2. one.

A couple nights ago, I was flipping channels and came across Urban Meyer’s B1G kickoff luncheon news conference from Chicago last week. After watching Urban’s far-too-brief presentation, I started feeling the familiar twitch that i seem to come up with at around this time every year.

I type the schedule into our calendar. I start thinking about tailgating food. I note the Saturdays when we won’t be traveling … but when I’ll still need to be in front of a television. The players don’t report until next week … but I’m starting to get ready now.

And if the Big Ten Network turning towards football isn’t enough, there is this surprise treat from the Associated Press: A ranking of the top 100 college football programs of all time.

Guess who tops the list?

And guess who’s now really ready for the season to start?

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30. rare.

 

I’m watching the Browns play the Ravens in a Monday Night Football matchup that actually sounded decent when you looked at the schedule back in the summer. And this question occurs to me: Which is more unusual: the Browns scoring a touchdown or Uncle Crappy successfully finishing a National Blog Posting Month?

And we’re not going to find out today … because both just happened.

I can’t speak for any progress being made by the “professional” football team in Cleveland — actually, I can, but we’re going to save the angry #factoryofsadness rant for another time — but I’ve had a blast coming up with 30 blog posts this month. I’m not going to go back and look, but I can say with certainty that it’s been at least several years since I completed a full NaBloPoMo.

This also felt familiar, once I got into it. I often did these in November — that used to be the regular NaBloPoMo month — so the rhythm of the month definitely came back, especially with Ohio State’s regular season reaching a peak and reaching Thanksgiving, one of my favorite posts of any year.

charlie sleeep

And we had some new stuff too, especially with the adoption of Mr. Charlie, who has been passed out on the couch after an especially vicious mousie-hunting session.

This has been fun. As much fun as I’ve had here in quite a while. Blogging sometimes feels like a chore these days, and I definitely felt that way when I fell behind about halfway through the month. But I’ve also re-discovered the process that makes daily posting possible; even if I don’t keep this up every day going forward, it’s nice to know that I still have it in me.

It’s also nice to know that you guys are still paying attention. I’ve always known that consistent production of semi-coherent content is the best way to gain and maintain readers — do I do this enough that I’ve actually kept any of you guys around? — but it’s cool to have that reinforced. As I said yesterday, you’re the best part of this whole operation, and I’ll keep writing if you keep reading.

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The cat is awake, and that’s all I got for the month of November. Thanks, yinz guys, for your help. See you in December.

28. a different experience.

Fred made a solo trip to Ann Arbor today. Here are two of his photos from the day.

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I know what this pic, taken well before the start of the game, feels like. It’s fun, but you’re also apprehensive about the approaching afternoon. And even though you can see plenty of Buckeyes nearby, it can seem very, very lonely.

But 42 points later, I’d think things feel a little different.

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I know a little bit about what it feels like to sing Carmen Ohio on the road; I’ve done it at Michigan State and at the end of two white-out nights at Penn State. But on his first trip to a game in Ann Arbor, Fred got something that I didn’t get in two trips during the 90s: a win.

Hey, Fred. We’re going to Ann Arbor in 2017. I need to take care of that thing.

25. and we’re back.

big hole

This hasn’t been an especially intimidating place recently. Nor has the team that plays there.

That’s been bad for the Big Ten. It’s been bad for Ohio State. And it’s been bad for the greatest rivalry in sports.

And my sense is that those lean days are over.

I thought the arrival of an actual head coach — as opposed to a career coordinator — would mean an immediate improvement for Michigan. But this season’s turnaround has exceeded what I expected, and there’s a different feeling about this year’s game.

For most of the last 15 years, I went into this weekend expecting Ohio State to win. The game might be tight, but the advantages in coaching and talent almost always won out in the end.

Those advantages aren’t completely erased, but they’re closer this season than they have been in years.

Don’t get me wrong — I’ve enjoyed the hell out of Ohio State’s 12-3 run since 2000. It’s been crazy fun. But we’re returning to the real fun of this game — the intensity, the uncertainty, the fact that it matters.

It’s all back. And I’m ready.