2007 was an odd year in college football. Ohio State, stinging after a smackdown in the BCS Title game a year before, was expected to be in kind of a rebuilding/reloading mode. Gone were guys like Troy Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr., and entering the season most people felt that Michigan was going to be the team to beat in the Big Ten. They had three key seniors coming back in QB Chad Henne, LT Jake Long, and RB Mike Hart. Long, a top NFL prospect, came back for his senior year just to beat Ohio State, something he hadn't done.
Those three guys were the key components of an offense that a lot of folks thought was going to be one of the top ones in the country, and they were also returning a very strong defense. Yeah, Michigan was going to be tough to beat, and they were penciled in as the pre-season #5 team in the country.
That narrative went out the door in week one, and Michigan has yet to climb back to elite status. Thanks to this game:
Seriously, every time I watch highlights of this game, or hear it mentioned, I chuckle, and my heart warms just a bit more. Oregon came in to the Big House the next game and crushed Michigan, and after two games, the triplets had only one thing to play for: beating Ohio State.
For the Buckeyes, a preseason #10 ranking felt a bit inflated. They were really exposed against Florida in the national championship game the year prior, and had some issues to address on offense. But QB Todd Boeckman played in a very workmanlike fashion, RB Chris Wells became a force, and the Silver Bullets defense was as good as advertised. By October, every ranked team that was crowned the #1 team in the land lost, and OSU found themselves seated on the uneasy throne. They were knocked off by Illinois the week prior to The Game, and all OSU could do was regroup and hope to win the Big Ten and go to the Rose Bowl.
Michigan had climbed back to #23 in the country after the Greatest Upset In College Football History, and Henne, Hart, and Long were desperate to get a win against the Buckeyes. Michigan as a whole hadn't won since 2003, and rumors were swirling that Lloyd Carr was going to retire. They had also gotten themselves in position to go to the Rose Bowl, too. They were tied for second with Illinois heading into The Game, and a win would give them the Big Ten Title and a trip to Pasadena. So once again, as it had been so many times in the past, it was Michigan vs. Ohio State for the Big Ten Championship. In a weird year, all was right with the world again.
And by the end of the game, it was even better, as Michigan got steamrolled by a Beanie.
Sophomore Chris 'Beanie' Wells ran for over 200 yards and two scores, and in the cold and wet of Ann Arbor, Jim Tressel played the most Tresselball game of the Tresselball era. Todd Boeckman only threw for 50 yards, but Wells ran wild, carrying the ball 39 times for 222 yards and two TD's, as the Buckeyes won the Big Ten and secured what almost everyone thought would be a spot in the Rose Bowl.
For the Michigan trio of Hart, Henne, and Long, it was a day to forget. The Silver Bullets were suffocating, and Michigan couldn't get untracked all day. Henne was a brutal 11/34 passing for only 68 yards, Mike Hart ran 18 times for only 44 yards, and Long had a bad day protecting Henne's blindside, giving up two sacks. The heralded threesome ended up a career 0-4 against Ohio State.
And Mike 'The Mouth' Hart was shutup forever.
Go Bucks. Beat That Team Up North.