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RoWINg to Ohio State - Opponent Preview

What do you say we talk about something else?

Tulane v Ohio State Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Can I be honest with you? I don’t like the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ chances of beating the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday. I know that may come as a shock to you, but I just don’t see it happening, barring a miracle. So I’m really not all that interested in talking about the ways in which the Buckeyes will impose their will upon the Gophers. I’d much rather talk about a different kind of bloodbath, especially since we’re in the month of October.

I’d like to talk about horror movies.

But we’ll have to at least pretend we’re talking about Ohio State.

Were they any good last year?

Record: 12-2 (8-1, 1st B1G East)
S&P+ Overall Ranking: 1st

The Buckeyes were good enough to win the Big Ten Championship, but somehow not good enough to beat Iowa (WTF?), which likely kept them out of the College Football Playoff. Bummer.

You know what was also good last year? Gerald’s Game. While director Andy Muschietti’s update of IT was the Stephen King adaptation that captured the most buzz and Jordan Peele’s Get Out stands tall as one of the best movies of last year, Gerald’s Game deserves more attention than your average Netflix original. Stephen King’s book was long thought to be “unfilmable,” but co-writer and director Mike Flanagan was more than up to the challenge, and Carla Gugino gives a career-defining performance in the lead role.

Flanagan is a name to remember. Two of his previous films, Hush and Before I Wake, are also available to stream on Netflix. He was also responsible for Oculus and Ouija - Origin of Evil, a sequel that is much better than it has any right to be considering the bargain bin quality of its predecessor. Flanagan’s next work, a limited series adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, premieres on Netflix on Friday. I know I’ll be checking it out.

What about this year?

Record: 6-0 (3-0, T-1st B1G East)
S&P+ Overall Ranking: 4th

The Buckeyes are good again, undefeated after having mounted come-from-behind victories over TCU and Penn State, but I don’t know if they’re as good as Hereditary.

Now, I understand that reactions to Hereditary have been mixed. A24, the distributor, is no stranger to polarizing audiences, having released both The Witch and It Comes At Night. I certainly don’t think the marketing did Hereditary any favors, but I can’t say I blame them for promoting a critic’s blurb as enticing as, “This generation’s The Exorcist but heads will spin more savagely.” To me, writer-director Ari Aster’s succinct description is much closer to the pin: “A family tragedy that curdles into a nightmare.” It’s about a family in mourning that allows their greed to fester into anger and resentment, leading them down a path of self-destruction (helped along by some supernatural forces beyond their control).

Toni Collette’s performance was worth the price of admission alone, in my opinion.

But I am excited for Halloween next week and Suspiria next month.

Can they score on offense?

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Ohio State will have much of a problem scoring against a Minnesota defense that has allowed a combined 90 points in their first two games of conference play. Honestly, I think I’d rather you Drag Me To Hell than have to watch Buckeyes quarterback Dwayne Haskins pick apart a vulnerable Gopher secondary.

Director Sam Raimi’s most iconic horror film will always be The Evil Dead — although I think there is a group of fans out there who favor the sequel — but I reserve a special place in my heart for Drag Me To Hell, his return to the genre after completing the Spider-Man trilogy.

The set-up is a stroke of cruel genius: Christine Brown is a kindhearted bank loan officer who, in a bid for a coveted promotion, engages in an uncharacteristic act of casual cruelty, denying an elderly woman a third extension on her mortgage. In what could perhaps be considered an overreaction, the elderly woman responds by cursing Christine to eternal damnation.

The film is ripe with Raimi’s unique stamp of pitch black humor that made the Evil Dead trilogy so popular, and the ending hinges one of the most cruel twists of fate ever put to film.

Please tell me the Gophers will be able to score

Of the six opponents the Buckeyes have faced up to this point, only Rutgers failed to score a touchdown. I’d like to think the Gophers are better than the Scarlet Knights, but we’ll find out for sure on Saturday whether Minnesota’s offense will be more Trick ‘r Treat.

Anthology television shows are in vogue, but on the silver screen there is no genre that has experimented more with anthologies than horror. From George A. Romero’s Creepshow and 1983’s Twilight Zone - The Movie to more recent examples like V/H/S and Ghost Stories, there are plenty of examples to choose from. But for me personally, few have more effectively utilized the format than Mike Daugherty’s cult classic Trick ‘r Treat.

Watching Trick ‘r Treat on or around Halloween has become an annual tradition for me, because it captures the macabre spirit of the holiday so well. It’s essentially four interconnected stories — a school principal must clean up a mess of his own making, a group of trick-or-treaters use a local urban legend to play a cruel prank, a young woman en route to a party attracts the wrong kind of attention, and an old curmudgeon is terrorized by a masked intruder — that subvert genre tropes while paying tribute to the rules and traditions of Halloween.

It’s criminal that it wasn’t afforded a full theatrical release.

But who will score more points on Saturday?

You’re kidding, right? Don’t make me laugh. If I wanted to laugh, I’d be watching The Cabin In The Woods, a horror comedy from writer-director Drew Goddard (his next flick, Bad Times At The El Royale, opens on Friday). The less you know going in, the better, but essentially The Cabin In The Woods is a meta-commentary on the horror genre itself. The set-up is familiar — five college-aged friends retreat to a creepy cabin in the woods for the weekend, where almost certain death awaits them — but there is much more happening than meets the eye. It’s a fun movie rife with references for both casual and devoted horror fans. Ohio State a lot, Minnesota not enough.

What is your prediction for Saturday favorite horror movie?