Ohio State vs. Michigan: Top 10 Moments in the History of 'The Game'
Lately, "The Game" hasn't really been "The Game."
Due to Michigan's inability to get things together, it appears that onlookers will be forced to move their attention to 2014's duel in Columbus, not this Saturday's battle in Ann Arbor—maybe that one will be competitive, because this year's installment certainly won't be.
The bottom line is this: The Wolverines (7-4, 3-4) are going up against Urban Meyer's No. 3-ranked Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0)—a team that hasn't lost a game since 2011—and don't stand much of a chance at giving coach Brady Hoke win No. 20 at The Big House, where he's 19-1.
Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller leads the Big Ten's No. 1-rated offense vs. the No. 5-rated defense. Linebacker Ryan Shazier leads the conference's No. 4-rated defense vs. a horribly ineffective Wolverines offense, which is No. 10 in the league.
It's one of college football's most passionate rivalries, and although Michigan has won just thrice since 2000, "The Game" is the season-ender that both sides can't wait to watch.
This slideshow will examine 10 of the many, many great moments in this historic clash. TTUN leads the series, 58-44-6. Hoke is 1-1 vs. the Buckeyes, who lost 40-34 during their last trip to Ann Arbor.
Quick History of the '10-Year War'
By now, the history of the "10-Year War" is entrenched in the minds of Ohioans, Michiganders and, truthfully, in the minds of true hardcore college football fans everywhere.
Location matters not, because in Anytown, USA, there are legions of fans flying flags of scarlet and gray for the Buckeyes and banners of maize and blue for the Wolverines. The rivalry's bounds are limitless, and the men who started it all certainly deserve credit.
Bo Shembechler was a disciple of Woody Hayes. From 1969-1978, the Wolverines and Buckeyes fought in some of the rivalry's most memorable brawls.
Schembechler came out on top, 5-4-1, cementing his legacy as a true program figurehead.
Needless to say, Bo's footprints are everywhere in Ann Arbor, and the same goes for Hayes, who mentored his fiercest adversary.
|1970||Ohio State, 20-9|
|1972||Ohio State, 14-11|
|1974||Ohio State, 12-10|
|1975||Ohio State, 21-14|
Take That, Ya Dig!
David Boston needed a few moments to recover after falling out of thin air.
Or maybe he had a little help—that's a question for former Wolverines defensive back Marcus Ray. His nudge put Boston on his back, and his Wolverines went on to win 20-14.
One would think that such a vicious hit would separate Ray and Boston. But that's not true. Not even an iconic Sports Illustrated cover was enough for Boston to truly hate Ray, who during an interview with me last year, said that he and Boston are friends.
When it comes to "The Game," one moment can live on forever.
"You relive Ohio State-Michigan week every day of your life," Ray told me in 2012. "Your legacy is defined by how you perform."
Note: Ray isn't quoted saying he and Boston were friendly, but he told me during the phone interview that he and Boston have talked numerous times since 1997 and love reliving that game.
Ray is also a fantastic follow on Facebook. He's full of "Take That, Ya Dig!" quotes (made famous on SI cover), which he uses in his Rays of Light book series. Today, he's a studio analyst for the Big Ten Network.
Hiring of Urban Meyer
It's too early to put Meyer into historical context when it comes to "The Game," but his hiring in 2011 most certainly qualifies as a top-10 moment.
National championships, attitude and a strong desire for greatness highlighted Meyer's resume, making it difficult for the Buckeyes to pass on the chance for immediate contention after Jim Tressel's resignation.
So far, so good.
Meyer hasn't lost as the Buckeyes coach. If not for lingering sanctions, Ohio State could have played for the national championship this past season—one year after going 6-7 under then-coach Luke Fickell.
Now, it's a new year without restrictions, and the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes have an outsider's shot at landing in the BCS bout with Alabama or Florida State, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.
Michigan can play spoiler—a role that it likely despises—this Saturday when hosting Ohio State, which will face Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Michigan fans love to dish on Meyer, who wins despite criticism from college football purists.
According to ESPN, Hoke shrugged the hiring in 2011. Sure, players settle the battle, but let's not forget about the men calling the shots.
Wolverines coach Brady Hoke underplayed the role of the head coaches in the rivalry.
"I've known Urban, he's a good football coach, a good guy and I welcome him in," Hoke said on Monday. "But it's still Michigan and Ohio and neither one of us is going to play the game."
1950's Snow Bowl
If you thought this past Saturday's 18-degree, brisk and windy conditions at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City were rough, take a moment to reflect upon the "Snow Bowl," a festival of fluffy, white precipitation.
Michigan won the game 9-3 during Columbus' horrendous blizzard that covered Ohio in up to 10 inches of snow.
Ahh, the good old days of college football. Today, they would, at the very least, attempt to clear the fields with blowers and crews of workers. Then, they just sent out the guys to play and make do with the conditions.
2002's Win Propelled OSU to National Title
Maurice Clarrett's two-yard touchdown in 2002 helped push Ohio State to a 14-9 win over Michigan.
With offense at a premium, the Buckeyes trailed 9-7 at the half and needed someone to shake up the scene. Clarrett, who injured his right shoulder during the game, was just the guy to do it.
"I wasn't worried about the injury,'' Clarrett told ESPN in 2002. "I just wanted the win.''
Winning the final duel of the regular season ensured a 12-0 finish for Ohio State, which went onto beat Miami (Fla.) in the 2003 national title game, 31-24.
Student Bests Teacher in 1969
Woody Hayes brought on Bo Schembechler as an assistant at Ohio State in 1952. Shortly after, Bo took a few similar positions at Bowling Green, Presbyterian and Northwestern prior to rejoining Woody at Ohio State in 1958.
The four-year stint came to an end when Bo got the call to become Miami (Ohio) football's head coach. He stayed there until 1969, when he took on a whole new persona at Michigan, helping to create one of sports' richest traditions.
Bo won that game, 24-12, over the No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Buckeyes.
Because of him, quotes on the rivalry became bigger than the Saturday on which it was played. ESPN did a good job of gathering such lines in this post.
Former Wolverines quarterback Dennis Franklin recently discussed a controversial vote that sent Ohio State to the Rose Bowl and sent Michigan, well, packing and waiting for next year.
"We should have gone to the Rose Bowl," Franklin said during the interview.
Somewhat dismissing it, Franklin also talks of his injury, which may or may not have swayed voters that year.
There was a debate on who should represent the Big Ten in the 1974 Rose Bowl. In November of 1973, the Buckeyes and Wolverines played to a 10-10 tie. Michigan felt that it played better than Ohio State during the course of the season and deserved the chance to represent its league in Pasadena.
The Big Ten Network aired "Tiebreaker," a special on the entire ordeal. It outlines the decision-making process that was mired in politics.
Ohio State's Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman winner, gave his thoughts on "Tiebreaker" during an interview with the Big Ten Network.
Archie Griffin is known for being an all-time great at Ohio State for a few reasons, but his back-to-back Heisman-winning campaigns in 1974 and 1975 serve as his crowning achievements.
Griffin's 5,589 rushing yards put him at No. 11 on the list of college's top producers.
Not many schools can boast a stiff-armed trophy winner, let alone a guy who's done it in back-to-back seasons. Griffin's accomplishment is one that probably won't be matched.
He never lost to TTUN either, making him a true legend of the series. Plus, as evidenced by the accompanying video, he tells one helluva Bo story. Behind-the-scenes details only fuel the action on the field.
In the video, Griffin talks about a meal sabotaged by unusually beautiful waitresses...He says they had orders from a higher power.
No. 1 vs. No. 2: 2006 Was Bucks-TTUN Showdown for the Ages
College football got exactly what it wanted on Nov. 18, 2006: No. 1 Ohio State (11-0) vs. No. 2 Michigan (11-0) in Columbus.
Being unbeaten at game time wasn't uncommon, but that Saturday in November marked the first time Michigan and Ohio State met as the top two in the nation.
The Buckeyes' 42-39 victory wasn't only one of the all-timers of the series, but it was also one of the greatest college football games ever played. It had dramatics. It had gray, scarlet-striped helmets banging with shiny blue, winged-helmets.
Ohio State trailed only once, down 7-0 in the first quarter, but Michigan wouldn't relent. Garrett Rivas' 39-yard field goal in the third quarter cut the Buckeyes' lead to 28-24, but on the ensuing drive, Antonio Pittman closed the door with a 54-yard touchdown run, giving his team a commanding 34-24 advantage.
Late Drama at its Finest
With 2:16 to play, Wolverines quarterback Chad Henne threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Ecker. Steve Breaston came through with the two-point conversion.
An onside kick soon followed, but Ted Ginn, Jr. covered the ball and the Buckeyes melted the clock.
It was a fitting end to an era-defining contest.
'Hello, Heisman': Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson Become Legends
On Nov. 23, 1991, a 92-yard punt return for a touchdown turned into a Heisman moment for Michigan's Desmond Howard, who indeed won college football's highest individual honor just weeks later.
Michigan stomped Ohio State 31-3 at The Big House, and Howard became an instant icon. His famous gesture is often mimicked but never duplicated. Footage of the run is a must when putting together a visual representation of "The Game."
That's why it's No. 1 on this countdown.
But let's not forget Charles Woodson, who pulled a "Desmond" on Nov. 22, 1997 by returning a punt 78 yards for a touchdown. Michigan again defended its home turf with the 20-14 win. Woodson went on to win the Heisman and his team won the national championship.
Ohio State had one loss entering "The Game" and went onto post a 10-3 record after losing to Florida State in the Sugar Bowl.
It's true. A player's performance in "The Game" lasts a lifetime. Woodson had a respectable NFL career, but he remains best known for his days at Michigan. The same can be said for Howard, who hosts ESPN College GameDay events two decades after striking "The Pose."
Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81