Ohio State vs. Michigan was mostly a primetime-worthy viewing. It certainly won’t be any different this year as No. 2 Ohio State takes on No. 3 Michigan in a battle of undefeated teams competing for a spot in the Big Ten championship and the College Football Playoffs.
But no matter the stakes, no matter how good the teams, Ohio State vs. Michigan will almost never be a primetime game. With few exceptions, the game is played at 12 noon. In these exceptional cases, the game was played at 1:00 p.m. or earlier.
Fans are loving the night games, as are networks hoping to capitalize on the matchup’s rigor. None of that matters to The Game.
Why is it always played at noon? The Sporting News dives in.
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Why is Michigan vs. Ohio State always played at noon?
It’s not exactly tradition, but it’s as close to it as you can get. According to The Lantern, since 1980, Ohio State and Michigan have faced each other only 33 times between noon and 12:45 p.m. ET and only six times at or after 1 p.m.
In “The Game of the Century” between No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan in 2006, The Lantern reported that the game took place at 3:30 p.m. ET. But since then, Eleven Warriors hasn’t shown games between the two played later than noon.
And according to Eleven Warriors, that’s the last time the game has been played since at least 1950. Since 1950, the game has only been played once after 2:00 PM ET.
There were rumors at one time that one might consider scheduling kick-off for 3:30 p.m. ET when No. 3 Michigan visits No. 2 state Ohio. In a 2016 interview with Cleveland.com, Martin Jarmond, the current UCLA athletic director who formerly oversaw the Buckeyes’ scheduling, said that even in the 2016 high-stakes matchup, not much thought was given to the Time to change to 3:30 pm ET despite rumors of a time change.
“As it is now, you have to match those dates and times with television,” Jarmond said. “You don’t see it changing that much. I can’t talk about what happened 10 years ago [in 2006 because I wasn’t involved in that, but I just know now, once we determine (a kickoff time), it’s rare that you see a game time changed.”
Jarmond said he doesn’t believe the noon game will change, saying that the combination of the fans liking it at noon and the recent tradition of the game being played at noon make it unlikely that it will be at any different time.
“I can’t see that changing. I really think that it’s locked in at noon in that early slot and that’s what people have come to expect,” Jarmond said. “It’s been that way for a long time, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s the way I look at it.”
The stakes are about as high as it can get on Saturday, and even with that, there’s no reason to expect the two teams to play at any time other than noon any time in the near future.