12:00 PM ET, November 30, 2013
Michigan Stadium, ANN ARBOR, MI
Ohio State defensive lineman Noah Spence is from Harrisburg, Pa.
He wasn't steeped in the enmity that grips fans of the Buckeyes and Wolverines about this time every year.
But in his second season in the heart of Ohio, he has a good grasp of it now.
"It's a huge rivalry even if you're a guy from out of state like me," he said.
Then he added, "It's everything."
Ohio State and Michigan clash for the 110th time Saturday, at Michigan Stadium. It's already been a long, grueling season. But, as it should be, the best and biggest game has been saved for last.
Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten), which moved up to No. 3 in all major rankings Sunday, won its school-record 23rd straight game and earned a spot in the Big Ten championship game with a 42-14 victory over Indiana in snow-globe conditions at Ohio Stadium on Saturday.
Almost immediately, the Buckeyes' thoughts turned to Michigan (7-4, 3-4).
From a distance, it might look like a trap game: The Buckeyes have little to play for beyond holding on to what they've already got -- an unbeaten season and conference and national title aspirations. On top of that, the Wolverines have been struggling mightily.
Michigan, ranked as high as 11th in the nation during a 5-0 start to the season, was held scoreless in the second half of its 24-21 loss Saturday at Iowa, its third defeat in four games. The Wolverines scored nine points the previous week in regulation before going on to beat Northwestern in triple overtime; they were limited to six and 13 points in losses to Michigan State and Nebraska.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke says he's confident Michigan will be consistent for a change on offense against Ohio State.
"This game has always been different in some ways," Hoke said. "Are they a good football team? Yeah. They're a very good football team. Do we have to play better than we've played? I don't think there's any doubt."
That's because they'll need to keep pace with an Ohio State offense that has averaged 55.3 points and 597.0 yards in its last four games.
Miller ran for 144 yards last Saturday after rushing for 184 at Illinois the week before. Hyde has put up eye-popping numbers over his last six games, with 938 rushing yards and 14 TDs while averaging 8.1 yards per attempt.
"It's just striving for the best," Miller said. "We ended the season 12-0 last year and we weren't able to play in a bowl game or the Big Ten championship game (because of NCAA sanctions). That's what we were striving for. (We want to) accomplish that and keep going forward, keep winning games and just make Ohio State proud."
Devin Gardner has broken Michigan marks this season, accounting for 584 yards of offense and 503 yards passing against Indiana on Oct. 19. In four games since, however, he has averaged 182.5 yards passing and lost a total of 47 yards rushing.
"He's had some really good moments and some moments that he would rather redo if he could," Hoke said. "I think we all have that; I do as a head coach. There are always moments that you think about and say, 'Maybe we should've done this.' He's been pretty resilient. He's a guy who comes to work every day to get ready to play."
Urban Meyer won his first Michigan-Ohio State game as a head coach a year ago, 26-21, by shutting out the Wolverines in the second half and edging past them on two field goals by Drew Basil. It avenged a loss to Michigan the year before and marked the Buckeyes' eighth win in the last nine meetings.
"I have great respect for this rivalry -- it almost makes me in awe," Meyer said. "The respect we have comes with incredible responsibility that sometimes can be overwhelming (when it comes) to what we have to do next week. So we take it very seriously."
Jack Mewhort, one of Ohio State's captains and a starter on the offensive line, disregarded Michigan's recent hard times.
"That makes no difference because of the tradition and history that go into this rivalry," he said. "It's always a tough, smash-mouth game. We're prepared to get their best shot, and they're going to get ours, too. The records aren't really a big deal this week."
The Buckeyes have been on a roll, but all of that doesn't mean a whole lot if they can't win the game that's most important to their fans.
"This is the whole season, really," safety C.J. Barnett said. "Everything is out the window, records, everything we've done, haven't done -- it's all about this week."
Top 25 Overview
The Game doesn't have nearly as much on the line as might have been anticipated, but that certainly won't make the latest edition of the storied rivalry any less intense. The Buckeyes need a win to stay undefeated and in the mix for a potential BCS championship appearance. The Wolverines have been out of the division race for a while now, but ruining a rival's perfect season would go a long way for coach Brady Hoke in silencing some of his skeptics after a rocky season.
|Avg Points Allowed||20.3||26.5|
Carlos Hyde rushed for 226 yards in the win, his second 200-yard game of the season and the most EVER by a Buckeye against Michigan in series history... It surpassed the previous high set by Chris "Beanie" Wells in 2007.[+]
Most Rush Yds vs Michigan - Ohio State History
Braxton Miller and Denard Robinson are the only players to have a 50-yard pass TD and a 50-yard rush TD in a Big Ten game over the last 10 seasons. Both of those two did it in a game against Indiana...until Braxton did it again today.
For the second time in his career, Braxton Miller has a 50-yard TD pass and 50-yard TD rush in the same game (September 15, 2012 vs Cal: 55-yard TD rush, 72-yard TD pass)
Following Devin Smith's 53-yd TD rec in the 1st qtr... Since 2011, Smith has 6 Rec of 50+ yds (5 TD)... All other Buckeyes have 4 such rec over that span combined (4 TD).
With Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller each over 100 rush yds today... It's the 1st time Ohio State has had multiple 100-yd rushers against Michigan since 1967 (Jim Otis and Rudy Hubbard) and the 3rd time vs the Wolverines overall (also 1961). Each of the previous 2 games (1961 & 1967) came in wins at the Big House.
Carlos Hyde is the 1st Ohio State player with 2 games of 225+ rush yards in a season. Only other with 2 CAREER games is Archie Griffin
This is the 1st Ohio State-Michigan game where both teams scored 40+ points.
Ohio State and Michigan combined for 42 points in the first half today. The most total points scored in a game during Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler's "10-Year War" (1969-78) was 36 points, which came in the first meeting.
In 10 meetings between Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler... The teams averaged 24.3 points COMBINED per game. Michigan averaged 13.8 points, Ohio State 10.5 points. The highest scoring Ohio State-Michigan game between those two coaches was 36 points (24-12 in 1969). We had 42 points in the first half today.
The 83 combined points by Michigan and Ohio State are the 2nd-most in a Michigan-Ohio State game. Only one with more was in 1902, when Michigan won 86-0
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