As the month of November begins to search for its ending amongst turkey carcasses, piles of empty cans of pumpkin, and aggressive unruly shoppers, the nation gathers to watch the greatest annual war reenactment our country has to offer–The Game. As a native of Toledo, Ohio, I know first hand of the importance of the rivalry between that “school up north” (University of Michigan) and the Ohio State University. Only 45 minutes from Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan, Toledo, located in Northwestern Ohio, has been undergoing a state identity crisis since the 1835-1836 Toledo War. What started as a territorial dispute ended with Michigan stealing the Upper Peninsula from Wisconsin and Ohio maintaining the port town of Toledo. Each year, the people of Toledo argue fiercely over their allegiance to either the nearby University of Michigan or the beloved scarlet and grey of Ohio State. As for allegiance, Toledo remains divided. I side with the Buckeyes.
Rivalry week festivities in Toledo slowly creep into existence after Halloween and explode into insanity as the days approach Thanksgiving. During rivalry week, neighbors will often display opposing flags and begin litanies of why they hate the Michigan or Ohio State. Children will be allowed to wear either maize and blue or scarlet and grey on their last day of school before the big game. Ohio State fans will be hard at work making candy buckeyes while Michigan fans will be pelted with real buckeyes. Trust me, real buckeyes hurt when being hurled at in full force. Intensity at practice increases for both teams. Although Michigan leads the series in overall victories, Ohio State has won the last six times. Michigan players are seeking to end the latest Ohio State command over them. Ohio State players seek to receive another traditional “gold pants” charm, signifying a victory over Michigan.
Tradition resounds as the battle between neighboring states Michigan and Ohio began playing football against each other 61 years after the end of the Toledo war in 1897. Michigan won many of the early meetings. After a nine year span of consecutive victories from 1901-1909, Michigan was clearly the superior team. After 1912, the teams would not meet up again until 1918. The rivalry has been an annual tradition since and the game usually marks the end of the regular season for both schools.
Memories of “the game” linger in each true buckeye fans nostalgic memory. Ohio State fans will recall the intense coaching duels between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler which is often called the “10 years war.” How can any true Ohio State fan forget how Earl Bruce was fired before the University of Michigan game in 1987and how his seniors rallied around him and won the game? As for more present day, Jim Tressel’s speech at an Ohio State Buckeye game shortly after he was named football coach on how many days it was until they would beat the University of Michigan is the stuff that creates thrilling movies.
Currently ranked 8th in the Nation, The Ohio State University is clearly the favorite heading into Saturday’s match-up. Jim Tressel’s dominance over the University of Michigan is impressive. Tressel’s 8-1 record against the University of Michigan stands out over Michigan’s coach Rich Rodriguez failure to defeat Ohio State. Despite Rodriguez’s success at his former University, West Virginia, he is only 1-9 against ranked opponents.
Michigan will rely heavily on their quarterback, Denard Robinson, who has compiled an amazing 1528 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Robinson is Rodriguez’s pride and joy and the focus of all their offense. Ohio State’s third ranked rush defense will present a challenge to Robinson. Ohio State is only allowing an average of 86 rushing yards per game.
Michigan’s defense has not been effective this season. Jim Tressel’s Ohio State has too many offensive weapons for Michigan’s struggling defense to shut down. Terrell Pyror is looking to prove that he is worth more hype than Robinson and he has talented receivers to help his cause. Key Ohio State receivers are Dane Sanzenbacher (averages 74.4 yards per game; 818 total yards) and DeVier Posey (averaging 63.3 yards per game; 696 total yards). Ohio State also has an effective running game with Daniel Herron (averages 81 yards per game; 893 total yards) who has been explosive as of late. Coach Jim Tressel has proven his success not only against Michigan, but in his ability to win in November as well.
Growing up an Ohio State fan within the shadows of Ann Arbor, the “Big Game,” brings out all the feelings of hatred that I have towards the University of Michigan. Below are five reasons that I dislike the “school up North”:
1. The notion of Michigan being the “Harvard of the West” has created a fan based of elitist wannabes. Amongst the contradictory behavior of the notorious Michigan militia the elitist behavior is one of the most arrogant and intense of all the Universities fan based I have been around.
2. Michigan’s “Big House” is the most uncomfortable place to view a football game. The overused cliché of packed like sardines does little justice to the space provided for to for seating..
3. I dislike Michigan but I dislike Rich Rodriguez even more. To simplify all of my complaints against Coach Rodriguez I will simply use the accusation of “cheater”. As much as I have disliked former Michigan coaches, he personifies all that is ruining the college game and seems to be the antithesis of Jim Tressel, a coach of integrity.
4. Living just south of the boarder, I can identify a reckless speeding Michigan driver anywhere. Their reckless abandonment in the car is similar to the playing style of their quarterback Robinson–all speed, no concern for others, and inaccurate playmaking chances.
5. Being from Toledo, I find it distasteful when Michigan fans state that they really one the Toledo War because the State of Ohio was now stuck with the city of Toledo. I am growing very tired of that all joke.
With all this in mind as the bitter cold settles in to declare the end of the regular season of two historic Big Ten Conference schools, the rivalry created from the historic Toledo War continues on with the Big Game. Displaced Michigan and Ohio State fans scattered throughout the country will take a few hours out of their post Thanksgiving
The Ohio State Library