I'm sure you all have your own favorite editions of The Game but here are 5 classics that I enjoyed either watching live or reading about from the old days. Which ones did I miss or do you have personal experiences that make other versions more meaningful to you?
2006: Ohio State 42, Michigan 39 This one's gotta be #1. Billed as the latest Game Of The Century, the 2006 contest marked the first time ever that the teams came in ranked #1 and #2 in the country. The Game went to another level emotionally after Bo died suddenly on Friday and turned into an offensive explosion on Saturday as Troy Smith led OSU to a 42-39 victory.
Smith was unstoppable throwing for 316 and 4 TDs as the Buckeye offense rolled up 500 yards behind a barrage of big plays. Freshman Beanie Wells got loose for a 52 yard run, Teddy Ginn caught a 39 yard TD pass off some magical play action and Antonio Pittman scored on a 56 yard burst to send the Buckeyes to Glendale for a shot at the national title.
1968: Ohio State 50, Michigan 14 I hadn't been born yet but I distinctly remember being a Buckeye fan in my pre-life and enjoying this signature game from a Buckeye perspective. The #1 ranked Buckeyes welcomed the #4 Wolverines to the Horseshoe and led just 21-14 at the half before Woody's Super Sophomore's outscored Michigan 29-0 in the second behind Jim Otis' 4 TDs. The offense rushed for a gaudy 421 yards and attempted only 9 passes. The demolition gave OSU a berth in the Rose Bowl where the Buckeyes defeated OJ Simpson's USC Trojans 27-16 to capture the national title.
Of course, another intangible earning the '68 game my #2 ranking is that it's also remembered for Woody going for a two point conversion on OSU's final touchdown to hit the 50 point mark and subsequently answering a reporter's question as to why he went for two by saying, "Because I couldn't go for three!". This was also the last game before the commencement of the 10 Year War.
2002: Ohio State 14, Michigan 9 This game sticks in my mind for multiple reasons. Obviously, the most important fact is that the victory set up OSU's upset over Miami to bring OSU it's first national title in my lifetime.
Another key to this game is that it marked the second straight for Tressel against Michigan/Lloyd effectively turning the tide of a rivalry that had become one-sided in the JHC Era.
Tresselball was in full swing as OSU trailed 9-7 entering the 4th quarter but took the lead for good with 3:55 left on a Mo Hall sweep to paydirt. The drive was keyed by Maurice Clarett's' 26 yard reception on a wheel route setting up OSU with 1st and Goal at the 7. Michigan still had a chance driving to the OSU 24 but Will Allen picked off John Navarre in the end zone as time expired as the Buckeye faithful rushed the field and pepper spray started flying. Rivalries rule!
1961: Ohio State 50, Michigan 20 The '61 game is a sleeper pick thanks to Woody. Although many aren't aware, this game marked the first time he went for two in the final moments to ensure he hit the 50 point barrier against his bitter rival. This occurrence might have been even crazier as Woody called a pass play at his own 20 with :34 seconds left leading 42-20. Paul Warfield promptly turned the play into a 70 yard gain so Woody called 3 more passes resulting in a touchdown with 5 seconds left. To be consistent, Woody ordered one more throw as OSU converted the two point play to win 50-20. And they say Woody wouldn't throw the ball!?
1973: Ohio State 10, Michigan 10 The '73 clash makes the list bumping the 1987 victory which served as Earle Bruce's last taste of The Game after his firing in the days leading up to kickoff for posting a 5-4-1 record with one game to play.
The 1973 tilt was the fifth of the 10 Year War and ended in a 10-10 tie. You might remember the game for a few reasons.
First, this is the game that provided the famous image of the Buckeye players coming out and tearing down the "M Banner" at midfield. While this act angered everyone in maize and blue, nothing upset Bo Schembechler more in his career than what happened after the game.
Though Michigan controlled the game statiscally, kicker Mike Lantry missed two field goals in the final minute and just as importantly, QB Dennis Franklin broke his collarbone earlier in the quarter.In a shocking vote, the conference athletic directors awarded OSU the trip to Pasadena (OSU 42, USC 21) further fueling the flames of the rivalry. Considering the Big Ten had lost the previous five Rose Bowls, prevailing thought was the AD's voted Ohio State to represent the conference due to Franklin's injury but that was no consolation to Bo as his squad stayed home. Bummer.