When you think of great rivalries in sports, you tend to look at professional sports. The Red Sox and Yankees come to mind. The Lakers and Celtics come to mind.
But nothing truly beats the rivalries in college sports. For over 100 years, Ohio State and Michigan have battled on the gridiron, and other playing surfaces. They are arguably the two most successful college football programs in the sports' history. Being in the same conference and having close proximity, to the point where lots of local studs play for either school and know one another, leads to an intense hatred and rivalry.
This season, the Scarlet and Grey/Maize and Blue rivalry could be taken to heights never seen before. The two teams will meet, as per usual, for the last game of the regular season. The game will be played at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. But that might not be the last time we see these teams duke it out this year.
There is a very good chance, in my opinion, that Ohio State and Michigan can both make the College Football Playoff. Right now, everyone is looking at Michigan as a lock to get in. That's understandable if you look at what they've been able to do in Jim Harbaugh's second season. They are unbeaten in Big Ten play, and 8-0 overall. Their defense is first in the FBS in nearly every category.
They beat Rutgers 78-0. They dominated Wisconsin defensively. They dominated Penn State, who just beat the Buckeyes. If Michigan finishes the season undefeated and wins the Big Ten championship, they'll get a playoff berth, hands-down.
And then there's the Buckeyes, coached by the great Urban Meyer. They were also considered a lock for the playoff before losing to Penn State in Happy Valley two weeks ago. However, with one loss, Ohio State still controls its own destiny.
It'll all come down to that final regular season game against Michigan. If they beat them, they'll be 11-1 and so will Michigan. OSU will get into the Big Ten title game with the tiebreaker.
Now, here's where it gets interesting. The chances are, Ohio State would win the title game if it gets in. The Big Ten East is much stronger than the West division. So if Ohio State is the Big Ten champ with a record of 12-1 overall, what would happen to an 11-1 Michigan team?
If the Wolverines' only loss is to Ohio State, the playoff committee would have a tough time leaving them out of the top four. Even an undefeated Washington Huskies team wouldn't get in. You could even make the argument an 11-1 Michigan team is stronger than an undefeated Clemson team.
It's still hard to predict how the final four will shape up, but we can all agree a potential Ohio State-Michigan semifinal game (or national championship for that matter) would be out of control.