Hail! to the victors valiant, Hail! to the conqu'ring heroes, Hail! Hail! to Michigan.
It’s that time of year! University of Michigan hosts Ohio State University at The Big House Saturday, November 30 at 12:00 pm. This will the 116th time the two teams meet for what most consider the biggest rivalry in college football. Before all you rabid Wolverines fans break open the face paint and find your old jerseys to show off wherever you go on Saturday, let's take it back. Way, way back. Over 180 years back.
The first time the University of Michigan and Ohio State University played each other was in 1897. Of the 115 total matchups Michigan leads 58-50-6. In 1902, Michigan took the title for largest victory, stomping Ohio State 86 to 0. Michigan holds the longest win-streak record with 9 games from 1901 to 1909. But Ohio State has come up fast on Michigan’s heels with a current winning streak of 7 games from 2012 to 2018. As if we needed another reason to beat Ohio State on Saturday.
War. What is it good for? Sports rivalries.
But where and how did it all start? This rivalry can be traced back to the Toledo War of 1835 to 1836. What is the Toledo War, you ask? Good question.
The Toledo War was when Michigan and Ohio were in disagreement over the location of the Michigan-Ohio border. The war started primarily due to conflicting maps of the United States and more specifically, the location of the Great Lakes.
The 1787 Northwest Ordinance drafted by Congress stated the 260,000 square miles of territory surrounding the Great Lakes would be carved into new states. This law specifically stated the border between Ohio and Michigan was to run east to west through the “southerly bend or extreme of Lake Michigan”, but there was just one small problem. Then-current maps mistakenly depicted Lake Michigan’s southern tip several miles north of its true location.
As a result of shoddy maps, Michigan and Ohio nearly went to war over the 468 square mile strip along the border, often referred to as the Toledo Strip. Both states had good reason for wanting the Toledo Strip within their state border – the Erie Canal provided valuable trade potential. Michigan and Ohio deployed militias on opposite sides of the Maumee River. The bloodless dispute ended with shots being fired into the air but set the foundation for centuries of bitter, angry exchanges between the two states.
Michigan Doesn’t Mess Around.
In February 1835, Michigan passed the “Pains and Penalties Act” under Governor Stevens T. Mason. His aim was to punish Ohioans who tried to exercise jurisdiction over the Toledo Strip. The Pains and Penalties Act declared that anyone residing in the Toledo Strip who supported Ohio could be jailed for up to five years and fined $1,000. Many Ohio citizens were arrested by Michigan officials in the disputed territory. Fun fact: At 23 years old, Governor Mason is the youngest Governor in history.
In the summer of 1836, Congress stepped in to put an end to the dispute with a compromise: If Michigan gave up its claim to the Toledo Strip then we’d get statehood and about three-quarters of the Upper Peninsula. While Michigan residents were not happy about that compromise, the state government finally conceded in December 1836, at the Frostbitten Convention, due to significant financial pressure from Congress and President Andrew Jackson.
The rest is history. Now we hate Ohio State University in perpetuity. It’s basically decreed in law.
Enough with the history lesson. Back to the Game.
The November 30 matchup between University of Michigan and Ohio State University will take place at The Big House in Ann Arbor at 12:00 pm. As of November 21, Ohio State is ranked 2nd, and Michigan comes in at number 12.
Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh born in Toledo, OH and former University of Michigan quarterback (1983–1986) has been the football team’s head coach since 2015. Coach Harbaugh hasn’t won a match up against Ohio State YET.
This will be Ohio State’s head coach Ryan Day’s first matchup as head coach. Coach Day served as acting head coach during Urban Meyer’s three-game suspension in 2018, and became the head coach at the end of the 2018 season when Urban retired.
Fun fact: Both Day and Harbaugh coached the San Francisco 49ers.
Comfort in War Time Rivalry
Take comfort in the fact that this rivalry is deep. Not that we should be concerned that Michiganders will hold back on their opposition to Ohio State, but now you can back up those emotions with good old (very old) historical facts. At the end of it all, we got the better end of the deal. Let Ohio have Toledo. The Upper Peninsula has some of the most scenic, pristine land in the United States. We’ll take that over Toledo any day.
Plus, Michigan beats Ohio every day of the week on cannabis quality, variety, and access. Ohio can barely get their medical program off the ground. Michigan is poised to set the benchmark for the Midwest. So we got the land and the weed – now we just need to beat Ohio State.
-- Ashley Bowen is a regulatory and compliance professional. Find out more about her passion project Cannabis Curious.