5 Reasons Why “The Game” is the Greatest Rivalry in College Football
Why "The Game" is the Greatest Rivalry in College Football
A list of the five greatest rivalries in college football was released not long ago by NCAA.com that had the Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines (aka “The Game”) as no. 2 on the list. Which rivalry topped the list? The Army vs. Navy rivalry. While it is a great, historic rivalry that some may consider college football’s greatest rivalry, many would disagree. Here are some reasons why “The Game” deserves to be on top and why it should be considered the greatest rivalry in all of college football.
“The Game” has everything. It has hatred between the schools, the two states and the fans. It has plenty of history, and some of its games are some of the best in the history of college football. It’s had historic coaching matchups and player matchups. Ohio State and Michigan have won a combined 10 Heisman trophies and 18 national championships. It doesn’t matter how good either team is in a given year, fans look forward to it all the same because they know it’s always going to make for a great game no matter what.
It is never too early in the year to be talking about “The Game”. It is played on November 30 this year. Fans look forward to the game all year, especially Ohio State and Michigan fans. This will build up the hype since the game is only days away.
Keep reading to see the five reasons why I consider “The Game” to be the greatest rivalry in college football.
5. Impact on the season’s outcome
It has happened more than once. These teams have gone into this game in some years with hopes of winning the Big Ten, going to a good bowl, or even going to the national championship, only to have their hopes dashed by the team they hate the most. The game in 1969 is a perfect example. Ohio State was undefeated going into the Michigan game, only to be defeated by the Wolverines. The 1995 Ohio State team was one of the best Ohio State teams ever assembled and included Heisman winner Eddie George, but lost to a Michigan team that already had three losses that year. It was one of the many times that the Wolverines ruined the Buckeyes’ season in the 1990s. Both teams went into the 2006 season undefeated, and only one could remain undefeated to go to the National Championship. That team was Ohio State.
4. The Tradition
The game is always played on the last week of the season, and each school has great traditions of their own in the week before the game. Ohio State football is a religion in Columbus. Ohio State students take a swim in Mirror Lake, among other traditions. Ohio State vs. Michigan has more tradition than any other college football rivalry because it takes place the same time every year. That’s what great traditions are made of. Each year, the players of the winning team receive their “gold pants”, a little charm that signifies a win over their greatest rival.
3. The Historic Coaching Matchup
Woody Hayes vs. Bo Schembechler is one of the most historic coaching matchups ever in one of the most historic rivalries ever. Hayes hated Michigan and would never refer to them by name. Schembechler had the same drive and intensity. The “10-Year War” between the two in the 1970s reached the national stage and made this rivalry what it is today. Each was always suspicious of the other, thinking that the other was spying or developing strategies to give their team the advantage. It was discovered in later years that Hayes and Schembechler were the best of friends despite the intense hatred they showed for one another during the 10-Year War.
Hayes’ career ended when he struck a Clemson Tigers player in the 1978 Gator Bowl. Earle Bruce took over and posted a winning record against the Wolverines. John Cooper became the coach after Bruce and could not beat Michigan, and was let go because of that reason. It was then that Jim Tressel became the coach, leading Ohio State to beat Michigan again, just as Hayes and Bruce had done years before.
2. The Historic Games
Fans know they could witness yet another historic game between these two teams in any given year. It does not matter how good either team is, you never know what is going to happen. “The Snow Bowl” in 1950 was one of the craziest college football games ever played. It was played in a blizzard and visibility was low. There were 45 punts in the game. Michigan won 9-3 without ever registering a first down. The biggest upset in the history of the rivalry was in 1969 when Michigan beat an undefeated Ohio State team. Thus began the “10-Year War” throughout the 1970s, which Michigan came out of victorious with a 5-4-1 record. The “Game of the Century” in 2006 was the first time both teams went into the game ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country. Ohio State won 42-39, sealing their trip to the national championship. These are just a few of the many historic games in this rivalry.
1. The Hatred
It dates back to 1835 when Michigan petitioned for statehood and discovered that through a land survey error, the “Toledo Strip” had been claimed by Ohio, which resulted in an intense border dispute ending with it being a part of Ohio.
Michigan getting a lot of their players from Ohio just adds to the hatred. Heisman winner Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson, among others, are Ohio natives that went to play for the Wolverines. Ohio State fans refer to these people as traitors. Many Ohio State fans follow Hayes’ example by not referring to Michigan by name, calling them “That Team Up North”. Children of Ohio State and Michigan fans are taught at a young age to hate the other team.
This rivalry goes deeper than just the game.