The fourth installment of the BlogPoll Roundtable is humming at Blue Gray Sky. Lou Holtz is not mentioned. I plan to keep it that way.
Here we go:
1. Who are your rival(s)?
Traditionally Michigan has one "rival": whoever they're playing that week. Due to a tendency to lose to teams made up of guys who have to wear helmets both on and off the field on a semi-regular basis despite being, like, totally the best team except for those losses, everyone in the Big Ten has been given the erroneous impression that Michigan is still smarting over that Halcyon Year We Beat Them. Even teams that Michigan owns--Penn State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota--believe themselves to be rivals.
And honestly, given recent events up to five frigging teams could be considered rivals: ND, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, and Penn State. Notre Dame has managed to beat Michigan regularly despite being completely crappy. Michigan State loses two of three but cheats so unbelievably heinously to win the ones they do that all Michigan fans preserve a burning hatred for them and their clock stopping ways. Ohio State... well, duh. Iowa is the new Big Ten power and have beaten us two of the last three years. Penn State, well, they're just freaking flipping out about getting totally 0WNZ0R3D. It's not much of a stretch to say that the 34-8 waxing Michigan put on the #1 Lions in '97 started the downward spiral they remain on to this very day. Michigan beat them every year after that until the last two, when they didn't play. This has driven most Penn State fans who post on the Internet completely freaking insane.
But, really. It's OSU, ND, and MSU. In that order.
2. Size up your chances in your rival games this year.
Don't listen to Joey, man, we be killin' em this year. Killing them. Eh... maybe. Notre Dame and Ohio State are at home. ND's defense is mostly new and has only one guy that I'm particularly concerned about, DE Victor Abiamiri, and a secondary that looks very exploitable. Michigan should move the ball well. On the other side of the ball... well, Quinn is pretty good but I'm underwhelmed by their receivers. Walker managed to rack up a lot of yards last year but took a ton of carries to do it. His average was under four yards a carry. The Irish will score but I think Michigan wins. Call it Rather Good.
in the house.
Ohio State... well, it's at home. They have major issues at cornerback past Youbouty and I am still fervent in my belief that Troy Smith is a really crappy quarterback. They have no running backs. But Ginn, linebackers, etc. Meh, again.
3. If you could start up a new rivalry with another team, who would it be?
USC. Michigan has a history with the Trojans; unfortunately it largely consists of losing Rose Bowls. I would like a regular shot at redemption and the occasional visit from the Trojans. No other set of helmets walking into Michigan Stadium would have the same historical relevance.
4. Overall, what do you think the best rivalry in college football is?
I have been advised to avoid the homer pick here. But the best rivalry must have a boatload of tradition, teams that are consistently among the nation's best, a competitive furor that hamstrings the national aspirations of both teams, and a huge heaping helping of some good old-fashioned hatred.
There is no other.
5. Lastly, game trophies. What are the best and worst rivalry trophies out there?
- Does it have a grandiose name resembling that of a medieval knight? Check.
- Would it look natural on the mantle of the crazy old lady in the neighborhood with 100 cats? Check.
- Is it absolutely, completely ridiculous in every way? Check.
- Does it remind you of bratwurst, tailgate food of the gods? Check.
- Is it a totally meaningless trophy based on a fictitious non-rivalry created by conference realignment that has never, ever been significant to either school? Check.
So irrelevant this was the best picture I could find.