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Michigan crushed Ohio State.

Michigan destroyed Ohio State.

Michigan beat Ohio State.

OK, there it is. I said it. Except for the four years I attended Kent State University, I have followed and enjoyed watching and covering the Buckeyes. Michigan fans enjoy the first three sentences of this story. Enjoy the next few weeks, months and perhaps the year. You won your first game at Ohio Stadium since 2000.

It is your moment to beat your chest, send Buckeye fans nastygrams and feel great about all the grief you have suffered over the years. You have really had an opportunity to let go of almost a quarter of a century of pent-up frustration. I tip my cap to you.

On Nov. 26, Michigan was better than Ohio State.

My message is not for you.

I am speaking to Buckeye fans, of which I am one.

What happened to us?

Chill out on OSU head coach Ryan Day. The man is 45-5. Yes, he has lost to Michigan twice. Guess what? He got out-coached. So did former coaches Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer and even the great Woody Hayes in certain games. It happens.

Here is the problem. It all dates back to Jan. 2, 2003. It’s the day Buckeye fans lost all concept of reality. You may remember that day. Ohio State fans took over the Fiesta Bowl and defeated Miami in double-overtime to become national champion. If you were born before that date, you might understand.

The program was humble.

“I can assure you that you will be proud of your young people in the classroom, in the community and most especially in 310 days in Ann Arbor,” Tressel said at the time, setting the bar for the next step in OSU history.

Here’s what he didn’t promise you. The arrogance to expect a win over Michigan every year and a national championship every season. I’m reading all about why Day should be fired. It’s insane. Day is not in over his head. He understands the pain you feel and he gets the pain the players feel.

I can’t get over all the “Michigan’s not a rival anymore over the past two decades.” OSU fans needed Michigan to be good over the last two decades. Guess what? They’re back and it’s OK. This is what humility feels like. I hate to break it to you, but you knew it was coming.

For two years, the Wolverines have proved that they are back. They are a rival. So stop being spoiled brats about two losses. Talk to me when the Buckeyes have dropped four or five to Michigan. I watched the super-talented head coach John Cooper teams lose to Michigan. We are not at that point.

Here’s the crazy part. What happens if the unthinkable happens, something simple like Utah beats USC in the PAC-12 championship. The Buckeyes could move into the No. 4 playoff spot. For as much as OSU isn’t the fourth-best team in the country today, they did lose to the No. 3 team in the country and you need to respect Michigan for it.

If OSU ends up fourth, and the Buckeyes would play and beat Georgia, and Michigan beats TCU in the other national semifinal, guess where we would be. Right back to Nov. 26. Only this time it would be for the national championship.

Let’s not forget that college football is built on greed. The money that OSU brings in by playing in a national semifinal or final will always be appealing to the selection committee. This has never really been about the best teams playing. It’s about TV ratings and how much money can be made?

Thank goodness college football is going to a 12-team playoff next year. It’s the only sport at any level where a team can’t afford to lose and have a chance to win a championship. Imagine if a three-loss team makes the playoffs next year.

Hopefully, this ridiculous game of giving credit for “style” points in how much you win a game by and how far you can bury your opponent will be over. Think of that, having some class when you win a game; not having to run up the score. Here’s an idea that I stole from the Ohio High School Athletic Association. If a team is up by 30 points in the second half, go to a running clock.

The Buckeyes will get what they deserve this season. I’ve talked to several former Buckeyes and they questioned the heart of OSU right now. It’s fair. I’ll stand by Day and I might be the only one in the media. Then again, I watched the “for sale” signs go up in front of Cooper’s house when his teams lost to Michigan.

In a world where you can get an overpriced coffee about 20,000 different ways, remember this: Day didn’t wake up and think, “Wow, I hope Michigan beats us to a pulp on Saturday.” You can put down your pitchforks for instant gratification.

On the morning of the 2002 National Championship, Ohio State was never expected to win a title. It was the last time you truly could accept being the underdog. There is something to be said for achieving a goal when nobody believes in you. Ask the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers, who trailed 3-1 to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. We know how that ended.

Yes, Michigan beat Ohio State. It’s a rivalry. Deep down you know it and it’s OK. Now, go write some Michigan nastygrams to send out next year. You will feel better.


If you have a suggestion for a column idea for Andy Baskin, send him an email at columnists@cjn.org. He can be heard on “Baskin & Phelps” weekdays on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland at audacy.com.

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