Is Penn State A Buckeye Rival?

MarkC's picture
January 29, 2014 at 8:49a

Sports fans across the country can name the biggest rivalries.  Yankees-Red Sox in baseball.  Lakers-Celtics in basketball.  Pirates of the Caribbean versus The Fast and the Furious for Movie-Franchise-that-Should-Have-Ended-After-One-Film-But-Just-Keeps-Going.  But, what makes a rivalry?

Is it a long-running series of evenly matched games?  Certainly, that plays a part.  Wisconsin and Iowa played football every year since 1936, the year Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals, metaphorically flipping Hitler a much deserved bird.  (Every year, that is, except 2011-12, when Mark Rudner botched the schedules)  Over 87 games, Wisconsin leads 43-42-2.  While the historically evenly matched Iowa is certainly a rival, Wisconsin fans would tell you Paul Bunyan’s Axe foe Minnesota is their primary rival.

Rivalries can be based on proximity to one another.  This is often due to the fight over resources, from recruits to fan allegiance to donations from wealthy boosters/corporations in the area.  A major component of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is the importance of Ohio men (both players and coaches) to TSUN’s success.  Many would argue North Carolina-Duke is one of the top rivalries in college sports, due in part to the two schools being separated by a scant 9 miles.  Texas and Texas A&M dominated Thanksgiving days in Texas (along with their beloved Cowboys) for decades.  The allure of in-state rivalries is obvious, with fans of both teams living side-by-side.

I would argue two state flagship teams in neighboring states can provide a rivalry based on state pride in a way that trumps in-state rivalries like USC-UCLA and Florida-Florida State.  This is especially true in college athletics, where major schools represent entire states in a way few professional teams outside of Green Bay do.  As such, rivalries like Oklahoma-Texas, Kansas-Missouri, and Florida-Georgia strike a more personal chord in fans across multiple sports.  When Ohio State plays TSUN in any sport (especially football), you have the state of Ohio opposing the state of Michigan.

A major event between programs (be it cultural, prank-based, or within the competition) can often serve as a rallying point from which a rivalry is born.  Think the Scottish Premiership rivalry between the traditionally catholic Celtic club and protestant Rangers, aka: Old Firm.

“From the beginning, Celtic was identified with working-class, Irish Catholic immigrants. Rangers soon came to represent a contrasting (and depending on your viewpoint, reactionary) vision of a Scottish identity that was conservative, middle-class, and Protestant. Matches between the two were frequently interrupted by pitch invasions and fighting. In 1909, a Scottish Cup final contested by Rangers and Celtic had the distinction of hosting what historian David Goldblatt calls the first "full-scale football riot." (It was a doozy—fans lit the stands on fire, and when the fire brigades showed up, the crowd hurled stones at them.)”

Army and Navy have a tradition of stealing each other’s mascots.  In fact, Navy mascot Bill the Goat (hey, nobody accused the Navy of being creative) spent the 2012 Army-Navy game just chillin’ on a road in front of the Pentagon.

<Have you seen this goat?>

Any of those the three could form the basis for a rivalry, but I would say a history of teams competing for the same thing is generally the catalyst for the biggest rivalries in sports.  For the Cincinnati Reds, that was the Los Angeles (nee Brooklyn) Dodgers.  The two teams combined to win 18 NL pennants and 6 World Series before both were placed in the National League West.  From 1969-1993, the teams combined for 14 division championships and 5 World Series titles.  Eleven times the two would finish 1-2 in the NL West and the duo combined to win all but one division championship in the 1970s.  That rivalry ended in the strike-shortened season of 1994, when the teams were split by division realignment (although the Reds and Dodgers led their respective divisions at the time of the strike).  Once these two clubs were no longer competing for the same title, the rivalry fizzled.

The rivalry between the states of Ohio and Michigan began with the Toledo War in 1835.  However, the reason Ohio State and Michigan form the greatest rivalry in sports is due to a century of competing for Big Ten (and national) championships.

The question of whether Penn State is a rival of Ohio State’s has been raised by a few recent events: OSU’s hiring of beloved longtime Penn State assistant Larry Johnson, new Penn State coach James Franklin’s opening press conference and previous SEC experience similar to Urban Meyer, and Penn State selling tickets to the 2014 Ohio State game for the rivalry price of $200.

<The sight of LJ Sr in scarlet and gray boils the blood of Nittany Lions fans everywhere>

Prior to Penn State joining the Big Ten for football in 1993, Pittsburgh was the Nittany Lions’ unquestioned archrival.  The two played all but 3 seasons (1932-34) from 1900 until Penn State joined the Big Ten, nearly always to close the season.  Penn State won 50 games to 42 victories for Pittsburgh.  The game generally had national implications and was as relevant as any intrastate rivalry in the country.  But that rivalry was put to rest with Penn State’s admittance to the Big Ten.  Ohio State and Michigan State were installed as permanent conference matchups.  They have only played Pitt four times since, with another four game set coming up to close the decade.  Many (but far less than half) Penn State fans would still rank their rivalry with Pittsburgh at least on par with that of Ohio State.  Which leads to another question: can a school have more than one rival?

Most arguments against Penn State’s status as Ohio State’s rival seem to go something along the lines of, “Michigan is such a big rivalry we do not have time for another.”  Obviously, Ohio State and TSUN’s biggest rivalries are with each other.  There has been an HBO special about it and everything.  BTN made its first feature-length documentary, Tiebreaker, about the 1973 game.  One cannot measure other rivalries against that one because there is no other rivalry like that one.  State versus neighboring state in a multi-generational series of highly competitive games with championship implications in America’s most popular sport between schools who are central to the identities of two of the most powerful political states in the Union and had militias literally taking aim at one another 178 years ago?  Is it even possible to have another rival after everything that was just mentioned?

Well, Michigan considers Michigan State to be a significant rival.  Is Buckeye Country more obsessed with the Michigan rivalry than its Wolverine counterparts?  That sounds an awful lot like how some Buckeye fans make fun of Penn State fans for their one-sided rivalry with Ohio State.  It sounds like how Texas fans treated Nebraska toward the end of their stay in the Big XII.  If Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, USC, and Alabama have time for a second rival, so do the Buckeyes.  Are the matchups with Penn State as heated/intense/emotional/etc as the one with Michigan?  Of course not.  Perhaps nothing this side of Celtics v Rangers is.  Then again, what makes a rivalry?

Another viable argument against the existence of an OSU-PSU rivalry is the relatively small sample size.  It is true the teams have only met 29 times in football, as opposed to the 110 meetings between the Buckeyes and TSUN.  However, there is some impressive historical context to these matchups.

  <Actual pregame conversation between these two in 1975: Joe - “Woody, you look great.” Woody - “Well, what did you think I would look like?”>

Iconic coaches from both programs have squared off to produce some great games.  Woody Hayes faced Joe Paterno three times.  In Archie Griffin’s senior year (1975), #3 Ohio State took a 10-9 lead over #7 Penn State into the 4th quarter before Pete Johnson secured the 17-9 win with an 11 yard run.  The following season in State College, #2 Ohio State capitalized on a couple turnovers by #7 Penn State deep in Buckeye territory to pull out a 12-7 victory.  In 1978, #6 Ohio State’s offense struggled behind freshman QB Art Schlichter and #5 Penn State won 19-0 in Columbus.

Jim Tressel and Joe Paterno had a mini Ten Year War from 2001-2010.  Again, nothing compares to the actual Ten Year War between Woody and Bo in which the teams shared 6 Big Ten titles, each team won two other conference titles outright, neither team finished below 4th in the Big Ten, and Ohio State or TSUN attended every Rose Bowl between 1969 and 1978.  This was still a highly competitive series between coaches with career winning percentages* of 82.8% (Tressel) and 74.9% (Paterno).

* Winning percentages are pre-NCAA adjustments

Coach Tressel controlled the series, OSU 7 – PSU 3.  However, in Senator Tressel’s inaugural campaign, Penn State rallied from a 27-9 second half deficit behind freshman QB Zach Mills to win 29-27 for Joe Paterno’s 324th win (passing Bear Bryant).  In fact, all three of Penn State’s wins were significant.  OSU won Big Ten titles from 2005-2010.  But, in 2005, Penn State beat us to share the conference championship and finished the season ranked #3 by the AP while we finished #4.  Both teams won BCS bowls that season, Penn State over Florida State in the Orange Bowl and Ohio State over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.  In 2008, Pennsylvania native Terrelle Pryor’s freshman season at #10 Ohio State, Pryor fumbled on his own 38 yard line to set up #3 Penn State’s game winning TD in the 4th quarter.  The win gave the Nittany Lions a share of the conference title and the Rose Bowl bid.

<In all fairness, if he gets around that DE, Pryor pulls away for a game-clinching TD>

The #15 Buckeyes returned the favor the following November in State College as Pryor threw for 2 TDs and ran for another to knock off #11 Penn State.  Ohio State would go on to win the Rose Bowl as Big Ten champs while Penn State would have to settle for beating LSU in the Capital One Bowl as conference runners-up.

The first seven seasons Penn State was in the Big Ten (1993-1999), both teams were ranked at the time of the game, including matchups of AP top-7 teams from 1996-98.  Ohio State held a 4-3 advantage in those first seven matchups, with only Eddie George’s 1995 Buckeyes winning on the road.  The two teams played in the 1980 Fiesta Bowl, with Joe Paterno’s #10 Nittany Lions besting Earl Bruce’s #11 Buckeyes.  This past season, Ohio State delivered Penn State’s worst defeat (63-14) since the Duquesne Athletic Club beat the Nittany Lions 64-5 on 25 November 1899.  In Penn State’s second season in the Big Ten, they gave Ohio State our worst defeat (also 63-14) since an 86-0 loss at TSUN on 25 October 1902.

 <A sight any Buckeye fan who experienced the 1994 matchup can appreciate.>

Some people mention Wisconsin as Ohio State’s secondary rival.  Seriously, Wisconsin?  Based on what information is Wisconsin our rival?  They almost never beat us (Buckeyes are 55-18-5 vs them all time), are not nationally prominent nor historically relevant.  They are not geographically close and we don’t often compete for the same recruits.  Aside of the past four years, we don’t compete with them for conference titles.

Wisconsin has beaten us once in the last 9 years.  You know who else has beaten us as many times in the last decade?  Illinois.  Know who has beaten us more?  Penn State (3), Michigan State (2), and Purdue (2). 

We have beaten Wisconsin three times in a row now, and 6 of the last 7.  Do you know when Wisconsin last beat Ohio State three times in a row?  Here’s a hint: it was the first three times we played (1913-15).  Indecently, the 1910’s was the last (and only) decade in which Wisconsin had a winning record against Ohio State (4-3).  There has never been a stretch of ten straight games in which Wisconsin has a winning record against us.  We have a better all-time winning percentage against Wisconsin than we do against Illinois or Purdue.  We won every single game between 1960 and 1980.

Do we really consider Wisconsin to be our second rival?  They don’t consider us their first (Minnesota) or even second (Iowa) rival.

 < #Karma #FAT >

Simply put, Wisconsin does not meet any of the criteria for a rival any more than Purdue does.  They are not good enough for a competitive rivalry.  They do not border Ohio and there has been no cultural event to spark a rivalry.  The closest thing to a catalyst for a rivalry is our fanbase’s hatred of Arkansas’ current football coach.

When Penn State joined the Big Ten, the conference assigned two permanent opponents to each school.  Rivals Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin would play every year.  Indiana would play Purdue and Illinois.  Ohio State would clearly play Michigan.  We would also play Penn State.  What makes an attractive rivalry?

You have two national powers in adjoining states.  Both have multiple iconic coaches and multiple national championships.  The schools compete directly for recruits due to overlapping footprints.  The Big 33 game was a high school all-star game between Ohio and Pennsylvania between 1972-76 and 1994-2012.  From Ki-Jana Carter to Curtis Enis to Mike Zordich, Penn State has a history of nabbing big time players from Ohio.  Ohio State has picked up ten 4-star and 5-star recruits from Pennsylvania since Rivals began tracking classes in 2002, including Pryor, Noah Spence, Rory Nicol, and both Corey Browns.  Ohio State and Penn State play in enormous stadiums in front of the second and third largest average attendances in the country (arithmetic mean of 2009-12), respectively.

This is a rivalry that can stretch across the entire athletic department.  Penn State finished sixth in the 2012-13 Learfield Directors’ Cup standings, an event in which points are given for a school’s success in every sport.  Ohio State has been the Big Ten standard bearer in the competition, finishing as high as second in 2010-11.  But over the past five years, Penn State has the 14th best average score, trailing only the Buckeyes (#5) and Wolverines (#11) in the Big Ten.  So far this year, Penn State is tied for 6th after yet another national championship in volleyball.  We are tied for 69th, scoring points only in football and women’s soccer.

As Hodge pointed out on 22 Oct 2013, “Penn State is our Sparty”.  They do not rise to the level of our biggest rival, but then again our biggest rivalry is the biggest in all of sports.  It doesn’t have to rise to that level to be a good rivalry.  They have finished the season ranked in the AP top-10 six times since joining the conference.  They are one of the top 15 all-time college football programs in the country and are well positioned to be nationally relevant in the future.  Unlike Wisconsin, Iowa, and Purdue, this is a program with the resources and history to compete on nearly equal footing with our Buckeyes.  Penn State is a great option for a secondary rivalry, much better than most schools have.  Penn State is A rival.  Just not THE rival.

School Primary Rival Secondary Rival
Texas Oklahoma Texas A&M
Oklahoma Texas Nebraska
USC Notre Dame UCLA
Florida Georgia Florida State
Alabama Auburn LSU
Wisconsin Minnesota Iowa
Michigan Ohio State Michigan State
Notre Dame USC Michigan State
Ohio State Michigan Penn State

*A quick sampling of some major college football programs with more than one rival.  While some may debate the placement of a few of these rivals as Primary or Secondary, the point is most major colleges have more than one relevant rival.

Comments Show All Comments

Joebobb's picture

I consider PSU a rival below TTUN of course. OSU, TTUN, PSU and NEB have the most history  and tradition of all the schools in the BIG, they rival OSU in facilities. They consider themselves one of the Alpha Dogs. OSU competes with them for the same recruits. Of course they are a rival.
Proximity is an issue of course, and their sanctions have hurt things recently, but i rank OSU's rivals in order of importance as
1) TTUN - because they are TTUN - nuff said
2) Because they compete directly against OSU for recruits, they are a border state, and they have a great tradition
3) WI - Becasue of Bert's history and that they have been a thorn in the side of OSU for the last 10 years.
4) MSU Because they are the top team in the BIG now and are a border state to OSU.
5) NEB - Because of tradition and their history and newcomer status. They run a program on par with OSU so of course we want to beat them.
The rest of the BIG programs are just a step behind these schools so they do not relegate themselves to true rival status.

BoFuquel's picture

If they are on Our schedule. They are a rival. Every game matters, just win'em all. Undefeated is the only acceptable record. National Champions or bust. You must punish all who would stand before You, not just a chosen few. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

BuckToAsT's picture

I don't buy that whole "Buckeye Country more obsessed with the Michigan rivalry than its Wolverine counterparts" crap.  That was unheard of until Jim Tressel came along and whipped his @$$ with M*chigan tears.  Just look at what the TTUN players Tweet about next year's OSU game.  Just look at the way TTUN players, coaches, and fans refuse to call us by our correct name.  Just look at the way players react on the field--and before the game (on the sidelines, tunnels, etc.)  Have we been more excited about the rivalry in past few years? Sure, but that's because beating M*chigan has pretty much become the norm.  By the way, I'm 100% fine with that.
Penn state is a rival of Ohio State; however, I wouldn't say they are our secondary rival.  I understand your point about rivalries normally arising out of in-state competition or neighboring state battles.  But sometimes rivalries arise out of pure hatred.  And that's why I think Wiscy is our secondary rival.  Not only did I have to experience TWO loses to Wiscy while I was in undergrad, but they also ruined our 2010 campaign--which would have sent us to the NCG.  Then there is Bert, who adds another layer to the equation.  Look, I really get your point, but there is something about playing Wiscy that gets me really excited and riled up.  I also get that feeling when we play TTUN.  I don't, however, get that feeling when we play PSU. 
Also, I know that us not considering PSU a rival really pisses PSU fans off.  For that reason alone, I say:  No.  Penn State is not our rival. 

MarkC's picture

First, I 100% agree the state to our north is absolutely as fired up about the OSU-TSUN rivalry. Which is why I don't buy the "that team is such a big rival we can't have any other," argument.
Regarding your hatred of and corresponding excitement in playing Wisconsin, I get it. Certain teams tweak people in different ways, and if a particularly sour experience with Wisconsin raises the stakes in that series for you, enjoy the wins. The 2010 loss did sting. And Bert was easy to hate. But, to me, he only beat us that one time. In fact, it has been a decade since they were a thorn in our side. We almost always beat them, both recently (6 out of last 7) and historically (56-18-5).
I can respect your last point, as well. I was steaming when Gary Moeller said Michigan State was a bigger rival than Ohio State. Heard a few fellow Buckeye fans joking this past season our real rival is Alabama instead of TSUN.

BuckToAsT's picture

Agreed.  I also consider Alabama one of our main rivals--in recruiting.  

kholmes's picture

I think the Michigan/OSU rivalry is more important to OSU but its just a function of demographics and doesnt mean that one school doesnt view the other as important. Key reasons for that are:
1) Students - Michigan has a much higher proportion of out of state students and international students that didnt grow up on the rivalry so have no sense of it when they arrive. This explains some of the apathy of Michigan students towards football at times.
2) Players - Let's be honest..Ohio has much more high school talent than Michigan. As a result, OSU roster has more Ohio players on it than Michigan has State of Michigan players on it. Again, this means more on OSU have grown up familiar with the rivalry. Also, Michigan has more players from Ohio (than vice versa) on their team so these kids could be those who grew up liking OSU and dont have a life long hatred of them.
3) MSU presence - The areas around Univ of Michigan are not devoted to Michigan given the close proximity of a second large Big Ten team. Where I grew up around 30 mins from Ann Arbor, there was a pretty even split of MSU fans and UM fans. The result is alot of the players from Michigan on the Michigan team may have grown up just as much a fan of MSU so they never had a huge appreciation of the rivalry. Plus there was never a unified hatred of OSU in the community even in the week of the game since alot of people around you were MSU fans hoping OSU would beat Michigan.
Those that grew up Michigan fans probably treat rivalry just as important but for some of these demographic reasons I think OSU fans / students / players treat the game as more important.

buckskin's picture

#4. When a team gets dominated for the last 13 years in a rivalry, fans hide by saying the rivalry is not as important.

kholmes's picture

You misread the intention of my wasnt supposed to be a put down of OSU but really was stating that OSU has more serious fans that appreciate the history of the rivalry. I probably could have worded things better. If you see my other post below, I think I words things better there at the end. The lifelong fans view the rivalry as just as important but due to the demographics it is fair to say the students view it as less important since about 49% are out of state/international while same number at OSU is closer to 24% (24% at Columbus campus - in below post I had 21% but that was for all OSU campuses so not relevant) . Its probably better to state that there are a higher % of serious fans for OSU than there are for Michigan and so more OSU fans have an appreciation of the rivalry.

stubbzzz's picture

I get your point but i don't know.  because our losing streak during the Cooper years just made the hatred burn deeper every year for me.  We were almost always the better team, and then they would beat us.  I felt like I was taking crazy pills.  Point is, the losing streak made me care even more about beating them.

buckskin's picture

#4. When a team gets dominated for the last 13 years in a rivalry, fans hide by saying the rivalry is not as important.

BuckToAsT's picture

"Michigan has a much higher proportion of out of state students and international students . . ."
Really?  35% of OSU students are either out-of-state or international students.  That number for scUM is 41%
Not that much of a difference, if you ask me.

kholmes's picture

Your % seem incorrect to me and are do not agree with your links provided in your post. Based solely on the links you provided,
-OSU has 63,964 students. Ohioans make up 50,258 and non-Ohioans make up 13,706.
So OSU only has 21.4% for out of state or international. I think part of your confusion may be that the foreign students line are a part of the non-Ohioans line and not a separate number. This can be confirmed by the fact that the Ohioans and non-Ohioans numbers add up to the total number of students.
-Michigan has 43,710 students. In state students make up 21,947 of them. 37,651 is the total from all states (so out of state alone is 15,704). Foreign makes up additional 6,059.
So Michigan has 49.8% of students that are out of state or international.
Based on your links, OSU has 21.4% and Michigan has 49.8% of out of state or international students so this is a material difference of people not necessarily connected to rivalry.
I probably could have worded my initial post better:
1) the lifelong Michigan fans view the rivalry just as important as Oho State fans.
2) The students at Michigan view it as less important since so many grew up in other places.
3) The overall state of Ohio and areas around Columbus view it as more important since in Michigan so many are MSU fans that hate Michigan to begin with. 

Jeeves's picture

Recent matriculation numbers for OSU and U of M freshmen respectively: 75% in state vs. 60% in state. I think that number may be a better indicator of determining relative enthusiasm instead of adding post graduate students to the mix.

kholmes's picture

Fair point...undergrads probably make up the bulk of students at the games so the most relevant number probably is somewhat a combination of the undergrad number (40% out of state/intl for UM) and the total number (49.8%). The total number can explain some of the general apathy on the UM campus as there is a larger percentage of grad students at UM vs OSU (based on those links, grad students are 35% of total student at Michigan while 23% at OSU-Columbus).

Joebobb's picture

Kholmes, I agree with you. Even if you look at the % of students from out of state. I would tend to believe that more of the out of state students at Michigan come from New York, Cali, and other regions of the country whereas more out of state students at OSU come from bordering states. The students in bordering states are more likely to be familiar with the rivalry than those from the coasts.
My best friend did his undergrad at OSU and grad school at scUM and had a similar take.

BuckToAsT's picture

Sorry--to clarify, I only used Columbus-campus numbers.
I know this is probably offensive, but I only count the Columbus campus as tOSU.  All the others are tOSU-something

kholmes's picture

With the Columbus campus only, the out of state/international is 23.8% (13,677 non-Ohioans out of toal of 57,466). I agree that Columbus is relevant for this purpose and I mistakenly used all campus but this still is not the 35% stated initially
The correct comparison (just using Columbus and Ann Arbor campuses) would then be 23.8% for Columbus and 49.8% for Ann Arbor (for all students including grad).
JoeBobb - You are right. Using those same links, the 4 states (excluding MI obviously) with the most students at Michigan are California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.

BuckToAsT's picture

FWIW--the 35% I cited also included foreigners. 
If my math is still wrong, my bad.  I apologize.  There is only so much I could do while at work...

kholmes's picture

The foreigners were included in the non-Ohioans number already so they were doublecounted in your original numbers. The table was a bit confusing so I can see why you made the problem.

teddyballgame's picture

I don't know that I buy the notion that "it's more important to osu fans", but you're probably right that Ohio is more unified in supporting OSU against Michigan than the state of Michigan is against OSU.

skid21's picture

Exactly what proof is there that OSU cares more about the rivalry? I've heard this before but my personal experience doesn't support this. I'd like to see someone actually show this to be true before rattling off reasons why it is. I simply do not believe it at all.
In regard to PSU being a rival. I tend to base who I see as a rival as much on their fanbase as I do on the actual games. Take for example TTUN fans who are too cool, sophisticated, superior, etc. to care as much about the rivalry as OSU fans (again, simply not true from my experience). PSU and Wisconsin fans are equally annoying in my book. I don't like either one. I think I'd give Wisconsin the upper hand simply because they've been better in football and basketball.

kholmes's picture

Of course, there is no real proof. My intention was not to say UM fans are cooler or whatever you are saying. You are implying that the fans who think its less of a rivalry win some contest or something. Thats not what i was saying and doesnt even make sense to me. I guess in the end the only statements that make sense from my posts are: its a bigger deal to the state of ohio since there are so many MSU fans around metro Detroit and rest of Michigan. Also its a bigger deal to OSU students overall since much higher percentage are in state. The Michigan students from NY and California (which are the two highest other states) did not grow up caring about OSU/Um as much as in state kids. Even this year, everyone on this board was laughing at UM student section not being full yet right before gametime of the OSU game saying there is no way that would happen at OSU. I think that is reflective of a more apathetic attitude at Michigan because a larger percentage of kids did not grow up fans of the rivalry. 

bbb's picture

You can't make them not our rival simply by stating they aren't

Jack_Q_Football's picture

I think MSU is taking over as a bigger rival than ever before, and in both sports.

BuckToAsT's picture

I agree with this statement.  I think next year's game at MSU will be bigger than our game at PSU.  Though Wiscy, in my mind, is our #2 rival, that will likely change with the new divisions.  MSU and OSU are both in the East division, which means we will face off every year.  The recruiting battles with MSU will only add to that fire.  Wiscy will be in the West division, so I think our rivalry with them will cool off a bit.  Maybe it'll pick back up if we constantly face them in the B1G CG.

Hovenaut's picture

Spent some time in Pennsylvania in my younger years - I've come to consider them a rival. But with nowhere near the vitriol their fans seem to regard Ohio State.
That said, their place on my focus list fluctuates. M...igan has, and always will, held down the top spot without question.
Beyond that, MSU holds the number two spot on my list atm......recent history.
After that, I have 'sconsin. I like Gary Andersen, but Alvarez and Bert put that program on my list to stay.
I'll put PSU here - they're going to be hyped up when the Buckeyes travel to State College this fall. I don't expect 63-14 again (though that'd be cool), but I think a good portion of their fanbase is delusional. Plus they've treated Ohio State fans like dirt (putting it very mildly) in State College seemingly since the Nits joined the conference in '93. 
I think things may cool slightly - the addition of Rutgers and former rival Maryland brings some geographical wiggle room in picking their rivals.

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Face it Penn State, We're just not that into you.

CarolinaBuck's picture

I felt that Wisconsin was just a couple notch's below Michigan for several years now as far as a rival. Penn State was below them, but since we fucked up and added something called Rutgers and Maryland, we'll only play Wisconsin once or twice a decade now. So much for that rivalry. I wish Penn State could become a rival, but they seem to be stuck in "it's a big game and nothing more than that" mode. Maybe because Penn State fans are simply to whiny. If you read their boards, here are some of their favorite topics. They hate the B1G. They're a east coast school stuck in a midwest conference and want to move to the ACC. The B1G threw them under the bus during the Sandusky affair. The B1G favors Ohio State and Michigan and everyone else be damned. The refs give them the shaft in big games, etc.... I expect Michigan to be arrogant, elitist snobs. I can deal with that. What I can't deal with is a bunch of thumbsucking whiners like Penn State.

CptBuckeye24's picture

I unfortunately spent too much time in PA and Penn st is definitely a rival. They treat us as one and its a huge game every year for them. They hate us and for some, we are their biggest rival.

Wisconsin is a rivalry in the making. Tressel went 4-4 to wisconsin, they were the only team osu truly struggled with. I hate them, I hate that jump around thing they do. From a competitive standpoint, minnesota is awful and my Wisky friend, who is an alum, always says OSU is their biggest game of the year. They love being the thorn in our side and the feisty games.

MarkC's picture

Yeah, the Vest was 4-4, regrettably. The 2001 game was before the machine was rolling and the 2004 game came in Tressel's only rebuilding year. I'll never forget watching the 2003 game at a party and seeing Gamble bite on that ridiculous double move in the 4th quarter. Winning the next three matchups 89-47 (2007-09) cooled the hatred though.

RBuck's picture

Penn State is a their mindset.

Long live the southend.

steveoz49's picture

Whoever the Buckeyes play on gameday is our rival.

Riggins's picture

B1G opponents are tiered for me.
Tier 1 - Michigan
Tier 2 - Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan State
Tier 3 - Nebraska (Tier 2 soon), Illinois
Tier 4 - Iowa, Indiana
Tier 5 - Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue
TBD - Maryland, Rutgers
If OSU could play Michigan, PSU, MSU, WISC, NEB, and ILL every year then rotate 3 other games for a 9 game conference schedule, I'd be very happy. 


As of the last 14 years, I agree with your ranking for the most part.  In any given year, with all the marbles on the line, those on your Tier 2 list tend to be legitimate threats to having an undefeated season and/or winning the B1G (regular season at least) - and before 2000, I would throw Illinois into that mix, too, but not in the more recent years.
The only change I would make is to move Northwestern to Tier 4 based on their more recent performances against us with the talent they have... if Pat Fitzgerald should ever get some more legit talent, they could be easily be on par with Iowa. 

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

Joebobb's picture

I would move Neb to Tier 2 because they still are a good, not great program. I understand with IL in tier 3 because they often give the Buckeyes fits. I would move Indiana down a notch to Purdue's level. Purdue has been a better opponent than IU over the last 20 years. OSU has not lost to IU but has lost 3 times to Purude since 2000

bbb's picture

I agree with this, except I'd switch Iowa out for Illinois. Do you not remember this? Ohio State earns Big Ten title with overtime defeat of Iowa

GoBucks713's picture

Dawson says no, and I tend to agree. I would consider Wisky and even Sparty more of a rival than Penn State.

-The Aristocrats!

sb97's picture

I consider PSU our second rival and I suspect it is just going to be more and more heated.  BoB did a great job of keeping that program together for the past couple of years and with Franklin's recruiting energy and the lessening of the sanctions I do expect PSU to be challenging us very soon. 
MSU and Wisconsin's programs are in better shape right now but I still feel more fan base heat/animosity/etc with PSU.

Yamosu's picture

If this rivalry was based on annoying disillusional fans, then I'd place Penn State as number 1.  Since its based on history, competitiveness, quality of opponent and mutual respect/history, then I'd have to put them behind Michigan, Wisconsin and MSU.
PSU has 3, 10 win seasons since 2000 (1 less than Iowa) while Ohio State has 10.  So they just have not been a great team.
Ohio State is 9-3 in the last 12 games, so they have not been competitive.
When I think about most painful losses, I can think of 3 right off the top of my head with MSU (3 undefeated seasons ended at the hands of these guys without looking it up), 2 for wisconsin (broke our record winning streak and while we were undefeated) and none really for Penn State.
We have only played each other 28 times, which is not really that much for a major rival.
I like beating them because their fans suck, but from a football perspective, not one of the most important games of the season.

Joebobb's picture

You want your rivals to be schools who push you and who you want to emulate (to a certain extent) TTUN has the 2nd highest winning %, PSU has national championships, NEB has National championships. This is why i consider them the best rivalries. WI is on the list because they have been to a lot of Rose Bowls lately. These are things OSU aspires to be.
MSU is good but they are a recent phenomenon. That is why I place them #5 but they could move up the list. However, over the last 10 years, Penn State has won against OSU much more than MSU has.
This is also why I dont say Purdue or Illinois or Iowa qualify as a rival. They may have a decent year or two every so often but they dont move the needle. Just because they beat OSU once every decade is not rival material to me.  

allbucksallthetime's picture

The word 'rival' is more about semantics than anything.  By definition, a 'rival' is either a person or thing that tries to defeat or be more successful than another, so it's easy to say that every team on the schedule is a 'rival' when examined under that lens.  
Rival is also defined as something or someone that is as good or almost as good as another person or thing.  To determine that, are you looking from a historical perspective or more recent?
In terms of historical match-ups, scUM is clearly a rival because of both on the field competition and in recruitment of student-athletes over time.  Being able to recruit Ohio products to play for TTUN and our staff now doing their best to bring 'northerners' to tOSU has certainly added fuel to the fire we call 'The Game.'.
No other school, from a historical perspective, is really what you might call a rival, IMO.  Though I do not have records right in front of me nor plan to look them up, our Buckeyes defeated Wisconsin something like 62 of the first 65 times games were played against one another.  It wasn't until Barry Alvarez got there close to 25 years ago that things changed.  Bert, being Bert, added some flavor to the games but he only defeated tOSU once.
As for MSU, I just don't see enough historical match-ups or recruiting battles to really consider Sparty a traditional rival though see this one evolving.  Yes, there have been some memorable, or not so memorable, games between our schools (MSU in 1998 immediately comes to mind) but not many historically speaking.  Coach Dantonio, being from Ohio and on the 2002 National Championship team, has certainly brought MSU more into the discussion of a rival with Sparty's win this year and the battle for Jamarco Jones.
With no disrespect to PSU, I just don't see them as a true 'rival' based on games played over time nor have I seen many epic recruiting battles.  PSU has been very good historically and the games played against OSU since joining the B1G have, for the most part, been highly competitive.  My age may have something to do with seeing PSU as I do, as the first 3 games were played in the 1970's as I was closing in on 20.  I never had an attachment or any true emotion to this game.   
I was taught to respect all opponents but know from both playing and coaching that only certain teams can get the blood flowing.  For this Buckeye, scUM is the only one right now that meets that standard, with MSU now in the discussion.  Go Bucks!

bleedscarlet's picture

This would be an interesting question to pose to players. For me PSU is only a rival if I absolutely have to pick a secondary, otherwise it's the same as most other B1G games. I doubt they consider us their second biggest rival either. They seems to see Pitt as their #1 and UM as their #2, at least that's what I've taken from conversations I've had. Our infatuation with beating the dastardly sec seems to be our #2.....

Slingin' swag since 1970


TimmyZ's picture

Do they play Pitt in football every year??  I would think you'd have to play a team on essentially a yearly basis to be considered a rival, not just proximity.

Nick's picture

Nope not a rival at all. We play them because they are in our conference and now division but that's it. They mad, I'm not. We only have one rival and that's how it will always be.

AngryWoody's picture

Do I think Penn State is a rival?
Well...maybe, but I'd never tell them that!
Also, thanks Remy for everything you do. You always contribute great stuff to the site and I really enjoy it.

Our Honor Defend!

TimmyZ's picture

I think the Fast and the Furious franchise has come to a screeching halt.........
too soon???

BuckeyeVet's picture

PSU a rivalry? No. I neither love nor hate PSU, I'm just indifferent to them. Do I want to beat them every year? Yes. Do I hate to lose to them? Yes. But I also feel that way about Purdue. I see our only natural rival as UM.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

InvertMyVeer's picture

Enjoyed this post, good read. As for Wiscy they had that stretch where they knocked off our top-ranked football and basketball teams back to back in 2010-2011. They may not have a lot of historical success against us but it went a long way (for me at least) in terms of hatred for the Badgers. PSU is solidly behind MSU and Wiscy for secondary rivals IMO.

Football is complicated...

NW Buckeye's picture

PSU a major rival?  Not in my eyes.  Just another B1G opponent, but they do have a large fan base.  As for the ticket price of the OSU game at PSU, any program with multi tiered pricing is going to get top dollar for their game when OSU comes to their stadium.  Does not matter if we are their "rival" or not. 
I view MSU as our second most natural rival - I don't give a damn for the whole state of M*chigan.  And, then Wisconsin.  PSU falls more in line with Iowa and Purdue.  However, because of their large fan base the price for our games will always be a premium in a tiered pricing scheme. 

BigKat45's picture

I'm on my phone, and I don't have patience for all the typing I would have to do, but wow. Just, wow.

"Well-prepared players make plays. I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn't win.” - Urban

dwcbuckeye's picture

Unfortunately, apparently in basketball -only

Go1Bucks's picture

Ive been along time fan of PSU when they were independent, and those games were looked on as rivalry when played, just like ND. Someone to squash. So even when they joined the Big10, I was still a fan except when they played OSU.  Always good games so I think that we can consider them a rival... In football. for last nights fiasco, no comment.

Go Bucks!

BamaBuckeye144's picture

Nope. TTUN, then Wisconsin.
Fark you, Beliema and Fark you, Bo Ryan.
Yes, I know Beliema isn't there any more. But fark him. Fat whiner.


stubbzzz's picture

Yes Penn State is a rival.  we are lucky enough to be one half of the greatest rivalry in all of sports, with TTUN.  But we can't hold every rivalry to those ridiculously high standards.  No one else in the country does.  So no, Penn State is not on the same level as TTUN, but they're definitely a rivalry.  More like how SEC teams are all "Rivals" with each other.  Think Florida vs Georgia, Alabama vs LSU, or Tennessee vs Florida.  OSU vs Penn St is certainly on par with those  "rivalries".

Nick_Satan's picture

I just like to tell psu fans that they are not a rival and watch them freak the F out its just funny every time.