Ohio State-Michigan showdown lived up to hype

Never mind that No. 2 Ohio State's clash with No. 3 MI this week is the most meaningful contest between the bitter rivals in a decade. The Buckeyes and Wolverines play on Saturday morning meaning one will pick up a second loss opening up another spot in the top 4.

MI safety Dymonte Thomas outlines the defenses plans to stop J.T. Barrett and the Ohio State offense. Harbaugh and the Wolverines made good on that promise, defeating Ohio State 26-24 and capturing a Big Ten championship in the process. The stakes for "The Game" haven't been this high since 2006, when Ohio State was No. 1 and MI was No. 2.

In what is remembered as the "Snow Bowl", the unranked Wolverines beat No. 8 Ohio State 9-3 as the temperature hovered around 10 degrees with winds reaching almost 30 miles per hour and the white stuff making it tough to see or play. Under that scenario, the Big Ten might place two teams in the playoff - Ohio State and the conference champ. MI hasn't won a conference title since 2004.

"The way the season marched on and the way both teams continued to succeed, it just created this epic meeting of two rivals", said former Buckeyes defensive tackle Joel Penton. There's also the Big 12 rivalry game in Bedlam, as well as should the Big Ten have two teams in the field? Ohio State also had won seven of its previous nine matchups versus MI. The Huskies play at No. 23 Washington State on Friday.

There's plenty on the line in Saturday's 11 a.m. game between the second-ranked Buckeyes and third-rated Wolverines at Ohio Stadium, the fifth time in the history of the series that the two traditional Big Ten powers have met when both were ranked in the top five.

For one season, the hundreds of variables involved in college athletics - the fabric of what makes the games compelling - all aligned perfectly for this part of the country. In Columbus, the game against "The Team Up North" doesn't need any additional hype.

The 1950 game was played during the Great Appalachian Storm of 1950 when OH dealt with one of the worst blizzards in the state's history.

If Ohio State beats Michigan on Saturday, then Penn State can advance to the conference title game by beating Michigan State.

James has provided Ohio State's players with cleats inspired by his signature Nike sneakers. Woodson returned a punt 78 yards for a score, sprinting up the same sideline - Ohio State's - and into the same end zone that Howard did to help No. 1 MI beat No. 4 Ohio State 20-14 en route to a national championship.

If Ohio State triumphs, does it belong in the College Football Playoff even without a conference championship on its resume? On the final play, Will Allen sealed the victory for the Buckeyes by intercepting John Navarre's pass just in front of the goal line.

MI coach Jim Harbaugh said Barrett is hard to predict because he's able to do so many things well.

Any sort of major change would begin with MI and Ohio State and an annual meeting that dates back to 1897. The Wolverines were 18-9-1 from 1976-2003 under Schembechler, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr. Or if Washington dropped another game.

Ohio State is 6-2 ATS in its last eight games in Week 13.

Many expected a physical, hard-fought game a year ago and Ohio State rolled to a 42-13 win in Ann Arbor.

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