Countdown to Michigan-Ohio State

Updated: November 18, 2006, 11:52 PM ET


In the case of the University of Michigan and Ohio State University, you can dispense with the stories, the plays and the great games that have been as much a part of the Rose Bowl as the New Year's Day parade. You can dispense with the 1 vs. 2 rankings, the unblemished records for only the third time in 103 meetings, even with the prize of a place in the BCS Championship Game that awaits the winner.

"I'll tell you how big this game is," former Ohio State coach John Cooper said Wednesday on a Master Coaches Survey teleconference. "The loser is going to the Rose Bowl."

George Long/LPI/
Woody Hayes always focused on Michigan.

All well and good, but all you need to know is this: Everything you have ever heard about the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is true.

• It is true that the late Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, who did more to pump up the negative feelings in the rivalry than any man, refused to fill up his car in the state of Michigan.

"I'll tell you why we don't," Hayes said, according to the seminal book, "Woody Hayes and the 100-Yard War." "It's because I don't buy one goddam drop of gas in the state of Michigan. We'll coast and push this goddam car to the Ohio line before I give this state a nickel of my money!"

• It is true that Michigan, leading 55-0 late in the 1946 game, lined up and kicked a field goal.

• It is true that in 1950, the teams played through a blizzard with 29 inches of snow and more than 50,000 fans sat through it. Michigan's Chuck Ortmann punted 24 times, and the Wolverines won 9-3, despite failing to make a first down. Buckeyes coach Wes Fesler quit a few days later. Ohio State hired the little-known Hayes away from Miami (Ohio).

• It is true that in 1970, a local judge in Columbus dismissed a charge of obscenity against a defendant arrested for wearing a T-shirt that said, "F--- Michigan" because the message "accurately expressed" local feelings about the university and the state.

• It is true that Hayes sometimes bunked his team in Toledo on the night before a game in Ann Arbor so the Buckeyes could sleep on Ohio ground.

Read the full article here.


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- By now, you have to figure Lloyd Carr flinches at the sight of a scarlet and gray sweater-vest. Four losses in five years to Jim Tressel, in a game inflated like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float, can do that to a guy.

Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Troy Smith rushed for 145 yards against Michigan in 2004.
But Tressel is only the guy Carr has to deal with in those gut-churning postgame handshakes. He's not the three-hour heartburn that precedes the two-second handshake.

The guy making the plays that have deepened Carr's worry lines into crevasses the past two years is not Jim Tressel. If there's a single Ohio State player who has roamed freely through the Michigan coach's nightmares the past two years, it has to be Troy Smith.

The Ohio State quarterback has had a tremendous career by any measurement: 24-2 as a starter, winner of 18 straight, front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. But in the game that measures largest on any scale, he's stepped up from great to unstoppable.

The first time Smith ran for 100 yards in a college game, it was against Michigan in 2004. Score: Buckeyes 37, Wolverines 21.

Read the full article here.


ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- What's striking about the Michigan defense is not the way it has become the best run defense in nearly 50 years, or how at least three starters have a good chance of shaking NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's hand as first-round picks next April.

LaMarr Woodley is Michigan's defensive leader.
It's the way that knowledgeable football people talk about the Wolverines.

"You'll be impressed with Michigan," Cleveland Browns general manager Phil Savage said, unprompted.

"They've got a defensive line that we'd all like to have," Minnesota coach Glen Mason said.

You hear coaches and analysts speak of athleticism -- not a word often utilized to describe a front seven. But the defense that has led Michigan to an 11-0 record and a No. 2 ranking, the defense charged with the responsibility of slowing down Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith on Saturday, is big and fast.

Defensive end LaMarr Woodley is the leader of a line so talented and deep that it has 25 of the team's 40 sacks. Blitzes? Who needs blitzes to pressure the quarterback?

Read the full article here.


The irony that accompanies the one uncommon talent they have in common is as cruel as it is indisputable.

Jeff Mills/Icon SMI
Jim Tressel thinks Ginn has become a complete receiver this season.
Although Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. and Michigan's Steve Breaston have been blessed with speed that is at once audacious, bodacious and outrageous, the simple truth is this:

Neither of them has ever been able to outrun expectations.

Oh, sure, each enters the mammoth Saturday matchup (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET) of Ginn's No. 1 Buckeyes vs. Breaston's No. 2 Wolverines with an extensive résumé and a bulging highlight reel.

But for both of them, the close of their final college season (yes, Ginn is a junior, but he is gone to the NFL as sure as the sunrise) could be about leaving a final indelible impression that will at last satisfy those previously left wanting more.

Read the full article here.

Former Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler has died at age 77, on the eve of the rivalry with Ohio State that he helped define. He collapsed Friday during the taping of a television show. Story
ESPN 360
360 logo ESPN has compiled an archive of video from past Ohio State-Michigan games, interviews with past players, coaches and alumni and parts of our "Honor Roll" series. ESPN 360
iTunes: Download classic games
GameDay logo Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso will be in Columbus this weekend as the No. 1 Buckeyes host No. 2 Michigan. GameDay

Columns InsiderFree: Herbstreit | Fowler
ESPN Travel: GameDay on Location

Forde: Tale of the Tape: Michigan-Ohio State
Ohio State-Michigan. No. 1 vs. No. 2. takes you beyond the matchup on the field with our Tale of the Tape. Story

Curry: Fun times for Michigan, Ohio State
It's fun. It's magic. It's destiny. It's the Game of the Year and there's nothing better, writes Bill Curry. Story

McShay: UM-OSU game loaded with NFL prospects
As one would expect, a game featuring the top two teams in the nation will have plenty of NFL prospects, writes Todd McShay. Story InsiderFree

Forde: Much ado about nothing
Replacing nine starters on defense looked like a problem for Ohio State. But the Buckeyes' replacements of '06 have outdone the studs of '05, writes Pat Forde. Story

Neumann: Blue State/Red State
Page 2 selects the all-time rosters for Michigan and Ohio State. Take a look and see whether you agree. Story

Revsine: Week 12's rare numbers
Why is Saturday's Michigan-Ohio State game getting so much attention? Because it's been 19 years since we've seen anything like it, writes Dave Revsine. Story

Maisel: Henne, Michigan adopt Cinderella theme
After the mediocrity of last season, Michigan and Chad Henne found motivation from a very unlikely source, writes Ivan Maisel. Story

Nelson: Bleeding blue
As long as Amy Nelson can remember, only two things have mattered in her family: Maize and Blue. Story

Lukacs: Far-off fans go to great lengths to watch game
Just because you're not in Columbus -- or the U.S. -- doesn't mean you can't watch Michigan-Ohio State live. It might mean you have to get creative, though. Story

Forde: Sequel talk surrounds Michigan-OSU
Michigan-Ohio State is five days away, but some people already are talking about a January sequel for the national title. Jim Tressel isn't one of them, writes Pat Forde. Story

Donnan: What to Watch in Week 12
Jim Donnan breaks down the players, teams, trends and games to watch in Week 12 of the college football season. Story

Wojciechowski: Meeee-chigan's magical voice
The most famous voice in Michigan football? Bo Schembechler? Lloyd Carr? Nope. For decades, it was Bob Ufer. Story

SportsNation You've watched the coaches and players in action. You've heard what our analysts have to say. Now we want you to weigh in, SportsNation. Vote: No. 1 vs. No. 2

• Preview poll | Who will win? | Best rivalry
• Top 25 ranker | All-time rivalry bracket

Football 101: Keys to Michigan-Ohio State
The Michigan-Ohio State game will provide many interesting strategy and personnel matchups, but the most intriguing will occur on passing downs, writes Bob Davie. Game breakdown

Crosshairs: Running backs
Mike Hart vs. Antonio Pittman

Crosshairs: Gamebreakers
Mario Manningham vs. Ted Ginn Jr.

Podcast Take your rivalry news on the road with the ESPNU College Football Insider. Guests include writers Pat Forde, Ivan Maisel and Mark Schlabach; ESPN Radio's Michael Kim and Dave Revsine; college football historian Beano Cook; former coach and ESPN analyst Jim Donnan; ESPN The Magazine's Bruce Feldman; Scouts Inc.'s Todd McShay; and many more.

Friday | Thursday | Wednesday | Tuesday
InsiderFree Coaches: Lloyd Carr | Jim Tressel
InsiderFree Chris Spielman | Beano Cook
InsiderFree Jim Donnan | Dhani Jones
PodCenter | iTunes

Can't get enough Michigan-Ohio State? Experts will be dropping by The Show all week. Friday's chats include:
Bruce Feldman, 1:30 p.m.
Mark Snyder, Detroit Free Press, 3 p.m.
Todd Blackledge, 4 p.m.
Jim Donnan, 4:30 p.m.

Chat wraps: InsiderFree
Robert Smith | Ivan Maisel | Bob Davie
Desmond Howard | Beano Cook | Craig James
Todd McShay | Joe Schad | Kirk Herbstreit
Paul Keels, Ohio State play-by-play
Tim May, Columbus Dispatch
Angelique Chengelis, Detroit News