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Michigan and Ohio State meet for 116th edition of "The Game"

Many Michiganders will grab some Thanksgiving leftovers for lunch and settle in for the annual Michigan-Ohio State football game on Saturday.

Angelique Chengelis covers University of Michigan football for The Detroit News. She joined Michigan Radio's Morning Edition host Doug Tribou to preview the 116th edition of "The Game."

The Buckeyes are set to visit the Wolverines in Ann Arbor at noon. Ohio State has won 16 of the last 18 meetings. Michigan's last win was in 2011.

Chengelis grew up in Ohio in a family of Buckeyes fans. She's been reporting on Michigan football since the early 1990s. To her, the annual rivalry game is its own holiday.

Chengelis' favorite memory of "The Game" came after Michigan defeated Ohio State at Michigan Stadium in 1997. 

"The '97 game was unbelieveable and being on the field, it was just totally engulfed by fans," she said. "It was suffocating almost. It was like 'Wow.'"

But in more recent years, the rivalry has been lopsided. Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh is 0-4 against the Buckeyes. In 2018, Ohio State won 62-39. Chengelis called that game "an abomination" from Michigan's viewpoint.

"I hate this cliche, but they really did lay an egg," she said.

This time, Michigan comes into the game with a quarterback on a hot streak. In the past two games, Shea Patterson has thrown for 750 yards and nine touchdowns total. The Wolverines have won four straight and averaged more than 40 points per game during that stretch. 

Giving Patterson time to pass, and keeping him upright, will be key for Michigan. OSU defensive end Chase Young has 16.5 sacks in just nine games this season.

"The margin of error is zero for Michigan."

But Chengelis notes that the Buckeyes are strong in all areas.

"They really don't have any weaknesses," she said. "The margin of error is zero for Michigan."

Ohio State has already clinched the Big Ten East title and will play in the conference championship game against the winner of this weekend's game between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

But the Buckeyes are also eyeing a spot in the four-team College Football Playoff and a shot at the national title, so a strong performance against Michigan is key.

Chengelis says most projections have Michigan reaching the Gator Bowl or the Holiday Bowl, but if Michigan wins on Saturday, there could be a better invitation waiting.  

"It really depends on the type of win and what Ohio State does in the Big Ten championship game. If Ohio State wins that game and is... one of the four teams that goes to the playoff, a Michigan team with 10 wins could possibly go to the Rose Bowl."

But Chengelis thinks it's a long shot. She's predicting Ohio State will beat Michigan for the eighth straight time this weekend.

You know it’s a big game when public radio stations start making bets. Michigan Radio and WOSU Public Media in Columbus have a friendly wager. If Michigan wins, WOSU will provide our staff with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. If Ohio State wins, we’ll send WOSU lunch from Ann Arbor’s legendary deli Zingerman’s.

Further reading:

Read Angelique Chengelis' story about Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson's motivations heading into Saturday's game.

For more on the history of the Michigan-Ohio State football rivalry, check out this overview from the Bentley Historical Library

Doug Tribou joined the Michigan Public staff as the host of Morning Edition in 2016. Doug first moved to Michigan in 2015 when he was awarded a Knight-Wallace journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
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