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I Love Ohio State, I Hate Michigan
By Steve Greenberg, Dale Ratermann
Triumph BooksCopyright © 2011 Steve Greenberg and Dale Ratermann
All rights reserved.
We Love Beating Michigan
every victory against that school up north is a game we love. Sometimes an otherwise disappointing season can become worthwhile when it concludes with a thumping of the blue and yellow. But some victories are just more lovable than others — whether the game itself is simply more exciting or the drama of the situation makes the winning that much sweeter. Whatever the reason, here are the top 15 Buckeyes victories in the most storied series in college football.
No. 1: 2006
It was billed as the "Game of the Century." Undefeated and No. 1–ranked Ohio State vs. undefeated and No. 2–ranked Michigan. It marked the first time in the illustrious series that the teams entered the game ranked No. 1 and 2 in the nation. At stake: the Big Ten championship and a likely spot in the BCS Championship Game.
Thursday night before the game, Bo Schembechler delivered his annual pep talk to the Wolverines. The next morning, the 77-year-old Hall of Fame coach collapsed and died. The game went on with a then-record crowd of 105,708 at Ohio Stadium. A pregame video tribute to Schembechler was played on the stadium scoreboard as the PA announcer read, "Michigan has lost a coach and patriarch. The Big Ten has lost a legend and icon. Ohio State has lost an alumnus and friend."
Michigan took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards to take a 7–0 lead. It was their only lead of the game. The Buckeyes scored three unanswered TDs and took a 28–14 advantage into halftime. Midway through the third quarter, Michigan pulled to within 28–24, but Antonio Pittman took the ball for a 56-yard touchdown run to put the Buckeyes ahead 35–24. The Wolverines' Mike Hart scored his third touchdown of the day early in the fourth quarter to cut OSU's lead to 35–31. But, with 5:38 left in the game, the Buckeyes' Brian Robiskie caught a 13-yard TD pass from Troy Smith to make it 42–31. Michigan scored again with 2:16 remaining and converted its two-point try to make it a three-point game at 42–39, but the Buckeyes were able to run out the clock.
Smith threw for 316 yards and four TDs, Ted Ginn Jr. caught eight passes for 104 yards, and Antonio Pittman ran for 139 yards on 18 carries. "There were a lot of good playmakers out there today," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. "It was a fast-break game the whole way."
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said, "We gave up too many big plays. Those are mistakes in a game like this, in any game, that will get you beat."
Ohio State went on to play in the National Championship Game but lost to Florida 41–14. Michigan played Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl and lost 32–18.
No. 2: 1970
In another battle of unbeaten teams, Ohio State was 8–0 and ranked fifth in the nation while Michigan was 9–0 and ranked fourth. That was the year that a judge in Columbus threw out an obscenity charge against a defendant arrested for wearing a T-shirt that read "Fuck Michigan" because the message "accurately expressed" local sentiment about the university and state.
The game began with Michigan fumbling the opening kickoff. Ohio State recovered and quickly went ahead 3–0, but U-M tied the game on the first play of the second quarter. Rex Kern hit Bruce Jankowski for a 26-yard TD to put OSU ahead at halftime 10–3. Michigan scored a touchdown in the third quarter and appeared ready to tie the game, but the Buckeyes' Tim Anderson blocked the PAT kick. Ohio State added a field goal and four-yard TD run by Leo Hayden to win 20–9.
Hayden had 117 yards rushing on 28 carries, while the Buckeyes defense held Michigan to just 37 net rushing yards. OSU linebacker Stan White had a key interception in the fourth quarter.
Following the season, the Buckeyes had four players chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft (John Brockington, Jack Tatum, William Anderson, and Hayden) and 13 players chosen overall.
No. 3: 2002
No. 2 Ohio State (12–0) vs. No. 12 Michigan (9–2) at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes' hopes for making it to the national championship game hinged on the final play of the game. Michigan trailed 14–9 but had the ball at the Ohio State 24-yard line with one second left. "My only thought was, Who's the guy running the clock? I mean, one second left? What's that?" said Ohio State linebacker Matt Wilhelm.
Michigan quarterback John Navarre was on his way to setting a school record for passing yards in a season. He threw to Braylon Edwards, a future Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, at the goal line. But Will Allen, Ohio State's junior nickel back, stepped in front of Edwards and intercepted the pass on the final play of the regular season. "We worked so hard for this," said Allen. "We're 13–0, and you can't beat that."
Michigan had gone ahead 3–0 midway through the opening period, but Ohio State took the lead on a two-yard TD run by Maurice Clarett. Michigan added two second-quarter field goals to take make it 9–7 at halftime. With the score still the same, the Buckeyes took over at their own 37 with 8:40 remaining. Craig Krenzel completed a pass to fullback Brandon Schnittker, then converted a fourth-and-1 with a QB sneak at the Wolverines' 34. Krenzel hit Clarett with a pass to the Michigan 7. Two plays later, Maurice Hall took a pitch and ran it around the right side for a three-yard touchdown.
Michigan didn't quit. The Wolverines drove into OSU territory before Darrion Scott hit Navarre and forced him to fumble. The Buckeyes' Will Smith recovered. But the Buckeyes were unable to run out the clock and gave the ball back to Michigan at the Wolverines' 20-yard line with 56 seconds left. Navarre moved U-M to the OSU 24 before throwing an incompletion in the end zone and the final pass that was intercepted by Allen.
"We knew it was going to be a slugfest. Anyone who thought it was going to be anything other than a game decided at the end hasn't been around the Ohio State–Michigan game," said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel.
The victory put the Buckeyes into the BCS Championship Game at the Fiesta Bowl, where they defeated No. 1 Miami (Florida) for the national championship.
No. 4: 1974
The Wolverines came into Ohio Stadium with a 10–0 record and No. 3 national ranking. The Buckeyes were 9–1 and ranked No. 4. Ohio State had the Heisman Trophy winner in Archie Griffin and three players chosen in the first round of the NFL Draft. Michigan had an All-American (DB Dave Brown) and seven All–Big Ten players. But the game came down to two relatively unknown kickers.
Ohio State's walk-on kicker, Tom Klaban, a Czechoslovakian refugee, made four field goals, while Michigan's kicker, Mike Lantry (who had missed two field goals late in the 1973 game that ended in a tie) missed a 33-yard field-goal attempt with 18 seconds remaining that would have won the game.
Griffin rushed for 111 yards, while Bruce Elia had a key interception. Klaban's field goals came from 47, 25, 43, and 45 yards.
Ohio State went to the Rose Bowl and lost to Southern Cal 18–17, finishing third in the final poll.
No. 5: 1979
The Buckeyes' Jim Laughlin blocked a Michigan punt, and Todd Bell picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown to give Ohio State an undefeated regular season in Earle Bruce's first year as head coach.
Michigan (8–2 entering the game) started a freshman quarterback — Rich Hewlett — who had taken just four snaps all year. The Buckeyes' defense held the Wolverines in check all day, and Hewlett eventually exited the game with an injury. Art Schlichter threw for 196 yards on just 12 completions, and Jim Gayle had 72 rushing yards on just nine carries.
But it was the postgame riots that contributed to make this game memorable. Even though the game was in Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes faithful were in a mood to celebrate. The first casualty was a car with "Go Michigan" painted on it. The auto was flipped over and set on fire. Soon the police, in full riot gear, approached the revelers. Glass, firecrackers, and cherry bombs were thrown. The police reportedly responded with clubs to disperse the crowd.
The final tally: a school-record 338 arrests.
The final result: the Buckeyes (with future USC coach Pete Carroll on their staff) went to the Rose Bowl and lost to the Trojans 17–16. The defeat dropped the Buckeyes to No. 4 in the final polls.
No. 6: 1934
In the first 30 games of the OSU–U-M series, the Wolverines held a 22–6–2 advantage. Enter Francis A. Schmidt as the new head coach of the Buckeyes. According to legend, here's Schmidt's initial talk to the team:
My name's Schmidt. I'm the new football coach here. This thing is a football. At one time, it was used here at Ohio State to place behind opponents' goal lines, for which Ohio State was credited with six points. I understand that usage has been sort of overlooked here in recent years. That's not funny. That's tragic. For your information, I'm figuring on reviving the old custom. And one more thing. I want you to remember it from now on: we're going to beat Michigan this year. Yes, beat Michigan. Why not? Those guys put their pants on one leg at a time, the same as you do.
The win over Michigan was the first of four consecutive shutout victories by Schmidt and the Buckeyes. It also began the tradition of the Gold Pants, awarded to the Ohio State players after a win over Michigan. The Ohio Pants Club, made up of local business leaders, was formed April 17, 1935.
No. 7: 1972
Ohio State's defense held previously unbeaten Michigan out of the end zone on two fourth-and-goal plays from inside the 1-yard line, while freshman running back Archie Griffin scored what turned out to be the winning touchdown.
The second of the two goal-line stands took place with nine minutes remaining. U-M coach Bo Schembechler eschewed the potentially game-tying field goal and ordered QB Dennis Franklin to attempt a sneak. The OSU defensive line buried him, and the Buckeyes held on for the win.
Ohio State quarterback Greg Hare attempted just three passes all day (one completion, one incompletion, and one interception — perfectly demonstrating Coach Hayes' dictum that, when you pass, three things can happen, and two of them are bad).
The victory put the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl, where they lost to Southern Cal 42–17. Ohio State finished at No. 9 in the final poll.
No. 8: 1975
Woody Hayes' Ohio State team beat Michigan ... with the pass? Yep. Archie Griffin was held to 46 yards rushing, snapping a streak of 31 consecutive games of 100-plus yards. But QB Cornelius Greene went to the air for the Buckeyes and threw for only 84 yards.
The Buckeyes entered the game at Ann Arbor with a 10–0 record and No. 1 national ranking. Michigan was 8–0–2 and fourth in the polls. Ohio State trailed 14–7 in the final quarter. Pete Johnson tied the score on a plunge with 3:18 to play. It was then that another Griffin — Ray — intercepted Rick Leach's pass and returned it to the Michigan 3-yard line. Johnson scored again to give the Buckeyes the win.
Michigan outgained the Buckeyes 361 yards to 208, but the Wolverines committed five turnovers. "It was the greatest game I ever coached," Hayes said later.
The fans in Columbus were overjoyed and took to the streets. To disperse the crowd, police fired "knee-knockers" (one-inch wooden projectiles) at the rioters. Forty-eight people were arrested. Ah, the magical '70s.
No. 9: 1954
This win gave Woody Hayes his first Big Ten title, first trip to the Rose Bowl, and first undefeated regular season. The game was tied 7–7 at halftime, and Michigan drove to within a foot of the goal line in the third quarter. But Buckeyes lineman Jim Parker stopped the Wolverines' Dave Hill, and the tide turned. Ohio State drove 99 yards for the go-ahead score, a Dave Leggett–to–Dick Brubaker pass. Following an interception by Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, the Buckeyes added an insurance TD on Cassady's one-yard run.
Hayes got everyone's attention in the locker room after the game. "There's just one thing I want to say!" he shouted. He got up on a table, jumped off, and yelled, "Whoopee!"
In the Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes beat Southern Cal 20–7 to complete the 10–0 season. Ohio State was voted No. 1 in the nation in the Associated Press poll following the game.
No. 10: 1987
After nine seasons, an 80–26–1 overall record, a 56–17 Big Ten won-loss mark, four Big Ten titles, and a 5–3 record in bowl games, Earle Bruce was told that he was going to be the coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes for just five more days.
That was Monday. The OSU–U-M game was Saturday. The 5–4–1 Buckeyes were facing a 7–3 Michigan team in Ann Arbor. Bruce entered the game with a 4–4 lifetime record against the Wolverines. Bruce said, "I guess they've got a right to fire a guy. I think it's very poor timing, though, right before the Michigan game." Bruce told his team, "I have been let go by the university. This is the most important game in your entire life. The school up north is good, but they're not great. Strap on your helmets, boys, because there is no game like this one, and we'll be flying around the field and cracking heads. This will be the hardest-hitting game of your lives. We are going to go up to Michigan, and we are going to kick their ass."
The Buckeyes players wore headbands with earle on them. But the Wolverines jumped to a 13–0 lead. Just before halftime, Ohio State got on the scoreboard. Linebacker Mike McCray recovered a Michigan fumble, and Tom Tupa connected with Everett Ross for a four-yard touchdown pass. Said Buckeyes linebacker Chris Spielman, "We didn't make a lot of adjustments at halftime. We didn't have to. Someone mentioned that we had 30 minutes of our football season remaining. No one needed to say anything more."
On their first possession of the third quarter, the Buckeyes scored on a 70-yard touchdown pass from Tupa to Carlos Snow to take a 14–13 lead. Later in the quarter, Tupa scored on a one-yard sneak, but the extra point kick was no good, leaving Ohio State with a 20–13 advantage. Before the third period ended, Michigan tied the game on a 10-yard run by Leroy Hoard.
OSU's defense stiffened, and Matt Frantz booted a 26-yard field goal for the winning points with 5:18 remaining. When the game ended, the Buckeyes carried Bruce around the field.
Afterward, Spielman said, "They [the OSU administration] shouldn't have fired Coach Bruce when they did or the way they did, and we players came back and won the football game because none of us thought it was right."
No. 11: 2005
Buckeyes quarterback Troy Smith led a comeback in the final minutes, giving the Buckeyes a share of the Big Ten championship.
Michigan led 21–12 midway through the fourth quarter when Smith and the offense caught fire. First, it was Smith connecting with Santonio Holmes on a 26-yard TD pass that pulled the Buckeyes to within 21–19 with 6:40 to go. Michigan drove to the OSU 34-yard line and opted for a pooch punt instead of trying a field goal.
The Buckeyes and Smith took over on the Ohio State 12-yard line with 4:16 remaining. Here's how it happened: Troy Smith passes to Ted Ginn Jr. for nine yards; Antonio Pittman runs for two. First down on the OSU 23. Smith throws an incomplete pass, then on second down completes to Ginn for 11 yards. First down on the OSU 34. Smith passes to Ginn for six yards, then throws to Holmes for seven. First down on the OSU 47. Smith passes to Holmes for 11 yards. First down on the U-M 42. Smith runs for five yards, then passes to Holmes for six. First down on the U-M 31. Timeout OSU with 0:47 remaining. Time resumes, and Smith completes a 27-yard pass to Anthony Gonzalez. First down on the U-M 4. Timeout with 0:37 left. Out of the break, Smith runs and is stopped for no gain. Timeout at 0:29. Second down, Pittman runs it in from four yards out and the touchdown.
The drive covered 88 yards in 12 plays and took 3:54. Final score: Ohio State 25, Michigan 21. Smith completed 27 of 37 passes for a career high 300 yards and one TD.
"There will be a lot of No. 10 jerseys and a lot of kids on Thanksgiving weekend trying to make those moves in a pile of leaves," said Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel.
No. 12: 1968
The Buckeyes were 9–0, Michigan 8–1. Ohio State had a young squad, the Wolverines had a veteran team. But that day in Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes surprised everyone, including themselves.
Ohio State dominated Michigan on both sides of the ball. OSU outgained the Wolverines 567 yards to 311. Fullback Jim Otis led the way for the Buckeyes with four touchdowns and 143 rushing yards. Quarterback Rex Kern ran for two TDs, completed 5 of 8 passes for 41 yards, and rushed for another 96 yards.
Excerpted from I Love Ohio State, I Hate Michigan by Steve Greenberg, Dale Ratermann. Copyright © 2011 Steve Greenberg and Dale Ratermann. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books.
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