Dave Thurman (2:23 pm)
The national media isn't too hyped about the OSU-Michigan game this year, and there will not be the kind of nationwide coverage or exposure we are used to, but there is still plenty of great reasons to tune in and be pumped about this contest. Since Ohio State is going for an unprecedented fifth straight win against "that school up north," I have chosen my Top 5 reasons to get excited about the 2008 edition of "the Game."
1) It is the greatest rivalry in sports: It doesn't matter where "The Game" is played, what time kick-off is scheduled, or how good the teams are perceived to be, the fact is when these two teams go at it you are watching the most storied rivalry in all of sports. But don't just take my word for it. In balloting conducted by ESPN.com, the annual Ohio State-Michigan football game was named as the greatest sports rivalry of the 20th century. That's right, better than Yankees-Red Sox, North Carolina-Duke, or Cowboys-Redskins. Count on hard hits, memorable plays, and all out effort when these two lace up the cleats!
2) Upsets happen!: I shutter as I write this since the Bucks will be huge favorites this year, but there have been some memorable upsets, just as you would expect in this kind of rivalry. Here's three that stick out in my mind:
- 1969: Michigan 24, Ohio State 12 - A year after winning the national title and riding a 22 game win streak the Buckeyes were confident and nobody gave Michigan much of a chance. However Bo got the best of his mentor this day which still ranks as one of the greatest upsets in Big Ten history.
- 1987: Ohio State 23, Michigan 20 - a 5-4-1 Buckeye squad came limping into Ann Arbor after three straight losses that cost Earl Bruce his job, but sent the head coach out with a suprise win.
- 2001: Ohio State 26, Michigan 20 - Jim Tressel's first team was given little chance of beating the 11th ranked Wolverines on their home turf, but just as JT has promised 310 days before in Value City Arena, the Scarlet and Gray made their fans proud with a big upset victory.
Anyways, realizing that the underdog often plays pver their heads in this rivalry, it is worth tuning in.
3) A chance to see if we can stop the spread - even a bad spread!: I have yet to see Ohio State look good against the spread offense. In fact I was in Champaign on Saturday, and watched the Illini chew up huge chunks of turf, moving the ball easily most of the day. Thanks to turnovers and a blocked punt, the Bucks controlled the game, but once again, looked very shaky against the spread. Michigan doesn't have the athletes to run this offense well, but you still have to be a little nervous considering Heacock's track record against the spread.
4) A Big Ten title on the line: Lest we forget, this game gives the Bucks a chance to claim four straight Big 10 titles (two shared and two outright). That's nothing to sneeze at, and if you know anything about Ohio State football tradition, winning the Big Ten is always priority number one. That was true of Woody and Earl, and it's now true of Tressel. The ball has to bounce right to win a national championship, but a Big Ten title can be earned on the field, and that is what the Buckeyes are playing for this Saturday.
5) The chance to see Rodriguez get it handed to him: Be honest, you'd love to see "Dick Rod" humbled in his first appearance in this storied rivalry. Other than "Chuck Wagon" Charlie Weis, I can think of no coach I'd rather see on the opposite sideline at the end of a one-sided Buckeye victory. Considering Tressel's penchant for keeping blowouts from getting out of hand, and the fact that rivalry games are usually hard fought, I doubt this will be a lopsided contest, but we can wish, and tune in with the fervor of a small child on Christmas morning.
Anyways I can't wait for kickoff this Saturday at noon and whether the nation is watching or not, it's still "The Game," and there's nothing that compares with it anywhere else in the world!