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1:41 am EST        43°F (6°C) in Stony Ridge, **

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The name of the state that I find myself in tonight is an evil four-letter word, many times worse than “fuck,” “shit,” or “cunt,” so I had to conceal even its two-letter postal abbreviation above. See, I am concerned about all of you, my loyal readers, and I am determined to protect your virgin eyes from such filth. wink

I’ll have more on the game between Michigan and that school down south in a bit, but there are a couple things I wanted to start with. First, oh yah, yesterday was da year’s biggest ‘oliday in da U.P., eh? Yah, it was da first day of deer season, and all patriotic Yoopers made da trek to da nearest deer blind and started ta shoot, eh? Da fifteent day of November is a day of no productivity in da U.P..

Additionally, I have to present yet more evidence that so-called “fundamentalist ‘Christians’” are intractably insane, and are in fact doing everything in their power to destroy America. This article, from the international English version of the German newspaper Der Spiegel, tells the tale of a 19-year-old Polish exchange student who was forced to spend “six months in hell” with a so-called “fundamentalist” host family. Michael Gromek tells how he was forced to attend church every week; told that the devil was in him because he didn’t share in the “fundamentalist” Puritan bullshit about alcohol; told his mother was evil because she and Michael’s father are divorced; and worst yet, expected to help the “fundamentalist” host couple set up a Baptist church in his heavily Catholic homeland of Poland!

This is yet more proof that so-called “fundamentalist ‘Christians’” are not Christian in any sense of the term, but rather are just as crazy about spiritual warfare as their fundamentalist Islamic counterparts. In spite of the extremely Satanic treatment he received from his “fundamentalist” host family, Michael Gromek put on an extraordinary display of true Christian values from which “fundamentalists” such as his host family could certainly stand to learn.

He may never read this, for all I know, but I have the following to say to Michael Gromek: On behalf of all true (i.e., non-“fundamentalist”) Christians and the progressive majority of Americans, I offer our most heartfelt, sincere apologies for the way these so-called “Christians” treated you. Most of us are not like that; you had the misfortune to get stuck with a couple who represents a small Satan-inspired minority here. I do hope that you will not allow their un-Godly, anti-Christian example to color your perception of all Americans, and those of us here who truly follow the forgiving, tolerant example of Christ would be more than happy to welcome you to America again if ever the opportunity should arise. Finally, I must commend your courage in coming forward to Der Spiegel about what happened to you.

OK, now on to the biggest college football game of the year, and the biggest Michigan-O*** State game in at least 33 years. (That 1973 meeting in Ann Arbor was the last time both teams entered the game undefeated; they would play to a 10-10 tie, both finishing with identical 10-0-1 records. Big Ten athletic directors then voted to send O*** State to the Rose Bowl because Michigan quarterback Denny Franklin had been injured by the evil ones in scarlet and gray.) I’m not so much going to just hype it here, but I wanted to break it down a little bit.

The key matchup between units is going to happen when the evil scarlet-and-gray-clad ones have the football. O*** State’s offense has been one of the best-oiled machines in recent memory, putting up at least 31 points in all but three games and breaking 50 once. They are full of weapons: if the passing game from Troy Smith to Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, and Brandon Smith isn’t working, Antonio Pittman can pound the ball on the ground quite effectively. They will go up against the best Michigan defense since Blue’s championship season of 1997, which has allowed 17 points or less in all but the Notre Dame game. (The defense only gave up 17 of Ball State’s 26 points — the other nine came on Blue offensive mistakes.) Whether it’s Shawn Crable, LaMarr Woodley, and Prescott Burgess up front, or Leon Hall and Jamar Adams in the secondary, this defense really doesn’t have a weakness. Furthermore, in a good sign for Michigan, the Wolverines will have the best defense O*** State has faced this year, but Michigan has played one offense with close to this skill level before — Notre Dame.

That’s not to suggest that the Michigan offense and the O*** State defense are weak, not by any means. Mario Manningham is back from injury for Michigan, and Mike Hart provides balance from the backfield. If Hart can run for 120 yards, Michigan should beat the evil ones going away. An O*** State defense led by James Laurinaitis (the son of 1980s WWF wrestler “The Animal”) and Quinn Pitcock will try to keep them under control. The evil ones have not allowed more than 17 points this year, and have held teams to seven points or less in six of their 11 games. Meanwhile, as long as Manningham has been healthy, the Michigan offense has been good for 30 points just about every game. Michigan will have undoubtedly the best offense the evil ones in scarlet and gray have seen this year, but the same can probably be said going the other way as well.

Special-teams units for both teams are competent, if not spectacular. Garrett Rivas and Zoltan Mesko for Michigan, and Aaron Pettrey and A.J. Trapasso for the evil ones, have place-kicked and punted (respectively) solidly this year. If there is an edge here, it’s in the return game for the evil ones; Ginn is a better kick returner than Steve Breaston.

The key to victory for Michigan is going to be to show up and play Michigan defense for 60 full minutes. They have had an occasional tendency to get lackadaisical and not play up to their ability; we saw this in a couple of drives in the Notre Dame game, throughout the Ball State game, and in the fourth quarters of the Wisconsin and Minnesota games. If the defense plays 60 minutes, and the offense can move the football reasonably well, Michigan should win a close one. If the defense gets lackadaisical again and the offense struggles, O*** State will light it up and put 40 on the board easily.

There are a couple intangible factors to consider as well. Michigan has a well-known history of ruining undefeated O*** State seasons — they did so three times in the 1990s alone, in 1993, 1995, and 1996. The 1996 meeting is probably the most relevant one, as it is the only one of those three to have taken place in Columbus; the 7-3, #21 Wolverines shocked everybody in O*** by beating the second-ranked evil scarlet and gray ones, 13-9. On the other side of that equation, one has to wonder if Satan himself, the sweater-vested one Jim Tressel, has some kind of magic against Michigan; he holds a 4-1 record through his first five meetings with Blue.

I have a few more things to do before sleeping tonight, including seeing how much of a ruckus I can cause while located here in enemy territory. wink