The Game: College Football’s Greatest Tradition is Upon Us

Curtis Samuel scored the game-winning touchdown in double over time against Michigan in 2016. (Source: Greg Bartram, USA Today Sports)

Every fall in late November, The Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines meet for a football game. But as anyone who is a fan of the game knows; to the players, coaches, and fans of both teams, it is so much more than that. This is a battle that has a year’s worth of bragging rights on the line. It often has major implications for one of or both teams’ postseason. For example, last year Ohio State and Michigan were ranked #2 and #3 in the country respectively coming into the game. In 2006 they met as #1 and #2 ranked teams. Every year, two of college football’s most storied programs put it all on the line for a full 365 days’ worth of supremacy over their arch rival. It is a rivalry with a history of both animosity and respect. And now, as it is Thanksgiving week, the stage is set once again for an epic clash between two of the game’s titans.

Ohio State comes into the game ranked 9th in the country in the College Football Playoff poll. Michigan is not ranked, but don’t let that fool you; Michigan still holds an 8–3 record for the season. And, if there’s anything I’ve learned from watching this game over the years, it’s that fans should expect an absolute dogfight on Saturday. Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh are two of the best coaches in this sport, and each knows exactly what this game means to his respective program. Ohio State has won the last five meetings and Meyer has never lost to Michigan, so Harbaugh would love to spoil both of those streaks and Ohio State’s slim playoff hopes. On the other hand, Ohio State is going to be focused on just that: Trying to get back in the College Football Playoff conversation.

Just one week removed from their miracle comeback win over Penn State, the Buckeyes suffered an embarrassing 55–24 loss to Iowa. Following that loss, it looked like the Buckeyes had played their way completely out of the College Football Playoff conversation. However, after a dominating 48–3 win over Michigan State and some help from other teams, there are now whispers around the media that Ohio State could work their way back in. They’ll need more help, but for now, Urban Meyer will have his team focused on one thing: Handling their business. That starts this Saturday at Michigan.

Both Ohio State and Michigan have plenty to play for this Saturday. The Buckeyes are looking to work their way back into the College Football Playoff. Michigan will be looking to play spoiler end a five-year drought. The rankings don’t matter. The talent gap is irrelevant. Throw everything out the window. It’s Meyer vs. Harbaugh. It’s Ohio State vs. Michigan. It’s “The Game.”

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