Adrian Roji and Charlie Stadler
The match-up between the Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes is known as “The Game” across the country. These two powerhouse football programs first met in 1897, and have played annually since 1918. The schools have played each other a total of 113 times, with Michigan up in the all time series with 58 wins, 48 losses, and 6 ties. These are two of the most renowned schools for all college athletics, but football has always been at their heart. The divide between their fans encapsulates just how heated this rivalry is, so the atmosphere in these showdowns is nothing short of spectacular.
This year, both programs were lead by two of the best coaches in the country, Urban Meyer (OSU) and Jim Harbaugh (MU), to national rankings of 2 and 3 respectively. This has been the highest each team was ranked in a meeting since 2006. Ohio State and Michigan were fighting to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff, as only the top 4 teams would get in and compete for a National Championship.
The setting was at Ohio State’s mecca of football, Ohio Stadium, also known as “The Horseshoe”. With around 105,000 OSU fans watching and millions more on national television, the stage was set for a legendary clash. Ohio State’s star quarterback JT Barrett and Michigan’s electrifying Jabrill Peppers looked to build their Heisman resumes as the best player in the country.
Early on, Michigan dominated the game as their defense suffocated the OSU offense and did not give Barrett any room to operate. Jabrill Peppers snagged his first career interception, and it seemed to be Michigan’s day. Ohio State had no answer and quickly went down 17-7, but they got back into the game because Michigan’s quarterback, Wilton Speight, threw two costly interceptions. One of them was taken back for a touchdown, and the other lead to an OSU touchdown later on. JT Barrett began to find room with his legs, as he had more success running the ball than passing. With Ohio State down 17-14 and less than a minute left in the game, they were faced with a fourth and one, and Barrett, in a Heisman moment, willed himself to stay up and get the necessary yard. This led to a last second field goal to send the game to overtime. How fitting.
After trading touchdowns, Ohio State’s defense held Michigan to a field goal, meaning a touchdown would win it. At this point OSU’s offense was in rhythm, and after a couple of plays, their explosive offensive weapon, Curtis Samuel, ran untouched for the game winning touchdown. The crowd burst in excitement, for their Buckeyes had right then most likely secured a playoff berth, and more importantly, they beat Michigan. Urban Meyer, after 4 hours of pure anxiety, dropped to the ground in delight.
Although this game was not the prettiest, both teams demonstrated how bad they wanted to win. Both teams deserved the victory, but OSU was just a bit more talented. JT Barrett did not have a great day, as he finished with more rushing yards than passing yards, but that did not matter. He led his team to a hard fought win and delivered in the clutch. This game will go down in the books as one of the best to have ever been played. There are many more to come.
A new chapter was written in this historic rivalry.