Saturday’s game at Ohio Stadium, the 600th game at the 100-year-old venue, will add to a key subcategory in rivalry history: top-five games. It will mark the 13th time the Buckeyes and Wolverines play each other while both are in the top five in either the College Football Playoff poll or AP rankings.
These games include shootouts in the snow of Ann Arbor, controversial calls in Columbus, overtime thrillers, a tie, battles in the Ten Year War, and Heisman-clinching performances.
Nov. 27, 2021: No. 5 Michigan 42, No. 2 Ohio State 27
A year ago, the Buckeyes and Wolverines met in a snowy Michigan Stadium in what many pointed to as a game to determine the Big Ten’s playoff representative. The undefeated Wolverines were able to pierce through the Buckeyes with their running game, gaining 297 yards and scoring six touchdowns.
A five-touchdown, 169-yard performance from Hassan Haskins helped break the eight-game losing skid of the Maize & Blue to the Scarlet & Grey. The victory propelled the Wolverines to the Big Ten title and its first playoff appearance, a semifinal loss to Georgia.
Nov. 26, 2016: No. 2 Ohio State 30, No. 3 Michigan 27 (2OT)
The 113th meeting was the first time in a decade the teams met with both ranked in the top five, and the penultimate play may be the most controversial moment in the history of the rivalry.
After a back-and-forth regulation at Ohio Stadium, the score was tied at 17. The teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime period before Michigan took a three-point lead to begin the second extra period.
The Buckeyes faced fourth-and-1 on the 16-yard line, but coach Urban Meyer elected not to send out his field goal unit. Instead, quarterback J.T. Barrett kept the ball and was stopped near the first-down marker. After a review, officials signaled first down.
“That was not a first down,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I’m bitterly disappointed with the officiating.”
After that play, Curtis Samuel scampered into the end zone for the win. Despite not winning the Big Ten title, Ohio State made the playoff and lost to Clemson in a semifinal.
Nov. 18, 2006: No. 1 Ohio State 42, No. 2 Michigan 39
2006 stands as the only time the Buckeyes and Wolverines played with both teams atop the AP rankings. It’s also the last time they faced off while both undefeated, until this Saturday’s game.
Both offenses turned it on as Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith and Michigan running back Mike Hart, both Heisman candidates, traded scores.
Despite three touchdowns from Hart, the Wolverines could never take the lead. Troy Smith iced the game with his fourth TD pass late to clinch the win, clinch his Heisman trophy, and a spot in the national championship game.
Ohio State, playing under coach Jim Tressel, lost to Florida, which was playing under Tressel’s successor, Meyer.
Nov. 22, 2003: No. 5 Michigan 35, No. 4 Ohio State 21
It took only three years into the millennium for OSU and Michigan to have a top-five game. This meeting was also the 100th in the series.
It was a crowning for Michigan, whose win at home allowed it to take its first Big Ten title since 1997 and get its first win over the Buckeyes since 2000. Wolverines running back Chris Perry took it to the Buckeyes’ defense with two touchdowns on 154 rushing yards.
After 100 games, Michigan led the series 57-37-6. Since that 100th game, Michigan has only beaten Ohio State twice.
Nov. 22, 1997: No. 1 Michigan 20, No. 5 Ohio State 14
1997 was momentous for Michigan as it hosted Ohio State as the No. 1 team. The game also completed an incredible season for Wolverines cornerback Charles Woodson.
Down 7-0 in the second quarter, the Buckeyes lined up for a punt. It sailed from Brent Bartholomew to Woodson, who returned it 78 yards to the end zone. The return was the difference-maker.
Woodson’s iconic performance against Ohio State cemented his Heisman campaign. He was rewarded the trophy and made history as the first primarily defensive player to take it.
Nov. 19, 1977: No. 5 Michigan 14, No. 4 Ohio State 6
Forty-five years ago, the largest regular-season college football crowd packed Michigan Stadium.
106,000 fans were in the stands to watch a defensive battle with a spot in the Rose Bowl on the line. With four minutes left, OSU got the ball 92 yards away from the end zone, down eight points. The offense, led by quarterback Rod Gerald, drove down the field to the Michigan 10.
Instead of a Buckeyes touchdown that could have led to a tie, Wolverines linebacker John Anderson stripped Gerald and recovered the fumble to clinch a win.
Nov. 22, 1975: No. 1 Ohio State 21, No. 4 Michigan 14
Michigan took the lead 14-7 after a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter from quarterback Rick Leach. The Buckeyes then mounted a speedy comeback, with two rushing touchdowns from fullback Pete Johnson, both in the last four minutes.
The win was the first for OSU in Ann Arbor since 1967 and took them to the Rose Bowl, where UCLA beat the Buckeyes 23-10.
Nov. 23, 1974: No. 3 Ohio State 12, No. 2 Michigan 10
Ohio State and Michigan were dominant in the 1970s, and in 1974, the Buckeyes had a chance to end the Wolverines’ undefeated season at Ohio Stadium.
It was a kicking display offensively for the Scarlet & Grey, with all 12 points coming from the leg of Tom Klaban, who made four field goals. Michigan had a chance to win, but kicker Mike Lantry missed a 33-yard attempt with just seconds remaining.
The Buckeyes’ win gave the teams identical 10-1 records, but a vote by Big Ten athletic directors put Ohio State in the Rose Bowl over the Wolverines.
Nov. 24, 1973: No. 1 Ohio State 10, No. 4 Michigan 10
In 117 meetings, OSU and Michigan have tied six times. 1973 was the only time it happened with the two in the top five.
Both teams were unbeaten, and 105,000 fans filled Michigan Stadium. Both offenses elected to run after rain hit Ann Arbor. OSU didn’t even pass the ball more than four times.
After Archie Griffin and Pete Johnson helped the Buckeyes go up 10-0, Michigan fought back to tie the score and got a chance to go ahead after Ohio State backup quarterback Greg Hare threw an interception with 52 seconds to go. The Wolverines missed a field goal with less than 30 seconds.
Nov. 21, 1970: No. 5 Ohio State 20, No. 4 Michigan 9
The second game of what became the Ten Year War was a top-five meeting between Hayes’ Buckeyes and coach Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines.
Ohio State was craving revenge after the No. 12 Wolverines upset the No. 1 Buckeyes 24-12 in Ann Arbor in 1969. One year later in Columbus, the fifth-ranked Buckeyes took out their anger with a tremendous defensive performance.
In the games of the Ten Year War from 1969 to 1978, Ohio State won four times.
Nov. 23, 1968: No. 2 Ohio State 50, No. 4 Michigan 14
In 1968, the Buckeyes had a tremendous season and entered their game against Michigan at Ohio Stadium with an unbeaten record and a chance to extend their national championship chances.
The score was lopsided as the Ohio State offense overwhelmed Michigan in the second half, outscoring the Wolverines 29-0 with running back Jim Otis scoring four touchdowns. The Buckeyes made the Rose Bowl as the No. 1 team, beating USC 27-16 to claim the consensus national championship.
Nov. 21, 1942: No. 5 Ohio State 21, No. 4 Michigan 14
The first 38 times Ohio State played Michigan in football, both teams were never ranked in the top five together. The 39th meeting of “The Game” changed that with both schools occupying the bottom places of the top five.
The Buckeyes played in front of more than 71,000 fans at the Horseshoe and beat the Wolverines 21-14, only the 11th time OSU won in the series. That win propelled the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and the school’s first of eight claimed national championships.