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What "The Game" Means to Buckeye Nation

Why College Football Fans should enjoy The Game more than ever this year and what the rivalry has meant to College Football for the last several years.



Current Countdown Clock until The Game- 10 Days

 

When you walk the halls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center where the Buckeyes arrive to practice every day there is a clock with a mural of highlights and pictures of Ohio State vs the Wolverines over the years of the history of the rivalry. On that clock, is a countdown down to the last second of when the two will meet to play every year. Every year when the game concludes, the clock resets and the Buckeyes go back to work to train for the Wolverines, win or lose, Big Ten title or not, it is just the way of life.



When the Buckeyes hired legendary coach Urban Meyer back in 2012, he promised to take the rivalry seriously and vowed that it was a way of life. Not only did he never say the name "Michigan" to his players or staff as he always referred to them as "the team up north" or "the Wolverines," he literally hired a staff member to only watch game film on the Wolverines and to monitor which recruits they were going after and if they were in a recruiting war with the same players or not. Coach Meyer lived the rivalry and it showed on the field. Coach Meyer finished his career 7-0 against the Wolverines with a convincing victory in his last match-up as coach with the Buckeyes when the Wolverines were the number 4 ranked team in the country and they came to Columbus on the "revenge tour." The Buckeyes beat the Wolverines 62-39 and went on to win the Big Ten title that year.



Urban Meyer set a precedent for Ryan Day when he took over as head coach of the Buckeyes and that is "you don't lost to the team up north." Meyer is very vocal still to this day on Fox Sports every Saturday when they speak of this game. Ryan Day was victorious in his first game as head coach when he beat the Wolverines 56-27 in Ann Arbor in 2019 and went on to win the Big Ten title. In 2020, the Wolverines forfeited the season due to COVID-19 complications which has led to the last two seasons of victories for the Wolverines.

 

Ryan Day and the Buckeyes need this victory, this is no secret. The last two losses have tarnished a lot for Ryan Day and his legacy at Ohio State thus far. Many have even questioned if he is the guy to lead the Buckeyes based on two losses to the Wolverines. This may sound crazy to the outside eye due to him being a field goal miss away from playing for his second national title game since he took over in 2019. As the coach of Ohio State though, you have to win this game, there is no sugar-coating it. The job description entails beating the team up north, winning the Big Ten, and competing for national titles.


Ryan Day and the Buckeyes though are set up for a historic match-up against the Wolverines on November 25th. This could be the game of the century to many and why not? The outside noise between cheating scandals and if Ryan Day and Ohio State turned in Harbaugh and his staff has been marque news for many weeks. Last year's match-up was a battle of 11-0 vs 11-0 and a trip to Indy for the Big Ten title. In 2006, it was #1 vs #2 with the winner heading to the National Championship game. With all expectations that both teams will be undefeated come November 25th and the storylines leading up to this game, this year's match-up will surpass all ratings in the history of the game. Not only that, Jim Harbaugh is currently suspended and not allowed to coach on the sidelines for this game. If the ruling is overturned for the Wolverines and Harbaugh, all eyes will be ready to watch this game to see Ryan Day and Jim Harbaugh square off for this one.



 

As a pure football fan, I cannot imagine tuning into any other game on November 25th than Ohio State vs the Wolverines. The history alone and the precedent of both teams being undefeated once again for this match-up is incredible in the history of the game. This rivalry dates back to 1897 and has been annually played every year until 2020 when the Wolverines forfeited their rights to play this game (which many Wolverine fans tend to want to forget.) With that, this game has offered fans many historical battles between players and coaches as well.


"The ten-year war" between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler where Bo Schembechler (Ohio Native) was an Ohio State assistant coach under Woody Hayes left to take the Wolverine's job which Woody Hayes could not stand and led to the famous "team up north" quote that Buckeye fans love. Woody Hayes could not stand this move by Schembechler and even led to Woody Hayes famously quoting on a recruiting trip saying, "I will not buy one single drop of gas in the state up north! we will coast and push the car to the Ohio line before I give this State a nickel of my money."


Fast forward to the early 2000s, enter Jim Tressel who on his first day on the job in front of a sold-out crowd at The Schott during a halftime speech at a basketball game, Tressel stated, "I can assure you that you will be proud of our young people, in the classroom, in the community, and most especially in 310 days, in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the football field." Tressel knew his legacy coming from an FCS school in Youngstown State University, being from Ohio, this was his moment to win over Buckeye nation. Tressel in his first year beat the Wolverines 26-20. Tressel stumbled in 2003 when he suffered a loss to the Wolverines but this led to what was called the game of the century in 2006 when the Wolverines came to Columbus #2 and the Buckeyes were #1, winner goes to the National championship. Many viewed this game as the national championship and many were even saying that let both teams rematch each other in the bowl game because they were both clearly the two best teams in the country. If this was not enough on the line for both teams, the night before the game, Bo Schembechler passed away. With the emotions of the game already, knowing the legendary coach for the Wolverines passed away just added to the emotions of the game. The Buckeyes were victorious in this game 42-39 and the Buckeyes went on to win the next 4 years of the game.




Enter Urban Meyer in 2012 and Jim Harbaugh in 2015. Many thought this was the next "ten-year war" but in reality, it was never that competitive other than in 2016 when the game offered us the first overtime game in the game's history. The double-overtime victory for the Buckeyes led Ohio State to the college football playoff and gave Jim Harbaugh his second straight loss in the game. Urban Meyer went on to win all of his games in the rivalry and finished 7-0 in his career. Harbaugh on the other hand finished 0-4 against Meyer.



Ryan Day is 1-2 against the Wolverines and Harbaugh. Harbaugh does not have much to brag on as he was 0-5 in his first 5 games in the rivalry and now is only 2-5 with a forfeit in 2020. As stated earlier, the outside noise in this game between cheating scandals, the last two years of the game, and the famous Ryan Day quote on a Big Ten conference call where he was quoted saying "I am going to drop 100 on them" referring to the Wolverines. Not only the Ryan Day quote, Jim Harbaugh after finally getting a victory in the game, stated "Some people think they hit a triple but are born on third base" referring to Ryan Day and the team he was given when he took over the Ohio State program. This game has all the momentum and factors on the line. The Wolverines have played a soft schedule leading into the game this year with only playing one ranked team in Penn State which both Ohio State and the Wolverines have beaten. Many speculate that if the Wolverines do not beat Ohio State they will be left out of the playoff with their soft schedule and the scandals standing in their way. Not only that, Harbaugh could be looking at his last game as coach as well noting he has taken NFL phone calls and interviews every year since 2020, even in 2022 he took an interview with the Minnesota Vikings on National Signing Day.




Ryan Day can deliver the knockout punch for the Buckeyes sending the Wolverines back down to reality and keeping them out of the Big Ten title game and the playoff. Whether Day and the Buckeyes turned in Harbaugh for cheating or not (it is still cheating no matter who turned them in but no evidence Day did) this victory means everything for the Buckeyes and Ryan Day. This will be an emotional game and a lot of ups and downs. Winning this game will in all likelihood send Harbaugh packing for the NFL as well. Harbaugh and the Wolverines have put all their eggs in this year's basket as national title or bust. They have their QB, their running game, and their defense all back from last season. If the Buckeyes and Ryan Day can deliver this victory and come back to Ohio victorious defeating the Wolverines in Ann Arbor with the team they have after the last two seasons and all the outside noise, this will be the best victory over the Wolverines in the history of the game in my opinion.


Buckle up Buckeye fans, it will be a game to remember and I believe the Buckeyes will come home victorious.


Our Honor Defend, We Will FIGHT to the End.

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