ANN ARBOR, Michigan (AP) — The highly anticipated matchup between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan with a lot on the line is almost here.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines will play for the Big Ten East title and a berth in the conference championship game, where one of them will be the heavy favorite and win before making the College Football playoffs.
If The Game goes as planned on Saturday at the Horseshoe, it will join a long list of memorable moments in a series that stretches back to 1897.
Here’s a chronological look back at some of the best games in one of the biggest sports rivalries of the past 50-plus years, according to AP Sports writer Larry Lage.
In Bo Schembechler’s first game as coach against Woody Hayes, the No. 12 Michigan beat the top-ranked Buckeyes 24-12 at home. Hayes lamented the loss, saying the Schembechler-led Wolverines beat the best team he ever had. The game was the beginning of what became known as the ‘Ten Years’ War’, with Bo defeating his mentor five times, losing four games and finishing a notoriously drawn bout.
The N. 1 Ohio State and No. The Wolverines appeared to be the better team that afternoon, but kicker Mike Lantry missed two field goals in the final two minutes. The Big Ten athletic directors chose the Buckeyes, not Michigan — possibly because quarterback Dennis Franklin was injured — to represent the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl at a time when the conference would only allow one team to be in a bowl . The Big Ten would later decide to allow more than one school to participate in the postseason.
Ohio State fired head coach Earle Bruce just days before The Game after a three-game losing streak dropped his team to 5-4-1. The unranked Buckeyes, who wore white armbands with Bruce’s name written on them, beat the unranked Wolverines 23-20 to make them 7-4. Bruce was 81-26-1 overall, including 5-4 against Michigan, but Ohio State let him go and brought John Cooper to campus in a move many Buckeyes would regret as he went 2-10- 1 in The Game.
The game was not shut down that year as #4 Michigan defeated #18 Ohio State 31-3, but it produced a favorite memory for fans north of the state line and a nightmare for those south . Desmond Howard, who was from Ohio, returned a punt 93 yards for a touchdown and famously struck a pose from the Heisman Trophy statue which he later won.
Like Howard, Charles Woodson crossed the border from Ohio to play for the Wolverines and ended up winning a Heisman Trophy in part due to a signature moment in The Game. Woodson returned a punt 78 yards for a score, sprinting down the same sideline – Ohio State – and into the same end zone that Howard did to help No. 1 Michigan beat No. 4 Ohio State 20-14 in en route to a national championship.
Maurice Clarett, who played in The Game for the only time, helped No. 2 Ohio State outlast the #12 Wolverines 14-9 on their way to a national title. In the final play, Will Allen sealed the victory for the Buckeyes by intercepting John Navarre’s pass right in front of the goal line. It was one of many victories in the rivalry for Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, who went 9-1 against the Wolverines before resigning in 2011 amid NCAA violations due to a tattoo scandal.
In the 100th game of the series, #5 Michigan beat #4 Ohio State 35-21 following a dominant run that seems like a distant memory. The Wolverines were 18-9-1 from 1976 to 2003 under Schembechler, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr.
The day after Schembechler’s death, The Game featured the best teams in the country. The N. 1 Ohio State beat No. Ohio State pushed its lead back to 11 with 5:38 remaining in an entertaining contest that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score.
No. 3 Ohio State held off the unranked Wolverines 42-41 when Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner’s 2-point conversion pass with 32 seconds left after Michigan coach Brady Hoke, an Ohioan , chose to go for a win instead of risking overtime. Hoke disliked Ohio State so much that he didn’t say “State” when he mentioned school and didn’t remember wearing red.
The runner-up Buckeyes beat No. 3 Michigan 30-27 in double overtime after barely converting a vital 4th-and-1 that probably still annoys head coach Jim Harbaugh.
With the ball on the Michigan 16, then Ohio State coach Urban Meyer opted not to attempt a game-tying field goal with a kicker who had already missed two shorts in regulation. JT Barrett kept the pigskin and ran into the back of his blocker, AJ Alexander, but the contested spot remained after a video review. Ohio State soon scored the game-winning touchdown.
“It wasn’t a first down,” Harbaugh said after the game. “I am bitterly disappointed with today’s officiating.”
Follow Larry Lage on https://twitter.com/larrylage
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