Michigan-Ohio St.: Before you bet the house on Ohio…


You’ve undoubtedly heard the phrase:  You can throw out the record book when Michigan-Ohio St. meet.

The phrase is also common to rivalry games in just about every sport, because they’re usually more emotional and the teams know each other very well.

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‘The Game,’ which displays all of these characteristics will be played tomorrow before the normal sell-out crowd  of 107.000 in Columbus. Kickoff is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on ABC.

Adding to the excitement is that the Michigan-Ohio State  rivalry is played across state lines.

Big Ten title game

For years, ‘The Game’ was the final one played during the regular season, and it often determined the Big Ten champion. Now, the Big Ten is divided into two divisions, and the champ isn’t determined until the Big Ten title game.

Ohio State, with a current record of 9-1,  ( 7-0 in the Big Ten), has clinched a spot in the conference title game.

Ranked No. 6 in the college rankings, Ohio State could easily move up—with wins in its final two games—into one the four semifinal slots for a chance at the first post-BCS college national championship.

Michigan (5-6, 3-4), on the other hand, needs an upset win to gain a berth in one of the lower-tiered bowl games like the Quick Lane Bowl  in Detroit. The Wolverines might also have to win just to save head coach Brady Hoke’s job.

Underdogs often win

S0 it’s no secret Ohio State is favored in Las Vegas by 20 points.

But this scenario has presented itself many times over the years and the underdog has won.

In 2004, Michigan was ranked No. 7  with a 9-1 record and Ohio State was unranked with a 6-4 record.  The 2004 game was actually a dress rehearsal of what was to come in the 2006 class when both teams were undefeated.

The 2004 affair featured back up quarterback Troy Smith rushing for 145 yards and passing for 241 while Wolverine running back Michael Hart was held to 51.

Walk down the main streets

Ted Ginn Jr. scored on an 82-yard punt return in the third quarter to put the game away.

“This was important because it’s Ohio State-Michigan,” said Tressel, then 3-1 against the Buckeyes’ archrivals. “(Former Ohio State) Coach Earle Bruce always says that if the Ohio State coach wins against Michigan he can walk down the main streets of Columbus. If he loses, he’d better walk the back alleys. It’s that important.”

The tables were turned in 1993.  Michigan came into the game with a listless 6-4 record and unranked. Ohio State was 9-0-1 and ranked No. 5.

It was no contest as Michigan controlled the ball more than 36 minutes and led 21-0 at the half. Tyrone Wheatley  ran for 105 yards, Ed Davis had 96 on the ground and Todd Collins completed 70% of his passes.

Played with emotion

“It was probably our lack of success during the season that helped in our victory,” Michigan coach Gary Moeller said. “… We played like we should have all season, with emotion.”

There were 10 other upsets from 1969 thru 2004, with Michigan winning five, Ohio State four and the one tie in 1973.

Added ESPN: “From 1970 through 1975, Michigan entered without a loss every year. The Wolverines won just once. Ohio State was 9-0-1 in 1993, 11-0 in 1995 and 10-0 in 1996. The Buckeyes lost each time.”

So what are Michigan’s chances tomorrow. All you have to do is look back to last year’s game. Even with a broken foot, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner completed 32 of 45 passes for 451 yards and four touchdowns. Michigan added 152 yards on the ground for a whopping total of 603 total yards. The missed two-point conversion at the end gave Ohio State the victory (42-41), but everyone knew the Buckeyes were in a much tougher game than expected.

The rivalry’s history shows that it can happen again.

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