When Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer came along, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry was as down as it’d been in decades. Following en epic No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown in 2006, the Rich Rodriguez era high-jacked one of college football’s greatest rivalries.
The outcome of The Game was known long before the bitter rivals took the field during a three-year period, from 2008-2010. Then Hoke, an Ohio-born Michigan Man, arrived in Ann Arbor to resurrect the once mighty program.
Year 1 was a resounding success. The Wolverines won 11 games, beat the Buckeyes for the first time in eight years and capped the season with a thrilling overtime victory in the Sugar Bowl. But great expectations in Hoke’s second season ended almost before they began. An embarrassing 41-14 loss to Alabama in the opener gave way to an inconsistent 8-5 record and loss to Ohio State.
Meyer was hired two days after Michigan beat the Buckeyes in 2011. From that day on, they’ve beaten the Wolverines in nearly every facet – games, recruiting, etc. As the teams prepare for the next chapter in a non-fiction drama, the renewed 10-Year War many thought was on the horizon appears far-fetched.
Ohio State is riding a 23-game win streak, while Michigan, ranked as high as 11th in September, has won just seven games. The Wolverines are still recruiting at a high level, but questions about Hoke’s coaching ability are at an all-time high.
“People are going to have opinions, and I understand what they’re going to say,” Hoke said. “I would hope there would be higher expectations. This is Michigan.”
A loss to the hated Buckeyes followed by another bowl defeat could put Hoke on the hotseat entering the 2014 season. The 10-Year War could turn into the Three-Year Surrender.