A Chance to Hate Twice

By Kyle Rowland on July 28, 2013 at 6:00a
Historic signatures.

In June, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner said the Wolverines would beat Ohio State in the Big House come November. He never mentioned Indianapolis the first week of December. 

The two foes have played in the regular-season finale since 1935, with the exception of the 1942, 1986 and 1998 seasons. The 2013 season could mark the first double dip. Never before have Ohio State and Michigan played twice in the same season. Not only that, it could happen in back-to-back weeks.

“Can you imagine that?” said Urban Meyer. “Think about that.”

Ironically, it was Meyer who, in large part, played spoiler to the only Ohio State-Michigan rematch. The two teams were still first and second in the BCS standings following their classic 2006 game, until Meyer began lobbying for his Florida Gators.

Gardner’s proclamation drew headlines and turned heads in the state of Ohio. At Big Ten media days in Chicago, he did not back down from his statement, clarifying he didn’t make a guarantee and that every player should have confidence.

Brady Hoke concurred with his quarterback’s comments. The Michigan head coach wants his players competing with self-assurance, he said, but not verging on overconfidence. The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry has a long history of guarantees and disparaging comments.

In 1986, Jim Harbaugh said flatly, “I guarantee we beat Ohio State and go to Pasadena.” Five days later, Michigan won 26-24. Leading up to the 1995 game, Buckeye wide receiver Terry Glenn told reporters, “Michigan is nothing.” The comments came during a 1-5-1 stretch against the Maize and Blue, and they added to the victory column that Saturday. Undefeated and No. 2 Ohio State lost 31-23.

Two years later, David Boston provided the trash-talk soundtrack. “I go against better defensive backs than him in practice every days,” said Boston, with a message targeted for Charles Woodson. Boston went 40 minutes without a reception, though he did burn Woodson for a long touchdown catch. Still, Michigan won the game – and the national championship – largely on the back of Woodson, who remains the lone defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy.

Said Woodson, following the Wolverines’ 20-14 triumph: “I was like a father out there chastising his son for talking to the wrong people.”

There was no added bulletin material in Chicago. Instead, representatives from both schools concentrated on the unique possibility they’re afforded.

Playing a hated rival the week before a passionate conference championship game is nothing new for Meyer. Florida played Florida State one week and the SEC Western Division champion the next. On two occasions that team was Alabama.

“That’s really hard,” Meyer said. “It’s hard on the coaches, but the wear and tear on the players – you’ve got two sledgehammers going at it. Think about that. You play Florida State and then you wake up on Tuesday and you get ready to play Alabama. I think the playoffs will be just like that.”

High school players already have a taste of intense competition at rapid-fire speeds. Teams that advance to the state championship game in Ohio play 15 games in 15 weeks. The final five games are contested against the best of the best.

Braxton Miller, a Huber Heights Wayne grad, recalled playing archrival Centerville three weeks apart during his high school career. But doing so in consecutive weeks? It would be an entirely new experience.

“It would be kind of weird playing the same team two weeks in a row,” he said. “You’ve just got to prepare to know everything about the opposite team.

“It will be a little bit different. You’ve got to play your game, though. Ain’t no change. Just a little bit of pressure.”

If it happens this season, it will be the only time. In 2014, the Buckeyes and Wolverines become division foes when the Big Ten realigns. For Meyer, it doesn’t matter. Rivalry games are played at the end of the season for most teams, but the Ohio State-Michigan game has something different.

The intensity, time invested and emotional and physical grind is experienced in few games across the country. Ohio State-Michigan is one of them. Playing in consecutive weeks this season might not be a disadvantage since both teams are going through the same trials and tribulations. Neither game would be played in Columbus, though, giving Michigan the upper hand.

“Can you imagine the fan bases?” Meyer said. “That would be an exhausting two weeks, I can promise you that.

“I think it would (be a positive for the Big Ten), but not very good for the health of the coaches. But it would be fine for the fans. It would be great.”

Hoke concurred, saying it’d be a fun couple of weeks. But it came with a caveat.

“Do you game plan differently? Do you do things a little differently? Everyone has a different opinion,” he said. “I think it’d be great – as long as we win both of them.”

In the future, however, Meyer believes both Ohio State and Michigan are at a distinct disadvantage having to play in a brutal rivalry one week and compete for a conference title the next.

When Big Ten expansion took the Midwest for a wild ride in 2010, the conference’s hope was that its two flagship programs would meet for the championship. It hasn’t happened yet. Mixed in were concerns from traditionalists and fans. Could the Ohio State-Michigan game lose its place on the schedule or possibly not be played altogether? The answer was a resounding no. But what does Meyer think about a September Ohio State-Michigan clash?

Asked if the game could be turned into the first conference game, carving out a piece of the spotlight for the Big Ten early in the season, Meyer, with an ornery grin, said, “Absolutely, we’re at a big disadvantage, but put your name on it.” He knows a break in tradition would be blasphemous.

Living in an area known as the Toledo Strip, a piece of land Ohio and Michigan went to war over nearly two centuries ago, Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort is well-versed in the animosity between the bordering states.

He’s since lived the rivalry from the frontlines, posting a 3-1 record against Michigan. He calls “The Game” the best rivalry in all of sports and admitted the physical toll would border on excessive. But the possibility of winning twice is almost too good to be true.

“Growing up, every time that game came around, there was a huge buzz,” Mewhort said. “So I think to be able to play in that two weeks in a row would be unbelievable.”

And getting two pair of Gold Pants? A giddy smile formed on Mewhort’s face when that subject was discussed.

“If we got 12 pairs of Gold Pants (for beating Michigan 12 times in a season), I'd be in,” Mewhort said.



gwalther's picture

One of the things I enjoyed most about B1G media days was the opportunity to listen to Christian Bryant and Mewhort. Like both of them a lot. 

Class of 2008

nfischer's picture

Bryant was hanging with Philly Brown at FNL and talked to some fans/signed autographs for some kids. He's one of my favorite Buckeyes on this year's roster. Good guy!

ColerainBuckeye33's picture

Would absolutely love beating the weasels twice in one season.I just cant even fathom how cocky and delirious their fan base would get with 2 wins though.

A wise man once said "success is not final and failure is not fatal"

pjtobin's picture

I know some of our fans that would be very cocky. I don't think to many 11w would be. For the most part we respect the rivalry. I have seen it with my own to eyes though. We too have some fans who go a little overboard. I wouldn't say disgrace. But just not cool. IMO. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I'd rather see Ohio State face Nebraska in the BigTen championship game.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Buckeye Rocket Sci's picture

Agreed. Not jut because I don't want to see the back to back The Games, but because Nebraska is a team that we won't play during the regular season that could help us in our chase for post season, especially if they've lived up to expectations and made it to the championship game. 

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence" - Calvin Coolidge

hit_the_couch's picture

I don't want to play scum again. Every time I see a medium/high profile game, the other team wins the rematch: LSU Bamer '11-'12, FSU-UF '96-'97, etc.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

TMac's picture

It would be fun beating them twice in 8 days!
tTUN has to get through early November to have a shot though.....At Sparty, home to the Huskers and then at Northwestern....and I'm not sure they have enough to get through that stretch to win the last Legends division title. 

Geraffi's picture

This from Mewhort:
“If we got 12 pairs of Gold Pants (for beating Michigan 12 times in a season), I'd be in,”
Absolutely brilliant. 
Great piece, Kyle!

Baroclinicity's picture

It's always tough to beat a comparable team twice...

4thandinches's picture

A rematch always favors the loser.

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

buckguyfan1's picture

Recently when I click on 11W and I see this picture of these 2 helmets; I feel the desire to grab my sledgehammer out of my garage and beat the hell out of the ugly one with blue and maize on it....  34 more days!

jmoore3309's picture

Unfortunately the only way I think this happens is if they win the first game.  I have a hard time seeing them with a cushion to afford a loss and still get to Indy. I say we just blow them out in Ann Arbor and be happy ending their home winning streak

Go Bucks!

Hoody Wayes's picture

"If it happens this season, it will be the only time." Don't bet on it.
I know what the B1G has done regarding realignment (and that ain't done, yet - just look at the B1G logo). That's just humans making decisions. Minds change.
If Ohio State and Michigan play in the B1G CG and it exceeds the hype...the B1G will make plan$ for future replay$. 

Remy's picture

"Never before have Ohio State and Michigan played twice in the same season. Not only that, it could happen in back-to-back weeks. “Can you imagine that?” said Urban Meyer. 'Think about that.'"
I have, and two wins over That Team in the same season would be

"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're goin', and hook up with them later." ~ Mitch Hedberg

Bags5150's picture

The two foes have played in the regular-season finale since 1935, with the exception of the 1942, 1986 and 1998 seasons.
I don't understand this statement...'86 & '98?  I looked and it was indeed the season finale.  What did i miss or not understand?

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth~Mike Tyson

Citrus's picture

In '98 it was tOSU's final game but not TTUN's. TTUN played Hawaii the following week. Later they played AK in the Citrus Bowl.

Bags5150's picture

Looked it up.  Same in '86.  Hawaii after us.  Thanks!

Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth~Mike Tyson

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Thanks for this explanation.  I saw the same thing and was wondering why that was listed like that.  Makes sense now.  It was the skunkweasels that messed up the tradition. 
Go Bucks!

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I have a vision of Braxton Miller having the game of his life in AA to clinch the Heisman while the Buckeyes kick the ever living shit out of the TSUN... to be able to crush them again in the B1G Championship Game would be the fat layer of gooey icing on the cake!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Citrus's picture

If the Buckeyes beat TTUN twice and won the National Championship, it would have to be considered the greatest Ohio State season ever.

ScarletGray43157's picture

No question about that.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

Poison nuts's picture

I agree about that Citrus. If it played out that way, it would absolutely be the greatest season ever.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Possibly the greatest college football season ever!  Beating a rival twice then winning it all!  It would be a dream come true. 

BtownBuckeye's picture

Not to mention being 26-0 (knock on wood)

Hovenaut's picture

As I did in yesterday's poll, I look at this with caution.

Yes it would be great.

Yes it would be extremely tough.

I'd rather play Nebraska or Michigan State.

"Success - it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

hit_the_couch's picture

I just don't see a rematch this year. Last year I said scum would lose 4-5 games and I happened to be right. I thought for sure that AF would beat them. Looking at this year's sched, I see at least 3 to 4 losses for them.
In the CCG I believe we'll go against NW or NU.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

Idaho Helga's picture

I also think UM has at least 2, maybe 3 losses coming into the game.  I see us playing NW or Nebraska too.   But, I just looked at NW's schedule and it's tough; they play all the B1G good teams: tOSU, TTUN, Sparty, Wisky and Nebraska.  They do have a bye before a TTUN home game so TTUN better pay attention.
Nebraska has a much better schedule.  They have all the B1G bottom feeders, Sparty and TTUN.  They do have Penn St away, but I don't think Penn St is very good this year.  The get NW at home Nov 2nd so that game might decide their division.  I always liked Nebraska, in part due to a hatred of Oklahoma but also I have a few good friends from there.  Nice people.  Hope they stomp UCLA.

Poison nuts's picture

Ttun twice in a row...I'd rather not thanks. There's a lot of confidence about OSU this year, but that's a tall order regardless of how good The Buckeyes are.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

ScarletGray43157's picture

OSU's biggest rival is also one of the top national college football programs of all time.  Beating them is a strong motivator.   Win or lose, guys will play with the highest level of focus and intensity, right to the end.  Anyone afraid to lose doesn't deserve to be a part of this great rivalry, no matter if they are player, coach, or fan, because winning begins with no fear of losing.  
Having that rivalry game happen twice in one season would be very special. 
Let the games begin.

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

Poison nuts's picture

I'm not afraid to lose. This particular year, OSU could compete for an NC. I believe that the energy, passion & will needed to win that game just once is something I can't even comprehend since I never played in it. I imagine two games against them would be completely draining. I have a lot of respect for that game...so while I'm not scared of it happening, I'd rather they played just once in any given year - no rematch. If it does happen, I'll certainly be rooting for my team, confident they can pull it off.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

Stinson's picture


"The height of human desire is what wins, whether it's on Normandy Beach or in Ohio Stadium." -Wayne Woodrow Hayes

cajunbuckeye's picture

I'm right there with you. I don't want my hatred diluted by two games back to back.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

pjtobin's picture

Could you imagine if it were a close game both games? Like last years game. Heart attack for sure!! Now imagine two blowouts. The second being the worst blow out ever. Hoke would be gone! IMO. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Iwearmocs's picture

I don't want to see an OSU-mich regular season game where both teams have big title bids locked up.  I think that would really cheapen the rivalry since teams wouldn't go all out.  Otherwise I'm fine with beating scUM twice!

RBuck's picture

Hate X 2. I can dig it.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

harleymanjax's picture

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

vitaminB's picture

I'm not worried about beating them twice.  Having a team with a dynamic offense finally makes me sleep better at night.  We could throw two totally different game plans at MeatChicken and be successful with both.

HighBallAce's picture

I don't really see the piss and blue making it to the championship but if they did, we would just smack them around like an ugly red headed step child.

BuckeyeSouth's picture

I saw the replay of the TTUN vs. SCar bowl game over the weekend and for scUM to win more than 8 games Gardner will need to become a better passer.  Don't get me wrong, he made some good throws but at other times his mechanics were just awful.  Not sure why all the pre-season hype he's getting.

Embrace it.