Ranking Ohio State's Top Five Wins Over Michigan Since 1970

By Michael Citro on July 20, 2014 at 8:00a
Scoreboard, Michigan. #deuces

Our long, dark crawl through the college football off-season continues. Nary a football will be booted in a Buckeye game for more than 40 more days.

As much as we look forward to the Aug. 30 kickoff against Navy, it’s still more than a month away. So instead, we’ll look backward.

And there’s nothing better to look backward at than the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Summer is a great time to break out DVDs of Michigan games past and BTN obliges with some classic games as well. Just the other day I was watching the 1984 version—the first I saw in person—a 21-6 victory that sealed a date with USC in the Rose Bowl.

That was not a banner year for the Wolverines, who finished 6-6 (5-4 in the Big Ten). But it was a fun game for me and it got me thinking about my favorite wins over That Team Up North. After much consideration, I have brought those five home for your perusal here in this very column.

These are my considerations for the best Ohio State wins in The Game since 1970. Many of them had Rose Bowl or national championship implications. Most of them figured in the Big Ten race. All were memorable for one reason or another.

Here we go.

5) 1987 - Ohio State 23, Michigan 20 (Ann Arbor)

It was a terrible season and Earle Bruce had already been dismissed as head football coach. The Game in Ann Arbor would be his final act as the man in charge. The Buckeyes were 5-4-1 and looking to avoid a .500 season and a losing Big Ten record. Michigan was 7-3 with two conference losses, including one at Indiana (seriously!). This game didn’t have the most at stake, but the Buckeyes wanted to win this for Bruce. They even busted out white headbands with “EARLE” written on them.

Despite the emotion, Michigan broke out in front 13-0 early on a Jamie Morris touchdown run and a pair of Mike Gillette field goals. The defense started to turn the tide with a forced fumble that Tom Tupa converted with a short TD pass to Everett Ross to pull within six points at the half.

The Buckeyes stopped Michigan to start the second half and stunned the Michigan Stadium crowd with a short pass from Tupa to Carlos Snow that the nifty running back turned into a 70-yard score. Ohio State led 14-13. After David Brown picked off Wolverines quarterback Demetrius Brown (no relation) and returned it to the 19, the Buckeyes scored on a Tupa keeper but missed the extra point.

Snow’s fumble led to a tying touchdown and the teams entered the fourth tied at 20. A 77-yard drive capped by Matt Frantz’s 26-yard field goal provided the go-ahead score and a Leroy Hoard fumble ended Michigan’s hopes.

Earle was carried off the field in celebration and a younger version of me sprinted out to the block M at midfield, briefly contemplated relieving himself on it, and then regained his sense and simply danced a jig. Bruce went out a winner with a 6-4-1 mark on the season as Ohio State decided not to accept a bowl invitation in the aftermath of firing its coach. Michigan took out its frustration on Alabama, 28-24 in the Hall of Fame Bowl to finish 8-4 (5-3).

4) 1979 - Ohio State 18, Michigan 15 (Ann ARbor)

The other end of the Earle Bruce era spectrum took place in 1979. In Earle’s first time as head coach in The Game, his Buckeyes were 10-0, ranked second in the country, and in search of the national championship. No. 13 Michigan was 8-2 (6-1) and looking for a share of the conference title.

Ohio State scored first on a short Vlade Janakievski field goal, set up by two nice runs by backup tailback Jimmy Gayle. Michigan threatened to take the lead, but the Buckeye defense came up with a goal line stand to preserve their slim advantage. It was temporary though, as John Wangler’s 59-yard bomb to Anthony Carter gave the bad guys a 7-3 edge late in the first half. Janakievski added another short field goal just before the break to make it 7-6.

Art Schlichter found Chuck Hunter early in the second half to make it 12-7, but the two-point try failed. Fullback Roosevelt Smith restored Michigan’s lead with a 1-yard dive and added a two-point conversion to make it 15-12 late in the third quarter. An OSU scoring chance died at the Michigan 10 on a Gayle fumble, but the Buckeyes broke through and blocked a punt later and Todd Bell ran it in. The two-point try failed again and Ohio State had its final margin of victory.

A more comprehensive look at this game and the build-up to it is available here. The Buckeyes went on to a heartbreaking 17-16 loss to USC in the Rose Bowl to finish 11-1. The Wolverines lost 17-15 to North Carolina in the Gator Bowl to finish 8-4.

3) 1975 - Ohio State 21, Michigan 14 (Ann ARbor)

The 10-0 Buckeyes squared off against 8-0-2 Michigan. Both the Wolverines’ ties were in non-conference play, so this game was for the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth. There was more at stake for Ohio State, but the game was on the road against a determined opponent.

The Buckeyes led early on Cornelius Greene’s wobbly six-yard touchdown pass to fullback Pete Johnson. But Michigan’s defense took over after that, making life miserable for Ohio State’s offense. The teams traded turnovers for a while before Gordon Bell found Jim Smith on a halfback pass to tie the score at 7 before the half. Archie Griffin fumbled the ensuing kickoff but Michigan missed a field goal try before the break.

"Archie's Little Brother" came up big in 1975.

The Wolverines went ahead 14-7 on a Rick Leach 1-yard quarterback keeper midway through the fourth quarter. Things looked bleak the way Ohio State’s offense had been stymied, but the Buckeye offense, held without a first down since the second quarter, roared to life.  Johnson dove in from a yard out on fourth down to cap an 80-yard, game-tying drive with 3:18 to play.  

Just when it looked like a tie was probable, Michigan opened up the offense on its next possession. But the Buckeyes were waiting. Ray Griffin intercepted Leach’s third-and-long pass and returned it to the 3-yard line. Johnson powered it in for his third score of the game with just over two minutes remaining. Hopalong Cassady’s son Craig intercepted Leach to seal the win.

Coming from behind with two touchdowns in the last three and a half minutes was a fantastic gut punch for Bo Schembechler’s Wolverines.

Ohio State went on to a 23-10 loss in the Rose Bowl against UCLA, which avenged its regular-season loss to the Buckeyes in Los Angeles. The Buckeyes finished 11-1 (8-0). Michigan lost to Oklahoma 14-6 in the Orange Bowl to finish 8-2-2 (7-1).

2) 2002 - Ohio State 14, Michigan 9 (Columbus)

We all still remember the wild ride of 2002. The narrow wins over Cincinnati, Wisconsin and Penn State were just tense preambles to the trip to West Lafayette and the season-saving “Holy Buckeye” play. Next came an overtime squeaker over Illinois on the road and suddenly the 12-0 Buckeyes were a win from a showdown for the national championship. Michigan was 9-2 but was still nominally in the conference title chase—plus the Wolverines wanted to destroy Ohio State’s dreams.

Brent Musburger was screaming into his microphone before the game even began.

Michigan struck first after Ohio State went three-and-out on its first possession. The Wolverines connected on Adam Finley’s 36-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. The Buckeyes answered right away, with Maurice Clarett finishing a nice drive—which included a 29-yard scamper by “the difference maker”—to make it 7-3.

John Navarre led Michigan back down the field on the ensuing drive, but the defense held and Finley added a 35-yarder to trim the lead to a single point early in the second period. The next OSU drive stalled and Andy Groom pinned Michigan inside its 10-yard line. But Navarre drove his team down the field and his jump ball found Braylon Edwards in the end zone with a minute left before halftime, giving Michigan a 13-7 lead.

NOPE! Edwards was flagged for obviously pushing off Chris Gamble and Michigan had to settle for a 22-yard Finley field goal and a 9-7 halftime edge.

The game remained that way through the third quarter and deep into the fourth. Ohio State trailed late once again with a championship season on the line. But Craig Krenzel hit Clarett with a 25-yard pass to set up a weak-side option pitch to Maurice Hall’s go-ahead touchdown. It was 14-9 with under five minutes to play. Michigan moved the ball on its next possession but Navarre fumbled on a sack in OSU territory and Will Smith recovered to thwart the drive. The Wolverine defense held and got Navarre the ball back for one last gasp. A series of quick passes gave them life at the OSU 25, but Will Allen extinguished that life with an interception on the final play.

The 13-0 (8-0) Buckeyes went on to beat Miami in the desert to win the national championship, while Michigan finished 10-3 (6-2) after defeating Florida 38-30 in the Outback Bowl.

1) 2006 - Ohio State 42, Michigan 39 (Columbus)

They named it “The Game of the Century.” Ohio State was ranked first in the country. Michigan was No. 2 and all that stood in the way between the Buckeyes and a shot at a national championship. The stakes could not be higher. And on top of all of that it was Senior Day. Troy Smith would cap a Heisman Trophy career with his final game in the Horseshoe.

Chad Henne led the Wolverines on a game-opening, 80-yard touchdown drive, punctuated by Mike Hart’s 1-yard run. Smith countered with a strike to Roy Hall on the next drive. Ohio State took control with a 21-7 second quarter. Beanie Wells busted a long TD run and Smith hit Ted Ginn for a 39-yard score. Henne threw a touchdown pass to Adrian Arrington with a couple minutes left in the half, but Smith was masterful in the two-minute offense and added a strike to Anthony Gonzalez before the break.

Michigan cut the lead to 28-24 in the third before Antonio Pittman carved the Wolverine defense for a 56-yard scoring run. Hart’s 4-yard run again trimmed the lead to four points after Doug Datish’s bad snap turned the ball over at the OSU 9-yard line. Smith found Brian Robiskie for an insurance touchdown, which turned out to be needed. Henne found Tyler Ecker for a 16-yard score and added a two-point pass to Steve Breaston. Ginn fell on the onside kick, Pittman ran for a first down, and the game was over.

Smith earned his third straight win over Michigan and Henne and Hart lost the third of their four straight defeats in The Game. The Buckeyes went on to the National Championship Game where I’m sure they went on to win big over Florida, although right now I can’t recall any of the details of that game for some reason. Want to see it again? Here you go:

Those are the five iterations of The Game in the modern era that stand out to me. What are your five?


Comments Show All Comments

buckeyepastor's picture

All 5 of these were great choices.   However, 2001 was so iconic, so prophecy fulfilling, so soul purging after suffering so long under Cooper.   I guess I would put it at #6.  As for #1, no question about it. 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

+14 HS
Chief B1G Dump's picture

+1. Came here to post this very statement about 2001. Tressel called his shot, starting QB got a DUI just before the game (which probably helped OSU win as icy Krenzel came out of nowhere (went from 3rd string to starter)) and of course the fist season after the Cooper era. I was at the 01 game and received a number of marshmallows, hot dogs, cups and even a shoe thrown at me. Leaving there with a W after 13yrs of Cooper was amazing. 

2002 was easily my favorite season of anything all time ever. Student. Student tix in south stands. I will always love that year. Even after the game when I finally made it back to my house and the whole street was on fire and tear gassed. 

06 was amazing too, with 1 vs 2, Bo passing away, two stout Ds giving up big points. 

Too yoing for the other games here. 

But man, that 01 game was a very pleasant surprise and set the tone for the Tressel era. 

+3 HS
Oyster's picture

Gordon Gee is partial to 1992.

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

+1 HS
walkman33's picture

Correction, Michael..The tOSU-Navy game will be played in Baltimore on August 30 and not the 31st as indicated above. Please don't make Buckeye Nation wait any longer for the kickoff of the season opener.....haha  

+1 HS
mr.green's picture

Your list is fine and many would agree with every number, but for me the best of all was 2001 in Ann Arbor. The promise fulfilled. The final dagger was the band playing Carmen for the first time EVER in Michigan stadium. I was in tears. It had been a LONG time since we were out on that field hoisting Earle and celebrating at their place. 

My own personal list (all seen in person. I have been to 32 so far):

1. 2001

2. 2006

3. 2002

4  1978 (we lost, but it was my first in person and the only time I saw both Bo and Woody on the sidelines. I was hooked)

5. 1987

+2 HS
BuckeyeNationforLife's picture

Putting a loss in a top 5 wins list.. That's ballsy, man.

Paralyze resistance with persistence. - Woody Hayes

+3 HS
BrutusBuckey3's picture

Incredible. My first I saw in person was in 2012 when we capped off a perfect season. 2001 was also incredible just because I what it meant to finally win in Ann Arbor. What an incredible read. I was brimming with a smile the entire time I read it. If I had to rank my top 5 I would go with....

5. 2001 

4. 1987

3. 2012 (a perfect season and the only live game I've seen)

2. 2002

1. 2006

when we win this year, where will it rank?? Go Bucks!!!!

+1 HS
M Man's picture

Hey you forgot your 10-10 win in 1973.

(This was a wonderfully well-written history; kudos Mr. Citro.)

+4 HS
Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I still love watching the show on that game - Bo's 'I am bitterly resentful' interview was just pure emotion and you could feel it!  That was one helluva game!

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

+1 HS
Knarcisi's picture

M Man, your boys were the ones and are still the ones that think they won that game. Wanna go back to the Rose Bowl, win the game, not just the 2nd half and think you should get voted in. 

+6 HS
Run_Fido_Run's picture

After the 10-10 tie, there was no just way of resolving things. Eventual 1973 national champs, notre dame barely got by msu and Purdue that year, whereas ohio state crushed msu and michigan steamrolled both msu and Purdue. 

+2 HS
lamplighter's picture

Personally, my 2 favorites are 1969 and 70.  But one of the most memorable post-70 games was in 1994 - Coops 1st win - a reminder that tOSU could beat those guys (but a bad omen for 95/96).  A lot of talent on that team

TossTrap's picture


First and goal at the five and Arch is getting the ball.

+3 HS
M Man's picture

Hey I am just glad the list didn't start in '68.

My favorites (upon which I expect ZERO agreement), all but one of which I saw in person:

  1. 1971.  The first, and best, OSU game I ever saw and the best I ever expect to see.  Woody tore up the down marker right in front of me.  Don't let anyone tell you that they saw this one on tv; it wasn't boradcast because of the limitations on the number of appearances for individual schools, and OSU had three losses.  OSU didn't play like a 3-loss team that day; it was another Big Two game.
  2. 1976.  My first game in Ohio Stadium and maybe the most glorious win over OSU in my life to date.  22-0 demolition of a Woody Hayes team.  With lots of the most serious Buckeye fans on the planet (the ones who got a ticket to the Michigan game) all muttering that Woody had to go as they exited.  Years before it actually happened.
  3.  1988.  John Kolesar.  I know that Tim Biakabatuka gives nightmares to a lot of the Buckeyes.  John Kolesar (from Westlake) must give you PTSD.  (Honorable mention to the 1985 game when Kolesar burned you nearly as badly.)  I saw this one on tv.  Wish I had been in Columbus.
  4.  1997.  Maybe the best game in Michigan's NC season and widely regarded as one of the very best in the UM-OSU rivalry.  Interestingly, I remember the game for the play of Andy Katzenmoyer, who was such a beast in college.  If not for Charles Woodson, the Big Kat would have been the best player on the field that day.  He played his guts out.
  5.  2011.  I rate this game just because I want it to be clear that we don't like losing to anybody, and despite all of the respect and admiration that I have for the vaunted OSU football program, I don't ever want to lose to OSU and especially not in succession.  No matter what I think of Brady Hoke, I want the team wearing maize and blue to win.  It might not have been the best game, but we won and I'd like to see Brady get another OSU win, this year.
+4 HS
Todd-Not Boeckmann's picture

John Kolesar.  Sheesh.  Just the mere mention of his name makes me cringe.  How many letters in football did he win for you guys, because to me it seemed like he played all the way through Law School.

On the wall guarding the North Coast from all Weasel invasions.

+2 HS
M Man's picture

Kolesar had the rare pleasure of personally destroying the hopes of Buckeye fans as both a freshman (catching a bomb from Jim Harbaugh to seal the win in 1985) and as a senior in the 1988 game.  So I can see why some Ohioans would think that the entire decade of the 80's was ruined by Kolesar.

Go to 18:10 of this 1985 game video.  Trigger warning; fans of Ohio State football are cautioned that viewing the video may result in indigestion, sleeplessness, nightmares, depression, diarrhea, bleeding gums, hypertension, hair loss, cramps, constipation and infertility.  In rare cases, suicidal thoughts my be triggered, especially in teens and persons who were university student-age in the 1980's, particularly in the central Ohio region.  Manic reactions have been reported among teens in southeast Michigan.

+2 HS
TatumRuled's picture

My OSU roommate went to high school with Kolesar (yes, I'm that old). I remember him saying that Kolesar was the stereotypical jock: Flicking towels in the locker room and making homophobic remarks.

"Hell, Woody didn't recruit me; he recruited my mother!" -Jack Tatum                       

lamplighter's picture

AARGH!  I'm a bad typist and even worse proof reader.  I meant 68 and 70

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

2002 has to be #1 in my opinion ... great game as a part of a national title season.

Yeti's have feelings too.

+2 HS
FitzBuck's picture

I'm in agreement 2002 for the #1 spot in part because of what happened to both OSU and UM in their next games.  Those beat downs diminish the 2006 game for me.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

+1 HS
Keith Byars is the man's picture

My favorites and reasons why

1. 1998 coop wins and so do I. My wedding day. Forgot to check the schedule before wedding was set. We messed up and had wedding during game. Ended up being cool as we played OSU marching band music as the guest left the wedding. Preacher gave updates of the first half during ceremony. We all watched 2nd half at reception. It's now a good laugh with all that were there that day.

2. 2002 no need to discuss this one!

3. 1982 was my first time a actually at the game in person as a kid. Nice win for the good guys.

4. 2006 great game by #1 and #2 ranked teams

5. Tie between Earle's last game in 87 and Coach Tressel's first game in 01 where we started to turn around the cooper years frustrations. 

Nothing is Impossible!!!

osu78's picture

My number 1:

1974 First game I attended against TSUN. Woody vs Bo. Sitting in Block O. 18 secs left and TSUN is going for a chip shot field goal to win. TSUN fans already leaving since they had the game in the bag. It's up, it's close, it's wide left. Storming the field.  Twice. Band playing "California here we come" on field with students. High Street was crazy. Turned this out of state freshman into a Buckeye for life.

Mike Lantry. Gets my vote as one of the best kickers in OSU history. Deserved a leaf for 73 and 74.

+2 HS
M Man's picture

It's over, and the game is in the record books.  But I still think Lantry's 1973 kick was good, and not wide left.  If it was wide, it was wide by inches.  And so high over the upright that it is hard to tell.  All of the fans in the north endzone on a line with the post and the kick all raised their arms as they thought it was good.  From the tv angle, it's close enough that you can't tell.  I've talked to people who were there with a perfect angle on the kick and they say it was good.

-1 HS
Deadly Nuts's picture

That's too bad.


+9 HS
NorthernOhioBuckeye's picture

I'm not sure about this game as I have not seen it. However, usually the officials stand directly below the uprights watching the ball cross over. If ANY PART of the ball would have hit the upright (had the upright been tall enough), then the kick is deemed to be missed. The ball must cross completely to the inside of the upright. I have seen a lot of fans complain about these types of kicks no knowing the rule.

allinosu's picture

1970 was the revenge win for the "69" upset. It was a long year waiting for that game and 20-9 was just fine.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I had the pleasure to be up in Ann Arbor (whore) stadium to watch Earle's last game - just plain fantastic!!!  Speilman was a freaking animal that day and crushed anything and everything that touched the ball wearing maize and blue!  I can remember it like it happened yesterday!

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

+1 HS
Stinson's picture

6. 2005 

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

+6 HS
Knarcisi's picture

2005 should be in the upper part of honorable mention. Epic 2 score comeback, late in the 4th, on the road. 

+4 HS
Buckin_Tua's picture

You've got my backing on this message

mr.green's picture

2005 is definitely on my top 5 list if only counting wins (see above). Troy, Gonzo and Ginn left that crowd shaken. There was a feeling that they were going to get us -- And then POOF it was gone.  A bit of m*chigan  cockiness was lost forever that day. I love it. 

+5 HS
cjmgobucks's picture

Absolutely...From an entertainment standpoint alone, only 2006 can beat the 2005 game on the fun meter, IMHO.....

"When I look in the mirror, I want to take a swing at me."

Wayne Woodrow Hayes

+2 HS
Chestnut Ridge Buckeye's picture

Add another vote for this one. I put this one in the top 5, as it had all the features of the other classics, and for me was Troy Smith's signature game. As someone else mentioned, 2006 was ruined for me by the loss to the Gators. Bowl games made both OSU and UM look like pretenders instead of contenders.  

+1 HS
Deano's picture

So much yes.  Plus 2005 won us a share of a Big Ten Championship.

BrutusBuckey3's picture

Wow. I didn't even think of 05. What a game that was. That has to be up there. I initially put 2006 at the top of my list...but the more I think about it, how can 2002 not be the consensus #1? Think about it, we were still in fear of *ichigan. Cooper had screwed up against them so many times, and a trip to the desert hinged on this game. We had to win. The game was at home, a then record crowd, and gray skies. A perfect fall day for football. We came out there and played hard nosed football, and got the job done. We went on to win one of the greatest football games ever played and completed the first 14-0 season in history. That 02 game has to be 1

bucksfan92's picture

The 1979 game is the first one I clearly remember.  I was about 8 years old and I can still vividly remember jumping up and down and screaming in the living room when we blocked that punt.  I also remember the Rose Bowl being stolen away from us 6 weeks later.

The 1984 game sticks out in my mind to, Iowa lost the week before on failed 2 pt conversion and our win sent us to the Rose Bowl.  Looking back, the B1G was pretty weak that year, as we finished with 2 conference losses and still won the title outright - which is the first time that had happened.

I watched the 1987 game on a 2 inch black and white walkman TV (anyone remember those?) because we had basketball practice (I was in high school) but we did finish in time to see the end of the game.  I can't even imagine having to watch a game in such primitive conditions now!

(long dark spell I don't even wanna talk about - except 1994 that was fun)

2001 was a big surprise, nobody expected anything considering Belisari had been suspended and we lost a game we should have easily won vs Illinois at home the week before trying to find someone to play QB.  That first half was as shocking a half I have ever seen in football.

2002 clearly put the icing on the cake, nip and tuck all the way, could barely breathe just watching the game on TV.  How in the world did they still have :01 left to try that last pass?  Then relief and exhilaration.  I think we did alright in the bowl game that year too ;)

You will notice 2006 is not on my list.  Yes it was 1 v 2, and yes we won by 3, but that score is much closer than the game ever was.  Aside from the last UM score, which was bogus - there was no pass interference on 4th down, should have been our ball and game over, Michigan never had the ball trailing by only 1 score.  Every time they had it they were down at least 2 scores.  I was never worried about the outcome of that game past the first quarter it was obvious we were the better team and there was no way they could stop us.

Buckin_Tua's picture

I'm too young to pretend anything before the mid 1990s meant anything to me. I'm 29 but since my Dad was only a professional football fan, I did not get into college football until my later teenage years. With that said, my favorite The Game moments are :

5. 2001. The sweater vest came in and got things done.

4. 2013. Yes, last season's game meant very little. Yes, UM sucked. Yes, it was frustrating to watch our Buckeyes struggle. Still, I got to attend this game which was my first trip to The Big (Out) House and only my second Buckeye game in person. Plus, it was pretty exciting. There was also the tussle with Wilson and the flipping of the bird.

3. 2006. Game of the Century. There's really no explanation needed right?

2. 2008. It was a blowout. 42-7 and had no meaning in the grand scheme of things but this was my first, and so far only, live game I've gotten to see at the Shoe (the secondary market is just way too expensive for me on a typical basis). I was so fired up. I still remember leaving and feeling physically drained and a little sore just from jumping and exerting so much energy cheering ha. It was an experience!

2002. I actually remember this entire season so vividly. I'm not sure any of us that watched this game or the title game vs Miami sat down at all. If we did it was maybe during commercial. Fond, exciting memory.

+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

I can't argue with these five, but I have to honorably mention the '94 game. I was a freshman in undergrad school after four years in the drink (at sea with the Navy) and this was the first time I had seen OSU-M..igan since Bo's last game in '89. 

It was also the first win for Cooper (I still had hopes he'd get the rivalry right) I'd seen, and helped make up for a tough season that had losses to Washington, Illinois (again) and the Penn State blowout (I can say that comfortably now after last year's payback).

The Citrus Bowl loss to 'Bama hurt, Joey Galloway had a great game, unfortunately so did Sherman Williams for the Tide. But I was still happy to have a win over the arch-rival for the first time in what seemed forever, and I knew Ohio State was looking good the seasons ahead.

mr.green's picture

Incredible as it seems now, when we won that game in 94 it had been TEN YEARS since we had beaten them IN THE SHOE. it was a very warm day, sun shining. the world was a beautiful place. I remember it well. 

+1 HS
mkosu73's picture

I know you only went back to 1970, but us old timers still have 50-14 as #1. That was1968 for you youngsters.


+4 HS
Michael Citro's picture

I don't think I could do those older games justice. I was two years old when the 1968 game was played and have obviously not even seen footage of many of the older contests. As it is, my memory was fuzzy for those early 70s games and YouTube and the internet helped a lot with reminding me. The 1975 game as a whole wasn't great for Buckeye fans, but the sudden change in the fourth quarter turned an otherwise lousy day for us into magic. It was so cool seeing Ray Griffin be the hero since he was obviously in Archie's shadow in many people's minds and Ray's pick is what I remembered most after all these years.

Michael Citro's picture

For the record, 2001, 1974 and 2005 were all in very serious consideration for this list.

1987 probably means more to me than it does many (especially our younger readers) because it was my first OSU road game and such an emotional day. Ohio State fans at that time weren't happy with all the 9-3 seasons, but Earle was just so likable that it seemed a shame he got fired. Seeing him hoisted onto his players' shoulders that day was very moving and storming the field in Ann Arbor was surreal.

ScarletArrow's picture

The '87 victory forged many life lessons for me, among them:

- Earle may have gotten mediocre results, but he showed what a true leader is when his players showed their undying love.  Can you imagine that kind of public support happening today?  The closet thing we have - where a coach was let go for dubious reasons and players publicly showed solidarity - might be Tressel at the celebration of the 10-year anniversary for the NC team, or maybe Ed Orgeron at USC when he is was passed over in favor of Sarkisian.

- Everyone who lives in Michigan and roots for them is an evil spy.  I was in 7th grade and living just south of Detroit (having relocated from Akron) at the time of this game.  We had a party for The Game with our neighbors.  One of my friends from school who was not particularly interested in Michigan football came over.  He started the game out by cheering for Ohio State... even wore one of my Ohio State sweatshirts.  When Michigan went up at halftime he decided to change allegiances and started cheering for them!  Now you might chalk this up to mere immaturity and fickleness of a 7th grader... not me, it was pure treachery.  I was dumbfounded.  Never again would I trust anyone who had any connection to TSUN.

+1 HS
RBuck's picture

I like the Buckeye Blowouts the best. So I'll go with 1968 when Woody couldn't go for 3.

Long live the southend.

hetuck's picture

Given the criteria, 1970 has to be on the list. After the debacle of 1969, the entire state counted the days until the next game. Woody made a special rug with the 1969 score printed on it for the players to walk across to enter the facility. 

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.

Vince Lombardi

+1 HS
CGroverL's picture

+1......After the loss in '69, everyone did count the days until the next game....and have ever since whether the outcome was a win, loss, or tie. Hell, most of us have "countdown clocks" until the next edition of THE GAME. I wasn't even born until 1973. I just know the history of the '68 and '69 teams and Ohio State's loss against M*ch*gan in '69 is probably the reason why those "countdown clocks" are so popular for the greatest rivalry in all of college football. The win in 1970 was a must for Buckeye Nation.

"I hope they're last in everything". One of Meyer's comments when speaking of TTUN after being hired at Ohio State.



southbay's picture

I had not remembered that TTUN had gone on to beat Florida after the 2002 game.  I do remember that one of their other losses that year was to Washington on a controversial referee call, and I always thought Navarre was a pretty good QB, so that edition of The Game was a great matchup.   A fitting way for the Buckeyes to earn their spot in the championship game, but a real nail-biter.

original buckeye's picture

My vote goes for 2005.  I was at the game that day, I'm pretty sure everyone in the stadium thought in the 4th quarter that Michigan had the game won.  To pull that one out, in their place, was amazing.  Watching their troll fans walk out of the stadium with their tails between their legs was even better.

+1 HS
2morrow's picture

Have to agree - no one thought the Bucks were coming back - except the Bucks!

IGotAWoody's picture

Example #54,784 of Kirk showing off his dumb: In the 2006 Game, 2nd Quarter, after Beanie breaks his long run to give the Bucks the 14-7 lead, Herbie says "For the first time, the stadium here has come alive." What? That stadium was rockin' from the National Anthem on.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+1 HS
Jabba1977's picture

My favorite OSU vrs SCUM game would have to be 06,the #1vrs#2 matchup!! I really liked the 05 game as well!!There are so many of those games that I just really love!!


rkylet83's picture

Great list.  My list is as follows;

  1. 2006 - #1 vs #2 the stars aligned for an epic game.  It was the high point of the Tressel era.
  2. 1970 - Revenge for 1969.  The stadium looked insane that day!
  3. 2002 - After being undefeated and losing in 1993, 1995 & 1996 we finally got over the hump.
  4. 1972 - The good guys upset an undefeated Michigan team; arguably one of Bo's best.
  5. 2013 - An epic comeback bid get crushed on the final play.  
ScarletGray43157's picture

The 2006 game was the only one where my late father and one of my sons, along with me, watched The Game together.  For that reason, it will always be my #1 memory of The Game.  

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

+1 HS
2morrow's picture

My favorites in order 2005, 1968, 2006, 2002, 2001.
2005 - epic comeback when everyone thought it was over.
1968 - 50-14!
2006 1vs2
2002 - NC year
2001 - Tressel makes good on the promise.

BHT's picture

I think the 10-10 tie should be in there. It had a Nat. Championship berth/Rose Bowl berth/ Big Ten championship on the line.

Crumb's picture

Just going by the games I remember seeing

1) 2002 because ALL I heard was crap that we were gonna choke again, that it'd be like 93,95,and 96 all over again, and then after we did win it was how bad Miami was gonna crush us and then when we won that I made sure every TUN fan in southwest Ohio was aware of how they could suck it and eat crow!

2) 2012 because I was there, we were perfect, no one else was perfect that year except us and while people could try to talk crap the only response necessary was to point to that goose egg in the loss column. It felt like 2002 all over again except this time I was there in person.

3) 2006 because Troy Smith specialized in lighting them up.

4) 2004 because it was living proof how a win in The War could save a season. That year sucked. The only thing about it that didn't suck up until that game was Ted Ginn. And just like that, the year was saved.

5) EVERY WIN over blue in my lifetime, 2005 because of the comeback, 2007 was sweet cause of Mike 0-4 Hart, 2008 cause we beat em by 35, 2009 cause we got back to the Rose Bowl, 2010 cause it was the version of The War I saw in person. Each victory over blue has a special place in the Scarlet and Gray heart of this Buckeye.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+1 HS
chirobuck's picture

You didn't mention bo passing away the night before the game in 2006, I flew back from chiropractic school just to tailgate for that game and I remember as soon as I got off the plane there was like some electricity in the air, ive never experienced anything like it.....that game is number 1 without question


^ best post ever ^

+1 HS
Michael Citro's picture

Good point. That did add some buzz to the game and a lot of people expected Michigan to come out and pull off the upset in his honor.

buckeyebfd's picture

Still one of my favorite moments in the rivalry,  in 310 days, in Ann Arbor, MI, on the football field

IGotAWoody's picture

Example #54,785 of Kirk showing off his dumb: I watched the entire replay of the 2006 game posted here (which is probably the 12th time I've rewatched it!), and towards the end, Michigan, down 42-31, gets a bogus pass interference call on 4th and 16, which keeps their desperation drive alive. Herbie says "If you're sitting at home, and you're thinking that's not pass interference, I don't wanna hear about it. Because one of the things you never do as a defensive back is to turn your back completely to the ball, and have no idea where the ball is. Whether or not he touched him or not is irrelevant, the official will call that every time." WHETHER OR NOT HE TOUCHED HIM IS IRRELEVANT?! WTF is he talking about and WHY does this guy get paid for such stupid commentary? 

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

+2 HS
Sightlygrain6's picture

"Game of the century" is such an overused term these days. I think Alabama had 2 last season according to the media. But for me the game in 2006 was the one true one. 

-1 HS
Nutinpa's picture

Agree with you.  And proof of it...at least for the Ohio State and Michigan players who played that game....nothing that happened afterwards, including the NC.....and the Rose Bowl....meant shit to them.   Not saying that is right...but it was what it was.

Nutinpa's picture

Lots of good (and bad...lol) memories being dredged up here!

One game getting little to no mention (unless I missed it) is the 2004 game.  We took the skunkbears to the woodshed....a good Michigan team I might add.   Teddy's punt return to the house;  Musberger saying..."this baby's over"....then catching himself and saying....uh...."this race".. ha ha.

Troy's opening bomb to Gonzo.   What a game!   After a shitty season....this one was fun to watch. 

Deano's picture

I'll give a little love to 2007.  It'd be in the 7-8 range on my personal list, but my top 5-6 have been well beaten to death above.

That was win number 4 in a row.  To send off an entire 4-year class, which featured such likable gents as Hart, Henne, and Long, with an 0-4 record against us (a dubious feat that hadn't happened up North since pre-Bo days) was special.

To have their offense (which put up 39 points the year before) not get 100 yards of offense was delightful beyond words.

It was a hideous, set-the-course-of-football-back-50-years kind of game.  I loved every second of it.  It felt so right.

On a personal note, I got to drop an awesome insult.  I was on the field (in the band) and a group of wolverine recruits walked past pregame.  I said "Hey look, here are the guys who are going to get to lose to Ohio State for the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th consecutive times!"  I got a couple of glares.

Jpfbuck's picture

although many of the games listed mean a ton and of course any win over them is a great win

1979 always stood out to me

we had lost the last 3 during the Woody era and had not scored a TD against them in 3 years losing 22-0, 14-6 and 14-3 the previous 3 years

Earle's first shot at them, at Ann Arbor, Rose Bowl and possible National title on the line

we fail to score again in the 1st quarter so now 13 straight against UM without a TD, 2nd quarter UM throws a bomb TD to Anthony Carter and OSU kicks 2 FG's to trail 7-6, so now 14 quarters still no TDs

finally Art hits Chuck Hunter for a TD (failed 2pt conversion) and we lead 12-7.

but michigan hits another bomb to Carter and couple plays later punch it in and convert their 2 pointer to go up 15-12

so we get into the 4th quarter and we are trailing again, on the road etc, are we going to come up short again?

so OSU forces a punt and Bruce gambles sending 10 guys to block it and gets there, Bell picks it up and runs it in, we miss the PAT and go up only 18-15

we then had to watch both defenses clamp down in the 4th quarter until Marek picks off UM with under a minute to play to seal it.

i was 17 at the time and was certain after UM scored late in the 3rd we were done

Jpfbuck's picture

one win that i think is much under rated by OSU fans (and only mentioned once above) is the 2004 game

effectively the coming out party for Troy Smith

UM was ranked #7 coming in, with a 9-1 record and had won 8 in a row including beating NW the week before by over 20, while we came in 6-4 having lost the week prior to Purdue

Troy, although an improvement over Zwick had not shown anything that would make you think he was a future heisman winner having completed about 55% of his passes with 6 tds vs 3 ints coming into the game, he had rushed 64 times for 194 yards or barely 3 yards per carry and 1 TD coming into the game as well

he also had a particularly bad game the week before against Purdue, completing less 50% of passes throwing 3 picks and had lost fumble late in the game

so nothing that day pointed to Troy going for the following:

13 of 23 for 241 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INTs, plus running for 18 carries and 145 yards and another score

add in 3 FGs by Nuge 2 INTs against Henne, holding Hart to 61 yards and Ginn having a big PR and the upset was on.

Michigan had been i believe a 20 point favorite coming into the game and we won by 16, even though they still went to the Rose Bowl they had chance for an outright B10 title which they had to share with Iowa instead.

and we committed 11 penalties that day for 70 yards while UM was only called for 1 for 5 yards or it could have been much worse

+2 HS
apack614's picture

What's that? Clarett got poked in the eye again?

I can't wait to poop in the PL bathroom.

doodah_man's picture

B1G Network had the 2002 game on yesterday. It was so great to see the players again on that team. It was especially sad to see the drive and determination of #13 knowing what was coming for him. Wanted to reach thru the TV, grab him by the throat, and tell him...DO NOT DO STUPID! Man, what could have been.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

Zimmy07's picture

My favorite (man did I get wasted watching this one):

Boxley's picture

Just 2 hours before the 2006  "The Game" @10;20 am I bagged that 11 point 175 5/8 buck, (icon photo) had him field dressed ,dropped of to the butchers and home to see the kickoff. That was definitley one of my all time  "Good Day to be a Buckeye" days.

I was not even going to hunt that day. I had just got home after a year in Iraq, did not want to hunt anything. However one of my sons was coming home on leave and wanted fresh venison steaks. So the night before I went out bought my license and a tag and Saturday early 0400 the next day I set out went out to bag a nice doe, but I got a little bit more out of that day. Sometimes it just is your turn.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

+2 HS
ohst8buxCP's picture

I've been to the games Texas and USC, Night games against Wisconsin and Nebraska and Penn State and quite a few against Michigan (including 2002) but I have never in my life experienced an atmosphere like I did in 2006. You could literally feel the tension in the air, The crowd was 100% into the game, living and dying with every play. It was incredible.

BrutusBuckey3's picture

That comment was awesome. Where did you sit for the 06 game?

Seattle Linga's picture

Our daughter was born in 1994 on the day when the Buckeyes played TTUN. - one of only two wins for Cooper. I am just a little biased though.  

+1 HS
Boxley's picture

My first son (firstborn) was born on Nov 23, 1985, of course the day of The Game. Fortunately he only took two hours to deliver and I was able to hold him and watch the game in the hospital room, another pretty darn good day. Thanks for reminding me of that.

I have the game paper in my "collection" and am having it framed for his birthday gift.

Unfortunately that day UM using Harbaugh and Kolesar ruined that small part of the day.

We still brought our son home with us anyway;)

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Two hours is quick - I applaud the Mrs she wasn't wasting anytime.