Frederic Hannan had no idea what he was
starting when he scampered across the goalline for a 10-yard
touchdown way back in 1897.
Hannan’s score marked the first score of the first
football game between Michigan and Ohio State. The Wolverines went
on to capture a 36-0 win in that inaugural contest, a game in which
“Michigan had no trouble in defeating the Ohio State
University representatives,” according to The Michigan
Daily’s account of the game.
Fast forward to this weekend, where the Wolverines and Buckeyes
will meet in the 100th version of The Game.
While the majority of you have probably never heard of Frederic
Hannan, there’s a good chance that everyone’s familiar
with some piece of Michigan-Ohio State history.
Therein lies what sets this rivalry apart as the best in the
nation. You can’t fully grasp how special The Game is without
understanding how great it has always been.
In 1935, the Michigan-Ohio State game moved to the last week of
the conference season. Since then, the matchup has played a role in
determining the Big Ten champion 40 times — Saturday will
mark number 41.
Michigan’s band — despite what any Buckeye fan will
tell you — was the first to spell out the script Ohio in
1932. (Ohio State’s band later turned it into “Script
Ohio” with the rotating “O” and the dotting of
Ohio State gave Bo Schembechler to Michigan after he played for
legendary coach Woody Hayes at Miami (Ohio) and then was an
assistant for him in Columbus.
And whenever the Wolverines’ grudge match with the
Buckeyes rolls around, there is always mention of the 1969 stunner
when Michigan upset Ohio State 24-12 in Bo’s first year.
Just like there is always mention of how Hayes went for a
two-point conversion at the end of a 50-14 whuppin’ of the
Wolverines in 1968 because he “couldn’t go for
three.” To be fair, Michigan may have run it up a little
during an 86-0 victory in 1902 during the days of Fielding
Yost’s “Point-a-Minute” Michigan teams.
Just like people 30 years from now will look back on the day Jim
Tressel announced his presence as Ohio State coach by
all-but-guaranteeing a win in the Big House in 2001 — and
then how he delivered on the promise.
So now we come to this.
Regardless of how much Ohio State fans will claim they
“Don’t give a damn ‘bout the whole state of
Michigan,” or how the Michigan faithful tell you that
“Ohio” is the dirtiest of the four-letter expletives,
nary a soul from either side can ignore what this game means.
You’ll be able to pick out those with that knowledge
— they’re the ones unable to sit still in class or the
ones that leave the office early because they can’t
concentrate. They’re the ones who have that feeling, all
week, in the pit of their stomach. That anxious, nervous feeling
that only a Michigan-Ohio State game can quench.
That feeling will tell you when you’re a true Michigan
It’ll keep you from selling your ticket (shame on you that
have) no matter the price. It’ll prevent you from sleeping on
Friday night because you can’t wait for noon. It’ll let
you scream yourself hoarse on Saturday because, well, a win will
make the season.
And, most of all, it’ll let you celebrate a touchdown from
106 years ago, because it’s just one more time that your team
was the winner of The Game.
Chris Burke can be reached at