Monday, November 17

BUCKEYES (-19) vs Wolverines

Am I the only one who likes the way that looks? That is a lovely spread. I want to travel to Las Vegas to tell sports books personally how much I enjoy that line. One could also write:

Wolverines (+19) at BUCKEYES
OHIO STATE (-19) vs Michigan
Michigan (+19) at OHIO STATE

The possibilities are endless!

Since the matchup so obviously favors OSU this year (not to mention that the game will be played in Columbus), expect to see tons of articles written this week about how "dangerous" Michigan is and how they have "nothing to lose" and how "anything can happen in this rivalry." This is all rubbish.

Look, reporters, I know you need an angle, and I know this game needs some drama interjected into it. This isn't exactly the 2006 game. However, Michigan is not dangerous and they are not scary. They are 3-8. Three and eight. They lost to Toledo at home. They have all of two Big Ten wins. Purdue has won just one Big Ten game - guess whom they beat? Michigan has six common opponents with OSU; the Buckeyes are 5-1 in those games (the only loss being a nail-biter to Penn State) and Michigan is 1-5 (PSU torched them by 29). Michigan sucks. They are a bad football team. They are going to lose to Ohio State. There's a reason the whole "they're worrisome because they're bad" angle seems so counterintuitive: it's because it's dumb.

I've never bought this "nothing to lose" thing either for subpar teams. You're telling me that they're going to come out and play better because...they have nothing to play for? That somehow their performance during this disastrous season gives them an advantage over the BCS-bound Buckeyes? It might make them a little more loose, but does nothing to address the talent and coaching gaps between the teams. I've seen Browns teams with nothing to lose in late-season contests against the Steelers, and it doesn't seem to do them any good. Yes, this game does represent Michigan's only shot to sort-of salvage the season, and that will indeed motivate them, but it's not like the Bucks aren't going to be keyed up as well just because they've enjoyed success.

Finally, don't buy into this notion that the predicted outcome is somehow different because of the rich tradition these schools have. Why should upset victories be any more likely just because the two teams have been playing each other for so long? The history of this rivalry, while fascinating, has no bearing on the present game. There's no mysticism here: as with any game, the team with the superior talent, execution, and luck will win. For the seventh time in eight years, and fifth year in a row, that team will be the Ohio State Buckeyes.

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