On Saturday, November 30th, the 110th rendition of "The Game" will be played in Michigan Stadium. (Note: According to the NCAA, it's officially the 109th meeting due to Ohio vacating its wins during the 2010 season, but technically, it'll be the 110th time they play football against each other, so refer to this year's game in whatever fashion suits you.) The overall record between the two teams stands at 58-45-6 (58-44-6 after sanctions) in favor of the Wolverines. It's always the last game on the schedule; it's been that way since 1935. After the first 15 games in the series, the game site has alternated between Columbus in even years and Ann Arbor in odd years. The Game usually kicks off at noon (with a notable exception occurring for the 2006 "Game of the Century," which kicked off at 3:30pm), regardless of those begging for it to be played during primetime.
But before I go any further, let me state the obvious: there's no easy way to discuss the Michigan-Ohio rivalry in one article, especially when we're talking about classic games. Every game in the series could be argued as a classic, from the low-scoring games, like the 0-0 tie in 1900, to the high-scoring, such as the 86-0 blowout win for Michigan in 1902, to the classics, like the "Snow Bowl" in 1950, which saw the teams play for the Big Ten Championship. Michigan would win by a score of 9-3 in a snowy, windy mess of a game. The Wolverines never gained a first down, and both teams combined for 45 punts, some of them occurring on first down. The "Snow Bowl" was a battle for field position, with both teams hoping to capitalize on a miscue by the other team. Michigan did so more times than Ohio, gaining their points on a blocked kick that went out of the endzone for a safety and a blocked punt that the Wolverines fell on for a touchdown.
As for this article, I'm not going to try to pick and choose the greatest games. Everyone has their personal favorites. If I picked myself, I'd choose the aforementioned and heartbreaking "Game of the Century" in 2006, Michigan's critical win in 2011 that ended Ohio's seven-game winning streak, and Bo's triumph over Woody in the first game of the "Ten-Year War:" two of those because I was born in 1992 and the other because I've read so much about it. But instead, I'm going to recap the entire "Ten-Year War," because it's the most exciting era of the rivalry. The teams involved in those games were some of the best either school has ever had, and no relationship between coaches will ever compare to the one between Bo and Woody. And there's also been grumblings about Hoke and Meyer starting their own version. It's up for debate whether or not that'll actually happen. Some don't think Urban will stay in Columbus long enough, and it's no guarantee both teams enter "The Game" with as much talent as they did during Bo and Woody's era. But only time will tell, so for now, let's look back at each game in the "Ten-Year War." (Note: Most of my insight into these games came from the fantastic book by Joel Pennington titled "The Ten-Year War: Ten Classic Games Between Bo and Woody." It's a great read and all of you should check it out. Consider my post a SparkNotes version that's hopefully a better read than the Wikipedia page.)
Game One, November 22nd, 1969, (#12) Michigan 24 - (#1) Ohio 12
If Bo and Woody weren't the head coaches of Michigan and Ohio in 1969, "The Game" would have been important, as it is every year. But since the men shared a relationship dating back to 1949, when Bo played offensive tackle under Woody when he was head coach at Miami of Ohio, "The Game" had an entirely different and new meaning in '69. Their relationship went much deeper than Woody coaching Bo: after Woody landed the head coaching job at Ohio in 1951, he hired Bo as a graduate assistant while Bo completed his master's degree. Bo would bounce around other schools - Presbyterian, Bowling Green, Northwestern - as an assistant coach before Woody hired him back at Ohio. Bo and Woody would spend the next five years becoming friends and succeeding together, including an undefeated season and claimed National Championship in 1961. But the Ohio faculty council chose to turn down the football team's Rose Bowl invitation that year - believing that football was taking away from academics - which hampered the momentum Woody and Bo had built. Bo would stay at Ohio one more year before taking the head coaching position at his alma mater, Miami of Ohio. He aimed to succeed and prove himself, and ultimately, take the Ohio head coach job once Woody retired.
While Bo was at Miami, Woody struggled at Ohio, failing to win the Big Ten Title until 1968, when the Buckeyes went undefeated and claimed another National Championship. That same year would be Bo's last at Miami as he joined the University of Michigan. He arrived to a school with a lackluster team that had gone to the Rose Bowl once since 1951. And to make matters worse, the Wolverines owned meager facilities; they were so bad that players and coaches had to hang their "clothes on nails that were nailed into a wood plank on the wall." But regardless of the situation he came upon in Ann Arbor, Bo held two main goals above all else for Michigan football:
"We built our program on the basic principle of tough, aggressive football. And we built it with the goal of beating Ohio State."
And so began the "Ten-Year War," with Bo rebuilding a once-proud Michigan football program, and Woody on top of the college football world after a National Championship.
Coming into the first game of the war, the Buckeyes were being hailed as the "greatest college football team of all time" and the Wolverines looked for revenge after being embarrassed a year ago, losing by a score of 50-14. This blowout generated the famous urban myth that after going for two in the final minutes, when asked why he did it, Woody Hayes responded, "Because I couldn't go for three!" Coaches and players have dispelled this quote as fabricated, but nonetheless, Ohio had Michigan's number. Bo and the Wolverines looked to change that.
The Buckeyes traveled to Ann Arbor favored by 17 points but unable to secure a Rose Bowl bid with a victory due to the Big Ten's no-repeat rule (for those who don't know, the Big Ten didn't allow teams to go to the Rose Bowl in consecutive years back until 1972). They were undefeated, ranked #1 overall, and winning every game in dominant fashion: no team had finished a game within four touchdowns of Ohio (opposing offenses averaged less than nine points per game), while their offense averaged more than 46 points per game. The Buckeyes weren't just matching what they did a year ago: they were surpassing it.
On the other sideline, Bo started his rebuilding process at Michigan. The Wolverines entered "The Game" with a 7-2 record, hitting their stride coming into the matchup with Ohio after a shaky start. After losing to Michigan State to fall to 3-2 on the season, the Wolverines won the next four by a combined score of 178-22. A win would give Michigan a trip to the Rose Bowl as well as a share of the Big Ten title; a loss would give Ohio a three-game winning streak against the Wolverines and their second straight conference championship. To make sure the Michigan players hadn't forgotten the previous season's loss, Bo placed the number "50" everywhere: on walls, on the shower curtains, and he even had every player on the scout team wear a #50 jersey.
Running onto the field in front of a sellout crowd (which wasn't the norm then as it is now), the Wolverines were greeted by the Buckeyes warming up on their side of the field. Bo knew Woody was testing him, and after telling Hayes to move, Bo reflected that the "players saw that and thought I sent Woody packing. They really got fired up." But even though the Wolverines game plan was to contain All-American quarterback Rex Kern, the Buckeyes leader still ran for 25-yards on the first play from scrimmage. Ohio looked to take an early, but they stalled at Michigan's 11-yard line after a failed fourth down attempt. After the Wolverines went three-and-out, the Buckeyes got on the scoreboard first on a 1-yard run by All-American running back Jim Otis, but missed the PAT, giving them a 6-0 lead. A strong kickoff return gave Michigan the ball near midfield and they would respond with a touchdown of their own on a 3-yard run by fullback Garvie Craw. The successful extra-point gave Michigan the lead at 7-6, which was the first time Ohio had trailed all season. But the Buckeyes weren't phased having to play from behind, and they came back with another methodical drive that carried into the second half. On the first play of the second quarter, Kern hit tight end Jan White over the middle for Ohio's second touchdown. After the Wolverines were call offsides on the extra-point kick, Woody went for two and failed, giving the Buckeyes a 12-7.
From that point, the game became Michigan's. The Buckeyes lead would be short-lived as Michigan stormed back to score on another run by Craw. With a successful PAT (something Ohio couldn't seem to accomplish), the Wolverines took a 14-12 lead over a stunned Ohio squad. Using the electricity of the crowd, Michigan's defense forced the Buckeyes into a three-and-out on the ensuing possession. On the punt return, defensive back Barry Pierson ripped through the Ohio coverage until he was pulled down at the Buckeyes 3-yard line. Michigan would score two plays later on a run by quarterback Don Moorhead after a fake to Craw. The third successful extra point on the day for the Wolverines gave them a 21-12 lead that knocked the wind out of the Buckeyes. Ohio would drive once more before halftime, but it ended at Michigan's 36-yard line. Michigan turned around on offense, taking the ball to Ohio's 3-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-three, Bo elected to go for it. Moorhead dropped back and tossed the ball to tight end Jim Mandich in the endzone. But the Wolverines were called for an illegal procedure, and facing fourth-and-eight instead, Bo decided to kick the field goal, giving Michigan a commanding 24-12 lead against the nation's best team heading into halftime.
In the locker rooms, Michigan's defensive coordinator, Jim Young, while he diagrammed plays, screamed, "They will NOT score again!" over and over as he pounded the chalkboard. The Wolverines defense got the message and shut out the Buckeyes in the second half. Michigan's offense would be shut out as well, but it wouldn't matter. Ohio would end up committing seven turnovers on the day: six interceptions and one fumble. Barry Pierson snagged three of the interceptions in the second half to go with his already successful day on special teams. As Pierson remembered, "Bo kept telling us all week that he knew what they were going to do. He told us that if they put a man in motion or lined up in a certain formation, that this or that would happen. It really hit home to us when that's exactly what they did. We were so confident because Bo had them down cold." Woody would try to spark his offense by bringing in his backup quarterback, Ron Maciejowski. Maciejowski had gained more playing time than a normal backup would, since the starters were usually pulled in the second half due to Ohio's large leads. But the change didn't help, and Moorhead took a knee to end the game as the Michigan fans roared. The players carried Bo to midfield on their shoulders, but dropped him. Bo commented that "it was the only thing [they] fumbled all day." Mandich, a captain, cried as his teammates carried him off the field, and later referred to the game as "the signature event of my life." But offensive star Garvie Craw stated it best: "This is the greatest victory in the history of the world!"
For Michigan, the win redefined and revived the football program. As then-defensive end coach Gary Moeller recalled: "[The win] changed everything. It legitimized what we were doing and changed the course of the program. It also brought back the rivalry. Michigan hadn't had much success against Ohio State in recent years, but this was the turning point. It was going to be a clash of titans from then." Bo said much of the same: "The set the table. There would be no more bad facilities or hanging our clothes on nails. That win ushered in a new era of Michigan football that we are still enjoying today. You can trace it all back to November 22nd, 1969."
The win sent the Wolverines to the Rose Bowl. On the morning of the game, Bo had a heart attack, which made him miss the game. Michigan wouldn't do well without him, falling to the USC Trojans 10-3. The Wolverines finished with an 8-3 (6-1) record and ranked #9 overall. Ohio would finish ranked #4 at 8-1 (6-1). The teams shared the Big Ten title.
Years later, when Woody retired in 1978, he chose his '69 team as the greatest team he coached at Ohio. Bo was in attendance (he would speak as the representative of Woody's assistant coaches) and Woody exclaimed, in reference to the '69 team: "Damn you, Bo! You will NEVER win a bigger game than that one."
Game Two, November 21st, 1970, (#4) Michigan 9 - (#5) Ohio 20
Even with the crushing loss against Michigan in '69, Ohio entered the season with National Championship expectations again, and the Wolverines looked to build upon Bo's triumphant inaugural season. With energy in the rivalry higher than ever before, both teams cruised into the 1970 edition of "The Game" within one spot of each other in the rankings, with undefeated records, and with only one win apiece by less than double digits: Michigan over Texas A&M, 14-10, and Ohio over Purdue on a last second field goal (the week before Michigan), 10-7. It was the first time both teams entered "The Game" unbeaten. But the Buckeyes weren't as powerful on offense as they were a season prior. According to Rex Kern, Woody limited the Ohio offense after the numerous mistakes and turnovers against Michigan in '69. On the other hand, the Wolverines came into "The Game" stronger than the previous season, with a chance to become the first undefeated Michigan since 1948. They were riding high entering the showdown in Columbus, outscoring their opponents by an average of 30 points in the six preceding games.
Similar to Bo's stressing of the #50 in 1969, Woody Hayes had a rug made up during the spring and placed it outside of the Ohio locker room. The players had to walk over the rug every day on their way to practice. It had two game scores on it in large print: the score from '69 and question marks next to score for 1970 (Here's a photo of Woody walking on it). With the roles reversed, Woody felt the pressure on himself and Ohio, and on the Thursday before the game, after a rough week of practice before the game, he broke down. His coaches walked in the meeting room to find him shaking his head as he said "We can't beat them." But his coaches reassured him and told him to smash the water pitcher into the wall when the players arrive. Woody did, but that wasn't the last of his motivation tactics in 1970. Rex Kern explained another way Woody inspired the team in the week leading into the matchup:
"We were doing a walk through where you move down the field talking about different players and situations. When we got to midfield, Woody stopped to stress an important point and, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed two players who were still back at the goal line talking to each other. Well, that did it. He took his play cards he was using and began tearing them up and threw them across the field, He started screaming at the top of his lungs. ‘Don't you guys know who we're playing? Don't you know it's Michigan? It's Michigan! It's Michigan! He tore off his watch, threw it down, and stomped on it. He started crying real tear and fell down on the ground, pounding his fists on the ground. By this time, the two players who hadn't been paying attention were running, at full sprint, toward midfield. Earl Bruce [an assistant coach] came over to help Woody up. As he was getting Woody to his feet, Woody just kept whimpering, ‘They won't play for me, Earle. They just won't play for me.' Earle kept saying, ‘Sure they will, coach. Sure, they'll play for you.' As Woody was putting himself back together, some of our younger guys like John hicks and Tom DeLeone, who were very emotional guys, were almost beside themselves and kept telling me, ‘C'mon, Rex. Get us moving. Get us going.' It was a very effective motivational tactic. That practice really sharpened us up after that. It was vintage Woody."
Weeping Vintage Woody worked to perfection, and the Buckeyes showed it on the first play of the game. On the opening kickoff, Michigan tailback Lance Scheffler took the ball up field, where Ohio's Rich Ferko decked him at the 22-yard line. Scheffler fumbled the ball, and the Buckeyes recovered at Michigan's 25. On their second play, Kern hit wideout Bruce Jankowski with a 9-yard pass that Bruce would take in for the score. But the touchdown would be overturned as the official near the catch ruled that Jankowski's knee was down at Michigan's 14. Ohio disagreed, but nevertheless, it gave Michigan a chance to keep the Buckeyes out of the endzone, which they did. Ohio had to settle for a field goal to take an early, yet disappointing, 3-0 lead. Following the field goal, both teams failed to do anything productive on offense. As the second quarter neared, Kern threw an interception to safety Jim Betts. Michigan's offense took over at Ohio's 43-yard line, but failed to find the endzone. The Wolverines were forced to kick a field goal, tying the game at 3-3.
Both teams would continue to stumble on offense early in the second quarter until Michigan committed an unnecessary penalty. During Paul Staroba's launching of a 73-yard punt that put Ohio at their 18-yard line, the Wolverines were called for a face-mask while the ball was in the air. This erased Staroba's kick and moved Michigan back, causing Staroba to kick from the endzone. He failed to come close to the distance of his first kick, and the Buckeyes gained possession at Michigan's 47-yard line: a net gain of 35 yards due to the penalty. Ohio wouldn't waste their chance, finding the endzone on another pass from Kern to Jankowski to give them the lead at 10-3 with a little over a minute left in the half. Michigan tried to respond before halftime, but fumbled again, giving Ohio the ball at Michigan's 46-yard line with 39 seconds remaining. But Ohio failed to manage the clock efficiently and time ran out on the half.
Following the break, Michigan held Ohio to a three-and-out on the first drive of the third quarter. The Wolverines responded with a touchdown drive capped by a 13-yard pass from Moorhead to Staroba (yes, the punter also played wide receiver). But the Buckeyes would block the PAT to keep the lead at 10-9, a lead they would keep for the rest of the game. Michigan's defense held Ohio to three-and-outs on their following two possessions, but failed to do anything on offense. The Buckeyes struggled as well, until the closing seconds of the third quarter, when they gained a first down (their first since halftime). Ohio continued the drive in the fourth quarter, eventually kicking a field goal to go up 13-9. With time running out and no ground game all day, the Wolverines started their next drive with intentions to pass, pass, pass. Michigan wouldn't get far, as Moorhead threw an interception on the third play of the drive. The Buckeyes returned the pick all the way to the Wolverines 9-yard line. Even though the game started to look hopeless, Michigan knew that if they kept Ohio out of the endzone, they'd still have a chance. But they didn't. Running back Leo Hayden took the ball in for the score on third and goal from the 4-yard line. The touchdown gave Ohio the lead at 20-9 and control of the game. Michigan would fail to do anything for the rest of regulation as Ohio celebrated its victory.
After Michigan completed one of its greatest victories of all-time in 1969, the Buckeyes responded with as great of a win for themselves in 1970. The defining state of the game: Michigan came into the game averaging 274 rushing yards per game, and Ohio's defense held them to a meager 37 yards. Following "The Game," Ohio won the Big Ten and went on to the Rose Bowl to play Stanford for a chance at the National Championship. The Cardinal would upset the Buckeyes, and Ohio would finish ranked #5 in the AP (#2 in the Coaches) at 9-1 and claim another National Championship. Michigan's season ended in Columbus, with a 9-1 record and ranked #9 overall.
Game Three, November 20th, 1971, (#3) Michigan 10 - Ohio 7
In just two years, Bo had resurrected Michigan football from mediocrity, making them into one of the top programs in the nation. The Wolverines came into game three of the "Ten-Year War" right where they were one year prior: undefeated at 10-0 with only one win by less than double digits (20-17 at Purdue the week before Ohio) and ranked #3 overall. Michigan won their games by an average difference of nearly five touchdowns: the offense averaged 39.9 points per game while the defense allowed just 6.3 points per game. For the first time in a long time, the Wolverines were heavy favorites to win against Ohio, by almost two-touchdowns. They had another chance to go unbeaten and to return to the Rose Bowl.
Unlike the two previous seasons, the Buckeyes stumbled into the showdown against Michigan. Ohio lost 17 starters from 1970 and boasted a disappointing 6-3 record after an early season loss against Colorado and back-to-back losses against Michigan State and Northwestern heading into "The Game." Moreover, the Buckeyes were plagued by injuries in 1971 and by the time they faced Michigan, not a single offensive starter from '70 was playing. The defensive endured the same issues, and as if Ohio was cursed, their starting defensive end - Tom Marendt - came down with appendicitis the morning of the game, weakening the Buckeyes defense even more.
The game started with Ohio kicking the ball to Michigan. After a three-and-out by the Wolverines, Ohio's Tom Campana started his successful day off with a punt return to Michigan's 28-yard line. The Buckeyes looked to capitalize early - just like the previous year - but a fumble gave the ball back to the Wolverines at the 17-yard line. Michigan would gain some first downs before stalling. Ohio took over, but did nothing. After the punt, the Wolverines drove in Buckeyes territory before failing to convert on fourth-and-inches at Ohio's 23-yard line. The teams continued to trade possessions like this until Michigan's Dana Coin kicked a 32-yard field goal with 5:19 remaining in the first half. The Wolverines would threaten once more before halftime after an interception, but fumbled in the redzone. So the score remained 3-0 Michigan as the two teams headed into the locker rooms.
With the second half underway, both defenses continued to shine and both offenses continued to sputter. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth. Nothing would happen until Michigan punted to Ohio late in the third quarter. Campana received the punt again, but this time he wouldn't fall short of the endzone as he took the kick 85 yards for the touchdown. After failing to do anything offensively, Ohio had the lead thanks to their punt return unit, 7-3, with 2:07 left in the third. Following the touchdown, the game reverted to the back-and-forth monotony seen through most of the game. Michigan couldn't figure out Ohio's defense, and the Buckeyes began to see an upset within sight. The Wolverines gained possession with 7:08 remaining in the game. After an overthrow that would have been a touchdown, running back Billy Taylor gained a first down on third-and-seven. Michigan didn't do anything with their next two plays, but quarterback Larry Cipa hit wideout Bo Rather to convert on third down, taking the Wolverines to Ohio's 40-yard line with less than five minutes remaining.
Michigan would fail to gain a first down on their next three plays, setting up a fourth-and-one at Ohio's 24-yard line with 2:45 left. A failed conversion meant a win for the Buckeyes, but the Wolverines weren't done yet. Fullback Fritz Seyferth trucked forward, gaining 3-yards up the middle. Michigan followed the huge conversion with an option play, where Cipa pitched back to Billy Taylor. Cipa and Seyferth ran ahead, clearing Taylor's path into the endzone with 2:07 remaining. Losing 10-7, Ohio put their star of the day, Campana, in on the kickoff. This forced Michigan to squib the kick, giving the Buckeyes the ball at their own 30-yard line. On the next play, quarterback Don Lamka hit a wide open Dick Wakefield for 25 yards, down to Michigan's 45-yard line. The Buckeyes were in business. After an incomplete pass and a sack, Ohio took their final timeout with the ball at their own 49-yard line and facing third-and-sixteen. With time running out and no timeouts, the Buckeyes were in two-down territory. Lamka looked for Wakefield again on the next play, but Michigan defender Thom Darden jumped over Wakefield for the interception.
While the Wolverines players and fans celebrated, the Buckeyes were in disbelief, arguing that pass interference should have been called. Darden commented on the play:
"I went over the top of Wakefield. I was just trying to knock the ball away but when I came down, the ball was in my hands. I'm glad it happened in Ann Arbor because in Columbus it might have been called interference."
Ohio was pissed but nobody more than Woody Hayes. Woody rushed towards midfield as the refs placed the ball for Michigan. Since coming onto the field as far as he did is unsportsmanlike conduct, referee Jerry Markbreit flagged Hayes. But Woody didn't care. He followed Markbreit around for about five minutes, chewing him out over the interception call. He didn't leave until George Chaump, an assistant coach, came out to get him. With Woody back on the sideline, the Wolverines looked to run out the last 1:25 left in the game. But after Cipa's second kneeldown, Ohio's Randy Gradishar was ejected from the game for punching quarterback Tom Slade i.e. unnecessary roughness. This meant that Markbreit had to take Gradishar to Woody and explain the ejection. As they walked to the sideline, Woody seized the first down marker and snapped it over his knee. According to Bo, he threw another down marker javelin-style. He followed that by tearing the top off of the red sideline down mark and tossing it onto the field. Chaump had to help restrain Woody again, and Michigan ran out the clock.
The win finished Michigan's undefeated season and sent them to the Rose Bowl. It would be Bo's only undefeated and untied season as Michigan's head coach. With a shot at the National Championship on the line, the Wolverines would lose the Rose Bowl, again, this time to Stanford on a last-second field goal. This gave Michigan a record of 11-1 and a #6 ranking to end the season. Ohio could do nothing but travel back to Columbus with a 6-4 record on the year, finishing unranked for the only time during the "Ten-Year War."
Game Four, November 25th, 1972, (#3) Michigan 11 - (#9) Ohio 14
After the excitement of the first three games in the "Ten-Year War," one might expect a drop-off for game #4, but you'd be wrong. The fourth edition lived up to its predecessors, thanks to not one, but two goal-line stands by the Buckeyes. "The Game" in 1972 also featured added excitement in the form of two rules changes, one by the NCAA and the other by the Big Ten. At the start of the season, the NCAA granted eligibility to freshmen, opening the door for Ohio's freshman star running back Archie Griffin. The Big Ten also removed it's "no-repeat" policy for the Rose Bowl, which meant that the Wolverines would be the first team in history with an opportunity to win a bid in back-to-back seasons.
The Buckeyes started the '72 season with seven wins in a row before losing to Michigan State two weeks before "The Game." They would rebound with a win against Northwestern, giving them an 8-1 record and #9 ranking before the Wolverines came into town. Ohio had come back strong after a rebuilding season in '71 and looked primed to sit atop the Big Ten and college football once again. A win would give them a share of the Big Ten title with Michigan and send them to the Rose Bowl to face top-ranked USC. On the other hand, the Wolverines came to Columbus to face Ohio with an undefeated record for the third straight year (10-0) and a #3 ranking. Bo lost some pieces from his '71 team, but he more than made up for it with his recruits. While having a solid defense, Michigan won games in 1972 with their defense. Coming into the matchup with Ohio, the Wolverines had allowed a miniscule 43 points on the season, or 4.3 per game, the best defense against the score in the nation. There closest call came the week before Ohio, in a 9-6 victory (thanks to a late field goal) against Purdue.
Heading into the game against Michigan, Woody Hayes would bring back former Buckeyes to comment on "The Game." In '72, ex-defensive lineman Dave Whitfield told the Buckeyes: "This isn't a football game! This is a war!" While every game in the UM-OSU rivalry is intense, Whitfield didn't know how perfectly "war" described what would happen later that week.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Wolverines drove quickly down the field until they faced a third-and-one at Ohio's 31-yard line. Michigan would be called for a penalty, and on third-and-longer, be sacked to end the drive. This would become a common theme for the Wolverines: drive into Ohio territory, stall, and fail to get points. But the offensive struggles didn't translate over to defense, and Michigan stifled all of Ohio's drives in the first quarter and into the second. After a missed field goal on their second drive, the Wolverines broke the 0-0 tie on the third play of the second quarter. Michigan stalled on Ohio's 18-yard line, and kicker Mick Lantry booted a 35-yarder through the uprights to give the Wolverines a 3-0 lead.
Ohio would find a little bit of success on their next drive, crossing midfield before Michigan forced them to punt. The Buckeyes downed the kick at Michigan's 5-yard line, and the Ohio defense proceeded to stuff the Wolverines, forcing them to punt out of their own endzone. This gave the Buckeyes possession at Michigan's 46-yard line. After a few successful offensive plays, Ohio received a gift from the Wolverines on third-and-two. Michigan jumped offsides, giving the Buckeyes a first down at the Michigan 22-yard line. Ohio would eventually punch it in the endzone on a 1-yard run by fullback Champ Henson, giving the Buckeyes a 7-3 with four and half minutes remaining in the first half.
On the ensuing drive, Michigan would drive all the way from their 20-yard line to Ohio's 1-yard line. With a first-and-goal, the Wolverines expected to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room. But the Buckeyes had a different plan. On first down, Ohio held Michigan to a one-yard loss. The Wolverines gained the yard back on second down, setting up third-and-goal. Fullback Bob Thornbladh plowed ahead on third down, but only gained half a yard. After calling a timeout with 11 seconds remaining before halftime, Bo elected to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal, saying:
"That wasn't a difficult choice in my mind. From that close, you need to punch it in. You don't knock heads all the way down the field to kick from so close. We needed to get in the end zone."
But quarterback Dennis Franklin dropped the snap, completing the Buckeyes first goal-line stand of the day and securing Ohio's 7-3 lead heading into halftime. The Buckeyes opened the second half with momentum, scoring on their first drive thanks to a 35-yard run by quarterback Greg Hare and the 30-yard touchdown run by Archie Griffith. The runs gave Ohio a 14-3 early to start the third quarter. Michigan responded with a productive drive of their own, taking the ball down to Ohio's 5-yard line. On the first three downs, the Wolverines gained four yards and faced another fourth-and-goal from inside the 1-yard line. But this time fullback Ed Shuttlesworth found the endzone, and after a successful two-point conversion, Michigan trailed by a field goal at 14-11.
After forcing Ohio into another three-and-out, the Wolverines took over and drove, again, into Ohio territory, and again, stalled on a failed fourth down attempt just outside the redzone. But Michigan would intercept an Ohio pass on the second play of the next drive, giving Michigan the ball back at Ohio's 29-yard line. The Wolverines cruised into another first-and-goal situation, this time right outside Ohio's 4-yard line. Michigan gained one yard on first down, and three on second. Facing a third-and-goal from the 1-yard line, running back Harry Banks got hit at the goal line, and the refs ruled that he was stopped short of the end zone. Michigan fans and players didn't agree with the call; Bob Ufer exclaimed over the air, "What do you have to do to score a touchdown down here?" But it was well before the age of instant replay (and the Buckeyes had to view it as just deserts for the interception call that set off Woody the previous year) so the call set up another fourth-and-goal from inside the Buckeyes 1-yard line. However, this time Bo had to strongly consider kicking the field goal. A tie would have sent Michigan to the Rose Bowl and make them the first team to ever do so in consecutive years. But Bo stuck with his aforementioned opinion and called a QB sneak. Franklin rushed forward but linebacker Randy Gradishar (yes, the ejection from the previous year) kept him out to cap Ohio's unheard of second goal-line stand in the game. The Buckeyes got the ball back but did nothing with it. Michigan would do the same after failing on a fourth-and-ten attempt, giving Ohio the ball at their own 37-yard line with just over five minutes remaining.
Ohio started to run out the clock and a late hit out of bounds on third down helped the Buckeyes stretch out the drive. However, Michigan gained possession one last time after a missed 46-yard field goal attempt by the Buckeyes. The Wolverines took over at their 20-yard line with 1:20 left in the game. They would drive, once again, into Ohio territory before stalling at the Buckeyes 41-yard line. After an incomplete pass on first and a no gain on second, Franklin passed the ball out of bounds on third down to stop the clock with thirteen seconds left. The Ohio fans mistook this as the end of the game, so they rushed the field and began tearing down the goal posts. On top of the professional workers, Woody joined the effort to rid the field of fans, fearing that Michigan wanted to attempt a field goal and that because of the damage, the referees might allow them to kick in the opposite direction, which would have given the Wolverines the wind at their back. None of it would matter, however, as Franklin got sacked on fourth-and-ten.
Ohio would go on to be destroyed in the Rose Bowl 42-17 by the National Champions, the USC Trojans. They finished the season as Big Ten Co-Champs with Michigan and ranked #9 in the AP (#3 in Coaches) with a 9-2 (7-1) record. The Wolverines were stuck wondering what could have been if it weren't for the two goal-line stands by the Buckeyes. Michigan finished the season as Big Ten Co-Champs and ranked #6 with a 10-1 (7-1) record.
Game Five, November 24th, 1973, (#4) Michigan 10 - (#1) Ohio 10
If the first four games were known for their excitement, then game five in the "Ten-Year War" is known for controversy. For the second time since the battles started, both teams entered "The Game" undefeated. Ohio came to the table with, arguably, their best team in history and without a doubt their best since 1969. After being ranked #3 at the start of the season, Ohio held the #1 ranking for eight straight weeks before the Michigan game. They averaged 40.1 points for and 3.6 points against per game: no team came within 24 points of the Buckeyes until Michigan. Moreover, Ohio's first-string defense had only surrendered a single touchdown up to that point in the season; the rest occurred against reserves. The list of accolades for individual players on the '73 Ohio team is too long to list here, but the bottom line is simple: the team was talented beyond belief.
But on the other sideline, Michigan was no slouch. The Wolverines were ranked #4 and second to only the Buckeyes in scoring defense, allowing an average of 5.8 points per game. Only one team came within two touchdowns of Michigan all year and that was Navy in a 14-0 shutout. However, Michigan's offensive was a little less potent than Ohio's, averaging only 31 points per game.
The game was going to be huge, as it always was, but '73 meant the Big Ten Championship, the Rose Bowl, and a shot at the National Championship. Michigan continued to look for its first National title under Bo (it would be their first since '48), while Ohio wanted to continue its dominance, with claimed Nat'l Championships in two of the last five seasons. The Buckeyes were four-point favorites, and according to the majority of sportswriters, Ohio was going to win the game. Upon hearing this, Bo broke his silence (he'd been pretty quiet leading into the game), exclaiming:
"I've got 100 players that think differently. Who said Ohio State was going to win? Sportswriters? My mother knows more about football than sportswriters."
Game day saw a record crowd for Michigan Stadium - 105,223 - and they made sure to boo Woody and the Buckeyes as they ran onto the field. But instead of avoiding the Michigan Club's "Go Blue" Banner, as all visitors do, Ohio ripped it down as they came into the stadium. The disrespectful act sent the crowd into hysterics and set off Bob Ufer in the press box: "They're tearing down Michigan's coveted M Club banner! They will meet a dastardly fate here for that." The Wolverines didn't wait for the banner to be fixed as they sprinted on to the field to fire up the crowd. They'd eventually perform the tradition of walking under the banner when it was fixed.
In what would become another defensive battle, both teams failed to do much in the first quarter: Ohio wouldn't gain a single first down and Michigan couldn't sustain a drive, much like the previous season. On the first play of the second quarter, Archie Griffin broke out of the backfield for a 38 yard gain on third-and-two. It would be his first big play of the day and the start of, according to Ufer, "one of the great performances we've seen here at Michigan Stadium." The drive would end with an Ohio field goal, giving them a 3-0 lead. After the teams traded some three-and-outs, Ohio would get possession at their 45-yard line. With the help of fullback Pete Johnson and 42 yards on five carries by Archie Griffin, the Buckeyes drove down to Michigan's 5-yard line for a first-and-goal. For Woody, it was time "to grind meat," or in other words, use a full-house backfield formation to get into the endzone. As Griffin recalled, "Everyone knew what was coming. They just couldn't stop it." He was right, and Johnson pounded the ball into the endzone. The fullback blew through two Michigan defenders at the 4-yard line before carrying two more into the endzone with him to give Ohio a 10-0 lead with the PAT.
At halftime, the lead seemed daunting. Ohio's defense was the stingiest in the nation, allowing only four touchdowns all year. Because of this, Woody changed his game plan in the locker rooms, switching all of the focus to his top-ranked defense and taking a conservative route on offense. To start the third quarter, Michigan would drive into Ohio territory before failing to score. After trading punts, Ohio started with great field position at their own 40-yard line with their sights on extending the lead and putting the game beyond Michigan's reach. An 18 yard gain on first down via an option by quarterback Cornelius Greene put the Buckeyes in Michigan territory. But after three plays failed to yield a first down, Ohio faced a critical fourth-and-two at Michigan's 34-yard line. Wanting to at least get a field goal to minimize the Wolverines shot at a comeback, the Buckeyes went for it on fourth down but failed to convert. It was just what Michigan needed to put some life into their offense. On the ensuing drive, the Wolverines ate up the rest of the third quarter en route to the redzone.
To start the fourth, the Buckeyes dropped Michigan for a loss, backing them up to the Ohio 13-yard line. The Wolverines would settle for a 30-yard field goal by Mike Lantry, cutting Ohio's lead to 10-3. Michigan's defense forced the Buckeyes into a three-and-out on the next drive and gained possession on the punt at their own 49-yard line. With great field position at midfield, the Wolverines needed to take advantage and find the endzone. Two plays later, and Michigan was in business at Ohio's 19-yard line. Fullback Ed Shuttlesworth would get the call on the next three plays, gaining a little over nine yards, but the chains showed Michigan needed two more inches for a first down. With the game, and season, on the line, everybody on the field, in the crowd, and at home expected Bo to line up in the power-I and hand the ball off to Shuttlesworth. But quarterback Dennis Franklin faked to Shuttlesworth, running an option to the right side. Franklin found the endzone seconds later, untouched. After the extra-point, the game was knotted at 10-10 as the Ann Arbor crowd went nuts. On the ensuing drive, Griffin continued his show of dominance, gaining 24 yards on three carries before twisting his knee. He'd be forced to miss two plays, coming back in after a timeout for third-and-six. Woody would give it to Griffin again, but Archie couldn't make it happen, falling three yards shy of a first down. Facing a fourth-and-three at Michigan's 44-yard line, Woody stuck to his conservative plan and punted to the Wolverines. When urged by his offensive coaches to run something different, such as a counter or option, Hayes responded, "F- that! We're not running that f-ing play." Woody stuck to his guns even with the National Championship on the line.
Michigan would regain possession at their 11-yard line, and led by Franklin's passing, drive into Ohio territory. But on the play that took the Wolverines over midfield, Dennis got leveled by Ohio defensive end Van DeCree, ending Franklin's season. Larry Cipa came into the game to continue Michigan's late-game push for victory. After three rushes, the Wolverines faced fourth-and-two from the Buckeyes 41-yard line with just over a minute remaining in regulation. With a time out to consider his options, Bo decided to attempt a 58-yard field goal since there was a slight wind behind the Wolverines. Lantry lined up for the biggest kick of his life and smashed the football. It had enough distance but hooked left at the last second, missing by less than two feet. Ohio regained the ball at their 20-yard line with 1:01 remaining. After running the ball every play of the game so far, Woody decided it was finally time to pass. So on the Buckeyes 50th play from scrimmage, Hayes put in backup QB Greg Hare - a better passer than Greene - to attempt the pass. But Woody should have stuck to the ground game as Michigan intercepted the ball, returning the interception to Ohio's 33-yard line.
However, excitement on the sidelines cost the Wolverines. In the bedlam, Cipa failed to relay the play into the huddle, forcing Michigan to burn its final timeout. To ensure Lantry had time to attempt another game-winning field goal, Bo rushed his play calling, and the Wolverines ran only one more play. Michigan back Gil Chapman rushed for six yards on first down, and Cipa killed the clock on second, setting up third-and-five at Ohio's 27-yard line. Only 28 seconds remained, and Bo chose to kick the field goal on third down. Again, Lantry had the distance but instead of hooking left, the ball sailed wide right. The Buckeyes would attempt three Hail Mary's as time expired with a final score of 10-10. With that, the controversy began.
After the tie, Michigan expected to get the Rose Bowl bid after outplaying the top-ranked Buckeyes. The media agreed and the Ohio players weren't planning on a trip to Pasadena. Heck, even Woody Hayes thought the Wolverines would be the ones playing in the Rose Bowl. But the Big Ten voted and decided to send the Buckeyes. Bo, enraged and distraught, didn't know how he'd break the news to his players: "I broke down and cried in front of them. I didn't know what to say." The Michigan media and fans blasted the vote, and one grad student at Michigan even filed a class action suit in federal court overturn the ridiculous decision. Even though the Big Ten had a bowl ban for its teams, Bo threatened to accept a bid to another, and went as far as saying he'd pull Michigan out of the conference. The Wolverines coached referred to the day of the vote as "the darkest day of my athletic career" and expressed his disdain for the Big Ten over and over again. Bo felt that "petty jealousies" caused the vote, and the Big Ten's refusal to publicly release the final vote only bolstered Bo's claim. The results did come out, and the most infuriating find was the Michigan State voted for Ohio. This pissed off the Wolverines and their fans even more. When questioned, all of the athletic directors that voted for the Buckeyes cited Franklin's injury as their reason to support Ohio. This caused Bo to fire back: "If [the injury] was so important to them, why didn't any of them call our team doctor to check on Franklin's status?," and, "If the quarterback is so important, why is a team going [to the Rose Bowl] that admittedly has no passing attack?"
All the while, Woody remained silent, saying nothing colorful. As expected, nothing came of Michigan's complains over the vote. Bo maintained his belief that Big Ten commissioner Wayne Duke persuaded the athletic directors to vote against Michigan until his death. Duke denied these claims, and after a few more seasons, the Big Ten created a tie-breaking formula that took the decision out of the AD's hands. It also lifted the bowl ban, so teams in the Big Ten could play in showdowns other than the Rose Bowl. Through all this, Bo was sure to maintain that he never faulted Ohio, and he felt they had a "tremendous team."
Ohio sought revenge against USC after the previous year and demolished them in the Rose Bowl 42-21 to finish the season ranked #2 at 10-0-1. Michigan finished with the same record and ranked #6.
Game Six, November 23rd, 1974, (#3) Michigan 10 - (#4) Ohio 12
After the controversy over the vote in 1973, both teams came into the 1974 version of "The Game" looking to prove that without a doubt, they were the better squad. However, the game would be as close as the year before, with even more importance placed on the kicking game. Michigan's kicker Mike Lantry - a Vietnam veteran - sought redemption after two misses in the final minutes would have guaranteed the Wolverines a trip to the Rose Bowl, and Ohio's walk-on kicker Tom Klaban - a Czechoslovakian refugee - aimed to prove his talent and worth.
Prior to the '74 season, Woody suffered a heart attack, but bounced back to maintain an Ohio team that was once again one of the best in college football. They cruised through most of the season with a #1 ranking until their lone loss at the hands of Michigan State, where Ohio blew a 13-3 fourth quarter lead, losing 16-13. The Buckeyes offense was led by sophomore Archie Griffin, who would end the season by winning the Heisman trophy - his first of two. Coming into the Michigan game, Ohio sat at #4 with a 9-1 record and looked to bounce back from the loss at MSU two weeks prior. For Michigan, they were led by their defense, which allowed only 6.3 points per game. The powerful defense unit was aided by the skill of senior QB Dennis Franklin, who became a threat both on the ground and through the air. The Wolverines entered "The Game" undefeated once again and ranked one spot ahead of the Buckeyes at #3. Even so, Ohio was the slight favorite, but Michigan was unbeaten in 21 straight games as they traveled to Columbus (their last loss being there in 1972), and Woody thought the game would be more of a toss-up.
Michigan would force a three-and-out on Ohio's first possession, giving them the ball near midfield. After three rushes and a first down, Franklin hit Gil Chapman over the middle, who took it 42 yards for the score. Lantry added the extra-point and just like that, Michigan had an early 7-0 lead, one year removed from their offensive struggles against Ohio. The Buckeyes responded with a solid drive of their own, but QB Cornelius Greene ended Ohio's threat by fumbling to the Wolverines. With the ball at their own 26-yard line, Michigan drove right back down the field, but stalled: the recurring theme against the Buckeyes. Lantry wouldn't miss his field goal attempt, and Michigan had a 10-0 lead with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.
Unfortunately, that would be the end of Michigan's offensive output on the day. Led by Griffin, Ohio entered Michigan territory, and on the first play of the second quarter, Klaban booted his first field goal of the day, a 47-yarder. On the ensuing drive, the Wolverines drove near midfield before Franklin threw an interception. The Buckeyes returned it to Michigan's 44-yard line, primed to score again. Griffin paved the way again, gaining 39 yards on seven carries, before stopping at Michigan's 7-yard line. Klaban punched another one through the uprights, bringing the score to 10-6 Michigan. Once again, the Wolverines fought back with a solid drive that couldn't find the endzone. Lantry had a chance to match Klaban with two field goals on the day, but he missed a 51-yard attempt near the end of the second quarter. Ohio regained possession at their 20-yard line with 1:11 before halftime. Instead of running out the clock, which a more conservative Woody from years past may have done, the Buckeyes marched down the field to set up a 43-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in the second quarter. The Czechoslovakian would nail hit, his third of the day, and Michigan's lead was down to one as the teams headed to the locker rooms.
On the opening drive of the second half, Ohio stymied Michigan's offense, holding them to a three-and-out. The Buckeyes received excellent field position, taking over at Michigan's 48-yard line. After gaining a first down, Ohio failed to get another, setting up another field goal attempt for Klaban. He would stay perfect on the day after smashing the 45-yarder between the uprights, giving the Buckeyes their first lead of the day at 12-10. Klaban's fourth kick ended up being the last points scored for the game. The teams traded punts and Michigan failed to get anything going for the rest of the third quarter. On a drive in the fourth, the Wolverines headed into Ohio territory, only to have Lantry miss a difficult 59-yard field goal attempt. The teams continued to trade punts after failed drives until Michigan got the ball back at their 47-yard line with just under a minute remaining. Four plays later and the Wolverines were inside the redzone at Ohio's 16-yard line with 18 seconds remaining. Lantry had his final shot at redemption, and this time, it was win-or-lose, not win-or-tie. He booted the ball hard and high, so high that the 33-yard attempt went above the left upright. Michigan players jumped with excitement, believing Lantry had nailed the kick. But the officials hesitated, and after a few seconds, the officials deemed the kick no good. The Wolverines disagreed with the call and pleaded their case to no avail. Gary Moeller maintains that the "kick was good. I went out onto the hash mark after he kicked it and watched it sail inside the goal post."
It was another moment where instant replay could have had great implications on the "Ten-Year War." Instead, the missed kick was Lantry's final play of his college career and second miss last-second miss in as many years. Klaban would earn the game ball as well as a full scholarship due to his perfect day. The Wolverines failed to capitalize on a perfect record heading into "The Game" for the second year in a row, finishing 10-1 (7-1) and ranked #3 in the AP (#5 in the Coaches). Ohio met USC for the third straight year in the Rose Bowl. The Trojans would win on a touchdown followed by a two-point conversion late in the game, 18-17. The loss dropped the Buckeyes to 10-2 on the season and behind Michigan at #4 in the AP (but #3 in the Coaches).
Game Seven, November 22nd, 1975, (#4) Michigan 14 - (#1) Ohio 21
The seventh part of the "Ten-Year War" resembled an earlier game: the 1975 meeting was basically the 1973 game on steroids. Michigan entered the matchup undefeated for the sixth straight season at 8-0-2 after ties with Baylor and Stanford early in the season. '75 should have been a rebuilding year for the Wolverines, but instead, they had the nation's second best defense (behind Ohio, again) and charged to a #4 ranking behind their strong rushing offense. The Buckeyes were once again on top of the college football world, ranked #1 at 10-0, and their top-ranked defense allowed on average less than a touchdown and extra-point per game (6.5 points to be exact). Offensive stud Archie Griffin led the Buckeyes en route to his second consecutive Heisman trophy and entered the Michigan game with 31 straight games of over 100 yards rushing, a NCAA record that still stands today. A record breaking crowd of 105,543 came to Michigan Stadium for "The Game" that day; interestingly, the Indiana game four weeks prior was the last time less than 100K fans came to the Big House for a Michigan football game. To further add to the immensity of the game, Bo held a 41 game unbeaten streak at home.
The Wolverines punted away their first possession, and the Buckeyes responded with a touchdown. Six plays after converting fourth-and-inches at Michigan's 36-yard line, fullback Pete Johnson found the endzone on a short pass: 7-0 Buckeyes. After the first score of the game, the defenses took control as Michigan fumbled twice and threw one interception, while Ohio's Greene threw two picks of his own. As the second quarter neared its end, Michigan's offense found success in the form of a halfback pass. At the Ohio 11-yard line, quarterback Rick Leach tossed the ball to running back Gordon Bell in an apparent sweep, but instead of running forward, Bell threw a pass to wideout Jim Smith in the end zone, knotting the game at 7-7. On the ensuing kickoff, Archie Griffin fumbled the ball back to Michigan, giving the Wolverines prime field position at the 21-yard line. But Michigan's Bob Wood would sail a 36-yard field goal attempt wide left as time expired.
After halftime, Ohio continued to do nothing on its first drive. Michigan took the ball down the field, but came away with nothing after a short 53-yard field goal attempt. The teams continued to trade possessions throughout the entirety of the third quarter, heading into the final frame still tied at 7-7. Even though they failed to score, Michigan was winning the field position battle and seemed to be winning the game. Following some more punts, Michigan gained possession at Ohio's 43-yard line and with the help of a timely Buckeyes penalty for being offsides, the Wolverines scored a touchdown to take a 14-7 lead with 7:11 left in regulation. Now, the struggling Ohio offense needed to find a way to score after failing to gain a first down since the early minutes of the second quarter. After narrowly escaping a safety, the Buckeyes gained a first down and began to find a groove. Facing a fourth-and-goal with a 3:18 left to play, fullback Pete Johnson plowed into the endzone again to retie the game at 14-14.
The score put Michigan back on the hot-seat; the Wolverines needed a win to head to the Rose Bowl due to their two ties early in the season. Forcing the issue via the passing game, it only took three plays before Michigan committed a game-changing blunder. On the third play of the drive, Leach threw an interception that the Buckeyes returned to Michigan's 3-yard line. At that moment, the game became Ohio's, and Johnson trucked beyond the goal line on the next play for his third score of the game, giving the Buckeyes the lead at 21-14 with 2:19 remaining. The touchdown completed Ohio's turnaround from ineptitude on offense to complete success: they had scored 14 points in just 59 seconds.
Needing a touchdown coupled with a two-point conversion, the Michigan offense failed on four straight plays, the last being another Leach interception. Pete Johnson carried the ball four times to run out the clock and give Ohio the victory in a game where Michigan dominated them statistically, save for turnovers, which ended up being the difference maker late in the game. The Wolverines did end Griffin's 100-yards in a game streak, holding him to a pedestrian 46. But Michigan didn't care, and they finished the regular season ranked #8 at 8-2-2 after losing to eventual National Champs Oklahoma 14-6 in the Orange Bowl. It was the first time in history that a Big Ten team played in a bowl game outside of the Rose Bowl. Ohio would lose for the second straight year in the Rose Bowl, this time to UCLA by a score of 23-10. The Buckeyes would finish 11-1 and ranked #4.
Game Eight, November 20th, 1976, (#4) Michigan 22 - (#8) Ohio 0
After four straight seasons of playing football good enough and worthy of beating Ohio, the Wolverines looked to change the tide in 1976. Bo needed to have open heart surgery in the offseason, but it didn't stop him from having one of his greatest teams in '76. Michigan spent eight weeks atop the polls before being upset at Purdue, 16-14. The Wolverines had a more powerful offense than previous years; they led the nation in points scored as well as rushing yards per game. They also had the best total offense in the Big Ten. But the defense was as good as ever, leading the nation in points allowed by averaging only 8.1 per game. Coming into the Ohio game, Michigan sat at #4 with a 9-1 record. They looked to beat the Buckeyes for the first time since '71 and for the first time in Columbus with Bo as head coach (the last time was in '66). On the other side, Ohio fielded an inexperienced, younger offense after losing six starters, but the defense looked to be as strong as its top-ranked squad from a year ago. They were atop the Big ten in total and rushing defense, but their points allowed average rested higher than usual at 11.7 points per game. The Buckeyes #8 overall and 8-1-1 prior to facing Michigan. The '76 meeting was the first time both teams owned a loss since before the "Ten-Year War" had started, dating back to 1967. Ohio needed a win to claim the Big Ten title outright for the second straight year; a loss meant the two teams would be co-champions.
The game started in typical Michigan-Ohio fashion, with the Buckeyes unable to gain a first down in their first four possessions and the Wolverines doing the same on their first three tries. Michigan would put together a mini-drive near the end of the first that rolled into the second quarter but fail to do anything with it. The two teams went back to trading punts for a while before the Buckeyes began to drive with a little over four minutes before halftime. Ohio trotted down the field into the redzone, setting up second-and-goal at Michigan's 10-yard line. But Buckeyes quarterback Jim Pacenta threw an interception in the endzone for a touchback. The Wolverines ran out the clock to head into the locker rooms tied at 0-0.
The second half would be all Michigan's as they scored 22 unanswered points to end the game. On the first drive of the second half, Michigan started at their own 20-yard line. The Wolverines mixed straight runs with options all the way to Ohio's 3-yard line. Fullback Russell Davis ran straight ahead to give Michigan a 7-0 lead following the successful PAT. Woody snapped after the touchdown run, claiming that a false start should have been called on Michigan tackle Bill Dufek. Dufek later admitted to moving early:
"Yep, I fired out before the snap...the linesman didn't see it. But Woody did. He was yelling at the officials...He slammed his hat down and walked off. I can still see him in my mind."
On the ensuing drive, Michigan forced Ohio into a three-and-out and continued to have success on offense. The Wolverines drove the ball into the endzone on the ground once again on another 3-yard rush by Davis. After practicing a fake all week, Michigan holder Jerry Zuver grabbed the snap and ran to right into the endzone, giving the Wolverines a 15-0 lead. Ohio battled back on their next drive, driving the ball into Michigan territory as the third quarter ended. But the drive ended on the second play of the final frame as running back Jeff Logan fumbled the ball to the Wolverines. Michigan would once again run down the field on ten straight ground plays. Facing a third-and-six at Ohio's 16-yard line, Michigan mixed it up and called a passing play. Leach would thrown an interception, but Ohio's Jim Pacenta would do the same thing on the next play, giving Michigan the ball at Ohio's 15. Michigan attacked on the ground again and this time fullback Rob Lytle took the ball in for the final score of the game. The game ended with Bo using reserve players as the clock ran out.
With the win, Michigan handed Ohio its first shutout in 122 games; the Buckeyes came within one game of tying Oklahoma's record of 123 games. Ohio would fail to go to Pasadena for the first time in four years and take a trip to Miami for the Orange Bowl instead. There, they beat Colorado 27-10 to finish #6 overall with 9-2-1 record. Michigan headed to the Rose Bowl to face USC, where they struggled to find postseason success yet again under Bo. The Wolverines lost by a score of 14-6 and #3 overall at 10-2.
Game Nine, November 19th, 1977, (#5) Michigan 14 - (#4) Ohio 6
After being dominated by the Wolverines in the previous meeting, Ohio would best Michigan on paper during "The Game," much like the Wolverines did to the Buckeyes during their four year winless streak. Unfortunately, that wouldn't be enough. Michigan entered the ninth edition of the "Ten-Year War" right where they were a year ago near the top of college football. Ranked #5 at 9-1, the Wolverines would have kept their #1 ranking if it weren't for a painful loss against Minnesota for the Little Brown Jug by a score of 16-0. Michigan's offense had much of the power in had in '76, and the defense, while not as strong, was still one of the best in the nation. Unlike the previous season, Ohio entered "The Game" performing better than the Wolverines, with a talented rushing attack led by speedy quarterback Rob Gerald. And the Buckeyes defense was once again best in nation against the score, holding opponents to just 7.1 points on average per game. Ohio also held a 9-1 record before the Michigan game but was ranked one spot higher at #4. Their lone loss came against #3 Oklahoma, after the Sooners recovered an onside kick and won on a field goal as time expired.
Similar to the '73 game, the Buckeyes tried to rip down the M Club banner, but this time around the Michigan students kept the banner upright and fought back. Ohio received the opening kickoff and proceeded to drive down to Michigan's 11-yard line. They would stall there and settle for a 29-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead. Michigan responded with a three-and-out, and Ohio bounced right back with another drive deep into Michigan territory. This time the Buckeyes would get back to the 11-yard line but following a sack, a penalty, and a loss of yards on third down, Ohio sat back at Michigan's 25-yard line. Ohio's kicker Vlade Janakievski would miss his second attempt of the day, a 42-yarder, and the score would remain 3-0 Ohio. In the second quarter, Michigan finally had a shot at points, but kicker Greg Wilner missed on a 47-yard field goal attempt. The teams traded punts before Michigan took over at Ohio's 46-yard line. After converting third-and-eleven from Ohio's 30, the Wolverines were in business with first-and-goal from the 8-yard line. Three plays later, Michigan running back Roosevelt Smith found the endzone to give Michigan a 7-3 with a little over a minute left in the half. On the ensuing drive, Ohio would threaten, but Janakievski missed again from 49 yards as time expired on the first half.
At the half, the Buckeyes were dominating the game on paper, with more first downs and total yards than Michigan, but they couldn't find a way to finish their drives. The Wolverines started with the ball in the second half but ended up punting. On the first play of Ohio's drive, Michigan forced a fumble and recovered at Ohio's 20-yard line. Four plays later Rick Leach scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper to give Michigan a 14-3 lead. Playing from behind, Ohio's offense continued to drive into Michigan territory, but could only muster a field goal on the ensuing drive, cutting the Wolverines lead to 14-6 with a little less than half of the third quarter remaining.
After the kickoff, the Wolverines ran one play before Roosevelt Smith fumbled the ball to Ohio, giving them excellent field position at Michigan's 31-yard line. It was just the opportunity the Buckeyes needed to get back in the game. But Michigan's defense stood tall yet again, forcing Ohio into another missed field goal attempt, the third on the day. Michigan did nothing with their next drive, and Ohio responded by driving back into Michigan territory. The Buckeyes moved down the field to Michigan's 10-yard line, where they faced a fourth-and-one.
Again, the Wolverines stood tall and stuffed the run on fourth down. Michigan gained possession and proceeded to run out some clock before pinning the Buckeyes deep on their own 10-yard line. But the pesky Buckeyes offense refused to give up and drove once again into the redzone. With a first-and-goal from Michigan's 8-yard line, Ohio smelled the endzone which had been evading them all day. They would need a score as well as the two-point conversion to tie the game, and that would be enough: a tie would send them to the Rose Bowl as they had already clinched a share of the Big Ten Championship. On first down, Ohio's quarterback Rod Gerald rolled out for the option play and got lit up by Michigan's star defensive end, John Anderson. Anderson forced a fumble that the Wolverines recovered at their 18-yard line.
What followed is Woody's second-most infamous moment (the first ended his career). Hayes went crazy after the busted play resulted in a turnover. Full of rage with a look of repulsion on his face, Woody smashed his phone into the ground. After he realized the camera crew was filming his outburst, Woody ran over to ABC cameraman Mike Freeman and took a swing at him as cameras captured the incident on TV. However, there was still a game to finish, and Michigan lined up to try and run out the clock. But the Buckeyes would stand tall and get the ball back at their own 35-yard line with 2:10 left in regulation. Ohio would drive to Michigan's 46 before facing a fourth-and-three with 1:10 remaining and the game on the line. Woody called a short-side toss play that worked on the previous drive, but John Anderson showed up again to stretch the play and allow his fellow Michigan defenders to finish off the play and seal the victory.
Even though Ohio outplayed Michigan (the Buckeyes led in every statistic save for the score), they never found the endzone, and three missed field goals didn't help. Woody brushed off the punching incident, using the annoyance of a camera being in your face as justification. He ended up commenting:
"I'm sorry for what I did, sure. Do I make mistakes? Sure, I make lots of them. Everybody here knows I make mistakes. We all do. Now, as far as I'm concerned, that thing's all over."
Ohio would finish the season with a loss against #3 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, and ranked #11 in the AP (#12 in the Coaches) with a 9-3 (7-1) record. Michigan would head to the Rose Bowl for the second straight year, where they would lose for the second straight year, this time against #13 Washington. It was Bo's fourth Rose Bowl loss and dropped Michigan to #9 in the AP (#8 in the Coaches) at 10-2 (7-1).
Game Ten, November 25th, 1978, (#6) Michigan 14 - (#16) Ohio 3
Unbeknownst to them, Bo and Woody would face off for the last time in 1978 in the tenth and last game in the "Ten-Year War." It was only fitting that the game stayed true to form and saw another defensive showdown. Michigan came to Columbus to face an Ohio team led by freshman quarterback Art Schlichter, a recruit Woody and Bo battled over. Woody won out when he promised Schlichter the starting job, which Bo refused to do while he still had Leach. The Buckeyes stumbled out of the gate, losing to Penn State in the season opener 19-0 and going 2-2-1 in the first five, but came into the Michigan game ranked #16 after five straight wins with a 7-2-1 record. But while Ohio struggled more than usual, Michigan plugged along as they had been under Bo, with another fantastic season. The Wolverines had one loss heading into Columbus, courtesy of our in-state rivals at Michigan State, for an overall record of 9-1 and a #6 ranking. Michigan's offense was led by star senior quarterback Rick Leach who was a Heisman candidate after setting the NCAA record for most touchdowns account for. And the defense was one of the best in the nation yet again, leading the Big Ten in total, scoring, and rushing defense. A win for either team assured them a share of the Big Ten title with Michigan State and a trip to the Rose Bowl due to the Spartans being on probation for recruiting violations.
The two teams traded possessions to start the game with Ohio missing a field goal on their first drive. The Buckeyes would end scoring on their second drive on a 29-yard field goal, giving them a 3-0 lead. It would be Ohio's only points on the day. After two failed drives relying on strictly the ground attack, Michigan switched to their passing game. Running back Butch Woolfolk would do nothing on the first play of the drive, and Leach took control from there. Leach needed three plays to find wideout Rodney Feaster for a 30-yard touchdown pass, giving Michigan the lead at 7-3. That would be all the scoring for the first half, as the teams traded punts in the second before trading fumbles on the final two possessions of the half.
After the break, Leach took control of the game again, leading the Wolverines on another touchdown drive capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass running back Roosevelt Smith. Leach recalled looking over at Ohio's after the touchdown to see Woody being Woody:
"We looked over and saw Woody Hayes punching himself in the face. He was literally punching himself square in the face. We obviously got a big kick out of that."
Nothing of note happened after that touchdown. Woody tried to spark his offense by replacing Schlichter and then bringing him back. The Buckeyes attempted a fake punt and failed. The final game of the "Ten-Year War" ended with a kneeldown by Michigan's backup quarterback, B.J. Dickey.
The win gave Michigan three straight victories against Ohio, the longest winning streak for either team during the decade of battles. It also marked three years since the Buckeyes scored a touchdown against the Wolverines. After handling Ohio for the third consecutive year, Michigan would fail to do anything in the Rose Bowl for the third consecutive year, losing to #3 USC and finishing ranked #5 at 10-2 (7-1). Ohio lost to #7 Clemson in the Gator Bowl, and finished the season unranked at 7-4-1 (6-2). The game would be Woody Hayes's final game in football. As the game neared completion, Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman picked off Schlichter to seal the Tigers victory, and Bauman got knocked out of bounds near Woody. In what would be his most infamous moment, Hayes punched Bauman under his facemask. Woody would be fired the next day.
Nothing will ever come close to the "Ten-Year War" between Woody and Bo. Every year the winner went to the Rose Bowl, excluding the controversial vote after the tie in 1973. The teams were either at the top or near the top every time they entered "The Game" during that time frame. People have started to talk about the possibility of Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer creating their own intense rivalry, like Woody and Bo's. There are a lot of questions marks, such as whether or not Urban will stay in Columbus long enough. It's also ridiculous to think Hoke and Meyer will field teams as talented as those seen during the "Ten-Year War." I think anything that happens in the coming years between Brady and Urban will pale in comparison to Bo and Woody. That's not to say we're not going to have exciting and competitive football for "The Game" in the near future. Brady and Urban will definitely bring a spark to the rivalry that hasn't been seen in quite a while. But Woody created Bo, taught him everything he knew, and they were close friends and perfect rivals because of it. Hoke and Meyer had probably never shaken hands prior to "The Game" last year. It was a different era, with a mutual respect and a relationship between coaches that's near impossible to replicate. Sure, the parallels are there: Urban's the established coach, having already won National Championships just like Woody, and Brady's the up-and-comer, trying to prove himself at a powerhouse school after coming from a smaller program just like Bo. And the next few years will be fun to watch. But it's silly to think they'll be able to approach what Bo and Woody did during the "Ten-Year War."
For more info on the "Ten-Year War," again, check out Joel Pennington's book on it. It's the source of what you just read. And watch the awesome HBO documentary called, "Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry."