PREVIEW: Great Lake Rivalry Game for This Century
What is in a rivalry game? A rivalry game is supposed to be a monumental event for sports fans, it’s supposed to represent the pinnacle of competition and emotion. Teams should be able to hurdle over their limitations and find new strength from their passion to just beat their opposition for this one game. I’m of the opinion that many people have lost touch with what rivalry games are, and that’s become a detriment to all sports. College sports are at the forefront of that misconception with so many teams having bad blood with so many others in the same conference. The SEC alone has at least a dozen possible combinations of rivalries. One of my favorite college football teams, Notre Dame, must have that many rivalries just by itself. I think it’s diluted the definition, and sports networks can sometimes overhype games trying to get viewers to care. But today we get to see something that actually counts, and something that actually matters, and something that is actually a rivalry.
Michigan and Ohio State are rivals. Real rivals. They’ve been playing annually for nearly one-hundred years. They’ve been in the same conference for ages, and very often these two teams have had a stake in who wins the conference and even national championships. Is it the same bitter rivalry that Michigan shares with Michigan State? I’d say it’s better, and here’s why. The Wolverines and the Spartans have been playing against each other just slightly longer, but the series is far and away in Michigan’s favor with a 69-35-5 record (let’s talk basketball if we want the Spartans to be more competitive). Ohio State and Michigan, however, is much closer. Michigan historically holds the edge with a 58-46-7 record, but Ohio State has been the more successful team in recent years with a current win streak of 4 games over Michigan and being involved in National Championship discussions almost annually. Then throw in the emotions that are involved when you consider Wolverine and Buckeye football are immediately recognizable programs to anyone that follows sports, the massive number passionate fans each has, and geographical nearness of the two programs. Plus, let’s be honest, Michigan and Ohio State represent the shining light of football season if you happen to be a Lions or a Browns fan.
Today will be one of those games that matter. Not just a game where passion and a few too many drinks at the bar fuel the fire, but a real every point matters this is the end of the line and we have to win or we’re out of the playoffs edge of your seat kind of game. Most years College Football has one of these games and in recent years it’s been a feature that the SEC has monopolized. But this year it’s the Big Ten and this year both teams have one loss, so there is no reasonable chance either team has of maintaining their current position amongst the top four teams in College Football and looking for a chance to play for a National Championship.
Who takes home the cake and a chance at the National Championship? My bet is for Michigan. I’m projecting a score of 27-24 in one that comes down to the final minutes. I expect the big names to shine and a Heisman-defining performance for Jabril Peppers.