, and they beat K State in their house to open the season. MI will NEVER live down that loss to App State. Now, Florida A&M is clearly no NDSU or A State, but the better teams in that division can cause serious issues for anyone.

NitroBuck's picture

"MI will NEVER live down that loss to App State."
That is because there are wonderful people like us who will NEVER let them forget!

Ferio, tego

kholmes's picture

Appalachian St. is on the Michigan schedule for 2014...first game of year. Most fans (including myself) are pretty annoyed and confused as to why. This repeat game was made after the first game so it begs the question as to why the AD would schedule this. What is the purpose? To remind fans that Michigan lost to them? To get revenge against mighty Appalachian St.? 

gradybucks's picture

I agree and I would also be careful about throwing around the term "cupcake" in regards to FCS teams.  NDSU is rated #51 among all college football teams in computer rankings.  That means they could potentially beat half the FBS teams in the country.  That is not a cupcake.  App State should have been taken more seriously back then as well. 

MassiveAttack's picture

It was that reason, and that reason alone, that Justin Boren transferred to the school he really wanted to attend, rather than the one his father attended.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justin_Boren

M Man's picture

Justin Boren was pulled out of Michigan by his parents, within days/hours of their learning that Zach was not getting a scholarship offer there.  In hindsight, Michigan probably should have offered Zach.  But back then, nobody (not OSU) was offering Zachary as anything but a fullback.  And the Rodriguez offense didn't use a fullback.
 
That Wikipedia page is such nonsense; quoting the discredited Michael Rosenberg on the subject of Michigan practices.  Rosenberg was outed by John U. Bacon as having not attended any of those practices.

andyb's picture

Really?  You think he didn't have anything to do with it? 
 
I mean I'm sure he was probably as pissed as his parents were that Zach didn't get an offer...but c'mon you make it sound like they pulled their toddler out of class to go on a family vacation. Pretty sure if Justin really wanted to stay and felt like a valued member of the team he would have.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

I'm "Mr. Pessimist Uptight Always Worried and Nervous" guy, so I will defer to the collective wisdom that this will be a walkover and we will not drop in the polls or worst.  All kidding aside, even for a paranoid guy like me and our porous defense, the bucks have too many offensive weapons for 99% of teams out there.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Earle's picture

If cupcakes are wrong, I don't wanna be--no, I hate this game...

Italics are for emphasis; an ellipsis represents an unfinished thought.

buckeyedude's picture

It's either FAMU or a bye.  I know it sucks, but at least it's a little better than a bye. It's a perfect game for Braxton to get back in the groove.
The offense should be fun to watch.

 
 

Jurmah12's picture

Great article. Love the sacrificial lamb reference lolol.

Get the kicker off the field! 10/6/2012

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

With any Jim Tressel game you always figured that the team had about a 30% chance to lose no matter what the opponent,

No.

prdoctor's picture

Yeah, thank goodness we've finally gotten over the pathetic Jim Tressel era. Remember all those losses to I-AA teams and mediocre programs like Air Force, Syracuse and Pitt?

DaiTheFlu's picture

Agreed 100%. Yeah, we lost a couple games that we had no business losing (Purdue Harbor, Illinois), but Tressel almost ALWAYS led the Bucks to victory over inferior opponents.

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

ScarletNGrey01's picture

After the Cooper era when we were owned by TTUN then Tressel takes over and we beat them nearly every single game after than, won a NC, took us to two other NC's, how many B1G championships?  Remember how good our defense was under Tressel?  Don't get me wrong, huge Urban fan and excited about the future, but think we all need to acknowledge what Tress did for the program.  Yes, he made a huge mistake not turning the e-mail over the the legal department (regarding violations that are looking more and more tame each passing day), but a good guy at heart and a solid coach.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Young_Turk's picture

With any Jim Tressel game you always figured that the team had about a 30% chance to lose no matter what the opponent,

 
Seriously, somebody take the pen away from this guy, before he hurts himself with it.  

holtzy's picture

That picture could have a great caption.  It might be just me, but I love the captions you guys put on the pics.

NitroBuck's picture

Not to be a downer, but I sure wish the Buckeyes were playing someone better than FAMU tomorrow.  As an Alumnus, I get to lay down $80 a pop for 2 tickets to 1 game per year.  As much as I love the Buckeyes, I am not real happy about drawing the FAMU game.  I drew tickets to the last FCS crapfest too, when the only things noteworthy about that game was Beanie getting hurt and I had seats next to a guy I knew from Jr High School and had not seen since.

Ferio, tego

One Bad Buckeye's picture

As an Alumnus, I get to lay down $80 a pop for 2 tickets to 1 game per year.  As much as I love the Buckeyes, I am not real happy about drawing the FAMU game.

This is a very valid, and often overlooked, point.  

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

Tomc383's picture

I wear my App St T-shirt & Block O hat every time I have the pleasure of visiting the mitten on business. I also wear a wide, f-you-very-much grin. The look of utter helplessness mingled with pain on the faces of the UM faithful is soooooooo sweet!

THE...

ScarletNGrey01's picture

You're a braver man than me LOL.  Hopefully, a lot bigger too.  :P

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

buckeyedude's picture

I get up there quite a bit for business, and sometimes pleasure, and have no problem wearing S&G.

 
 

osuguy2008's picture

It was a joke for Michigan to schedule Appalachian St (as well as OSU to schedule Youngstown St but at least you could slightly understand Tress trying to throw his former school a bone) and got what was rightfully theirs.
This game is a just a complete embarrassment. 
I'd rather watch us play the worse school from the Sun Belt, WAC, SWAC, or whatever than this

skid21's picture

I completely agree. A complete embarrassment. A bye week would be more entertaining. So we can watch our offense look awesome and talk about how they dominated...who, what?
 

M Man's picture

And here I was, all worried that you'd quote from the pregame preview for last week's Akron game.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

That was done in a previous article, although IMHO it bears repeating.  :P

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Bucksfan's picture

Good stuff, Johnny, complete with obscure Grace Under Fire reference.  But these games are not just completely boring, they're a lose-lose.  If the Buckeyes crush a team like this, then they "haven't played anybody."  If they struggle, then the Buckeyes "aren't that good."
I know that every team schedules this bullshit, but we seem to catch the most flak for it...especially because the B1G is a big pile of poo.  I'd rather see Ohio State forgo a 12th game altogether if this is the kind of nonsense they're going to schedule.  Florida A&M has no business playing in front of 105,000 people in Columbus, OH, and at 80 bucks a ticket it is a goddamn ripoff.  I wish Ohio State fans would sell their tickets to this game back to OSU en masse, sending Gene Smith a message that this shit is just not tolerable.  Consecutive sellout numbers are overrated.  Nothing ever gets done unless you screw with someone's bottom line.
Save your 80 bucks for the Indy 500.

Nutinpa's picture

Johnny, while I acknowledge the old adage "it's why you play the game"....in reference to the possibility of upset as we saw with TTUN and Appy State, games like today's against FAMU....and the many like it (see da U vs. Savannah State) are the blight on college football.  Obvious schedule padding in return for a prostituted victory against a lesser opponent. 
Next week starts the season.  Today?  Nothing better than the 4th week of the NFL pre-season.... before the "real" season really starts... and the hope that nobody gets hurt.