Ohio State has lost to the Michigan Wolverines in the sport of football.
The last time anyone could say the same, we were all ten years younger.
Maybe you had more hair, maybe you hadn't yet met the love of your life, maybe you hadn't tried flan yet. Maybe you, a current college freshman, were just about to enter the perilous world of 3rd grade. Maybe you were just as in awe about going 9-1 against Michigan in the previous ten games as you were about going 8-1 since that 2011 loss. Maybe (like me) you're a very specific kind of Ohio State fan that grew up in the 90's thinking that the Wolverines were just destined to be better than the Buckeyes and That's The Way It Has To Be, and another decade of proof to the contrary still wouldn't quite exorcise those demons from your pudding-filled skull.
And maybe you blew off some steam following that 40-34 loss by watching the hit new Adam Sandler vehicle Jack and Jill or by blasting Sexy And I Know It by LMFAO in your Cavalier before going to a Waldenbooks store closing sale or something.
Anyway: it's been a while. And it sucks out loud.
This Threat Level is going to be a little different, because losing to Michigan is a little different. I think there are a few ways that we can look at Saturday's defeat, but they all involve us putting on our best H.G. Wells faces and looking at this rivalry a little more... temporally.
THE OFFENSE AND THE DEFENSE AND WHATEVER
That was the past. Luke Fickell was way in over his head, Braxton Miller was horribly mismanaged, and somehow Ohio State still almost won in 2011.
The present is less kind because Saturday was not that close. I still maintain that most of Michigan's offensive particulars aren't necessarily great players individually; outside of one fantastic pass Cade McNamara more or less was the same guy we've watched all season and Hassan Haskins isn't some T-800 who scores touchdowns instead of giving thumbs up in molten steel (although against Ohio State he definitely was).
But on Saturday I think Michigan was great as a team offensively because they believed that Ohio State couldn't hang with what they do best. Michigan ran the ball twice as often as they passed and did it because they knew that was the best way for them to win the game. They ate up yards and clock and Ohio State's defensive line and linebackers had no answers for it.
Defensively, one line came to play and the other didn't. Simple as that. Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo lived in the Buckeye backfield, but C.J. Stroud actually handled that pretty well. The real problem is that the Buckeyes couldn't maintain any semblance of a rushing attack (despite Ryan Day trying way too hard to make one happen) as their offensive line got routinely embarrassed up and down the field.
Time to study the tape of the Hutchinson/Ojabo show pic.twitter.com/JYgC41ryaO— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) November 28, 2021
We have and will continue to have a number or more serious articles breaking all of this garbage down, but the long and short of it is that Michigan was not just the better team on Saturday, they were the better coached team, the more prepared team, and the more motivated team.
PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1957)
You've probably heard of this movie as one of the worst ever made, and it is, but if you haven't watched it then you 100% should.
There's a nonsense plot about aliens raising the dead to prevent humanity from creating a bomb made of sunlight that will explode the galaxy, but whatever, that's not why this movie rocks. Movies are made up of thousands of choices in acting and direction and production, and the extremely fun thing about Plan 9 is that when presented with one of these choices, everyone involved did the dumbest possible thing, every single time. The result is nonsensical and insane and perfectly horrible.
Thank God for Ed Wood.
I've been thinking a lot about Jim Tressel's first win over Michigan since the end of the game on Saturday. Ohio State fans might point to him delivering on his promise as a really kickass moment in Buckeye lore, but I think for Wolverine fans it cuts deeper than that. For them, the arrival of Tressel is a line in the sand that they can point to and say "this is where everything started going to hell." Not just against Ohio State, but for their program in general.
Remember, before Saturday, since 2001 the Buckeyes had as many national championships in that timeframe as Michigan had wins against them. Since 2001, Ohio State has 11 Big Ten titles and Michigan has two (the most recent of which came in 2004). Even with Saturday's win, Harbaugh is just 1-5 against the Buckeyes and 3-13 against top ten opponents. They've spent the past few decades as a mostly rudderless and meandering team, despite desperately trying to forget that fact after their first win over Ohio State in a decade.
So I think a lot of Michigan fans want this to be a big ol' reset button akin to what Tressel gave Ohio State after the 90's. They won, so their future is bright and shiny and chrome from now on and it's Ohio State's turn to sit in the muck and the mire for a generation, watching helplessly from the sidelines as their rivals win trophies and glory.
And maybe it is! It could be that this was indeed the game that at long last revealed Jim Harbaugh as a milk-chugging genius and Ryan Day as an anthropomorphic coach suggestion button from Madden. But I will make one last, ominous point off of some admittedly excellent shade from Harbaugh:
Harbaugh asked if he has thoughts on the trash talking from Ohio State, notably in recent years:— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) November 27, 2021
Some people were born on third and think they hit a triple.
Oh my. Harbaugh is back.
Whatever comparative disadvantages Jim Harbaugh believes he had when starting his job compared to what Ryan Day started with are irrelevant. The Michigan faithful are now neck-deep in year seven of Jimmy's Wild Ride and the very serious deficiencies he's seen in his team for the last three years or so are entirely of his own making. Michigan being great in 2021 is interesting in part because of how terrible they were the year before, but one year does not a trend make.
On the other hand, Ohio State hasn't dominated this rivalry for twenty years due to some magic switch that one game can flip. The Buckeyes started winning because they've had excellent coaching, consistent institutional support, and unbelievable recruiting. Michigan took one from them, but the world-class fundamentals of the Buckeyes as a program haven't changed. So if Michigan is finally, truly building something akin to what's in Columbus, then the next decade should be incredibly exciting for both teams.
But if I'm a Michigan Man with the capacity to be honest with myself, I might not truly believe in that quite yet. I might look at the very, very recent past and acknowledge that Michigan's win over Ohio State probably says a lot more about the two teams on Saturday than it does about the two teams three or four years into the future.
Or at least, that's what I need to keep telling myself. For now anyway, the Wolverines should celebrate and prepare for Iowa on a national stage. They've earned it, and should take pride in it.
The Threat Level is SEVERE.