Cleat Geeks

By 2042, the Buckeyes Will Overtake The Rivalry Lead

October 17, 1897 – Ohio State, a relative newcomer to the College Football world, played their first game against the Michigan Wolverines – a team that would quickly become their arch-nemesis. The Wolverines, who started their football program 11 years prior to Ohio State, beat the visiting Buckeyes that day in a lopsided, 34-0 victory.

rivalry_crop_northThe two would continue playing one another from 1900-1912, with most of the meetings taking place in Ann Arbor, MI and the result being very much the same. In fact, from that first meeting in 1897 to 1912, Ohio State scored a grand total of 21 points (in 14 games) and totaled a win, loss, tie record of 0-12-2.

Needless to say, the self-proclaimed National Champions over many years of that span had more experience and better coaching than my beloved Buckeyes. However, following the meeting in 1912, a new coach by the name of John Wilce took over for the Buckeyes and, to some degree, changed the fortune of Ohio State in what would indeed become ‘The Greatest Rivalry in All of Sports’.

Wilce got his first crack at ‘That Team Up North’ in the 1918 season, where the Buckeyes lost 14-0 in Columbus. However, unlike the coaches who came before him, he was able to post Ohio State’s first victory over the Wolverines the following year in Ann Arbor by the score of 13-3. He, then, followed that up with two more wins over the next two years.

Since Wilce’s first crack at Michigan in 1918, these two historic programs have faced each other every year in the regular season finale. The rivalry’s record from that point on is deadlocked at 46-46-4. Unfortunately, the lackluster performances put on by the ‘Scarlet and Gray’ prior to 1918 count and are a large reason why the current record of the rivalry sits at 58-46-6 in favor of the Wolverines.hayesFootball

Since the inception of the rivarly, both schools have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The ‘Ten Year War’ between Woody and Bo intensified the rivalry’s cachet, while the Cooper, Rich Rod, and Hoke eras are ones each fanbase would like to forget and tend to use in defense of their respective team. Hell, from a Buckeyes perspective, the Cooper era is a significant reason why Ohio State has such a deficit against the Wolverines and had Jim Tressel not come along, it could have grown much worse.

Now, as we approach the 2015-2016 College Football campaign, Ohio State sits just 12 wins away (11, if you are like me and count the vacated win of 2010) from tying the rivalry up, which has never been done. In fact, Ohio State is the closest they have ever been to bringing the deficit to single digits – the last instance being 9-0-1 in Michigan’s favor.

Call me crazy, call me a dreamer, but I firmly believe that by the time I am 50 years old (2042 – 27 years from now) the Buckeyes will have at least tied, if not taken over the series lead and here is why:

1. The Current and Future Coaching/Players Circumstances:
Since 2001, Ohio State has only dropped two games to the Wolverines. This has a lot to do with the Buckeyes coaching being superior to Michigan’s. Tressel, and now Meyer, have set the standard for how the Buckeyes approach this rivalry and have recruited some of the best players this university has ever seen. Not to mention names that will resonate in this rivalry for years to come such as Troy Smith, Braxton Miller, Beanie Wells, etc.
Ohio State’s talent is better, their coaching is better, everything is better! Now granted, Harbaugh is back in town and will most certainly revive Michigan football into what it once was, but that brings me to my next point.

2. Harbaugh, the Second Place Guru:
harbaugh2Jim Harbaugh is no doubt a great coach. He resurrected the Stanford program and instantly made the 49ers a threat in the National Football League (NFL). However, this is where the good end for Harbaugh.

His resume, though impressive, still leaves a lot to be desired. Three total conference titles (two from the University of San Diego and one with the San Francisco 49ers) and one Orange Bowl win.

Harbaugh has only coached three less years than Urban Meyer and has more losses, less bowl wins, and less overall success. The key area regarding Harbaugh is he seemingly comes in second more often than not. Runner-up in the NFL, loser in the NFC Championship (twice), and second place in the Pac-10 (now Pac-12).

In major college and profressional football, he is consistently receiving the silver medal. This rivalry and the Big Ten Conference will be no different. Before Harbaugh’s tenure at Michigan ends (Note: He has not spent more than four years with a program), he may win a game or two over the Buckeyes, but second place will be his ceiling. If I were Harbaugh, I would focus on reclaiming the rivalry with Michigan State, that way, he does not become accustomed to winning the bronze medal.

3. Winning Streaks Adding Up:
One of the big reasons why Ohio State is just 12 games away from tying this rivalry is because of the recent win streaks the Buckeyes have piled up. From 2003-2010, Ohio State piled up seven straight wins over the Wolverines – which made a large gap close significantly. In addition, the current Buckeye three-game win streak has also helped.

If by 2042, the ‘Scarlet and Gray’ can make the losses to Michigan few-and-far-between, as they have since 2001, it will not be long before the series is tied. 12 wins in 27 years at the rate Ohio State is going is very likely and they have the coaches and weapons to get it done.

For now, Buckeye Nation must continue to hear about trailing the Wolverines, which is seemingly one of the only things they have over us these days. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer that those days are more numbered then even Michigan fans recognize.

Meyer has the significant edge over Harbaugh and that edge transfers to the players on game days. Like Tressel, Meyer has made it a point to focus on Michigan and you can see the players have bought into it. The inevitable is coming. The years of trailing the Wolverines will soon come to a close with the next step in tying the rivalry just 150 days and 16 hours away.

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