By HAL McCOY
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave awaiting Thanksgiving dinner of filet beef instead of turkey, very happy because I am not a fan of turkey. . .even once a year.
—STATELY AFFAIRS: It is state rivalry week in college football, a week in which the two biggest programs in a state butt helmets.
It’s Florida-Florida State, North Carolina-North Carolina State, Georgia-Georgia Tech, Arizona-Arizona State, Oregon-Oregon State, Washington-Washington State, Ole Miss-Mississippi State, Kansas-Kansas State.
Also there is Tennessee-Vanderbilt, Kentucky-Louisville, Auburn-Alabama, UNLV-Nevada.
One would think that Michigan-Michigan State would be The Big One in that state for both teams. We all know the fallacy of that.
It is the border war between Michigan and Ohio State and one of the biggest games of all-time between the hated rivals. Both are 11-0 with College Football Playoff implications.
The game is extra-big monetarily for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. If the Wolverines win, he gets a $500,000 incentive bonus for winning the Big Ten East Division title. And if he wins the Big Ten championship game, it tacks another $1 million on his paycheck.
Ohio State coach Ryan Day? A box of Cracker Jack compare to Harbaugh. If the Buckeyes beat Michigan to win the Big Ten East title, he gets an extra $50,000. If he wins the Big Ten championship game another $100,000 is added to his salary.
Some of this stuff is silly. California is 4-7, but coach Justin Wilcox picked up a $25,000 bonus for beating rival Stanford. It is in his contract that he gets an extra 25 G’s if he beats Stanford, which he has done three of the last four seasons.
The UM-OSU game is a battle of contrasts. Michigan gives up 11.7 points a game (second in FBS) and 241.3 yards per game (first in FBS).
Can the Wolverines maintain that against the high-flying Buckeyes offense — 46.5 points a game and 492.7 yards per game.
And there is the Heisman Trophy subplot, OSU quarterback C.J. Stroud (2,995 yards passing and 35 touchdowns) and Michigan running back Blake Corum (1,457 yards, 18 touchdowns).
If you want a ticket, they are only available off-site with prices at $300/$400 in the upper bowl and in the thousands for the lower bowl.
—WORDS NEVER HURT: Some of the favorites things I’ve heard or read about The Rivalry:
^”On quiet nights in Ohio, you can hear Wolverines cry.”
^”Friends don’t let friends live in Ohio.”
^”I keep trying to DVR ‘The Biggest Loser’ and it takes me to Michigan football games.”
^”If you could play the greatest game of your life, you would play it the day you play Ohio State.” (Former UM running back Rob Lytle.)
^”We’re going to hang 100 on them.” (OSU coach Ryan Day when UM coach Jim Harbaugh accused Day of cheating. That was in 2020 and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the game was not played.)
^”If we worked half as hard as our band, we’d be champions.” (Former OSU coach Woody Hayes.)
—THEY ARE DEFENSELESS: Picking on the Cleveland Browns these days is like kicking the carcass of a dead moose. They are burnt toast.
The first fall guy probably will be defensive coordinator Joe Woods. . .maybe before this putrid season is over. The Browns have no clue how to stop the running game.
One seldom hears the names of the defensive tackles and linebackers making plays. Defensive end Myles Garrett said the team needs to force turnovers and doesn’t practice that facet of the game. The Browns have forced eight turnovers, third worst in the NFL.
—LOCAL FLAVOR: Yes, Ohio State does play basketball and the Buckeyes have two familiar faces on the roster.
There is Tanner Holden, the transfer from Wright State and Sean McNeil, the fifth-year graduate student from West Virginia. He began his collegiate career at Sinclair College, playing at the Dayton junior college just before the school dropped all intercollegiate athletics.
Still, there are two basketball programs in Dayton that are significant — the University of Dayton and Wright State University.
WSU’s team this season is a fun group to watch, so talented and so well-coached. They were underdogs this week to Abilene Christian in the Battle 4 Las Vegas, but put it to them, 77-61.
Trey Calvin and Amari Davis are more than worth the price of admission and the price of admission at the Nutter Center is affordable.
—PUCK PATROL: The Boston Bruins are off to a memorable start to the NHL season. They have won 17 of their first 19 games, tying an NHL record for the best start over the first 19 games.
Remember when hockey was big in Dayton with Lefty McFaddens’s Dayton Gems and the Dayton Bombers? The Gems were a minor-league affiliate of the Boston Bruins.
Do you remember Pat Rupp, Lorne Weighhill, Guy Trottier and Warren Back?
It is Lefty McFadden’s fault that I am a cigar lover. He gave me my first cigar one night as I sat in the Hara Arena press box watching a game, wondering if I’d ever actually see a goal go into the net.
And at the time you could smoke those cigars in the building as you listened to public address announcer Governor Billy Hilbert say over and over on the p.a., “Beautiful hockey.”
—PERCEPTION: I have this neat Harvard half-zip that I wear once in a while and some people say, “I didn’t know you went to Harvard.”
And I say, “Yes, I did. I went to Harvard. . .for one day, visited the campus book store, bought this half-zip and left.”
Well, isn’t Kent State the Harvard of the Midwest?