Ohio State Vs. Michigan: Who Has The Better Record When Both Are In The Top 5?

There is no doubt that Ohio State and Michigan have the best and most bitter rivalry in the history of college football. The storied history has created many memorable contests and legendary coaches such as Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Jim Tressel, and Fielding Yost. Each year, for Buckeyes and Wolverines fans, not only does Thanksgiving week provide time to spend with family for some good eating and fellowship, but it also starts the beginning of “Beat Michigan” and “Beat Ohio” week.

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In the series — which dates back to 1897 — Michigan currently has the lead of 58 wins to Ohio State’s 47, with six ties. Michigan holds an 11-game lead mainly due to the early years from 1897-1918, during which they were not defeated once by Ohio State.

The era of John Cooper also assisted in widening the Wolverine lead. During his 13-year stint, Cooper only managed to defeat Michigan twice. Despite coaching the Buckeyes to very impressive records, he was fired in 2000 after his fifth loss to Michigan in a six-year span.

Cooper told ESPN after being let go from OSU due to his unsuccessful record against Michigan, “A lot of people are never going to like me.”

Former coach Earl Bruce, who had a winning record against Michigan in his nine seasons leading the team, gave his thoughts on why Cooper was let go.

“His record is good. Beating Notre Dame twice is good. But I guess if you’re talking about being remembered at Ohio State, you’ve got to talk about the Michigan games and the bowl games.”

Unanimously viewed as the best coach in Ohio State history, Woody Hayes helped narrow the Michigan lead. Outside of winning five national championships, his record against Michigan in his 28 seasons was 16-11-1.

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Coaches Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer have also significantly helped narrow the margin of victory. Between the two — a total of 14 years — Michigan has only won twice. In 10 seasons, Tressel led the Buckeyes to nine victories, and Meyer has yet to lose to Michigan in four years. The other loss was in 2011, when co-Defensive Coordinator Luke Fickell assumed the head coach position.

This Saturday, the Buckeyes go into the game as the No. 2 team in the nation. Comparatively, the Wolverines head into the game No. 3. This is the 11th time the two will compete against each other with both teams in the top five.

Here are the scores of the previous games.

1941: Ohio State – 20, Michigan, 20

1942: Ohio State – 21, Michigan – 7

1968: Ohio State – 50, Michigan – 14

1970: Ohio State – 20, Michigan – 9

1974: Ohio State – 12, Michigan – 10

1975: Ohio State – 21, Michigan – 14

1977: Ohio State – 6, Michigan – 14

1997: Ohio State – 14, Michigan – 20

2003: Ohio State – 21, Michigan – 35

2006: Ohio State – 42, Michigan – 39

Based on the history of both teams being in the top five, Ohio State holds a 6-3-1 lead.

It should be very interesting to see how the playoff picture pans out after this game. Right now, Michigan has the ability to create their own path by defeating Ohio State and winning the conference championship game to secure a spot in the College Football Playoffs.

The third #CFBPlayoff Selection Committee rankings.

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Ohio State, on the other hand, has to rely on the generosity of the pollsters to keep them in the top four if they beat Michigan and win the conference championship. This is due to the Buckeyes losing to Penn State at Beaver Stadium in their seventh game of the season.

If Penn State win, they have a fair argument of why they deserve to represent the Big Ten in the playoffs. However, if Penn State loses to Michigan State, who played tough against both Ohio State and Michigan despite only having three wins this season, their dreams will be shattered.

Regardless of the outcome, the Big Ten has shown to be the most improved and impressive major conference in college football, with Ohio State and Michigan being in the top five.

[Featured Image by File/AP Images]