The “Greatest Rivalry in Sports” doesn’t even seem like a rivalry at all these days, in large part because “The Team Up North,” as Ohio State fans call the Michigan Wolverines, hasn’t lived up to their end of the bargain.
The Buckeyes have won the last eight games in the series, and nine of the last ten, and have handed the Wolverines several heartbreaking last minute defeats including two that likely cost Michigan a chance at playing for a Big Ten and/or National Championship.
Close calls don’t count for much in Ann Arbor, where Harbaugh’s job security has remained a topic despite his sterling 72% overall winning percentage.
Despite these backstories, and the incredible success of the Buckeyes under previous coach Urban Meyer and new coach Ryan Day last year, the rivalry is in need of a little something extra.
This past Monday, the two coaches engaged in a heated exchange that just might provide that additional spark heading into the college football season and the two teams’ scheduled October 24 matchup that could once again have title implications galore.
Day to Harbaugh: Wolverines Better Hope for a Mercy Rule in 2020
The Buckeyes hung 56 points on Michigan en route to a 56-27 victory last season, Day’s first experience in the Big House against Ohio State’s arch rival.
During Monday’s conference call, Day took issue with Harbaugh’s callout of the Buckeye program and made a boast that will live on for decades.
Day threatened to “hang 100” on Michigan, a reference to the amount of points he believes his team is capable of scoring on the Wolverines, who have struggled mightily on defense against the Buckeyes in recent years.
Day was responding to Harbaugh’s allegations that Ohio State has been violating NCAA rules by having coaches provide on-field instruction to players this summer, which isn’t permitted until Friday.
The Buckeyes’ second-year coach originally responded by telling Harbaugh, “How about I worry about my team and you worry about yours?”
Ohio State has won the past eight meetings by an average score of 41-28 over Michigan, and Harbaugh is now 0-5 against the Buckeyes, enduring both close, controversial losses and beatdowns at the hands of Michigan’s biggest nemesis.
Day declined to comment on his response to Harbaugh on Thursday according to ESPN.
“I appreciate the question, but I’d rather not answer that right now,” Day said.
His comments have since taken on a life of their own and breathed new life into both the rivalry and the college football scene, which has been lukewarm in recent weeks due to the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus situation, players’ safety concerns, and whether or not the season will be played as expected.
Buckeyes a Strong Bet to Extend Winning Streak in 2020
According to the early pre-season odds, Ohio State is an 11.5 point favorite to beat Michigan this year, with the two teams expected to meet on October 24, a week before Halloween.
Michigan on the other hand now has extra motivation to put a stop to the streak, and is expected to bring a contending team led by returning stars Nico Collins, Kwity Paye, and others.
But Ohio State boasts Heisman favorite and quarterback Justin Fields, giving the Buckeyes a huge edge at a position of strength going into the 2020 matchup.
Regardless of what happens in Columbus this year, you can bet the crunching of the pads and the trash talk will be more intense that ever before, even if “The Game” ends up as another Buckeye blowout when it’s all said and done.