40-34. Beautiful numbers forevermore to every Michigan fan because that score marks the first Wolverine's victory over archrival Ohio State in seven years.
Michigan's winning drought was its longest ever against the Buckeyes and it corresponded with a historically bad three year period of play for the Wolverines. The victory which caps off a 10-2 season that was Michigan's best sin 2006, showed that the program's resurgence under coach Brady Hoke has come faster than expected and the Wolverines are again amongst the nation's elite.
Unlike Michigan's drubbing of Nebraska two weeks ago, this game came down to the end. The Wolverines controlled the game through most of the second half but only barely and Ohio State fans repeatedly had reason to believe their team might take the lead. But, even though it was a nail-biter, Michigan held on to win. The victory will define the entire season because, while it would have been viewed as a success regardless of the outcome, defeating the Buckeyes is always the top priority for every Michigan team. In fact, some would say it trumps even a bowl victory.
For Ohio State, the defeat marked the end of a very mediocre season marred by NCAA violations and the firing of longtime coach and Buckeyes legend Jim Tressel. Ohio State is on the cusp (or so it seems) of hiring former Florida coach Urban Meyer, which would start a new era in Buckeyes history. Indeed, if Brady Hoke continues to build on his success and Meyer brings his winning formula to Ohio State, the Big Ten could again become the dominance conference in college football.
But that is for the future. For now, Michigan fans will celebrate their historic victory and look forward to a possible BCS bowl berth in January. At 10-2, with notable victories over Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Ohio State, Michigan will be a tempting prize for one of the major bowls. However, if Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State, bowl organizers will be forced to choose between the two powerhouse programs so the Wolverines may still be a year away from returning to the big time. But, with top recruiting classes for 2012 and 2013, Michigan has a lot to look forward to in the coming years and, as is fitting after such a terrible three year stretch, their win over Ohio State may be just the beginning of a new Golden Era.
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