Last time Ohio State was coming off a loss in the series and trying to beat a defending Big Ten champion Michigan team was 2004. Unranked Ohio State stunned the seventh-ranked Wolverines 37-21 that season to start a seven-game winning streak in the series.
With a loss last year and the 2020 game being canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio State’s 2020 class is still looking for its first win against Michigan. The last Ohio State class to be on campus for three years without beating Michigan was the 1995 group that included Antoine Winfield, Ahmed Plummer, Matt Keller, Rob Murphy and Joe Germaine. They won their fourth try in ‘98. The 1999 class was the last one to go 0-2 (they won in 2001 and ‘02), and the 1997 class is the last to finish four years with a losing record against Michigan.
According to research by the Michigan Sports Information Dept., The Game has had potential for major impact on the Big Ten standings 48 times since it was moved to the end of the regular season in 1935. This will be 49 as the winner will finish alone atop the Big Ten East division.
Ohio State is 26-22-1 at Ohio Stadium against Michigan, the winner of the dedication game for the stadium in 1922. Michigan had a winning record at the Horseshoe until 2010.
Both teams are ranked in the top 10 for the 25th time. Ohio State has a 12-10-2 advantage in those games despite Michigan winning seven in a row from 1976-2003.
Ohio State has won nine in a row against Michigan in Columbus. The last Michigan win at Ohio Stadium came in 2000, John Cooper’s last regular season game as head coach of the Buckeyes. When the streak began, Michigan had a 27-19-2 advantage as the road team. Ohio State’s 2018 win put the Buckeyes over .500 at home against the Wolverines (28-27-2) for the first time.
The underdog won eight of 12 meetings from 1993-2004, including four wins for each team. The higher-ranked team won the next 13 games before Ohio State’s 2018 upset. Including that game, two of the last three games have been upsets.
One team has gotten its first loss of the season in The Game eight times: Ohio State in 1969, ‘93, ‘95 and ‘96, and Michigan in ‘70, ‘72, ‘74 and ‘06. The teams ruined a perfect season for each other in 1973 with a 10-10 tie.
Michigan leads the rivalry, which was first played in 1897, by a mark of 59-52-6. The Wolverines’ seven-game advantage includes the 2010 game Ohio State vacated because of NCAA sanctions, a 37-7 Ohio State victory that the Wolverines recognize but the Buckeyes do not in official records.
Both teams are ranked in the top five for the 12th time. Ohio State has a 7-3-1 advantage in such games, including the first in 1942 when Paul Brown’s Buckeyes won 21-7 en route to their first national championship. The last time was 2016 when No. 2 Ohio State beat No. 3 Michigan 30-27 in two overtimes.
Both teams are in the top 10 for The Game for the fourth season in a row. That also happened in the mid-70s when both teams were in the top 10 for six straight seasons from 1972-77.
Ohio State has not lost two games in a row to Michigan since 2000, a 38-26 decision in Columbus that followed a 24-17 Wolverines win in Ann Arbor in 1999.
Ryan Day is 1-1 as head coach of the Buckeyes against Michigan. He is trying avoid being the first Ohio State coach to lose at least two of his first three to the Wolverines since 1989 when Cooper started 0-2 en route to 2-10-1. Urban Meyer won his first three while Jim Tressel (Cooper’s successor) and Earle Bruce (Cooper’s immediate predecessor) both started 2-1. Woody Hayes went 16-11-1 against the Wolverines but lost two of his first three before winning eight of his next 10. (As interim coach, Luke Fickell lost his only chance in 2011.)