There are rivalries in college football, and then there is Michigan vs. Ohio State.

Of course, opinions vary from region to region. There is Auburn vs. Alabama, USC vs. UCLA, Florida vs. Georgia and other series that ignite the passions of fans across the nation. But there is something different about Wolverines vs. Buckeyes.

Cold weather. Iconic programs and moments. Heisman poses and up-ending hits. The theatrical aspect of this matchup couldn’t be any better. Good, old-fashioned hatred for one another. UM vs. OSU has it all.

And it all plays out on the final Saturday of the regular season.

What could be better? Not much, honestly.

This year’s duel rekindles memories from the 2006 version of The Game. Ohio State, ranked No. 1, and Michigan, ranked No. 2, gave spectators one of the best college football games in memory. This year, it’s No. 2 OSU vs. No. 3 UM in another one that promises to deliver.

In a lot of ways, the Wolverines could find success by mimicking their 2006 counterparts. By using a similar strategy, they could end up knocking off the Buckeyes for the second straight year.

Don’t be afraid to go long. Use the O-line to control tempo. Let playmakers make plays. Despite a 42-39 loss in 2006, Michigan absolutely knew how to crack the Buckeyes’ secondary — and that will have to be done this year if it wants a second straight series victory for the first time since 1999-2000.

Two potent offenses. Two rock-solid defenses. In 2006, the talent was nearly equal. This year, it’s not quite level but still eerily similar at several positions. The only glaring difference is QB: Michigan has a developing star in sophomore JJ McCarthy, while Ohio State has an established superstar in CJ Stroud, a 3rd-year sophomore.

Back then for UM, it was QB Chad Henne and RB Mike Hart, along with WRs Adrian Arrington and Mario Manningham. Ohio State had QB Troy Smith, RB Antonio Pittman and WR Ted Ginn Jr. Extremely close, in terms of talent. Both teams even had Heisman finalists, just like this year’s teams feature on their rosters.

In 2006, Smith won the Heisman while Hart finished 5th in the voting.

This year, Wolverines RB Blake Corum (coached by Hart) is among the frontrunners along with Stroud.

Ohio State has one of the best WRs in the country in Marvin Harrison Jr. Back in 2006, Ginn was considered as such. Hart was arguably the best RB in 2006; the same can be said for Corum this year.

Both Ginn and Hart were dominant forces for their teams in The Game. Ginn had 8 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. Hart rushed 23 times for 142 yards and 3 TDs. If Marv goes all Teddy, the Buckeyes will have a great chance at winning. If Blake switches into Mike Mode, the Wolverines could easily get a victory.

McCarthy isn’t at the level of Henne, but he could achieve similar numbers. Passing for 250-260 yards and 2 or 3 TDs should be enough to fend off Ohio State. Henne’s performance was good enough, but some defensive miscues contributed to Michigan’s 3-point loss. If McCarthy can come close, Michigan should be in good position Saturday.

Arrington and Manningham were key pieces to Michigan’s vertical attack, which was quickly established during the opening drive. Down 21-7, Hart broke free for a huge run that set up a 37-yard Henne-to-Arrington TD on 2nd-and-20 in the 2nd quarter. Michigan wasn’t afraid to call down-field shots, especially while facing a 2-score deficit early the game.

Bell, the most consistent of Michigan’s receivers, will have to shoulder the load. Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson Jr. have been options this year, but they haven’t been nearly as steady as Bell, who might have to do the job that Arrington and Manningham did in 2006.

That classic Michigan team and today’s team have a lot in common, including great O-lines and strong defenses. Both offenses could put up 40 and both defenses could lock down opponents. There are, of course, differences — but there are several common traits. And really, they’re traits that have typically helped the Wolverines pull off the rare win during the past 22 years. They’ve won 4 times, for those counting.

Scoring 40-plus points seems to be a pretty standard benchmark in this series, meaning the team that does it ends up winning. For example, Michigan won 42-27 in 2021. Go through series scores and you’ll see 42 several times.

This year’s edition of The Game could very well be a race to 40 points, just like it was in 2006.