Photo courtesy of MCT
There is evidence to suggest the Ohio State versus Michigan football rivalry does not possess the same venom it once did, but the 2011 installment of “The Game” could reignite a once-passionate shared hatred between the two schools.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines matchup has lacked interest of late, with Ohio State claiming six consecutive victory against “that team up north.” Not included in the winning streak is OSU’s 37-7 drubbing of Michigan in 2010 which was later vacated as part of the Buckeyes’ self-imposed penalties for NCAA rules infractions.
During a Tuesday press conference, OSU coach Luke Fickell was asked if OSU players still define their careers by their performances against Michigan as they have been in years past.
“It’s still the Ohio State-Michigan game, still the greatest rivalry in all sports,” Fickell said. “We wouldn’t attack it any other way.”
Whether Fickell is correct or not, the fact that the question was asked suggests that some are speculating about “The Game’s” true significance.
Fickell, along with Michigan coach Brady Hoke, has resorted to name calling in a vain attempt to emulate the way former OSU coach Woody Hayes would exchange barbs with the late, former Michigan coach, Bo Schembechler.
Hoke has taken to referring to OSU as simply “Ohio,” and Fickell said Tuesday that his team wasn’t planning on using “hokey” trick plays against Michigan.
“No pun intended,” a smiling Fickell said immediately following the remark, which elicited laughter from reporters.
Hayes and Schembechler are dead — let’s not pretend that mimicking the “Ten-Year War” between Hayes and Schembechler’s “Ten Years” smack talk is going to bring this rivalry back to life.
Methinks these quips aren’t necessary in order to restore the rivalry. The 2011 installment of the game should do the trick.
The Buckeyes are 7 1/2-point underdogs heading into Saturday’s showdown at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich., according to a Tuesday listing on Vegas.com.
It’s unfamiliar territory for Buckeye Nation to see its football team predicted by experts to lose to Michigan, but a possible result could be the revitalization of the lukewarm OSU-Michigan rivalry.
Should Michigan win Saturday and reclaim bragging rights for the first time in eight years, that would surely get Buckeyes fans’ blood boiling in Columbus, Ohio.
A Michigan win could also put a stamp on what has already been a successful regular season campaign in Ann Arbor. After all, Michigan can clinch a share of the Big Ten Legends Division title, should Michigan State lose to Northwestern.
Michigan State will represent the division in the inaugural Big Ten Title game, though Michigan is also No. 15 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.
A win by OSU, which would extend its winning streak against the Wolverines to seven games, would be considered an upset, a bitter disappointment to Michigan fans that would likely restoke the flames of this feud.
A seventh consecutive victory against Michigan would improve OSU’s overall record against the Wolverines to 44-53-6.
If there was ever a year when Buckeye Nation would appreciate beating Michigan, it would be 2011. After months of reading of the football program’s misdeeds and waiting to hear of the NCAA’s punishment, which still yet to be announced, OSU fans would savor every bit of an upset win in Ann Arbor.
The two coaches can’t breath life back into “The Game” with hot air, but this weekend could and should.
The stage is set, and either an OSU or a Michigan win figures to cure what ails the wayward rivalry.
Game on, boys and girls.