Jack Park, a leading Ohio State football historian, checks in each week during the college football season with a retrospective about the Buckeyes.
Ohio State on Saturday will conclude its 100th season as a member of the Big Ten Conference, against rival Michigan in Ohio Stadium.
A victory over the Wolverines will earn the Buckeyes their sixth perfect record in school history. Ohio State was undefeated and untied in 1916 (7-0), 1944 (9-0), 1954 (10-0), 1968 (10-0) and 2002 (14-0).
The regular-season finales in the four most-recent perfect campaigns were victories over Michigan. The Buckeyes and Wolverines did not meet in 1916. Michigan -- one of the league’s founding members -- had withdrawn from the Big Ten on Feb. 1, 1908, and the conference prohibited any of its members from scheduling the Wolverines.
Michigan rejoined the league on Nov. 20, 1917. The Ohio State-Michigan series resumed, and the teams have met each season since 1918. The annual contest was moved to the last game of the regular season for both teams in 1935.
The Wolverines lead the all-time series 58-43-6. Additionally, the Buckeyes won 37-7 in Columbus two years ago, but the Ohio State athletics department elected to vacate all 12 of its 2010 victories because of NCAA sanctions. As a result, coach Jim Tressel’s record against the Wolverines is officially 8-1 instead of 9-1.
The series during the past 86 games (1926 through 2011) is even. OSU has 40 victories and one vacated win, UM has 41 triumphs and there were tie games in 1941 (20-20), 1949 (7-7), 1973 (10-10) and 1992 (13-13).
Woody Hayes was 16-11-1 against Michigan, Earle Bruce 5-4, John Cooper 2-10-1 and Luke Fickell 0-1. Former OSU assistant coach Bo Schembechler was 11-9-1 against Ohio State, former OSU co-captain Gary Moeller 3-1-1, Lloyd Carr 6-7, Rich Rodriguez 0-3 and current UM head coach Brady Hoke 1-0.
OSU’s point total last season in a 40-34 defeat is the school’s highest in a losing effort in the series. The Buckeyes’ previous highest score in a loss to Michigan was the 34-31 setback in 1988. UM’s highest score in a losing effort came in top-ranked Ohio State's 42-39 victory in 2006.
Ohio State’s largest margin of victory in the series is 38-0 in 1935. Michigan’s largest? An 86-0 rout in 1902. The 1902 game also produced the highest combined score in the series. The second highest point total is the 81 points in 2006.
The Big Ten essentially was the “Big Two and Little Eight” from 1968 through 1980. Ohio State and Michigan were 6-6-1 against each other, with each team scoring exactly 176 points in those 13 games. In addition, OSU and UM each were 83-5 those 13 seasons against the “Little Eight.”
Only once has The Game been decided by a single point: Michigan defeated Ohio State 17-16 in 1926. It was the Buckeyes’ only setback that season.
This year’s encounter will be at Ohio Stadium, but the home field has provided only a slight advantage. The home team has won 54, the visitor 47, one home victory has been vacated and there have been six ties.