Nov. 18, 2006
Each week, Gameday+ takes a look at an Ohio State game played on this date:
Ohio State 42, Michigan 39
Setup: In 113 games between Ohio State and Michigan dating to 1897, 11 were played when both of the teams were ranked in the top five. But there has been only one matchup of the nation’s No. 1 and 2 teams, and that came on a mild November afternoon 11 years ago. Both teams entered 11-0, with the winner assured a spot in the Bowl Championship Series title game 51 days hence in Glendale, Arizona. Adding to the intrigue seemed impossible, at least until former Wolverines coach Bo Schembechler died of heart failure the day before the game.
Stars: Troy Smith became the first Ohio State quarterback to start three wins over Michigan and also cemented his Heisman Trophy season with a 316-yard, four-touchdown performance. Antonio Pittman had 139 yards rushing, and he and Chris “Beanie” Wells each popped TD runs of 50-plus yards as the Buckeyes totaled 187 yards on the ground against a Michigan defense that had allowed only 29.9 per game.
Turning point: Wells’ 52-yard burst gave OSU the lead for good at 14-7 in the second quarter, but Michigan twice closed to four points in the second half, the last time at 35-31 early in the fourth quarter. Smith’s 13-yard scoring pass to Brian Robiskie with 5:38 remaining restored OSU’s lead to 42-31, and Ted Ginn Jr. recovered the onside kick after the Wolverines’ final TD, with 2:16 left.
Impact: Ohio State won its first outright Big Ten title since 1984 and punched its ticket to another BCS championship game. But who would the Buckeyes play? USC? Florida? Michigan again, maybe? Southern California was out after losing to UCLA the next week, and Florida coach Urban Meyer successfully lobbied for the Gators after beating Arkansas in the SEC championship game.
Quotable: “Quite honestly, the only thing on my mind is the joy of winning the Ohio State-Michigan game, and the joy of being the Big Ten champions.” — OSU coach Jim Tressel, not wanting to get sucked into the discussion about the Buckeyes’ BCS opponent
— Ray Stein / firstname.lastname@example.org
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