This past weekend’s Big Ten rivalry game between Michigan and Ohio State delivered from an entertainment standpoint on the field. For the first time in a decade, the Wolverines downed the Buckeyes and did so in front of a raucous crowd in a snowy Ann Arbor.
That combined for a fairytale-like atmosphere, which unsurprisingly enthralled viewers around the country.
FOX Sports reported that last Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan broadcast brought in 15,893,000 viewers. That made the matchup the network’s most-watched college football game ever.
Ohio State-Michigan also was the most-watched regular season game on any network since Alabama played LSU back in 2019.
It’s not difficult to understand why The Game broke the network’s record. The contest between Michigan and Ohio State was close throughout, until the Wolverines finally pulled away to a 42-27 victory. The offensive and defensive lines won the day for Jim Harbaugh’s program, giving the head coach his first win against the Buckeyes in his seven years in Ann Arbor.
The incredible atmosphere in the Big House on Saturday also proved to make the game even more enjoyable. With snow pouring down over a stadium packed with Michigan faithful, it was hard to imagine a better setting for one of college football’s best rivalries.
Media members were extremely impressed with the massive ratings that the 2021 edition of The Game was able to bring in. Many recognized that it could be a good sign for the future of the sport on television.
The bidding for the Big Ten Football media rights are going to be insane.
Would be interesting if Big Ten Football players said to Fox: “Hey, Fox, you want us to commit to the 2022 title game. Cool. Deposit $50 million in a fund for all B10 athletes by 8/1. Or we don’t play.” https://t.co/fgPuKiVUFz
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) December 1, 2021
— Matt Leinart (@MattLeinartQB) December 1, 2021
Many factors lined up well to produce this huge number. Storied rivalry with Michigan breaking the losing streak. Holiday weekend. Weather in many parts of the country conducive for TV watching. Less top-tier competition in time slot for viewers. Picturesque visuals w the snow. https://t.co/vupMdmhRMS
— Eric Fisher (@EricFisherSBG) December 1, 2021
Rivalries are good for the college football business. You’d think the power brokers would do everything possible to keep the rivalries going. https://t.co/56Vg1g7WNe
— Eric Adelson (@eric_adelson) December 1, 2021
Most watched regular season game since 2019 LSU-Alabama. https://t.co/tBZbo2gxq5
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 1, 2021
— Ryan Zuke (@ryanzuke) December 1, 2021
Michigan will try to build off the momentum of last weekend’s performance this upcoming Saturday in Indianapolis. The Wolverines will take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship game with a spot in the College Football Playoff on the line.
The title contest will have plenty of interesting storylines, but it’s hard to believe that it will compete from a ratings standpoint with Michigan-Ohio State.
Rivalries still clearly have a place in college football and last weekend’s viewing numbers prove that.