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After much anticipation throughout the entire season, “The Game” is finally here and will kick off in just a few more hours.
This season could not have been scripted any better up to this point, as the two teams involved in most bitter rivalry in college football are both ranked in the top 3 in all of the national polls, most notably the College Football Playoff (CFP) rankings.
It is the first time all season long that two of the top three teams will battle head to head, and the second time all season long that two of the top five teams will battle head to head, the other being with the #3 Louisville Cardinals went on the road to take on the #5 Clemson Tigers in early October.
This isn’t October. These aren’t pretenders. These are contenders. This is the game. No, not the game. The game. “The Game”.
The #2 Ohio State Buckeyes will host the #3 Michigan Wolverines at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, in front of over 105,000 cheering fans. Both teams come into this game with 10-1 records this season, including 7-1 in Big Ten conference play for both.
What’s at stake in this one? Lots. If Ohio State wins, they will likely be into the (CFP) despite the unlikelihood that they would even get to the Big Ten championship game, which would only happen if the #7 Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions somehow lost at home to the Michigan State Spartans. If Michigan wins, they clinch themselves a berth in the Big Ten championship game against the #6 Wisconsin Badgers next Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Whoever loses has no chance at being in the Big Ten championship game and will be sitting with two losses at a 10-2 record, which makes the loser’s chances at making it into the CFP extremely small and almost nonexistent barring meltdowns from all other CFP contenders.
Ohio State has won 11 of the last 12 meetings with Michigan, with Michigan’s only win during that time span being a 40-34 victory at home in the 2011 season. Michigan has not won in Columbus since the 2000 season, when they knocked off Ohio State by a score of 38-26. Ohio State won last season’s meeting in Michigan by a blowout score of 42-13. Ohio State has scored exactly 42 points the last three times these teams have met. However, Michigan does lead the all-time series with a record of 58-47-6.
Not only will two of the top teams in the country go at it, but two of the top players in the country will as well. Ohio State quarterback JT Barrett and Michigan linebacker (who plays pretty much every position on the field) Jabrill Peppers are both contenders for this season’s Heisman Trophy award, so look for them to potentially be key players in determining the outcome of this game.
If all players on both teams don’t bring their “A” game for this one, I don’t know what else could possibly motivate them. Aside of winning the national championship, each of these team’s number one goal every single season is to beat the other, and if they can’t do that, it’s simple. They won’t even get to Big Ten championship game, much less the CFP or the national championship game.
With how intense and close this matchup should be, we cannot ignore the fact that one team will go home a winner, while one will go home a loser with their hopes and dreams of being Big Ten and college football champions crushed.