In normal years, Ohio State-Michigan ranks among the greatest rivalries in world sport. Its all-consuming mutual disdain, “slobs vs. snobs” dynamic and sway in the national championship race makes it every bit the peer of Real Madrid-Barcelona in soccer, India-Pakistan in cricket, and other global feuds.
This, however, is no normal year. Allegations of illegal in-person scouting levied toward Michigan have given the rivalry more bloodlust than usual, with the Wolverines eager Saturday to prove their past successes were no fluke and the Buckeyes out for revenge.
On Tuesday, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh deftly sidestepped a question about his level of respect for Ohio State coach Ryan Day. Hilariously—and perhaps predictably—Day did the same.
Asked whether the respect the programs’ players have for one another carries over to coaches, Day replied, “I think, you know, with everything going on and the things that are out there, we’ve stayed away from all the distractions we have and just focused on our team.”
Day is 1–2 against Harbaugh, having beaten him 2019 before losses in ’21 and ’22; the teams’ 2020 meeting was canceled at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Harbaugh is suspended for Saturday’s game as a result of the Big Ten’s investigation into the Wolverines’ alleged practices.