Some refer to it as the Greatest Rivalry in all of sports, in the Midwest and in much of the rest of the country you hear it called The Game. In the sporting world, everyone respects the historic rivalry between The Ohio State University Buckeyes and the University of Michigan Wolverines.
These two premier football schools have been squaring off since 1897 on the gridiron, and the rest of the universities’ sports have followed suit. When the Wolverines compete against the Buckeyes in anything from basketball to canned food drives, the rivalry matters to everyone who considers themselves a part of either side.
Last football season the rivalry became so heated that some players thought it couldn’t be settled through play on the field, and erupted into a fight:
From 1969-78 the sporting world got to experience the Ten Year War, the decade that defined the rivalry. Legendary Woody Hayes was the head coach of the Buckeyes and his former assistant coach Bo Schembechler just took the reigns of the Wolverines’ program. Hayes and company were on an extensive winning streak and Schembechler quickly put a stop to it. The Wolverines’ win marked the beginning of the Ten Year War, pitting some of the greatest rosters either school has ever seen each other in an intense battle for literally ten years. Five of those years both teams were ranked in the top five in the country, making the stakes even higher.
On the football field, The Game always has a way of making or breaking a season as the game is traditionally played as the last regular season match of the year. The two meet religiously every season, odd years in Ann Arbor and even years in Columbus. The varsity programs meet in quite a few other sports and activities, where the rivalry is just as intense.
In 2006 the #1 Buckeyes hosted the #2 Wolverines in what was labeled the Game of the Century. OSU won 42-39 to move on to the National Championship game. This game also marked one of the times when you could see the respect for the rivalry shine over the disgust. Schembechler passed away the night before the game, so the entire stadium joined for a moment of silence and a quick memorial. This teaches the lesson that no matter how much you dislike the other team, you must resepect them, because without them you don’t have the rival you love to hate.
2014 marks year 3 of the rivalry on the lacrosse field, and while this is the youngest NCAA addition to the rivalry, it’s already a huge game for both teams. Michigan was granted varsity status in 2012, and has hosted Ohio State the last two seasons. The Buckeyes won both games pretty safely, but when both teams meet, this game is the only one that matters. Last year the Buckeyes took the win in the Big House, Michigan’s famed stadium built for football.
This year, the battle is even more amplified.
It’s the first time for the Buckeyes to host the Wolverines at home and they’re going big. The game is being played Saturday, April 12th at 11am est. The reason for the early start is because the lacrosse game will start a few hours before the football team’s Scarlet vs. Grey game. Fans who purchase tickets to one are also welcomed to attend the other in the attempt to pack as much as the stadium as possible and to fire people up who may stumble in to the game late, looking to get a good seat for the football game early.
It’s not the first time the Buckeyes have played in the historic Horseshoe. Fans of the spring football game have caught the end of lacrosse games in years past. What’s different this time is that they’re playing Michigan, and if there’s anything Ohio State fans live to do, it’s hate Michigan.
Michigan fans love to get under the Buckeye’s skin by calling Scarlet, Red, or by referring to the school as Ohio and never Ohio State. The Bucks share the same love, always referring to Michigan’s Maize as Yellow and by never using the “M” word, calling them “That Team Up North.” Whether they have ever heard of lacrosse or not, Michigan fans want to beat Ohio State at it and the same goes the other way. Like said in the video above, “Oh your playing Ohio this weekend? Get us a win.”
Growing up in the heart of the rivalry, I can tell you first hand, people from Michigan can not stand Ohioans and vice versa. When a local from either side meets someone from the rival state, the response is typically, “I’m sorry,” or “Why?” This is immediately followed by a prejudice against that person that’s existed since before the Battle for Toledo. Yes, this rivalry really started over who got Toledo, and for the record, it was Ohio.
When a high school student in Ohio or Michigan announces that he or she will be going to the opposing university, it automatically creates a division. Firsthand, I saw athletes, musicians, and actors leave Columbus to take their talents to Ann Arbor. The kids were treated as if they were making a crucial mistake or like they were turning their back on Harvard for a winter of backpacking in Canada. It’s a hard pill for someone that bleeds Scarlet and Grey to swallow, it’s like losing one of your own.
Well, in tomorrow’s match up, there will be quite a few players who are no stranger to this move.
Michigan boasts 5 players from Ohio:
- Ian King of Cincinnati’s St. Xavier
- David McCormack of Cincinnati’s Mariemont
- Cooper Charlton of Cleveland’s Hudson
- Thomas Paras of Cleveland’s St. Ignatius
- David Joespeh of Cleveland’s St. Ignatius
While the Buckeyes have just one player from Michigan
- Nick Diegel of Detroit’s Northville
Michigan also has 9 players from inside Wolverine territory while Ohio State has 7 members from the Buckeye State. These 22 players have known first hand what this game is going to mean well before they got to school.
Do not miss when OSU and UM meet on the lacrosse field, it will be a storied match for years to come. The Shoe has a capacity of over 112,000, and although the place will not be sold out, it will be rocking. When there’s a chance to boo Michigan, Buckeye fans chomp at the opportunity.
I expect to see the game rotating between the Big House in Ann Arbor and the Shoe in Columbus because of the rich history each stadium holds. For those with ties to either school, it sends chills up your spine to walk down the ramp of either stadium. Those who have lived it truly understand it’s history and even a Buckeye fan walking in to the Big House understands the significance of the battles fought on that field.
Catch the game at 11 am est on Saturday, April 12th only on the BIG 10 Network. We will be Tweeting and posting updates live from the game on Facebook and Instagram as well. Follow @LaxAllStars and @donahueref to stay up on the events!
If you see someone from team LaxAllStars at the game, stop by and say hi!
You might get some free stuff… who knows?!?