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Defining moments from ‘The Game’ 2001-2016

Who has made their mark in the nation’s premier rivalry over the past 16 years?

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Happy hate week to all Buckeye fans far and wide. A great week requires great lists, and what’s better than recounting a pristine 16-year stretch in which Ohio State finished with a 14-2 record over TTUN?

Without further ado, the defining moment from each edition of The Game coached by one of Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer, and yes, even Luke Fickell.

2001: Jonathan Wells 46-yard touchdown run

Play: Already up 7-0 after the first quarter thanks to a Mike Doss interception that set the Buckeyes inside the Wolverines’ five-yard line, Wells took a 4th-and-1 handoff straight through the heart of the defense all the way to the endzone.

Impact: Wells added another touchdown before the half to give the Buckeyes a 23-0, but the Wolverines made things interesting last, and it ultimately took a Dustin Fox interception to put them to rest. Wells converted his 25 rushes into 129 yards and three touchdowns on the day.

Final score: 26-20 good guys.

2002: Will Allen game-sealing interception

Play: A late touchdown off an option pitch (!!!) by Maurice Hall gave the Buckeyes a fourth quarter lead, but John Navarre drove the Wolverines inside the Ohio State 25-yard line with one final play to go. Will Allen leaped in front of the receiver at the last second, sending the Buckeyes to the National Championship.

Impact: Allen’s interception set the Buckeyes up for their date with Miami in Glendale. AKA immortality.

Final score: 14-9 good guys.

2003: Chris Perry game-sealing 15-yard TD

Play: Perry capped off his huge day with an impressive run to end the Buckeyes’ comeback bid. He finished with 154 yards and two touchdowns on the day, earning a trip to the Heisman ceremony (he lost).

Impact: The Buckeyes’ National Championship hopes were dashed. The Wolverines took on No. 1 USC in the Rose Bowl and lost 28-14.

Final score: 35-21 bad guys.

2004: Troy Smith starts the day with a 68-yard bomb to Anthony Gonzalez

Play: The Buckeyes were 6-4 entering The Game, while the Wolverines were the No. 7 team in the country looking to lock up another trip to Pasadena. An early 3rd-and-12 didn’t bode well for the Ohio State, but Smith made his first of many brilliant plays against TTUN:

Impact: Smith was just getting started, as he eventually racked up 241 passing yards, 145 rushing yards, and three total touchdowns. A Ted Ginn punt return for six in the third quarter helped put the Buckeyes up for good.

Final score: 37-21 good guys.

2005: The Catch

Play: Smith and Gonzalez had their fair share of great plays, but both seemed to take things to the next level against TTUN. A heroic effort by both set up a short rushing touchdown by Antonio Pittman and the Buckeyes’ second-consecutive victory against the Wolverines:

Impact: The Buckeyes rode their victory over TTUN to a berth in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame. That game was just as awesome as you remember it.

Final score: 25-21 good guys.

2006: Smith and Brian Robiskie put the final stake through the No. 2 Wolverines

Play: While Ginn, Beanie Wells, and Pittman all had long-noteworthy touchdowns, Robiskie’s toe-dragging goodness put the Buckeyes up for good in the fourth quarter. The Wolverines refused to go away all game, making the Game of the Century one of the best editions of The Game in recent memory.

Impact: The win sent the Buckeyes to some game that nobody really cared all that much about anyway.

Final score: 42-39 good guys.

2007: Chris Wells 62-yard TD run

Play: Gholston and the defensive line found themselves in the Wolverines backfield all game, but it was one sack late in the fourth quarter that truly showed just how dominant this defense could be:

Impact: Beanie Wells converted his 39 carries into 222 yards and two touchdowns against the Wolverines (including a 62-yard romp past numerous over-matched defenders), but it was Gholston and the defense who truly took over the game. TTUN gained just 91 total yards, and Chad Henne was taken down on three separate occasions by Gholston. The Buckeyes’ ultimately lost (again) in the National Championship.

Final score: 14-3 good guys.

2008: Ray Small 80-yard punt return

Play: The Buckeyes burst out to a 14-7 halftime lead on the first edition of the Rich-Rod Wolverines, but the game quickly got out of hand. Small’s huge return set the Buckeyes up inside the 10-yard line and they quickly capitalized with a touchdown to Robiskie.

Impact: The Buckeyes placed a large exclamation point on the Wolverines’ 3-9 campaign under Rodriguez. It was also the last time high school sensation Sam McGuffie played for the Wolverines.

Final score: 42-7 good guys.

2009: Cameron Hayward starts the turnover party off with a TD

Play: The Wolverines couldn’t get out of their own way in 2009, and the Buckeyes quickly capitalized by recovering a forced fumble in the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.

Impact: The Buckeyes racked up 251 yards rushing between Boom, Zoom, and Terrelle Pryor. The Wolverines consistently drove the ball, but four interceptions and the aforementioned fumble from Tate Forcier were too much for TTUN to overcome.

Final score: 21-10 good guys.

2010: Boom Herron 98-yard touchdown 89-yard run

Play: Okay, technically Herron’s long run was 89 yards and not a touchdown due to a Dane Sanzenbacher hold, but that call on Sanzenbacher’s open-field pancake was objectively terrible, and Herron’s long run was simply more of the same against the Wolverines laughable defense.

Impact: Rodriguez’s last game against the Buckeyes wasn’t a very memorable one. While Pryor went 3-0 against TTUN, none of his games were all that competitive thanks to a dismal Wolverines defense and an offense that couldn’t handle the Buckeyes big uglies in the trenches.

Final score: 37-7 good guys.

2011: Denard Robinson 42-yard TD

Play: Braxton Miller and co. gave the No. 15 ranked Wolverines all they could handle, but shoelace made it clear from the beginning that things wouldn’t be so easy this time around.

Impact: Robinson accounted for 337 total yards and five touchdowns against the worst Buckeyes team of the era. This disaster did clear the way for Meyer to come to Columbus, a trade off most Buckeyes fans would likely make 100 times out of 100.

Final score: 40-34 bad guys.

2012: Miller 52-yard bomb to Devin Smith

Play: The Buckeyes’ spotless 11-0 record was meaningless due to their bowl restriction, but some early sorcery from Miller forced the Wolverines to respect the deep ball and opened up lanes for Carlos Hyde all game long.

Impact: Meyer’s first win against TTUN was somewhat uneventful considering the Buckeyes had to settle for four field goals, but the win put a cherry on top of a perfect season. Kudos to everyone involved for not letting a lack of postseason opportunities derail the season.

Final score: 26-21 good guys.

2013: Tyvis Powell’s game-sealing interception

Play: Devin Gardner managed to lead the Wolverines 84 yards in the game’s final minutes and into the end zone to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to just one point. Head coach Brady Hoke attempted to end things right then and there, but Powell had other ideas:

Impact: Miller got things started with an electrifying 53-yard touchdown run, and Buckeyes racked up a ridiculous 393 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 46 carries. Still, the Wolverines exposed some holes in the Buckeyes secondary that would be further exploited by Michigan State and Clemson in the following weeks.

Final score: 42-41 good guys.

2014: Ezekiel Elliott 44-yard TD

Play: The Buckeyes were up just seven points and without starting quarterback J.T. Barrett, but Meyer went for it on 4th-and-1 anyway. Elliott broke one tackle at the line and raced to the end zone to put the Buckeyes up for good.

Impact: It wouldn’t be Elliott’s last big run of the season, and the drive previewed the Buckeyes’ power-run philosophy they rode to a National Championship win.

Final score: 42-28 good guys.

2015: Joey Bosa says goodnight to Jake Rudock

Play: Bosa and Rudock were high-school teammates, but that didn’t stop the former player from driving the latter directly into the turf. The ensuing replays to determine if Rudock fumbled (he didn’t) highlighted the impact from plenty of angles:

Impact: The Buckeyes beat the Wolverines down for the better part of Jim Harbaugh’s first matchup against Meyer. They did so with a devastatingly-efficient rushing attack from Barrett and Elliott, but TTUN’s inability to control Bosa and company at the line of scrimmage was ultimately too much to overcome. Notre Dame would suffer a similar fate a few weeks later.

Final score: 42-13 good guys.

2016: Curtis Samuel to the crib

Play: The entire game was a roller coaster of emotions, as the Buckeyes went down 10 points in the third quarter before working their way back. After forcing overtime, Samuel first helped put the Buckeyes in position to pick up a fist down thanks to his ridiculous third-down run, and he later leaped into the history books with a game-winning 15-yard touchdown run:

Impact: The Buckeyes have had two heart-stopping affairs during Meyer’s five wins against Michigan, but 2016’s back-and-forth contest was arguably the most dramatic yet. Neither team managed to find much postseason success, but 2016’s edition of The Game demonstrated the yearly battles these two teams partake in.

Final score: 30-27 good guys. And by the way, the spot was good.