It's the best rivalry in the country and one that few even come close to matching. Over the past decade, the power has shifted from Ann Arbor to Columbus. There are a few specific memories that come to mind when reliving all the great moments of Wolverine destruction in recent memory. Here are my favorites:
2004: Ginn Jr. Starts Breaking Records
Back when Troy Smith was still Ohio State's quarterback and Ted Ginn Jr. was just a true freshman, the Buckeyes found a way to pull off an upset over a team with only one loss. Early in Jim Tressel's tenure as head coach, he hosted Lloyd Carr and the Wolverines during a "re-building season" and were still able to prevent them from winning the Big Ten outright. Good ole #7 memorably returned his fourth punt for a touchdown and set new school and conference records; it also was a small glimpse into his speed and skills on special teams. There was nothing quite like watching Teddy Ginn run up the sideline and blast past defenders as they fell trying to keep up.
2006: Game of the Century
The only thing more exciting than the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry game, was when the teams were ranked #1 and #2 in the country. The energy on campus was palpable leading to this afternoon game, which finished under the lights; tickets were super expensive and everyone made their way to Columbus, even if it was just to tailgate.
The Buckeyes led by two touchdowns going into halftime and were able to prevent a Wolverine comeback, winning 42-39. As the last seconds ticked off the clock, fans flocked the field and streets around campus to celebrate beating the team up north in one of the most important games in their history.
This game had implications for more than just the rivalry: 1) Ohio State became the outright Big Ten champion and was invited to play in the BCS National Championship Game, 2) Troy Smith finished the game with a 71% completion rate and four touchdowns, which pretty much made him the lock for the Heisman trophy, 3) It was the most viewed college football game since 1993, averaging over 20 million viewers, and 4) It was the first time in 43 years that Ohio State won three consecutive games against the team up north. So, all-in-all a pretty successful victory for the Buckeyes.
2008: Bringing Records Into The 21st Century
When your opponent is that team up north, taking no mercy is expected; the 2008 game was Rich Rodriguez's first year with the Wolverines and they were having the worst seasons in team history. The Buckeyes pounded them into the ground, winning 42-7; this was the largest win since 1968 and just added to Ohio State's record-setting win streak over their rival. This victory was in large part to four players amassing two touchdowns: QB Terrelle Pryor, WR Brian Hartline, RB Chris "Beanie" Wells and RB Dan "Boooom" Herron.
2010 and 2011: VOID
I am making a judgement call to avoid these seasons, as the wins from 2010 were technically vacated and the 2011 team well, let's just call that a rebuilding year and move on.
2012: Urban Meyer Gets First Rivalry Win
When Coach Meyer took the helm of the Buckeye football team, he was already entrenched in the rivalry with the team up north and made it clear he took this very seriously. His energy and commitment to hating the whole state of Michigan resonated with his team and tensions were high even as the players took the field.
Having lost in 2011 for the first time since 2003, Ohio State players had a chip on their shoulders and wanted to prove to everyone what a fluke that victory was. As the Wolverines took the field, Buckeye players starting taking verbal shots almost immediately and a fight broke out before kick-off. These are the types of things institutions usually don't like seeing, but it sure fires up fans and got the Horseshoe rocking.
Oh yeah, Buckeyes won 26-21; and Urban Meyer claimed undefeated in the rivalry.
2013: Ann Arbor Meets Hall's Middle Fingers
Shirts were made, his silhouette became famous, and he got every Ohio State fan cheering. This is personally my favorite moment from any of the big rivalry games in recent times; in addition to on-field fights and game-changing turnovers, Marcus Hall gave Buckeye nation the ultimate gift last year.
Buckeyes won this game too, 42-41; here's hoping the winning streak continues this weekend!