Think of me, Ohio, as the little voice that whispers in your ear, the one you know is right, even when it sounds wrong.

Michigan is going to win.

Got that?

Think of me as bad news. Think of me as your evil next-door neighbor. Think of me as the grown-up who tells you Santa Claus is fake, and that the Easter Bunny is roasting in a stew.

Michigan is going to win.

Got that?

Deep down, Ohio, you know this is true. Deep down you already know my message. The scarlet and gray are secondary colors this year. The primary colors are maize and blue. Deep down you know this. And you know I know you know it.

Ohio State vs. Michigan? It is not a match. Not at all. This is the same Ohio State that lost its first two games of the season? This is the same Ohio State that one of your own writers called “as dull as the Weather Channel”?

One of your own writers, Ohio?

Oh, my.

Think of me as the seer of truth. I see this Ohio State team, and I see the mighty Michigan Wolverines. I see them on the field together Saturday.

I say forget it.

Michigan is going to win.

Got that?

“But, but . . . Jim Karsatos!” you say.

Come now. Is that a quarterback’s name? Karsatos?

“But, but . . . Tom Tupa!” you say.

I won’t even touch that one.

“Earle Bruce? . . . ” you say.

Come now. What is Earle Bruce? Woody Hayes was good, but Woody is gone. His pupil, Bo Schembechler, now carries the torch. Admit it. Bo is the coach you wish you had. When no one is around you look at his picture, you see him throwing those headphones, and you are filled with envy.

Why not? You are stuck with a coach with two first names.

Michigan is going to win.

Got that?

Do not talk to me about tradition. I know from tradition. I am speaking from a place they call the Great Lakes State. I am speaking to a place called the Buckeye State. A buckeye is either a tree or a nut, depending on your dictionary. Do you have trees? You certainly have nuts. Why else would someone live in Toledo?

“But, but . . . Columbus!” you say.

“Big deal,” I say. Ann Arbor is an academic utopia, a picturesque town of rolling hills, outdoor cafes and late-night bookstores.

Columbus has a Denny’s.

Is it still open?

I am speaking, in Michigan, about a school that has produced a president of the United States. About a state that boasts Lee Iacocca and Smokey Robinson. Not that Ohio is without its famous citizens. It is the birthplace of Mr. Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon.

I’d say he wanted out of Ohio pretty bad, wouldn’t you?

“But, but . . . ” you say.

“No buts,” I say.

Where is Ohio? You ask and they are never sure. Is it next to Indiana, or maybe New Jersey? Is it the Midwest or the Mideast? No one knows. No one cares. It is not for me to call any state nondescript. But there are many people who believe that if I-75 did not exist, neither would Ohio.

Read my lips.

Michigan is going to win.

Got that?

The Wolverines have done all they can to soften the blow. Haven’t they? They will play the game in your back yard. Won’t they? They lost to Minnesota last weekend — just so you could run around this week saying, “See? Somebody beat them!” They are understanding. They have done all they can.

Now is the time for the action. Now is the time for the school that has never been out of the Top 10 this year to whip the team that has sneaked in from the basement. Here are some names. Jim Harbaugh. Jamie Morris. Andy Moeller.

Boo!

“But, but . . . ” you say.

“No buts,” I say.

Stay in bed Saturday, Ohio. Do not go out. Cook up some Ohio eggs and some Ohio toast and listen to something pretty, like classical music. That’s the stuff without the banjos.

The facts are in. You cannot win. Not a state that has given us Cleveland.

Think of me as trouble. Think of me as a brewing storm. Think of me as your hidden attic, the place where all your secret fears are stored. I speak only the truth. What will be will be. This is what will be:

Michigan will come. Michigan will conquer. Michigan will leave.

No, you can’t come back with us.

Sorry.

CUTLINE:

An Ohio State student draws the battle line forSaturday’s game with Michigan at Columbus

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