There was an overwhelming Michigan confidence entering the Ohio State game at home. Coach Brady Hoke did not need even a season to turn a flagging Michigan team, in contrast to the disastrous era of Coach Rich Rodriguez. Under Rich Rod, every Michigan fan told themselves it was a turnaround season and so we should not expect too much, season after season until none could take it anymore. That what makes Coach Hoke so special. He did not need too much time to make Michigan, well, Michigan. Here was Coach Hoke, and here was Michigan, 10-2.
Maybe, Michigan fans all around were being harsh about Coach Rod. Coach Rod and his philosophy just will not work at Michigan. Michigan made a mistake of hiring him in the first place. In any case, separation was the only palatable option and we moved on. And it has been great since.
Ohio State meanwhile was in trouble. The traditional football powerhouse that only a few seasons ago jockeyed for national championship was in shamble while Michigan was ranked consistently in the top 25 week after week under Coach Hoke. With the humiliation Ohio State has handed Michigan for far longer anybody with maize and blue blood cared to remember, last Saturday was the best chance to return the school down south a favor.
After all, look at the season. Yes, we had trouble with Michigan State and disappointingly, against Iowa but we were entering The Game with 9-2. And we manhandled Nebraska, a team that a lot of people thought was going to dominate the Big Ten. And we were playing at home. I had expected Michigan to present Ohio State with a kind of loss they would not even want to remember. The people of Ohio would want to suffer from collective amnesia.
But it turned out there was too much confidence, and that I especially had underestimated Ohio State. Ohio State got the first touchdown. Throughout the game, things were too close for comfort. Throughout the game, at most only one touchdown separated the team. I watched the game live over the internet, being in the wrong time zone, was on the edge of my seat in the middle of the dead night.
A loss would have been devastated. A loss would make Coach Hoke’s achievement over the season unfairly negligible. It has been said that it does not matter whatever happened in the season as long as we beat the Buckeyes. Of course, that is not true but it does tell you how important the game against the Buckeyes is. After all, this rivalry originated from the Michigan-Ohio war of two centuries ago. It was more than football. It was about pride.
At the very end of the game with about two or the three minutes remaining and 40-34 in Michigan’s favor, Ohio State had the ball and they were driving. Audacious balls were thrown in a way that took your breath away. It was only when the ball was intercepted that we knew things were safe now. We could breath now. We had won. That was in the very last minute.
It was a relief to see the win over Ohio State. It was like knowing a curse had lapsed and in front of us is just something that Michigan truly deserves. There is still a long way to go but this season is a great platform to America a reminder that Michigan has returned to reclaim our spot among the best in football.