Original Sports Clichés

by Max Schwartz | 11/16/06 6:00am

As you may have noticed, I don't do a lot of college football columns. It isn't that I don't like college football; It's just that I spend most early Saturday afternoons curled up in the dark with an icepack, or wondering why I woke up on the floor curled around a dirty sweatshirt with a 30-pack as a pillow, or in the bathroom furiously scrubbing off the penis that somebody drew on my face in permanent marker. But with the Michigan-Ohio State football game coming up this Saturday, I thought I, like every other sports columnist in the known universe, ought to do a column on it. So, let's break this down, OSC-style.

Cheerleaders: Neither squad is really bringing their A-game. However, the Michigan squad is somewhat blonder, activating my deep-seated Jewish shiksa-loving tendencies. Also, while the Ohio State website has pictures, the Michigan site has a "Members Only" section, which sounds sexy. Winner: Michigan.

Mascot: Ohio State has Brutus the Buckeye, who is a published author (seriously, he wrote "The Spirit of a Buckeye: Brutus Buckeye's Lessons for Life" in 1999) as well as an anthropomorphic acorn. Michigan is known as the "Wolverines," though they seem to have no actual mascot. In this day and age, nobody's too cool for a mascot, and I won't take Michigan's condescending crap. The book-writing nut takes it going away. Winner: Ohio State.

Helmets: This is even less of a contest than the mascot one. Michigan has the classic maize and blue helmets, while Ohio St. counters with crimson and grey. However, Ohio St. messes up its helmets with those idiot stickers, which merely prove that the players are two year olds who need gold stars to celebrate when they do something right. Beyond that, "maize" is just fun to say. Maize maize maize. Winner: Michigan.

Famous Alumni in Sports: Ohio St. has Cris Carter, who makes a living saying completely ridiculous things on HBO's "Inside the NFL," and A.J. Hawk, or "the guy who looks totally out of place in those Under Armour commercials." Michigan has Tom Brady, the best and most attractive football player, if not human being, ever. Winner: Michigan.

Signature ESPN Puff Piece: Did you know that there is a punk band in Columbus, Ohio, called the Dead Schembechlers (after the famous Michigan coach), which is dedicated only to hating Michigan? No? Well, there are two 3,000-plus word articles up on ESPN.com dedicated to them. How about that Michigan coach Lloyd Carr showed his team "Cinderella Man" this season to emphasize their underdog status? Winner: Ohio St.

Larger Storyline: We could also call this category the "Who Can Flog a Dead Horse Harder?" For Ohio St. we have, "Could Ohio St. win both the college football and basketball championships this year?" For Michigan: "Did you know that a Michigan win likely sets up a Michigan-Ohio St. rematch for the national title?" Winners: sports columnists the world over. Losers: everyone else.

Movie Analogy: Ohio St. -- "The Replacements," starring Keanu Reeves. See, it's for the Buckeyes' nine new defensive starters, who replaced Under Armour-commercial-bound A.J. Hawk and call themselves "The Replacements" as well? Get it? Michigan -- I guess I'll give them "Cinderella Man," but that's only because I can't think of a movie called "The Portion of My Brain which Processes Irony Has Just Exploded." Winner: Ohio St.

So there you have it. A 3-3 tie. Which I'm also predicting as the final score, as both teams decide to relive their glorious matchups of the mid-1970s, all of which ended in 10-10 ties. But that doesn't mean the game won't be exciting.

Now, commentating is entirely about making ever more outlandish claims ad infinitum. Witness this exchange, during last week's Rutgers-Louisville game: Commentator 1: "Wouldn't you certainly say that this is the most important game of Rutgers' season?" Commentator 2: "I'd go even further than that, and say that this is the most important game in Rutgers' sports history since 1869, when they played in the first college football game ever."

So I'm going to go out on a limb, and say that this game will not only be the best of the year, but also the best of this millennium. That's right, no better sporting event will occur in the next 994 years. I might not even sleep through it.

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