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Ann Arbor vs. Columbus, OH – How Do We Compare?

November 23, 2022 Regional Updates

Week 13: Saturday, November 26, 2022 | Michigan vs. Ohio State| Ohio Stadium | Noon EST

Ann Arbor SPARK’s popular football blog series is back for Michigan’s 143rd season! We use the football season as an opportunity to compare Ann Arbor to cities around the country represented by our U-M football competition. The question is always – how does Ann Arbor compare to other college towns in the U.S.?

What do you get when two undefeated college football teams representing the greatest of all rivalries meet in the final game of the regular football season? For fans of the University of Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes, it likely includes a lot of anxiety, cursing, and cheering. The last time both teams were unbeaten and untied before they met on the field was 2006. In fact, the 2006 game is one of only three previous occasions when both teams have been undefeated in the regular season before they meet as opponents. The others were 1970 (OSU won 20-9) and 1973 (a 10-10 tie). This year’s game marks only the fourth time in history that both teams will meet on the field with zero losses. No matter which team you will be cheering on this weekend, one thing is certain — it will be a game for the record books.

The Wolverines vs. the Buckeyes is one of the longest and most famous rivalries in American collegiate sports. Over the entire course of their rivalry, the two teams have faced each other 104 times since 1904 with Michigan leading the series 59-51-6. In 2021, the University of Michigan defeated OSU in Ann Arbor 42 – 27.

In terms of our economic competition, Columbus and Ann Arbor are quite different cities. Columbus is much larger than Ann Arbor in terms of population, about seven times larger, to be precise. Columbus is also Ohio’s state capital, and the state government plays a large part in the economy there whereas Ann Arbor’s largest employer is the University of Michigan.

The Columbus region is home to 16 Fortune 1,000 companies and five Fortune 500 companies, including Nationwide, American Electric Power (AEP), Cardinal Health, Big Lots, Wendy’s, Accenture, and Chipotle.

The on-campus population is also larger in Columbus. Ohio State has 16,000+ more students than U-M and is the third-largest university in the United States in terms of enrollment (behind Texas A&M and the University of Central Florida).

The cost of living is comparable in both cities (100.4 in Ann Arbor and 100.0 in Columbus) and the unemployment rate was 3.3 percent for both as of September 2022.

Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the game!

This concludes our regular season comparison series. Be sure to tag us when you share these interesting tidbits with your friends via social media! And, if you want more information like this or are curious to learn more about the Ann Arbor region and what makes it such a great place to live, work, and locate your business in, please reach out to our Director of Research, Melissa Sheldon.

In case you missed it, here are links to the regional comparisons we’ve posted so far this year:


Where do we get our numbers? And what do they mean?