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'The Game' Is The Most Significant College Football Matchup All Year

Michigan and Ohio State are the VIPs of college football this weekend.

There's a reason why ESPN's College Gameday and Fox's Big Noon Kickoff will be in Ann Arbor this weekend. The Game is always special, but this year it's literally the biggest, best game of the entire college football season. A Big Ten East title is on the line as is a seat at the College Football Playoff table. Obviously the Ann Arbor and Columbus media markets are buzzing, but so are the national folks. Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde outlined The Game in his weekly column of top matchups and gave his prediction for how it might play out.


One of the staple Thanksgiving weekend side dishes is a heaping helping of hate, served in rivalry form. There are annual grudge-match showdowns across this great land of ours, some of which matter a lot. The Dash breaks down the nine traditional matchups wherein both teams have winning records, at least three of which could impact the playoff race:

Ohio State at Michigan

Relevance: Almost as high as it can get. Winner takes the Big Ten East, advances to the Big Ten championship game and moves into very strong CFP position. The only way it gets better is if one or both were undefeated.

Hate meter: Also very near the max. Please recall that Ohio State coach Ryan Day came away from one 2020 Big Ten conference call kerfuffle with Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh suitably steamed to tell his team he wanted to “hang 100” on the Wolverines. That game wound up being canceled by COVID-19 protocols, so we’ll see whether Day brings that pent-up energy with him to Ann Arbor.

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Series: Michigan leads 58–52–6, but Ohio State has won eight in a row. Harbaugh, as everyone but a few remote Tibetan yak herders are well aware, has never beaten the Buckeyes as Michigan’s head coach.

Key matchup: Ohio State’s stout offensive line against the Michigan sack tandem of Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. Those two are tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks with 10 apiece, and they’ll need to be at their best to make C.J. Stroud uncomfortable in the pocket and affect his ability to deliver to the best receiving corps in the country. If Hutchinson and Ojabo can’t get home, this could be another in a long line of Buckeyes romps through the Michigan secondary.

Forde's pick: Ohio State 34, Michigan 24