’ Tis the sea­son for get­ting car­ried away

The Detroit News - - Front Page - Bob.wojnowski@de­troit­news.com twit­ter.com/bob­wo­jnowski

You want to be­lieve the Buck­eyes are done. I know you do. I know how you think. The mo­ment you saw Ok­la­homa’s Baker May­field stick a flag in the mid­dle of Ohio State’s field, you thought of sad Ur­ban Meyer chew­ing on cold pizza while con­tem­plat­ing whether he needs to spend more time with his fam­ily again. Hey, it’s a nat­u­ral re­ac­tion, es­pe­cially with the Buck­eyes get­ting stomped in two of their last three games.

Lis­ten. In case you haven’t no­ticed, tired old themes tend to re­peat them­selves over and over again in col­lege foot­ball, much like the themes in this col­umn. (Shut up.) And the sober­ing truth is, Buck­eye fans won’t be sober un­til mid-De­cem­ber. The other sober­ing truth is, you can’t plant flags and bury teams too early, no mat­ter how much fun it is.

I’m not say­ing fans are re­ac­tionary, and some even can be — how do I put this del­i­cately? — bat-(blank) crazy. I’m just say­ing, when Michi­gan was cling­ing to a 17-14 lead in the sec­ond half against Cincin­nati last week, Michi­gan fans were fu­ri­ously crushing wine glasses against their fore­heads and toss­ing sushi rolls onto the field.

Down in Colum­bus, as J.T. Bar­rett was dis­tribut­ing free foot­balls to friends and fam­ily in the front row, Buck­eye fans were claw­ing their eyes out with the jagged edges of to­bacco tins. It was all very un­pleas­ant, and un­nec­es­sary. When fans say to me in mid-Septem­ber that a sea­son’s over — and they’re not talk­ing about Rut­gers — I just roll my eyes*. (*Har­baugh trade­mark).

So be­fore any­one hands the Big Ten East ti­tle to Penn State, Michi­gan State or Mary­land, let’s give the Wolver­ines and Buck­eyes a chance to re­fine. Let’s wait a bit, un­less ei­ther one loses this week, and then you can re­sume your role as So­cial Me­dia Jus­tice War­rior, ham­mer­ing out CAP­I­TAL LET­TERS and *&$#&% Wal­ton Spate!!” while trag­i­cally show­ing your in­ca­pable of ba­sic gram­mer and punkcu­a­tion.

In a co­in­ci­den­tal quirk, ser­vice acad­e­mies Air Force and Army visit Ann Ar­bor and Colum­bus Satur­day. Th­ese could be tougher games than peo­ple ex­pect, un­like in the SEC, where Ge­or­gia re­port­edly is host­ing Mer­chant Marine.

This is a big week for the Wolver­ines, who are ranked ahead of the Buck­eyes for the first time since the Ben­nie Ooster­baan era. Air Force comes in with its tricky triple op­tion of­fense, which is a mis­nomer be­cause all three op­tions are run, run, and also run. That’s dif­fer­ent than Michi­gan’s triple op­tion th­ese days, which is run, over­throw, fum­ble*. (* Eye roll).

Michi­gan is a heavy fa­vorite, but be­fore you get cocky, you should know Air Force leads the na­tion in scor­ing of­fense, scor­ing de­fense, rush­ing of­fense, to­tal of­fense and to­tal de­fense. I could point out that’s all from one game, a 62-0 vic­tory over VMI, but that would be TMI.

Nev­er­the­less, the Fal­cons have won seven straight, and the Wolver­ines (2-0) can’t treat this like just an­other SEC patsy. For in­stance, Air Force’s pro­lific run­ning at­tack pretty much elim­i­nates Michi­gan’s best of­fen­sive weapon – the in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for a touch­down.

If Air Force is go­ing to refuse to make mis­takes, Michi­gan will be forced to do the same. Af­ter a week of get­ting crit­i­cized for win­ning by a mod­est mar­gin, I sus­pect when the Wolver­ines take the field in the Big House, we won’t hear boos from the stands. But, uh, we do need to hear boo from the of­fense.

Mean­while in Colum­bus, the smoke has just lifted, and Meyer is done pick­ing through dis­carded pizza boxes. The Buck­eyes aren’t used to be­ing em­bar­rassed — I mean, for rea­sons other than off-field chi­canery or fan buf­foon­ery. And yes, May­field was com­pletely within his rights to stick a flag in the mid­dle of the O, af­ter the Soon­ers’ 31-16 vic­tory. His apol­ogy af­ter­ward was un­nec­es­sary, although he cer­tainly should’ve of­fered thoughts and prayers to Ohio State’s bat­tered sec­ondary.

The prob­lem is, Meyer is like Air Force +23.5 at Michi­gan Notre Dame -13 at Bos. Col­lege Ge­or­gia State +37 at Penn State Ok­la­homa State -13 at Pitts­burgh Wis­con­sin -161⁄ at BYU

2 N. Illi­nois +131⁄ at Ne­braska

2 Clem­son -3 at Louisville Pur­due +7 at Mis­souri Tu­lane +35 at Ok­la­homa Bowl­ing Green +211⁄ at N’western

2 Ten­nessee +4 at Florida Army +30 at Ohio State Colorado State +281⁄ at Alabama

2 Cen. Michi­gan +10 at Syra­cuse Idaho +20 at Western Michi­gan Last week Over­all Best bets

Air Force Bos­ton Col­lege

Penn State Pitts­burgh

BYU Ne­braska North­west­ern

Florida Ohio State This week’s guest se­lec­tor is Ron Jo­let of Dear­born Heights. Jo­let was the win­ner of the Wojo Picks con­test (de­troit­news.com/wo­jopicks) with a record 10-3-1. a bloody, masked char­ac­ter from a hor­ror film, only less charm­ing. It takes more than one well-aimed jab to stop him from ter­ror­iz­ing in­no­cent neigh­bor­hoods that don’t re­cruit as well. Last sea­son, the Buck­eyes were done af­ter a 24-21 loss at Penn State, then got un­done and reached the play­off, where Clem­son stuck a 31-0 stick in them.

In 2014, the Buck­eyes were done af­ter an early 35-21 home loss to Vir­ginia Tech, then got un­done and won the na­tional ti­tle. It hap­pens all the time. Clem­son won the ti­tle last sea­son de­spite a 43-42 home loss to Pitts­burgh in Novem­ber. Alabama won the ti­tle in 2015 de­spite a Clem­son Mis­souri Ok­la­homa Alabama

Cen­tral Western 2-11-1 9-19-1


Michi­gan Bos­ton Col­lege

Penn State Ok­la­homa State Wis­con­sin Ne­braska Clem­son Pur­due

Tu­lane North­west­ern

Florida Ohio State Alabama

Cen­tral Western

6-7-1 11-17-1

1-1 43-37 home loss to Mis­sis­sippi, back when the Rebels were only sus­pected cheaters.

The point is, you have to be care­ful how you re­act to big vic­to­ries and big de­feats. In col­lege, you can never get too high (no mat­ter how hard you try) or too low. When Duke shocked North­west­ern last week, I heard the Blue Devils cel­e­brated by smash­ing a chem­istry beaker at mid­field. When Alabama beat Fresno State by a mere 41-10, I heard Nick Sa­ban strode to mid­field and de­moted half his start­ing of­fense.

And af­ter Michi­gan State stunned Western Michi­gan, I heard the Spar­tans raised a MAC ban­ner, then de­cided to take the week off. An odd strat­egy, but hey, this is an odd sport. I as­sume we’ll see a slight re­turn to nor­malcy this week. What­ever that is.

Pick: Michi­gan 31, Air Force 13

More picks

Army at Ohio State: Boy, Meyer sure knows how to fi­na­gle things. His team’s pass de­fense ap­pears to have a nasty al­lergy to the scent of re­ceivers, so now here comes Army, which is av­er­ag­ing pre­cisely — I’m not mak­ing this up — 8.5 pass­ing yards per game. If there’s a flag­plant­ing af­ter this one, even the bel­liger­ent Buck­nuts will have to salute. Pick: Ohio State 37-9

Clem­son at Louisville: Clem­son is the de­fend­ing na­tional cham­pion and — gasp — might be even bet­ter. La­mar Jack­son is the de­fend­ing Heis­man win­ner and – gasp – might be even bet­ter. The loser here is out of it, out of it, I tell you! No chance of re­cov­ery! Pick: Clem­son 27-20

Notre Dame at Bos­ton Col­lege: Notre Dame didn’t get a flag planted af­ter a 20-19 home loss, but Ge­or­gia fans did take over the sta­dium. Let’s just say, the Dawgs went to mid­field af­ter­ward and did their busi­ness. Pick: Notre Dame 34-13

Ge­or­gia State at Penn State: It was quite the snippy week in col­lege foot­ball. Fol­low­ing the Nit­tany Lions’ redemp­tion vic­tory over ri­val Pitt, James Franklin sniffed, “for their win last year, it was like the Su­per Bowl. For us, it’s like beat­ing Akron.” Not sure who should be more of­fended, Pitt or Akron? Pick: Penn State 48-7


Kyle Robert­son/Colum­bus Dis­patch

Ok­la­homa quar­ter­back Baker May­field po­litely wiped the turf with Ohio State, then not-so-po­litely planted his flag in Ohio State’s turf.

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