CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Buckeyes wanted revenge. The Wolverines wanted to leave no doubt.
Both scripts were pre-written in Los Angeles.
SoFi Stadium should be hosting the greatest college football spectacle of all time next Monday. Ohio State and Michigan, the sport’s mortal enemies, should be playing for a championship. It should be a rare first in the century-old rivalry.
How often does Hollywood generate fresh ideas?
But the Wolverines committed crucial turnovers during Saturday’s loss to TCU, and the Buckeyes missed a crucial kick against Georgia. So we’re left with another re-tread movie trope: TCU is the unlikely underdog. Georgia plays Goliath. We know how that ends.
On New Year’s Eve, however, we could never be sure. Michigan and Ohio State fans spent the final eight hours of 2022 clenching their teeth, biting their nails and, secretly, rooting for their least favorite team.
Admit it: Buckeye fans wanted nothing more than another crack at You Know Who. Michigan supporters wanted the chance to end OSU’s season — again. The winner could boast forever. The loser would never muster a retort.
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Instead the record is reset. The Buckeyes must wear this year’s loss to Michigan — and their loss to Georgia — until November. Michigan owns the rivalry until it doesn’t. Ohioans will continue claiming a fluke — only one chance to flip those roles.
Maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. Scarcity makes rivalries special and keeps hate fresh.
If Ohio State played Michigan for the title, does The Game become A Game? Can those stakes be replicated? Should they be? As the College Football Playoff expands, we may ask those questions again.
Not this year. Michigan couldn’t secure the ball. The Buckeyes missed their kick — so close.
All that remains now are Horned Frogs and Bulldogs. One will win hearts, but not the trophy. The other reminds us of college football’s parody problem.
Big Ten fans could’ve had better, but Ohio State and Michigan didn’t earn it for them. Buckeyes and Wolverines alike will live with what could’ve been all offseason. They’ll trade barbs about recent track records and coaching change rumors Then they’ll spend 11 games fighting for the chance to play for those stakes again.
The Game (or any game like it) only comes around so often, which is why it would’ve been so interesting to see it again next Monday.
As it stands, both fan bases are stuck waiting for next year.
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