Greatest of The Games: 6 of the most memorable meetings between Ohio State and Michigan

Fri, Nov 24, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)

Greatest of The Games: 6 of the most memorable meetings between Ohio State and Michigan

If it is Michigan-Ohio State it is most likely a huge game.

No rivalry has produced more games matching Associated Press ranked teams (No. 49 on Saturday), top-10 matchups (26) and top-five games (13).

The Game is filled with lore and legends and thrilling performances.

Even before the second-ranked Buckeyes and third-ranked Wolverines kick off Saturday in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the 119th meeting will be historic.

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Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will not be on the sideline as he serves the final game of a suspension handed down by the Big Ten for an alleged in-person scouting and sign-stealing scheme that is under investigation by the NCAA.

The animosity between the heated rivals has probably never been higher and the stakes are massive with Big Ten and national championship implications. One day it will make the list of the six most memorable Ohio State-Michigan games (in chronological order).

THE SNOW BOWL

A winter storm swept through Columbus, Ohio, covering the field with snow and dropped temperature into the teens for the game on Nov. 25, 1950. The weather was bad enough that canceling the game was considered. That would have given No. 8 Ohio State the trip to the Rose Bowl.

"One of the worst days for football we've ever had," a broadcaster said as the game began.

They played, and the teams slipped and slid through 45 punts and a total of three first downs. Michigan scored a touchdown and a safety and Ohio State a field goal, all came off botched punts.

The Wolverines pulled the 9-3 upset and went to the Rose Bowl. The loss was the fourth straight for the Buckeyes under coach Wes Fesler, who resigned soon after. Ohio State hired Woody Hayes, who went on to become the winningest coach in school history.

VOTE FOR THE ROSE BOWL

No. 1 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan were unbeaten when they met in 1973 at the height of what is known as the 10-Year War in the rivalry between Hayes and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, his protege.

A 10-10 tie played on a rain-soaked field produced unforgettable drama - Ohio State players famously swarmed the M Club banner before kickoff - and controversy. The Big Ten only sent its champion to the postseason at the time. To determine which team got the Rose Bowl bid, Big Ten athletic directors voted and Ohio State won. Schembechler was furious and never fully got over being snubbed.

THE BIAKABUTUKA GAME

The theme of The Game in the mid-1990s was Michigan ruining Ohio State's season and making life miserable for Buckeyes coach John Cooper (2-10-1 vs. the Wolverines). In 1995, No. 2 and unbeaten Ohio State's heart was broken by one of the greatest individual performances in the history of the sport: Tim Biakabutuka ran for 313 yards against the Buckeyes and No. 18 Michigan won 31-23.

GAME OF THE CENTURY

No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Michigan in 2006 came with a spot in the BCS championship game on the line. The buildup was enormous - and then the day before the game Schembechler died unexpectedly at 77.

The game lived up to the hype and played out like nothing Woody and Bo would have recognized during their battles. Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and the Buckeyes traded big plays with the Wolverines. Ohio State won 42-39 and played for the national championship.

There was a debate about whether the two should have been rematched for the national title. That didn't happen and that BCS title game didn't work out well for the Buckeyes against Florida, but Ohio State and Jim Tressel were about to go on a long run of dominating the Michigan rivalry.

THE SPOT

Urban Meyer took over for Tressel in 2012 at Ohio State and Michigan was mired in mediocrity in the post Lloyd Carr-era.

Michigan hired former star quarterback Jim Harbaugh as coach to turn around the program in 2015 and quickly he had the Wolverines in position to win the Big Ten title in 2016.

That year, No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan played the first overtime game in the history of the series and the Wolverines took a three-point lead on their first possession.

The Buckeyes had a fourth-and-1 on their possession, and Meyer went for it instead of kicking for a tie. J.T. Barrett just barely made the line to gain and the spot was upheld on review. Moments later, Curtis Samuel scored a walk-off touchdown and Harbaugh said he was "bitterly disappointed with the officiating" after the 30-27 loss.

THE FLIP

By 2021, Ohio State had won eight straight and 14 of 15 against Michigan. The Game was canceled in 2020 pandemic season, prompting suggestions that the struggling Wolverines were ducking the Buckeyes.

Harbaugh faced enormous criticism for not being able to beat Ohio State. That ended on a cold day two years ago amid light snow in Ann Arbor. Michigan bullied Ohio State 42-27 and went on to win the Big Ten and make the College Football Playoff.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com. Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here. AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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