Forget The Game, if you can for just a moment. The best “modern” rivalry in college football is Ohio State-Michigan State.
That’s what CBSSports.com‘ Chip Patterson believes, noting the use of “modern” means traditional matchups — yes, including Ohio State-Michigan — weren’t considered.
His argument is about on-field importance, and it’s hard to argue with the reasoning.
In 2013, coach Mark Dantonio and Michigan State ended Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s unbeaten run, stopping the winning streak at 24 in the Big Ten Championship Game. That also came the year before the 17-16 Ohio State win during the Buckeyes’ undefeated season.
The two teams then moved to the same division, with the annual contest deciding the division’s representative in the league’s title game.
In 2014, Ohio State’s 49-37 win against the Spartans pushed them to the conference championship against Wisconsin — and an eventual bid (and national title) in the first College Football Playoff.
In 2015, Michigan State shocked the Buckeyes in Columbus, 17-14, and rode that momentum to the playoff.
Michigan would like to alter this year’s Michigan State-Ohio State importance by beating either or both this year, but until then, the Spartans-Buckeyes matchup has reached new national heights.