Digital Headbutt

A sports blog about stuff…stuff that involves things.

Time for Two-a-Days: UNC-NC State, #1 Ohio State-#2 Michigan

Posted by Mike on November 18, 2006

Thanksgiving approaches, and for football fans like me this means only one thing: college football rivalries! For the next two weeks, we’ll see some of the biggest rivalries in college football: Alabama-Auburn, Texas-Texas A&M, Florida-Florida State, Colorado-Nebraska, LSU-Arkansas, Virginia-Va. Tech, Oregon-Oregon State, and USC-Notre Dame, to name a few. I will be covering two games in particular. First, I will stick to my alma mater and cover UNC vs. NC State, and then I will cover the Game of the Year: OSU-Michigan, #1 vs. #2.

First at noon in UNC vs. NC State. With his impending dismissal, this will be John Bunting’s final home game as head coach. If the Tar Heels watn to win one for Coach, they will need the Joe Dailey from the Notre Dame game to show up (3 TD, 0 INT) instead of the Joe Dailey we all know and love (2 TD, 9 INT). The Heels will need to keep the defense honest by giving the ball to their best athlete, Ronnie McGill. They simply haven’t given him the ball enough. Meanwhile the defense played very well last week against Georgia Tech, forcing turnovers and not allowing the Yellow Jackets to get the ball to Calvin Johnson. They will need a repeat performance if they want to win.

NC Sate is also a struggling squad, and Chuck Amato is in some hot water of his own. After a promising start they have lost five games in a row. Still, they have good defense and UNC will have to watch out for their running game, led by Andre Brown and Toney Baker.

I never thought I’d be more excited about a non-UNC game, but this is no ordinary day.  #1 Ohio State plays #2 Michigan. This is perhaps the biggest game ever in their historic rivalry. The winner of this game can almost certainly punch their ticket to the National Championship game. Adding to the story of the game was yesterday’s passing of legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, bringing back memories of the Ten Year War from 1969-1978, when Bo coached against Woody Hayes’ Ohio State team, at which point this became college football’s premier rivalry.

Fast forward to the present. Ohio State will be led today by Troy Smith, considered to be this year’s leading Heisman trophy candidate. He will have plenty of weapons to work with, including RB Antonio Pittman and WRs Ted Ginn and Anthony Gonzalez. The surprise of the team, however, has been their defense. In spite of losing 9 starters from their squad last year, in 2006 Ohio State has the best scoring defense in the NCAA. The Buckeyes have yet to truly be challenged this season.

Today, they will get their challenge from Michigan.  The Wolverines are undoubtedly worthy of the hype; Wisconsin and Notre Dame are dominant teams this season, but they have each lost only once, to Michigan. After going 7-5 last season, few expected the Wolverines to perform this well. The key to their success is that this year, star RB Mike Hart has been healthy all year, allowing Chad Henne to more efficiently throw the ball (having a multi-dimensional offense makes it more difficult for the defense to stop them). Their defense is also the best the Buckeyes have faced this year.

My cousin Jimi is a big fan of the Buckeyes. Guess who I’m rooting for?

Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The leaders and best
Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
The champions of the West!

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