Michigan: Make it seven.

I have an irrational dislike of Michigan. I don’t know why. I grew up in New Hampshire, for crying out loud. My visits to Michigan have been high-speed dashes across the state. I have spent one night there in my entire life, when I was 10.

But when I see someone in Ohio wearing the blue and yellow, I instantly think they are suffering from some sort of mental deficiency, and are best approached with soothing words, and perhaps a helmet for their fragile head*. Or maybe they are just jerks. I have met plenty of those, too, people who are only Michigan fans because their brother/uncle/father/cousin/mailman liked Ohio State and they were just being contrarian.

*this does not include people who are actually from Michigan. Some people are just unlucky, and most likely victims of someone else’s bad decision.

There I go again.

The best explanation my for curious state is some kind of affliction; scarlet fever, perhaps.

So nothing would put a bow on my football-shooting season like a win over Michigan. They could come south, and leave with the butt-whipping they so richly deserve.

As I mentioned a few sentences ago, I grew up in New Hampshire. My high school didn’t even have a football team. My exposure to football was some lousy Patriots games (because they were terrible when I was a kid). Football did not exist to me until I got my first job at a newspaper in the late 1990s.

And here I am, a decade plus later shooting The Ohio State vs. Michigan, and loving every minute of it. Especially the Michigan butt-whippings, of which Saturday should be number five.

Longaberger tailgate

Tailgate, Longaberger lot style.

compact

Best spot in the lot.

professional grade

Professional grade tailgate.

The lot between the Longaberger Alumni House and the Fawcett Center was alive and abuzz on Saturday, much different than previous weeks. Tailgates extravagant and simple lined not just the edges but dotted the middle of the lot as well, despite the semi-frigid temperatures. Football weather at last.

A haze of grill smoke hung over campus. There was barely room for a game of cornhole in some lots. The party was on.

As I strolled around campus, sometimes having to work the elbows to get through, I conducted a short informal survey. Did Ohio State’s recent run of wins over Michigan lessen the rivalry?

Ohio State fans replied, to a man and woman, “do you remember the Cooper years?” I had to explain my situation, not being from around here, and everyone agreed that despite the recent run of 6 straight years of wins the rivalry was still very much on. One fan pointed out that it was a win over Michigan that put Ohio State football on the map, way back in 1919.

I wanted to ask some Michigan fans, so I waylaid a group in the Longaberger lot. I introduced myself, and told them I had a question, but I didn’t want to sound like a jerk.

In response to my question, the largest fan rolled up his sleeves and balled his fist and said “I have your answer right here…”

Just kidding. They were very kind, and agreed that a string of six did nothing to diminish the rivalry. It was a pleasant meeting, and I wished them well on their trip home. The unspoken I hope you lose from both parties hung in the air as we parted.

The the grande facade of Ohio Stadium beckoned, as well as a patch of warmth in the photo spot below the south end zone. Hearty cheers greeted the Buckeyes as they took the field for warm ups, clad in their Nike throwback/heritage uniforms, which was a jarring sight at first, as I had forgotten the uniforms were to be worn today.

The uniforms are interesting, although as my colleague pointed out, if they had worn their regular helmets, the would look, ahem, badbum. The scarlet on the helmet wasn’t quite right, it seemed. Perhaps the scarlet of 1942, the team the uniform honored, was a a different scarlet. A little more blood, a little less rose.

The 1942 team was of course Ohio State’s first championship, and many members of the team later went on to serve in the military during World War II. Their coach Paul Brown did as well.

If the cheers for Ohio State’s arrival were hearty, the boos for Michigan were more so, echoing off the stadium. After senior day festivities, the boos drowned out the Michigan band, even when they performed Across the Field. Now that is a rivalry, when even the band gets booed.

[wpaudio url=”http://www.crookphotography.com/audio/michigan.mp3″] I don’t give a…

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the game started worthy of its billing. A three and out by Ohio State to start, and a punt by Michigan were uninspiring, to say the least. Oh dear, thought I, as my fingers began to numb.

unveiled

Hi mom.

After what seemed like but a minute, a group of golf carts brought out members of the 1942 team, who stood and watched as a sign honoring their coach Paul Brown as unveiled in the northeast corner of the stadium. (You can see a picture of the sign in the photo gallery, link below) I had noticed the tarp-covered sign almost as soon as I entered the stadium, but had no inkling what it could be in honor of. It is a fine accompaniment to Woody Hayes. Coach Tressel might have his own one day.

dive

Cradle to the ground.

edge work

Sideways and gone.

The second quarter started off with a bang and the Buckeyes continued rolling, putting up 24 points, and keeping the Wolverines reeling.

teamwork

Hi and low. Both hurt.

its a bird...

Air Posey.

oomph

Thud.

slipping away

Can’t stop won’t stop.

In the middle of the second quarter, the PA announced that there would be pyrotechnics and loud noises during half time. Which means that the band would be doing a medley of classical music, and probably culminate in the 1812 Overture. At least that is what they did last year. Or maybe the year before. Either way, there would be some kaboom during half time.

post kaboom

Scarlet tide.

And despite expecting it (during the Ode to Joy, it turns out) I still jumped when the explosions went off the first time, and jumped again the second time. By the third time I had settled down, and got a fine photo of some refs nearly getting their heads blown off as they ran passed. After some of the calls they had made, perhaps they deserved a good singeing.

Nothing permanent of course.

glimmer of hope

A moment of bliss, snatched away. Two knees means down.

juked

So long.

whaa?

I should say something really snotty here, but I won’t.

Ohio State continued the abuse in the third quarter. And despite my complaining during previous blowouts, I enjoyed this one immensely. After all, it was the Maize and Blue that were getting thumped.

non call

By holding, they meant not holding at all.

gotcha

Rolled.

shirt ttt tails

Brace for impact.

The fourth quarter was a bit blah, because even though it was Michigan across the field, J.T. wasn’t going to run up the score. And as bad as Michigan is, they aren’t Eastern Michigan. Or Purdue. Or whomever else the Buckeyes thumped this year.

just try it

None shall pass.

Overall, the result was quite pleasing. And as the game wore down, and the phalanx of State Troopers arrived to protect the sacred turf, the Buckeyes made one last drive and stuck the final dagger in the heart of Michigan fans with the victory formation for the final play of the game.

During the usual charge of the light photographer brigade at the end of the game, when everyone races toward the middle of the field to get a picture of the two coaches together, two photographers went arse over teakettle. I am never in that much a hurry, partly because I am not that fast and partly because I am not much a rugby player, and not so good in the scrum.

bOOm

He puts the O in Ohio.

So I bypassed the middle of the field, and came across Jim Tressel being interviewed by a TV person. They I squeezed my way into the Carmen Ohio crowd, and found myself standing beside Boom himself.

Now the funny thing about Carmen Ohio is that if you are in the south end zone, you can’t get in front of the team, as the security personnel guard the line with a zealous passion, keeping everyone at  bay, making it difficult to even get a decent picture of the team. And they are guarding the team from a group of mostly middle aged photographers, who were all searched before the game.

But approach from the side, and well there I was. I could have reached out and given Boom a big hug had I been so inclined. And a little less awestruck.

I wasn’t awestruck, per se, I am far, far too jaded for that. But it was a little bit cool to be THATCLOSE to Daniel Herron.

one more season, please

See you next year.

And like that, it was over. I watched Nate Williams, my favoritest Buckeye toss his gloves and arm thingys to some fans, and they were gone, a stream of scarlet into to tunnels and wait ’til next year.

Now you can;

Join the  OSUAA.

View a photo gallery of the game.

or you could become an OSUAA fan on Facebook.

You could like me, because who doesn’t like a liking?

Or you could take a look at last season and earlier games this season by looking at previous posts.

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3 Responses to Michigan: Make it seven.

  1. mark says:

    great pics and especially enjoyed the comments

  2. Tony says:

    Great pictures, all of them! I liked them so much I had to link to them at my Ohio State Buckeye blog.

  3. Chris says:

    Go Bucks!

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