The Ohio State vs. Michigan rivalry is rooted in over 100 years of deep tradition. Michigan owns the all time advantage 57-42-6, but has dropped every duel between the two since 2004.
How can fans of both schools forget the "Ten Year War", the "Snow Bowl", not to mention two of the greatest men to grace the sidelines of a football field, Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler.
Think of the men who made this grudge match what it is today, Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes, what would they think of the 2009 (40th anniversary of Woody and Bo) installment of college football's greatest pairing?
The Michigan Wolverines are in severe danger of finishing the season with a losing record for two straight years for the first time in DECADES.
Rich Rodriguez's Wolverines started 2009 in impressive fashion, they were undefeated going into East Lansing, looking to avoid a second consecutive loss to bitter in state rival and "little brother" in 42 years.
And then it happened.
Michigan State all but opened the door for a thrilling Michigan comeback, but it was not meant to be. Tate Forcier threw an interception in overtime (Fortener tipped, C.L. Rucker INT) that crushed the legion of fans in Ann Arbor. Larry Caper earned himself legendary status in East Lansing with a remarkable scamper to the end zone to seal the deal, Spartans 26, U of M 20.
The second to last Saturday in November usually means that college football fans are in for a treat, they get to watch a game that has decided National Championship berth, Big Ten crowns/Rose Bowl berth, but it's not the same here in 2009.
This has been THE game that Heisman Trophies were determined by for the likes of Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson, Eddie George, Troy Smith, and Archie Griffith.
Ohio State has clinched a trip to the Rose Bowl against Oregon (most likely) and Michigan is playing for pride, or so it would seem. Rich Rodriguez might want to be looking for another perspective employer, for a loss in the Big House against Tressel's Bucks could cost him his job, maybe not immediately, but it sure wouldn't help him keep his spot as head honcho in A squared.
The Buckeyes embarrassed the Wolverines in last year's contest 42-7, lengthening their win streak to five straight, which is their longest stretch of dominance over the "School Up North" ever.
The Michigan Wolverines finished 3-9, didn't go bowling, and had fans reeling over the dismal fall. Granted, 2008 was Rich Rod's first year, alumni and fans were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and hoped for better in 2009.
Michigan was throttled by the Illinois Fighting Illini this year and gave up a two touchdown lead to Purdue just two weeks ago. To make matters worse, Rodriguez's Wolverines were tactfully ripped apart by Scott Tolzien and company in Camp Randall last Saturday.
Losing to Purdue, Illinois, Wisconsin, AND Michigan State?! When's the last time this has happened?
2003, that was the most recent Wolverine win over Ohio State. George W. was in office, and everybody you knew was wearing a throw-back jersey, but it seems like a lifetime ago to the Wolverine faithful.
Michigan won by two touchdowns in '03, 35-21.
2006's match up was arguably one of the greatest in the history of the rivalry. Ohio State won in a thriller by a field goal, 42-39, as they ran off with the conference championship.
Most college football enthusiasts would say that the Big Ten is weak this year, I tend to agree with that, but not 100%.
The Big Ten, much like the Pac 10, has teams that are capable of beating the "big dogs" on any given Saturday, just ask Ohio State about their squabble with the Boilermakers.
The Michigan Wolverine offense is one of the highest scoring units in the conference, and they'll need to rack up touchdowns by the dozen to beat a hot Ohio State team.
In order for the Big Ten to regain it's once prominent role in college football, the U of M/Ohio State rivalry must be relevant! Don't take my word for it, ask around, most people just don't care this year, it has NO bearing on either team's season other than the pride factor for Michigan. Ohio State is already going to the Rose Bowl, a win would make Michigan bowl eligible... big deal. This game is much bigger than that, but this year it just doesn't matter.
Have we witnessed the death of one of sport's greatest match-ups? Does Rich Rod REALLY understand the magnitude of this rivalry? Those are questions Michigan fans are asking themselves, whether they admit or not.
Here's a little history of the two...
Ohio State 7 Michigan 11
Ohio State 7 Michigan 3
Big Ten Titles:
Ohio State 34 Michigan 42
Rose Bowl Appearances:
Ohio State 14 Michigan 20
As sad it is to see the annual border war in shambles, I have to give the advantage to Brutus the Buckeye. Make it six straight years boys, you're going to beat Michigan.
Prediction: Ohio State 35, Michigan 24