Out of all of the rivalries in college football, the one between Michigan and Ohio State ranks somewhere near the top. The rivalry dates back to 1897 and has been on the national radar since the 1970s. Admittedly, it’s difficult to select only a handful of games in the rivalry that stand out among the rest. However, we’ve dug through the archives and picked out the five best games ever played between Michigan and Ohio State.
Michigan 24, Ohio State 12 (1969)
The 1969 game needs to be mentioned because of its importance to the rivalry. This was the first game in what became “the 10 Year War” between head coaches Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler, the two coaches who have largely defined this rivalry.
The Buckeyes were no. 1 in the polls and riding a 22-game winning streak heading into the game. However, the Michigan defense forced seven turnovers with both teams going scoreless in the second half. It was a monumental win for Schembechler and the Wolverines, helping to fuel the rivalry for years to come.
Michigan 20, Ohio State 14 (1997)
Ohio State fans still have nightmares about Charles Woodson from this game. Woodson caught a touchdown pass, returned a punt for a touchdown, and picked off a pass in the red zone, beating the Buckeyes in all three phases on his way to winning the Heisman.
Thanks to Woodson, the no. 1 Wolverines survived an upset bid from no. 4 Ohio State on their way to winning a share of the national championship.
Ohio State 30, Michigan 27 (double overtime) (2016)
This was an instant-classic between no. 2 Ohio State and no. 3 Michigan in Columbus that lived up to the top-5 hype. The Buckeyes needed to erase a 10-point deficit in the second half just to get to overtime. In the second overtime, Michigan had to settle for a field goal while the Buckeyes gambled on a fourth down.
J.T. Barrett picked up the first down with a generous spot from the officials, setting up the game-winning touchdown from Curtis Samuel in what was a bitter and contentious loss for Michigan.
Michigan 10, Ohio State 10 (1973)
Both no. 1 Ohio and no. 4 Michigan were undefeated heading into this game. The Buckeyes scored 10 points in the second quarter, only to see the Wolverines rally for 10 points in the fourth quarter. Alas, Michigan’s Mike Lantry missed a field goal that could have been the difference.
The game ended in a tie, meaning the two rivals had to share the Big Ten title. However, the conference voted for Ohio State to represent the league in the Rose Bowl over Michigan.
Ohio State 42, Michigan 39 (2006)
This “game of the century” between no. 1 Ohio State and no. 2 Michigan more than lived up to the incredible hype and was played the day after former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler passed away. Behind Heisman winner Troy Smith, the Buckeyes led most of the game, but the Wolverines always had an answer to stay within striking distance.
A touchdown with 2:16 left brought the Wolverines within a field goal, but they never got the ball back after a failed onside kick. The Buckeyes won the game, meaning they won the Big Ten and earned a spot in the BCS National Championship Game.