DAILY DIRT: Ohio State-Michigan ‘so big, so bitter, so famous, and so intense that it’s known in sports simply as The Game’


Daily Dirt for Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022

For the record, I haven’t slept more than a couple of hours since probably Wednesday. It’s Michigan week … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 459 of The Daily Dirt.

1. Today marks one of the true highlights of every college football season.

Finally, the schedule has brought us to the annual Ohio State-Michigan game. I will, of course, be tuning in, along with up to 15 million of my closest friends.

You don’t have to be a fan of either school to enjoy a game of this caliber, although I will be be rooting with every fiber of my scarlet and grey soul for the Buckeyes. I thought I’d share a few reflections of what this game means to those most attached: 

Gold medal: A few years ago, Robin Wright, a writer for the New Yorker magazine, penned a piece about how in 2000 ESPN put together a list of the 10 greatest sports rivalries of the 20th century.

Wright reported how that list covered baseball, basketball and football — college and pro — plus boxing, golf and hockey. The rivalries mentioned included Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, the Red Sox and the Yankees, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, the Maple Leafs and the Canadiens, and basketball kings Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. 

But at the very top of that ESPN list was the storied college football rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State, an annual grudge match that dates to 1897 and began well before the creation of the National Football League.

“It was an apt choice,” Wright pointed out. “Well into the 21st century, that annual showdown remains so big, so bitter, so famous, and so intense that it’s known in sports simply as The Game.”And it gets better — and more bitter, if that’s possible — each year.

Silver medal: “It’s as hostile an environment as there is in any sport, anywhere,” Dan Dierdorf once said. Dierdorf is an Ohio native who opted to cross the border and become a football star at Michigan and later an NFL analyst for network television.

Bronze medal: John U. Bacon, the author of “Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football,” once said that the passions surrounding The Game are more powerful than in any American sport.

“If you left New York or Washington, you might not follow the Giants or Redskins closely anymore,” he said. “But if you ever lived in Ann Arbor and left, you’d still follow Michigan football.” 

The same is true for Ohio State fans. I can vouch for that.

Honorable mention: Just an interesting note about today’s game, the 118th meeting between the Big Ten behemoths. This is going to be an opportunity for Michigan to win back-to-back games against the Buckeyes for the first time since 1999 and 2000. Ohio State had won eight in a row until Michigan snapped the streak last season 42-27.

2. An opinion, part one: 

Luka Doncic is the modern-day version of Larry Bird.

3. An opinion part deux: 

Steph Curry is the modern-day version of Jerry West.

Steve Thought O’ The Day — If Ohio State does not win today, please send get-well cards to Blessing Hospital.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. If his cable goes out Saturday, he might hurt someone.

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