Why Ohio State is going to win

Troy Smith doesn’t lose to Michigan.

Lloyd Carr chokes in big games the same way Charlie Weis chokes when he eats a Big N’ Tasty in a single bite, err – gulp.

The Game, excuse me ” THE GAME, is being played in Columbus, in front of a vibrant sea of scarlet and gray that’s just so damn arrogant – OK fine, we’re obnoxious – about their team.

Those thoughts immediately came to mind when I was asked to write about why Ohio State will defeat Michigan tomorrow (As did thoughts of my boss firing me for wearing my “F!%$ Michigan” T-shirt to work this weekend. Penn State fans have no sense of humor, I tell ya.)

But what do you say we revisit those three points in a moment? Is that OK? I’ll take that as a nod.

So let’s forget all the intricacies of this special rivalry for a second and simply consider the talent level of each team.

Moreover, let’s consider the talent at the high school level in each team’s home state.

It’s an uneven playing field.

Ohio claims football factories like Massillon Washington, St. Ignatius, Glenville and the Cincinnati parochials. Michigan prep schools, conversely, are best associated with their proximity to 8 Mile.

“Normally you’re going to see Ohio has more talent [than Michigan] coming out of high school,” said Kevin Noon, publisher of Buckeyegrove.com, which is powered by the popular recruiting service, Rivals.com. “I can say that pretty safely.”

Noon went on to say what many of us already know – Ohio traditionally trails only Florida, California and Texas, and occasionally Pennsylvania, in terms of high school football talent. Michigan, meanwhile, isn’t even the second best state in the Midwest.

Add that to the fact our head coach has built an abundance of solid relationships with high school coaches from around the state, it’s no wonder OSU has won four of five, soon to be five of six, in the Jim Tressel Era.

“Tressel, since he’s been at Ohio State, has made it more of a focus to keep the Ohio talent in Ohio,” Noon said.

To be fair, Carr has the reputation of a fine recruiter, too. He’s entered the Buckeye state on numerous occasions and won the services of several elite Ohio players, including eventual Heisman Trophy winner Chuck Woodson (Fremont Ross). More recently Carr was able to land current stars like Mario Manningham and Prescott Burgess (both from Warren Harding) and Shawn Crable (Massillon Washington).

But Carr’s job became much harder when Tressel arrived in Buckeyeland six years ago. Carr now has to convince Ohio’s best that his cooking is the tastiest. All the while, these same players have been smelling what’s concocting in Columbus for the last half a decade. And they like it.

Ohio uber prep stars Ted Ginn (Glenville), Antonio Pittman (Buchtel), Alex Boone (St. Edward’s), Chris Wells (Hoban) and Marcus Freeman (Wayne) were all offered scholarships from Michigan. But all eventually broke the news to Carr that they were staying home.

“I would say Ohio State has done a pretty good job of keeping the top talent, that they want, at home,” Noon said. “Generally in a head-to-head battle, it’s been difficult for Michigan to beat Ohio State on a kid that doesn’t have a tie to Michigan.”

I promised I’d come back to my initial statements about Smith, Carr and The Shoe. I lied. I don’t want to talk about them anymore. Besides, you know the routine by now. It goes like this: Tressel is a better in-game coach than Carr. Smith is the best college quarterback since, well, Vince Young. Columbus will be at an unparalleled frenzy come tomorrow. You already know these things.

You should also know there won’t be a rematch in the national championship game.

Thanks for coming, Michigan. Don’t forget your complimentary bouquet of roses.

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