Michigan vs. That team down south... The rivalry of rivalries. Yes, I get it. That team down south has dominated this rivalry. For those of you that are history challenged, there was a time when Michigan dominated this rivalry, and yet you fans of that team down south seem to forget that. This Saturday renews The Game. A tradition. The last Saturday at noon. "This game is always meant to be played at noon, in the daylight," -Bo Schemblechler. I couldn't agree more.
In the 70's is when I became indoctrinated with The Game. The Ten Year War....Bo vs. Woody. There were some classic games. Bob Ufer was the voice of Michigan football on radio. We always had Keith Jackson on the call on television. Bo's Wolverines in 1969 pulling off what many call one of the biggest upsets in college football history. Undefeated and number one ranked Team from down south visiting Ann Arbor. It was a forgone conclusion that Ohio State would win that game, except for the players and coaches in Ann Arbor. Michigan pulled off the win 24-12. These teams would trade punches as top ten ranked teams every year afterwards during this storied rivalry. Teams winning on each other's home turf. Many consider it the golden era of this rivalry. The teams were even in the 80's then Michigan dominated for a decade and then some. Now the table has turned, it has flipped, actually. That team down south has dominated, and that may be even kind. Who would have imagined Ohio State putting up 60 points in this rivalry, 118 points in the last two games. That is more points that was scored in the whole decade of the 70's.
So let us fast forward to today, or ok, Saturday. Michigan hosting that team down south. Jim Harbaugh vs. Ryan Day. I love it. This is what makes college sports fun. Yes, the rivalry has been lopsided. That team down south has been dominant. But that doesn't mean that it isn't important. There is so much at stake this Saturday. #2 vs. #5. One step closer to the playoff for the winner, a bid to The Rose Bowl for the loser. Wow that sounds weird. The Rose Bowl as a consolation prize. Bo and Woody are turning in their grave. That team down south looks so impressive. Last week's massacre of Michigan State was almost awe inspiring. Michigan has been playing well, but this isn't Maryland Saturday. Michigan has been better since that lost to Sparty. But will it be enough? Can they make it a throw back game of the 70s. Bo vs. Woody? I hope its not a replay of the '68 game. Or the last two, for that matter. This is indeed a de-facto playoff game. Having destiny in your hands. 112,000 fans in The Big House. Michigan, That Team Down South. Jim vs. Ryan. History will be made. Who's side will be eating leftovers, and who's side will be eating Tums?
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Family gathers around. Tall tales are told. lots of laughs and great memories. It makes me think of what I am thankful for in sports. I am thankful for being able to have the opportunity to call play by play for high school and college sports. It's been a dream of mine since I was very little. I'm thankful to mom and dad for letting me use the kitchen floor for all of my make believe games that I used to have. I think I can still rattle off the starting line ups of every Detroit Tiger, Cleveland Indian, Cincinnati Red, and Milwaukee Brewer from that era.
I am thankful to hear Dickie V on TV. I know that he can be a little overbearing, but Dickie V means college basketball. He is a throwback, but I am thankful he is winning his latest battle with cancer.
I am thankful for my wife, Andrea, for being so tolerant of me chasing my dream at such an advanced age. She is a football and hockey widow from August to February/March. Sacrificing Friday nights and some Saturdays for me. I am truly blessed.
Thanksgiving means football Thursdays. Many memories of Pat Summerall and John Madden, and before him Tom Brookshier calling Lions games, or first Curt Gowdy, then Dick Enberg when they were on NBC. Growing up, the Lions were much more successful, but even when they don't win, it's still special. I usually have my fellow Lions fan family around to share the agony. I am truly thankful for that.
Growing up, it seemed like we had enough snow in Munising, that we would be able to have a tackle football game in our neighborhood, pretending to be Detroit, and the team they played. I am thankful for those memories.
Munising winning the state championship in football in 1980 on Thanksgiving weekend. Seeing so many of the Munising community travel down 400 miles to watch that game in the old Pontiac Silverdome. I am thankful for that memory.
I am thankful for my son, Matthew, for his love for sports. Keep the faith, Matt! The Lions will get there. At least your man, Tom Brady, has won some Super Bowls. I am thankful for my new Spartan fan family. They are tolerant of Matthew and I, and our love for Michigan.
And I am thankful to all of you for reading me here! It is truly a treat!
Oh and yes, my prediction of the game this Saturday......... That team down south will make the trek up to Ann Arbor, and go home settling for the Rose Bowl....Michigan 31, That team down South 28.