Michigan Wolverines: Michigan/Ohio State

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry has a ton of individual moments which stick out in the memories of fans, be it individual performances or games or sometimes even the hoopla surrounding it.

Considering this rivalry is among the biggest, longest and best in sports, there is an overflow of Michigan-Ohio State moments to pick from when it comes to selecting the five most memorable, from a Michigan perspective.

Here’s one man’s look at five signature moments in the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry.

1. Michigan upsets Ohio State in 1969: The game which turned the rivalry from just another rivalry into one of the most celebrated rivalries regardless of sport in the nation. First-year head coach Bo Schembechler and Michigan upset Ohio State, 24-12, snapping a 22-game winning streak for the Buckeyes. The win sparked the “Ten-Year War” between Michigan and Ohio State and its legendary coaches, Schembechler and Woody Hayes. At the time it was considered among the biggest upsets in college football history.

[+] EnlargeTim Biakabutuka
AP Photo/Tom PidgeonMichigan running back Tim Biakabutuka high steps past an Ohio State defender to gain some of his career-high 313 yards.
2. Tim Biakabutuka, 1995: Perhaps the single-most impressive individual performance from a Michigan player in the history of the rivalry. While Biakabutuka only scored once in a 31-23 win over then-No. 2 Ohio State, ruining the Buckeyes’ national title hopes, he gained 313 yards, slashing through the entirety of the OSU defense. It was the second-best single-game rushing performance in Michigan history and one of two 300-plus yard rushing games in school history.

3. Snow Bowl, 1950: Like most seasons, the Big Ten title was on the line when these teams played in what the Ohio State library website quotes the Ohio State University Monthly as a “full-scale blizzard.” Michigan won, 9-3, in a game where Wolverines punter Chuck Ortmann punted 24 times. The game’s only touchdown, according to the OSU library site, came after a blocked Ohio State punt in the end zone was recovered by Michigan.

4. Punt returns. So many punt returns: Stop in the end zone. Look around. Pose. When Desmond Howard finished off a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown in 1991, he struck the iconic Heisman pose still replayed more than 20 years later. The return -- and the pose against Ohio State -- helped cinch his Heisman Trophy. Six seasons later, with another potential statue there for the taking, Charles Woodson caught a punt of his own and returned it 78 yards for a touchdown to help Michigan knock off the Buckeyes. Woodson didn’t pose after his return, but the win pushed Michigan to the Rose Bowl and eventual national championship. Oh, and for Woodson, the first and only primarily defensive player to win the Heisman.

5. The day after Bo Schembechler’s death: The day before the biggest game in the history of this rivalry, one of its biggest icons collapsed and died of a heart attack. Bo Schembechler, the architect of a lot of what has turned into the Michigan football of today, had passed away. The last 24 hours of his life included a funeral for a former player, speaking to the 2006 Michigan team and a dinner with old friends. While Michigan lost the next day in Columbus, it turned what would usually have been one of the more intense atmospheres of the year into a somber remembrance. Ohio State honored Schembechler, a former assistant, before the game. His death also transformed Michigan’s program for a handful of years until Brady Hoke’s hire in 2011.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Game still might be more than four months away and the start of the season still more than a month from beginning to take shape, but both Michigan and Ohio State always have at least bit of their focus on, well, each other.

So will we. Without knowing how things will play out over the course of camp and in the season, here’s a quick look at what could be some strengths and weaknesses for the Wolverines at the end of November.

STRENGTHS

The back seven
[+] EnlargeJake Ryan
Sandra Dukes/US PresswireIf Jake Ryan is back to full speed in time for the Ohio State game, Michigan's back seven could make life difficult for Braxton Miller.
By the time Michigan faces Ohio State in the regular season finale, star linebacker Jake Ryan should be back from his ACL injury and actually in form, if he hits the October return timetable Brady Hoke continually has mentioned for him. Adding him to an experienced and talented secondary and a deep linebacking corps could prove problematic for Ohio State's offense, led by quarterback Braxton Miller. Miller played well as a freshman against Michigan and beat the Wolverines as a sophomore, so this could be the biggest matchup to watch.

Miller could end up as a Heisman Trophy candidate, and the Michigan back seven could have a large say whether or not he ends up taking home the stiff-armed trophy.

Gardner-to-Gallon
What is potential with some production now could become the league's best quarterback-to-receiver combination by the time these two teams play in the fall. Receiver Jeremy Gallon had six catches for 67 yards against Ohio State last season, and Devin Gardner was 11-of-20 for 171 yards, a touchdown and an interception. All of that was done with a somewhat odd game plan which had an injured Denard Robinson, unable to throw, lining up at quarterback intermittently.

Robinson is in the NFL, and while Michigan's receiving options other than Gallon are vast unknowns at this point, Gardner-to-Gallon should be as reliable as it can get in college football this season.

WEAKNESSES

Running game
While there is some reason for optimism in Michigan's run game by the end of the season between fifth-year senior Fitzgerald Toussaint and freshman Derrick Green, there are way too many issues here between the questions at running back and the interior of the offensive line, which will feature three new, yet talented, starters. If even one of those things doesn't go completely well, it could be some major issues for the Wolverines this season.

Why? Michigan long has said it would like to have a run-based, pro-style offensive game plan. Without a run game from a running back, well, Michigan tried that last season with varying levels of success.

Getting run over
This isn't a knock on the Michigan front four, just more of the same questions. Ohio State's offensive line might end up as the best in the Big Ten this season, led by a dominant left side with tackle Jack Mewhort and guard Andrew Norwell. Expect the Buckeyes, with Miller and Carlos Hyde, among others, to try and run toward the left side over and over again.

Again, Michigan has potential and youth on the line, but there is a question at essentially every spot on the front four. Can Quinton Washington turn into a leader and be productive when dealing with double teams? Will Frank Clark play to the hype from the spring during the actual season? Does Michigan find strong rotation players and starters at the strong side end and defensive tackle spots? Until these questions are answered, Ohio State could do well by running right at the Wolverines’ line.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Nothing really says as much about a rivalry as a good villain. Every narrative, whether someone wants to admit it or not, has one. There’s a white hat, a black hat, all of those cliched things.

With Michigan and Ohio State, there is plenty to go around.

Here’s a look at the top five Michigan villains for the Buckeyes, most of whom had a hand in critical wins in the last game of the regular season.

1. Bo Schembechler, Coach: Much like Woody Hayes on the Ohio State side (and maybe Jim Tressel) there is no surprise Schembechler is tops on this list. Heck, a band made up of Ohio State fans even called themselves the Dead Schembechlers. Bo vs. Woody still ranks among the best coaching rivalries in the history of sports. Schembechler finished 11-9-1 against his biggest rival and a 5-4-1 record against Hayes. Oh, and if there were any questions about this, Schembechler’s win over Ohio State in 1969 ignited the “Ten-Year War,” which elevated this rivalry to among the best in all of sports.

[+] EnlargeJim Harbaugh
Mike Powell/Allsport Michigan quarterback and Ann Arbor native Jim Harbaugh guaranteed a win over Ohio State in 1986 and delivered.
2. Jim Harbaugh, QB: You make a guarantee that you will beat your rival, you'd better back it up. When Harbaugh, who grew up in Ann Arbor, said Michigan would beat Ohio State, he permanently placed himself in the history of this rivalry. The Monday before The Game in 1986, Harbaugh said “I guarantee we will beat Ohio State and go to Pasadena.” Michigan’s response -- they had to do it. Harbaugh did, leading the Wolverines to a 26-24 win at Ohio State that Saturday, sending his team to the Rose Bowl.

3. Charles Woodson, DB: Where to start? Woodson talked trash with Ohio State receiver David Boston prior to the 1997 contest, then went out and clinched the Heisman Trophy with a 37-yard touchdown reception, a 78-yard punt return touchdown and an interception. This on top of his 1995 performance as a freshman, where in the Tim Biakabutuka game he intercepted two passes to knock off the undefeated Buckeyes. Being from Fremont, Ohio, only makes it more difficult to deal with.

4. Tom Harmon, HB: Harmon wasn’t really even a villain in this rivalry except that he was just so much better than the rest of his peers at the time. According to the Heisman Trophy website, Harmon completed 11 of 12 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns along with 139 rushing yards and two touchdowns in the final game of his college career and against Ohio State. He also intercepted three passes and kicked four extra points in the game. Harmon won the Heisman after the season. Why wasn’t he a bigger villain? Consider this: After the performance, the Michigan Alumnus magazine (on the Bentley Historical Library website) said the crowd at Ohio State gave Harmon a “thundering ovation.” Chances are, that doesn’t happen today.

5. Barry Pierson, DB: In the game which really launched the rivalry -- that 1969 one -- Pierson intercepted Ohio State three times. He also had a massive special teams play, returning an Ohio State punt 60 yards to set up a Michigan touchdown. While that entire 1969 team could probably be on that list, Pierson statistically made a major impact that day.

Bonus selection: Drew Henson, QB: Henson is on this list for a couple of reasons. He was the last Michigan quarterback to beat Ohio State in Columbus in 2000. While that alone might not be enough to be on this list, consider this: When he left Michigan to pursue baseball following that season, he was assigned to be the third basemen for ... the Columbus Clippers. It did not go well. Henson was booed over and over again despite playing for the hometown team and the Triple-A affiliate of the Yankees. All because he played for Michigan and beat Ohio State.

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