Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler are long gone. So too are “three yards and a cloud of dust,” Hopalong Cassidy, Archie Griffin, Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch and Bump Eliot. They are only fond memories to Buckeye and Wolverine fans.
The clamor for a national championship game and even a four-team playoff format beginning next year has taken the glitter off “The Game.”
With Michigan falling on hard times, the Big Ten perceived as weak and the main focus now on the Big Ten Championship game, the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry has been forced to take a back seat in the national spotlight.
Michigan and Ohio State first played football in 1897 with the inaugural game being held in Ann Arbor. The series did not start out as much of a contest. Michigan dominated OSU 12-0-2 over the first 14 years of the rivalry.
The Wolverines won the 1902 contest 86-0 and the series took a sabbatical after the 1912 game. UM and OSU did not resume play until both teams had become members of the Big Ten Conference in 1918.
OSU proved to more competitive, winning three of four games from 1918-1921, but Michigan still holds the edge with a 58-44-6 overall record. OSU has been gaining on UM, however, by winning nine of the last 10 contests.
“The Game” was always held at the end of the season and annually decided the winner of the Big Ten. The victor earned that all-important trip to California and the “grand-daddy of them all,” the Rose Bowl.
Most years, one or even both teams were ranked atop the national standings and the victor could spoil the season for the higher ranked team or seal a national championship.
The stakes were always high for a Michigan/Ohio State football game.
But with the proliferation of endless bowl games throughout the holiday season, even a trip to the Rose Bowl has lost its allure.
The Big Ten now holds a championship game after the Michigan/Ohio State game, which tends to make the historic game anticlimactic.
There is no league championship, Rose Bowl or national title on the line this year. It has already been determined that the Buckeyes will meet the Spartans in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
Unless Florida State or Alabama experience a loss in the near future, there will be no national championship game for the undefeated Buckeyes.
National Championship playoffs, endless bowl games and the lack of dynamic personalities like Bo and Woody have rendered “The Game” irrelevant.
Although it may not hold significance for the national college football fan base, there will still be devout Wolverine and Buckeye fans glued to their big screen televisions on Saturday afternoon.