No one could have foreseen during that first match-up of the The Ohio State Buckeyes and Michigan Wolverines back in 1897 the frenzy that was to follow.

Considered the greatest rivalry in sports, “The Game” has become the pinnacle of football season for fans across America. The last contest of the regular season is saved for these Big Ten powerhouse teams alternating between University locations of either Columbus, OH or Ann Arbor, MI.

The Border Battle is where legends are made; from Woody Hayes to Bo Schembechler; Archie Griffin and Troy Smith, to Tim Biakabutuka and Charles Woodson. Heisman trophy winners, conference championships, and national titles pepper both sides of the rivalry. To fans, no game is more important than this season’s game; whatever season it is.

In the weeks leading up to game day fans will recount their team’s most infamous plays of games past with stunning accuracy. The jeers and cheers get louder as the battle looms closer and whole towns turn to a kaleidoscope of scarlet and gray, maize and blue colors adorning property and people.

The Michigan fan will point to the overall record against Ohio State which stands at 58-45-6; while Buckeyes will boast the longest winning streak in the rivalry’s history of 7 years straight from 2004-2010. They might even go on to remind a Wolverine that Buckeyes have the winning record over the last two decades. It won’t take long for a Blue blood to retort with undisputable stats that give 42 Big Ten titles, and 11 National Championships to their name; besting OSU’s stats in the same categories.

Buckeye vs Wolverine Wins Graph

And then there are those unforgettable fight songs. Michigan’s “Hail to the Victors” was written in 1898 over a last minute victory in Chicago giving the Wolverines their first western conference football championship. Die hards will shout the refrain above all others:

Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan
the leaders and best
Hail! to the victors valiant
Hail! to the conqu’ring heroes
Hail! Hail! to Michigan,
the champions of the West!

…Unless you’re a Buckeye. The Best Damn Band in the Land, lovingly referred to as TBDBITL (pronounced: ta BIT le) will blast “Across the Field” written in 1915 to sound the charge for the team and fans alike.

Fight the team across the field
Show them Ohio’s here
Set the earth reverberating
With a mighty cheer
Go! Fight! Win!
Hit them hard and see how they fall
Never let that team have the ball
Hail! Hail! The gang’s all here
Let’s win that old conference now!

These days, the last line is most often heard as “Let’s beat that Michigan now!” and it doesn’t matter if they’re playing Michigan or not. That’s a Buckeye for you!

Through rain, snow (aka the Snow Bowl), NCAA debacles, low attendance, or highest attendance in football history, The Game must go on. And it will!