SB Nation

Land-Grant Holy Land Staff | November 29, 2013

Why We Hate

Ohio State-Michigan 2013

Hate & love

I have a confession to make: I've rooted for Michigan against Ohio State once in my life. But we'll get to that.

One of the major caveats that comes with being born, growing up and, ultimately, calling Columbus home, is the fact that the entire town is truly and totally looking at the rest of the world through scarlet and gray colored glasses. This is not hyperbole, and anyone who has tried to drive on any Columbus surface street on a football Saturday knows this all too well. The Buckeyes own this town, and have since before you or I were born.

While most college football teams can lay claim to the city it inhabits, there's something special about Ohio State football inside the outerbelt border of Interstate 270. It is a bond that the team shares with the city, and an attitude the city adopts to match that of its football team. When the Buckeyes are winning, atop the polls and the country, the city reflects that: stores sell out of Buckeye merchandise at a moment's notice, local radio takes time out of every program to mention the team, and updates about practice move from the sports section to the front page, above the fold, with art.

There is nothing like Ohio State football in Columbus. And that's what makes the Michigan game – every Michigan game – the most important game of the year for the Buckeyes, for the Wolverines and for college football.

The Buckeyes have marked the last 10-15 years of their schedule with what some might call "premier" games. These are the matchups between Texas back in 2005/2006, and Southern Cal after that. Those games are necessary now, and help bolster a team's reputation on a national level. If California was still the Jeff Tedford Quarterback Academy that it was when the two teams put a home-and-home on one another's schedules, this year's edition of the Buckeyes might not be looking up at Alabama and Florida State.

That's because, for so many years, Ohio State and Michigan was the premier game in the country. Time was, the entire sports-loving country tuned in for Ohio State and Michigan in late November because it was two of the most elite teams in the country in a rivalry that dates back to 1897.

But times have admittedly changed. Woody and Bo are dead; the Ten Year War is a memory. The days of John Cooper losing to Lloyd Carr have passed. The myriad Jim Tressel wins over the overmatched Rich Rodriguez are in the rear view. And in the time that those moments have turned into memories, the SEC has become the top outfit for college football, with Alabama as its standard bearer, and ESPN as its cheerleader.

But none of that matters this week because this is Michigan Week. It's Hate Week for anyone who has ever donned a replica jersey and backwards fitted, or struck a Heisman pose after scoring a touchdown in a backyard football game. This is the week to look back at what has been, what is, and what will be.

This is the week to remember just how important the Michigan game – The Game – really is.

Buckeye fans, go back in your minds and remember what you can about Michigan games past. There are details one can pick out about each and every game.

That's what makes the Michigan game – every Michigan game – the most important game of the year for the Buckeyes, for the Wolverines and for college football

I was born in 1984, two and a half months before the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines, 21-6. I like to think that I was the lucky charm for that team that year. But it was more likely the fact that 1984 Michigan was terrible, while 1984 Big Ten champion Ohio State was actually pretty good. It may have lost in the Rose Bowl to USC, but that team beat Michigan. 1984 was a successful season.

After my birth, Michigan went on a nice 6-1-1 run against the Buckeyes, leading to the 1993 edition of the game. Ohio State entered the game undefeated, with a tie against Wisconsin two weeks before, and ranked No. 5 in the country. Michigan was unranked, 7-4, and subpar. I vividly remember watching WSYX Channel 6 the morning of The Game, when former Columbus Mayor Dana G. "Buck" Reinhart had a segment called "Buck...On Your Side!" and picked Buckeyes, emphatically, by three touchdowns.

Michigan won, 28-0.

And then came 1994, and the part I said I would get to later. I was young, impressionable, and had a crush on this girl. Amazing, the things you do when you're just 10 years old. She was a Michigan fan, and while the entire class of students ostracized her, I stood up, because that's what men (and boys, it would seem) do. So on the Friday before The Game, when all the partisans came in in their Buckeye sweatshirts, I stayed neutral in dress and fandom, hoping to catch the eye of the only girl in maize and blue in the room.

Ohio State won, 22-6.

The '90s are a best forgotten decade, especially for Buckeye fans. 1997 featured a Buckeye team that should have won a national title, but had their season, dreams, hopes and ambitions ruined in Ann Arbor, 20-14. 1998 featured a Buckeye team that should have won a national title, and gained a measure of revenge, beating Michigan 31-16 in The 'Shoe to end that regular season, despite losing to Michigan State earlier in the year.

All of those games existed on the outside of the Bowl Championship Series, for the most part. For most fans, the BCS era really only began at the turn of the century, coinciding nicely with the firing of John Cooper and the hiring of Jim Tressel, a relatively unknown commodity from Youngstown, thought to be a distant second to the likely hiring of Glen Mason. While Tressel did not have the fire or bring the intensity of Woody or Bo, all he did for 10 years at Ohio State's helm is beat the living daylights out of That School Up North.

When most Buckeye fans were wondering what a Jim Tressel was, The Senator was busy guaranteeing a win in his first year. And he delivered, with a 26-20 road victory that made no sense in the context of the 2001 season. That victory laid the framework for the biggest win in a Michigan game since the 1960s: Ohio State's win in 2002, which propelled the undefeated Buckeyes into a national championship 30 years in the making.

Jim Tressel will fondly be remembered in the annals of Ohio State history for that win, as well as the seven more wins he put on his resume. Tressel's reign over Michigan, a Ten Year War in and of itself, but it was a war that was painstakingly one-sided. But it was a one-sided decade that only added to the legacy of The Game, and its place in college football lore. The 2006 edition, "The Game of the Century", was simply one of the most important games in college football over the last 30 years. That game was so important, ESPN's pregame video still elicits chills to this day.

To the loyal partisans in scarlet and gray, and maize and blue, Saturday is the most important day of the year

Jim Tressel was enough to see the Wolverines through three coaches: Carr, Rodriguez, and now Brady Hoke, the jolly little elf who has trouble with names and maps. The Buckeyes, too, have been through three coaches – Tressel, Luke Fickell, and now Urban Meyer, the former Buckeye beater himself, who has yet to lose in his tenure as Buckeyes head coach.

This is where we are. For a rivalry that began in 1897, the numbers for the two programs are still among the best in the history of the sport. Michigan owns a 58-44-6 advantage over the history of the rivalry, and can boast 11 national championships to Ohio State's seven. But the Buckeyes have the lead in Heisman Trophy winners (7-3) and BCS bowl appearances (9-5). Both teams have won, historically, at a better than .700 clip, and both teams have seen a staggering 78 consensus All-Americans wear their uniforms.

That's how close these two programs are, and that's why this rivalry is still so important. Saturday's game may not mean much for the Big Ten Conference, and a Buckeye win may not be enough to merit consideration of the voting public to elevate the Buckeyes to a BCS National Championship Game berth. But to the loyal partisans in scarlet and gray, and maize and blue, Saturday is the most important day of the year.

Saturday isn't just a game, it's The Game. And nothing else in the college football world matters more.

Go For 3The Game: A decade by the numbers

It's been quite a ride for the Ohio State Buckeyes these last 10 years. The team has an enjoyed a once-in-a-generation run of success, dominating the University of Michigan. We know the highlights: eight wins in 10 years, including a run of seven straight between 2004 and 2010. We know that this last decade alone, two head coaches have either been fired or resigned after a loss to Ohio State. Entire classes of Wolverines have been recruited, enrolled, graduated, and moved on all without ever sniffing a win against the Buckeyes. Ohio State "won the decade" by a combined score of 299-204, a 95-point margin. That alone is a phenomenal indicator of how the decade went, but to get an even clearer picture, let's take a look at the numbers.

1. Ohio State Versus Michigan Box Score 2003-2012

OSU Total Offense

UM Total Offense

OSU Rushing

UM Rushing

OSU Passing

UM Passing

OSU Turnovers

UM Turnovers



























































































































As you can see, over the last decade, Ohio State has:

–A 798-yard advantage in total offense
–A turnover margin of +8
–A 26:34 time-of-possession advantage

2. Numbers Beyond the Box Score

Ohio State's total victories in The Game since 2003.

Between the two teams, six different men have coached a game for either Ohio State or Michigan during the last decade. That's Lloyd Carr, Jim Tressel, Rich Rodriguez, Luke Fickell, Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer for those keeping score at home. Their records as individuals:

Urban Meyer: 1-0
Jim Tressel: 7-1
Brady Hoke: 1-1
Lloyd Carr: 1-4
Luke Fickell: 0-1
Rich Rodriguez: 0-3

This was the largest margin of victory during the last decade, which occurred in 2008 when Ohio State defeated Rodriguez's Wolverines, 42-7.

The smallest margin of victory this decade was 3 points when the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes defeated Michigan, 42-39.

Between 2004 and 2006, Troy Smith put up 1,051 yards of total offense against the Wolverines. That averages out to just over 350 yards per game. That's an impressive number on its own, but it becomes even crazier when you consider that 1,051 is also the number of yards that Michigan put up as a team during that same 2004-06 period.

Between 2004 and 2010, the Buckeyes and head coach Jim Tressel won seven consecutive games against the Wolverines.

The total offensive yardage put up by the Michigan Wolverines in 2007, a total that resulted in a 14-3 loss to the Buckeyes

The amount of victories over Ohio State started by Jake Long, Mike Hart, Chad Henne, Kyle Kalis, Devin Gardner, and a whole host of their cohorts.

The number of that losses Troy Smith, Beanie Wells, Antonio Pittman, Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, James Laurinaitis, and a whole host of their cohorts have started against the Wolverines.

3. The Best of the Decade

Best Rushing Performance: Beanie Wells, 2007
You don't rack up 1,878 rushing yards in a 10-year period without some very big days on the ground, and over the past decade the Buckeyes have had more than their share of them. In 2006, Antonio Pittman's 17 carries for 139 yards (7.7 YPC) helped the Buckeyes top the No. 2-ranked Wolverines. Pittman's quarterback, Troy Smith, had an even bigger day in 2004, rushing for 145 yards on 18 carries (8.1 YPC). As good as these two performances were, neither of them qualifies for the top spot. Nor does Dan Herron, who ran for 175 yards on 22 carries (8 YPC) in 2010. The best rushing performance of the decade goes to Beanie Wells for his 39-carry, 222-yard (5.7 YPC) showing in the 2007 version of The Game. Wells posted a higher YPC in 2008 (15 carries, 134 yards, 8.9 YPC), but it was that 2007 version that stands alone as his finest. On a cold, wet, miserable day where Todd Boeckman managed only 50 yards passing, Wells put the team on his back, accounting for all but 57 yards of his team's offense and its only two touchdowns.

Best Passing Performance: Troy Smith, 2006
There's really no way to understate how dominant Troy Smith was against the University of Michigan. On his way to becoming only the second quarterback in Ohio State history to go 3-0 against That Team Up North (Terrelle Pryor also started three victories, but one of those doesn't exist anymore), Smith accumulated an impressive 1,051 yards of total offense. As mentioned earlier, that's an average of 350 yards/game. By himself. If Smith was an architect of Wolverine destruction, then the 2006 game was his Burj Khalifa. Smith completed 29 of his 41 passes for 314 yards and four touchdowns, each of which was critical to winning the closely contested game. Smith's performance catapulted the Buckeyes into the BCS National Championship Game and helped earn him a landslide victory in the Heisman Trophy race.

Here's to 10 more years.

State of the HateHere's the deal going into game 110

This is a weird but awesome time in this unparalleled rivalry. Ohio State has dominated it for over a decade, and this year the Buckeyes seem poised to continue their mastery over Michigan come Saturday. The Buckeyes are rolling, in the midst of a historic winning streak, and Wolverines are reeling, losers of three of four.

Throughout this rivalry, we've seen some of the biggest upsets when one team is seemingly outgunned and undermanned. 1969, 1987, 2004, just to name a few. So can the Wolverines come out on Saturday and pull the biggest upset since 1969? Let's take a look and see:

Turnovers. Here's the deal: If Michigan is going to have any shot at all, they need to win the turnover margin, and win it substantially. Ohio State's defense has improved a lot over the last four or five games, and Michigan has issues running the ball. I don't see them being able to drive the length of the field four or five times. They have to get a short field, and if they do, they can't afford field goals. However, Ohio State has been pretty good at not turning the ball over. They are +7 in turnover margin this year, and are averaging barely one turnover a game. They've only had two three-turnover games all year ... but one was last week against Indiana, in bad weather. The weather forecast for Saturday is cold, but only a small chance of rain or snow.

Run/Pass balance. Here's the deal: Michigan is terrible at running the ball, and Ohio State is pretty good at stopping the run. Michigan has had success on the ground when Devin Gardner tucks it and runs, and he'll need to make some plays with his legs on Saturday. As bad as Michigan's offensive line has been, I think Ohio State can afford to put a "spy" on Gardner and take their chances with Derrick Green, Fitz Toussaint, or whoever else Michigan has back there. If Michigan can get a consistent down and distance advantage, they might be able to keep OSU's defense off balance. If Michigan has a matchup advantage, it is with their receivers going up against OSU's secondary. Devin Funchess, Drew Dileo, and Jeremy Gallon can do some damage, and if Garnder has time, it could be a problem for the Buckeyes.

Make Ohio State one-dimensional on offense. Here's the deal: This is going to be a lot easier said than done. But Michigan has a good defense; it's just that they get gassed by the fourth quarter because their offense keeps putting them in bad situations, and can't control the clock. If the offense does their job, Michigan's defense can stay fresh, and they might be able to contain OSU's running game. If they can do that, they have a chance. OSU is much better at passing the ball this year than they were last season, but Miller has been just okay as the weather has turned colder. Last week Miller threw a bad pick, and the few times when the opposing defense has been able to dictate the tempo to Ohio State's offense this year (Northwestern, Iowa), Miller has been gettable.

Start out fast, and ride the momentum. Here's the deal: This game is always about emotion, and who can survive the first wave of it. But when you're a substantial underdog, early success lets you hang around for a quarter, then for a half, and the next thing you know there's two minutes left and you've got a chance to win. If Michigan can get an early score, then maybe create a turnover and get the crowd into it, they can feed off of that. One thing can lead to another, and the next thing you know, they'll have an opportunity to win it in the closing seconds.

Throw out the record books. Here's the deal: How many times, over the course of this rivalry, have we seen one team come into this game with seemingly no chance, yet walk out a winner? It happened all.the.time to OSU during the Cooper years, and most people still have those "what if" thoughts in the back of their head. Michigan has nothing to lose, their fan base is as dispirited as I've ever seen it, OSU has everything to lose, and the storyline is being set for this to possibly be one of the biggest upsets in the history of this rivalry.

Okay, here's the deal: I tell you all of this to say the following: This isn't the Cooper Years, this isn't 1969, and this team is not going to let any of the above happen. Urban Meyer knows how to motivate, prepare, and embrace for big games like this, and his success in rivalry games is as good as The Senator's. The big difference between historic upsets from the past and this game is that even in down years, the underdog had really good teams. In 1969, for example, Michigan was on a roll entering the OSU game, winning four in a row while outscoring their opponents 178-22. They were also the No. 12 team in the country, won the Big Ten with their upset of Ohio State, and went to the Rose Bowl. Funny how no one ever mentions that part of the story.

Those mid-'90s games had one big disadvantage for Ohio State, and it was John Cooper. Look, I like Coop, he is a Hall of Fame coach, and his results outside of bowl games and The Game speak for themselves. But he shrank from games like this, and tried to downplay it, especially once the losses started to pile up. Some of those gut-wrenching losses under his tenure you could see coming from a mile away – as it got deeper into the game, you could physically see him tense up. It carried over to the team, and disaster ensued. And once it happened the first time, that "here we go again" feeling would wash over the team and the fans in subsequent years like a disease. As a lifelong Vikings fan, I am an expert on Herewegoagainitis, and it happened. Just ... trust me.

Does anyone think that's possible with Meyer? I'm asking a serious question here. I think there are two coaches in America who are equally good in recruiting, player development, and in-game strategy. One is Meyer, and the other isn't Brady Hoke. When Jim Tressel was on OSU's sideline, I think I can count on one hand how many times OSU was outcoached in his decade as coach, and one of them was against Meyer in the GAME THAT I WILL NOT MENTION. I think when it's all said and done, that number will be even less with Meyer.

I don't want to sound like this game is in the bag, but a lot has to go wrong for Ohio State to lose Saturday. All those things mentioned above have to happen. Have to, all of them. If Michigan doesn't win the turnover margin, they're not going to win, because they can't drive the length of the field four times for touchdowns, and they won't win a shootout with Ohio State. If Devin Gardner doesn't make half a dozen or so plays with his legs outside the pocket, their offense is dead in the water. If Carlos Hyde gets untracked and Tom Herman has the full playbook at his disposal, it's over. If Ohio State gets out of the blocks fast and Michigan falls behind by 10 points or so, the Big House will become the Big Mausoleum. Well, except that half the fans might be wearing scarlet, which would make it worse for Michigan, in many respects. And I don't mean to be disrespectful to Brady Hoke, because he is an outstanding recruiter, and has brought a lot of talent to Ann Arbor in the three years he's been there. But do you see him outcoaching Meyer? Really?

Because I sure don't. Go Bucks. Beat the hell out of That Team Up North.

LeftO-HversHate that's great, even reheated

What Ohio State means to me

With Michigan week upon us, we take a few moments to reflect on what being a member of the OSU alumni and fan base really means.

The Catch and The Catch, 21 years apart

Two catches, 21 years apart, helped Ohio State win and go on to the Rose Bowl or the BCS.

A new beginning

A fan base was starved for a win against That Team Up North. Finally, a little-known coach would go on to give Ohio State fans more than they could ever hope for.

His name is Earle

After a forgettable season, an outgoing coach ends in unforgettable style, laying the groundwork for the modern era in the process.

Fightin' Words#Hot #Hate #Takes from the week that was

"The only good thing about this rivalry is winning the damn thing." -- Urban Meyer

Reaction: Give this man a life contract. Hell, give him two. Go Bucks.

"When we beat you like a drum every single year, you better start looking for a new rival." -- Ohio Governor John Kasich

Reaction: Tip of the hat to you governor, but our hate's just fine, thank you.

"Ohio State 38, Michigan 3. Not even close." -- Former Buckeye safety Donte Whitner

Reaction: Hard not to like the cut of the artist almost known as Hitner's jib.

"I've been places where my first name is a cuss word." -- Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges Reaction: Well, at least we don't have to worry that he's deaf.

Gold Pants GIFsThe Rivalry DOT GIF

Woody's first down

We'll pretend we don't know the outcome to that one. Woody remains forever the man.

"M" Club Banner goes down

Never stood a chance, really.

Zach Boren meets Devin Gardner

Never gets old.

Pure, unadulterated hate

Nothing else about the '90s is worth remembering but this.

Designer: Josh Laincz | Producer: Luke Zimmermann

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