The annual battle for the Big Ten title takes place in Ann Arbor when the Wolverines host Ohio State. Unlike last year, there are likely no national title implications, but the game will determine the fate of each team’s season. As any Buckeye fan will be happy to point out, tOSU has won five of the last six meetings, including two of the last three in Ann Arbor. Michigan holds the series lead, 57-40-6, following last year’s three point loss. With both teams coming off losses to break long winning streaks, there are some who don’t believe this year’s matchup measures up to those in years past. But with Michigan teetering between an accomplished season and a disastrous season, this game is huge. So you want to be prepared, and the preparation wouldn’t be complete without the final regular season version of the MZone's KNOW YOUR FOE.
History – The current Ohio State University was founded as The Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1870 as a land grant institution. But that only sparked the beginning of two huge battles in the first couple of decades of the school. The first was a result of two factions with opposing views of the role of the university. The "narrow gauge" group, held that the college should teach subjects related to agriculture and mechanical arts. The "broad gauge" party wanted a more diversified curriculum that included English and ancient and foreign languages as well. In 1873, an 8-7 vote called for the broadening of the curriculum to include seven fields of study: agriculture, ancient languages, chemistry, geology, mathematics, modern languages, and physics. The first class of twenty-four students, including three women started in 1873 and the name was changed to Ohio State University in 1878.
The second battle also came from in state. Two universities – Miami and Ohio University – had their feelings hurt that they weren’t chosen as the state university. At times, former U. S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, who later became governor of Ohio, mocked the older schools, and lobbied hard for monies for the state university, tOSU. Hmmm. There’s something about this school that likes bullies named Hayes who bring them glory. Finally, in 1906, the state legistlature settled the issue by declaring tOSU as the only school that would offer post-graduate degress, while Miami and Ohio would only offer bachelor’s degrees.
Location – Columbus, Ohio. Located smack dab in the middle of the state, Columbus is, surprising to many, the largest city in the state. It has kept this title by bullying the few surrounding suburbs into annexation in exchange for sewer and water service that the city controls. And though C-Bus is the largest, people from Cleveland or Cincinnati have far more pride in their hometowns. It’s known as the Arch City for the metal arches that spanned High Street during the early 20th century. Columbus is the capitol of Ohio and is home to Nationwide Insurance as well as the corporate home to The Limited, Express, Bath & Body Works, and Victoria's Secret.
Nickname - Buckeyes. The name comes from a type of tree that is native to much of the eastern United States, including Ohio. The leaves appear in a five-leaflet cluster, and the fruit, or nut, is round and typically about an inch and a half wide. It’s poisonous to humans, horses and cattle, though not to squirrels. We’ll find out on Saturday how Wolverines handle them. Ohio State fans love their buckeyes. They wear them around their neck, and tOSU students and alums refer to themselves as Buckeyes.
In addition to the tree, and the fruit that carry the buckeye name, there are two towns in the U. S. named Buckeye, though neither one is in Ohio. There’s also a breed of chicken named Buckeye, as well as a species of butterfly. Know Your Foe used to work with a tOSU grad. Every year for Michigan-Ohio State week his wife would make these chocolate and peanut butter buckeyes. Know Your Foe's allegiance in this game has never been questioned, but those chocolate buckeyes came pretty close to getting us to say “It might not be so bad if Ohio State won.”
Mascot – Brutus Buckeye. Brutus was born in 1965 and was the brainchild of Ray Bourhis and the student group Ohio Staters. At that time, most mascots were live animals and Bourhis proposed bringing a buck deer to the games but that proved too logistically difficult. The first Brutus costume weighed over 40 pounds. Through the years Brutus has had a number of face lifts – as well as some lipo evidently. But after the first incarnation, Brutus has appeared to be an angry, often drunk looking mascot.
Know Your Foe has been to games to see Brutus dishing out as well as receiving abuse. But the most memorable was in 1983 when Brutus, as is his wont, ran the perimeter of the field at Michigan Stadium waving the Ohio State flag. As he made his way down the Michigan sideline, one of the athletes holding the M GO BLUE banner had seen enough. He made a beeline for Brutus and dove into his legs, taking down the costumed mascot. Brutus’ head almost fell off and he cocked his fist, ready to punch the Wolverine athlete who took him down. And who was that diving star that day? Olympic silver medalist, and former felon Bruce Kimball.
Colors – Scarlet and Gray. The official colors were selected by three students in 1878. The reasoning for the combination was that they were a “pleasing combination” and weren’t being used by any other college. The original selection of orange and black was shot down when the students discovered that Princeton used those colors. It was the last time in recorded history that Ohio State and Princeton would ever be confused for each other. Now we’ve gone over the whole red thing in previous Know Your Foes. And the fact that tOSU calls their red “Scarlet” doesn’t change the argument. Red is just too common. The gray that’s added to the tOSU color scheme is somewhat unique, but is it really gray? Take a look at those helmets – there’s undoubtedly a metallic quality to them. Any non-color blind person would call them silver. And until a couple of years ago, the Buckeyes wore silver pants as well before changing back to the matte gray.
Logo – A block O, with “Ohio State” arched through the middle. The block O has been part of Ohio State for years, and plenty of Buckeye gear still only includes the single letter. In the early eighties, the words Ohio and State were added, though the current logo has been in use for about 20 years.
Fight Song – Across the Field. One of the all-time great fight songs. There’s almost no way you can walk away from listening to it and not end up humming it right after. The only drawback to it, is that it’s very football-centric. Sure, this makes sense for a school like Ohio State, but as we’ll see below they also excel in a number of other sports. And the opening line of “Fight the team across the field,” just doesn’t make sense when cheering for the Buckeye basketball or swimming team. It’s not surprising that the first word is “Fight.” This is Ohio State, after all. They like to fight. But they get big credit for also using the word “reverberating.” Sure, most of the students and graduates of tOSU have no idea what it means, but it’s a great word and the usage is perfect in the song. In addition to the fight song, the Ohio State band will also play Hang On Sloopy, and after the game the players join the crowd in Carmen, Ohio.
Academics – In the latest U. S. News Ranking of America's Best Colleges, Ohio State is tied for 57th, with Boston University. This is actually a much higher ranking than tOSU has received in past editions, and puts them in the middle of the Big Ten, which, again, isn’t that bad for tOSU. Most importantly for Buckeye grads, they’re ten slots ahead of Miami of Ohio which is generally considered a stronger school academically. With almost 52,000 students on the Columbus campus, Ohio State is the largest university in the country, But bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to tOSU. Not many of their undergraduate or graduate programs rank among the elite. Sure, the Department of Dance is considered the top ranked graduate program and the second ranked such program in North America. But other programs, like Business, medicine, and law are good. Yes, they’re also big. But better? Not so much.
Athletics – Few schools have the athletic tradition of Ohio State. It’s the only university to have won national championships in football, basketball, and baseball. Well, the only one other than Michigan. tOSU has also won national titles in golf, men’s swimming, men’s gymnastics, and men’s outdoor track. The women’s teams have never won an NCAA-sanctioned title, but they have won 24 titles in synchronized swimming, and two in pistol. For anyone who's attending a future game in Columbus, that's a scary thought.
But let’s face it, when people think of Ohio State sports – hell, when they think of Ohio State period – they think of Buckeye football. They’ve won five recognized national championships, including the 2002 crown. They’ve won 32 Big Ten titles, though, interestingly, only one outright title since 1984. Former coach Woody Hayes is worshipped as a god in the state despite an irascible personality and repeated episodes of poor sportsmanship. The identity of the school – and much of the state – is wrapped up in how the Buckeyes do on the gridiron. It unites the state from Cleveland to Cincinnati, from the farms to the cities.
Famous alums – This is another instance of Ohio State being bigger, but not necessarily better. Check out this list of tOSU alumni. It’s looooong. But there aren’t many people who really stand out other than athletes. The Hoover Street Rag has a grreat showdown that summarizes things well. As mentioned above, the Buckeye football team has produced hall of famers. And even in other sports, Buckeyes are among the all-time greats, including Jesse Owens, Jack Nicklaus, Frank Howard, John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas. The most familiar names in academia are current University of Georgia president Michael Adams (the guy who won’t allow Florida-Georgia to be called the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party), and former University of Michigan president Harlan Hatcher. You know, the guy who the Grad Library is named after. In business tOSU alumni run Diebold (the voting machine people), and the founder of Shoney’s restaurants. Well known Buckeye journalists include Jack Buck, Judith Miller, and Erin Moriarty. The field of the arts is populated with Buckeyes Patricia Heaton, comedian Richard Lewis, network executive Fred Silverman, singer and actor Dwight Yoakim, artist Roy Lichtenstein, and comedy writer Bruce Villanch. And though the state of Ohio has produced eight U. S. Presidents, no chief executive has ever been a tOSU alum.
The Game – The biggest question for this game is who’s going to play for Michigan. Without Hart and Henne this will likely be a blowout. With both approaching good health Michigan has a shot. But even with both of those guys the Wolverines don’t have any real advantages. The better offense? Ohio State. Defense? Ohio State. Special Teams? Coaching? All are to the advantage of the Buckeyes. Michigan can win this game. But they won’t. OHIO STATE 34, MICHIGAN 20.