Assuming that it was planned and not just coincidence, “Michigan-Ohio Sports Rivalry Weekend” is a very clever and exceedingly marketable idea. I’m referring of course to the Detroit Red Wings defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets on the eve of THE GAME (In which the Michigan Wolverines were crushed by the Ohio State Buckeyes) in college football.
The only similar set up coming to mind is the annual November clash Florida St. and Florida used to have, where the college basketball teams play each other on Friday night and college football on Saturday. Of course, given the varying schedules of the leagues involved, it would be hard to pull this off every year.
The Wings took the NHL portion of the doubleheader, 2-1 on Friday night, and the Buckeyes dominated the football portion on Saturday afternoon, winning 37-7, in a game that was even more lopsided than the score appears.
By Paul M. Banks
There were quite a few themes in this one. Starting with Ohio State’s throwback unis, honoring the 1942 National Championship team.
“This was an important day for us. Representing the 1942 team, that was a lot of responsibility because not only were they champions, but they were heroes,” OSU Coach Jim Tressel said after the game, recognizing the esteem of the WWII era squad.
Dan “Boom” Herron also indirectly paid homage to the ’42 team, as he recorded a career-long 89-yard run in the third quarter, tying Gene Fekete (of the 1942 Championship squad) for the longest play from scrimmage in Ohio State history.
Herron has 351 rushing yards in his career against Michigan, running for 175 today.
Then there was the officiating. With three excessive celebration penalties going against the Buckeyes, it often felt like the Buckeyes were playing not only the maize and blue, but the guys in black and white stripes as well.
Ohio State’s celebrations were pretty mild, so this may have been the strictest enforcement of the “unsportsmanlike conduct” standard in football history. A couple Buckeyes used the flashy new Nike gloves they were wearing to make the O symbol after Touchdowns. The refs didn’t go for it.
“We let ourselves get too wrapped up in it for awhile with dumb penalties like the glove thing…I think it’s safe to say we will not where the gloves again,” senior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said in postgame.
Another flag was thrown for making the sign of the cross after crossing the end zone. The official explained this infraction in detail, stopping just short of citing the Buckeyes in violation of possibly “separation of church and football,” or maybe perhaps “de-secularizing the end zone.”
Another storyline was the silver bullet defense. Ohio State held Michigan to its lowest point total of the season, and about 30 points below their average. The last time Michigan was held to seven points was in the 2008 meeting with the Buckeyes, a 42-7 Ohio State win.
And of course the main storyline will always be rivalry. Michigan-Ohio State is considered the greatest rivalry in all of college sports. History helps out too as Michigan and Ohio fought a border “war” in 1835.
“It feels better than other wins,” senior safety Jermale Hines said.
“We knew no matter what the record is coming into this game, both teams are going to come out and fight their hardest. You see a lot of personal fouls out there things like that, and just guys getting after one another,” he continued.
Ohio State has now won seven in a row over its rival, the longest Ohio State win streak in the series history (2004-10). Michigan leads the all-time series 57-44-6 and holds a 27-24-2 advantage in Columbus.
It was especially sweet for senior wide receiver Taurian Washington, a native of Orchard Lake, Michigan.
“I’m glad to say that in the four years I was here, I never lost to Michigan,” Washington said.
He now has supreme bragging rights over UM fans whenever he comes home from school.
“A lot of my family members are Michigan fans, when I first came home my freshman year, they used to get on my back a little bit, but after beating them four years straight they really can’t say anything to me,” Washington elaborated.
This rivalry seems exceedingly one-sided right now. But don’t plan on it staying that way forever. Tressel intimated that after the game:
“Michigan is among the elite programs and will be and their record will reflect that in the course of time but, you know, we all have our ups and downs in a period and so forth and it’s highly competitive…There’s constantly changes, but Michigan will be back, we don’t have to worry about that.”
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank
He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com