The Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines have one of the best rivalries in all of sports. In fact, the game was ranked by ESPN in 2000 as the greatest North American sports rivalry.
No matter when or where they play, there is always hype surrounding the game. Even when one team is having a down year, they get pumped up for this game.
This game doesn't always deliver on this hype but it is huge for college football. These teams have been playing each other since Oct. 17, 1897. Michigan has the lead in the overall series at this point, 57-43-6.
The Buckeyes have closed the gap, though, as the Wolverines haven't beat the Buckeyes since 2003.
This years game is quite a bit different than in recent memory. Ohio State needs this win to keep the season from being a complete wash, and Michigan is looking to qualify for a BCS bowl game. Michigan is a fairly heavy favorite, eight points the last I saw.
This isn't a surprise, as Ohio State will be playing on the road in a hostile environment in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
All that being said, let's take a look at some interesting facts surrounding this storied rivalry.
"Through 2009, Ohio State and Michigan have decided the Big Ten Conference championship between themselves on 22 different occasions, and have affected the determination of the conference title an additional 26 times."
I've heard people bash this rivalry on numerous occasions.
As you can see, the above fact disproves this theory. You can hate on the Big Ten conference as much as you want; it doesn't change the importance of this game.
The outcome impacts each teams season in a big way most of the time. Even when one team is having a down year, a win in this game makes the season successful. Jim Tressel beating Michigan so frequently kept him secure in his job, just as it hurt other coaches.
College football fans all around the country should acknowledge how big this rivalry is, even if they feel the Big Ten isn't as good as advertised.
"During 1835 and 1836, the State of Ohio and the Michigan Territory engaged in a brief and nearly bloodless border dispute known as the Toledo War. Some have proposed that the football rivalry is a modern manifestation of this historical tension."
I don't know about any of you, but I think this is awesome!
Whether or not you believe a dispute from the early 1800's has anything to do with this rivalry is up to you. What isn't up for debate is the fact that there is a hatred between these two teams. There is a mutual respect them, but these teams never like each other.
This hatred is even stronger between the two fanbases. I have seen numerous fights here in Ohio when Ann Arbor's sexual habits are called into question!
All jokes aside, this rivalry has been intense on and off the football field.
"The 13 games during John Cooper's tenure as Buckeye coach were dominated by Michigan, as the Wolverines went 10-2-1 during the stretch."
As successful as John Cooper was as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, the man couldn't beat Michigan. His record against Michigan kept him from being considered one of the best coaches in OSU history, as this is the one game fans can't stand losing.
In 1993, 1995 and 1996, Ohio State entered the game each year undefeated. They lost each of these games, which played a serious role in his dismissal. He was fired at the end of the 2000 season. Michigan students held a "John Cooper Day" celebration in Ann Arbor on Feb. 10, 2001 to mock the former OSU coach.
Coach Tressel came in next and returned the favor, as he ended his career with a 9-1 record against Michigan, including his final seven in a row.
"The early years of this rivalry were dominated by Michigan, who went 12-0-2 in the first 14 meetings."
It's no wonder the Michigan Wolverines led the series when it took the Ohio State Buckeyes 15 seasons to earn their first win over Michigan.
If the Buckeyes hadn't finally stepped up to the plate, this wouldn't even be considered a rivalry. Heck, it was like the school bully beating up the smallest kid in school!
The Buckeyes, led by head coach Chic Harley, won their first game in the series in 1919 and won the 1920 and 1921 matchups as well.
I don't think we will see win streaks of this magnitude again, as both teams are too talented for this.
"Ohio State ran off four straight shutout victories from 1934-1937 in which the Buckeyes outscored the Wolverines 112-0."
That's right, football fans; Michigan didn't score a touchdown for four years in a row over this stretch.
I don't care who you play on the football field; this kind of domination is unusual. Normally, even the worst team can luck into a field goal at some point in a game.
Michigan couldn't do a thing, leading to the embarrassing stat you see above.
The series between these two teams has had many odd streaks, making it even more fun to watch.
"In 1950, No. 8 Ohio State, was scheduled to host the game amidst one of the worst blizzards on Ohio record. The Buckeyes, who led the Big Ten, were granted the option of canceling the game, which would have given them the Big Ten title and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Ohio State refused to cancel, and the two teams played."
I remember my grandpa telling me about this game.
I always thought Ohio State was extremely classy in playing the game when they could have claimed the victory. This speaks to the character of head coach Wes Fesler and the rest of the staff at Ohio State University.
There were 45 punts between the teams, including on first down in hopes that the other team would fumble. Despite not gaining even one first down the entire game, Michigan went on to win the game 9-3. The victory gave Michigan the Big Ten title and Rose Bowl appearance.
There is no chance this would ever happen again, as there is too much money on the line. The game would undoubtedly be rescheduled or played elsewhere so fans could get there and the game could be on TV.
"The first game attended by more than 100,000 fans was between the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines in 1957."
It comes as no surprised to me that this rivalry brought the most fans(at the time) to attend a football game. Ohio State went on to win the game in front of the historic crowd at Michigan Stadium.
Since then, millions of fans have enjoyed this rivalry in both Columbus Ohio and Ann Arbor Michigan.
No doubt in my mind the crowd will be astounding this weekend when the two teams do battle!
"The 1969 game, the first for Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, marked the beginning of the most competitive period in the series. The 10-Year War" pitted some of the most successful teams in both school's histories."
Four times between 1970 and 1975, both schools were ranked in the AP top five, and Michigan entered every game during that period undefeated, but won only once.
On Nov. 22, 1969, Hayes led the top-ranked Buckeyes into Michigan Stadium to face coach Bo Schembechler's Wolverines in the first matchup between two coaches. The Buckeyes brought a 22-game winning streak into Ann Arbor, and wouldn't get win No. 23.
Led by an electric 60-yard punt return by Barry Pierson that set up a Wolverine touchdown in the second quarter and a Wolverines defense that intercepted Ohio State six times (three by Pierson), the Wolverines won a defensive battle. Neither team scored in the second half, and Ohio State was defeated 24–12.
"Both Ohio Stadium and Michigan Stadium were dedicated during the Ohio State-Michigan game."
It speaks to the importance of this rivalry for both teams when each stadium was dedicated during an Ohio State-Michigan game.
You can call in a coincidence if you want, but I don't buy it. You can bet this was done on purpose to further emphasize the greatest rivalry in college sports.
I wouldn't want it any other way.
"A half-hour after the 2006 game in Columbus, the Ohio Lottery Pick 4 evening drawing was 4-2-3-9, which matched the game's final score."
Talk about a freaky fact!
On Nov. 18, 2006 at Ohio Stadium, we were blessed with one of the most exciting games in the history of this rivalry.
The Michigan Wolverines put up 397 yards of total offense, and the Ohio State Buckeyes exploded for 503 yards of total offense. This is 900 yards of total offense, people; doesn't exactly happen every year.
The Buckeyes went on to edge out the Wolverines in a high scoring affair, 42-39.
It was capped off with the most interesting fact in the history of this rivalry, with the fact listed above.
Maybe we should play the lottery after the game in Columbus, Ohio next season, just in case history repeats itself!