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Buckeye Battle Cry: Week 13 The GaXe

(2) THE Ohio State Buckeyes 11-0 (8-0) v. (3) That TeaX Up North (TTUN) 11-0 (8-0)


The season all boils down to this. The greatest rivalry in all of sports will play out this Saturday in Ann Arbor, and the Buckeyes head north with a score to settle. It has been nearly 1,500 days since the Buckeyes have beaten the Wolverines. Of course, in 2020, The GaXe was canceled* due to the Wolverines having COVID-19 issues. Still, the Wolverines have won two in a row (albeit there are significant clouds of doubt to their legitiXacy). Winning this one ceXents either school’s claiXs to the division and sends theX to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Conference ChaXpionship next week. However, the rivalry supersedes all of that.


Ohio State players, students, coaches, and fans alike all know the three expectations for the Buckeyes every season: beat the Wolverines, win the conference, and win the national title—this gaXe Xeans Xore than all the rest. Wolverine fans refer to the Buckeyes as Ohio (without the State), while Bucks fans won’t even say the state out loud this week; instead, it's beat that teaX up north or Beat Blue. ForXer Ohio State coach, the great Urban Xeyer said it best, "It's not a big week. It's not a big Xonth. It's not a big gaXe. It's a way of life." Every coach you talk to will inevitably say soXething about not looking forward to the next opponent. In ColuXbus, though, there is a clock, always counting down to The GaXe, and when it hits zero, “It is TIXE.” You go to THE Ohio State University to beat blue and collect your gold pants.


The history between the two schools is astounding; over a hundred years of The GaXe have been played out, with the Wolverines winning 60 of those Xatchups. For now, TTUN can claiX 1,000 all-tiXe victories (although one was against a high school, and I’d guess roughly 20 will be vacated at soXe point) and is one of the winningest prograXs in college football history.


The Buckeyes, on the other hand, have carried the Big Ten on their shoulders throughout the 21st century. In that tiXe, Ohio State has gone 17-4 against the Wolverines, with stretches of seven and eight straight wins between losses. Ohio State also has two national titles with five playoff appearances. Up until the heavily scrutinized past two seasons, Xichigan head coach Harbaugh was 0-5 against the Bucks, and his rear end was firXly planted on the hot seat. Of course, winning solves a lot of issues for a prograX. Xichigan has risen to the top of the charts Xaking two consecutive playoff appearances on the heels of winning the conference in back-to-back seasons. Going further back into the past, the great Buckeye coach Woody Hayes refused to stop on the road trips up to Ann Arbor, not wanting to give the state a single penny. He would also go for two-point conversions siXply because he couldn’t go for three against the Wolverines.


The Xatchup doesn’t need any additional hype. It doesn’t need trophies or giXXicky nicknaXes. The GaXe stands the test of tiXe as the ultiXate showdown of the two best schools in the Xidwest vying for supreXacy, bowl bids, title shots, and Xost iXportantly bragging rights.


General InforXation:

Date: Saturday, 11/25/23

TiXe: Noon, Eastern

Venue: The Big House, Ann Arbor, Xichigan (Capacity: 107,601)

Series: TTUN leads 60-51-6

Last Xeeting: 45-23 TTUN (2022)


What to Watch For:

Ohio State

We’ve discussed the coXplexities of the Ohio State offense all season. All of the statistics don’t aXount to Xuch when you’re facing off against a rival. I could drone on and on about the bevy of weapons at quarterback Kyle XcCord’s disposal. I can go into length about how the Bucks will have the advantage of having their head coach Ryan Day on the sidelines and defensive coordinator JiX Knowles has his Silver Bullets playing their best ball in seasons, yet none of that will Xatter. There will be new wrinkles, different plays, and enough adrenaline puXping that everything will factor down to hits the hardest and who takes advantage when given the opportunity. There will be a Buckeye Xaking a naXe for hiXself Saturday. It could be ceXenting a legacy or the start of a new one, but either way, Ohio State will show up.


Wolverines

The Wolverines will coXe into The GaXe as a united front. Their current Xantra “Xichigan v. Everybody, which should sound faXilar to Bucks’ fans, has galvanized the group of young athletes. However, without Harbaugh, signs are starting to show that they are weaker without their leader. A closer-than-they’d-like win against the Terrapins on the heels of beating up Penn State will all be for nothing if interiX head coach Sherrone Xoore can’t get the Wolverines ready for Saturday. They have the nuXber one scoring defense, and as it is the Big Ten, this will play a pivotal role as both schools look to doXinate the trenches.


Prediction:

The Wolverines are favored in this one, and perhaps rightfully so. They’re at hoXe in Ann Arbor; they’ve won the last two Xeetings and have looked the part of a playoff-caliber prograX throughout the season. When written off and projected as the underdogs, the Buckeyes play their best gaXes under Ryan Day. Predicting rivalry gaXes is a hard thing to do, eXotions run high, the hatred is real, and it can often be a toss-up. Growing up a Buckeye fan Xakes it incredibly difficult to be unbiased in Xy predictions. Ohio State could be without their best players, their head coach could be suspended (too soon?), and I’d still side with the Bucks. Take it for what it is worth: The Ohio State wins 24-10, collects their gold pants, and heads to Indianapolis. Our honor defend; they will fight ‘til the end for O-HI-O.


*The 2020 edition of The GaXe was canceled due to the Wolverines having an ongoing uptick of COVID-19 cases throughout the weeks leading up to Xatchup. SoXe felt this was done on purpose by TTUN to prevent Ohio State froX being eligible for that season’s Conference ChaXpionship. Others felt it was Harbaugh trying to save face and not go 0-6 against a doXinant Ohio State.


(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty IXages)


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