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Is Michigan vs Ohio State Much of a Rivalry Anymore?

Ohio State vs Michigan Rivalry

The Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State Buckeyes meet annually to close out the season, often with a berth in the Big Ten championship game or the College Football Playoff on the line. At the turn of the century, ESPN ranked “The Game” as the greatest North American sports rivalry. That said, how “great” has this rivalry been since then?

This season, No. 13 Michigan welcomes No. 2 Ohio State to Ann Arbor with hopes of handing the Buckeyes their first loss of the season and perhaps dashing their hopes for the CFP. However, the odds have the Wolverines as a 9-point underdog for this game with the total coming in at 51 points.

Check out a full preview for this year’s game.

The History of The Game

This year’s meeting will be the 116th all-time between these two storied schools, with Michigan leading the head-to-head series 58-50-6 (Ohio State’s 2010 victory was vacated as part of NCAA sanctions). The Wolverines also had the longest win streak in this rivalry, winning nine consecutive times from 1901 to 1909, though that streak may be in jeopardy right now. Following their game in 2000, the Wolverines had a sizable edge in the head-to-head record at 56-35-6, so some quick math reveals Michigan is just 2-15 against Ohio State over the last 17 meetings.

Furthermore, the Buckeyes have won the last seven games by an average margin of 12.3 points, including a 62-39 beatdown last year. There has been value on Michigan against the spread, though, as during this seven-game slide the Wolverines have covered in four of those. Ohio State had a streak from 2007 to 2012 in which it went 5-1 SU and 6-0 ATS.

2019 Season for Michigan and Ohio State

I actually had high hopes for the Wolverines heading into the season, the fifth with Jim Harbaugh at the helm. They were bringing in offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, coming off a 10-3 season and returning a veteran squad. However, once again the offense has scuffled at times this season and the defense was exploited by the tougher teams. Things have turned around of late, though, and that helps build hopes for an exciting 2019 edition of The Game.

As for Ohio State, it leads the nation in points scored and fewest points allowed and is the favorite to win the national title. I wasn’t sold on the Buckeyes at the beginning of the year, without Urban Meyer as the coach and with a new QB, Justin Fields, under center. But this is a complete team that is nasty on both sides of the ball and has been running through everyone in its path. Fields and defensive end Chase Young are both in the running for the Heisman Trophy and Young is being mentioned as one of the top picks for the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.

Although the odds wouldn’t suggest it, it would be a massive upset for the Wolverines to get past the Buckeyes. I think from the eye test of watching these two teams this season that it would be fairly shocking.