Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Start of the Ten-Year War

Forty years ago tomorrow, Bo Schembechler concluded his first regular season as head coach at Michigan with a 24–12 victory over top–ranked Ohio State that sent the Wolverines to Pasadena, Calif., for a Rose Bowl date with USC. The loss ended a 22–game winning streak for the Buckeyes.

The Wolverines lost that New Year's Day game, but the win over Ohio State was the first shot fired in what became known as the "Ten–Year War" between the schools. Ohio State and Michigan dominated the Big Ten in the 1970s. No other school represented the conference in the Rose Bowl in that decade.

Without a doubt, Michigan fans would have liked to have seen a repeat of that outcome on this, the eve of the 40th anniversary of Schembechler's landmark victory, especially since "The Game," as it is known, was being played in Ann Arbor, where Schembechler recorded that triumph. But it was not to be.

Ohio State already was assured of a berth in this season's Rose Bowl, although the Buckeyes' opponent has yet to be determined. Michigan, meanwhle, needed a victory simply to be bowl eligible. The Buckeyes won, 21–10, ending Michigan's football season and spoiling the occasion for Wolverines fans.

But nothing can spoil the memory.

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