Top Individual Performers In The Game

There have been some huge individual performances in the Ohio State-Michigan game, beginning with Tim Biakabutuka’s 313 rushing yards during the Wolverines’ 31-23 win in Ann Arbor in 1995.

Biakabutuka is the only rusher on either side to crack the 300-yard mark in The Game, and his effort against the Buckeyes in ’95 was a career-high. It was not, however, a single-game record for Michigan. That still belongs to Ron Johnson, who rushed for 347 yards against Wisconsin in 1968.

Chris “Beanie” Wells established a new single-game record for OSU in the Michigan game last year when he pounded his way for 222 yards. That eclipsed a longstanding mark for Ohio State rushers vs. the Wolverines. Senior fullback Dave Francis rushed for a career-high 186 yards and led the Buckeyes to a 28-0 victory in 1962.

The only other running back besides Biakabutuka and Wells to eclipse the 200-yard mark in The Game was Michigan tailback Jamie Morris. He had 210 yards in his team’s 26-24 win in Columbus.

Rounding out the top five behind Biakabutuka, Wells, Morris and Francis is Ohio State tailback Carlos Snow, who rushed for 170 yards during a roller-coaster 34-31 loss to the Wolverines in 1988.

As far as quarterbacks go, there have been six 300-yard games in the long rivalry – and two of them belong to one guy. Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith threw for 316 yards during his team’s wild 42-39 victory in 2006 and also passed for 300 yards when the Buckeyes defeated the Wolverines by a 25-21 score in 2005.

Holding the single-game passing record in the series is Michigan QB Tom Brady, who piled up 375 yards despite a 31-16 loss to the Buckeyes in 1998. That performance represented Brady’s career-best game at U-M, but it ranks only second in school history. John Navarre threw for 389 yards against Iowa in 2003.

OSU’s top passing performance came that same year as Joe Germaine threw for 330 yards against the Wolverines in ’98. That ranks as only the fifth-highest single-game total in Germaine’s career and only 10th best on the school’s all-time list. Art Schlichter has held the single-game mark since 1981 when he threw for 458 yards against Florida State.

Ranking third behind Brady and Germaine is Michigan’s Chad Henne, who threw for 328 yards in a 37-21 losing effort in 2004. Smith’s 316-yard performance is fourth and Drew Henson of Michigan rounds out the top five. He threw for 303 yards in the 2000 game, helping the Wolverines to a 38-26 win in Columbus.

Germaine’s big game in 1998 led the way for the largest single-game for a receiver in the series. David Boston rolled up 217 yards for the Buckeyes that season, becoming the first and only receiver to break the 200-yard mark in the OSU-Michigan game.

U-M receiver Braylon Edwards occupies two spots in the top five. He had 172 yards against the Buckeyes in that 2004 loss and also had 130 yards in 2003, the Wolverines’ 35-21 win in 2003, their lone win so far in the Jim Tressel era.

Ranking third on the single-game list is Marquise Walker of Michigan, who had 160 yards in his team’s 28-20 loss to Ohio State in 2001. Walker also set a single-game series record in that contest with 15 receptions, a record that is also the Michigan single-game mark.

Fourth is OSU receiver Michael Jenkins, who gathered in passes worth 132 yards in the 2003 game.

Defensively, tackle statistics are sketchy before the 1970s but since that time, there have been eight instances when a defender recorded 20 or more tackles in The Game. Not coincidentally, they were all linebackers.

Chris Spielman has the single-game series record with 29 stops in the Buckeyes’ 28-24 loss in 1986. That effort also represents the all-time single-game record in Ohio State history. Second on the list is OSU’s Arnie Jones, who recorded a career-high 24 tackles against Michigan during a 14-11 win in 1972.

The top effort for U-M came in 1968 when Tom Stincic had 23 tackles for the Wolverines during the Buckeyes’ 50-14 romp.

Tom Cousineau of Ohio State had a pair of 20-tackle performances against Michigan. He had 22 stops in 22-0 loss in 1976 and 21 tackles two years later when the Buckeyes lost a 14-3 decision in Columbus.

The other 20-tackle performances in the OSU-Michigan series: Marcus Marek of the Buckeyes had 21 tackles in a 24-14 win in 1982; Ohio State’s Ed Thompson recorded 21 stops in the same ’76 game when Cousineau had 22; and U-M’s Ron Simpkins had 20 tackles in 1977 when the Wolverines took a 14-6 decision in Ann Arbor.


I’ve heard plenty of OSU-Michigan jokes in my time but this is my all-time favorite:

One day in an elementary school in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a teacher asks her class if the Michigan Wolverines are their favorite football team. The whole class says yes except for Little Jimmy.

The teacher asks, “What’s your favorite football team Jimmy?”

Little Jimmy says, “The Ohio State Buckeyes.”

The teacher asks, “Well, why is that?”

Little Jimmy says, “Well, my dad is a Buckeye fan, my mom is a Buckeye fan, I guess that makes me a Buckeye fan.”

The teacher angered by his reply says, “If your dad was a moron and your mom was an idiot what would that make you?”

Little Jimmy says, “Well, I guess that would make me a Michigan fan.”