It’s the best rivalry in all of sports.
And when both teams are great, it makes the rivalry even better.
Saturday will mark the 113th meeting between The Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines and for the first time since 2006 it has a great meaning towards the game with both teams looking at a Big Ten Championship and a berth in the College Football Playoff.
From 2008-2014, the rivalry was there but it didn’t feel the buzz of the games prior to those years because Michigan wasn’t the great powerhouse. Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke had competitive teams but when it came down to the end, Ohio State was superior in talent and in coaching with Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer at the helm.
Jim Harbaugh, who played in the game in the 1980s returned to the school as the new head coach at the end of 2014 and brought the Wolverines back to relevancy, bringing in great recruiting classes as well as his curious personality which leaves many including myself scratching our heads by some of his tactics.
Last year however, Harbaugh couldn’t stop Urban Meyer and his Buckeyes who were pissed off after losing to Michigan State, ruining their Big Ten championship and playoff hopes.
Michigan put up a fight in the first half only trailing 14-10. Ohio State came out in the second half and just dominated, scoring a touchdown on each possession and winning in a blowout 42-13.
This year, I think it’ll be a closer game. Michigan has improved since last season and Ohio State reloaded after losing a lot of talent in the NFL. They both have each lost a game but Michigan only controls their destiny between the two teams.
If the Wolverines win, they’ll head to the Big Ten Championship game next week in Indianapolis. Ohio State however needs some help. They have to win and then have Michigan State defeat Penn State in order for them to advance to the conference title game.
I also believe whoever wins this game will be in the College Football Playoff. With the teams being #2 and #3 respectively, winning this game should clinch their spot.
I always love this game whether the teams are good or bad. The rivalry has brought so many memories to me growing up.
The first game I can remember was the 2002 edition. Watching Craig Krenzel, Maurice Clarett, Chris Gamble amongst others pull off the thrilling 14-9 Buckeye victory was surreal and watching the team and fans storm the field as we were heading to the National Championship was a moment I can’t forget.
Then there was the 2005 game with Troy Smith’s throw to Anthony Gonzalez late which set up the game winning touchdown by Antonio Pittman.
And of course, “The Game of the Century” in 2006 when it #1 vs #2. Whether it was the long touchdowns by Pittman or Chris “Beanie” Wells or Troy Smith’s performance which clinched him the Heisman trophy, it was the greatest college football game I’ve ever seen.
The Terrelle Pryor and Braxton Miller led teams brought some great victories for the Buckeyes but the one fond memory I have is when the Buckeye player (can’t remember the name) flipped off the Ann Arbor crowd after being ejected for a fight on the field.
Of course last year’s win led by current quarterback JT Barrett and Ezekiel Elliott was great because people thought Harbaugh would just walk in and crush the Buckeyes but it didn’t happen.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned more about the rivalry. The “Ten Year War” between coaches Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, Cleveland native Desmond Howard pulling the Heisman pose on us after a punt return touchdown, Charles Woodson killing the Buckeyes in 1997 and how John Cooper couldn’t seem to beat the Wolverines when it really mattered.
Tomorrow should be another great chapter in the rich history of this rivalry and I expect another all time great showdown.