For All That You Love

By Ramzy Nasrallah on November 27, 2013 at 11:15a

Woody pulled it off seven times.

Tress did it four times. Earle did it three times. Poor Coop never could.

Winning in Ann Arbor doesn't always happen on account of better players or schemes. Those things certainly help, but if that's all it took then 1969 would have ended differently. Same goes for 1987, 1995 and 2001.

If this rivalry gave a single, solitary damn about point spreads, common opponents, statistics or destiny then it has a cruel way of showing it.

Ohio State is expected if not required to win the Michigan game every year. What makes this week so agonizing and exhilarating is that Michigan has identical obligations for its Ohio State game.

Losing in Ann Arbor is not okay.

But delivering at home? Mandatory. Essentially holding serve is how this rivalry has gone ever since Buckeye football went varsity: Michigan leads 44-42 since Ohio Stadium was dedicated.

Always win the ones at home. Steal the ones that aren't.

This kind of larceny is a challenge: Michigan has stolen from Columbus just 11 times since the Snow Bowl of 1950, while Ohio State has looted 14 games from Ann Arbor.

Both teams fail at theft more than they succeed, but that still doesn't mean returning to Columbus as the loser is okay. Losing in Ann Arbor is not okay. It's hideous. It's awful. No coach is immune to it.

Hell, Woody lost there six times. So did Coop. Earle did it twice. Even Tress did it once.


You were young once. It might have been yesterday, 50 years ago or still in progress - but you got your one shot at youth.

That was when you were at your idyllic best. Youth was when you were great. You owned nothing, yet you had everything.

Maybe you were a student at Ohio State. Even if college wasn't in the cards, you still had youth going for you.

College is corrupted by elders, not students. It's students who give college years its idyllic superiority, not administrators. These elders have great difficulty seeing young people enjoy what they no longer can have.

Elders see a frozen, mildly hazardous lake filled with duck urine and history - so they hastily surround it with fences, call police and issue bracelets. Students see that frigid lake in late November and they demand to bathe in it.

That lake is theirs, though they don't own it. They own nothing, so attempting to steal from them is futile.

The Game is a one-week vacation from time. We all get to be great again.

So students will always jump in the lake on their terms. Students will bathe in their fleeting youth. Students will play Michigan. Students will make history.

Elders can only watch, and that's hard for them. They meddle with traditions that are no longer theirs. They struggle to accept their place. They forget who they once were. 

Elders were young once. It might have been yesterday or 50 years ago, but they had their shot. Ohio State-Michigan takes them back to those idyllic days when it was their lake.

It's an annual reminder of their departed youth; that their generation once played Michigan. They once made history.

The Game is a one-week vacation from time. We all get to be great again. We all get to be young. 

Ohio State-Michigan belongs to everyone. That lake belongs to students.

ah, shit.

Two years ago yesterday Ohio State lost a regular season football game. It was in Michigan Stadium.

Losing in Ann Arbor is not okay. Losing anywhere is hideous. It's awful. It hasn't happened since.

And you didn't give a single, solitary damn about the point spread (the Buckeyes covered the +8.5, not that you remember or care) or how bad that Ohio State team was, or the degree of difficulty in stealing from Ann Arbor.

It's not the months spent recruiting, preparing, coaching or executing that matter during those hours when Ohio State is playing Michigan.

beating Michigan never cedes importance to anything else.

Only the outcome matters. That is when epitaphs are written. All their work is rendered down to two numbers they can't ever escape.

Heists go down in all of the odd-numbered years, when the biggest stadium in the country hosts the biggest victory and biggest defeat for both Ohio State and Michigan. The distribution of fates is determined on the field over a few hours.

They define each team's entire year. Those hours define each coach's entire legacy. Those hours dictate two entire states' moods for 12 months, often longer.

So beating Michigan never cedes importance to anything else. The rest of the world can laugh, but this game isn't about the rest of the world. It's never been for them.

Beating Michigan is the most important thing at Ohio State. Nothing else matters as much. No winning streak compares. No winning streak is safe.

There is no destiny. There are only epitaphs.


Ohio State's 2013 edition is one of the most likable ones in school history. It is a team full of survivors.

The 2013ers are led by guys who stuck around despite everyone and everything telling them not to. You appreciate that. You like them.

More importantly, they like each other. They seem selfless. They understand they are stewards for something much bigger than they are. They get it.

Ohio State teams are not always like this. The 2011 team was battered. The 2000 team was divided. The 1999 team was entitled and the culture was viscerally beginning to rot. The 1988 team was simply untalented.

the worst kind of Michigan team is the one you can't forget.

Though you love all of them equally, you only like most of them. You really like this 2013 team. You don't want its season to end. They're already unforgettable.

That's the very best kind of Buckeye team, but it's not over yet: The 2001 and 2004 editions were entirely forgettable until their meeting with Michigan.

You only loved them prior to the Michigan game. Once that game ended, you liked them. You'll always like them.

It took a precious few hours to alter the legacies for those two mediocre seasons. Fortunately, this likable Ohio State team is not in that position. But this Michigan team is.

Saturday is Michigan's chance to alter its legacy. Beating Ohio State is Team 134's last shot at being unforgettable. 

And that's the absolute worst kind of Michigan team: The one you can't forget.

tressel forever

When Tressel arrived the idea of Ohio State stealing a game in Michigan was a dark, twisted fantasy.

Ann Arbor was where Buckeyes helped Wolverines win Heisman Trophies. It's where they squandered undefeated seasons. It was a giant bowl of nightmares.

In 1993 the Buckeyes got off the bus already looking shell-shocked. In 1995 they simply got run over. In 1997 they forced 11 punts, held Michigan to 42 yards on 42 carries and lost.

No matter how they played there, it seemed they could not win. Those three Ohio State teams entered Ann Arbor with one loss between them and exited with four.

They stole nothing. It was hideous. It was awful.

Then Tressel arrived and made the biggest promise any coach has ever made. He made five trips to Michigan and stole The Game four times.

In 2001 he conceded the second half. In 2005 they rallied as the game expired. In 2007 he took the air out of the ball. In 2009 he started running out the clock in the first half.

Michigan fans were catatonic. He ravaged them for ten years. No matter how the Buckeyes played there, it seemed they could not lose.

Tressel was a villain who stole without deception. He used the front door and left the same way. He looted good and bad Michigan teams without discrimination. Last year his 2002 players paraded him around Ohio Stadium as Michigan fans feigned outrage.

We were celebrating our master thief. Michigan simply needed to see him one more time. Urban Meyer has inherited the highest bar for the greatest challenge he will ever have.

Tressel will always be loved, for those few hours against Michigan and for the countless other hours you didn't watch. You loved him ever since that first Ann Arbor trip in 2001.

Ever since he beat Michigan in his own agonizing way.

Ever since he routinely stole games in the cruelest way possible.

Ever since making the great state of Ohio the biggest promise he ever kept.


Four years ago the Buckeyes left Ann Arbor as victors. Afterwards they went to Pasadena. 

Four years later they have to visit Indianapolis before learning where they will be in January, but that's not important yet. Next week doesn't exist this week.

This Michigan team is possibly wounded, definitely disappointing and probably fragmenting. It tries to win games in the same agonizing fashion that Tressel's teams did, but they have not yet delivered his level of cruel efficacy.

They have one proficient offensive lineman, Taylor Lewan, whom they run behind with understandable predictability. If he's lined up on the right, Michigan runs right. If he's on the left, they run left.

This is Manball, Brady Hoke's strategic intent. Like Tressel, he also prefers to enter through the front door. Michigan's opponents have intelligibly loitered there all season.

The Game hAs no respect for "destiny."

Unfortunately none of Michigan's tells or trends matter Saturday and neither does Ohio State's relatively antithetical trajectory. The Game holds no respect for destiny.

We are only permitted to watch, and that's hard for us. Students jump in Mirror Lake. Students bathe in fleeting youth. Students play Michigan. Students make history. 

Winning in Ann Arbor is the most challenging and rewarding task at Ohio State: Woody pulled it off seven times. Tress did it four times. Earle did it three times.

Urban gets his first heist on Saturday. His Buckeyes will try to finish his second season like his first one. His second seasons always end well, but no destiny is safe in Ann Arbor. Just ask Woody. Ask Earle. Ask Coop. Ask Tress. Ask Luke.

Ask any of the 56 Ohio State teams who played there and the majority of them who have lost. Ask the Buckeye fans who made that miserable drive home.

They'll tell the students charged with playing Michigan and making history the same thing: Go take over Ann Arbor.

Go steal The Game for Ohio.

Go rip their hearts out.


Comments Show All Comments

TMac's picture

Go Buckeyes! Beat the blue!

ONE Not Done!

Denny's picture

We are only permitted to watch, and that's hard for us. Students jump in Mirror Lake. Students bathe in fleeting youth. Students play Michigan. Students make history.

Hence 'I want to back - I've got to go back.'
Fantastic, buddy.


mh277907's picture

Ramzy - I'm giving my boss your information so that he can send you the bill to fix the wall that I just ran through.


jdagrava.1's picture

Eternal up-votes for this post LOL!

"It takes a little something special to be a great player.  What you got in you, we're going to find out.  And if there's a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?"

-Urban F. Meyer

ChillitownBuck30's picture

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  My stomach hurts...

“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”

Seattle Linga's picture

We take a lot of pride in our football team and this article proves exactly how we all feel - As my friend Horatio Sanz says..............RAMZY YOU DA MAN

Stinson's picture

"We want more, we want more!"

"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

buckeyepastor's picture

Thank you, THANK YOU for capturing precisely what I feel about this game.  Every stat and metric has us a lock to win, but that means less than nothing until it happens.   TTUN is a hot mess and has looked completely lost this month but they will always be a dangerous oppoent in THE GAME because it is THE GAME.   Indeed, let's rip their hearts out, Bucks.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

BucksfanXC's picture

I can never feel comfortable going into The Game. I've seen too many times where my view of the season was crushed. Those Cooper years were brutal. Never go in overconfident like we did in '95. I know the fans are overconfident right now and I know the team isn't so we should be fine. But I still can't shake the uneasy feeling in my gut and it probably won't go away until 4pm Saturday.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

Enzo's picture

Cooper ruined our guts. More profound words have never been spoken.

dwcbuckeye's picture

Awesome write-up per the norm Ramzy.  It was a pleasure: 3 more days!

doodah_man's picture

Saturday is Michigan's chance to alter its legacy. Beating Ohio State is Team 134's last shot at being unforgettable.

Kind of interesting numbering teams from their inception. Kind of like presidents. Would like to see this used in a non impersonal way. If we take the year of tOSUs first game at Delaware in 1890, this year's team would be number 123.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

Earle's picture

I just figured that was their rushing yardage for the year.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

TommyWayne's picture

I would like to thank Eleven Warriors for some all around awesome writing and something to help my unproductive day be more unproductive.

trukjo's picture

Great Article Ramzy!

toad1204's picture

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

D-Day0043's picture

Any Full-Metal Jacket GIF gets an automatic up vote from me. :-)
"Let me see your war face. Not scary enough. Work on it."

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

CharlieBuckeye's picture

Thank you Ra-zy for allowing us to take a trip down -e-ory lane regarding the past ga-es played against our hated but respect foe -ScU-.  I s-iled and cursed and then s-iled again as I replayed -e-ories of the THE GA-E in -y head. 
Ra-zy you are a credit to writers everywhere and on this Thanksgiving Holiday I give thanks Eleven Warriors has staff -e-be such as yourself to allow us to fill our heads with pictures of events in the past, in the now and into the future.

"To have a great life simply follow this rule:  Do not bring undo conflict into your life..."

Charlie Baker - OSU - 1986

Maestro's picture

I was a "terrible" fraternity advisor.  I sat in those meetings and listened to older men complain about behavior that they themselves had engaged in when they were college students and just shook my head.  I didn't last long in that role.
Great writing as usual Ramzy, always enjoy ignoring my more important duties to focus on your sentiments.  Keep up the amazing work.

vacuuming sucks

Oyster's picture

Remember those words as you mature. 

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

Maestro's picture

About Ramzy? ;)

vacuuming sucks

Oyster's picture

Well of course Ramzy.  I have read your posts, I have doubts you will ever grow up.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

Maestro's picture


vacuuming sucks

Ethos's picture

nothing we hated more in our fraternity then the university watch dogs.  Hell, during inspections we would play Red Red Wine so everybody knew to put their drinks down cause we heard that it was the "party inspectors" favorite song.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

zisbal's picture

Every time I watched Taylor Lewan he was pass blocking. M hardly ever ran to his side. In last year's game, M ran to his side twice for no gain. On the goal line, Lewan was thrown into the endzone by Hankins and then Hankins tackled the ball carrier. I don't see what others see in this guy.

TatumRuled's picture

Also I've noticed that their center has a certain 'tell': Right before he snaps the ball, he jerks his head up.

"Hell, Woody didn't recruit me; he recruited my mother!" -Jack Tatum                       

darkhorse3d's picture

I wish the game was... now.

acBuckeye's picture

Thank you Ramzy for voicing a level head going into Saturday. The over-confidence coming from our fans is entirely unnerving for me. I sure hope the players don't feel the same way. But I do feel better believing that Urban won't have any of that nonsense.

Poison nuts's picture

I will tell you with all the over-confidence in the world that the players will not be over-confident. This coach will certainly understand that records _ean little in this one & history lessons are being given as we speak. How we all feel _eans nothing. How the tea_ & coach feel _ean everything & I have every confidence in this tea_ & coach preparing for that tea_s best shot...& then acting accordingly.

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

toledo_buckeye's picture

That, sir, was a thing of beauty.

hspbuy1's picture

Nice stuff Ra_zy!


DefendOhio's picture

Saw this stat today, last time OSU won by more than 14 at Michigan was 1961. 

Poe McKnoe's picture

Tressel was a villain who stole without deception. He used the front door and left the same way. He looted good and bad Michigan teams without discrimination.


81Alum's picture

Awesome piece...and you hit the nail on the head. Fuck _ichigan a thousand times, stomp em, and wrench their guts out.
I'm nervous because this will be their bowl game, and I'll enjoy it only if we beat them, and if we win big, that'll be icing on the cake. Remember the first game of the season when we went for 2 after TD's, I hope Urban was preparing for this game..."because we can't go for 3".

raki's picture

I love JIM Tressel...... end of the story.

RBuck's picture

Elders can only watch, and that's hard for them. They meddle with traditions that are no longer theirs. They struggle to accept their place. They forget who they once were.

Elders were young once. It might have been yesterday or 50 years ago, but they had their shot. Ohio State-Michigan takes them back to those idyllic days when it was their lake.

Thanks for this Ramzy. I want my my youth back!

Long live the southend.

Ethos's picture

I know people shrug or roll their eyes about these kinds of things, but I got a friend who said he was told by the father of a player that Meyer brought up the last time the bucks were undefeated with 22 wins and played Michigan.  Then he looked up at the players and said "Not. On. My. Watch."
Don't know if any of that is true, but who cares right? fucking would be awesome if he did though.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Buckeye1004's picture

Ramzy --- I salute you sir! 
Go Buckeyes!  Muck Fichigan!
The good thing about 23-0 is we get to go for 24-0!

SaudiBuckeye's picture

Reading this essay felt like listening to a symphonic crescendo. The symbolism that permeates throughout your prose is simply inspiring! 

allbucksallthetime's picture

Thanks for the an outstanding read Ra_zy.  You have captured the ga_e and what is stands for in an inspiring and unique __anner.  Go Bucks!  @#$% scU_!

73buckeye's picture

Ra_zy, reading this piece gave _e the same chills I've experienced each Nove_ber for the past 47 years prior to the ga_es with scu_. The feeling never changes. The nervousness during the ga_e gives way to elation or despair depending on the outco_e, but the anticipation is always the sa_e. Thanks. You're the best.


ChillitownBuck30's picture

Take a bow Ra_zy...take a bow.  CLAP!!...CLAP!!...CLAP!!...CLAP!!

“Show class, have pride, and display character. If you do, winning takes care of itself.”

T4EHill's picture

Way to bring a tear to my eye sir!

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." Woody Hayes

Seattle Linga's picture

Well done Ramzy - you've hit it on the head !!

Urban Nation Army's picture

Current student. In the _idst of the best year of _y life. Ju_ped in the lake _onday. Going to the ga_e saturday. Go Bucks! Can't wait!

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

nm_buck's picture

That story about Troy & Co in the Children's Hospital is a real gut wrencher.  Try keeping a dry eye reading that one.  Shows you what kind of a coach Tress was... I don't give a rats ass why he was forced to resign... he was a badass coach and he came into Buckeye Nation at JUST THE RIGHT TIME. 

"The future is bright at Ohio State."  - Urban Meyer 1/1/15

Seattle Linga's picture

"In 2009 he started running out the clock in the first half".
Great comment Ramzy

el duderino's picture

Go rip their hearts out f*cking heads off.

Fixed that for ya.
Also, amazing article, as usual!

"This is a very complicated case: a lot of ins, lot of outs, lot of what-have-yous."

SC Buckeye's picture

I skipped past the byline prior to reading the story.  After I was done, I went back to confir_ what I already knew.  Aweso_e job as always, Ra_zy...

PierogyJim's picture

You left out one bit Ra_zy...  The Game is also for the ENTIRE great state of Ohio, all of her sons and daughters. Beating Them at Their home is a triumph for those who love OSU and never attended, for the many hundreds of thousands of us transplanted sons and daughters who were born in Ohio and our best and greatest link to our birth state is the team that represents all of us. 
My family moved to Florida when i was 5, and yet through our yearly trips back to visit family I was educated about The Game... My grandmother mailed me Buckeye seeds every year so I would never forget where I was from. Holding those buckeyes in my hands is such a wonderful memory for me because it was something real, something more important than just a handful of giant seeds. 
The sons and daughters of Rust Belt Ohio who left because they had to hold on to the Buckeye football team much like I held onto those seeds, because nothing else could be so real and important as feeling like you belong to your home state in spite of the fact you no longer live there.
Being in my 30s now, I watched from many miles away, was raised and agonized over the Cooper years so far away from my home.... But my heart is always in Ohio, even to this day. 
Tomorrow is the day that binds us all, from students, to student athletes, to those who root for OSU and never attended, to those who go/went to OSU and aren't from Ohio, and to those of us who left so long ago and never forgot who we are or where we were from. We all get it. Tomorrow is what binds us all. Urban understands this, he mentioned it when he was hired that OSU is Ohio'a team and that his goal is to make our entire state proud.
I still have those old Buckeyes my grandma sent me and I always will. I cherish them as I cherish every victory over our hated rivals.

O-H I-O's picture

I was in this same situation. Born in Marion, OH then moved to South Carolina when I was 4 years old. My mother took me to Ohio State hospital where they found out about my deafness since I was probably born with it. That's my only true connection to the Ohio State University.
My grandfather gave me a Buckeye nut to put in my sock before my little league game and said it will bring me luck. I went out and pitched one of my best games ever and I believed him. I ended up taking OSU's side against South Carolina, but they lost twice to the Gamecocks and I couldn't stand that. When they started showing Ohio State games more on TV, especially when they won it all in 2002. I fell in love with them with fierce passion.
Fast forwarding to today, I'm taking my father to Big Ten Championship game for our first game together to watch the Buckeyes and I feel like it'll be the greatest present that I could give to my father. Especially after my grandfather passed away last year when they were in midst of the winning streak (My grandfather has never been able to attend one single Ohio State game in his whole life since they were kind of poor). I carried his casket in the front, along with my father. I realized that I cannot let that happen to us and we must make the most out of what we have. We both share the same fire for our home state of Ohio and this is my way of paying it forward, out of respect for my grandfather. 

"I don't motivate the players. I get them to motivate themselves. That's the only kind of motivation that's worth a damn." - Woody Hayes

Hovenaut's picture

The cal_ before the co_ing stor_.

Always good to have a good word or two to ease, to focus, to inspire.

Thanks for delivering yet again, Ra_zy.

Cusbuck's picture

As always Ra_zy you told it how it is....


I'm not saying,  I'm just saying.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I was in Ann Arbor (whore) for every one of Cooper's games and I demand blood sacrafices in the shape of humiliated weasels know as wolverines!!! 
I want payback and I want it today!!! Flounder Hoke will stand on the sidelines with his fat mouth open as Urban and company pummel them mercilessly as the fans of the Buckeyes laugh loudly!!!
GO BUCKEYES!!!!  It is time to kick the ever living shit out of the ugly helment wearing bastards!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

sarasotabcg's picture

Great article, but I can come up plenty of examples where I did something stupid in my youth that I'd frown on my kids doing.
just because I got away with something doesn't mean my kids are entitled to do it too.
I would hope that the effort put forth be admin would be enough to protect the university from any potentially serious liability issues. Students are just jumping into a shallow pond after all...

Buckifan4Life's picture

Coach Tressel will always hold a special place in my heart after following through with "the promise" and finally ending the perpetual trauma of the Cooper era. I couldn't care less about "tatgate". He will always be Aces in my book. :)

Go get 'em Bucks! Keep making history!

Him1stftballl8er's picture

Woody, Earle, Tressel, Urban Frank Meyer

The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the promotion of fools. 

bucknut3011's picture

Don't forget Brown.

lamplighter's picture

Time to kick ass and take names