It's a shame what's become of The Game

BY foxsports • November 27, 2010

By Pete Fiutak

Of course, here comes the predictable backlash from those thinking that Michigan is a dud under Rich Rodriguez, and there will be those who wrongly suggest that a coaching change is needed, which would set the program back another three years when all that’s needed is a few defensive playmakers.

No, this 37-7 loss isn’t about Michigan; it’s about the consistent greatness of Ohio State.

Ohio State football is a runaway monster, evidenced by the bizarre, sky-is-falling reaction to a loss at Purdue last year. The pressure in Columbus may be greater than at any program in America, and yet Jim Tressel produces year after year after year, with a sixth straight Big Ten championship and a seventh straight win over Michigan.

In a year when Texas has gone into the tank, Florida has been lousy, and USC hasn’t been able to begin the rebuilding process from NCAA sanctions, Ohio State keeps on rolling along with another title, another BCS appearance, and another great season.

Of course, Michigan isn’t back to being Michigan yet, but it’s hardly Eastern Michigan. The Wolverines are going to a bowl game thanks to an offense that came into the game ranked fifth in the nation and first in the Big Ten in both total yards and rushing, and the Buckeyes allowed just seven points and a harmless 351 yards. Part of the reason was because Michigan struggled, but Ohio State made that happen.

How dominant have the Buckeyes been this season? Outside of the loss at Wisconsin and the thriller at Iowa, they won every game by double digits, and without having to breathe hard in any of them. Third in the nation in total defense and ninth in scoring, this was a typical Ohio State team and a typical season.

Enjoy it, Buckeye fans, and don’t just assume this is the norm. With yet another blowout win over the Wolverines, the program is anything but typical.

By Richard Cirminiello

I respect the history of this rivalry. And I understand the passion that runs through the veins of the fans and players closest to the game.

The rest of us? We don’t get it so much, especially at a time when Michigan has helped make the game so perennially one-sided. Oh, and the rivalry would have been every bit as hideous in October as it wound up being on Nov. 27.

The Wolverines have lost seven straight to Ohio State (insert yawn here). The last four have been decided by double-digits, including Saturday’s 37-7 snoozer, which stopped being competitive before halftime.

The fading national interest in the game certainly isn’t the fault of the Buckeyes, who have held up their end of the bargain under Jim Tressel. Ohio State is always relevant. Michigan hasn’t been important outside the Big Ten in years, the underlying reason that this game hasn’t captured my imagination in some time.

So what happens to Rich Rodriguez? Unless you can score really big with, say, a Jim Harbaugh, I’d suggest the Wolverines give him another year to reshape the defensive staff and develop Denard Robinson into a national star.

That said, this proud program deserves much better than it’s been getting under Rodriguez. While an overnight transformation with a new system was improbable, 15-21 over three years is unacceptable. While Michigan took steps in the right direction this year, Saturday’s meltdown in Columbus was further proof of how far it still has to go.

By Matt Zemek

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry has become predictably one-sided, embarrassingly uneven, and devoid of the electricity that regularly did – and should – characterize the most treasured rivalry in major college football.

Army-Navy is special for reasons that transcend the gridiron. Auburn-Alabama is the nastiest backyard feud you’ll ever see, loaded with plentiful portions of pigskin passion and unbridled hatred that are seared into the marrow of every Plainsman or Tider.

Michigan-Ohio State, though, is the classic collision on late-November Saturdays. It’s the manly Midwest matchup at noon, with long shadows stretching across the field on a day when you can see the breaths of the participating players. It’s the updated version of Woody and Bo, the Scarlet and Gray versus the Maize and Blue. This game needs life and color, instead of being drained of all drama and intrigue. College football soars when Buckeyes-Wolverines is a must-see event and a television destination.

For the past three years, however, this American sports gem has lost its luster. "The Game" is not necessarily unwatchable; Ohio State sure looks good when it takes the field against its hated rival. The searing indictment of this clash is that there’s no need to watch after the middle of the third quarter; the outcome all but decided by then.

Why have the last three editions of The Game merited a click-away on the remote control before the final few minutes of regulation? Two words: Richard Rodriguez.

We’ll see what the University of Michigan and a fella named David Brandon (the school’s athletic director) do when Stanford’s regular-season finale concludes against Oregon State. Until Michigan decides to do something about its coaching situation, we’ll see more Buckeye blowouts in a special series that is currently bereft of ballast.