With that being said, I'm going to kick off rivalry week with the quintessential rivalry of all rivalries. Ohio State vs. Michigan...or for you elitists, Michigan vs. Ohio State. This rivalry has been live before I was a twinkle in my mama's eye. However, there's only one part of my life that really stands out when it comes to this rivalry, so let's take a step back in time...
In my personal opinion...there hasn't been a finer collection of talent on one college football team better than the 1995 Ohio State Buckeyes. The Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George led the squad, and future NFL stars Orlando Pace, Terry Glenn, Mike Vrabel, Shawn Springs, and Rickey Dudley were just SOME of the pieces on this great squad. Here's the thing, I can remember back in '95 on how big this team was nationally. I was 12 years old, and yet I clearly knew who Orlando Pace was. He was a freaking offensive lineman, and I knew who he was, what his face looked like, and that he was revered by all college football pundits and prognosticators. That team was dope.
Of course, in all respect to JAG and all of the other Ohio State Buckeyes fans, they already know how this story ends...
The number 313 means two things for people in the state of Michigan. In one respect, it represents "The D" aka The 3-1-3 aka the city of Detroit. In other respect, 313 represents arguably one of the greatest individual achievements by a running back in college football history. That would be Tshimanga "Tim" Biakabutuka breaking off 313 yards in the backside of that vaunted Ohio State offense.
It wasn't enough that Tim was wearing that #21 that was so graciously worn by The Desmond Howard, but he played with the bravado that I've always come to remember about The Wolverines, The Buckeyes, and the rivalry. There isn't an Ohio State fan who doesn't remember that game, and if you get them to talk about it, they even revere it as an all-time great performance.
However, there was something bigger about that game that sometimes I feel like is truly missing in today's rivalries, especially Ohio State vs. Michigan. These cats genuinely hated each other, and they didn't hold anything back. When Mr. 88, Terry Glenn, insisted there wasn't anything special about the Wolverines: "Michigan's nothing," he said. It was swagger before we even know what the hell the word meant. I will always fondly remember when David Boston and Charles Woodson squared up on each other in 1997, to me...this will always be the apex of how live the rivalry was and the reason being is that neither person was afraid of each other and the hate just spewed out on to the football field. Seeing those two go at made you want to pick sides, scream to the high heavens, and you knew right then and there that the game was about to get live.
This all started with Woody and Bo and the 10-year War. We knew that Woody Hayes hated Michigan with a passion, and we know that if it were possible to "go for three" when Ohio State was laying woodshed to Big Blue, then Woody Hayes would do it. This rivalry has made it through the dominance of Lloyd Carr/failures of John Cooper, to the recent succession of "The Senator" Jim Tressel and the up and down regime of Rich Rodriguez.
History has the tendency to repeat itself, and for the life of not just myself but for fans of Ohio State, Michigan, and of college football...I hope Terrelle Pryor and "Shoelace" Denard Robinson can just bring some bravado back to the rivalry. I might just be getting old, but man it seems like all these kids are just friends with each other and want to go back and play PlayStation with each other. You know what? How about someone just pop off at the mouth, talk bad about each other's mama, and slug someone in the jaw before the game.
The tension should be palpable at high noon on Saturday in The Horseshoe, let's hope Michigan comes to play...and let's pray we have another slobberknocker on our hands, David Boston vs. Charles Woodson style.
P.S. As a reminder, checkout the livest sports talk (and hopefully on the radio soon) show around, "The Unsportsmanlike Conduct Show" as we are live Wednesday's at 9pm Eastern at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/edthesportsfan! Download our podcasts if you missed the live show as well!