Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI — November 27th, 2021
ESPN called it “The Greatest North American Sports Rivalry.” Today’s edition of “The Game” will be the 117th time Michigan and Ohio State have met on the gridiron. Michigan leads the series 58–51–6, but Ohio State has dominated recently winning 17 of the last 19 contests including eight in a row.
The series had been played annually every year since 1918 until the pandemic forced its cancelation in 2020. The year off has only intensified the anticipation of the rivalry and the storylines are plentiful.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is 0-5 against his bitter rival since taking over the top job in Ann Arbor. The winner of today’s game will earn a spot in the Big 10 Championship game on Saturday, December 4, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The winner will also have the inside track on securing a position in the College Football Playoffs(CFP) with a chance to play for the National Championship.
2021 Season Comes Down to This Game
Ohio State opened the season ranked 4th in the country and posted a 45-31 win over Minnesota. But in Week 2 the Buckeyes fell to Oregon 35-28 and dropped to ninth in the rankings. Wins against doormats Tulsa, Akron, and Rutgers did not impress the pollsters as they slipped out of the Top 10.
As Ohio State ran through the heart of the Big 10 schedule they moved to second in the CFP rankings after a 56-7 rout of seventh-ranked Michigan State. They enter The Game with a 10-1 record.
Michigan carries an identical record into today’s contest. The only blemish on their record is a loss to cross-state rival Michigan State 37-33. A game the Wolverines led 30-14 midway through the third quarter. They sit fifth in the CFP rankings, just outside the Top 4 who qualify for the Playoffs.
The First Half
Under a light snowfall, Michigan served notice that today’s game was going to be different than recent contests. The Wolverines took the opening kickoff and marched down the field to score on their 1st possession. A mishandled kickoff pinned Ohio State deep on their first time with the ball. A three and out, a punt to midfield, and Michigan was poised to go up two touchdowns.
An interception in the end zone, by the Buckeyes, thwarted Michigan’s second possession and Ohio State marched the opposite direction threatening to tie the score. The momentum swing was clearly evident. However, Michigan’s defense stiffened and held them to just a field goal.
A 14-13 halftime deficit was the closest the Buckeyes would come to extending their win streak over the Wolverines.
Second Half Explosion
After a three and out on Ohio State’s opening possession of the second half, Michigan was not to be denied. Blake Corum, in his first game back after an ankle injury, rushed for 13 yards on 1st down. Corum then burst free for a 55-yard gallop setting up a 13 yard run by Hassan Haskins for the first score of the second half. The Wolverines scored 14 unanswered points in the third quarter to extend their lead to 28-13.
Ohio State tried to respond in the fourth quarter, but each time the Wolverines had an answer. Haskins carried the ball 28 times for 169 yards and five touchdowns. Blake Corum’s 87 yards on six carries helped the Wolverines rack up 297 yards rushing and 487 yards of total offense. The 42-27 win finally allowed Harbaugh his first victory over Ohio State since returning to his alma mater as head coach.