Monday, November 17, 2008

A Little Ohio/M*ch*g*n History

I remember when I started hating that team up north.

I was living in Illinois, as I had since I was 5, so I didn't have the benefit of living in the 'Birthplace of Aviation' to have my OSU fandom nurtured. I had just started the seventh grade and my chemical science teacher was a smug, arrogant, feminist who insisted on making maize and blue references just about every day. I couldn't stand her in the least and she let me know that the feeling was mutual. So it was only logical that I hate the team she liked. You know, it's funny that hating M*ch*g*n felt so natural, so right.

Simply hating scUM wasn't enough, however. I couldn't deny the feeling of being virtually alone. I felt like an outsider undercover within the Midwestern kingdom of the Big Ten. All around me in the small farming community of Morton, IL were either hardcore Illini fans or had jumped on board Bo's bandwagon. About three months into school was when I realized that what I was missing was my own hometown team.

Champaign nor Ann Arbor could replace the city beside the Olentangy River. I realized I was an expatriate who longed to 'go back to old Columbus Town'. I couldn't be honest with myself and yell "Go Illini" and I certainly wasn't going to cheer on that team up north. So I embraced my Buckeyes, giving them my full sport-allegiance, and haven't looked back.

If you weren't born in these parts or if you haven't spent any time as a resident in the area, you probably don't know that the Ohio State - M*ch*g*n rivalry goes back further than American college football. It goes back beyond the War Between the States. It can be traced back to 1835 when a state/territory border came under dispute.

You can read a much more lengthy explanation of the Toledo War here but here is the basic storyline:

Both the state of Ohio and the territory of M*ch*g*n claimed this narrow strip of land from the Indiana line to the western edge of Lake Erie called the Toledo Strip. Depending on who you talk to, there was (according to Ohioians) or was not (M*ch*g*nd*rs) gunfire during the war but militia from both territories were mobile and active along the disputed ground. It took acts of Congress and President Andrew Jackson to force the territory up north to give Toledo to Ohio in exchange for the remaining land of what we now call the Upper Peninsula.

This was in 1836. It is now 2008 and I want my money back.


The first battle on the gridiron took place in 1897 between the perennial powerhouse M*ch*g*n Wolverines and an infant football club from Ohio State. The outcome was 34-0 in favor of the maize and blue. It wouldn't be until 1919 when Ohio State would get their first win in the series thanks in large part to the now legendary halfback Charles "Chic" Harley, who was Tim Tebow before Tim Tebow was Tim Tebow. The next two games also fell into OSU's win column again due in large part to Harley. This prompted the university to begin a campaign to build a football stadium near campus in Columbus. Ohio Stadium would be completed in 1922 and nicknamed, "The House that Chic Built".

The annual series, now known as The Game, hit the national spotlight in full force during a 10-year stretch of time when two men, who once had been assistant coaches for the same team, squared off in epic battles against each other to not only decide a conference championship but often a national championship. Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler became the four-star generals who would lead their armies into battle every November from 1969-1978 in the 10-Year War. Bo would claim victory in the 10-year war; his record 5-4-1. 1978 would be the last year Woody would ever coach the Buckeyes. He stuck a Clemson player who had just sealed a Gator Bowl win over Ohio State with a fourth-quarter interception.


It's been 18 years since I found Ohio State and made it mine. I don't hate my seventh grade chemical science teacher (anymore) but I still loathe those winged-helmet wearing bozos from Ann Arbor!

And I love every minute of it!

The record for the previous 104 games is 57-41-6 in favor of the team up north. This Saturday will mark the 105th meeting of, what ESPN in 2000 called, the greatest rivalry in all of sports and coach Jim Tressel, who has won 6 of the last 7 years, is expected to add another notch in the win column for O-HI-O.

Here's to an Ohio State record fifth win in a row over M*ch*g*n!

Here's to another pair of gold pants for the Buckeyes!

Here's to 57-42-6!

Here's to OH-IO!


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