Ohio State-Michigan is so huge it doesn’t even need a fancy name. It’s just “The Game.”
With Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer at the helm of each program, the scrutiny, publicity and competitiveness of the rivalry was sure to heat up. However, it has already heated up to a nationally relevant level in the one area that can get downright ugly — recruiting.
The commitment of 4-star running back Kareem Walker to Harbaugh’s Michigan program wasn’t just a shot across the bow of the Ohio State program, it was a massive flip and a direct hit to the once dominant champions of recruiting in the Big Ten.
With Walker’s commitment to the Maize ‘N Blue, the Wolverines now stand No. 2 in the team rankings for the 2016 class according to 247Sports.
The team right ahead of them? Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes of course.
Don’t think the Buckeyes were too worried about Walker’s de-commitment back in October though. After that bit of news, OSU targeted a long-time Wisconsin commit, 4-star running back Antonio Williams and flipped him as soon as he could get back from a campus visit.
Such is the power of Meyer, a national championship and the name brand that is Ohio State Buckeyes football. Ohio State has been cleaning house in the 2016 recruiting class, with two 5-star rated players and 11 4-star rated players amongst its 17 total commitments heading in to late December.
Michigan has countered with a larger overall class, but is still waiting on its first 5-star player. Still, it has 13 of its 23 overall commits rated as 4-star players according to the 247Sports composite rankings. Amongst those players are four No. 1 players in their respective states — Colorado, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.
It’s been an impressive ride through the 2016 recruiting cycle for Michigan, as they slowly and steadily climbed the charts. However, in an era where the SEC and Southeastern schools in general have collected the highest marks and honors on the recruiting trail, seeing not one, but two Big Ten teams atop the rankings heading in to the home stretch certainly is worth taking note of.
Not only that, but the Big Ten also has Penn State sitting at No. 10 and Michigan State at No. 14 currently. Wisconsin, Maryland, Nebraska and Minnesota are all lurking just outside the top 25 as well, and with classes quickly filling up it could be a banner year for the conference on the recruiting trail.
However, the most attention will undoubtedly be paid to the ones making the headlines and it has been an interesting battle to say the least between these two heated and hated rivals.
With a few months left to go and recruiting currently in the dead period, look for the final stretch run to be a slugfest between these two Big Ten heavyweights.