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History collides

Published November 21, 2003

Rivalries are what make college football what it is. For one
Saturday out of the year, your team becomes that much better and
your season that much more important. With Michigan and Ohio State,
the extreme that this rivalry goes to is in itself an unspeakable
event. Collegiate careers are defined by this game. Coaches are
made into legends and images become as beautiful as Rembrandt. The
Michigan Daily gives its best games and individual performances
from this game.

The Michigan Daily’s top 10 games

10. 1897, Michigan 36-0: Every story must have a
beginning, and while a 36-0 trouncing by the Wolverines hardly
defines this rivalry today, it began what is the greatest rivalry
in all of sports.

9. 1968, Ohio State 50-14: If there was ever a defining
moment before 2002’s national championship season, this was
it for Ohio State. The second-ranked Buckeyes, though falling
behind early to the fourth-ranked Wolverines, went on a scoring
splurge to give Michigan its biggest embarassment of this rivalry.
The Wolverines had lost 11 of the past 15 games against the
Buckeyes.

8. 1986, Michigan 26-24; 1997, Michigan 20-14: In the
Guarantee Games, Michigan came out on top twice. In 1986, following
Jim Harbaugh’s claim that Michigan would win, the Wolverines
overcame Chris Spielman’s 29 tackles for the victory.
“I said, ‘Harbaugh, you keep your mouth shut from now
on. But we will have to back you up on this. We'll just have to win
the game, that's all,’ ” Schembechler said this week.
Ohio State wide receiver David Boston made the guarantee, but
couldn’t live up to it, as it was Michigan coming out of the
Big House with a 20-14 win.

7. 1978, Michigan 14-3: This would be Woody Hayes’
final game against Michigan and would be all Bo Schembechler needed
to gain a 5-4-1 career record against his former teacher.

6. 1989, Michigan 28-18: The pupil got the better end
result than the professor in this one. Schembechler, 11 years
removed from his mentor’s retirement, fared much better in
his final Michigan-Ohio State game. In fact, it was an unsung hero
in fifth-string defensive back Todd Platt that had interceptions
late in the game to set up Michigan’s two final scores.

5. 2002, Ohio State 14-9: It hadn’t been since 1968
that Ohio State fans had so much to cheer about. After holding off
a late charge by quarterback John Navarre and the rest of the
Wolverines, the Buckeyes enjoyed their second straight win over
Michigan — Ohio State’s first back-to-back wins since
1982.

4. 1972 and 1974, Ohio State 14-11 and 12-10; 1976 and 1977,
Michigan 22-0 and 14-6:
These four games defined the Woody/Bo
rivalry as it began the “Big Two/Little Eight” era.
First place in the Big Ten was on the line each time and neither
team was outside of the top 10 when the November classic rolled
around.

3. 2001, Ohio State 26-20: All good things must come to
end, and in 2001, the fun John Cooper days of Michigan lore did
just that. With a slow start from the Wolverines — including
a safety on a misread shotgun snap and a 4th-and-1 touchdown run
from 44 yards out by Jonathan Wells — the Buckeyes jumped out
to a 23-0 lead over Michigan. By the end, the scarlet-and-gray
covered fans from Columbus had taken over the Big House and began
the Jim Tressel era with a bang.

2. 1973, Tie 10-10: This was arguably the most
controversial game in history. With the tie, there had to be a
decision made by the Big Ten athletic directors about which team
would go to the Rose Bowl. It was believed by Michigan supporters
Hayes did some unfair lobbying, and the Buckeyes were sent to
Pasadena.

1. 1969, Michigan 24-12: After being throttled by Ohio
State the year before in a game where Hayes tried to run up the
score as much as he could, the first-year Michigan coach
Schembechler defended Ann Arbor from the No. 1 Buckeyes thanks to
six interceptions from his defense. The win marked the turning
point in Ohio State’s dominance of the rivalry in the
’60s.

Brutus’ best

5. David Boston: One year after eating crow for his claim
that the Buckeyes would beat the eventual national champions,
Boston blew up against the defending champs for 217 yards against a
vulnerable — and Charles Woodson-less — 1998 Michigan
secondary.

4. Chris Spielman: Sometimes there are victories in
defeat. Spielman, in 1986, had his own personal win against the
Wolverines when he recorded an unheard of 29 tackles in the 26-24
loss. Spielman even knocked down a two-point conversion attempt by
Michigan to keep the game within a field goal.

3. Joe Germaine: While he was overshadowed by Boston in
1998, Germaine stopped Michigan’s three-game winning streak
over the Buckeyes with 330 yards and three touchdowns through the
air — a feat not equaled by any Ohio State quarterback
against the Wolverines.

2. Tom Klaban: Third-ranked Michigan vs. fourth-ranked
Ohio State was the matchup in 1974. When all was said and done, it
came down to the leg of Klaban, who delivered four field goals in
the 12-10 win.

1. Jim Otis: In 1968, Ohio State capped off an amazing
15-year, 11-4 stretch against Michigan. Leading the charge was
Otis, who delivered four scores into the endzone for the Buckeyes
— no other running back in Ohio State history has rushed for
four touchdowns against Michigan.

Michigan men

5. Tshimanga Biakabutuka: Living in the shadow of
Michigan great Tyrone Wheatley, Biakabutuka broke onto the national
scene with a stellar 313 yards in 1995 to help propel the
18th-ranked Wolverines past No. 2 Ohio State.

4. Barry Pierson: A year after being trounced by Ohio
State, Pierson turned in an incredible three-interception
performance and one 60-yard punt return to set up a touchdown in
Michigan’s 24-12 win over No. 1 Ohio State in 1969.

3. Desmond Howard/Charles Woodson: Both these Heisman
Trophy winners put exclamation points on their award-winning
seasons with punt returns for touchdowns.

2. 1950 special teams: In the Snow Bowl, Michigan punted
the ball 24 times as the Wolverines were forced to run the ball on
every down. The Wolverines also blocked four punts en route to a
9-3 win.

1. Tom Harmon: Easily the greatest player of the
pre-Woody/Bo era, Harmon still holds the record for most points by
a Wolverine in this rivalry. The first Michigan man to win the
Heisman Trophy, Harmon was primarily responsible for the turnaround
at Michigan from 1938-40. In the four years preceding his arrival,
the Wolverines were 0-4 against the Buckeyes and placed no better
than fourth in the league.

 

Michigan Daily file photos and courtesy of the Bentley
Historical Library