One of the biggest rivaries in all of college football from two of the biggest college programs ever. Michigan started first and Ohio State has dominated the last 15 years. History, National Championships, legendary coaches and a host of excitment along the way. But who is the best program all-time?
Head to Head
This has to be the first stat to look at seeing how they have played each other over 100 times. Seeing Michigan beat Ohio State once 86-0 or that the Wolverines have the longest win streak between the two, it would easy to give them a point in that category. But that all happened 100 years ago so they mean next to nothing for anyone outside of Ann Arbor. I have long held the stance that football before 1950 was meaningless when it comes to stats. linemen were 180 pounds, the star player could have been fighting the Measles and missed half a season, but some fans love it. So I will take it into consideration but it won’t be a focal point.
Michigan holds more wins with a record of 58-50-6. Because of the long history that number is a bit misleading. From 1897-1918 Michigan went 13-0-2 as the more established program pretty much handled the buckeyes.
But things have changed quite a bit since then as Michigan also dominated through the 1920’s but afterwards it has been the two trading blows. Since the long win streak, nobody has matched it but Ohio State is within striking distance. The Buckeyes have won seven in a row and as long as Jim Harbaugh is in Michigan, I would expect Ohio State to get to that longstanding 9 game record.
I’m going to stick with my belief about the early days of football. Since 1950, Michigan has gone 28-38-2. If Michigan fans need to hang their hats on wins from the time before World War 1, fine but Ohio State has been more domiante in the modern era.
Edge: Ohio State
While both schools have loads of history playing each other, they also have quite a resume when it comes to bowl games and championships. I also only look at claimed National Championships and you can thank UCF for that.
The two schools have 19 titles between the two with Michigan claiming 11. Again, Michigan at a glance has a lead over Ohio State, until you consider the modern era. Michigan has one title after 1950, Ohio State has seven. Michigan has an impressive number but it is the same as Yankee’s fans chanting “27 Rings”. The only difference is baseball hasn’t really changed, not nearly as much as football from 1900 to 2019.
I won’t knock them as much because being the best team in the country, even 100 years ago, is still an impressive feat. Michigan has more but Ohio State has them more recent.
This is just to sum up some quick stats to compare the two:
- Overall win percentage – Michigan, .730 to Ohio State’s .727
- Rose Bowl wins – both tied at 8
- Big Ten titles – Michigan 42 to Ohio State’s 37
- Bowl win percentage – Ohio State .489 to Michigan’s .446
- Heisman winners – Ohio State 7 to Michigan’s 3
I was actually surprised which way I ended up leaning after looking into these two teams. Both have incredible history and are solidified blue bloods when it comes to the history of college football. But at he end of the day, one has stayed dominant and the other has never matched their early production. Michigan fans will claim they are the superior program and you can’t just point to success over the last 15 years. The biggest factor for me comes down to when Michigan was a power house.
Big Blue has four titles before the Model T hit the production line for Ford. Their next four titles came before World War two and winning their ninth title two years after World War Two. Looking at the better program obviously has to take into consideration history and early success. That is what made this difficult and you can’t be a traditional power without the tradition. The problem is Michigan hasn’t been nearly as impactful since before the Polio vaccine was invented. Ohio State has more bowl wins, more bowl appearances, more Consensus All-Americans and more Heisman winners in less time. Ohio State also has more National Championships since the AP started awarding it in 1936. Michigan has an impressive history and has been trending up in recent years. To bad for Michigan as it ran into Urban Meyer.
Final Verdict: Ohio State reigns supreme
Let us know what you think below! Ohio State or Michigan?
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. I have covered college football since 2017, wrote for Saturday Tailgate and Fansided. Covering all things Big 12 from recruiting to opinions on the best conference in college football.