This week is one of my favorites.
It’s Michigan week. A time when Wolverine bashing is done at warp speed and many Ohio State fans end social media posts by writing “And Michigan still sucks.”
Fans actually boo when the Ohio State band plays “The Victors” as it pays tribute to the visiting team.
This year’s version of The Game means a little more to me because I will actually get to be there. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Ohio Stadium for the game against That Team Up North.
Fans rush the field when Ohio State wins in Columbus. Michigan fans did it last year in Ann Arbor.
This game is always memorable. So … here are my top memories from OSU-TTUN games I have attended, in order of importance.
Michigan 38-26 in Columbus, 2000.
A 17-point third quarter by the Wolverines sealed OSU’s fate, although the Buckeyes did manage to cut a 31-12 lead to 31-26 with 7:03 left and Ohio Stadium was rocking. However, a late Michigan touchdown ended any thoughts of a comeback. Losing this game likely sealed John Cooper’s fate, as he was fired after the season. OSU would not have gone to the Rose Bowl had it won, but 9-2 looked a lot better than 8-3.
Michigan 34-31 in Columbus, 1988
This was my freshman year at Ohio State. Having only lived in Dayton since 1982, I was still learning about the rivalry and this game gave me a crash course in what to expect for the next 10-15 years or so. OSU trailed 20-0 at halftime but took a 31-27 lead with 2:02 left. We were getting ready to head down from C Deck so we could rush the field. But then John Kolesar returned the ensuing kick to the OSU 41 and scored on a TD pass two plays later. It was a long walk back to the fraternity.
Michigan 13-9 in Columbus, 1996
I was on the sideline taking photos to potentially use in the Beavercreek News-Current. This one just plain sucked. The undefeated Buckeyes were No. 2 and favored by 17. Some guy named Brian Griese came off the bench and threw a TD pass to Tai Streets and then two Michigan field goals turned a 9-0 halftime deficit into a season-spoiling win. OSU still went to the Rose Bowl, but what the Bucks really wanted was a shot at a national title.
Michigan 35-21 in Ann Arbor, 2003
BCS No. 2 Ohio State was defending national champion and trailed 21-0 with 5:55 left in the first half. They cut it to 28-21 early in the fourth, but a Chris Perry TD run with 8:35 left ended Ohio State’s chance at a repeat. This game makes the list though, because I had a great time in Ann Arbor with my brother, Mike, and a couple other friends. Fans inside Michigan Stadium were really cool, a lot nicer to OSU fans than OSU fans are toward Michigan fans in Columbus.
Ohio State 22-6 in Columbus, 1994
This was my first win over Michigan. Well, the first time I was at The Game when OSU won. It was also Cooper’s first win over TTUN. Both teams already had three losses and it was one of the rare times the Rose Bowl wasn’t at stake. I was on the sideline again, taking photos to use in the News-Current. The atmosphere was amazing. It was so loud. I think everyone had a feeling OSU would win for the first time since 1987. My brother and I split as soon as it ended to avoid getting trampled by thousands of fans rushing the field. Not sure I ever ran so fast.
Ohio State 31-16 in Columbus, 1998
The Buckeyes were favored to win the first BCS national championship but Nick Saban’s Michigan State Spartans ruined that by erasing a 24-9 deficit to beat OSU 28-24 two weeks prior. Michigan had actually fallen out of the top 25 and entered the game No. 11. Again on the sideline with a camera, I was feeling pretty good with a 21-10 lead over Tom Brady’s team. It only got better. If I’m not mistaken, this was the game where there were some alleged pepper spray incidents with some unruly fans. But it didn’t dampen the thrill of the win, that’s for sure.
Ohio State 42-13 in Ann Arbor, 2015
I took my brother to The Game as a 50th birthday present. It was a blowout and the thousands of OSU fans in the Big House were loving every second of it. Unfortunately, a loss to Michigan State earlier in the season would keep the Buckeyes out of the Big Ten championship game unless Sparty was upset by Penn State that night. Toward the end of the game, I started a “We are, Penn State” chant hoping for a miracle in East Lansing. Didn’t happen. On the way up, Mike and I stopped at a casino in Toledo. I won “a few” bucks at three card poker … enough to pay for a buffet dinner and the tickets, with plenty left over.
Michigan 28-18 in Ann Arbor, 1989.
I was a sophomore at OSU and went to The Game with high school friend Mike Cheney, and college friend Bill Simon. We were going to stay at my fraternity’s U of M chapter, but it was a mess when we got there and were lucky to find a hotel. Cheney paid for the room, which had two beds, and obviously he claimed one. Simon and I decided to wrestle for the other bed. He won it, but to this day he still has the scar on his chin from where my watch took out a chunk of skin. As for the game, meh. Our seats were in the corner behind the OSU band. We decided to move to the end zone where more OSU fans were and somehow ended up in the front row.
And my favorite memory …
Ohio State and Michigan tie 13-13 in Columbus, 1992
The Centerville-Bellbrook Times sent me to do a feature on Centerville’s Kirk Herbstreit, who would be starting his final regular-season game for the Buckeyes. We graduated from high school together and although we didn’t have the same group of friends, we knew each other. I really thought I would be writing about a victory but after all the previous disappointments, a tie was OK, I guess. Heck, OSU President Gordon Gee was quoted as saying, “This tie is one of our greatest wins ever.” When Herbstreit walked into the interview room he gave me a “what’s up” nod. One of the reporters asked him if he ever experienced a tie in high school. Herb looked over at me, I subtly shook my head no, and he told the reporter no. That was kind of cool. Before the end of the game, I made my way to the sideline (reporters were allowed down there for most of the fourth quarter) and was standing near where kicker Tim Williams was warming up. We chatted a bit as we had previously met at a party. When I got home and watched the video tape of the game, ABC was showing Williams prepping for a potential winning kick and as the camera panned out, there I was standing there.
Here’s hoping Saturday’s game creates another memory, in a good way.