There was a time (the 1990s) when a victory over Ohio State was almost a forgone conclusion for Michigan fans. Everyone’s favorite coach John Cooper went 2-10-1 against Michigan from 1988-2000. So as a child of the 90s I was spoiled when it came to this rivalry.
Unfortunately since Tressel took over in 2001 the rivalry has flipped on it head and it is now the Buckeyes who have dominated the past decade. So as I was compiling my top 5 favorite wins over Ohio State and it made me want to create a time machine to travel back to visit young Michael and tell him to cherish the wins over the Buckeyes. CHERISH THEM.
This week’s top 5 takes a look at my favorite wins over OSU since 1990 and I hope you remember the good times. Come back John Cooper. Come back…
5) 2000: Michigan 38 OSU 26 (Part 1 here)
Lowdown: This was John Cooper’s final year at OSU and of course it ended with a loss to Michigan. OSU actually came in ranked higher than Michigan at #12 with a 8-2 record while Michigan had somehow lost three games despite having an array of offensive talent that included Drew Henson, Anthony Thomas, David Terrell and Marquise Walker. Despite this Michigan had blown two 2nd half leads to Northwestern and Purdue and Drew Brees and the Boilermakers would be heading to the Rose Bowl.
Highlights: This game was actually wildly entertaining from the get go. Nate Clements took the opening kickoff deep into Michigan territory and the Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead. Anthony Thomas opened the scoring for Michigan with a 70 yard TD catch off a screen pass. (Remember when Michigan ran screen passes?) Henson to Terrell would add another TD and Michigan went in at half up 14-12. Terrell added another TD catch and then Michigan got 10 more points off of OSU turnovers and led 31-12. Bellisari led OSU on a comeback that got it within one score but Henson ended the game on a naked bootleg on 4th down that gave Michigan the 38-26 win.
Other Notes: This was Michigan’s last win in Columbus. Yes that is correct, the last time Michigan won in Columbus was 2000. John Cooper was fired after the season and the rivalry has not been the same for either side since.
4) 2011: Michigan 40 OSU 34
Lowdown: This is the most recent so I know everyone remembers on both sides. Michigan hadn’t beaten OSU in seven tries but Jim Tressel was gone after tattoo gate. The Buckeyes had struggled under interim coach Luke Fickell and were 6-5 coming into the game. Michigan was under first year coach Brady Hoke and came into the game 9-2. A win would break the Buckeye streak and send Michigan to a BCS bowl.
Highlights: I think everyone was a bit shocked that there were 74 total points in this game. Michigan had a pretty good offense with Denard but OSU was struggling big time yet they came right out and scored 7-0. Michigan came right back as Borges called his best game of his Michigan tenure and unleashed the inverted veer with Denard as Michigan and OSU began trading blows back and forth. Braxton had one last chance to win the game but missed Posey deep and then threw an int to Courtney Avery. Michigan won the game 40-34 and snapped the streak.
Other Notes: Urban Meyer was supposed to call the game for ESPN but because of his impending hire by OSU he refrained. I was fortunate enough to go to this game with my Dad and after the Rich Rod years it was great to celebrate a big win over the Buckeyes. I did not storm the field but I have no issue with anyone who did. Michigan would end up winning the Sugar Bowl to cap an 11 win season. These were fun times.
3) 2003: Michigan 35 OSU 21 (Part 1 and 2 are here)
Lowdown: This was the 100th meeting between the two rivals. Of course the Big Ten Championship was on the line. OSU had a legitimate shot to make it back to the National Title game if they won. Michigan had rebounded from two early losses to Oregon and Iowa and was 9-2 heading into the game. Michigan was led by Heisman candidate RB Chris Perry and OSU was led by super genius QB Craig Krenzel. Maurice Clarett was nowhere to be found.
Highlights: Michigan opened up a 21-0 lead to start the game thanks to Braylon Edwards. Sanantonio added a TD catch prior to half to make it 21-7. Michigan took a knee despite the fact they were dominating and then this exchange happened with Lloyd. Apparently Lloyd knew what he was talking about because Michigan came right out and scored to go up 28-7. Then the game would have been over if not for a holding call on another Braylon TD catch for Michigan. OSU climbed back into it to make it 28-21 before Chris Perry finally sealed it for Michigan 35-21.
Other notes: This was Michigan’s lone win over Jim Tressel who proceeded to torture Michigan until he did himself in and “resigned.” Michigan would go on to lose to USC in the Rose Bowl per B1G tradition. I then entered my freshman year at Michigan not knowing what misery awaited me.
2) 1995: Michigan 31 OSU 23 (Part 1 Here)
Lowdown: The Buckeyes came into the game ranked #2 and had a legit shot at a national title. They were led by Heisman candidate Eddie George and had survived a brutal schedule but were still tied with Northwestern for the B1G because the two did not play each other. A win against MIchigan and the Buckeyes would be Rose Bowl bound because they had no non con losses. On the other hand Michigan was struggling under 1st year coach Lloyd Carr. While they had started off alright they came into the game with three losses including to PSU the week prior.
Highlights: Michigan RB Tim Biakabutuka. He was the show. He stole it from Eddie George and ran for an absurd 313 yards as Michigan upset the undefeated Buckeyes. Terry Glenn had talked trash earlier in the week and but was blanketed in the 2nd half by a freshman name Charles Woodson. Northwestern went to the Rose Bowl instead of OSU. (Michigan would upset an undefeated OSU team in 1996 as well. I miss you Cooper.)
Other Notes: This was my first Michigan/OSU game I saw in person and it is the game I probably have the most connection to. My grandfather gave up his ticket to the game so I could go with my Aunt and Uncle. I remember all the OSU fans chanting “Eddddie” at the beginning of the game and then the Michigan fans doing it mockingly back at them as the game went on. Timmy B saved the day and this game really launched my Michigan fandom into the stratosphere to where it is still stuck today.
1997 Michigan 20 OSU 14 (Part 1 Here)
Lowdown: This had to be number one. Michigan came into the game ranked #1 and was 10-0 and looking for a trip to the Rose Bowl and a chance at a National Title. They were led by their defense and Charles Woodson. The Buckeyes came into the game at 9-1 with their only loss to PSU. Still, they would go to Pasadena with a win and were hoping to spoil Michigan’s perfect season as a bit of revenge for the prior two seasons.
Highlights: Charles Woodson. While the Michigan team, specifically the defense played great this game was highlighted by Woodson who set up at TD with a catch, returned a punt for a TD and intercepted a pass. Michigan was up 13-0 at halftime and extended the lead with a gift int from Stanley Jackson that was returned for a TD to make it 20-0. OSU would score twice to make it close but at the end the Michigan defense held strong just as they did all season.
Other Notes: MIchigan would go on to win the Rose Bowl over Ryan Leaf and Wazzu. They ended up splitting the National Title with Nebraska. This was actually the last year prior to the BCS so the two could not face off.
Others considered: 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999. Basically anything in the 90s.
I doubt we add to this list this week but you never know. I can hope at least.