Brian wrote something about Saturday's regularly scheduled Ohio State-Michigan game along the lines of "Words fail. I am slack-jawed and speechless in awe of its enormity." This is about right.
Or, more precisely, with Peter slinging a bunch of numbers around already and every involved partisan inching nearer to very justified hyperventilation, there's not a lot left for SMQ to offer that can't wait until Friday morning (roughly) to be unleashed. Uno versus dos. Mythical and Big Ten championship. Winner take all. Et cetera.
There is much in this epic struggle, though, aside from crass statistical analysis and faincy chart sophistication. Symmetry. Dichotomy. Poetry. Vengeance. Deep, borderline genetic hatred. Blood feuding. Sweatervests. The dramatic possibilities extend beyond the gridiron, into the realm of the literary, the dynamic, immortal, the heroic fates of history, and then all the way past that realm and into hallowed throes of shallow gimmickry. Let it be foretold!
Literary Themes in the Ohio State-Michigan Game
The Impossibility of Certainty
Where OSU's mythical title presence has been regarded in a few quarters as imminent, inviolable, opinions to date when objectively (more or less) comparing the combatants are trending towards unanimity: these guys are very, very evenly matched. OSU is more explosive, Michigan more patient. UM is poised to exploit its nemesis' one slight flaw, run defense, but other teams have been forced to quickly abandon this track when repeatedly victimized into a deficit by one of many scarlet and gray blurs. One defense allows no yards, the other no points. Where Ohio State heaves, Michigan hos; where the Wolverines yin, the Buckeyes yang. Where Troy Smith, um, Marcos, LaMarr Woodley Polos. Or. Okay.
In even the battle of Ohio State and Michigan, as in all juxtaposition, an element of each coexists in the other
Forecasts, in the face of such exquisitely aligned push and pull, are futile. Any person who claims monopoly on knowledge of the outcome Saturday is a charlatan.
The Mystery and Inevitability of Death
Oblivion, Hamlet knew all too well, must at last strike coldly at even the mightiest potentate:
The Irresistable Force of the Ohio State offense, the Immovable Object of the Michigan defense. One element must prevail, and can do so only in the destruction of the other. Independent trajectories finally result in an unavoidable collision, the outcome of which is known only to the god(s) of your particular and thoughtfully-considered choosing. Many dreams must fall to Earth like so much dust, yet to what rest, what end?
Ay, the rub: to the Rose Bowl, a fitting elegy? Or is it possible, perchance, the persistence of the dream wakes the dead, resurrects it improbably into mythical championship Valhalla? The odds, long, but the prospects - for the direct beneficiary, the loser, as well as the crazed looters roaring to tear down the BCS fortress - as sweet.
One winner will stand alone in the BCS championship and atop every poll, for weeks before its opponent is selected from the masses and a full month and a half before it is allowed to officially rejoin the gridiron race. Few if any other unconquered outfits will remain, certainly none considered worthy of the same adulation. This stretch will stagger on like a sort of purgatory. Possibly a monastic retreat, or journey of kung fu discovery. Part of being on top is the thrill of the climb, the competition, the challenge, surviving the targets and outlasting all comers. Another part, after all that, if the mind isn't sharp, is loneliness and, worse, complacency.
Ohio State, of course, has emerged a winner four years out of five since Jim Tressel's arrival following a long stretch of mostly uninterrupted Wolverine supremacy that played the most prominent part in the unceremonial sacking of John Cooper, whose teams were more often than not dominant, nearly unbeatable assembly lines of all-American award winners and top draft picks. But he had too difficult a time getting past Michigan. Tressel has turned that trend to become master of the Wolverines in his own sweatervested right, to Lloyd Carr's consternation, the fact of which gets louder and more unbearable to his north by the day.
Carr: Driven daily by the icy black vein of wrathful vengeance feeding his heart
Where it concerns Number One, the wretched veil at last lifts on the damned spot.