COLUMBUS, Ohio — Being a favorite doesn’t mean much whenever Ohio State and Michigan meet.
The history of this heated rivalry is littered with upsets and surprises.
No. 17 Michigan (9-2, 5-2) is hoping to grab a share of the Big Ten’s Legends Division title on Saturday, and bolster its argument for a major bowl game. Ohio State (6-4, 3-4) has suffered through a difficult season shadowed by ominous NCAA sanctions, the loss of a 10-year head coach for breaking rules, injuries and more losses than any Buckeyes team in a decade.
In other words, don’t count out the Buckeyes, who are seven-point underdogs.
The unexpected has happened repeatedly in The Game’s storied 107 meetings.
Ohio State pounded Michigan 50-14 in 1968. It was late in that game, long after the outcome had been decided, when Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes elected to try a 2-point conversion after a touchdown.
Asked later why he did it, he snarled: “Because I couldn’t go for three!”
The next season, the Wolverines came in with two losses and Ohio State was riding a 22-game winning streak. By grinding out yards on the ground and pouncing on turnovers, Bo Schembechler’s team won 24-12.
Five days before the 1987 game in Ann Arbor, Ohio State coach Earle Bruce was abruptly fired almost nine seasons into a successful tenure. Ohio State President Ed Jennings didn’t give a good reason.
Naturally, the Buckeyes pulled off a 23-20 stunner.
In both 1995 and 1996, Ohio State rolled into the rivalry unbeaten, ranked No. 2 and on the verge of playing for a national title. Michigan, with three losses already, had little to play for.
Before the 1995 game, Ohio State wide receiver Terry Glenn said, “Michigan is nobody.” But the nobodies won 31-23.
A year later, Michigan was a heavy underdog again for The Game at Ohio Stadium. But a short pass to Michigan wide receiver Tai Streets turned into a long touchdown and the Wolverines pulled off another shocker, 13-9.