SvoNotes: Throw Out The Records? Not Quite

There have been plenty of lopsided spreads in the rivalry over the past decade, and this year is no different with Ohio State checking in as a 20-point favorite against 5-6 Michigan. What does history say about the discrepancy?

You can throw out the records when Ohio State and Michigan get together.

It's a phrase you've probably heard a lot this week.

"You gotta throw records out the window on this one," linebacker Joshua Perry said. "You gotta know that everyone's going to play their best.

"I think it’s just no matter what the records, no matter what they’re ranked, it’s gonna be a big game," added tight end Jeff Heuerman. "It was like that before I got here and it’ll be like that after I leave. The biggest thing we have to take going into this week its it’s going to be a big game regardless of the rankings, what people say it is, the spread, all that. You can’t pay attention to that in this game."


Of course there's something to that. No matter how the season went, both teams are going to come out and put it all on the line this week. A win in this game and you're remembered forever.

And Michigan does have talent. This isn't the 2008 team that was 3-8 coming in and was quarterbacked by a former walk-on. The Wolverines have a five-star prospect at quarterback and Ma href=>highly rated players all across the field. 2014 hasn't been the team's year, but it's not for a lack of horses in some ways.

"You watch videotape and talent is there," Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. "They're going to give us everything they got, and what they've got is a lot. So no. These players, motivation won't be an issue. Expectation of facing a very talented team or facing a top 10 defense in the country and for the two days now we've been pounding, watching it, they're really good."

Despite that, Ohio State enters as a 20-, 20½- or 21-point favorite, depending on who you ask. And to put it mildly, that's continuing a trend in The Game, which has gone from one of the tightest rivalries in sports to one of the most lopsided.

And we don't just mean the fact that Ohio State has won 11 of 13 since Jim Tressel came on. We mean that, according to's database, this is the fifth time in seven years that the spread is at least 10, and it matches the largest spread going back to at least 1995, the 20½-point gap in 2008 when Rich Rodriguez's first team limped into Ohio Stadium with a loss to Toledo on its résumé.

Ohio State was the favorite in each of those games and is so far 4-0 in such situations, winning 42-7 in 2008, 21-10 when minus-10 in 2009, 37-7 when minus-17 in 2010, and just 42-41 last year when entering at minus-15½. That game, of course, is the one people point to when they say anything can happen, but it's also an outlier among the recent trend.

Michigan was also a large favorite in 2011, holding an 8½-point edge on 6-5 Ohio State entering that game in Michigan Stadium. OSU fought valiantly but trailed much of the game on the way to a 40-34 loss, though.

In fact, the last time there was an upset in The Game was 2004. Ohio State was plus-4 in that game before Troy Smith exploded, playing the game of his life while leading the Buckeyes to a 37-21 win.

Of course, then, some people weren't ready for that upset, like some jerk working for The Lantern, OSU's student newspaper, at the time.

Even now, I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

Anyway, there were also upsets in The Game in 2001 (Ohio State, +8½, 26-20) and 2000 (Michigan, +2½, 38-26), not to mention a bunch in the 1990s, so it does happen.

But throw out the records? More often than not, the better team wins, just like always, especially when the spread is as high as it is this year.

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