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"I will pound you and pound you until you quit." — Woody Hayes, dead football coach and amateur sideline pugilist
FORT GRATIOT, Mich. — Has your heart rate returned to normal yet?
It's bad enough long-suffering Cleveland Browns fans have to endure desperate, frenzied last-second finishes every Sunday, but the Ohio State Buckeyes have developed a nasty habit of fantastic game endings in the waning seconds each Saturday afternoon.
Saturday's clash with arch-rival Michigan was the latest example of the college team doing what its professional counterpart up Interstate 71 does each week.
Whoo. I'm still shaking. Until Will Allen intercepted Wolverine quarterback John Navarre at the goal line with 0:00 on the clock, I don't think my heart beat at less than 200 heavy thumps a minute.
I need rum … I gotta sit down for a minute … geez, I'm winded, and I barely left the couch.
Now, hours later, the unadulterated joy still hasn't sunk in all the way.
Did they really win? Ohio teams just don't win those sorta games, do they? There's always a fumble, an interception, a late drive.
The other guys win. We don't. History says so.
It doesn't matter which of Ohio's Triple B's - Browns, Bengals or Buckeyes - is in the Big Game, they don't win. Along comes disaster, often in the form of John Elway, Michigan or Joe Montana, to snuff out hope.
For the first time since 1968, one of Ohio's pro football teams - and let's not kid ourselves, the Buckeye program is a slick NFL-style machine on and off the field - has won a game of transcendental importance.
That the Buckeyes did it is all the sweeter for Ohio, for that's the one team that unites many Browns and Bengals fans. For a few hours each Saturday, the venom of Sunday's rivalry is set aside for the shared joy of the Scarlet and Gray.
And now, the ogre is dead. Lloyd Carr's maize and blue has been sent slouching north in shame, where the populace - my hillbilly, inbred neighbors who couldn't spell ‘college education' much less earn one - will angrily feast on their remains.
For once, it was the Bad Guys collapsing down the stretch. And it's the Ultimate Sin up here in Michigan to lose to Ohio State.
There's shock and a dull ache in the brisk November air here. The locals simply can't fathom that their precious Wolverines didn't go down to Columbus and engage in the usual ball-busting rampage that so often has killed OSU's championship hopes.
Michigan fans will begin to wonder if the jinx is over for Ohio State. John Cooper's spectre sure seems dead and buried after a Buckeye coach reels off back-to-back victories under impossible circumstances. Last year, it was a mediocre OSU team winning in Ann Arbor, and now a Buckeye team no one had pegged to do much of anything has overcome 12 undefeated tons of expectations and a staggeringly discouraging recent history to beat a good UM squad.
An interesting aside: In Columbus and elsewhere in Ohio, you see a fair share of nonconformists who wear University of Michigan logo clothing year-round. One would think it's like that up here. It ain't. The Michigan State Spartans (currently the Bengals of the Big Ten) are the football team of choice here in the Land of Eminem. The East Lansing school is a much larger university, and the Ann Arbor school is seen as something more akin to Oberlin than Ohio State: rich and weird.
Anways, 13-0 sure seems sweet. Going 14-0 by defeating likely opponent No. 1 Miami in the Fiesta Bowl is almost too much to think about. The mind boggles. Joy overload, and it ain't even Christmas.
For now, let us enjoy a true rare victory of the sort we'll bore our grandchildren about.
And just maybe, the Buckeyes left enough magic for the Browns to perform another Big Easy Miracle today.
Being 6-5 will make Thanksgiving dinner taste a whole lot better.
We'll be having roasted wolverine.
PS Here's a memo to the Bengals' Chad Johnson: It's one thing to guarantee a victory over an expansion team. That doesn't take much cujones, little man. It's quite another against the Browns. So, you and you shaved-head, Pvt. Pyle-looking quarterback should take some lessons. Enjoy watching the playoffs … at home.
Doc Gonzo is a former Ohio newspaper reporter and editor whose college, Wright State, doesn't have a football team. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.