ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The much-anticipated, high-stakes matchup between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan is looming.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines will be playing for the Big Ten East title and a spot in the conference championship game, where one of them will be the big favorite and one win away from making the college football playoffs.
Here’s a chronological look back at some of the top games in one of the greatest rivalries in esports in over 50 years, according to AP sportswriter Larry Lage.
In Bo Schembechler’s first game coaching against Woody Hayes, the No. 12 Michigan team beat the top-ranked Buckeyes 24-12 at home. Hayes lamented the loss and said the Wolverines, led by Schembechler, beat the best team he’s ever had. The match marked the start of what has been dubbed the “Ten Years’ War,” in which Bo defeated his mentor five times, lost four games, and famously ended a matchup in a draw.
No. 1 Ohio State and No. 4 Michigan, both undefeated, battled it out to a 10-10 tie in an instant classic with enough drama to be the subject of a documentary, “Tiebreaker.” The Wolverines appeared to be the better team that afternoon, but kicker Mike Lantry missed two field goals in the last two minutes. Big Ten athletic directors chose the Buckeyes, not Michigan — perhaps because quarterback Dennis Franklin was injured — to represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl at a time when the conference would only allow one team to be in a bowl. The Big Ten later decided to allow more than one school to participate in the postseason.
Ohio State fired coach Earle Bruce just days before The Game after a triple losing streak dropped his team to 5-4-1. The Unranked Buckeyes, wearing white headbands with Bruce’s name on them, beat the Unranked Wolverines 23-20 to drop them to 7-4. Bruce was 81-26-1 overall, including 5-4 against Michigan, but Ohio State let him go and brought John Cooper on campus, which many Buckeyes would regret because he went 2-10-1 in The Game.
The game wasn’t close that year, as No. 4 Michigan defeated No. 18 Ohio State 31-3, but it spawned a favorite memory for fans north of the state line and a nightmare for those south. Desmond Howard, who was from Ohio, returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown and struck a famous pose by the Heisman Trophy statue, which he later won.
Like Howard, Charles Woodson crossed the Ohio border to play for the Wolverines and ended up winning a Heisman Trophy, partly because of a defining moment in The Game. Woodson returned a punt 78 yards for a score and sprinted up the same sideline — Ohio State’s — and into the same end zone Howard did to help No. 1 Michigan, No. 4 Ohio State en route to one beating the national championship 20-14.