Opinion: No Harbaugh, No Problem, Michigan Beats Ohio State 30-24

University of Michigan wide receiver, Cornelius Johnson No. 6 watches as an offensive play ends. According to USA Today, the long-standing rivalry between U of M and Ohio State began in 1897 when they first faced off, marking a 125-year rivalry still prevalent today (Photo via Wikimedia Commons).

As a University of Michigan (UofM) fan amongst a family of Ohio State fans, it has been tough. Although my family constantly makes fun of me for being a UofM fan, the Nov. 25 game between UofM and Ohio State has allowed me bragging rights over my family. During my lifetime, Ohio State has been 14-4 against UofM, and I’ve consistently drawn the short end of the straw. Luckily, UofM has won the past three meetings – so things have been looking up for fans like me.

The University of Michigan and Ohio State University rivalry dates back over 100 years, with the first meeting ending in a 34-0 UofM win in 1897. Since then, the teams have played against each other every year starting in 1918. The rivalry has developed so far as to be referred to simply as “The Game.” With such a reputation, these two teams always live up to the hype. Over the past few years, this game has determined who will be the Big Ten champion, with both teams usually coming into the clash undefeated.

This rivalry week for “The Game” is a big week in both Ohio and UofM. On Ohio State’s campus, all “M’s” are crossed out with a red “X,” whether it be signs, names of buildings, or simply words with the letter “M” in them. However, for both teams, the rivalry is more than a week – it’s the entire season.

In UofM and Ohio State’s weight and locker rooms, each team has something that reminds the other of this rivalry just for the players of that team to work harder in response. It isn’t uncommon for players to get into fights during “The Game”; it’s a heated event, something reflected in things both coaches have said about the opposing team. Emotions have built up based on the previous season, whether it be from winning or losing “The Game” prior.

During a team meeting in 2021, Head Coach for the Ohio State Buckeyes Ryan Day told his team:

“Michigan better hope for a mercy rule this year because we are going to hang 100 on them.”

Head Coach for the UofM Wolverines Jim Harbaugh clapped back at Day after beating Ohio State in 2021:

“Sometimes people that are standing on third base think they hit a triple, but they didn’t.” 

This season in particular has been filled with trials and tribulations for the UofM football team. At the beginning of the season, Head Coach Jim Harbaugh had to serve a four-game suspension due to a recruiting violation. Then, in early November this year, UofM got pulled into a sign-stealing scandal. This scandal caused Harbaugh to be suspended for the last four games of the season. After the suspension, UofM won a game at Maryland for the team’s 1,000th win.

Ohio State had a relatively smooth ride in comparison. Having lost against UofM in 2022, they planned to bounce back harder than ever. Ohio State steered clear of any scandals and had smooth sailing to the second rank in the country with impressive wins against No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 6 Penn State. 

Day has lived up to the rivalry by grabbing the baton from former Ohio State coaches and has kept the rivalry between even the coaches alive

“I was taught that the way you respect the rivalry is to work it every day, whether it’s in the weight room, whether it’s game planning, talking to your players, periods at practice during the spring, periods in practice in the preseason. And that’s it. We do. We respect the rivalry and are certainly excited to play here on Saturday,” Day said. 

Before “The Game” was played, Ohio State was ranked second in the country with UofM right behind them at third. These rankings made it so that whichever team won would be in the playoffs with a chance that the loser would miss out on the playoffs entirely. 

Day was interviewed a day before going against UofM by Cleveland.com. He said the game would, as always, reflect this rivalry. 

“Now it’s time to go put it on the field and let the pads do the talking,” Day said.

The pads did indeed do the talking, but unfortunately for Day, the pads didn’t belong to Ohio State. By halftime, “The Game” lived up to the hype in a classic shootout with UofM leading 14-10. I was enjoying UofM’s performance, and I was feeling ready for a third year in a row of bragging rights over my family, but a part of me was a little nervous that UofM could choke a lead – especially since it was only a one-score game.

Coming back from half, UofM would score a field goal to go up seven points, but Ohio State answered back with a touchdown to tie the game at 17, proving my suspicions correct. Feeling a little apprehensive about UofM’s ability to fight back with some points of their own, I anxiously watched, hoping my bragging rights wouldn’t turn into another year of being laughed at. 

During a UofM drive, one of UofM’s senior offensive linemen, Zak Zinter, went down with a leg injury and was carted off the field. The crowd went silent, and the channel went on a commercial break. After the commercial break, all you could hear was the crowd cheering, “Let’s go Zak!” 

With the first play after Zinter’s injury, UofM scored a touchdown which brought the crowd – and my hopes – back to life. All I could think about was the fact that UofM could be on top of the Big Ten. UofM added another field goal to go up 27-17, but Ohio State fought back with a touchdown of their own to make it 27-24. With one minute left in the game, UofM scored a field goal to go up 30-24. 

I was on the edge of my seat – one minute could be enough time for Ohio State to score a touchdown. Ohio State started the drive and the offense was doing great getting to the UofM 41-yard line with less than 30 seconds left. It started looking bad for UofM – until I heard, “INTERCEPTED!” 

I’ve never been so grateful for an interception; I’m glad Rod Moore was able to get under that ball. With that, UofM won the game 30-24.

Even after the game had ended, there was more fuel added to the Ohio State-UofM rivalry.

In a post-game conference, UofM wide receiver Roman Wilson was asked if Ohio State seemed more physical

“I see the film, like, you’re not tough,” Wilson said. 

This quote, I know for sure will be in Ohio State players’ heads and on a wall somewhere in the weight room. UofM now leads the series all-time with a record of 61-51-6.

As for their next steps, UofM beat No. 17 ranked Iowa — 26-0 for the Big Ten title. UofM has since been placed at No. 1 in the country and will face No. 4 ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

Ohio State has been ranked No. 7 in the country and will face off against No. 9 Missouri in the Cotton Bowl. 

Zinter will be out for the remainder of the season, which seems to be a big loss. UofM allowed 4 sacks against Iowa on Saturday, which is tied for the most they’ve given up in one game this season. Zinter has only allowed one pressure this season and has been one of the great leaders of an even better offensive line unit. 

The playoffs are a different beast for Harbaugh, who is 0-2 in the college football playoffs. As a UofM fan, I’m hoping they can at least win one playoff game, and maybe the National championship. 

I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

About Seiji McSwain 5 Articles
Seiji McSwain is a first-year student from Las Vegas, Nevada and is a Sport Communication major at Albion College. He writes about any sports topics relating to the NFL, NBA, NCAA, Albion College sports and news about sports journalism. He enjoys watching sports, listening to music and video editing. Contact Seiji via email at sdm13@albion.edu

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