Every season when late November comes around, it always means one thing... The Game is approaching and that gets football fans across the country excited. It's no secret that Ohio State dominated the rivalry from 2001 through 2019 winning 17 out of the 19 games. However, the last three years have been quite the opposite, as Michigan football found its winning formula and has beaten the Buckeyes three straight times by an average of 14 points.
The winning formula for Michigan football was a combination of rededicating the program to physical football, a brilliantly put together coaching staff, including two superstar defensive coordinators, and players remaining loyal to the program refusing to leave until they achieved the ultimate success. Ultimate success to this group of Michigan football players meant beating Ohio State, winning the Big Ten Championship, and winning the National Championship.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Ohio State looks to be taking a page out of the Wolverines book and bringing back a lot of key players. These players include Emeka Egbuka, JT Tuimoloau, Denzel Burke, TreVeyon Henderson, Donovan Jackson, Jack Sawyer, and Tyleik Williams. All seven players are difference makers and all seven players are seniors. These guys could have easily decided to go to the NFL but it is clear they want one last crack at Michigan football.
While I certainly do not love the Buckeyes, I do love their decision to come back because it shows how much this rivalry means to players on both sides. As expected, a lot of key players for Michigan football have declared for the draft. The entire starting offensive line, Blake Corum and JJ McCarthy all declared for the draft as well.
However, a few key Wolverines have also announced they will be coming back instead of declaring for the draft. Donovan Edwards, Rod Moore, and Josaiah Stewart are all going to be suiting up for the Wolverines in 2024.
We are entering a new era of college football in 2024. This new era has the potential to have a big impact on this rivalry.
There are no longer divisions in the Big Ten which means we have the possibility of Michigan playing Ohio State in the regular season finale and then playing again the following week in the Big Ten Championship.
Will this impact coaching decisions and how they approach the game? Maybe but let's assume it won't and both teams are playing to win the game at all costs.
Michigan football has taken firm control of the rivalry with three straight wins. A fourth straight win and second straight win in Columbus for Michigan would be a devastating blow for Ohio State.
Ryan Day knows how to coach football, but he also clearly has a problem coaching against Michigan. Having all this talent coming back, along with some key transfer portal additions and the game being played in Columbus means Ryan Day has to win this game or else his seat will be scorching hot.
I have never bought into him actually being on the hot seat but I do believe those conversations will heat up immensely if he loses. If Ohio State wins, it will immediately give the program and their fanbase confidence back in Ryan Day. Safe to say that massive implications are looming on the 2024 version of The Game and I know fans from both sides wouldn't want it any other way.