A Historic Rivalry Continues: Buckeyes v. Wolverines

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When you think “sports rivalries”, there are a few that come to mind: Red Sox & Yankees, Celtics & Lakers, Redskins & Cowboys, Duke & UNC and finally, Ohio State & Michigan. This rivalry has been going for 120 years and has one of the closest all-time records in history. This past Saturday the two teams met in Columbus yet again and the game didn’t disappoint.

This historic matchup dates all the way back to 1897 when Michigan stomped OSU, 34-0 in the first ever meeting between the two teams. This was the first of many losses for the Buckeyes as Michigan lead the series 22-6-2 after the first 30 games. Realistically, this matchup didn’t become a true rivalry until 1950. From then, and for the next 40 years, this rivalry was at its peak, in my personal opinion. In that time frame the teams played each other a total of 35 times and neither team had a win streak greater than 3 games. The teams continued to battle back and forth to compile an 18-16-1 record in Michigan’s favor. But from that point until the turn of the century, the series was all blue and maize. The Wolverines dominated the 90s amassing an 8-2-1 record over the Buckeyes and took a commanding lead over the all time series. But in 2001, the tides shifted.

After getting beat by unranked South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, Ohio State fired John Cooper and in steps former OSU QB & WR Coach and Youngstown St. Head Coach, Jim Tressel. Tressel not only made the sweater vest famous, but also helped the Buckeyes storm back in the series with a 9-2 record (The 2010 win was vacated). Tressel then resigned and Urban Meyer was hired as Head Coach and since led Ohio State to a 5-0 record against Michigan.

As for this year, it was another game for the ages. The teams squared off against each other in Columbus both as top 3 ranked teams for the first time since “The Game of the Century” in 2006 when #1 OSU beat #2 Michigan 42-39. Saturday was also nothing short of shootout. Michigan didn’t start off too hot as QB Wilton Speight threw a pick 6 to give the Buckeyes a 7-3 lead. The Wolverines then pulled it together and drove down the field for a TD to give them a 10-7 halftime lead. The start of the 3rd quarter looked promising for Michigan as Jabrill Peppers caught an INT but Speights fumbled the football after he had drove their offense all the way down to the 3 yard line. Luckily for Michigan, OSU went 3 and out and attempted a fake punt, but was unsuccessful. The Wolverines proceeded to score and give themselves a 17-7 lead. But late in quarter Speight is picked off yet again which lead to a 1-yard TD run for the Buckeyes bringing the game back to 17-14. On the Buckeyes’ next drive, JT Barrett takes them down the field, which set up a 20-yard FG attempt but Tyler Durbin missed it. Both teams’ defenses were strong for the next 8 minutes keeping the score at 17-14 but Barrett led the Buckeyes down the field and Durbin makes the 23-yard FG to send it into OT for the first time since the series began.

Ohio State got the ball first to start OT and scored relatively easily on a QB Draw to put them up 24-17. On Michigan’s drive they get the ball to the 5-yard line and on 4th and Goal, Speight throws a dime to keep the Wolverines alive, 24-24.  Michigan then got the ball to start the 2nd OT but was stopped on 3rd down and was forced to kick a FG. On the next drive Ohio State was in a 4th and 1 situation, they run a read option and Barrett got the 1st by the skin of his teeth on a very controversial call. On the next play Barrett hands it off to Curtis Samuel who runs the ball in for a TD to win the game in front of the Buckeyes’ faithful.

This game was another one for the books for one of the best sports rivalries in history. As the Buckeyes look to close in on Michigan’s all-time lead, I think college football fans alike can agree that everyone is looking forward to next year’s matchup. 

SportsAlec Bose