Ranking the most clutch performances from Michigan and Ohio State in the history of The Game.
While Ohio State football has dominated The Game over the last several years in their rivalry with Michigan football, there has been plenty of standout performers on both sides. This is the signature game of the season for both parties, as the winner of The Game has ultimate bragging rights. Going back to the early 1990s, here are the five most clutch performances in The Game.
Most clutch performances in the recent history of The Game
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is the only starting signal-caller to go 4-0 vs. either side in this rivalry. He quarterbacked the Buckeyes from 2014-2017. While more of a runner than a thrower, his 2015 performance in The Game may be his best. He completed 9-of-15 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, running it 19 times for 139 yards and three more scores.
Dwayne Haskins may have only had one season as the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback, but he sure made the most of it. The 2018 Heisman Trophy finalist became the first Big Ten quarterback to be taken in the first round of an NFL Draft since Kerry Collins out of Penn State back in 1995. Haskins lit up Michigan in 2018, completing 20-of-31 passes for 396 yards and six touchdowns.
When we think of Heisman Trophy winners, we often think of former wide receiver and return man Desmond Howard. This is because he struck a pose in the end zone after scoring an electrifying punt return on the Buckeyes. In his quest for the Heisman, he was looking for his signature moment and it came in his team’s biggest game of the season on the biggest of stages in 1991.
In one of the greatest games in recent memory, Troy Smith helped No. 1 Ohio State stay perfect getting past No. 2 Michigan. Smith is the most recent Buckeye to win the Heisman. His 2006 performance in The Game is the stuff of legend. He completed 29-of-41 passes for 316 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Smith also had four carries for 12 yards in the 42-39 victory.
We have to put defensive back/wide receiver/return specialist Charles Woodson at the top of this list, well, because he is the only primarily defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy. In the 1997 installment of “The Game”, Woodson had a huge reception, a clutch interception in the back of the end zone and a punt return for a touchdown, edging out the Buckeyes en route to a national title.
What makes The Game so special over the years historically is how it often takes a team’s best player playing at his best to win in a high-stakes rivalry game. Oftentimes, we are looking for the stars to shine the brightest in this one. Even if it is the early-afternoon window annually, it is not rivalry week without Michigan vs. Ohio State. Despite losing a bit of its luster, this rivalry is great.
Which player will give us the most clutch performance in the next installment of The Game?