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‘The Game’ is more than a game for Ohio State and Michigan

Time and time again, it’s been shown that Ohio State-Michigan is a way of life.

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

On the first day of Big Ten Media Days, Ohio State football head coach Urban Meyer spoke about the rivalry between OSU and Michigan. Meyer, who’s beaten the Wolverines in each of his five seasons as the point man in Columbus, said that ‘The Game’ was “the greatest rivalry in all of sports.”

Yes, this is an Ohio State blog, but what Meyer said has a lot of truth to it.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines have met a total of 113 times, and have been one of the most—if not the most—electrifying and consistent matchups in all of sports. From the 2006 contest, which was dubbed as ‘The Game of the Century’ as No. 2 Michigan traveled to Columbus to face No. 1 Ohio State for a virtual spot in the BCS Championship Game, to last season’s AP Top 5 showdown in The ‘Shoe, there have been plenty of recent games that have had the rivals face-off when the stakes were high.

And when those stakes are high, both teams are, literally, tied.

While only a select few are able to suit up and be part of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, the fan bases for both teams make the rivalry what it is: an event that is circled on calendars; an event that seeks your full and undivided attention as bragging rights hang in the balance.

For some, this rivalry means the world to them.

Take the case of Zach Lawrence, the Buckeye fan who was injured in a car accident in the Republic of Georgia and slipped into a coma, and who willed himself back to consciousness with the help of doctors. At Dodd Hall Rehabilitation Center at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Lawrence, who was still recovering from the brain injury sustained in the accident, was given a button to answer ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions.

One of the questions asked was whether or not he was a fan of Michigan. Lawrence responded by hitting the ‘no’ button, and then for good measure, hit the same button again.

Here was a man who went through a hellacious accident in an unfamiliar place, who doctors thought wouldn’t wake up from the coma. In an article by The Columbus Dispatch, Zach’s family was told by doctors that the chance of him waking up were “pretty much nonexistent”.

And yet, his road to recovery went through acknowledging his dislike of Michigan.

This isn’t the first time the rivalry has been used in someone’s recovery. Back in 2013, Grant Reed, then a seventh grader, had brain cancer. However, he never called it cancer; he called it ‘Michigan.’ And like the recent trend of results on the gridiron, Reed ended up beating his version of Michigan, too.

That’s the personal impact ‘The Game’ has on everyday life. On the actual day Ohio State-Michigan face each other, the environment—hours before game time— is electric. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan or a member of the media: You can’t deny the fact that ‘The Game’ has a different feel to it, and the level of intensity it brings to the table can’t be duplicated by any other rivalry in any other sport.

At the 2006 edition of OSU-UM, dubbed as ‘The Game of the Century’ by the media, for hours before kickoff to hours after the game went final, the atmosphere in Columbus was rocking. Even in later contests that didn’t feature Ohio State and Michigan in the No. 1 or No. 2 spots, the atmosphere is still something that can’t be duplicated.

From the Lonestar Showdown between Texas A&M and Texas, to a Penn State white out, the atmosphere at those events could not be matched to what Ohio State and Michigan bring to the table.

From the atmosphere at games, to the personal level the rivalry affects everyday people, to the game itself, Ohio State-Michigan is more than a game; it’s a part of life.