Saturday’s matchup between OSU and Michigan not only marks the 107th meeting between the two squads but also represents the last time the teams will square off in the Big Ten’s 11-team format.
With the addition of Nebraska and a conference championship game coming to the Big Ten next season, this year’s OSU-Michigan game is the last before the two teams divide into separate divisions.
Despite the changes, OSU coach Jim Tressel said nothing will change the significance of the rivalry.
“You play it like it’s the last game in the world,” he said. “I’m not sure that when we line up next year for the Ohio State-Michigan game there will be any less excitement or anything will be taken away from it. Maybe some of those by-products will be added, but I don’t know how you could lose anything from this game.”
The OSU-Michigan game has become a college football staple. The Buckeyes and Wolverines have met on the gridiron every year since the 1918 season and have met for each team’s regular season finale every year since 1935.
Although administrators recently considered moving “The Game” from its position as each team’s finale, OSU-Michigan will remain in its current spot for the time being.
“People with much more power make those decisions, but I think it’s a cool tradition that it gets to be at the end of the year,” senior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said. “It adds a little bit to the game knowing that you’re going to add that finale of a game being the Ohio State-Michigan game.”
Although the Buckeyes and Wolverines will continue to end their seasons against each other through the 2012 season, the games beyond that point have yet to be arranged. OSU athletic director Gene Smith said he doesn’t expect the placement of the game to change soon.
“I know what my position will be, for it to be the same, but again, I can’t speak for what (Wisconsin athletic director) Barry Alvarez might bring in the room or (Penn State athletic director) Tim Curley might bring in the room,” he said.
“We’re a consortium, so I’m going to listen to my colleagues and their pros and cons and I’m also going to represent what our interests are.”