You've made it to Pride and Pettiness.
Even though sports have returned, we're still living in tough times. Some people, like our very own Ramzy, like to cope by looking back at happy memories. I, personally, like to revisit moments of satisfying pettiness.
Like Ramzy, my philosophy is simple. From Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice:
For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?
That we do, Jane. In today's chapter, we're traveling back to when Ohio State capped its perfect 2012 regular season with a satisfying win over Michigan.
Before we get to the moment mentioned above, it's important to provide context. Pettiness can't exist without something in the past to build from.
That past is something many Buckeye fans would rather forget. The 2011 season was one of the most grueling in Ohio State's recent history. Before the Tattoo-Gate scandal that eventually took down former head coach Jim Tressel, that Buckeyes team was supposed to be led by Heisman Trophy candidate Terrelle Pryor at quarterback and a host of seniors for a potential national title run.
That potential was never met.
Pryor played his last game against Arkansas in the 2011 Sugar Bowl. Ohio State lost three of its first six games nine months later, then looked to be turning the corner with consecutive wins over ranked Wisconsin and Illinois teams in October. But the Buckeyes collapsed down the stretch, losing their last four games.
One of those losses provided us our “setup.”
It was an odd-numbered year, meaning Ohio State was making its trip north for the annual showdown with Michigan. The Wolverines, who were undergoing a transition in their own right with new head coach Brady Hoke, entered the game with a 9-2 record and were favored to beat the Buckeyes for the first time in years.
Interim head coach Luke Fickell, on the other hand, was gunning for a win to finish the regular season above .500.
Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson feasted on an overmatched Ohio State defense, completing 14-of-17 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns against no interceptions while running for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
He helped the Wolverines score 40 points, the most a Buckeyes opponent had scored all season, and Ohio State's Braxton Miller just missed a wide open Devin Smith late to secure the potential go-ahead touchdown. Michigan went on to win 40-34, and after every scoring play Robinson was responsible for, he went to the same "eating" celebration.
It was a celebration that several of his teammates also mockingly adopted during Michigan's only win over Ohio State since 2004.
It hurt at the time, but the Buckeyes remembered.
Ohio State needed a full calendar year to capitalize on its pettiness.
The Buckeyes followed up their tumultuous 2011 season by hiring the hottest coaching candidate on the market in Urban Meyer, and he orchestrated an immediate turnaround in the program.
Ohio State entered the 2012 matchup against Michigan a perfect 11-0 (despite playing a season in which it was serving a postseason ban), and it needed just one win against the Wolverines to cap a perfect campaign.
On the other side of the rivalry, Michigan took a slight step back after Hoke's breakout year in 2011. The Wolverines lost a trio of games before traveling to Columbus for their matchup against the Buckeyes, but they were still ranked No. 19 nationally.
A back-and-forth defensive battle ensued, but after C.J. Barnett picked off a pass near midfield, Ohio State held a 26-21 lead late in the fourth quarter with the chance to put the game away.
That's when Meyer turned to Hyde and the running game, and after every positive carry, the Buckeyes running back busted out the same "eating" celebration Robinson mockingly used the year before.
That celebration carried on through the Ohio State program and became a staple for Ezekiel Elliott, who still uses it as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
Needless to say, Ohio State and its players have been eating much more frequently than Michigan over the years.