Ohio State fans never tire of counting the days since the Buckeyes last lost to Michigan.
Sunrise means another notch has been added to that belt — 3,072 days, and climbing — but it must feel like a few additional years have been added to the total in the minds of Michigan fans since last night.
Thursday’s first round of the NFL Draft was every bit the gut punch to Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines as Ohio State’s 62-39 win in 2018 or its 56-27 rout last November.
Sure, the total of first-round picks from OSU vs. those from Michigan was only 3-1. But where OSU’s players were taken and the shine their selection added to Ohio State’s already-glittering Draft legacy must leave the maize and blue a much more morose shade of blue.
Or green…with envy.
No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow, a graduate transfer from OSU to LSU, plays quarterback — the money position in the league.
If teams have a franchise QB, then they next seek a disruptive, dominating pass-rusher like OSU’s Chase Young, who went No. 2 overall to Washington.
Also high on the priority list for any team building a Super Bowl contender is a lockdown cornerback like Jeff Okudah, chosen third by Detroit to man a spot where 19 players made more than $10 million this past season.
High school recruits tend to notice those things, and they also notice that Michigan hasn’t had more players taken in the first round of an NFL Draft than Ohio State since 2010.
ESPN took great pains to note that not only did Young and Okudah hail from OSU, but the Worldwide Leader all but forgot LSU in the story over Burrow’s ascent to Cincinnati No. 1 overall.
That’s no doubt because Burrow, Young and Okudah are the first set of ex-teammates ever to go 1,2,3 in the Draft.
Young and Okudah give Ohio State two of the Top 5 picks for the second time in five years, following Joey Bosa (No. 3) and Ezekiel Elliott (No. 4), who entered the league in style in 2016.
Okudah is the first cornerback taken in the Top 3 since 1996, when Shawn Springs of Ohio State went third to Seattle.
Sorry, coach Harbaugh…there’s more.
Okudah and his teammate in the OSU secondary, Damon Arnette (taken 18th by Las Vegas), give Ohio State further license to trumpet its player development as the surest way to an NFL future in the secondary.
That’s where OSU has victimized Michigan’s defense, and curtailed Michigan’s offense, during its current winning streak.
The Wolverines, for all their success blitzing other opponents into submission, haven’t been able to cover Ohio State’s receivers in the secondary and haven’t been able to shake free enough in coverage to keep up on the scoreboard.
Sure, the pass rushes of Joey and Nick Bosa and Young are also a part of that, as Okudah is sure to note when he has his debut press conference as a Detroit Lion.
That has to thrill Harbaugh and Michigan faithful, knowing Okudah will be dotting the I in Script Ohio, trumpeting the Buckeyes’ superiority at every opportunity, right in Ann Arbor’s back yard.
If you wonder why Ohio State hasn’t lost to Michigan since 2011, or wonder why OSU is crushing 2021 recruiting amid COVID-19 restrictions that have dented other programs’ recruiting success, look to the first round of the Draft for answers.
The Buckeyes are luring elite talent and landing it because of their success putting players into the NFL.
That perpetuates winning, which feeds more recruiting home runs, which leads to more Draft dominance, which….do we really need to go on?
You can follow Bruce on Twitter @bhoolz and find him on Facebook