BAGHDAD--For more than 100 years, a hotly contested rivalry that boils over to an all out war occurs on a Saturday afternoon each November.
This war is not between religious factions or countries, but between two college football teams - the University of Michigan Wolverines and The Ohio State University Buckeyes.
The rivalry is deeply rooted in both teams' history. Since 1935, the Ohio State vs. Michigan match-up has decided the Big Ten Conference championship 23 times. The game has also had implications on determining the conference 24 times.
This year, that rivalry spills over in Baghdad for Soldiers of the 16th Engineer Brigade, encompassing both the Ohio Army National Guard's 1192nd Engineer Company and the Michigan Army National Guard's 1434th Engineer Company. For these troops, the game has a special meaning.
The companies work closely together, serving under the same battalion - the 101st Engineer Battalion, co-located in the same building and working many projects together. However, on Nov. 21, all the teamwork and camaraderie the two units have built will be set aside.
As the old rivals prepare to square off on the football field, the trash talk on a faraway base begins.
Soldiers of the Michigan-based 1434th Engineer Company differ slightly on how they think their home-state team will fare, but Sgt. Randy Lloyd, of Traverse City, Mich., said his team will be ready to go.
"[The Wolverines] have had a rough last two years, but they will be ready to beat Ohio State," Lloyd exclaimed. "Michigan will win on a final field goal with a score of Michigan 31, Ohio State 28. GO BLUE!"
Spc. Humberto Fraire, of Fennville, Mich., said the game will be close but refused to predict a final score.
"All of the Ohio State fans will cry when the game is done," Fraire said, with a smirk. "It will be great to watch."
Sgt. Chris Notestine, of Boyne City, Mich., had a slightly harsher prediction for the game turnout.
"Only the Ohio State cheerleaders will show up out of fear," Notestine said.
First Sgt. Tim Lamphere, has a slightly different prediction.
"Ohio State should win the game, but I will hold out hope that Michigan will pull it off," Lamphere said. "The final score will be Ohio State 20, Michigan 10."
Not surprisingly, the Soldiers of the Ohio National Guard's 1192nd have a somewhat different prediction for the afternoon's result.
Staff Sgt. Josh Lenhart, of Akron, Ohio, said the game will be a blow out.
"Michigan doesn't stand a chance," Lenhart said. "Ohio State will easily win with a final score of Ohio State 35, Michigan14."
Sgt. Zach Caudill, of Plymouth, Ohio, echoes the sentiment.
"Ohio State will put a whoopin' on Michigan. I expect nothing less from them every year," Caudill said. "The final score will be Ohio State 38, Michigan 17.
Spc. Heather Todd, from Lisbon, Ohio, thinks that the game will be close.
"Michigan is very good," Todd said. "They will give Ohio State a good run. The final score will be Ohio State 25, Michigan 17. That's because Michigan is not good enough to beat Ohio State, EVER!"
First Sgt. Keith Moore, from the 1192nd, is not a fan of his home state team, but rather a fan of Michigan.
"This year we (Michigan) are not good. I don't think we will win at all. The final score will be Ohio State 27, Michigan 17," Moore said.
Capt. Joseph Ayers, commander of the 1192nd, is also a Michigan fan.
"I would truly love to say that Michigan would win, but I don't think it will happen," Ayers said. "I think OSU will beat us, with a final score of Ohio State 42, Michigan 17."
Who is ultimately going to win and have bragging rights for the rest of the deployment? On Saturday, Nov. 21st it will all be decided.
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