There is no doubt who the biggest rival is for Ohio State. I don’t even have to say it; you know who I am talking about.
I think it is becoming increasingly clear who the Buckeyes’ second biggest rival is. The Wisconsin Badgers.
I felt strongly that back in July at the Big Ten Media Days, that Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema was taking veiled shots at the OSU program. I’ll let you draw your own conclusion, but here is a transcript
from that news conference.
Now this week, on the heels of seeing a verbal commitment “flip” and end up signing with Ohio State, Bielema has pretty much accused Urban Meyer of cheating
You can find the response for Meyer here
. OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith also weighed in
This rivalry has been building for quite some time, and has really escalated in the 21st century. The bad blood began in 1999, when the Badgers rallied from a 17-0 deficit to hang 42 straight on the board in beating OSU in Columbus 42-17. Wisconsin players celebrated by dancing on the “O” logo at the 50-yard line in Ohio Stadium.
In 2000, Ohio State returned the favor by celebrating their win in Madison by dancing on the “W” at midfield in Camp Randall Stadium.
So guess what happened in 2001? Yep, after Wisconsin won in the Horseshoe again, the Badgers once again danced on the “O”.
In 2002, as a joke, Wisky quarterback Brooks Bollinger signed an autograph with the inscription "the horseshoe....they built it, we own it". Joke or not, the buckeyes were shown the photo.
In 2003, OSU linebacker Robert Reynolds lost his head and choked Badger quarterback Jim Sorgi, forcing him from the game.
Then in 2004, Ohio State players were ready for a Badger celebration at midfield after another Wisconsin win, and a scuffle broke out when Wisconsin players tried to dance again.
In 2008 up in Madison, Badgers safety Jay Valai levied two helmet-to-helmet hits, knocking both Boom Herron and Dane Sanzenbacher from the game with concussions. Following the game, won by the Buckeyes in the final minutes with a touchdown run by Terrelle Pryor, the freshman remarked that the winning drive was “easy, like in high school”.
Two years later, back in Camp Randall, Wisconsin knocked off Ohio State, which came into the game ranked number one in the country. The following week, Pryor again raised the fur of the Badgers by saying, "Not to take anything away from Wisconsin at all - I really don't want it to come off like this - but they weren't better than us," he said. "Everybody knows that if we play nine out of 10 times, we'd beat Wisconsin."
Leading up to this year’s game, Bielema actually voiced disappointment that Pryor was no longer at Ohio State, because they had remembered his words.
In October, playing just the third Big Ten night home game in Ohio Stadium history, the Buckeyes enjoyed revenge, scoring a near-miraculous 40-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left to knock off the 12th-ranked Badgers.
It hasn’t been limited to the gridiron, either. Since the Kohl Center opened back in 1998, the Buckeyes are just 3-9 there. However, two of those wins (including the most recent in 2000) were later vacated due to NCAA violations. That means the last win was in 1998, the year it opened. Badger basketball coach Bo Ryan has never lost at home to Ohio State, which means Thad Matta (0-6) has never won in Madison.
Last season, just like in football, the Buckeyes took their number one ranked to Wisconsin. Matta’s men were even undefeated, but the Badgers pulled the upset, riling up the Kohl Center faithful with video from the football team’s upset four months earlier.
Following the game, Jared Sullinger claimed that he was spit on by a Badger fan leaving the court. When asked about the following week, Bo Ryan’s response was “all I know is that we won the game. Deal with it”.
When Wisconsin paid a visit to Columbus for the return date in March, the “Nut House” student cheering section had plenty of “deal with it” signs for Ryan, who had to deal with a 93-65 blowout loss.
I get the sense that Ohio State fans obviously dislike Michigan, but that there is an ounce of respect given to the Wolverines. Current feelings toward the Badgers are bordering on hatred.
November 17th should be pretty interesting…that’s when Bielema and Meyer will clash on the field for the first time in Madison. The following week, Michigan comes to Columbus. That finish to the season might just make you forget about not playing in a bowl game.