Football The Rivalry

Coronation Canceled, Buckeyes Reassert Dominance Over Michigan

Michigan Football Ohio State Football Buckeyes

I was walking around Ohio Stadium Saturday morning and saw something I had never really seen before. There were Michigan fans actually smiling on the day of The Game.

It was three hours before the game and there were more of them than I had ever seen, just milling about with an excited assuredness. It wasn’t hope, it was simply people waiting for facts to be made known.

They were talking and happy and completely at peace on what is as far from a peaceful day as you can find.

It was clear — they were expecting a win. There were no nerves. No stomach acid. No thoughts of a heartbreaking loss. Only confidence and anticipation for what they knew they were about to witness.

And they reflected the national expectation as well.

One week before the Big Ten Championship Game was even going to be played, this would be the crowning of a new Big Ten king.

Jewels were still being encrusted into the crowns, but they had already been fitted for the robes.

Michigan was headed for the playoffs and Saturday’s game was just a 4-hour layover. A mere formality until the next leg of a championship journey.

And then came a knock on Michigan’s door.

It was reality.

It was history. It was the present. It was the future.

And they all wanted a word.

Guarantees are never guaranteed in this rivalry. Some have made them and happened to be on the right side of the coin flip, but the only thing that is truly guaranteed is that if you step onto the field for The Game thinking you’ve already got it won, you have, in fact, already lost.

From Ohio State’s first possession on Saturday, they made it known that they had no desire to pass any kind of torch. Especially when Dwayne Haskins and the Buckeye passing game had so much torching of their own to do on the day.

Ohio State entered this game expecting a fight. Michigan entered this game expecting a win — which is exactly how you get beaten up.

The Buckeyes were the better team in every area. Players, execution, game planning, coaching, adjustments, it was a clean sweep for Ohio State. Their relentlessness went well beyond an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

The Buckeyes were too big, too fast, and too determined to lose on Saturday. They never bought into the truths people outside of their locker room were trying to spread.

They respected the rivalry throughout all four quarters, and also respected the position that they currently hold in the rivalry.

Ohio State was invited to Michigan’s coronation — taking place in Ohio Stadium of all places — and they were expected to hand over their crown and simply bend a knee.

Wolverine fans had come from hundreds of miles away to witness a new era in Big Ten Football. It was going to be something to tell their children, and their children’s children. It would become lore.

This was also going to lead to Michigan’s first trip to Indianapolis and the Big Ten Championship Game.

Everything was coming together for the Wolverines. They were getting better as the season went on.

A dream season was being spoken into existence. Until all at once, it went silent.


The dream season had given way to the waking realization that, when it comes to this rivalry, nothing had changed.

And because they were so sure that this was the year, the devastation flooded Michigan fans with pain where they had almost grown to become numb to such things.

Their mistake was allowing themselves to believe again, and perhaps that was the cruelest part of Saturday.

Ohio State’s dagger, dulled at this point from overuse, was plunged once more into Michigan’s heart.

When Wolverine fans entered the stadium, they never stopped to hear the doors locking behind them.

Those same fans who were smiling before the game soon watched in horror as the Wolverines were once again led to the slaughter.

This was not a coronation.

It was an execution.

This was a 62-39 declaration that the status quo is the law of the land, and both the law and the land are doing just fine.

Yes, the crown may be heavy, but that’s so it won’t go anywhere.

And for at least another year, it’s staying right where it belongs.

25 Responses

  1. Great article, great talent! Author and team.

  2. Really special article. When I woke up Sunday, it was like Christmas Morning. I couldn’t wait to go downstairs and read about The Game. Anybody else feel like that?

  3. Wow! That was so fun to read. Beautiful work Tony! Gonna read it again. 🙂

  4. Maybe the Wolverine fans came to the stadium smiling because they had read your score prediction on Friday, Tony.

    Entertaining article, nonetheless. Just one point out: “The Buckeyes were … too determined to lose on Saturday.” was an awkwardly twisted up line.

  5. Superb! Thank you, Tony.
    The intense anxiety leading up to The Game, and watching it are nearly balanced by 2 things. First, the consistent, outstanding play of our Buckeyes during the last 15 years. Second the reward of reading great stuff like yours after a hard fought win.Thank you, thank you!

  6. It wasnt a coronation it was an execution. I love it. Great writing

  7. I have lived 20 minutes from Ann Arbor for the last 28 years and had to endure the same kind of dominance during the Cooper era as a Buckeye alum. I went to the 1993 game in Ann Arbor fully expecting the #5 Buckeyes to roll a 6-4 Michigan team who was trotting out their third string quarterback for The Game. We were certain we were going to the Rose Bowl.

    We got rolled and shut out 28-0.

    I said at the time it was the most embarrassing loss in Ohio State recent memory, and probably still is today.

    Glad to see UM has theirs now….

    1. Brett- I too was at the 93 game in Ann Arbor, yes it was absurd. However- and I seem to be doing this frequently- be very careful about lumping John Cooper in with Rich Rod, Brady Joke, and Hairball. The John Cooper 90s teams were far more accomplished than any team these 3 clowns have trotted out. And, even though there were too many losses to UM, the norm there was at least close games- 13-9, 31-23, 20-14 are examples. (I was at all of them). Finally, while the 93 game was bad, I cannot place it in the same category of ineptitude as Iowa 2017 and Purdue 2018 ( this last is a matter of opinion, I admit).

      1. Never compared JC to JH…just saying there was the expectation to come away with a win in ’93 based on how OSU was that year compared to a down Michigan team and we could not score at all with so much on the line. Cooper was 0-4-1 against UM at that point and it was our first shot to go undefeated, albeit with a tie against Wisconsin. The ’93 loss plus the ones you cited all cost the Buckeyes either a Rose Bowl trip and a potential NC if memory serves correctly. The Iowa loss, as bad as it was, still did not cost us a B10 championship last year, though it did a spot in the CFP. This year, we will see what that Purdue game impact will be. Blow out NW and you may have a shot. Win 20-17 (or lose), going to the Rose Bowl.

        As you state, matter of opinion. The parallels between the ’93 OSU team and the ’18 UM team going into the game were eerily similar.

        1. Brett- you plainly stated “same kind of dominance” during the Cooper era, which directly invites comparison. For the record (literally), the 90s Cooper teams were 2-7-1 vs Michigan, whereas the last 10 for UM is 1-9 (with their 1 win being against a distracted OSU team, comparatively low on the satisfaction scale). Furthermore, during the 90s the Bucks trotted out a TON of major award winners and two #2 final rankings. scUM can’t even come close to that the last 10 years…
          Secondly, I found that the 93 OSU team had a 4-0 record vs Top 25 teams at the time they played. The 18 scUM team has a 3-2 record vs Top 25 teams, and their historical bowl record ain’t exactly promising in terms of making it 4-2…
          Finally, I’ll point out that scUM had this little game result vs App State that many consider just a bit embarrassing (and I think a loss to Toledo or Akron too, and our many drubbings of them, it’s been hard to keep track of their continuous stretch of lows the past 10 years). We are on the same side, I just wish folks would at least acknowledge that, if the Coach Cooper years are somehow considered “subpar”, that OSU’s version of subpar is a heck of a lot more palatable than scUM’s.

  8. “Ohio State entered this game expecting a fight. Michigan entered this game expecting a win — which is exactly how you get beaten up.”

    1. That’s a great line. Hope the Buckeyes remember that against NW. Regardless of records or the betting line, NW will be there to play. If we’re not, we lose.

  9. Great job Tony! Brought to mind “The Red Wedding” from Game of Thrones!

  10. That was without question the best article I have read in a long, long time. Well done Tony! This article encapsulated all aspects of this rivalry and told the story in an incomparable way!

  11. That was without question the best article I have read in a long, long time. Well done Tony! This article encapsulated all aspects of this rivalry and told the story in an imcomparable way!

  12. Tony, Tony, Tony! Not since the days of Kaye Kessler have I enjoyed a Buckeye beat writer more. A heart felt thanks and appreciation for your work.

  13. Tony, Tony, Tony! You deserve a Tony award (or its equivalent for internet sports writers) for this article. And a second one in the category of Perfectly Matched Pictures. As the Dean of writers, Verlyn Klinkenborg* says, you know your writing is good when you re-read it and you know why you chose every word. I’m sure you did.

    *Several Short Sentences On Writing, Verlyn Klinkenborg, 2012

  14. Articles like this Tony are the reason you’re the best Buckeye beat writer ever. Well done. Well done, indeed.

  15. Thank you, indeed, Tony. That was the best article on The Game I’ve yet read. And I passed it along to others who need to read it. You hit the nail on the head, . . . er, into the coffin of the revenge tour. Same time next year, rivals.

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