The Game is entering its 20th iteration of the century Saturday, and with it comes another chance to create unforgettable moments that will be forever etched in the annals of college football. The Lantern counted down the top 10 rivalry moments since 2000:
- 2004 – Troy Smith starts, unranked win against No. 7 Michigan
After an early season stumble against Notre Dame, No. 7 Michigan won eight games in a row to enter its final matchup of the regular season 9-1. Ohio State, on the other hand, was unranked after four conference losses. With a win, Michigan could secure a trip to the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten title.
Michigan scored touchdowns on its first two drives to go up 14-7 at the end of the first. Ohio State scored 27 unanswered points, including an 82-yard punt-return touchdown from Ted Ginn, to take control of the game. Two fourth quarter interceptions by Michigan quarterback Chad Henne proved too much for the Wolverines to overcome, and the Buckeyes won at home, 37-21.
Future Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith made his seventh appearance of the season for Ohio State and had a career day, accounting for 386 total yards and three scores.
- 2003 – Michigan’s first win against Tressel in upset
The Wolverines were on a two-game losing streak against the Buckeyes, which hadn’t happened since Michigan dropped two in a row in the 1981 and ’82 seasons. No. 4 Ohio State went into Ann Arbor, Michigan, with a shot at back-to-back championships if it could beat No. 5 Michigan in the 100th instance of The Game.
Michigan took the lead in the first quarter with an impossibly long 18-play, 90-yard touchdown drive that was capped with a 3-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Steve Breaston. From there, it springboarded to a 21-0 lead, which it never relinquished in a 35-21 victory.
- 2012 – Caps perfect season for Ohio State
Ohio State was still under NCAA sanctions during Urban Meyer’s first year as head coach for the Buckeyes, rendering them unable to compete in postseason play.
That didn’t stop the Buckeyes from trying to prove they were the best team in the country. No. 4 Ohio State entered its home matchup undefeated against No. 20 Michigan.
Just 50 seconds after Ohio State took the lead, and with just 40 seconds remaining in the half, Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson survived a Buckeye defender sandwich to score on a 67-yard designed run. Michigan took a 21-20 halftime lead.
Both defenses clamped down in the second half, but two field goals by Ohio State kicker Drew Basil were enough to give the Buckeyes a 26-21 win to complete their undefeated season.
- 2018 – Ohio State favored to lose, wins in blowout
The No. 10 Buckeyes entered as underdogs at home against Michigan for the first time since 2004. No. 4 Michigan had just one loss on the season and, with a win, could contend for the Big Ten title for the first time since being co-champions with Iowa in the 2004 season.
Ohio State threatened to put the game away early after going up 21-6 with just more than three minutes left in the first half. Michigan had other plans, and then-junior quarterback Shea Patterson threw two touchdowns in six seconds thanks to a muffed kick return by Ohio State. After a failed two-point conversion, Ohio State’s lead was cut to two points, and the half ended at 21-19.
The Buckeyes scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter, and while Michigan’s offense ramped up again in the fourth, it was too little, too late: Ohio State won 62-39. The 62 points for the Buckeyes were the most they have ever scored against the Wolverines, and the 101 total points made the game the highest scoring in Ohio State-Michigan football history.
- 2002 – Capped perfect regular season, sends Ohio State to national title
No. 2 Ohio State went into Jim Tressel’s first home matchup against Michigan with a shot at a perfect regular season after narrowly overcoming unranked Illinois in overtime the week prior. The No. 12 Wolverines hoped to play the spoiler by denying the Buckeyes the Big Ten title, which would go to No. 7 Iowa if Michigan could pull out an upset.
In a throwback-style game, just 16 points were scored by the start of the fourth quarter; Michigan led 9-7.
After being frustrated offensively for more than 40 minutes, Ohio State scored its second touchdown with less than 5:30 to play off a 2-yard plunge by running back Maurice Hall.
Michigan had two shots from Ohio State’s 25 with seven seconds remaining, but Ohio State safety Will Allen intercepted the second throw at the goal line to seal Ohio State’s 14-9 victory.
Ohio State would complete its perfect season six weeks later, beating No. 1 Miami (Florida) in the Fiesta Bowl for a national championship.
- 2013 – Tyvis Powell intercepts 2-point conversion for the win
After winning the opening five games of the season, Michigan dropped four of its next six games entering The Game in 2013. In contrast, No. 2 Ohio State entered Ann Arbor undefeated, having not lost a game in almost 23 months.
The two teams traded touchdowns back and forth throughout the first two quarters, with the halftime score ending at 21-21. Ohio State’s 14-point third quarter set the stage for a second undefeated regular season, but three fourth-quarter touchdowns by Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner put the Wolverines within an extra point of tying the game. Michigan decided to go for the 2-point conversion to go up by one with just 32 seconds remaining; Ohio State had no more timeouts.
Michigan trusted Gardner, who had five total touchdowns and more than 450 passing yards to hand Urban Meyer his first loss as Ohio State’s head coach.
Gardner took the shotgun snap from the 3-yard-line, turned to his right and fired a quick ball into the end zone. The pass was caught, but by Ohio State safety Tyvis Powell. After a failed onside kick attempt, Ohio State won 42-41, the highest scoring game since an 86-0 Michigan win in 1902.
- 2011 – Michigan’s first win since 2003
In the offseason between the 2010 and ’11 seasons, the Buckeyes lost head coach Jim Tressel to resignation, star quarterback Terrelle Pryor to the NFL supplemental draft and three key starters to five-game suspensions as the result of NCAA violations for trading memorabilia for tattoos. Enduring a 6-5 season to that point, the unranked Buckeyes limped into their matchup in the Big House against No. 17 Michigan.
Ohio State battled back from two long Michigan touchdown drives and a holding penalty that resulted in a safety to take a one-point 24-23 lead at halftime.
But Michigan quarterback and 2011 team MVP Denard Robinson proved too much for the Buckeye defense to handle. Robinson scored five touchdowns — three through the air and two on the ground — and amassed 337 total yards to give Michigan the 40-34 win, its first since 2003.
- 2016 – Curtis Samuel touchdown in double overtime for the win
Michigan entered the season ranked in the top 10 after a 41-7 dismantling of Florida in the Citrus Bowl the season prior. The No. 3 Wolverines climbed the rankings and entered into Jim Harbaugh’s first road matchup as head coach against the Buckeyes with just one loss on the season. No. 2 Ohio State also had just one loss going into the game and was playing for a spot in the College Football Playoff.
After tying the game with a 10-point second-half comeback and last-second field goal, the Buckeyes started off with the ball in overtime and scored a touchdown in two plays.
On fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard-line, Michigan wide receiver Amara Darbo slanted inside and dove to catch the game-tying touchdown for the Wolverines. Michigan was forced to settle for a field goal on its subsequent offensive drive to go up 27-24.
Ohio State was also stopped in three plays, but decided to go for the fourth-and-1 attempt instead of kicking a field goal to tie. Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett kept the ball on the option play and was tackled into two players. The referees spotted the ball at the first down line, and the spot was confirmed after a video review.
Ohio State running back Curtis Samuel took a handoff 15 yards for the game-winning touchdown on the next play, a 30-27 double-overtime Ohio State victory.
- 2001 – Tressel guarantees first win
There was nothing to suggest that Ohio State would flip the script in the biggest rivalry in college sports when Jim Tressel was hired as the Buckeyes’ head coach in January 2001. Tressel had never been a head coach of a Division I Football Bowl Subdivision team, and Ohio State was 35-56-6 all time against Michigan — including just 2-7-1 in the past 10 matchups.
“I can assure you that you will be proud of your young people in the classroom, in the community, and most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan,” Tressel promised Buckeye fans who had gathered to watch Ohio State take on Michigan in men’s basketball Jan. 18, 2001.
Tressel’s guarantee of a victory came to fruition as unranked Ohio State beat No. 11 Michigan 26-20 that next season. The Wolverines would beat the Buckeyes just once in Tressel’s 10 seasons as head coach, and Michigan has just two wins in the rivalry since Tressel made that promise.
- 2006 – The Game of the Century
In 2006, the Buckeyes and Wolverines took college football’s No. 1 and No. 2 positions, respectively, through two different paths.
The Buckeyes sat atop the preseason polls and hadn’t budged ahead of what was billed “The Game of the Century.” Michigan, on the other hand, was ranked No. 15 in the preseason Coaches Poll, but climbed up the ranks after a number of impressive wins, including one against then-No. 2 Notre Dame.
Michigan scored a touchdown on its opening drive, but a 21-point second quarter, including a 39-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Troy Smith to wide receiver Ted Ginn, found Ohio State up 28-14 at halftime. Michigan came roaring back in the second half to cut the lead to four points at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
On the following drive, the Wolverines stopped the Buckeyes on third down, but Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable was issued a personal foul for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Smith after he threw the ball.
Ohio State took advantage and capped the drive with a touchdown, going on to win 42-39.