Threat Level is the Best of Times, Threat Level is the Worst of Times

By Johnny Ginter on November 25, 2019 at 7:35 pm

I probably shouldn't care this much.

After all, the last few decades have seen a generational ass-kicking not seen in this rivalry since, well, the previous generation (but on the other side).

Ever since James Patrick Tressel stepped on the scene, Ohio State has turned The Game into an annual dunking on That Team Up North, which for a person who was born in 1985 and came of age during the Very Bad Years is about the most unlikely thing to ever happen in the history of the universe.

In the 18 seasons since The Senator offered rhetorical manna from heaven to the Buckeye faithful, this is how things have gone:

  • Total points, Ohio State 588, Michigan 401 
  • Average score of 32 to 22
  • Ohio State: Two national championships, nine conference championships
  • Michigan: Zero national championships, two conference championships (none since 2004)
  • Coolest Ohio State moment: taking down Lloyd Carr and the Wolverines in the Game of the Century
  • Coolest Michigan moment: losing The Game of the Century

So if you're the 7ish percent of our readership (or the 85% of Reddit's readership) under the age of 25, let me explain why I sit on my couch and think of ways to make fun of second-string tight ends from Ann Arbor every Monday of every season. Let me show you the specific reasons twitchy Olds like me performatively Hate Michigan in the waning weeks of November.

Let me explain why we just can't let this thing go.


When I was a kid, growing up in Middletown in the 1990's, there were three constants in my life: every month I'd get the same bad Lloyd Christmas bowlcut, Calvin and Hobbes would be funny every day, and at the end of every November I would be pissed. Not just because Ohio State was probably going to lose to the Wolverines, but because as a known Buckeye fan I got to carry the mark of Cain every autumn.

The thing about southwestern Ohio that people not from there need to understand is that when steel and paper and hogs all fail you, people sometimes resort to contrarianism as their chief currency. It isn't a coincidence that Michigan Man Brady Hoke was born and raised minutes from where I entered this world. Every year I dreaded having to trudge to school after yet another John Cooper loss to Michigan and confront every mini-Hoke who had taken the easy way out with their Wolverines starter jackets and Charles Woodson trapper-keepers.

bwwwwoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooop bwop

Football season in the 90's was like taking a hike through some fresh, new fall trail, and the longer you went the more you'd become aware of a sinking feeling in your gut, a feeling that at the end there was this cliff that you were destined to do a 1080 belly-smacker right off the edge of.

So why keep doing it? Stubbornness, probably. Also the idea that Ohio State as a university and a football team really and truly represents the people and the state as a whole. And maybe the almost religious Midwestern belief that if you put up with enough crap, eventually things will turn around in your favor. That last part sounds dumb and insane, but I live in a reality where the Buckeyes started a third string quarterback against Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon in successive games and beat them all to win a national championship, so you tell me what's ridiculous and what isn't.

Anyway I guess I'm saying that the reason why I love The Game and why the Threat Level will always be SEVERE in the last week of November is because Ohio State/Michigan is an eternal part of my dumb-ass existence, for better or for worse. No matter who you root for in this, the greatest rivalry in sports, live long enough and you'll generate enough pathos to power you for the rest of your life.

That's the essence of living under gray skies and praying for sweater weather and watching terrible Big Ten football games and cheering for punts and crossing off the letter "M" and stress-eating chocolate Buckeyes and placing all of your emotional interia not on like, your impending root canal, but instead on three and a half hours on an extremely specific Saturday afternoon.

It's stressful and agonizing and great. I wouldn't have it any other way.

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