Greatest college football games since 2000 #6: Ohio State - Michigan, 2006

So far, we are almost ten years into the new millennium, but this game has already been dubbed “The Game of the Century.”

For all intents and purposes, this was the national championship game (with all due respect to Florida, who beat the Buckeyes for the title in January). The teams were ranked first and second in the polls, as the only undefeated teams in the BCS conferences.

Troy Smith was putting the finishing touches on a Heisman Trophy season for the Buckeyes, and he stepped up to his final challenge before being handed the award.

Smith finished the game with 316 yards and four touchdowns.

The Buckeyes jumped out to a 28-14 halftime lead, including three straight touchdowns that gave spectators across the nation the feeling it was their day to shine.

The Wolverines, led by Chad Henne at quarterback and running back Mike Hart, were not going to fade quietly, however.

Thanks to an interception and a fumble recovery by junior defensive tackle Alan Branch, Michigan pulled to within four points at 35-31 with 14 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Smith answered with his final touchdown pass of the game, finding Brian Robiskie to put Ohio State up 11 with five minutes to play.

Henne would proceed to lead Michigan on a valiant drive, culminating with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Ecker.

That score left Michigan behind 42-37 pending the two-point conversion.

Henne was able to find star receiver Steve Breaston for the extra score, bringing the Wolverines within a field goal.

Unfortunately for Michigan, the dream ended there, after the following onside kick was recovered by the Buckeyes.

Hart ran for 142 yards and three touchdowns for Michigan, while Antonio Pittman and freshman Chris “Beanie” Wells combined for 195 yards and two touchdowns for the Buckeyes.

There were two more weeks of college football after the Buckeyes and Wolverines capped off their season against one another. That perhaps led to the luster of the Michigan team to wear off, because much of the country wanted a rematch in the BCS championship game in Tempe, Arizona.

Instead, the Florida Gators took the spot opposite the consensus favorite Buckeyes, then proceeded to crush Smith and company 41-14. Michigan would lose to the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl 32-18.

If both teams had won their respective bowl games, people would still be talking about this game with as much fire and enthusiasm as ever. Instead of being an absolute incomparable classic game, it was just one of the greatest games in one of the greatest rivalries in college football.

That’s not too bad of a consolation prize, I suppose.


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