Ohio State players fired up to face Michigan, chase Big Ten title
Soon after the Ohio State football team rallied from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win at Iowa on Saturday, the players’ attention shifted to Michigan.
"Everybody in the locker room after the game was amped," Ohio State tight end Reid Fragel said. "We could have played another game right after this, it felt like.
"It's a positive in every way, and we're looking forward to beating Michigan."
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel has made beating Michigan his primary focus since he was hired, and he's lost only one of nine matchups — in 2003 against former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr.
After the emotional win over the Hawkeyes, Tressel hoped his players could celebrate it longer.
"I wish they had time to enjoy it, but they don't because we got the biggest game of all," Tressel said.
The stakes are not as high for Michigan (7-4, 3-4) as they are for the Buckeyes (10-1, 6-1), who are in a first-place tie in the conference with Michigan State and Wisconsin.
The Wolverines are relegated to playing the role of spoiler against the Buckeyes. Again.
Unlike the first two years under Rich Rodriguez, though, Michigan is bowl-eligible and has a chance to improve its postseason positioning if it can pull off one of the bigger upsets of the storied series.
"You always say all the games mean the same, but this one means a little bit more," Wolverines tight end Kevin Koger said.
Michigan's last game — the home finale for its seniors — had significance, but it didn't seem to make a difference for a team that dug a 24-0 hole in the first half against Wisconsin and lost 48-28.
Rodriguez is relying on a lot of freshman on defense, but insisted that doesn't make the upcoming task in the Horseshoe more daunting.
"It's a challenge anyway, that's a talented team at a tough place to play," he said. "We're going to have to have a few more guys grow up in a hurry."