Hatred /ˈhātrəd/ n. 1 an extreme dislike or disgust that is usually mutual. 2 hostility or animosity.
The rivalry begin in 1836. The State of Ohio and the Territory of Michigan both claimed control of a strip of land stretching from Indiana to Lake Erie, leading to an armed dispute known as the Toledo War. From then on, an intense hatred developed between the people of Ohio and Michigan.
61 years later, the two states met on the gridiron for the first time. The University of Michigan versus The Ohio State University. Coming to fruition at a time when people who experienced the Toledo War were still alive, a natural distaste for one another was abound. The Wolverines from Ann Arbor won the first battle 34-0.
Ohio State’s First Win
From 1913-1917, there were no match-ups between the two schools. The Game returned in 1918 and has been played every year to date. Starting the series with an early 13-0-2 lead, Michigan did not drop a game against the Scarlet and Gray until the year 1919. With a 13-3 win in Ann Arbor, Ohio State went on a three-year run of victories. The all-time record still belongs to the Wolverines, but in the 100 years since The Game returned for good, Ohio State has a winning record in the series.
The Snow Bowl
In the 1950 edition of The Game, the eighth ranked Buckeyes welcomed unranked Michigan to the Horseshoe in the midst of the worst blizzard in Ohio history. Refusing to cancel the greatest rivalry in all of sports, Ohio State and Michigan went at it in what looked like a winter snow globe. The two teams combined for a whopping 45 punts; often times without it being on fourth down. The goal was to pin the opposing team as deep as possible in their own territory. The Wolverines won the game 9-3 without compiling a single first down, thanks to some special teams blunders by the Buckeyes. This game led to the hiring of legendary Woody Hayes.
In Hayes’ first eighteen games against Michigan as head coach, Ohio State won twelve. As a response, the Wolverines hired Miami (OH) coach Bo Schembechler. In Schembechler’s first season in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines upset the undefeated Buckeyes 24-12. Thus began the Ten-Year War.
In the ten years following the first meeting between Hayes and Schembechler, the Wolverines and Buckeyes compiled their best teams in the history of either school. The Game featured two AP top-five teams a whopping four times during the decade span. Schembechler won the original battle against Hayes, as well as the war: 5-4-1.
The Dark Times™
After the departure of Woody Hayes came the Dark Times™ of Ohio State Football. Under Earle Bruce, the Buckeyes went 5-4 against Michigan. Then came John Cooper. Ohio State put out some incredible teams, yet the tide turned regardless. Ohio State, often the higher ranked team, would face a Michigan squad that would beat them seemingly every year. It wasn’t until the hiring of Jim Tressel that the Buckeyes regained their dominance in The Game.
Tressel vs. Carr
The era of the early 2000s produced yet another coaching war similar to Hayes vs. Schembechler. This time around, it was Jim Tressel and Lloyd Carr. In the 90’s, Carr had already proven himself as an excellent coach at the University of Michigan. Tressel, on the other hand, was the head coach of a small FCS school east of Columbus called Youngstown State. Nobody had heard of Tressel, and Buckeye fans were convinced that they were in for more years of misery versus Michigan. Then came Tressel’s speech. Shortly after being hired, the Buckeyes took on the Wolverines in basketball. During halftime, Tressel gave an introductory speech to his tenure at Ohio State.
“I can assure you that you will be proud of our young people: in the classroom, in the community, and most especially in 310 days in ann arbor, michigan on the football field.”
From this moment on, a certain buzz entered Columbus. Once again, Ohio State felt like they could regain what was formerly theirs. In Tressel’s first season as head coach, the Buckeyes beat Michigan in Ann Arbor for the first time in over a decade.
En route to a national title, Ohio State encountered numerous obstacles during the 2002 season. The year featured a four-point win versus Cincinnati, an eight-point win against Northwestern, a five-point win in Madison, a six-point win against Penn State, a four-point “Holy Buckeye” win at Purdue, an overtime win against Illinois and a five-point win over Michigan. Against the Wolverines, the Buckeye defense intercepted a pass in the end zone as time expired to go to the Fiesta Bowl against Miami.
Game of the Century
The year was 2006, and the stage was set for The Game on a cold November afternoon in Columbus. For the first time in series history, the two teams met undefeated ranked No. 1 and No. 2. Again, the coaches were Jim Tressel and Lloyd Carr. The much anticipated battle was the talk of the country that week. College GameDay was on site, and Columbus was buzzing with excitement.
The Wolverines struck first on an 80-yard drive capped by Mike Hart. Ohio State then scored three unanswered touchdowns, including a famous 52-yard run from Beanie Wells. Both teams continued to go at it tooth-and-nail for the rest of the game, with the Buckeyes pulling out the 42-39 victory.
The Third Coaching Saga: Meyer vs. Harbaugh
Next came Urban Meyer, the latest great coach in Ohio State history. After racking up a 3-0 start against the Wolverines, in came Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh, Michigan alumni and former quarterback, was hired by the Wolverines after stints at Stanford and the 49ers. Thus began the newest version of Woody and Bo.
In the first meeting between the two, Ohio State marched into Ann Arbor and came away with a 42-13 blowout win. In 2016, potentially the greatest game of the rivalry occurred. It was No. 2 versus No. 3, and the winner would go to the College Football Playoff. Ohio State made a comeback to kick the game-tying field goal as time expired. In the first overtime, Barrett ran a keeper up the middle for a quick touchdown. On the defensive end, the Buckeyes forced fourth down, but Speight completed for the tying touchdown. In the second overtime, Ohio State’s defense forced the Wolverines to kick a field goal to go ahead 27-24. Then, the craziness ensued. After an incredible run by Curtis Samuel to set up 4th and 1, JT Barrett kept the ball to the left side of the line. The spot, though reviewed, was surely good. On the very next play, Curtis Samuel went leaping into the end zone. The rest is history.
2017 version of The Game
While 2017 will not showcase two top-five teams, The Game still has everyone itching with excitement. This version promotes pessimism on both sides, as neither is sure what to expect from their team. Michigan is playing for fourth place in the division, but primarily to spoil Ohio State’s season. The Buckeyes have already clinched their trip to the Big Ten Championship and are playing to keep their Playoff hopes alive. However, neither fanbase is entirely sure how their team is going to play. For Michigan, the defense can be incredible, but the offense is less productive than a sloth. On the other end, Ohio State looks like they can go from beating Alabama one week, to losing by 31 to Iowa the next. Either way, this is sure to be an exhilarating game.