[Patrick Barron]

The Explanation Comment Count

Brian November 26th, 2018 at 11:03 AM

11/24/2018 – Michigan 39, Ohio State 62 – 10-2, 8-1 Big Ten

From the start this blog has sought to detach itself from the furies of gameday. This column shows up Monday noonish and is thus the last one to appear. It usually tries to get a grip on the emotional tenor of what happened once whatever red mists have passed. Most games that are not abject humiliations are broken down play-by-play in an attempt to explain what actually happened, and gesture towards why.

So it's natural that people would ask me what happened; I am a person who would be able to venture some guess as to what caused the #1 defense in the country to give up 700 yards and more points than Michigan ever had to Ohio State. And, sure, there are some answers to be had. Ohio State ruthlessly exploited Brandon Watson and Devin Gil. Michigan's game plan was terrible because when you're the #1 defense in the country it's impossible to think your approach needs to be entirely different.

But these are weak justifications for the towering, Lovecraftian whole. They do not begin to explain what happened on Saturday. I struggled to put together anything that would be remotely satisfying. Then I figured it out: the fact that makes all the puzzle pieces slot together.

This is Hell.


[Bryan Fuller]

I am being punished for some sin so colossal that it justifies me reliving my life over and over again, except the end of every football season has been replaced with every flavor of pain football can hand out. This may be my sin, and the simulation will reveal it to me at the very end. I will be permitted a brief moment of knowing the totality of my existence before being thrown back into the rebooted whole.

Or I may be a person who has committed grievous crimes against football and is being punished by living through this existence as someone who holds my true self in utter contempt. This would in fact be justice for Jim Delany's sordid existence: to bear the brunt of every money-grubbing decision on an annual basis and then get a metaphorical kick to the junk so powerful it might as well be real. The reveal at the end, as I download this into whatever qualifies as a soul before being moving into another college football fan, would be the kind of devastation that you really rely on Hell to dish out.

Other candidates to be placed in this particular hell include everyone involved with replacing Pitbull with Larry Culpepper, that one FOX executive who surrounded himself with prophylactic pictures of his kids and sexually harassed his way out of a job, and people who post pictures of their dogs with captions like "OHHHH WHO'S A GOOD DOGGO" somewhere other than Instagram.

So, good news: you don't exist. Or bad news: if the demons have decided that they can cram all of the above into the same simulation for efficiency's sake, your existence implies that you have sinned powerfully and long, and respite is not coming.

But they messed up, you see. I don't buy this latest one. Oh, I was willing to accept the one where the quarterback breaks his foot in the middle of the game and still nearly carries Michigan to a win, even though the offensive coordinator called the same play he had on before after an OSU timeout. I was willing to accept the one lost by a literal unknowable inch. I was willing to accept DJ Durkin checking out a week early and not being too bright to start with.

I don't buy this one. The one where Ohio State fires one of their coaches for abusing his wife before the season, and Urban Meyer skates. The one where Ohio State loses by 29 to Purdue and barely squeaks out victories over half the Big Ten that Michigan is simultaneously paving. The one where the same team that came one three yard pass to a wide open receiver away from losing to Maryland waltzes through, yes, the #1 defense in the country like it is not there. I know, now. I know this is not a random universe that happens to fall into a maximally painful configuration. I know this is one specifically directed to cause pain, and in that knowledge is… well, not exactly power, but mitigation.

I know what's coming, now, Satan. Bring it on.


[Patrick Barron]



November 26th, 2018 at 11:09 AM ^

Thank you for your voice of reason Brian.  I'm still in shock myself and while I wasn't super optimistic about beating OSU I didn't expect the defense to be exposed like that.

Great season regardless of what anyone says; just disappointed for the team who I am sure are hurting.

Communist Football

November 28th, 2018 at 3:10 PM ^

I still hope you do a UFR, Brian. So much of the loss in this game was due to the kinds of things that only Brian UFRs can properly dissect. It would great to get that kind of hard-headed analysis as a respite from the sea of hot takes out there.

Either way, thanks for all you do for the MGoCommune. We fans can check out if we want to, but you keep this blog going through wins and losses. That is a tremendous service.


January 5th, 2019 at 8:16 PM ^

I realize that most people have probably given up and moved on, but I too would love to see a UFR for this game. There are so many things being said after the fact that just don't match up with my recollection of the actual game that I'm looking for that third party to overturn/confirm my findings.

Ideally the site is now making enough money that we can just hire some random TCU fan with some spare time and no emotional attachment to do this as I don't want to drive Brian to drink*.


* - well, any more than he already has been.


November 26th, 2018 at 11:18 AM ^

What should we title this game? Is there a word in the dictionary that is worse than "Horror"?  Does this game replace "The Horror"?  I'm in a place where all the light, as it pertains to football, is being sucked out.  As if i'm in a black hole of sorts.  TWENTY YEARS since we have beaten OSU at Ohio and I feel as if we are at the event horizon.  

His Dudeness

November 26th, 2018 at 12:26 PM ^

Too many to have that differentiate one really. It would lead to confusion. 

Maybe "The End Times" game ? 

I don't know. I feel very uneasy about all of this. Is this real? Is everything unfolding as it should? Those question used to be faithfully answered with yes. Now I'm not so sure... I feel like Tom Cruise in  Vanilla Sky. TECH SUPPORT!!!! TECH SUPPORT!!!!!!! 


November 26th, 2018 at 2:06 PM ^

My suggestion:  "Sisyphus Redux" .   

It is pretentious -- like our claim to elite status.  It is somewhat redundant -- like the result at the end of each November.  The fuckers in Columbus won't understand it --  

At least we can still claim moral and academic superiority.  So, we have that going for us.


November 26th, 2018 at 11:47 AM ^

Maybe I'm just numb, but this game in no way reaches the depths of The Horror. This was a very good team kicking our ass and that was Appalachian State. You get killed by a perennial powerhouse and no one thinks of it as the worst loss of all time in college football. In fact--unfortunately--all they think these days is 'Oh that's Michigan for ya.'

Similar kinds of arrogance may have informed Michigan's approach in both situations, I'd admit--I think there's an emerging consensus that Don and Jimmy just felt that they could go in and straight up smack 'em and beat them. But from what I hear Lloyd didn't take his opponent seriously at all. 

The offense scored 32 points Saturday, which many of us thought should be enough to win the game. And the D may have been pretty banged up--we got no push.

Okay, that's all I got. 


November 26th, 2018 at 12:56 PM ^

Yes, The Horror is another level. Michigan lost -- at home -- to an FCS team that would later lose to Wofford and Georgia Southern.

To those who would say "Toledo was worse!" ask yourself: Which game is still cited as one of the biggest upsets of all time? Which one does the general public remember?


November 26th, 2018 at 12:58 PM ^

I agree.  App State was an enormous upset.  OSU is a good team.  Even coming in they were ranked #8 and they were at home.  The line was 4 points. 

Michigan will be back.  M has been subject to other pastings.  This game reminded me most of when M lost to FSU 51-31 in 1991.  The next year they won the Rose Bowl.

Six seasons later M went undefeated and won a national title. 


November 26th, 2018 at 1:14 PM ^

That is the PERFECT comparison.  The level of confidence we had in the Stadium in 1991 was very similar to Saturday in Columbus.  And then in an instant, there was a realization that this was not going to go well.

The biggest difference was that in 1991, I just had to walk back to campus from the corner of State and Main, while Saturday I had to drive back to Chicago from Columbus -- that is a long drive with three really dejected boys in the car.  


November 26th, 2018 at 1:19 PM ^

Huh. I was at that FSU game. Walking out, I was disappointed but it wasn't anything like the utter despair of two days ago. It was more like 'welp, that sucked, eh, there's still a long way to go this year'. Now, people remember our win over ND the previous week (the Desmond Howard catch) more than that FSU game.

In contrast, I think this debacle will be the only thing from this season that will really stick with people.

matty blue

November 26th, 2018 at 2:04 PM ^

i was there, too, and i remember thinking that florida state was playing a different game than we were.

it started early - we ran a little hitch to desmond howard on the first series, and before you could say 'look out' terrell buckley was dancing in the end zone with a pick-six.  i don't think we'd even sat down in our seats at that point.  i don't think greg skrepenak was able to stop a speed rush around the edge a single time that day.

they were just.  so.  fast.  everywhere.  i remember thinking that we didn't have anyone on the roster that could match that speed, including our heisman trophy winner.

i really didn't get that feeling this weekend.  they played fast.  we didn't.


November 26th, 2018 at 2:23 PM ^

Me too!  Sophomore year.

Your post is dead on...

Your comparisons are why I've been so vocal about this past Saturday.  FSU was overcomeable.  But how is Michigan going to hang with contemporary programs???

Michigan was 10 and 2.  Nice record except for when one considers the losses to 2 potential playoff teams. 

Sure we beat MSU and PSU and those were nice wins.  But struggled with SMU, NW, and IU.

If the people think that's righting the ship from the Hoke days, then that's fine.  But also acknowledge Michigan has hit their ceiling.  Enjoy the 10-2 record because Michigan won't get to being elite if that OSU loss isn't questioned.

But saying such things violates the MGoGroupThink here.

matty blue

November 26th, 2018 at 4:33 PM ^

i know it's not your main point, but this year's 10-2 is absolutely righting the ship from brady hoke.  that really is inarguable.

i would only argue that 10-2 is closer to the floor than the ceiling.  at this moment, right now, the talent level here is second only to ohio state's, and the incoming recruiting class appears to be maintaining that high level; if you want to suggest that the coaching is not at that high level, feel free, but know that you are essentially ignoring a proven track record.


November 26th, 2018 at 4:36 PM ^

The analogies to 1991 FSU are similar.

We were on a roll.  We had this thing figured out.

We had an offensive oriented coach in Moeller who was not afraid to throw the ball.  We just beat Notre Dame on a *gasp* 4th down pass. 

We had athletes like Desmond Howard, on his way to the Heisman.

Then Florida State happened.  We scored 31 points - an incredible amount for us in a big game - and still lost by 3 scores.

We saw what real athletes looked like.  We saw what real offensive schemes looked like.

We absolutely were better than we were before.  But by no means were we there

In the Rose Bowl that season, we got the same lesson again, this time via Washington's elite defense.  We had no answers.

Just like in 1991, we are looking up at athletes in schemes that maximize their skills.

We don't have this thing figured out just yet.  There is work to be done.


November 27th, 2018 at 9:42 AM ^

I watched that game with a woman I was dating from FSU at the time; they whipped us up, down, and sideways, and were really really entertaining doing it. The next day one of my profs made a crack about "the perennially overrated Michigan Wolverines."

Twenty-seven years later, the comment still reverberates, along with criticisms of Michigan's ponderous style. 

Fandom is a kind of cross to bear. 


November 26th, 2018 at 11:54 AM ^

"The Bludgeoning" sounds right.  Armageddon Part Deux was quite accurate except there is no takeaway from this game other than Brian's belief there is a ring of hell reserved for us because of what we did to John Cooper's teams for 12 years.  Sports enthusiasm has rarely been shattered so quickly as what happened from 1pm to about 2:30pm last Saturday.