If you’re looking for a detailed, analytical preview of a 180 minute advertisement for what I can assume is the most authentic Australian cuisine you can find stateside in the guise of an exhibition football game, you’ve come to the wrong place. I recommend MGoBlog for that. Full disclosure: I’ve never been to Outback Steakhouse. I’ve only ever seen it in those commercials with the dude who’s made a career out of a fake Australian accent. I’ve been to Chili’s and Applebee’s, though, so I think I get the gist. These places offer the façade of being a cut above fast food. If you order a few beers and squint at the menu, you may convince yourself that spending twice as much to gorge on reheated appetizers is worth the added money and time. If done right, this can make for harmless fun. Usually, it ends with you feeling bloated, regretful, and unfulfilled. You probably should have just snacked on some of the fruit you had lying around and waited for dinner.
Michigan and South Carolina is a showdown commensurate with this brand. There will be a lot of good football played on New Year’s day. It will not take place in this game. However, if you’re reading this preview, you’re likely either a personal friend of mine or Dalton’s or a Michigan football junkie. As such, you may find yourself unable to avoid being in a room where the game’s on. The remainder of this preview will be dedicated to helping you decide whether you should tune in or temporarily blind and deafen yourself until you can change channels to the Peach Bowl.
Why you should watch:
- Brandon Peters will get the starting nod. While the game itself means little for Michigan this season, an impressive performance against the Gamecocks would provide Peters a boost in the inevitable quarterback duel with incoming Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson. South Carolina is Not Good, but they don’t give up a lot of points either, and Peters will have work to do behind an offensive line that probably hasn’t learned to pass protect in the last month.
- The Michigan defense is going to wreck some fools. The fake USC put up 13 points against Kentucky this year. Mo Hurst avenging the Jadeveon Clowney hit from 5 years ago would be cathartic, and would almost make his decision to jeopardize his livelihood worth it.
- Because life is in the journey, not the destination. By framing sports in terms of championship-or-bust, we often lose sight of the poetry of individual moments. Don’t get caught up in rankings or records. Stop and appreciate the impossible synchronization of a well-blocked draw. Imagine the countless repetitions, the hours of late night film study, the endless honing of the human form that coheres into one burst of power and precision to tip away a pass on 3rd and 8. Each game serves as theatre after a lifetime of rehearsal for some of the most gifted and dedicated among us.
Why you shouldn’t watch:
- The offensive line will still be painfully bad, and this game probably won’t offer any insight into how it will look next year.
- Michigan might lose. The played-out jibes about Harbaugh leaving for the NFL lead to shots fired at idiotic takes, which lead to stupid jokes about the whole fiasco, which lead to glib meta-analysis in a blog viewed by 14 people. Each Michigan loss just adds another shovel to this shit heap. Seeing it happen and knowing what’s coming makes for an agonizing experience.
- We yearn for something football will never provide. Sports fandom, for most, is an endless cavalcade of misery interrupted by brief spurts of false hope. This game will not bring absolution. Even the championship at the end of the tunnel will be a transient achievement of people most of us have never met that will one day be forgotten. The only reason we care about our particular team is because we’ve been suckered into tribal loyalty by an organization that lines its pockets at the expense of generations of exploited laborers. An improbable victory will not impart any purpose or significance on our objectively meaningless existence.
Author’s note: yes, I watch Rick and Morty