Ohio State football coach Ryan Day said changing when the Buckeyes’ annual game against Michigan is played is worth considering.
“The Game could not have an impact on a whole bunch in terms of if both teams are in the Big Ten Championship Game already,” Day said Wednesday during Big Ten Football Media Days in Indianapolis. “Then could it minimize The Game? That’s my concern.
“Even if you played it week 11, week 10, no matter what it’s gonna matter. But if you know you’re playing them in the Big Ten Championship Game already it could be something we haven’t experienced before. So I think it’s worth a discussion.”
He added that such discussions have already taken place.
“Yeah, I know that they’re talking about it. I just think that any hard decisions have been made. I don’t think they’re going to be made here real soon. I just want to be part of those conversations,” Day said.
Ohio State and Michigan first played in 1897, and the Wolverines lead the all-time series 60-52-6.
The Game was moved to the final weekend of the regular season in 1935, and since that time the outcome had the potential to leave a major impact on the final Big Ten standings 48 times according to Michigan Sports Information Department research.
That includes 24 times the teams played a de facto conference championship game, deciding the league title between themselves, and the ability to ruin the other team’s season has been one of the rivalry’s defining traits.
The Buckeyes and Wolverines have never played twice in a season, but it will become possible in 2024 when the Big Ten expands to 16 teams and drops its divisional format, instead pitting the top two teams in the standings against each other at the end of the season.
Were that the format since ‘35, Dayton Daily News research indicates the teams would have had approximately 24 immediate rematches, including the past two seasons.
In 14 of those seasons, including last year, the teams would have already known they were going to play again before the regular season contest.
The “10-Year War” when Woody Hayes coached Ohio State against his former pupil Bo Schembechler (1969-78), arguably the most famous era of the rivalry, would have included seven rematches as the teams dominated the rest of the league.