Both Buckeyes and Wolverines Relish Possible Rivalry Double-Dip in 2013
By Rob Ogden
When the Big Ten expanded to 12 teams and a championship game was established prior to the 2011 season, no one could have imagined two years would go by without either Ohio State or Michigan playing in the game.
Prior to 2010, the Buckeyes and Wolverines combined to win each of the league’s last eight championships and 12 out of 14 dating back to 1996.
More league expansion will bring the end of Leaders and Legends, and the Buckeyes and Wolverines will be placed in the same division starting in 2014, making this year the last with the possibility of the teams meeting in the championship game.
Although most opposed the idea of the league’s two heavyweights having to play back-to-back weeks, players said the novelty of it happening one time would be fun.
“That would be really cool just because that's a rivalry game for us,” Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. “That's one that we always have circled, so to be able to play that team up north twice in two weeks would be a pretty special experience. It's the last chance we get because of the realignment, so that would be really cool.”
The Buckeyes and Wolverines have played every year since 1918, but never more than once in the same season. The game has been played on the same two fields since Michigan Stadium was built in 1927, so for it to be played in Indianapolis would be a unique experience.
Michigan safety Thomas Gordon said it would be a fun one.
“It would be a chance to beat them twice in one season and that would be a good deal,” Gordon said.
The last time Ohio State and Michigan came close to playing two weeks in a row was in 2006, when the top-ranked Buckeyes edged out a victory over No. 2 Michigan. Some speculated that the teams should meet again for the national championship, but of course, Urban Meyer’s Gators were given the nod instead.
Now as the Buckeyes’ coach, Meyer said playing back-to-back games against their rivals would be no easy task.
“That’s really hard,” Meyer said. “For coaches it’s hard, but the wear and tear on the bodies of the players, that’s tough.
“Playing Michigan two weeks in a row wouldn't be good for the health of the coaches, but would be great for the fans,” he added.
Asked if he would hold anything back in the first game if he knew the teams would meet again for the championship, Meyer said he wouldn’t.
“You just have to win the game,” he said. “Then you worry about the next game.”
Teams meeting for a second time in a championship game isn’t unheard of. Alabama beat LSU for the 2011 national championship after losing to the Tigers in the regular season.
Playing the same team two weeks in a row, however, would add another element.
Gordon said bouncing back for a second game would be tough.
“We put so much emphasis on beating those guys, and you play your absolute hardest every game but there’s just something about that game, you’re just mentally spent and physically tired.”
Mewhort said it would be a fair fight, and wondered if players would get two pairs of gold pants if they were able to beat their rivals twice.
“Both teams are going to be equally beat up from playing the week before, so it's an even match, but it would be fun to do it again,” Mewhort said.
“I think we could bounce back. We have great rehab programs and nutritionists and our strength coaches would make sure we would be right for it, so I think it would be a really exciting experience.”
Ohio State and Michigan have decided the Big Ten championship between themselves on 22 different occasions. They’ll have one last chance to do it again this fall.
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