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Thursday, November 16, 2006
Updated: December 15, 9:07 AM ET
Blue State/Red State

By Thomas Neumann
Page 2

Looking ahead to Saturday's clash in Columbus between storied rivals Michigan and Ohio State, Page 2 selected its all-time rosters for each school. The goal: to field the best team of alumni in their prime. Therefore, both college and professional credentials were considered, and when in doubt we leaned toward athletes of the ESPN era. So sue us.

See whether you agree with our conclusions. Either way, it's a glimpse of generations of what is arguably the fiercest college football rivalry in the nation.

MICHIGAN

Coach: Bo Schembechler (1969-89)
No disrespect to the esteemed Fielding Yost, who compiled a gaudy 165-29-10 mark with six national championships during 1901-23 and 1925-26, but any list regarding this rivalry must include Schembechler. The Wolverines anointed Schembechler, a former assistant under Woody Hayes at Ohio State, to revive their program after his six years as the coach at Miami (Ohio). He captured 13 Big Ten titles in 21 seasons in Ann Arbor with a record of 194-48-5, and his UM teams achieved 17 final rankings in the nation's top 10.

Tom Brady
Tom Brady threw 35 TD passes in his two years as starter.

OFFENSE

QB: Tom Brady (1997-99)
Rick Leach, Jim Harbaugh, Robert Timberlake and Benny Friedman were All-Americans. Brian Griese won a national title. Pete Elliott (1948) and Harry Newman (1932) did both. But three Super Bowl rings are included in this discussion, and it's difficult to think that Brady in his prime isn't the best of the bunch. Despite starting just two seasons at UM, his name is well-represented among the school's career passing leaders. Brady's best game as a collegian was his last, a 34-for-46, 369-yard performance with four touchdowns in a 35-34 overtime victory over Alabama in the 2000 Orange Bowl.

RB: Tom Harmon (1938-40), Tyrone Wheatley (1991-94)
Harmon, perhaps the finest player in Michigan history and the 1940 Heisman winner, was named an All-American twice and twice led the nation in scoring while wearing uniform No. 98. He was a multifaceted talent who ran, passed and kicked the Wolverines to three victories over the Buckeyes. ... Anthony Thomas, Butch Woolfolk, Jamie Morris and Chris Perry earn honorable mentions here, but Wheatley edges them based on a much better career average in yards per carry (6.07). He enjoyed a 10-year pro career with the Giants and Raiders.

WR: Anthony Carter (1979-82), Desmond Howard (1989-91)
Although the Wolverines boast names such as Braylon Edwards, David Terrell, Amani Toomer and Bennie Oosterbaan, a future Michigan head coach and three-time All-American from 1925 to 1927, these two clearly stand apart. Carter was All-America all three years he played at UM, and his name is near the top of the school's career receiving lists. He played 14 pro seasons with the Vikings and Lions and in the USFL. ... Howard is well-known for striking the Heisman pose after his 93-yard punt return against OSU in 1991, then winning the trophy a few weeks later. A brilliant playmaker as a receiver or returner, Howard went on to become the only special teamer to be named Super Bowl MVP, with the Packers in 1997.

TE: Jim Mandich (1967-69)
A fine blocker and receiver, Mandich earned All-America honors as a senior. He was named team MVP that year and caught eight passes in a loss to USC in the Rose Bowl. Mandich played on three Super Bowl-winning teams as a pro, including the 17-0 Dolphins in 1972.

Desmond Howard
Desmond Howard scored 23 TDs in his '91 Heisman season.

T: Dan Dierdorf (1968-70), Bubba Paris (1978-81)
Dierdorf, a consensus All-American as a senior, is regarded as one of the finest linemen in college football history. A member of the pro and college football halls of fame, he actually was inducted into Canton first. ... Paris also was All-America as a senior, and he went on to win three Super Bowls with the 49ers.

G: Steve Hutchinson (1997-2000), Reggie McKenzie (1969-71)
Hutchinson didn't allow a sack his junior and senior seasons en route to All-America honors both years. He also was an All-Big Ten selection four times. Hutchinson signed a contract worth as much as $49 million with the Vikings last offseason and is considered by many to be the best guard in the NFL today. ... McKenzie was a consensus All-America pick in '71 and played on two Rose Bowl squads. After being drafted in the second round in 1972, he played in the NFL for 11 seasons with the Bills and Seahawks.

C: Gerald Ford (1932-34)
Extra points for sphere of influence on this one. After all, a former president might hold sway over officials if these hypothetical teams ever met on the field. Ford competed on the 1932 and '33 national championship teams. He was voted the Wolverines' MVP by his teammates in '34.

Special teams: Steve Breaston (2003-present)
With Carter and Howard already starting at wideout for our all-time team, Breaston is the choice here. Breaston is the Big Ten's career leader in punt return yardage, and he amassed 223 return yards in the memorable 2005 Rose Bowl against Texas.

WHO HAS THE BEST ROSTER?
Who has the greatest all-time roster? Go vote at SportsNation and give your opinion on other tough questions like who should be the Michigan quarterback or who is the greatest wide receiver.

K: Garrett Rivas (2003-present)
UM's current kicker is the school's all-time leading scorer and has converted 77.5 percent of career field goal attempts. He gets the nod over Remy Hamilton and Ali-Haji Sheikh.

DEFENSE

DL: Curtis Greer (1976-79), Henry Hill (1968-70), Mark Messner (1985-88), Glen Steele (1994-97)
After earning All-America honors as a senior, Greer was a first-round choice of the Cardinals, with whom he played for nine seasons. ... Hill went from walk-on to All-American during his time in Ann Arbor. ... Messner, the Wolverines' career leader in sacks and tackles for loss, was named All-America twice and All-Big Ten four times. He started all 49 games as a Wolverine after a redshirt season. ... Steele anchored the defensive line and earned All-America distinction when the Wolverines won the 1997 national championship. He played six NFL seasons with the Bengals.

LB: Jarrett Irons (1993-96), Calvin O'Neal (1974-76), Ron Simpkins (1976-79)
Michigan produced current NFL studs Dhani Jones and Ian Gold, but we'll go with these three. Irons averaged triple digits in tackles in his career and was named an All-American in '96. ... O'Neal was a two-time All-Big Ten performer who earned All-America recognition with a 151-tackle season in '76. ... Simpkins is UM's all-time tackles leader, a three-time All-Big Ten performer who made All-America as a senior. He played nine seasons in the NFL with the Bengals and Packers.

Charles Woodson
Charles Woodson edged Peyton Manning in the '97 Heisman voting.

CB: Ty Law (1992-94), Charles Woodson (1995-97)
Law is a five-time Pro Bowler who ushered in the Patriots dynasty with the first touchdown of Super Bowl XXXVI, on an interception return. He played in two Super Bowl victories with the Pats and is with the Chiefs in his 12th pro season. ... Woodson was one of the most exciting players in UM history, playing special teams and some wide receiver during his Heisman season of 1997. He became the first primarily defensive player to win the award, anchoring a defense that would win a national title. Woodson started 34 of his 35 games as a Wolverine and became a four-time Pro Bowler after being selected No. 4 overall in the 1998 NFL draft.

S: Dave Brown (1972-74), Thom Darden (1969-71)
Brown was a two-time All-American who went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL. He was a member of the expansion Seahawks, became Seattle's career interceptions leader and is in the team's Ring of Honor. Brown, who was the cornerbacks coach at Texas Tech in the 2001-05 seasons, died in January after suffering a heart attack. ... Darden intercepted 11 passes as a collegian and was named All-America in '71. He also was a special-teams standout who went on to a 10-year career with the Browns.

P: Monte Robbins (1984-87)
He's Michigan's career leader in punting average, and that's good enough for us.


OHIO STATE

Coach: Woody Hayes (1951-78)
As successful as Jim Tressel has been in his first six years in Columbus, there's no room for discussion here. Hayes' achievements in Columbus include five national championships, 13 Big Ten titles, 56 first-team All-Americans and a 205-61-10 record. He left a long shadow for all of his successors at the Buckeyes' helm. The Ohio native died in 1987 at age 74. Hayes' protégés include Bill Arnsparger, Earle Bruce, Lou Holtz and Schembechler.

OFFENSE

QB: Troy Smith (2003-present)
Smith is this close to reaching immortality as a Buckeye with an excellent chance to capture the Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the same season. Smith has completed a school-record 62.9 percent of his career passes, good enough to supplant Rex Kern and Art Schlichter.

Eddie George
Eddie George ran for over 1,900 yards in winning the '95 Heisman.

RB: Eddie George (1992-95), Archie Griffin (1972-75)
Among OSU running backs, it's a deep list from which to choose the best -- Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, Vic Janowicz, Keith Byars. But George and Griffin clearly are the best of the bunch. George, the 1995 Heisman winner, was a fine receiver out of the backfield in addition to being a bruising runner. ... Griffin, of course, remains the only two-time Heisman winner and is the school's career rushing leader by a wide margin. A four-year starter, Griffin and the Buckeyes went 40-5-1 during his collegiate career.

WR: David Boston (1996-98), Cris Carter (1984-86)
It's difficult to omit explosive talents such as Terry Glenn and Joey Galloway, but we'll stick to the numbers here. Boston is OSU's career leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. ... Carter ranks, second, third and second, respectively in the same categories. After a terrific pro career, Carter ranks second in NFL history in receptions and touchdown catches.

TE: John Frank (1980-83)
With 121 career receptions, Frank's name appears among a decorated list of Buckeyes receiving leaders, no small feat for a tight end. He later won two Super Bowls in a five-year career with the 49ers.

T: Orlando Pace (1994-96), Korey Stringer (1992-94)
Pace is undoubtedly one of the finest linemen in college history. He started every game through his senior season, winning the Outland Trophy once and the Lombardi Award twice, before joining the Rams. ... Stringer was named All-America twice, opening holes for George to speed through.

BY THE NUMBERS
Series: Michigan leads 57-39-6, but Ohio State has won four of the last five.

Longest U-M win streak: 9 (1901-09)

Longest OSU win streak: 4 (1934-37, 1960-63)

Largest U-M margin of victory: 86-0 (1902)

Largest OSU margin of victory: 38-0 (1935)

Series coaching records (minimum five games):
U-M best: Fielding Yost (16-3-1 from 1901-23 and 1925-26)
U-M worst: Bump Elliott (3-7 from 1959-68)
OSU best: Jim Tressel (4-1 from 2001-present)
OSU worst: John Cooper (2-10-1 from 1988-2000)

U-M players from Ohio: 11

OSU players from Michigan: 2

Big Ten championships (includes shared titles):
U-M: 42
OSU: 30

National championships (includes shared titles):
U-M: 11
OSU: 7

Heisman Trophies:
U-M: 3 (Tom Harmon, Desmond Howard, Charles Woodson)
OSU: 6 (Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard Cassady, Archie Griffin [2], Eddie George

Consecutive bowl appearances (current):
U-M: 31
OSU: 6

G: Jim Lachey (1981-84), Jim Parker (1954-56)
Lachey was first-team All-America as a senior and went on to enjoy a fine pro career with the Chargers and Redskins, earning three trips to the Pro Bowl and a Super Bowl ring. ... Parker became the Buckeyes' first Outland Trophy winner in 1956. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls with the Colts and is considered one of the finest linemen in NFL history.

C: LeCharles Bentley (1998-2001)
Bentley won the Rimington Award in 2001 as the nation's top center. He earned a Pro Bowl berth at guard and center with the Saints before joining the Browns. He edges out Tom DeLeone, who helped anchor the line for the 1968 and '70 national championship teams.

Special teams: Ted Ginn Jr. (2004-present)
The Buckeyes have sported a series of special teams playmakers over the years. Boston, Ken-Yon Rambo and Jeff Graham consistently gave their team advantages in field position. But we opt for Ginn, former prep track star who led the nation in return average on punts as a freshman and kickoffs as a sophomore. He has five career touchdowns on punt returns -- four as a frosh in '04 to tie an NCAA record.

K: Mike Nugent (2001-04)
Known for his range and accuracy, Nugent holds the Buckeyes' career record for points scored with 356. He booted eight field goals of 50 yards or more and converted 81.8 percent of his collegiate attempts. He was named first-team All-America twice and converted 24 consecutive field-goal attempts during the 2001 and '02 seasons. Nugent was picked in the second round of the 2005 NFL draft by the Jets.

DEFENSE

DL: Jim Stillwagon (1968-70), Mike Vrabel (1993-96), Dan Wilkinson (1992-93), Bill Willis (1942-44)
Stillwagon was the nation's first player to win the Outland and Lombardi awards in the same season, in 1970. A member of two national championship teams at OSU, he went on to become one of the top defensive linemen in CFL history. ... Vrabel was a two-time All-American at defensive end before becoming a successful pro linebacker with the Patriots. ... "Big Daddy" Wilkinson was All-America in 1993 before being selected first overall by the Bengals in the '94 NFL draft. ... Willis played both sides of the ball with tremendous skill and is a member of the college and pro football halls of fame.

LB: Tom Cousineau (1975-78), Randy Gradishar (1971-73), Chris Spielman (1984-87)
Here's a great place for a debate. Our trio was selected over such Buckeyes greats as Pepper Johnson, Andy Katzenmoyer and A.J. Hawk. But we'll stick with our picks. Cousineau was a two-time All-American whose 211 tackles in 1978 are a school record. He was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1979 NFL draft by the Bills. ... Gradishar also was a two-time All-American, and Hayes called him "the best linebacker I ever coached at Ohio State." We'll take Woody's word for it. ... Spielman is yet another two-time All-American, and he won the 1987 Lombardi Award before a 12-year NFL career. He made 29 tackles in a narrow loss to Michigan in 1986.

Shawn Springs
Teams simply didn't throw the ball in the direction of Shawn Springs.

CB: Shawn Springs (1994-96), Antoine Winfield (1995-98)
Springs was so good on the mid-1990s Buckeyes teams that many opponents simply wouldn't challenge him. He was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in 1996. The No. 3 overall pick in the 1997 NFL draft, Springs is in his third season with the Redskins after seven with the Seahawks. ... Winfield won the 1998 Thorpe Award as the country's top defensive back a year after becoming the first OSU corner to lead the team in tackles. He was a first-round pick by the Bills in 1999. Now with the Vikings, he's in his eighth pro season.

S: Jack Tatum (1968-70), Mike Doss (1999-2002)
Tatum, one of the most intimidating players in football history, was a two time All-American who anchored the secondary of some of the finest Buckeyes teams. He was drafted in the first round by the Raiders, went to three Pro Bowls and won a Super Bowl. ... Doss was a three-time All-American and an indispensable member of the 2002 national championship team. He ranks among the school's career leaders in tackles and is in his fourth year with the Colts.

P: Tom Skladany (1973-76)
A three-time All-American, Skladany was the first Buckeyes kicking specialist to earn a football scholarship. He averaged 42.7 yards per punt during his OSU career and was a co-captain of the 1976 team, the first Buckeye specialist to earn that title. Skladany went on to play for the Lions and Eagles during a six-year NFL career.

Thomas Neumann is an editor for Page 2. Sound off to Page 2 here.