2009: #9 Ohio State beats Michigan 21-10
The Game 2009: TOs give OSU 6 in a Row over UM
The 9th ranked Buckeyes had already clinched the Rose Bowl berth, as well as at least a piece of their 5th straight Big Ten title, as they travelled to Ann Arbor. Michigan, in Rich Rodriguez’s second season, was trying to avoid a second straight losing season, not to mention a 2nd straight season without a Bowl game. Ohio State, since the loss at Purdue, had reeled off 4 straight wins thanks to the running game. After averaging 157 yards a game over the 1st 7 contests, the Buckeyes upped that average by more than 100 yards for the 4 games leading into The Game. The Wolverines had started the season 4-0, but had won only 1 of the next 7 games, and that victory was over FCS Delaware St. Two days before the game, Chris Spielman’s wife, Stephanie, lost her legthy battle with breast cancer. The Spielmans would not be forgotten by either set of fans during The Game. Ohio State had a different look on the field, as the team either A) honored the 1954 National Championship team with throwback uniforms, or B) did whatever Nike told them in an attempt to sell a new, alternate jersey by debuting it during the Christmas shopping season.
Ohio State got the ball to start the game, but punted, the first of 9 punts for Jon Thoma. The senior from Cleveland pinned the Wolverines inside their 10 yard line. After DE Cameron Heyward dropped RB Michael Shaw for a 2 yard loss on 1st down, on 3rd down, the Georgia native recovered Michigan QB Tate Forcier’s fumble in the end zone, and the Buckeyes had the lead, 7-0. Score stayed that way until the 2nd quarter, Maize and Blue K Jason Olsenavage atoned for a missed FG in the 1st quarter with a 46 yard FG, home team trailed 7-3. Buckeyes immediately responded with Terrelle Pryor and Brandon Saine rushing for all 80 yards of the TD drive, Pryor’s 25 yard run on the zone-option read, set up Saine’s 29 yard TD run on the following play, and a 14-3 OSU lead. Buckeyes had lined up in the wrong formation, but Saine, on an inside hand off , made it work. Wolverines tried to immediately answer back, on 1st and 10, Forcier went deep down the sidelines and CB Chimdi Chekwa deflected the pass to Safety Kurt Coleman was made the interception at the Buckeye 32 yard line. The Scarlet and Gray couldn’t capitalize, and 4 punts later, the half was over, with the Buckeyes up by 11.
After forcing Michigan to punt on their opening drive of the 3rd quarter, Ohio State played right into the Wolverines hands, with the ball at the Michigan 45 yard line, Pryor’s pass intended for DeVier Posey popped into the air, and Jonas Mouton intercepted it, leading to Forcier’s 18 yard TD pass to Vincent Smith, Wolverines were within a TD, trailing 14-10. With the clouds starting to part in Ann Arbor, the sun was shining on the Buckeyes. Pryor, Saine and Boom Herron all had runs of over 10 yards on the drive, with Boom picking up 23 yards to set up a 1st and goal from the Michigan 2. OSU lost yardage on the next two plays, but on 3rd and goal from the 12, Pryor floated an underneath pass to Herron, who caught it and ran into the end zone for the 21-10 Ohio State lead. In the 4th quarter, Forcier threw three more interceptions, with Coleman coming up with his 2nd pick, but the Buckeyes couldn’t do anything with the turnover and punted back to Michigan. Wolverines put together their second sustained drive, moving the ball to the OSU 11 yard line, on 2nd and 5, Forcier threw on the run, looking for a receiver in the end zone, but Devon Torrence stepped in front of it for another interception. Forcier wasn’t done, he threw one more pick, with Thaddeus Gibson making an athletic play. The DE dropped back into coverage, and when Forcier tried to throw it over him, he made the pick, ending Michigan’s last threat.
Ohio State outgained Michigan 251 to 80, and while no Buckeye rushed for 100 yards, Herron, Saine and Pryor were all over 74 yards on the ground. Forcier’s 4 picks in The Game, were the most by a QB since Michigan’s John Navarre threw 4 in the 2001 loss to the Buckeyes. Coldwater’s Ross Homan had a game high 12 tackles in the win. The 21-10 win sent OSU to Pasadena on a 5 game winning streak, to face the Oregon Ducks. Meanwhile Michigan, now 5-7, had back to back losing seasons for the first time since 1962-63. To show you how even the series is, following this Buckeye 21-10 victory, since 1927 both teams had scored exactly 1,309 points against each other, and over the last 84 meetings the record stood 40-40-4.
1998: #7 Ohio State beats #11 Michigan 31-16
The Game 1998: Buckeyes Salvage Season
In 1993, ’95, and ’97 Ohio State losses in The Game cost them Rose Bowl appearances. Two weeks after Michigan State upset the Buckeyes, costing them a potential National Championship, #7 OSU was able to turn the tables on 11th ranked Michigan, beating the Wolverines 31-16, costing Michigan a Rose Bowl berth and stopping the Maize and Blue’s 16 game Big Ten win streak. It did not take the sting away from the previous failures.
Ohio State dominated all phases of the game, as they were never seriously threatened. 1,000 yard rusher Michael Wiley came off the bench (Sr. Joe Montgomery got the start on Senior Day, and was coming off a 144 yard day in Iowa) and on the Buckeyes 2nd possession of the game, put the home team ahead 7-0, with a 53 yard TD run, as FB Matt Keller, and Guards Ben Gilbert and Rob Murphy had key blocks on the TD, as the Jr. finished the day with 120 yards on 12 carries. The Silver Bullets forced a three and out, and then the special teams came through. Wolverines Punter Jason Vinson had trouble handling the snap, and Kevin Griffin was quickly on top of him, the kicker got the punt off, but it didn’t cross the original line of scrimmage, and OSU took over at the Michigan 16 yard line. Three plays later it was 14-0 as QB Joe Germaine hit Dee Miller in the end zone. In the 2nd quarter, Michigan got on the board with a 27 yard Jay Feely FG, 14-3 Buckeyes. Stayed that way until late in the 2nd quarter, when OSU’s “Score” team (the punt return unit), came through again. Freshman Derek Ross blocked Vinson’s punt and fellow Freshman Jonathan Wells recovered at the Michigan 20 yard line. I was down on the field, standing next to former Buckeyes Ryan Miller and Jamie Sumner, with that momentum change, those recent grads knew this year was different. After a penalty, Germaine proceeded to throw his 2nd TD pass, a 30 yarder to WR David Boston, Buckeyes up 21-3, with 3:15 to go in the half. Even though Tom Brady quickly led Michigan down the field, hitting Tai Streets for a TD in the final minute, Ohio State kept the momentum going into the locker rooms, leading 21-10.
In the 3rd period, Sr. Co-captain Jerry Rudzinski came up with the next big play, intercepting Brady. Off the turnover, Germaine and Boston connected once again, this time a 43 yard TD pass, to extend the Buckeye lead to 28-10. On the game, Boston set an Ohio State series record with 217 yards on 10 catches. Germaine finished with 330 yards (also a Buckeye series record) on 16 of 28 passing. After that, it was all FGs, with Dan Stultz making one for the Scarlet and Gray, and Feely adding 2 more for the Maize and Blue. Leading 31-16, Ahmed Plummer sealed the victory with an interception. Trailing the entire game, Michigan threw quite a bit, in fact, the two teams combined for 95 pass attempts, a series record. Brady and Streets set Michigan series records, as the future Super Bowl MVP threw for 375 yards (albeit on 31 of 56, plus 2 interceptions), while Streets had 118 yards on 9 catches. The Silver Bullets completely shut down the Wolverine ground game, holding Michigan to just 4 yards rushing on 28 attempts. All-Americans Damon Moore, Antoine Winfield and Andy Katzenmoyer all had double digit tackle games.
The crowd rushed the field following the victory, but this time no mass pepper spraying, although many players admitted to tearing up on the sidelines because of good old emotions, and not a chemical reaction. With the win, Ohio State and Michigan had identical 7-1 Big Ten records, but the Buckeyes slim Rose Bowl hopes were dashed later that day, when Wisconsin beat Penn St. 24-3, creating a 3 way tie for the league lead, and thanks to the longest Rose Bowl drought rule, Badgers were going back to Pasadena, while Ohio State would play in the Sugar Bowl against Texas A&M. Wolverines rebounded with a 45-31 win over Arkansas in the Citrus Bowl, as they finished the season 10-3.
1992: #17 Ohio State ties #6 Michigan 13-13
The Game 1992: E. Gordon Gee’s Greatest Win
Long before E. Gordon Gee’s “I hope he doesn’t dismiss me” line or the “little sisters of the poor” crack, the bow-tied Ohio State President had a long history of opening his mouth and inserting his foot. Like after The Game 1992, 17th ranked Ohio State tied #6 Michigan 13-13, prompting Gee to call it “one of our greatest wins ever.” The Wolverines, at 6-0-1 in the Big Ten, and 8-0-2 overall, had already clinched the outright league crown, and the Rose Bowl, while the Buckeyes, at 5-2 and 8-2, were going to Orlando and the Citrus Bowl regardless of the outcome of The Game. Played in a cold, November rain, the field conditions, and the crowd, would ultimately play a factor in the unsatisfying outcome.
Buckeyes opened the scoring with a 39 yard Tim Williams FG to take the 3-0 lead. Score stayed that way until the 2nd quarter, when Michigan QB Elvis Grbac scored from 3 yards out on a QB draw on 3rd and goal, but the Cleveland native injured his ribs on the play and would not return to the game. Literally, adding insult to injury, Peter Elezovic missed the PAT, so the Wolverines only led 6-3. In the 3rd quarter, visitors upped the lead to 13-3, when back-up QB Todd Collins scored on a short run, also coming on 3rd and goal. Inches from the goal line, Collins faked the hand off, rolled to his right and strolled into the end zone untouched. Williams cut the lead to 7 with his 2nd FG, this one a 30 yarder, early in the 4th quarter. Buckeyes defense forced a punt, and Ohio State got the ball back, down 7, with 12:16 left in the game. Sr. QB Kirk Herbstreit led his team on a 14 play, 54 yard drive, but the drive seemingly stalled in the Red Zone. After Herbstreit had been stuffed on 2nd and 3rd down runs, on 4th and goal from the 5, Buckeyes went to the air, with Herbstreit hitting WR Greg Beatty on a quick slant, the Senior from Texas made the catch, and with 4:24 to go, John Cooper signaled for Williams to tie it at 13 with an extra point kick and he did. Michigan went conservative, with Gary Moeller blaming the slick field conditions, comparing the prescription turf to an ice rink, and the loud crowd as reasons to, in the words of a contemporary AP story, “play it close to the vest.” Yes, while Jim Tressel was at Youngstown State, national media was still complaining about conservative play calling in the Big Ten. Michigan punted back to the Buckeyes, and facing a 4th and 4 from the Michigan 49 with 1:12 to go, Cooper decided to punt, as well. Game ended with Walter Taylor intercepting Collins’s Hail Mary attempt, returning it to the Michigan 34 before he was tackled with no time left on the clock.
Ohio State outplayed Michigan, leading in first downs, 24-16, and in Total Offense, 362-271. Herbstreit had his best passing day as a Buckeye QB, completing 28 of 46 for 271 yards and the TD, Brian Stablein the main beneficiary, as the WR caught 12 passes for 111 yards. Chico Nelson’s 11 tackles led the way for OSU. After the game, Cooper brought out one of his favorite, down-home adages to explain to the media why they didn’t go for it on 4th and 4, “You want to gamble, guys, but you want to gamble with my chips.” Buckeyes were off to Florida to play Georgia in the Citrus Bowl, while the Wolverines wrapped up an undefeated season, albeit one with 3 ties, with a 38-31 Rose Bowl win over Washington.
1987: Ohio State beats Michigan in Ann Arbor 23-20
The Game 1987: Earle Goes Out on Top
There had never been a Beat Michigan Week like this one, and even with all the Urban Meyer rumors, there never will be one. Following three straight losses, and with a 5-4-1 record, Ohio State President Edward Jennings decided to fire Head Coach Earle Bruce, despite Bruce having another year on his contract, and informed Athletic Director Rick Bay to make that announcement following the game at Michigan. Bay, who had persuaded Bruce to stay in Columbus earlier that year when Arizona made a strong push to lure the 56 year old out West, was flabbergasted. Jennings had no solid reason for dismissing Bruce, and Bay didn’t think the decision could be kept secret over the week, so Monday afternoon, Bay called a press conference and made two announcements. 1) Bruce’s contract was terminated and 2) in protest, Bay was resigning, saying, “It’s a shame, it’s a dark day for Ohio State.” Bruce was allowed to coach in The Game, but there really wasn’t much on the line. Neither team was ranked, the last time that has happened, and neither team had a shot to even share the Big Ten title, as Michigan State had already clinched the Rose Bowl and outright title. Following warm-ups, the Buckeyes, who brought back the red shows from the Cotton Bowl win, took the field wearing head bands, some around their necks. Bruce had no idea what was going on, saw the headbands out of the corner of his eye and was about to start yelling at the team to take them off, before he saw what the headbands said, “EARLE” and thought he couldn’t possibly ask them to take those off. Playing for their now deposed head coach, the Buckeyes came out flat, before rallying for the 23-20 win, the team’s last victory in Ann Arbor until 2001.
With everything that was going on off the field, perhaps it’s not surprising Ohio State struggled in the 1st half, as Michigan outgained them 283-91. A Jamie Morris TD and two Mike Gillette FGs put the Wolverines up 13-0 midway through the 2nd quarter. The home team was driving when OSU DT Ray Holliman forced a Jerrod Bunch fumble, LB Mike McCray recovered at the Buckeye 39 yard line. Tom Tupa finally got the offense on track, driving the Buckeyes 61 yards, capped off by Everett Ross’s 4 yard TD, Buckeyes down just 13-7 at the break. In the 2nd half, Michigan got the ball to start the 3rd quarter, but a LB Chris Spielman sack forced a punt, as the Lombardi Award Winner finished up his Buckeye career with 16 tackles. On the 1st play of the ensuing drive, Tupa hit RB Carlos Snow coming out of the backfield, the Freshman broke a tackle to get outside, picked up a key block from Ross and sprinted down the sideline for a 70 yard TD, and the 14-13 lead. After trading punts, another Wolverine turnover lead to another Buckeye TD. OSU DB David Brown intercepted Demetrius Brown’s pass near midfield and returned it to the UM 19 yard line. Holliman put pressure on Brown, and William White gave David Brown a good block on the return. With the short field, it took the offense just 3 plays to get back into the end zone, after Tupa completed to Vince Workman down to the one, the Sr. QB snuck in from the one, Matt Frantz missed the PAT, snapping his streak of 52 successful PATs, so instead of an 8 point lead, Ohio State was up 20-13. Wolverines answered with Leroy Hoard scoring a 10 yard rushing TD, tying the game at 20, late in the 3rd quarter. In the final quarter, Tupa was shaken up and had to go to the sidelines for one play. Fr. Greg Frey came in on 3rd and 9, and calmly completed a 19 yard pass to Workman to keep the drive alive. Frantz rebounded from the missed PAT and a year after missing a potential game-winning FG in The Game, the former walk-on and future “stand-up comic” came through with a 26 yard FG with 5:18 to go, visitors leading 23-20. Michigan’s next drive came to an end with the Wolverine’s 4th turnover of the game, as LB Eric Kumerow recovered a Hoard fumble at the Buckeye 47 yard line. Ohio State ran out all but :09, turning the ball over on downs at the Michigan 2 yard line. One batted down Hail Mary later, and Ohio State carried Bruce off the field as a winner.
After the game, Bo Schembechler sought out Bruce and told him, “You know how I don’t like losing. But, somehow, today I don’t mind.” Michigan was off to play in the Hall of Fame Bowl, where they beat Alabama 28-24 to finish the season at 8-4. Meanwhile Ohio State, with a 6-4-1 record, were bowl eligible, and the Sun Bowl invited the Buckeyes to El Paso, Texas, to take on Oklahoma State (hey, guaranteed OSU win) but the Buckeyes declined, ending a 13 year Bowl streak. A decision Bruce did not agree with, saying the University was doing a disservice to the team’s seniors. Bruce’s Ohio State career came to an end with a 81-26-1 record, the best in the Big Ten during that span. He had a 5-4 record against Michigan, 4 league titles and a 5-3 record in Bowl Games (but 0-2 in the Rose Bowl). Bruce went on to coach at Northern Iowa and Colorado State, before retiring. In 2002, Bruce was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
1981: Ohio State beats #7 Michigan in Ann Arbor 14-9
The Game 1981: Broadnax’s Big Block
Woody Hayes did not attend any Ohio State games in Earle Bruce’s 1st two years as Head Coach, fearing his presence would overshadow his former assistant and the players. In 1981, Hayes returned to Ohio Stadium for the first time, watching the Buckeyes destroy Duke 34-13 in the season opener. Later in the year, with the Big Ten title on the line, Hayes went back to That State Up North, and saw Ohio State wrap up the league title with a 14-9 comeback win, the first time the Old Man had made a road trip with the Buckeyes since his firing.
Michigan, Ohio State and Iowa all had Big Ten Title hopes, all with 2 league losses. Iowa had beaten Michigan, and the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes did not play in the 1st of 2 years of a true round-robin conference schedule. In the 1st quarter, Wolverines were deep in Ohio State territory, when DB Doug Hill intercepted a Steve Smith pass at the Buckeye 5 yard line. OSU couldn’t do anything with the ball and punted back to Michigan, a low line drive punt that Anthony Carter returned 19 yards to the OSU 29. Wolverines moved the ball to the OSU 4, but had to settle for a 19 yard Ali Haji-Sheikh FG and a 3-0 lead. After another Buckeye punt, Michigan was back on the move, until DB Kelvin Bell tipped a pass and LB Marcus Marek had the interception. Ohio State offense got on track, with RB Tim Spencer contributing a couple of long runs and Cedric Anderson added a 17 yard reception. In a drive that stretched into the 2nd quarter, FB Vaughn Broadnax picked up a key 1st down on 3rd and short at the UM 5. Two plays later, Sr. QB Art Schlichter followed Center Jim DeLeone and sneaked into the end zone for a 7-3 lead. Later in the 2nd quarter, Michigan again drove into Ohio State territory, but on 4th down, Marek stopped Smith short of the first down, and Ohio State took the lead into the break. In the 3rd quarter, more of the same, Michigan drove to the Buckeye 6, before the D rose to the occasion with Shaun Gayle stopping Smith on 3rd and 3, Wolverines settle for another short Haji-Shikh FG, this one a 26 yarder, cutting the OSU lead to 7-6. On the ensuing drive, Schlichter’s pass for Anderson was tipped by Keith Bostic and intercepted by Michigan’s Tony Jackson, one more Cleveland-native that Bo was able to lure North of the Border. But Marek came up with 3 big tackles, forcing another FG, and Ann Arbor-born Haji-Sheikh was 3 for 3, connecting from 23 yards out, home team up 9-7 in the 3rd quarter. Michigan’s Brian Carpenter intercepted a Schlichter pass, but Michigan could not capitalize, as Bell and Hill forced a Butch Woolfolk fumble, recovered by Shaun Gayle. OSU couldn’t capitalize, either, as Bob Atha missed a FG. Michigan had a chance to put the game away, driving to the OSU 8, when Smith threw his 3rd interception, with Gayle tipping and Bell catching in the end zone. The offense drove 80 yards, converting a pair of 3rd downs, including a Schlichter sneak, in which he fumbled, only to have Guard Joe Lukens recover. Spencer finished with 25 carries for 110 yards, including a 19 yard gain to the Michigan 9 yard line. On 3rd and goal from the 6, Schlichter had a run/pass option, rolling to his right, no one was open, and there were plenty of Michigan defenders between him and the goal line, but he also had Broadnax in front of him. The sophomore was engaged with one Wolverine, and as Schlichter went past him, Broadnax threw a block on a 2nd defender, giving the QB enough space to get into the end zone, Ohio State up 14-9 with 2:50 remaining. Michigan couldn’t do anything with it, despite crossing midfield 8 times, the home team only had the 3 FGs to show for it, this coming against a Defense that had allowed 50 points over their last 3 games. The Maize and Blue outgained OSU 367-257 and had 5 more First downs, but turnovers and the inability to get into the end zone were too much to overcome.
Iowa beat Michigan State that afternoon, so the Hawkeyes and Buckeyes shared the title with Iowa getting the Rose Bowl bid (their last trip to Pasadena was in 1958, OSU was there two years before). Ohio State settled for a trip to Memphis and the Liberty Bowl to take on Navy. Michigan finished up the season 9-3 after beating UCLA 33-14 in Houston’s Bluebonnet Bowl.