The Wolverine

2013 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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It's The Year Of The Doubleheader Let's play two! feated season hailed only by those adorned in scarlet and gray. They rumbled to a 12-0 regular-season record, then packed away their gear, finally paying for their tattoos and assorted other extra benefits. This is different. Going forward, it counts. And going forward, the Buckeyes are going to be pretty darned good. Meyer is recruiting feverishly, coaching But for just one year … some will say, "Let's play two!" Frank Clark's eyes widen at the notion. Michigan's junior defensive end escaped the state of Ohio for his college days, and he's intrigued by the thought of a Wolverinesby john borton Buckeyes twinbill. ctually the full quote from the lovable "Man … that would be indescribable," Chicago Cub reads as follows: "It's a Clark effused. "That's a feeling I've yet to great day for a ballgame; let's even reach. Your biggest rival … the play two!" But of course, that doesn't biggest rivalry in football history, in apply here. sports history … you play those games As interesting as it might be, they're back-to-back? Two weeks in a row? not going to line up for the greatest ri"I could tell you this — whoever the valry in sport, slug it out for 3.5 hours, loser is, they'd be working hard to be drain away every bit of fury, sweat and the winner that next week." effort … then kick off again after an And that's precisely why it shouldn't hour's respite. No, it will never be a happen, according to former U-M great day to play two in football. player and new linebackers coach Roy Next Nov. 30-Dec. 7 might not even Manning. Manning played in that serepresent a great week to play two, ries. He's known the unrestrained joy given the singular majesty and magof beating back the Buckeyes and the nificence of the Michigan-Ohio State abject misery of coming away empty. rivalry. For one year, and one year Either way, he insists, there should alone, it doesn't matter. be no do-overs. That's precisely what's going to "That game is why you come to happen. Michigan," Manning assured. "That The Buckeyes will clamber onto game means everything. The other their buses, roll out of their malodor- Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint and U-M defeated Ohio State ones are important, but when you even ous den of discomfort deep in the at Michigan Stadium in 2011, but this year a win in the regular- talk about that game, your whole facial bowels of Columbus, soaking in the season finale may set up a rematch the very next week. expression and everything changes. photo by lon horwedel supportive shrieks of obscenity-spew"It's such a special rivalry. It's the ing truckers (and their husbands). They'll ruthlessly and fully intending to put his team greatest rivalry in sports. I wouldn't want to cross the state line, inhaling the clean, crisp on par with the Southeastern Conference, have it play out twice in a year. That's what air of the north. whence he came. At the same time, Hoke is makes it special — you get one shot." They'll invade Michigan Stadium, directed building Michigan back into the juggernaut it Except this year, there could be a mulligan. by the grim-countenanced taskmaster who featured in the mid- to late-1990s, when the "Some people say, 'We'd love to have won't even utter the word "Michigan." HelWolverines reached college football's pinthat,'" Manning marveled. "But as a guy who mets will collide, skids of gray besmirching nacle. played in that game, win or lose it's special, college football's most recognizable headgear Those who remember Bo Schembechler, and you get one shot. That's how it should be. and blotches of blue embellishing useless nut Woody Hayes and The Ten-Year War, buckle "That game is one you don't touch. You stickers. up. You might get a taste of it again. don't mess with it. That game means a lot to a For that annual, breathtaking sliver of time Now, this isn't the 1970s, by any stretch. lot of people, past and present. It's done once, on a Saturday afternoon, the entire college Nebraska, Penn State, Wisconsin and other and it's done the right way." football world will watch, transfixed by The occasional intruders all represent a far greater Only this year, it's done twice. Players from Game. And when this one ends, strange words, threat to the reemerging Big Two than the old both sides claim they've taken weeks to refilled with celebratory confidence or painLittle Eight ever did. cover from the most physical game of the year. prodded warning, will echo in that tunnel … At the same time, the Wolverines and Hoke just grins and says they're exaggerating. "We'll see you next week." Buckeyes will feature the best the Big Ten "There is so much energy around that game, It could play out differently, of course. has to offer for the foreseeable future. Like if that game was played again a week later, I Neither Michigan nor Ohio State has yet apit or not, the old powers are rumbling again. think you'd have the same energy," he insisted. peared in the Big Ten championship game, After this year, they'll not have a chance to "I know we'd be excited about it. When you're the Wolverines experiencing transition near meet in the conference title game. They'll find playing for a championship … we'll be all misses under Brady Hoke and the Buckeyes themselves in the same division, playing their right." cheating themselves into unavailability. winner-take-part showdown for the chance And just maybe, more than all right. BeThe Wolverines could again stumble along to get there. cause agree or disagree with Ernie Banks, the way, or the NCAA could discover some And that's good. They don't conduct the "let's play two" is coming to a Lucas Oil Staleftover Jim Tressel emails. But all signs point Fourth of July two weeks in a row, or Thanksdium near you. ❏ to a "let's play two" scenario. giving, or the Super Bowl, for that matter. Editor John Borton has been with The Wolverine since Urban Meyer got things rolling in a hurry The Michigan-Ohio State spectacle ought to 1991. Contact him at and last year, guiding the Buckeyes to an underemain solitary and special. follow him on Twitter @JB_Wolverine. — Ernie Banks wolverine watch A 6  ■  The Wolverine 2013 Football Preview

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