The Hybrid: Lessons Learned Losing To Your Rival 15 Of 16 Times

By Bobby Loesch on November 24, 2021 at 8:00 am
The Big Buds
O-H-OH-NO
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The Hybrid is a weekly Big Ten football preview, plus relevant or whimsy games from the national slate

I know everything about this.

One of my life mantras comes from Operation Ivy's "Knowledge", which has the airtight, anthemic chorus of "All I know is that I don't know nothing."

But this... this is the opposite of that. This is my blood, the moisture in my eyes when I blink, my fading and misfiring brain waves. The reason there is no sound sleep Thanksgiving week.

This is Michigan-Ohio State. The Game. The God Damn Game. The Forsaken.

When you lose to your rival 14 of 15 times 15 of 16 times, you learn a thing or two, so I thought I'd go BuzzFeed style and put together a listicle for you all. Headline repeater: activate.

19 Lessons Learned Losing To Your Rival 15 Of 16 Times

1) Just don't look. "Simpsons", kick us off.

This is a strategy, but I'd argue it's what quitters do. I only did it once, that was because it was a super down year for M, and Mikey Dudek was in town to get Illinois bowl eligible vs. Northwestern. He accomplished that and scored a TD in our end zone. I regret nothing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bobby L (@bobbystompy)


Did we end up at a bar after to watch Michigan lose in the fourth quarter because of course The Game went longer? Yes, of course. Of always course.

2) Never believe in anything... I've very much tried (and probably failed) to shy away from the woe-is-me fatalist fan shit that has permeated this column since the damn near beginning. But if I actually stopped and took this advice, would it be helpful? I say yes. How can your belief get crushed if you never had faith in the first place?

There are more serious things in the world, and there will always be. But this Saturday? We get to have this.

3) ...because nothing ever means anything. One of my 'favorite' losses in The Game was when Michigan came in with a defense ranked Top 3 in the nation... only to give up 60+ to Dwayne Haskins. It wasn't the loss -- it was the way they lost. All expectations subverted.

4) Don't read previews or listen to podcasts. I generally don't like previews even if it's not the emotional minefield that is The Game, but I really don't like them for The Game. Pods get the 15 second skip button during any tOSU talk. Articles are ignored. Hey, I'll be there for the aftermath; we can all commiserate then.

I've taken this to the next level the last three years or so where I now do not watch Ohio State in any capacity unless they are playing Iowa/Michigan, are in the CFP, or they're losing by three TDs in a fourth quarter. I've muted their name, players' names, Ryan Day's name on Twitter. Snowflake behavior, so don't tell Kid Rock. Speaking of...

5) Maybe Ohio State sold their soul. They went from one of their best ever coaches whose only weakness was being boring to a meager and quick gap year -- that still featured young Braxton Miller -- to one of their best ever coaches whose only weakness was morals. Morals! You don't lose because of morals (but you do land in hot water because of them).

Now? A coach who may be better than the previous two and is fucking likable. Cool/sweet.

6) There will be injuries. Not looking this up, as I'm already giving this way more time than it deserves, but Michigan has gone into this fucking thing with injuries at the QB position seemingly more than half the time. It does kind of make sense, as it's always at the end of the season, but tOSU never seems to have the same problem.

If a Michigan QB does make it? Hurt in the game.

7) No 50-50 call will go your way. I'm not a "complain about the refs" person, so I'm not going to say the calls were 'bad'. And I'm definitely not going to say "JT was short!" I'm not. But I am saying when those coin flips occur, I know what side they're landing on. You have to prepare for these things. It's like walking a tightrope as archers shoot at you and crocodiles wait in a pit below. Sure, you could potentially succeed, but... would you bet on it?

8) There are many, many different ways to lose. Michigan has lost this game, in order going back to 2004, by margins of 16, 4, 3, 11, 35, 11, 30, 5, 1, 14, 29, 3, 11, 23, and 29.

Look at that shit. It's like varying sized blood waves crashing on an awful zombie beach. Also those aren't pebbles poking your feet -- they're syringes.

9) Other teams make it look so easy. You know why we remember 55-24 or Rondale Moore? Because Ohio State lost and it was fun. as. shit. But, honestly, even those A+++ mega joy moments are still somewhat mitigated by the fact Michigan can't and won't do it.

lol don't worry, I'll still end this one with the joy part

This play is my thunder vest.

10) Don't drink. It's like that Bukowski quote:

If something bad happens, you drink in an attempt to forget; if something good happens, you drink in order to celebrate; and if nothing happens you drink to make something happen.

Well, partner -- nothing good is going to happen and you definitely won't forget, so please, please put the bottle down (or at the very least concede the first half to total sobriety). The end will sting worse if you don't, promise.

11) Homefield advantage doesn't really matter. Michigan is a crisp 1-8 in Ann Arbor going back to 2004. Four of the eight losses were by double digits.

12) You watch saviors come with hope and leave with a black mark, and it feels atrocious. It all ends the same. In 2004, Chad Henne became the second ever true freshman to start for the Wolverines. He won 32 regular season games, ended his career with a Capitol One Bowl MVP against Urban, and is still playing in the NFL today. But Chad Henne has something in common with Heisman finalist Jabrill Peppers and No. 1 overall recruit Rashan Gary: they're a combined 0-10 against Ohio State. 

These are remarkable players... but it's still one of the first facts that pops into my head when I see any of them on TV to this day. I'm looking at multimillionaires, more successful than me in nearly every metric possible, thinking "This poor thing."

I remember, in 2015, Jabrill penned a piece for The Players' Tribune aptly titled "The Game". It was about his challenging upbringing, goals, growing up a Michigan fan, wanting to stamp his legacy on the game. Have his Woodson moment.

Now, nearly six years after losing my brother, 12 years after my father’s arrest and 18 years after Charles Woodson clenched that rose in his mouth and made me want to be a Wolverine, it’s game week. It’s Ohio State week. And whenever you get two rivals on the same field, you’re gonna get each team’s best.

When the Wolverines take on the Buckeyes, it’s something for the ages. This one won’t be any different — except I’ll finally be on the field for it.

And listen, he played well in his games vs. Ohio State...

Peppers Pick

...but like many before and after, went just as winless.

13) Stockholm syndrome. As much as I think I (sports) hate Ohio State, part of me knows better. Some of the coolest ever QBs have played for them. Miller, Haskins, JT, Troy Smith, Cardale Jones, Justin Fields, and, presumably, C.J. Stroud.

I am in the finals of my Big Ten only college fantasy football league this week, and my Ohio State fan (of course) co-manager and I built the entire team around Stroud. If we win, it will be because he's torching the maize and blue. The only other time I won the league? Braxton Miller at the helm, of course.

final shouts to Kenny Guiton, the coolest of all

14) Hate has a home here. You absolutely have to make the games your rival loses that aren't against your team about you. regardless. I remember the beautiful New Year's Eve where tOSU and Washington both sucked shit in the CFP; bounced only hours apart. I literally turned myself into Silky Johnson in real time.

Your goals change. It's this petty spite level you didn't know you had within yourself. You need to be convinced it can actually happen. And when it does?

15) There isn't such a thing as too negative. This is less about player hatin' and more about general outlook. Can disposition really be called dramatic when the outcome you're looking for only happens 7% of the time? Friend, it cannot. And don't let a soul tell you otherwise.

16) Find something fun to do afterwards. A few years ago, I set a recurring calendar reminder in mid-November to plan on doing something later in the day to help me forget about the certain loss I still spent all year absurdly looking forward to. This year? Petey at Sub-T with a large group of friends, with a big dinner out prior. Thank you in advance, Petey and food.

Also: stay away from TVs and your phone.

17) Whenever you think it's as bad as it can be, it will definitively get worse. When Michigan (Denard) beat Ohio State in 2011, it ended a seven game losing streak vs. the Buckeyes. I believed in more things then. Because I was wrong.

Since then, the new streak is already at eight games, with zero end in sight. Which one was worse, you ask? The eight. The god damn eight. We already addressed coaches, but just remember, Tressel leaving was a huge deal.

When Michigan won The Game with him gone, it felt like they could a) build on it, at worst, or b) fully flip the rivalry, at best.

Then? They got Pizzameyer and won the natty, in the most unassailable way possible. Because it got worse. Is there any program in the history of this sport who could plow prime Alabama and outlast speedy Oregon with their QB3.

When it became about them losing Meyer (to scandal, the NFL, or both!)... then they got Day. There is no end in sight. Used to root for QBs to leave, but each one was better and more unique than the previous.

They just... they always get better. Always. They're better at this and always will be.

18) When in doubt, pull up the table. Whenever other Michigan fans tell me I'm being too negative or I, myself, feel like maybe it's not as bad as it seems, Wikipedia tells me otherwise.


The Table

Something like this should make me miserable, but it really doesn't as much as you might think. If anything, it's pure validation. Look at all that streaking scarlet. What a time. It's like a teddy bear that gives you emotional security but also has some poison residue on the inside to keep things honest.

19) College football is the worst sport. You know where I stand on this. I watch sports for joy, usually. Hoops and tennis are loaded with wonderful teams and players. You know what isn't? The mighty CFB. Scumbag boosters, heinous bowl executives, hypocrite coaches. Grosser every year.

Only in this sport am I a disheveled, hate-filled mess of a man, defined considerably more by what isn't than what is; the absolute worst version of myself. This list started with Just Don't Look, and I hope to one day have the courage to Just Not Follow.

Done writing. Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, kiss my ass.

* * *

Despite the darkness presented, I would like to dedicate this column intro to Charles Cameron Woodson and Denard Xavier Robinson.

Bill Simmons once said you call assassins by their full names.

The Hybrid

"You invite more love into your world, you're bound to invite more loss at some point."

Thursday

Ole Miss (9) at Mississippi State: Peeople don't forget.

Thursday

Fresno State at San Jose State:

Friday Night Lights

Kansas State at Texas:

Iowa (16) at Nebraska: Every tweet about this game has been more brain-bending than the last.

/shakes head in disappointment with both

Ah... ah, geez.

Hahaha.

But this, obviously, wins it all.

My kind of people.

Cincinnati (4) at East Carolina: Hold that four, Cincy. Stick it to your chest, and do not let them take it back.

Colorado at Utah (19): I've kept very quiet about this in the column, but I'm very excited about the Chicago Bulls this season -- and this pass ruled.

TCU at Iowa State:

Washington State at Washington: Huskies, this is what's called -- say it with me now -- "bowl eligibility."

also this legit crushed my hopes

And yeah, about 89% of what I said in the intro can be applied to the Apple Cup. The table never lies.

Saturday

Georgia (1) at Georgia Tech: Don't caaaaaare.

Ohio State (2) at Michigan (5): /vomits on floor

/mashes hand into vomit to try to make a block M out of vomit

* * *

But maybe the real rivalry was compensation imbalance + the friends we made along the way.

Seriously, have you thought about NIL "ruining the sport" a single, solitary time?

Maryland at Rutgers: Still always love when they play each other. Not, like, enough to watch, but you feel me, right?

UTSA (22) at North Texas: Oh hell yeah, UTSA is still undefeated.

Alabama (3) at Auburn: Does it kinda feel like Alabama's been quiet lately? No, just me?

Penn State at Michigan State (12): We'll let you know how the Rose Bowl is, Sparty.

Northwestern at Illinois: nothing left

Indiana at Purdue: 

Wisconsin (14) at Minnesota: Well, unless I am mistaken, Sconnie has to lose this shit for us to go to the Big Ten title game. Because I believe in nothing -- see column intro -- I do not believe it will happen. Being on the road helps a little though, no?

/looks up spread

Eek, Sconnie by a full 7 points. Yeah, seems about right. Well, I shall keep those tickets to Indy until they give me a reason not to.

Notre Dame (6) at Stanford: ND Nation's season peaked right here and now.

California at UCLA: One b-side from my trip to Berkeley a few weeks ago: there's just something so cool about being in a city surrounded by mountains.

They call them hills; I never felt so Midwest. But it's, like, cinematic and beautiful and, almost, like, ominous. At night, when they "go away", it just isn't quite the same.

The Jag Bag

Didn't realize I accidentally deleted The Jag Bag when I started doing The Mini Hyball a few weeks ago. No one said anything, so I'm assuming this was for the collective good.

The Mini Hyball

Iowa: Keegan Wikipedia Doesn't List His Middle Name Murray

my fav fav fav fav

What a blast that Western Michigan game was. A flurry of points and press; we soared like birds on fire.

Michigan: The Wolverines come off a two-loss week where they were jettisoned out of the Top 5 and season expectations were vastly re-calibrated. So, yes, we could talk about that, or... we could MOUSSA DIABATE.

Ah hell, let's do the whole minute highlight package.

I'll never let this go.

So yeah, very possible the season peaked there.

Because after that game?

Wrapping It Up...

This isn't the ending. This is the beginning.

Bobby Loesch is a weekly contributor to Go Iowa Awesome. Follow him on Twitter @bobbystompy or email to bobbyloesch [at] gmail.com.

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