It all comes down to this: Ohio State and Michigan, closing out the regular season with a trip to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game on the line.
The Buckeyes (10-1) and the Wolverines (10-1) clash in Ann Arbor, Michigan this Saturday at noon. Coverage of the game will be aired live on FOX. Here’s a glance at the history of this legendary series:
Opponent: Michigan Wolverines
All-Time Record: Michigan leads, 58-51-8
First Meeting: Oct. 16, 1897 (Michigan, 34-0)
Last Meeting: Nov. 30, 2019 (Ohio State, 56-27)
Current Win Streak: Ohio State, 8
It may surprise younger fans to learn Michigan actually leads this overall series, considering how dominant Ohio State has been in recent meetings. The Buckeyes have won this annual contest each of the past eight years, a total count of 3,648 days.
Of course, this rivalry (considered by many to be the greatest in college football) was not played last year. The cancellation was due to concerns surrounding a COVID-19 outbreak Michigan athletics was going through at the time.
Last year’s game was supposed to be played at Ohio Stadium in Columbus after the 2019 game was held in Ann Arbor. But after last year's game was cancelled, this year's game is once again at The Big House, so Ohio State won't have a home game against their arch-rivals for a four year stretch.
This will be only the fourth time in the history of the series in which games didn't rotate venues from one year to the next. Ohio State and Michigan have played every single year since 1918, but did not play from 1913-1917 during World War I.
There have been several notable games over the course of this series, as could be assumed given the length of this rivalry.
“The Ten-Year War” was a moniker given to the ten games played between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines from 1969 and 1978.
Each year of the war featured a battle between head coaches Woody Hayes (Ohio State) and Bo Schembechler (Michigan).
Hayes and Shembechler had coached together, both in Columbus, Ohio with the Buckeyes and in Oxford, Ohio with the Miami University RedHawks, before they ended up on opposite sides of the rivalry.
The war came to an end after Hayes punched an opposing player during a bowl game and was let go from Ohio State. Schembechler finished ahead in this series, going 5-4-1 over the 10 games against his former colleague.
Another note-worthy exhibition came in 2006, when the Buckeyes and Wolverines squared off as the two highest-ranked teams in the nation, No. 1 and No. 2 respectively.
The game, which ended 42-39 in favor of Ohio State, was one of only seven instances up to that point in which a team scored more than 40 points.
Ohio State’s quarterback Troy Smith, who threw four touchdowns during that game, went on to win the Heisman Trophy that year.
This year’s game sees Ohio State and Michigan ranked in the top-10, according to both the AP and the CFP committee.
The first instance in which the Buckeyes and Wolverines met ranked in the AP poll was in 1941. The legendary Paul Brown, founder of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL, was in his first season as head coach at Ohio State that year.
The victor will no doubt be guaranteed a shot at the Big Ten Championship, and would arguably be a lock for the college football playoff.
Ohio State opens -7.5 against Michigan on SI Sportsbook. The game’s over/under is currently set at 64.5 points.
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