We’re less than 24 hours away from The Game. It will be a noon start tomorrow, which is the way it should be, because it’s the way it has always been.
The Game will be at the Big House in Ann Arbor. Like the Horseshoe in Columbus, Michigan Stadium is one of college football’s most fabled venues, a huge, cavernous bowl dug out of the ground. It’s where Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler prowled the sidelines during the 10-Year War. It’s where the Buckeyes tore down the “M Club” banner in the early ’70s, sending the Michigan radio announcer into a frenzy. The field is thick with memories and legends. Tomorrow the members of Buckeye Nation will try to fill a significant part of that colossal edifice, cheering on the Men of the Scarlet and Gray. Michigan fans have experienced a tough and disappointing season, and many of them have put their tickets up for sale. Ohio State fans have been very willing buyers.
What will happen? The Wolverines have struggled this year, while the Buckeyes have won every game. The statistics and records will tell you that Ohio State clearly has the better team and should win the game . . . but in The Game, records and statistics often don’t matter. Fans of both teams who have watched The Game will remember surprising triumphs and devastating losses. The shocks and upsets are what have made The Game the greatest rivalry game in college football.
Casual fans can be overconfident, but I don’t know of any true member of Buckeye Nation who is expecting an easy game tomorrow. We know that it will be a tough, brutal battle, filled with bone-jarring hits and hard runs to pick up crucial first downs, and we’re starting to feel that surge of adrenalin as The Game draws nearer.
Let’s go, Bucks!
It’s rare for the ground to be snow-covered in central Ohio over Thanksgiving; typically the temperature is in the 40s or low 50s, well-suited to a turkey bowl pickup football game or a turkey trot 5K. This year, however, the snow came early and the temperatures are cold. Our icy walking path is treacherous but shimmering in the bright morning sunshine.
Should all couples hold hands? Kish’s sister Heidi believes that holding hands is crucial to a lasting romantic relationship. Kish and I respectfully disagree. We think it’s nice to see young couples with fingers intertwined and seniors doddering along with hands linked, but don’t expect us to do it.
My disaffinity for holding hands stems from biology and experience. The unfortunate reality is that my hands sweat in any hand-holding scenario. When I was in high school and tried to hold hands with a girl, I felt my hands getting damp, which made me self-conscious, which made my hands sweat all the more. When I noticed my kind-hearted date trying to surreptitiously wipe off her oily palms on napkins, coat sleeves, curtains, and at every other opportunity, I realized that holding hands probably wasn’t going to increase my chances at meaningful romance.
The experience came from a high school first date that involved a long drive to an event. My date grabbed my hand as we left and I drove left-handed, becoming increasingly uncomfortable because my right hand was locked into position. Once you’ve started holding hands, you can’t really retreat without making it seem like a kind of rebuke. So we drove along, chatting superficially, while I directed every ounce of self-awareness at my immobilized right hand. What you are supposed to do in such a long-term hand-holding scenario? Tickle the girl’s palm? Do “this is the church, this is the steeple” to keep your wrist muscles from spasming?
So, I’ve long ago sworn off hand-holding, and fortunately the love of my life isn’t a hand-holder, either. Sometimes she’ll hold my arm as we walk along, and that suits us just fine.