THE GAME Ohio State vs. THAT TEAM UP NORTH: the greatest rivalry in all of sport

"This is the real one. This is the greatest rivalry in all of sport. Not college football. All of sport."

- Urban Meyer, Ohio State Football Head Coach

A Rivalry Born

1897 marked the first-ever game between Ohio State and Michigan.

In 1903, the OSU Glee Club was searching for a school Alma Mater. Inspired by the request, Freshman Defensive End and member of the Glee Club, Fred Cornell, penned the lyrics to Ohio State's oldest school song, Carmen Ohio. A few years later, the lyrics made an appearance in a program for The Game and was adopted as the school's official Alma Mater.

Carmen Ohio title page, 1906.

"Carmen" is the latin word for "song" which translates the title as "Song of Ohio." In 2001, former National Championship head coach Jim Tressel began a new tradition in which friends and family gather together and recite Carmen Ohio following every game played to honor Ohio State. It is a tradition that is still performed to this day.

A Hero Rises

It wasn't until 1919 when 3x All-American Chic Harley led The Ohio State Buckeyes to their first victory over That Team Up North 13-3. Harley tallied 4 interceptions, the current school record for the most in a single game.

After the game, legendary Michigan head coach Fielding H. Yost asked for and was granted a rare moment to address the Ohio State team, but more specifically, Harley.

"You deserve your victory, you fought brilliantly, you boys gave a grand exhibition of football strategy and while I am sorry, dreadfully sorry, that we lost, I want to congratulate you. And you, Mr. Harley, I believe, are one of the finest little machines I have ever seen."

- Fielding H. Yost, Michigan Head Coach (1901–1923)

A Tradition Unfolds

A few years later, Ohio State found its new home. The historic Ohio Stadium, a.k.a. The Horseshoe was dedicated on October 21, 1922.

Ohio State vs. Michigan game program, 1922.

More than a decade later, new head coach hire, Francis Schmidt was asked if Ohio State could beat Michigan. His response:

“How about Michigan?” They put their pants on one leg at a time, the same as we do.”
Francis Schmidt wearing 4 pairs of Gold Pants wrapped across his chest.

Francis engineered four straight victories against Michigan from 1934 to 1937, outscoring the Wolverines 114-0. Schmidt's remark forged a lasting tradition represented by a charm awarded to the players, symbolizing the winner of The Game: Gold Pants.

A Game Remembered

During the most famous Ohio State-Michigan game of all time, a blinding snowstorm crippled central Ohio. A reported 50,000 fans made their way through heavy snowdrifts to the 1950 Snow Bowl. Although it was an Ohio State loss, 9-3, it was a game that would not be forgotten and ultimately led to the hire of a new head coach, Wayne Woodrow Hayes.

"Because I couldn't go for three."

- Woody Hayes on why he went for a two-point conversion late in a 50-14 blowout win vs. Michigan

A Legend Emerges

Wayne Woodrow "Woody" Hayes was the head coach of Ohio State Football from 1951–1978. He is one of the most renowned figures in College Sports and the greatest coach in Ohio State Football history.

  • Ohio State Record: 205-61-10
  • 54 All-Americans & 18 Academic All-Americans
  • 5 National Championships (1954, '57, '61, '68, '70)
  • 13 Big Ten Titles (1954–1955, 1957, 1961, 1968–1970, 1972–1977)
  • AFCA Coach of the Year (1957)
  • Sporting News College Football COY (1968)
  • Walter Camp Coach of the Year Award (1968)
  • Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year (1975)
  • Amos Alonzo Stagg Award (1986)
  • 2x Big Ten Coach of the Year (1973, 1975)
  • College Football Hall of Fame Inductee (1983)

With the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth on the line, Ohio State enjoyed a come-from-behind 21-7 victory sparked by a crucial goal-line stand in the fourth quarter.

The Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl to become the 1954 National Champions. In the photo, a jubilant Ohio State team celebrates in the locker room with Coach Hayes (bottom right-hand corner).

More than 85,000 fans piled into Ohio Stadium on November 23, 1968, to watch two undefeated rivals compete for the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth. They were in luck: Ohio State smashed Michigan 50-14. After the game, students swarmed the field, ripped down goal posts and carried them down High Street to the Statehouse, where fans celebrated late into the night.

Asked why he went for a two-point conversion late in the blowout win, Hayes growled, “Because I couldn’t go for three.” Once again, the Buckeyes won the National Championship.

The Ten Year War

Coach Woody Hayes and his former assistant coach, Bo Schembechler, faced off from 1969 to 1978 in a series of games that came to define the rivalry. Four times between 1970 and 1975, Ohio State-Michigan were each ranked in the top five of the AP Poll before their match-up; they shared the Big Ten title six times during this 10-year period.

Although Hayes respected Michigan, he did not like them. He could not utter their name and often referred to Michigan as "That School Up North" and that they lived in "That State Up North."

Additionally, the "Ten Year War" featured Ohio State's superstar running back, Archie Griffin. During his four year career at OSU, he amassed 6,559 all-purpose yards and 26 touchdowns.

"He's a better young man than he is a football player, and he's the best football player I've ever seen."

- Woody Hayes on Archie Griffin

Archie Griffin - Ohio State Running Back (1972-75)

To this day, he remains the only player in college football to win the Heisman Trophy twice (1974-75).

Archie Griffin with his two Heisman Trophies
"If it's the last game you'd ever want to see in your life, it might be these two teams, and that makes it special. Two great football states, two great schools, two of the largest alumni in the world. The interest level is tremendous."

- Jim Tressel, former National Championship Head Coach on The Game

A Winning Send-off

Overshadowing the 1987 game: turmoil in the Ohio State football program after Earle Bruce's firing. The Buckeyes entered the Michigan game with an overall 5-4 record---and one final game against their rivals to play for Coach Bruce.

Ohio State players rallied around their coach, coming out on the field with white headbands inscribed with “Earle” on them. The Buckeyes rallied from a 13-0 deficit to win the game, sending Bruce off as a winner.

The Tunnel of Pride

In 1995, when Notre Dame visited Ohio Stadium, Rex Kern and Andy Geiger wanted to generate even more emotion, excitement and enthusiasm than what already existed for the game.

They reached out to former Buckeye football players who were attending the game and asked them to form a tunnel for the team to run through as it came onto the field. Thus a tradition was born, which is now continued every other year when Michigan visits Ohio Stadium.


The heart-pounding year of 2002--when Jim Tressel and The Ohio State Buckeyes narrowly escaped with wins in several games--continues in the Michigan game, as the Buckeyes eked out a 14-9 win. Will it be a victory or a defeat? It was uncertain until the final seconds of the game, when Buckeye safety Will Allen intercepted a Michigan pass at the goal line.

Ohio State went on to defeat Miami in a double-overtime thriller, winning its 7th National Championship.

#1 versus #2

In the most anticipated game of a storied rivalry, the Buckeyes and Wolverines faced off as the No. 1 and No. 2-ranked teams in the country during the 2006-07 season. The death of former Ohio State assistant and Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler, days before the game, gave the contest a somber overtone, but an offensive slugfest ensued. Ohio State outlasted Michigan 42-39.

"This is where I think it's the greatest rivalry in all of sport. There is a mutual respect. I didn't say like, but there's a mutual respect."

- Urban Meyer on the rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan.

The Urban Era

In 2012, Urban Meyer faced off against Michigan in Columbus for the first time as the new head coach of Ohio State Football.

New Year. New Gear.

To add to the excitement, NIKE and Ohio State unveiled a shiny, new uniform known as the Rivalry Alternate. It featured enlarged helmet stripes, shoulder stripes, and numbers as well as a chromed-out helmet with illuminating green buckeye leaves.

W, 26-21

Meyer came out victorious against Brady Hoke's Wolverines 26-21, and led Ohio State to an undefeated 12-0 in his first season as head coach.

“This game is another level. Another level of physicality. Another level of preparation. Another level of mental toughness."

- Pat Elflein, Minnesota Vikings Center, Former Ohio State Center & Team Captain

2013-14 Season

Meyer and The Buckeyes went on the road entering The Game 11-0. Again, NIKE and Ohio State unveiled a new uniform specially reserved for their matchup with the Wolverines. The "Snow Bowl" inspired Rivalry Alternates were similar to the 2012 uniforms, but showcased an all-white appearance.

W, 42-41

With 32 seconds left in the 4th quarter, the Wolverines scored and lined up for a game-winning two-point conversion. Devin Gardner's throw was intercepted by safety Tyvis Powell, cementing Ohio State's 2nd consecutive 12-0 regular season and school-record 24 game win streak.

"The magnitude of 'The Game' is what you come to Ohio State for."

- Tyquan Lewis, Ohio State Senior Defensive End & Team Captain

2014-15 Season

The Buckeyes hosted the Wolverines in Meyer's 3rd year as head coach. The thrill of beating rival Michigan was tempered by an injury to star quarterback J.T. Barrett. Cardale Jones, Ohio State's 3rd string QB would enter the game early in the 4th quarter.

W, 42-28

Ezekiel Elliott scored untouched on a 44-yard run on fourth-and-1 with 4:58 left to help Ohio State beat the Wolverines 42-28.

The Buckeyes would go on to shutout Wisconsin 59-0 in the Big Ten Championship, earn the #4 spot in the first-ever College Football Playoffs, defeat Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl, and claim their 8th National Championship over the Oregon Ducks 42-20.

"This is a game that is talked about for 365 days and it's way bigger than you as a player, and way bigger than us as a team."

- J.T. Barrett, Ohio State Senior Quarterback & Team Captain

Meyer v. Harbaugh: Pt. I

The 2015-16 season marked the first year that Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach of The Wolverines and it would be the first time Urban Meyer and Jim Harbaugh would face off.

W, 42-13

Meyer remained a perfect 4-0 against That Team Up North during a 42-13 rout of the Wolverines. He would then lead his Buckeyes to a 44-28 win against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, sending off his Seniors with their 50th win, the second-most by any senior class in a Power 5 conference.

Meyer v. Harbaugh: Pt. II

In part II of Meyer v. Harbaugh, Meyer was looking to become the first Ohio State Head Coach to win his first 5 meetings with That Team Up North. In the 113th meeting between the two, it was #2 OSU v #3 TUN... and let's just say... The Game lived up to the hype.

All the stars were out for this afternoon clash. Including the Cleveland Cavaliers.

King James came prepared with his own Ohio State swag proudly repping the Scarlet and Gray.

For a game of this magnitude, Nike and LeBron gifted the Buckeyes with exclusive LeBron Soldier X cleats to compliment their new look.

Also in attendance was ESPN College Gameday with guest picker, and Buckeye/NFL great, Orlando Pace. 2.7 million viewers tuned in to record the most-watched regular season episode of College Gameday in the show's history.

Both defenses stood firm holding each other to 0 points in the first quarter.

Momentum shifted as linebacker Raekwon McMillan tipped Wilton Speight's pass right into the hands of safety Malik Hooker who took it to the house for 6, giving the Buckeyes a 7-3 lead.

Down 10-7 at the half, the Buckeyes defense again ignited the crowd as linebacker Jerome Baker picked off Wilton Speight, setting up the offense for a red zone score.

The Buckeyes trailed 17-14 going into the 4th quarter.

After a 4th quarter field goal, it was all tied up, 17-17.

In this chess match, neither teams budged, setting up The Game to have its first-ever overtime matchup.

Quarterback J.T. Barrett drew first blood and rushed into the endzone to give the Buckeyes a 24-17 edge in overtime.

The Wolverines returned fire, sending The Game into a second overtime.

After hitting a field goal, it was the Buckeyes chance to either force a third overtime or win it all with a touchdown.

After converting a critical 4th down, Curtis Samuel came sweeping off the left edge with the endzone in sight.

A 15-yard touchdown run sealed the Wolverines' fate and earned the Buckeyes their 5th consecutive victory against That Team Up North. An instant classic for the ages.

The 110,045 record-setting attendance poured onto Ohio Stadium's field immediately after the game-winning touchdown, celebrating this moment with the home team.

2017 Alternate Uniforms

"Every year on the last Saturday in November, the Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines engage in one of the most historic rivalries in all of sport. This year, OSU wants to make a statement with not only their play but also their latest on-field look. It’s the first time this season that the team will wear all-white jerseys and pants. Gray accents and a metallic silver pattern throughout the uniform honor the Buckeyes’ tradition of toughness and remind their rivals of their hard earned (and re-earned) nickname, the Silver Bullets, which describes the squad’s historically staunch defense."

- NIKE, Inc.

It. Is. Time!

- Mickey Marotti, Asst. AD, FB Sport Performance

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