If you like college football (and if you don't, you should), tomorrow will be a great day. It's the day that many of the classic rivalry games are played, including the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn, the Civil War games in Washington and Oregon, the Harvard/Yale game, USC vs. UCLA, and the "Big Game" between Cal and Stanford out here in the Bay Area. But for me, there's one rivalry that surpasses all the others: Ohio State and Michigan. Of course, I would say that, because I'm a die-hard Ohio State fan.

Some sports teams we get to pick; some are thrust upon us. I was born in Columbus, Ohio two days before the 1971 OSU/Michigan game while my dad was attending school at Ohio State. One of the earliest pictures of me included a small stuffed OSU football. I had no choice--the Buckeyes were my fate literally from the day I was born.

I remember watching them lose in the 1980 Rose Bowl, blowing a shot at a national title by failing to stop a late USC drive. I sat at my parent's friends' house, where we had gone to watch the game on a projection-screen TV, and sobbed.

Last year, I sat in a hotel room in Vancouver, my infinitely-patient girlfriend by my side, watching Ohio State win their first national title in my lifetime. After the game, I was unsure how to act, as no team I root for had ever won a thing. I ended up just walking around with a goofy grin, while the Canadians on the street wondered had put me in such a state.

Tomorrow, OSU and Michigan play for the 100th time. If Ohio State can win in Ann Arbor, they'll get a chance to defend their national title. This is a team that continues to squeak out wins in the most improbable ways. In fact, they're so weak that they're seven point underdogs, even though they're the higher-ranked team.

No predictions from me here. But I know that at 9 AM here on the West Coast, I'll be in front of my TV, living and dying with every play.

AuthorMark McClusky