When No. 4 Michigan rolls into Ohio Stadium Saturday, they'll take the field as favorites – something they haven't been on the road for “The Game” since 2004.
Ohio State opened Sunday as 3½-point underdogs to the Wolverines and that line has settled in around 4½ points at most books.
Saturday's game will mark the first time in Urban Meyer's seven seasons in Columbus that his Buckeyes will take the field at Ohio Stadium as underdogs.
It's rare that Meyer's Buckeyes are underdogs anywhere, for that matter. His Ohio State teams have entered games as dogs just six times, the last coming in 2015. No sweat. He's simply gone 6–0 in those games, winning all of them outright.
Sept. 29, 2012: #14 Ohio State 17, #20 Michigan State 16
LOCATION: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan
FAVORITE: Michigan State (-2)
Urban Meyer's first chance to prove Vegas wrong came in his fifth game.
With Ohio State's defense handling Le'Veon Bell – the future NFL All-Pro finished with just 45 yards rushing – the two teams played a tight, defensive game until the Buckeyes struck in late in the third on a 63-yard bomb from Braxton Miller to Devin Smith.
Miller-to-Smith. Miller-to-Smith. Miller-to-Smith.
It's a combo that would show up time and again that year and moved Meyer to 1–0 straight-up as an underdog thanks to the Buckeyes' 17-16 win that afternoon in East Lansing.
Nov. 17, 2012: #6 Ohio State 21, Wisconsin 14
LOCATION: Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, Wisconsin
FAVORITE: Wisconsin (-1)
A Philly Brown punt return and a Carlos Hyde run spotted Ohio State to a 14-0 lead in Madison, but Wisconsin, playing before a raucous crowd, tied the game with eight seconds left to force overtime.
Montee Ball ran wild that day, finishing with 191 yards, but Ohio State's defense came up big when it mattered, stuffing Ball for a key 2-yard loss in overtime to help lock up a thrilling 21-14 win.
The Buckeyes were ineligible for postseason play that year, but would go on to beat Michigan the following week to finish 12–0 in Meyer's first season.
Nov. 8, 2014: #14 Ohio State 49, #8 Michigan State 37
LOCATION: Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Michigan
FAVORITE: Michigan State (-4)
With a loss to Michigan State in the 2013 Big Ten Championship – Urban Meyer's first at Ohio State – fresh, and an ugly home loss to Virginia Tech even closer in the rearview, the 7–1 Buckeyes traveled to East Lansing to play a game in which they'd be the largest underdogs to that point in Meyer's tenure.
They'd leave town with a 49-37 win and a budding case for entry into the first ever College Football Playoff.
J.T. Barrett, who'd looked like a first-year starter in that ugly early-season loss to the Hokies, threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more as the Buckeyes scored at will against the the Spartan defense. Barrett finished with 300 yards through the air and 86 yards on the ground, while running back Ezekiel Elliott ran for 154 yards and two touchdowns and receivers Devin Smith and Michael Thomas teamed up for 220 yards and two more scores.
"This is one for the ages," Meyer would say after the game.
Dec. 6, 2014: #5 Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0
LOCATION: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana
FAVORITE: Wisconsin (-4)
With Barrett injured and out for the year, most had written the Buckeyes' Big Ten Championship, not to mention, playoff chances off. That was certainly the case for the betting public, who settled on Wisconsin as 4-point favorites against Ohio State and third-string quarterback Cardale Jones.
In what's considered to be the largest cover for an underdog ever, Meyer's team throttled the Badgers, 59-0, in Indy behind Ezekiel Elliott's 220 yards on the ground.
Jones looked fantastic in his first start, throwing for 257 yards and three touchdowns, while Ohio State's defense held Badger running back and Heisman finalist Melvin Gordon to just 2.9 yards-per-carry.
It was a night in which everything went right for the Buckeyes and would soon propel them into the inaugural College Football Playoff.
Jan. 1, 2015: #4 Ohio State 42, #1 Alabama 35
LOCATION: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
FAVORITE: Alabama (-7½)
Alabama rolled over a lot of teams in 2014 and rolled into the 2015 Sugar Bowl as 7½-point favorites on an Ohio State team that was still wondering what it had with Jones, the third-stringer, at quarterback.
Didn't matter. Urban Meyer would improve to 5–0 straight up as an underdog at Ohio State with the Buckeyes' 42-35 upset in New Orleans.
Jones was great when he needed to be, Evan Spencer found Michael Thomas on the trickiest of tricks, and Ezekiel Elliott ran for a Sugar-Bowl record 230 yards, including a late game run that took him 85 yards through the heart of the South.
“That was a sledgehammer game. That was a classic,” Meyer would say. And he was right.
Jan. 12, 2015: #4 Ohio State 42, #2 Oregon 20
LOCATION: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
FAVORITE: Oregon (-6)
Oregon didn't stand a chance.
After what the Buckeyes did to Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, there was no team slowing down Meyer's 2014 late season freight train.
Behind Elliott's 246 rushing yards and four touchdowns, Ohio State jumped out to a 21–7 lead and then ripped off the final 21 points on the way to a resounding 42-20 victory over the Ducks in the first ever College Football Playoff championship game.
It was the third game in a row that saw Meyer's Buckeyes not only beat a solid spread, but win the game outright.
Six times Urban Meyer's Ohio State teams have been underdogs. Six times, the Buckeyes have not only covered, but won those games outright and impressively, winning by an average margin of 18 points.
You can bet against him. But you may want to think about that.