Congratulations Brady Hoke, you did it. You managed to suck whatever joy I might've taken in watching Urban Meyer and company officially sign and stamp your pink slip right out of a game that should by all rights be a celebration of all that is good and just about Midwestern football. Instead of a bacchanalian hand-egg orgy of iso plays and middle fingers and fat old guys in too much facepaint, the 2014 edition of The Game was a dreary, crappy exercise in figuring out new and creative ways to piss me and the rest of the internet off.
I don't know why Brady Hoke is under the perpetual delusion that having his team play well for exactly one game per season and then losing said game is enough for a fanbase who should be theoretically accustomed to winning and winning big. I say "theoretically," of course, because the last time the Wolverines won the Big Ten outright, current freshman at the University of Michigan were seven years old.
troubling trend for michigan as all its "past highlights" are from the standard-def era— DJ Byrnes (@marion_ohio) November 29, 2014
So maybe this is acceptable for a huge part of their fanbase! Maybe slow, ugly games that they ultimately lose because of coaching failures on the part of a slow, ugly coach are the new normal for Michigan fans.
But that isn't acceptable for us, dammit. Ohio State plied it's trade in nigh-unwatchable football for years under Jim Tressel. It was glorious and hilarious and anachronistic and purposefully stuck in reverse, but we actually won games. Now Pope Urban is in place, and with him a brand of football that is completely bonkers and off the wall on offense, and again, if it didn't work it would suck. Since Urban's system does work, and works incredibly well, he's getting paid to coach a collegiate football team and shortly Brady Hoke will not be.
I hate how Hoke and company were able to draw Urban and Herman into his den of slovenly godawful football, and I hate how for almost an entire half it was working in his favor. I hate how, when it stopped working in second half, one fluke play and a broken ankle killed my mood for the rest of the day. And I really hate how after the game Hoke insisted that he'd be back next season despite losing to a team that had lost not one but two Heisman contending quarterbacks and a second half offensive gameplan cobbled together out of molars left for the tooth fairy and a Life magazine from 1987.
Just leave, dude. Rich Rod was bad, but he was a fun, ridiculous kind of bad. You, Brady Hoke, suck the fun out of everything. You are banished from the land, and hopefully your successor is a guy with the wherewithal to make The Game special without just giving lip service to the idea.
Still, I never get tired of this sight. Ohio State football is special because of the people involved, and more specifically it is special because of the massive amount of people involved.
And the game started off predictably enough. Devin Gardner does something incredibly stupid, gets picked off, and Ohio State scores immediately afterwards. This is what J.T. Barrett's game face looked like:
J.T. Barrett before his first Michigan game pic.twitter.com/p7hG7PYmGg— Doug Lesmerises (@DougLesmerises) November 29, 2014
And this is what said game face was able to pull off right after Gardner got picked:
J.T. Barrett's Big Ten record-breaking touchdown was easy enough: https://t.co/P6UCwWNLOR— Eleven Warriors (@11W) November 29, 2014
Michigan looked dead in the water right off the bat, but if there is one person wearing Michigan blue that I have respect for, it is Devin Gardner. That guy has put up with more pain, incompetence (often his own), and stupidity from his elders than any college player has any right to have to put up with. Pulling Michigan into a competitive stride with Ohio State, even briefly, was a major accomplishment for the dude.
This dag gone game! Throw out the schedule. Michigan has come to play.— Stanley jackson (@Jacksonville8) November 29, 2014
Gardner improved his QB rating today from -200 to -66 after that 5-and-out series.— Chris Lauderback (@Chris11W) November 29, 2014
You know who else tended to have pretty good games in late November against a hated rival?
Ah, right. Indulge me on another tangent here. Troy Smith is now enshrined forever in Ohio Stadium, and justifiably so. He was the literal embodiment of death to Lloyd Carr and Mike Hart and Chad Henne, and beat Michigan during a time when that was actually not super expected and kind of a big deal.
Troy Smith also had his share of problems at Ohio State. He was famously suspended for taking money from a booster, and his perceived lack of preparation before the 2006 National Championship game is something that sticks in the craw of a lot of people almost a decade later. But if you were in the stadium yesterday, all you saw were the incredible success of a man who ground the Michigan Wolverines up into little bits, year in and year out, and that's why he and his adorable family earned the right to be cemented in our lore. It's a reward for years of work and success.
I'm heartbroken over what happened to J.T. Barrett. We, as fans, couldn't have possibly asked for a better effort and performance from him throughout this season, and he handled a tough job in an impossible position with grace and poise. We're sad and angry about what happened because he deserves better than a broken ankle in the fourth quarter of the biggest game of the year.
But ankles heal, and he'll be back. It only took Troy Smith three incredible years to become a part of Ohio Stadium for all eternity.
With that touchdown, J.T. Barrett has now broken Drew Brees’ Big Ten record for single-season touchdowns. That’s Barrett’s 43rd this year.— Tim Shoemaker (@TimShoemaker) November 29, 2014
J.T. is already a third of the way there.
Okay, back to goofy tweets! Here's Brady Hoke adjusting his junk.
Brady Hoke has to pee, too much hot dog water obviously. pic.twitter.com/rVM2oPAEQV— Isaac (@WorldofIsaac) November 29, 2014
Gross! I'm also not super sure about how to feel about this tweet from Les Miles.
NOT A GOOD TIME, LES. RT @LSUCoachMiles: Geaux Blue!!.... Beat em in the Horseshoe!!!— Ace Anbender (@AceAnbender) November 29, 2014
Being reminded that one of my favorite college football weirdos is a dyed in the wool Wolverine makes me a little sick to my stomach. Les Miles was, you'll remember, at one point a possible candidate to replace Lloyd Carr, but Michigan decided to play it coy and not go hard after a guy who almost certainly would've changed the entire dynamic of the Big Ten in much the same way that Urban Meyer is (slowly) forcing a culture change. Instead Michigan brought in a bright offensive mind and proceeded to nag him into oblivion for years.
If Ace sounds nervous, well, he should be, because the tide was about to turn on the Wolverines. Michigan lost their tie almost as soon as the second half started, and though they responded, the Buckeyes rattled off 21 unanswered points to seal the game.
Mom just called me and said she's changing my name to Ezekiel. Lol big time— Sam Thompson (@SlamIAm12) November 29, 2014
Ezekiel Elliot, as per usual, was an unsung hero yesterday. 121 yards, including the 44 yard touchdown clincher, he has started to develop into the consistent, scary back with home run potential that we'd hope he'd turn into.
And the defense? Yeah, I'm a little concerned for next week and Melvin Gordon, but would you doubt this man?
Last thing I want to say before a quick Tweet montage to close this thing out: anything beyond this point, as far as I'm concerned, is gravy. I want a B1G title. I want the playoffs. I want a National Championship.
However, even if those things don't come, I will be immensely impressed and proud of this team and the product that they put on the field this year. 2014 was always going to be a rebuilding year, in all phases of the game, but no one knew just how much rebuilding was going to be required and still would be required at the end of the season. Still, despite massive injuries, suspensions, one really bad loss, turnover in defensive coaching, Ohio State once again finds itself clawing it's way back into the top ten to wreck havoc in the college football world. They have gutted out win after win after win, even when by all rights they shouldn't have. As it was during Jim Tressel, so shall it be under Urban Meyer. Amen.
Love my team as well as my unit. We're going to get this next one for JT.— Stephen Collier (@S13Collier) November 29, 2014
Thankful for the opportunity to play for these fans and with these guys. That's the way you finish a regular season. Love you #BuckeyeNation— Mike (@mike63bennett) November 29, 2014
And that wraps up the regular season! To paraphrase a Civil War badass, we're minus two quarterbacks and a defensive lineman, but we can beat all hell yet. Let's get it and...
Don't text and drive!— Roy Hall (@Roy_Hall) November 29, 2014