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‘Pure, intense rivalry’ game is Saturday

November 23, 2012
By BETTY POKAS - Buckeye Blitz ( , Times Leader

ESPN once called the Ohio State-Michigan game the greatest rivalry of the 20th century, and the two head football coaches for those universities agree that records don't matter in this intense rivalry.

"I think this is just a pure, intense rivalry," said OSU head coach Urban Meyer. "It doesn't matter who's undefeated, who's fighting for what, who's playing for what."

Michigan head coach Brady Hoke doesn't think that Ohio State's undefeated status this season adds to the magnitude of the game.

"We're playing for a championship still. If you need anything to get amped up more or whatever for this football game, then you don't know college football and you don't understand the importance of this great rivalry," Hoke added.

Saturday's game between the two teams is their 109th meeting, and OSU is ranked No. 4 while Michigan has a No. 20 ranking in The Associated Press poll. Ahead of OSU are Notre Dame, Alabama and George; of the four, Ohio State and Notre Dame are the only ones undefeated.

The Buckeyes, which already are the Big Ten Leaders Division champion, seek to become only the sixth team in 123 years of OSU football to finish unbeaten and untied. There's also an outside chance that they can win The Associated Press title.

Unfortunately, because of NCAA sanctions as a result of "Tattoogate," they are ineligible for a bowl game. It seems unsportsmanlike for the NCAA to punish the present Buckeyes for the problems created by past players.

The Wolverines need a win Saturday along with a Nebraska loss at Iowa Friday to claim the Legends title and to represent the division against Wisconsin at the Big Ten championship game Dec. 1 in Indianapolis.

Noting that it's "electric" in the Buckeyes' meeting room when attention is given to the upcoming game, Meyer said, "Will we be defined by this one game? You usually are. Regardless of what happens, this is the game. Our kids know that. Our coaches know that, but that doesn't change anything we do."

As to rivalries across the nation, Meyer said that he thinks what makes the OSU-Michigan game unique "is the fact that I grew up in this state, and this is all I knew. If you're in the state of Ohio, this is all you know growing up. That's what makes it so unique.

"Then, also, I think the Bo Schembechler/Woody Hayes era, when college football began to explode on a national level - that's what made this such a visual, visual rivalry for the country to see."

More than once, Hoke referred to the match-up as being "a fun game." He also said it was a great challenge for Michigan as well as an opportunity.

Regarding OSU's offense, Hoke said, in part, "They're running the football very well; they're scoring more points than anybody else in the conference. I think Carlos Hyde is a big back who is physical. And Braxton (Miller), with what he does with his athleticism, that's part of it. And his uniqueness and his ability to make people miss."

He considers the Buckeyes' defense as very physical, very good speed, and mentioned by name: Johnathan Hankins, John Simon and Ryan Shazier.

This is Hoke's second year at MSU where he's 19-5 and his 10th year as a collegiate head coach with a 64-55 record. The Wolverines currently are 8-3, 6-1, and they defeated Air Force, Massachusetts, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa while their losses are to Alabama, Notre Dame and Nebraska.

Meyer, the 24th head coach in OSU history, is 115-23 in his 11th season as a head coach.


WINNING streaks have occurred both for the Buckeyes and the Wolverines throughout their history, but there was an unexpected streak in 1995.

That was when Matt Swank, a former Eastern Michigan player from Canton, ran down the field at the Michigan Stadium at halftime, and his only attire was cleats. Like the fellow in the Ray Stevens' song, "The Streak," Swank "didn't have nothin' on but a smile."

He won a $10,000 bet from his friends, but he probably wasn't smiling after he appeared in court. A judge ordered him "to donate any money left over after attorney and court fees to charity, specifically a clothing charity," according to the book, "Unrivaled: Michigan vs. Ohio State" by The Ann Arbor News.

There also was a streaker during the Ohio State-Michigan game at the 'Shoe in 1992 when the individual ran through the Michigan band just before the show started at halftime. (No, the Wolverine band didn't play Stevens' song.) ...

THE 2002 Buckeyes along with former head football coach Jim Tressel are scheduled to be honored between the first and second quarters Saturday. This team captured the Buckeyes' first national championship since 1968 with a 13-0 regular season and a double overtime against the Miami Hurricanes in the national championship game in Tempe, Ariz. ...

SATURDAY'S game to be aired over ABC will begin at 12:07 p.m.



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