This weekend’s got a strong slate of games, including notable clashes between Georgia and Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma, Pittsburgh and Penn State, and Auburn and Clemson.
It’s objectively true, however, that none looms larger in the national consciousness than the first-ever meeting between the Michigan Wolverines and the Cincinnati Bearcats.
Recognizing that the magnitude of this historic game requires something bigger than our regular writing staff can deliver, we’ve brought in several guest commentators - a representative alumnus from each school, one who we think accurately captures the average graduate of their institution. These two will debate the relative merits of each team, and help us forecast what awaits in Saturday’s epic battle.
MODERATOR: Thank you for being with us today. Representing the University of Michigan, we have [checks card] Kevin Calloway, 2011 graduate of Michigan law, practicing lawyer, and frequent sports blog commenter - you may know him better as “3LKevin”.
KEVIN: You know that Michigan law has always been down, down!
MODERATOR: I will assume that that is some sort of popular culture reference that relates to your screen name and will acknowledge it no further. Welcome, Kevin. Meanwhile, representing the University of Cincinnati, we have another lawyer-
KEVIN: [nods, smugly]
MODERATOR: - former Solicitor General, Secretary of War, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and 27th President of the United States, William Howard Taft.
TAFT: OH HO HO THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME HERE TODAY.
KEVIN: Wait what
TAFT: I WAS TOLD I WOULD BE ENGAGING IN A SPIRITED DEBATE WITH A FELLOW BARRISTER, NOW, TELL ME, IS THIS HIS HOUSE BOY? WHERE’S YOUR MASTER, LAD?
MODERATOR: This is Kevin, he is a wholly representative graduate of the University of Michigan.
TAFT: [chortling massively] IS THIS UNIVERSITY BESET BY CHOLERA? MY BOY, YOU LOOK LIKE SOMETHING MY DOCTOR ADMINISTERED TO SOOTHE MY DIGESTION!
KEVIN: Aren’t you dead?
TAFT: I SHOULD ASK THE SAME OF YOU, YOUNG MAN
KEVIN: This feels like a setup. This is not fair.
MODERATOR: I’m not sure what you’re talking about. We picked entirely representative alumni from each school.
KEVIN: HE’S WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT
MODERATOR: I’m sorry, he was the most average graduate they had. It’s not like he was an especially good president. The school’s just that good. I mean, when you’re drawing from alumni like Salmon P. Chase, Michael Graves, Kenesaw Mountain Landis -
KEVIN: And you couldn’t find anyone equal to represent Michigan?
MODERATOR: [reviewing notes] nope, just a bunch of lawyers who talk about sports on the internet. Also Francois Duvalier.
KEVIN: What about Gerald Ford!?
MODERATOR: I don’t know who that is. Now, can we get on with the debate?
TAFT: YES, I SAY, SMALL MAN, LET’S DISCUSS THIS UPCOMING PIGSKIN PUGILISM. IT’S HIGH TIME YOU MITTEN MEN FACE DOWN YOUR FEARS AND FINALLY ENGAGE US ON THE GRIDIRON! YOU’VE DODGED US FOR QUITE SOME TIME NOW, QUITE SOME TIME
KEVIN: I- I don’t think it’s safe to categorize the lack of past meetings between our schools as being caused by any sort of fear on Michigan’s part, I mean, we’re wildly disparate programs in terms of historical success, and-
TAFT: AH, SO WE AGREE! YOU LADS HAVE NEVER EVEN WON THE VICTORY BELL!
KEVIN: The- I’m sorry, the what?
TAFT: THE VICTORY BELL, AWARDED TO THE WINNER OF THE ANNUAL SCUFFLE BETWEEN THE UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI AND MIAMI UNIVERSITY OF OHIO. IT’S ONE OF COLLEGIATE FOOTBALL’S MOST PRESTIGIOUS TROPHIES, AND-
KEVIN: Well so that seems like it’s only for the Ohio schools-
TAFT: AH, MY, YES, I KNOW YOU DO HAVE A BIT OF TROUBLE WITH TEAMS FROM OHIO, I’M SORRY TO BRING IT UP, STILL A BIT OF A SORE SPOT, LIKE WHEN I LOST THE ELECTION TO WOODROW WILSON
KEVIN: This is really off-track.
TAFT: OF COURSE, I ONLY LOST TO WILSON THE ONCE, NOT FOURTEEN TIMES IN SIXTEEN YEARS
KEVIN: Can we actually talk about the game? Michigan looked very strong on both sides of the ball in their opener against Florida, with the defensive line keeping the Gators’ offense on their heels the entire gam-
TAFT: MY WORD, YOU KEPT THE FLORIDA GATORS’ OFFENSE AT BAY? I COULD’VE USED A STRATEGIST LIKE YOU IN THE PHILIPPINE-AMERICAN WAR, YOU’RE AN EXPERT IN WINNING UNLOSABLE BATTLES
KEVIN: If we’re being entirely fair here, Cincinnati struggled in Week 1 to put away Austin Peay, who went 0-11 in FCS play last year, I’d find that concerning if I were you. The Bearcats might be struggling to institute new coach Luke Fickell’s system and recover from the stagnation Tommy Tuberville had left their program in.
TAFT: MY BOY, IF YOU THINK AUSTIN PEAY’S AN EASY OPPONENT, YOU HAVEN’T TRIED TO TEACH EVOLUTION IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN 1920s TENNESSEE
TAFT: AUSTIN PEAY, NOW THERE WAS A MAN WITH STYLE. WORKED HARD, ACCOMPLISHED A LOT IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME, AND DIED IN OFFICE. REMINDS ME OF LLOYD CARR.
KEVIN: Lloyd’s not d-
TAFT: SON JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T FOUND A BODY DOESN’T MEAN JIM TRESSEL DIDN’T BURY A MAN
KEVIN: It seems like you’re deflecting onto a lot of Ohio State-centric insults here because you’re wholly unconfident about Cincinnati’s chances in this game
TAFT: IT SEEMS LIKE YOU’RE RUNNING A METACOMMENTARY ON THE WAY THIS DEBATE IS BEING CONSTRUCTED
MODERATOR: Any final predictions for this game?
KEVIN: Michigan 38, Cincinnati 10.
TAFT: [ignoring the question] SON THERE’S ONE OTHER UNIVERSITY OF CINCINNATI ALUMNUS I’D LIKE YOU TO MEET
URBAN MEYER: Hello, Kevin.
KEVIN: This entire thing was pointless.
TAFT: SO WAS THE PAYNE-ALDRICH TARIFF ACT