Normally, Erase This Game sticks to faceplants from the last ten years or so. Those are the losses that stand out more strongly in our minds, and they're much more likely to have clips online. When we picked Ohio State as this week's subject, several recent embarrassments emerged as possibilities. There was the 35-3 loss to USC early in 2008, where the Buckeyes only gained 28 yards of offense in the second half. There was 2009, when #7 Ohio State lost to unranked Purdue thanks to some of the dumbest turnovers you've ever seen. There was the 2010 loss to Wisconsin, where the Badger backfield may as well have been the surface of Neptune considering how often Ohio State defenders got there.
But something older stood out to us. And when you need old footage of Ohio State failure, you turn to one group: Michigan fans.
Let's go back to November 20, 1993. The Buckeyes entered the last game of the regular season with a record of 9-0-1, the tie coming against a good Wisconsin team on the road. Michigan, meanwhile, was 6-4, though that loss total was somewhat deceptive, as those four games had been decided by an average of five points. That (and the location of the game in Ann Arbor) may have been why the oddsmakers made Michigan the favorites - though only by a point and a half. They predicted a close game that would go down to the wire.
That is Tyrone Wheatley running for 43 yards, most of it without an Ohio State defender close enough to pat him on the back for the accomplishment. He finishes with 105 rushing yards in total on a mere 16 carries.
That is Mercury Hayes cutting the correct wire on the bomb with only a second left before it explodes, and doing it with his bare teeth. It is his only catch of the day, and he outscores Ohio State.
That is Ohio State's backup quarterback, Bret Powers, throwing an interception so bad that it was preceded by a save the date eight months before this game, a formal invitation six months after that, and a phone call to Michigan cornerback Alfie Burch that morning "just making sure he'd be there."
That is Powers throwing another pick, though it isn't his fault Joey Galloway forgot which one was the jump button and Ty Law didn't.
And that is Powers throwing his third pick of the half. I could honestly watch this one over and over and over. It's like watching the shitty kid in the neighborhood build a ramp, try to jump his bike over a swimming pool, crash, fish his bike out of the pool, and then line up for another run. Jump. Crash. Fish. Repeat. Jump. Crash. Fish. Repeat. The relevant parts of this physics equation aren't changing, but there you are, lining your bike up for another go like a dumbass.
That was the last pass Powers threw in this game. The other three he attempted were all completions to Buckeyes, so in some sense, Bret Powers has the unique honor of never throwing an incomplete pass in The Game.
At halftime, Michigan led 21-0 and had more than tripled Ohio State's rushing yardage. The Buckeyes hadn't run a play inside the Wolverine 30 yard line. And then Michigan did some TRULY hateful shit. On their second possession of the third quarter, they marched down the field and went up by four touchdowns on this play.
That's Ed Davis - and an advertisement for a consumer electronics brand you haven't cared about in well over a decade, because sometimes the universe likes to make fun of Michigan football, too - who winds up with 102 rushing yards of his own.
What makes it so shitty is that there are still twenty-five minutes of game left...and the Wolverines don't score again. They just chew a ton of clock, calling mostly run plays interspersed with the occasional pass. Michigan even passes up a field goal chance on fourth & four from the Buckeye 17. This is my theory as to why: they only care about preserving this shutout. Extending the lead slightly doesn't compare to giving Ohio State a long field.
And it WORKS.
- never crosses into the Michigan red zone
- goes two of twelve on third down
- averages two yards per carry compared to Michigan's five
- gets shut out by the Wolverines for the first time since 1976
- misses going to the Rose Bowl after Wisconsin beats Michigan State in Tokyo because the tiebreaker at the time eliminated the most recent Rose Bowl invitee
- seriously, that was a way the Big Ten decided who got to go to the Rose Bowl, and it's basically "aw heck you're due"
- got to play at 11 in the morning in Tampa on New Year's Day.
It was a win that got the Wolverines nothing and robbed Ohio State of nearly everything. It was a lopsided beating in which the Buckeyes got punched in the mouth, stood up, got punched in the mouth again, and then just started hoping they'd pass out. Michigan was happy to let 'em stay on the mat.