November 14, 2006

Looking back: Ohio State-Michigan rivalry

Video feature: Top 10 games in Ohio State-Michigan rivalry
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This weekend's Michigan-Ohio State showdown may be the biggest game in the storied history of this rivalry.

Will it be the best? It's much too soon to tell.

The two teams will have to put on quite a show if they want Saturday's game to rank among the most memorable Ohio State-Michigan confrontations.

This marks the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 battle in the history of this rivalry and only the third time both teams have entered this game undefeated and untied (the other times were 1970 and 1973).

But this game carries Big Ten title implications almost every year and often goes a long way in determining whether one of these teams will play for the national championship.

This rivalry also has helped establish the reputations of many famous figures in the history of both programs.

Michigan's Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard both clinched their Heisman Trophy campaigns with big performances against Ohio State. Michigan's Bo Schembecher and Ohio State's Jim Tressel both established immediate goodwill with their respective fan bases by winning this game as first-year coaches.

And who can forget the way former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes stoked the flames of this rivalry with his competitive fire?

Here's a look at the 10 games that have helped make Ohio State-Michigan one of the greatest rivalries in any sport.

Rivals.com Top 10 Ohio State-Michigan Games
10. 1970: Ohio State 20, Michigan 9: The fourth-ranked Wolverines and fifth-ranked Buckeyes entered this regular-season finale undefeated. Leo Hayden gained 117 yards to help Ohio State earn revenge one year after losing to Michigan as a double-digit favorite. The Wolverines had scored a combined 97 points in the two weeks prior to this game, but Ohio State held them to 155 total yards and 10 first downs. The celebration wouldn't last forever, as Ohio State went on to lose 27-12 to Stanford in the Rose Bowl.
9. 1997: Michigan 20, Ohio State 14: Charles Woodson intercepted two passes in Michigan's 1995 upset of Ohio State. Two years later, he haunted the Buckeyes once again. The Ohio resident returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown, had a 37-yard reception and picked off a pass in the end zone to help Michigan win this game on its way to a national title. His remarkable performance on offense, defense and special teams also helped Woodson win the Heisman Trophy.
8. 1972: Ohio State 14, Michigan 11: No. 3 Michigan outgained No. 9 Ohio State 349-111, but the Buckeyes' goal-line defense cost the Wolverines a Rose Bowl berth. Michigan cut Ohio State's lead to 14-11 when Ed Shuttlesworth scored from 1 yard out on fourth down, but the Buckeyes made a couple of fourth-down stops from inside the 1-yard line at other points in the game. This also marked the freshman season of two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, who scored an Ohio State touchdown on a 30-yard run.
7. 1971: Michigan 10, Ohio State 7: Hayes' fourth-quarter meltdown made this meeting one to remember. The third-ranked and undefeated Wolverines trailed the unranked Buckeyes until Billy Taylor scored on a 21-yard run in the final period. Thom Darden sealed the victory with an interception. Hayes believed Darden interfered on the play. When a flag wasn't thrown, Hayes responded by tearing the down-and-distance markers.
6. 1995: Michigan 31, Ohio State 23: Two words: Tim Biakabutuka. That's all you need to know about this game. Ohio State had Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George in its backfield, but his 104-yard effort was overshadowed by Biakabutuka's amazing performance. Biakabutuka rushed for 313 yards to help Michigan end the second-ranked Buckeyes' national title hopes. Biakabutuka's big day allowed Michigan to keep Ohio State's high-powered offense off the field. The Buckeyes had entered the day averaging nearly 40 points per game. Biakabutuka also managed to silence Ohio State wide receiver Terry Glenn, who had said, "Michigan is nothing," earlier in the week. This turned into a troubling pattern for Ohio State. One year later, the Wolverines beat an undefeated Ohio State team 13-9 and once again crushed the Buckeyes' dreams of a national championship.
5. 1968: Ohio State 50, Michigan 14: The game itself wasn't particularly memorable, but its aftermath helped turn this into one of the nation's most heated rivalries. Ohio State treated fourth-ranked Michigan as little more than a speed bump on its way to a national title. Although the Buckeyes only led 21-14 at the intermission, they poured it on in the second half with 29 unanswered points. After its last touchdown, Ohio State elected to go for a two-point conversion. When asked why he chose to go for two, Ohio State coach Woody Hayes replied, "'Cause I couldn't go for three." Michigan got its revenge one year later when its 24-12 victory cost the Buckeyes a shot at a second consecutive national title.
4. 2001: Ohio State 26, Michigan 20: When Jim Tressel took over as Ohio State's coach, he vowed to make the fans proud, "especially in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Mich., on the football field." Tressel lived up to his promise by leading Ohio State to a 26-20 victory its first at Michigan Stadium since 1987 to prevent the Wolverines from earning a share of the Big Ten title. Tressel overcame the loss of starting quarterback Steve Bellisari, who didn't play in this game after getting arrested on drunken-driving charges. Craig Krenzel instead made his first career start and helped Ohio State pull off the improbable victory. Ohio State also withstood a brilliant performance by Michigan wide receiver Marquise Walker, who tied his school record with 15 catches. One year later, Tressel and Krenzel would help lead Ohio State to a national title.
3. 1973: Ohio State 10, Michigan 10: The top-ranked Buckeyes and fourth-ranked Wolverines were both undefeated before meeting for the Big Ten title in front of 105,233 fans, an attendance figure that set an NCAA record at the time. Michigan tied the game when quarterback Dennis Franklin delivered a 10-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 play with 9:32 remaining. A broken thumb bothered Ohio State quarterback Cornelius Greene enough that the Buckeyes didn't complete a pass all day. Franklin went down with a broken collarbone in the fourth quarter. Ohio State escaped with a tie when Michigan kicker Mike Lantry missed a 58-yard field goal and a 44-yard attempt in the final 61 seconds. The tie forced Big Ten athletic directors to choose the conference's Rose Bowl representative. In a secret ballot, they voted in favor of Ohio State. The Buckeyes went on to beat Southern California 42-21 in the Rose Bowl, while Michigan fans wondered if Franklin's injury cost them a trip to California.
2. 1969: Michigan 24, Ohio State 12: This is the game that ushered in the most eventful era of this rivalry. The top-ranked Buckeyes were defending national champions and 17-point favorites the first time they faced new Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, a former Ohio State assistant on Woody Hayes' staff. Instead of folding under pressure, the first-year Michigan coach led the Wolverines to one of the greatest upsets in college football history. Barry Pierson intercepted three passes as the Wolverines forced eight turnovers to snap Ohio State's 22-game winning streak. Michigan went on to play in the Rose Bowl after sharing the Big Ten title with Ohio State.
1. 1950: Michigan 9, Ohio State 3: The most memorable game in the history of this rivalry featured 45 punts and no offensive touchdowns. The winning team didn't even make a first down. Don't rip the offenses for the lack of scoring. Blame it instead on a blizzard that forced the teams to play on a snow-covered field amid 30-mph winds. Michigan scored all its points with blocked punts that resulted in a safety and a touchdown. On the blocked punt that resulted in a touchdown, a grounds crew reportedly had to dig around the field to determine whether the ball was recovered in or out of the end zone. The most memorable play came when Vic Janowicz kicked a 38-yard field goal for Ohio State's only points. Think Adam Vinatieri's memorable field goal in that playoff victory over the Oakland Raiders five years ago was tough? The conditions were far worse the day Janowicz made his kick.




 

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