Look, there have been a lot of incredible Ohio State-Michigan games over the years. Virtually every game between the two fierce rivals during the ’70s was a tough, hard-hitting advertisement for why college football is the greatest sport there is. There was the Snow Bowl, and the 2006 match-up between two teams ranked no. 1 and no.2, and — giving the devil its due — Michigan’s legendary 1969 upset of an Ohio State team that many at the time considered to be the best college football team ever.
So I’m not going to say that yesterday’s double-overtime thriller was the best Ohio State-Michigan game ever played — but I am going to say that it was an epic contest that was simply one of the best college football games I’ve ever seen. Two strong teams with shutdown defenses. Wild emotional swings. Missed field goals and turnovers. Officiating controversy. A gutsy call that blew up in the coach’s face, and then a gutsy call that produced the game-winning touchdown. It’s the stuff of legend; an instant classic that people will remember and talk about for years to come. No one who watched it, in the stands or on TV, will forget the 2016 edition of The Game.
And in the end, Ohio State won, and Michigan went home crushed. Michigan’s head coach, Jim Harbaugh, blames the referees for the loss, saying they missed a spot and blew some pass interference calls. His disappointment is understandable, because his team played a great game and seemed to have The Game in hand until Ohio State’s defense ground the Michigan offense down and the Buckeyes’ offense finally woke up. Still, it’s too bad that such a great game should end with such sour grapes. Coach Harbaugh’s comments seem to cheapen The Game, and that’s too bad.
Ohio State’s unfortunate mishaps against Penn State mean that the Buckeyes once again won’t play in the Big Ten championship game. Instead, they will have to wait to see whether they are selected for this year’s college football playoff, and Ohio State fans will keep their fingers crossed that the selection committee recognizes that the Buckeyes are one of the four best teams in the land.
For now, though, we can just savor an epic win against the Wolverines, and reflect on the fact that beating That Team from Up North never gets old.