November 22, 2003: Michigan's last victory over Ohio State
It has been eight years since Michigan beat their hated rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The above photo depicts former Michigan running back Chris Perry on Nov. 22, 2003, a game in which he slashed through Ohio State's defense for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. That day, exactly eight years ago tomorrow, was the last time Michigan won in this storied rivalry.
As a die-hard Maize and Blue fan, the last seven years losing to Ohio State have been a nightmare. As former Michigan quarterback Brian Griese said, "You are judged at Michigan for what you do against Ohio State."
Those words couldn't be any more true.
On Nov. 26, Michigan will run out of the tunnel in hopes of ending this hideous seven-year skid against the hated Buckeyes. The Wolverines' senior class is trying to avoid going 0-4 against Ohio State, and Michigan State as well.
When Michigan head coach Brady Hoke first stepped on campus in Ann Arbor, every single player in that locker room bought into what he and his staff were preaching. In Hoke's very first press conference as head coach of the Wolverines, he emphasized that there is no other game more important than the Ohio State game.
Hoke is a Michigan man, and he knows how important it is to beat Ohio State, especially at home in the Big House.
Here are four reasons why Michigan will beat Ohio State for the first time since 2003.
Michigan is perfect at home this season
Not only have the Wolverines drastically improved from last year to this year, they are fantastic at home.
The Wolverines are 7-0 at the Big House this year, and not just because they are rather dominant this season, but also because it is really hard for visiting teams to win in a place that holds up to 114,000 screaming Maize and Blue fans.
Even when Michigan hasn't been so good in recent years, they could rely on a distinctive home field advantage. In 2008—the first of three terrible years under Rich Rodriguez—Michigan went 3-9, but one of their victories came at home against a very good Wisconsin team after trailing 19-0 at halftime.
That being said, it doesn't help Ohio State that Saturday's game will be sold out, or that Michigan is one of the hottest teams in the land, coming off a four-touchdown victory over Nebraska.
Crowd noise plays a huge role in college football, and with Michigan's fans behind them, with all the momentum the Wolverines have, and the fact that they haven't beaten their arch rivals in nearly a decade, the Buckeyes are at a huge disadvantage.
Even Purdue's front seven was able to bottle up the Buckeye rushing attack
As I mentioned before, Michigan is playing better than they have in years. Since Brady Hoke and his staff took over this season, the Wolverines have gone from one of the worst defenses in the nation to ranking sixth in points against.
That is simply amazing.
On the other side of the football, under interim head coach Luke Fickell, Ohio State has had a year to forget with an offense that just doesn't look very Ohio State-like at all. It was to be expected though.
After the memorabilia scandal, head coach Jim Tressel resigned and quarterback Terrelle Pryor skipped his senior season to go play for Oakland in the NFL. It didn't help having running back Dan Herron out five games, and their best receiver, DeVier Posey, out for ten games.
To say that the Buckeyes offense is very one-dimensional this year, relying heavily on the running game, would be an understatement. Ohio State is only averaging 24 points per game, and ranks a laughable 118th in pass offense with 114 yards per game through the air.
The only thing the Buckeyes offense does well is put true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller in positions where he can scramble around and pick up yards; those are the only flashes of offense Ohio State has shown all season, which is likely why they are 6-5.
If Michigan bottles up Miller and Herron, this game will be over by halftime without a doubt.
In their last two outings, the Wolverines have held their opponents to a combined rushing total of 175 yards (87.5 yards per game), and those games were against Nebraska and Illinois, which boast two of the most mobile quarterbacks in the Big Ten after Denard Robinson—Taylor Martinez and Nathan Scheelhaase.
Brady Hoke has returned Michigan to national prominence
Brady Hoke is the leader of the Wolverines now and he knows better than anyone else just how important it is to beat "Ohio." Ever since Hoke arrived at Michigan, he, his staff, and all his players have been referring to Ohio State as "Ohio." Personally, I find it amusing.
I love what Hoke is doing with a program I have loved my entire life.
Typically, when a head coach is first introduced, he talks about what a great opportunity it is for him and his family, and how much he looks forward to the job, etc.
Not Hoke. He got right to business, making it a strong point of emphasis that Michigan will not be losing to Ohio State this year. Clearly, Hoke understands Michigan, its history, its tradition, its rivals; he understands it all.
With Hoke, you just felt something different, something special, because you know he has invested his life in making Michigan the national powerhouse it once was. He's got his priorities straight.
Some say Michigan's big victory over Nebraska will cause an emotional hangover that could leave them vulnerable to being blind-sided by Ohio State.
But that's not going to happen.
More than anything, I love the way Hoke has kept his team focused. Of course, there were times this season when the Wolverines have struggled, particularly in games against Michigan State and Iowa, but not for one second did these players lose their focus about what lie ahead of them.
This game will be no different, especially since it's against Ohio State. Yes, Michigan enjoyed their victory over Nebraska, but now that is done. It's Ohio State week, and don't think for a second that the Maize and Blue aren't focused on crushing the Buckeyes.
John Navarre will watch Michigan beat Ohio State this Saturday for the first time since he's been there
Seven years is seven too many since Michigan has beat Ohio State. The coaches know it, the players know it, and the fans know it.
With all the factors and circumstances this year's game presents, it's hard for me to even fathom that Ohio State has the slightest chance to win this game.
Like I said, Hoke has taught these players well, and they have bought into the program he and his coaching staff preach. This week, the Wolverines are going to practice harder than they have practiced the entire season; their focus will be like no other.
Michigan knows what defeat tastes like, especially at the hands of Ohio State, and so do the fans. In front of more than 110,000 at the Big House Saturday, Michigan will not let themselves down, they will not let their coaches down, and they will not let their fans down.
Ohio State doesn't stand much of a shot in this game at all. They haven't been playing well, which will be even tougher to do in one of the most hostile environments in the nation, against a team that hates them and wants seven years worth of revenge.
Michigan will tear a hole through the Buckeyes this Saturday and avenge seven years of torture. The Hoke era has officially begun in Ann Arbor.
Prediction: Michigan 49, Ohio State 10