Skull Session: The Dwayne Train Rolled into Ann Arbor and Confounded Ohio's Enemies

By D.J. Byrnes on November 27, 2017 at 4:59 am
Dwayne Haskins totes the magic diamond for the November 27 2017 Skull Session


Not going to lie, those were a hectic few minutes to start The Game. I'm getting tired of wanting to burn my TV set in the opening quarter as Ohio State fails to line up properly or mark a tight end. 

But that all changed when Josh Martellus dropped a J.T. Barrett pass intended for Austin Mack with the Bucks trailing by 14. Had Martellus housed that, we might not have survived the night.

Instead Michigan Men did what they've always done, get up on a high horse after even a whiff of superiority:

Understandably so. Michigan has won 15 of the last 17 and when it went up 14-0, it was only natural they'd think this was going to be as easy as every other Rivalry win in their career.

Wait, what's that? Nobody on that roster beat Ohio State, except Jim Harbaugh as a player? Man, that's wild. In that case, not sure why in the hell the blue offense thought 14 points was enough to win the game.


Word of the Day: Dastardly.

 ALL ABOARD THE DWAYNE TRAIN. Last week in the third quarter at Wisconsin, Michigan lost starting quarterback Brandon Peters to a concussion. The Wolverine offense, never known as a juggernaut but capable of making plays under Peters, wilted when John O'Korn strapped on that dumb winged helmet and took the field.

Compare that to Ohio State in Ann Arbor.

Trailing 20-14 late in the third quarter, the Buckeyes lost J.T. Barrett to an injury I'm not sure I still understand... an ongoing meniscus injury reaggravated by a rogue cameraman... but nobody seems to even know what kind of camera this assassin used in his attack??

Barrett was at least okay to make it to the third quarter and expects to play against Wisconsin. He might not have that chance, though, had his backup not entered like Dark Vader, ready to choke some dudes out:

Haskins didn't do it alone, but that was an NFL throw to Austin Mack, who you might not know rooms with Haskins. That was the best catch I've seen since Anthony Gonzalez broke Michigan's brittle spine back in 2005.

That play will go down in history and likely settled 2018's #QBgeddon2 unless Tate Martell looks like Steve Young in spring camp.

We know Meyer will start J.T. Barrett against Wisconsin unless he contracts gangrene and loses a leg. (And even then, he may still sew a wooden peg on his foot and run him up the middle 13 times.)

It's a shame Haskins won't get a chance to Cardale Jones the whole damn tournament. With a guy like Jones and Haskins able to stretch the field, it sure gets a lot easier for Ohio State to run the damn ball—which is when it's at its best. Plus, Haskins has better touch and accuracy than Jones ever did.

Still, it's good to have iron confidence in the backup quarterback, because stages don't get bigger for redshirt freshmen. Michigan Men capable of remembering the Cooper years would probably be willing to sacrifice some of their failed adult children to feel something besides molten death in The Game.

 ON TO WISCONSIN. Wisconsin went undefeated in the regular season for the first time since the War of 1812 on Saturday when it laid the psychotic P.J. Fleck to rest under the frozen tundras of Minneapolis.

It almost can't go worse against Ohio State than it did in 2014. And to the Badgers credit, they know the only way to prove they deserve national respect is humbling the Buckeyes.


If they beat Ohio State, well, that strength-of-schedule skepticism will be reduced to a dull roar. The Badgers would be unbeaten, an impossible-to-ignore feat for the College Football Playoff committee.

"We just think about one more win. That's the only thing we can focus on," running back Jonathan Taylor said. "We don't know what the future will hold, but the only thing we know is we have one more game left and we've got to make sure we get it done."

With a 31-0 victory at rival Minnesota on Saturday, the Badgers (12-0, 9-0) finished undefeated in Big Ten play for the first time since a five-game conference slate in 1912. Losses by then-No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Miami gave Wisconsin more space to move up when the newest CFP rankings are released on Tuesday. The Badgers, who moved up from No. 5 to No. 3 in the AP Top 25, will play No. 8 Ohio State on Saturday at 7 p.m. on FOX 11.

I'm not one of these clowns saying things like, "I almost hope Wisconsin wins to save Ohio State the embarrassment of another rout in the playoffs." I'll never think like that. I'll roll the dice with the local team against all comers, thanks.

That said, I hope Wisconsin does make the playoffs if it wins. Jonathan Taylor is a baller, and an undefeated champion of the deepest conference in the country will have a better résumé than Alabama (as will Ohio State if it wins).

But I'm not thinking about the playoffs until the final whistle Saturday. It'd be best if Ohio State 69-0'd them, to be honest.

 WHO HAS IT WORSE THAN US? The college football coaching carousel is always one of the wildest rides on the annual sports calendar. Poor Butch Jones, whom I considered to be the greatest coach in Vols history, didn't survive the season.

After weeks of viewing pornographic John Gruden rumors, word leaked Sunday that Greg Schiano would be the man to replace Jones.

The entire state of Tennessee literally went insane. No, that is not a hyperbolic use of the word literally, either. LITERALLY THE ENTIRE STATE.

From state representatives:

To a gubernatorial candiate: 

To noted human rights activist Albert Haynesworth:

To some bros who definitely aren't faking moral outrage because they think their pitiful program is better than Schiano:

I had always wanted to visit Knoxville. That's no longer the case:

Are you starting to get a picture of how insane Tennessee went yesterday?

But hey, protesting works. After reports of Vols AD John Currie in Columbus to negotiate with Schiano, the tide of reports switched the other way as the cacophony crescendoed by the evening.

And while that means Schiano is back in Columbus (for now), there's a possibility that this saga made him too toxic for anyone to hire. This moral crusade on two-year-old info is all based on bunk, too.

You might be shocked to learn the famously big-brained Vols fanbase didn't have this same of outcry when a former player alleged Butch Jones called him a traitor in the locker room after he helped an alleged rape victim to safety.

These people are going to mess around and make it where only Saint Brady Hoke will be willing to take the job. Big ups to the Vols, though, for helping keep Schiano around Columbus (maybe):

The best part, though, is snafu could end up costing the Volunteers money:

In more ways than one, too:

Oh well. Not my problem.

In another coaching candidacy news, venerable Bruce Feldman says Mississippi State could look at Ryan Day after Dan Mullen left for Florida:

I'm more worried about Chip Kelly poaching Day than Mississippi State. Westwood is a lot more appealing than Starkville, and Day is a west coast guy.

 WHO HAS IT WORSE THAN US? I tried to warn Michigan fans when their team hired Jim Harbaugh. Champions of Destiny are a helluva drug until it turns out you're worshiping a vagabond behind a 7-11 after a 72-hour PCP bender.

It's been three years, the same amount of time Nick Saban and Urban Meyer took to win titles at their second schools.

Harbaugh has a ways to go to get on that level, though:

Michigan fans, who you might have thought had an understanding of the grieving cycle after damn near two decades of soul-crushing losses, proved so intolerable Brian Cook turned off the comments before presumably drinking a liter of gasoline to feel alive again:

He was still mad online well into Sunday night:

We are reaching levels of Michigan cognitive dissonance where a whole generation is growing up wondering why even play Ohio State every year while the older generation fantasizes about bankrupting social security as one final middle finger.

It's a beautiful sight to see, just like Jimbo Fisher pulling the ripcord on his crumbling empire in the backwaters of Florida to cash in on Texas A&M's oil money:

After that one year where a crab thief led them to a title, it could be another era of impending mediocrity in Tallahassee. 

 BEST BOOKS OF 2017. Three years ago, I pledged to read more, and business boomed in 2017. If you're in the market for a new book this holiday season, here are the top 12 books I read this year.

Please note Stormlight Archive is actually three 1,200-page books.

TOP 12 BOOKS OF 2017
The Sympathizer Viet Thanh Nguyen Novel Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Blood in the Water Heather Ann Thompson Non-Fiction Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction
Warmth of Other Suns Isabel Wilkerson Non-Fiction National Book Critics Circle Award Winner
The Blind Assassin Margaret Atwood Novel Winner of the Booker Prize
Killers of the Flower Moon David Grann Non-Fiction New York Times Bestseller
Silence Shusaku Endo Novel "Silence I regard as a masterpiece, a lucid and elegant drama."
— The New York Review of Books
Stormlight Archive Brandon Sanderson Novel New York Times No. 1 Bestseller
The Moor's Account Laila Lalami Novel Pulitzer Prize finalist
The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy Novel Winner of the Booker Prize
Library at Mount Char Scott Hawkins Novel “Wholly original…the work of the newest major talent in fantasy.”
Wall Street Journal
Death in the Haymarket James Green Non-Fiction "A powerful story of injustice, passion, prejudice and fanaticism."
– Chicago Tribune
Never Caught Erica Armstrong Dunbar Non-Fiction National Book Award Finalist

My full reading list can be seen on my Instagram; a tradition I may continue into 2018.

 THOSE WMDs. Greenland shark the longest living vertebrate on Earth... In South Korea, weddings and watches... Saving lives via text... Remembering the Thanksgiving in Hell... Secrets of the Scrabble masters... Schoolyard bully: A bedtime story of the Iran-Iraq conflict.

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