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Take Two: The effect of OSU's recent dominance over Michigan

Charles Woodson
Charles Woodson

Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the network of team sites.

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Even at Michigan’s spring commencement ceremonies, Ohio State is in the heads of all Wolverines.

Former Heisman Trophy winner and Wolverines star Charles Woodson delivered some rousing graduation remarks recently in Ann Arbor where he guaranteed a Michigan win over Ohio State in Columbus this upcoming season.

"But I'm telling you here today, 212 days from now, your Michigan Wolverines team will go down to Columbus, march into that stadium and we will beat you know who to bring back that familiar feeling of victory back to The University of Michigan again,” Woodson said, according to reports.

It would certainly be a break from recent tradition. The Buckeyes have won six in a row over Michigan, including a 31-20 win over Ann Arbor last season. Ohio State has beaten the Wolverines in 12 of their last 13 meetings.

In recruiting, it has been the same story. Michigan has not recruited poorly at all (except for the 2018 class when the Wolverines inexplicably ended up No. 24 nationally) but Ohio State has just done better, beating the Wolverines in the team recruiting rankings every year since 2010.

Early in the 2019 recruiting cycle, Michigan is ranked sixth and the Buckeyes are ninth, so the Wolverines have a chance to break that trend. But does Michigan have to also beat Ohio State on the field or does the outcome of that rivalry game not matter all that much when top recruits are choosing between the Big Ten powers?


“There’s no doubt that Ohio State’s dominance over Michigan for more than a decade has bothered Jim Harbaugh, Michigan’s current and former players and anyone even remotely affiliated with the program. With that being said, I don’t know if it’s had a huge effect on head-to-head recruiting directly. Urban Meyer and his staffs have always been able to recruit well, and he’s taken it to another level in Columbus. Ohio State’s success on the recruiting trail has more to do with Meyer’s overall success and approach to recruiting than it does how Ohio State has specifically done against Michigan.

“There’s no doubt Ohio State has won a lot of head-to-head battles against Michigan in recruiting over the past few classes, but that’s how it’s going to be when you have a national title and several playoff appearances within the last five years. The Buckeyes have a lot to sell that has nothing to do with Michigan.

"If the Wolverines can start winning more routinely - against Ohio State and others - recruiting will definitely improve. But I’m not sure OSU would have had any less success on the recruiting trail if they’d been splitting victories with Michigan over the past 10 years, instead of winning 12 out of 13 against the Wolverines. They’ve been so good all-around that players want to play for the Buckeyes.”


“It bothers everybody involved with Michigan when you have Charles Woodson talking about it. Does it hurt recruiting? Yes. They don’t go head-to-head for recruits as much as you’d think, but the perception is Ohio State is the team that’s won a national championship recently in the Big Ten and Ohio State has dominated that series in recent years. They’re the better program in the Big Ten, so kids will gravitate toward them if they’re coming from Florida or Georgia or Texas or California. They’ll look at Ohio State a little bit more than they would look at Michigan.

“Almost everyone who visits always visits both, but with Urban Meyer and national championships and the fact that Ohio State keeps beating Michigan, kids are going to be more likely to go with the Buckeyes.”