All things are cyclical.
I know that the rivalry has been very painful for you for quite a while. Trust me, I can relate. Not only can I relate with the pain you’ve been enduring, but you can now relate with the pain I went through.
From 1985 through 2001 was a 17-year stretch during which I was perpetually looking up at Michigan. In arguably 13 of those 17 seasons Michigan had the better team. (the intended graphic does not display. See Winsipedia, http://winsipedia.com/michigan/vs/ohio-state [trim graph to view from 1985 to 2001].)
Michigan was consistently better than OSU. I was always looking up at the rival who was the dominant program in the conference. That’s where I wanted my team to be!
Even the 4 times OSU entered The Game as arguably the better team, Michigan won 3 of those 4 games! That means only one time in 17 years did OSU enter The Game as arguably the better team AND win it: 1998. The other 16 years (I’ll do the math for ya, kids) Michigan either had the better team or won The Game, usually both!
Even the 4 wins OSU had over Michigan in those 17 years, 3 of those 4 wins were ~4-loss Buckeye teams. So even though OSU won The Game, it sure didn’t feel like OSU was superior to Michigan.
This includes Earle Bruce’s last game. Sure, it was great to send off Coach Bruce with a win over Michigan. But it was a 4-loss team that was showing its coach the door. Certainly didn’t feel like the OSU program had anything on Michigan.
In Tressel’s first year OSU entered The Game as a 4-loss team. Winning in Ann Arbor was a relief, but it was far from thinking OSU was on the verge of any kind of dominance. At the time it was just a respite to prevent yet another 3+ year losing streak to Michigan.
Cooper’s first win (’94) was also eventually a 4-loss team. It sure felt good to finally beat Michigan again, but it was a far cry from thinking OSU had the superior program.
Only 1998. The only year in 17 seasons OSU had the better team AND won The Game. It had been 14 years since I last felt that: in 1984 when I watched Keith Byars prance into the end zone leading OSU to a 21-6 win en route to the Rose Bowl. (The very next season Michigan had this arrogant and obnoxious QB…not sure what he’s doing with himself thee days…) Not even just for a single season between 1985 & 1997 was OSU clearly the better team AND the winner of The Game. After 1998, I didn’t feel it again until another 4 years later. Only once in 17 years!
My 1998 is your 2011.
In the 14 years from 2004-2017, only in 2011 did Michigan enter The Game as the better team AND win it.
When OSU won The Game in 2001 & 2002, it had been 20 years since they last won back-to-back years (’81 & ’82). 20 years! I was not old enough to appreciate it then and had to wait another 20 years before OSU put together a win streak of as many as 2 games!
The last time Michigan won back-to-back games was 1999 & 2000. We’re fast approaching the 20-year mark since Michigan last won The Game in consecutive seasons.
I watched OSU go 14 years between victories on enemy turf (1987, 2001). This season marks 18 years since Michigan last did so.
There are many similarities between the two eras.
So…2018. What role will the 2018 edition play in the history of The Game? Are we on the verge of another transition in the rivalry?
- Will it lead to another run of dominance by Michigan?
- Will it lead to an era of the rivalry which there is plenty of back & forth and we see each team win 4 to 6 times every 10 years? (The last time the rivalry has had a regular sense of back & forth was the 1980s. During the Cooper era, I never anticipated a time when OSU would dominate the rivalry…I was just hoping that the rivalry would regain some level of back & forth to it instead of always having to break a losing streak. It has been 30 years since the rivalry has had a strong sense of back & forth. 30 years!)
- Will it lead Michigan fans to yet another level of pain? Will 2018, joined with 2016, lead you to a state of misery similar to what I experienced in ’93, ’95 & ’96? The pain of those years was even worse than the pain of ’88-’91, when Michigan won simply because they were the better team, which was painful enough.
How will 2018 make its place in the history of the rivalry?
Time will tell…
…in 39 hours, 27 minutes, and 57 seconds…56…55…54…