"WE DON'T Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan."
Although that song usually is associated with that university at Ann Arbor, it can apply to other parts of that state up North, especially as the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes face the No. 10/9 Michigan State Spartans Saturday for the Big Ten Championship title and its far-reaching aspects.
My good friend and co-worker Mike Palmer, who is more musically inclined than I, suggested the song for this week's column.
As Palmer said, "The song title clearly states that being from OH-IO that we hate the 'whole state' of Michigan, in its entirety. Clearly, this song was never intended to be specific to one school. Therefore, I feel it is my duty as a Buckeye fan to follow the lyrics to the letter and give no quarter to any Michigander, whether they be Yoopers or Spartans."
Animosity between the two states dates back to the 1830s, and it nearly involved shooting because of the high feeling between Ohio and Michigan about the boundary between them. Legendary OSU coach Woody Hayes once commented about the rivalry and noted, "Well, the real fight started back in 1836 when Andrew Jackson, that wily old cuss, took Toledo away from that state up North and gave it to us."
The Buckeyes and the Spartans currently aren't concerned about a boundary line. They're battling for the Big Ten Championship title with the accompanying Amos Alonzo Stagg Championship Trophy as well as a chance to play in one of two games in Pasadena, either the 100th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1 or the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game on Jan. 6.
Emerging as the victor Saturday won't be easy for either team as OSU's offense leads the Big Ten and is sixth nationally while the Spartans' defense ranks No. 1 in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. As to records this season, OSU's winning streak of 24 games currently is the longest in the nation and has set a record at OSU, and the Spartans are 11-1 with an 8-0 record in the Big Ten.
It's the second time since 1943 that two Big Ten teams have completed regular season with perfect conference marks.
Buckeye offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman thinks "it's fantastic for the Big Ten to have this showcase," and there'll be "kind of strength against strength a little bit on different sides of the football."
OSU head football coach Urban Meyer said Michigan State has "as fine a defense as there is in America. Very good players, excellent scheme, well-coached." He added for the Spartans' first 11 games, "they are the most improved offense, certainly in the Big Ten and maybe one of the most improved in America."
Spartan head football coach Mark Dantonio, a Zanesville native who was a graduate assistant at OSU in 1983-84 as well as defensive coordinator there from 2001-03, said he has deep respect for the Buckeyes and what they've accomplished.
"When you look at OSU right now, I think obviously you always look at three facets of every football team," Dantonio said. "You look at their offense, certainly No. 1 offense in the Big Ten Conference, nationally ranked, excellent tailback, powerful runner, outstanding quarterback in Braxton Miller. Carlos Hyde is obviously an outstanding running back. I think they've got very talented wide receivers. Devin Smith, obviously Corey Brown, you go in and you look at Evan Spencer is a guy who's played a lot of football for them. Offensive line is experienced."
He also noted that it would be exciting for the Spartan defense to match up against the Buckeyes.
Dantonio also mentioned three goals which had been set for this year. No. 1 already has been accomplished, and the No. 2 goal is up Saturday. He explained that the No. 1 goal "was for us to get to this football game (Saturday), because you can't go to the Rose Bowl unless you get to this football game." The No. 2 goal is to get to the Rose Bowl, and Goal No. 3 is "to win our bowl game and to finish and to complete our circle. That's our circle," according to the coach.
Saturday's game in which OSU is the champion of the Big Ten Conference Leaders Division and the Spartans are the Legends Division champion marks the 42nd meeting between the two teams. OSU leads the all-time series 28-13 and has been the winner in eight of the last nine overall. Last year, the Buckeyes defeated the Spartans 17-16 in East Lansing.
OSU'S MILLER and Hyde respectively have been named Big Ten's Griese-Brees Quarterback of the Year and Big Ten's Ameche-Dayne Running Back of the Year. Other Buckeyes earning first-team, all-Big Ten honors are Corey Linsley, Jack Newhort, Andrew Norwell, Bradley Roby, Ryan Shazier and Noah Spence.
SPARTAN Darqueze Dennard was named the Tatum-Woodson Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, and Shilique Calhoun was selected as the Smith-Brown Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Other Spartans receiving first-team honors were Max Bullough, Kurtis Drummond, Isaiah Lewis and Mike Sadler.
SATURDAY'S game, which is in Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, will begin at 8:17 p.m., and it will be televised by FOX.