The goal for Ohio State is always to beat Michigan. No matter the year, the coaches, the teams or anything else — and vice versa. And rarely would a win be more welcome on the Buckeyes side than it would be for Ryan Day and Co. in 2023.
Coming off back-to-back seasons that featured a regular season loss to the Wolverines, Day and the Buckeyes might not have enough goodwill in the fanbase to sustain a third-straight. ESPN college football analyst Greg McElroy explained why Ohio State visiting Ann Arbor in late November is among his must-win games in 2023.
“The Game is one that will define every single Ohio State — and Michigan — coach. Now, Michigan and Jim Harbaugh lost how many consecutive games to Ohio State? And clearly he’s back in the good graces of the Michigan faithful. But if Ryan Day goes 0-for-3 in the last three games, I think people are going to be very, very hot in Columbus,” McElroy said.
In 2021, one-loss Ohio State traveled to Ann Arbor to face one-loss Michigan with a spot in the Big Ten championship game on the line. The last time Ohio State had lost to the Wolverines was 2011, when Brady Hoke was coaching Michigan and Luke Fickell was the interim head coach for the Buckeyes.
The end result: 42-27, Michigan. A Rose Bowl consolation win over Utah was nice, and the promise of 2022 was immense. Plus, The Game would be in Columbus.
Unfortunately, it was much a similar result for the Buckeyes.
Both teams entered undefeated, vying for the Big Ten East crown. Again the Wolverines triumphed, winning 45-23 and taking their first victory in Columbus since 2000.
Ohio State earned a College Football Playoff bid and played eventual national champions Georgia to a game-winning field goal attempt that missed. Still, McElroy thinks Day earned back some goodwill with that performance. But not enough to overcome a third-straight loss to Michigan.
“But either way, I do think Ryan Day is back in the good graces of Ohio State fans. That’s until he plays Michigan this year. They might be 11-0. They might be sitting there No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 in the country. Michigan, I might add, they might be 11-0, too, at that point. Sitting at No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 in the country. And if, for whatever reason, Ryan Day can’t get it done this year, that would indicate three consecutive losses to the Michigan Wolverines,” McElroy said. “Now, I’m not one that has spent a ton of time around Ohio State fans. But, in the little time that I have on a national radio platform, they might be out with their pitchforks and torches if the Buckeyes lose a third consecutive game to the Michigan.”
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