COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The game before The Game usually is a little closer, a little tighter than it should be. And the aftermath is usually not about what happened in the 60 game minutes prior. But with Michigan football being the first program at any level to reach 1,000 wins, the celebration over the win against Maryland took immediate precedence.
But once that was over, it was time to focus on the task at hand: Ohio State.
It’s no secret that both rival teams are clamoring for each other, with Michigan entering the game undefeated and OSU (at the time of this writing) likely to do so with a multiple-score lead over Minnesota. Despite all of the off-field adversity which was met with on-field adversity, really, for the first time all year at SECU Stadium, these Wolverines are ready for their crack at the scarlet and gray for the Big Ten East division title.
“We all know what time it is. Once this game was over, we knew where our attention was gonna go,” sixth-year linebacker Mike Barrett said. “It feels great to be a part of this kind of game, coming into the game undefeated with everything going on, how the team’s able to kind of face adversity, kind of work through adversity, keep that one-track mind that we’ve been preaching all year. And just being able to be here at this point — it’s a great feeling.”
Michigan looked uncharacteristically sloppy throughout much of Saturday’s contest. The offense didn’t move as it had been, and the defense gave up points in the third quarter for the first time this season.
It’s not unlike last year when the maize and blue hosted Illinois in the penultimate regular season contest and found themselves in a dogfight.
Blake Corum doesn’t think that looking ahead had any bearing on Saturday’s contest, but what he does know is that many of his teammates have been getting extra work in for weeks, if not months, in preparation for the Buckeyes.
“Individually, I know a lot of guys have watched film throughout the season, but, you know, like locked-in, locked-in,” Corum said. “Though you best believe tonight on the plane home and tomorrow and the rest of the week is about them.”
“We know that it’s that time, gotta lock in,” Barrett added. “We didn’t really want to shoot the gun too quick. You always got to play every opponent, prepare (for) every opponent just like they’re the same. So we didn’t want to get too far ahead, kind of worrying about them too early. But is that week. So we know what we have to do, we know how we need to prepare, and know things that we have to adjust on, get fixed within this next week. And I think we will be ready.”
Michigan will play OSU without Jim Harbaugh on the sidelines for the third straight week and sixth time this season. It’s not ideal, but that’s the reality that the Wolverines live in.
Sherrone Moore will continue to helm the maize and blue as the interim head coach. Coming off of the program’s landmark win, he hasn’t given much thought to what next week will entail, but he knows that by the time his plane lands back in Michigan, it will be on to The Game.
“I mean, the really the only thing that hit me is that my mom’s coming in next week, and then she’s probably gonna yell at me for cussing again,” Moore said. “Besides that, No, it hasn’t. I’ve just tried to take it a step at a time.
“It’s my daughter’s birthday today. So she’s here and when I go home, I’m gonna celebrate with her and that’s the thing I’m thinking about right now and we’ll prepare our tails off for that game starting tomorrow, bright and early. So probably won’t sleep a lot which is our — that’s kind of what we do anyway. But it has not really hit me and it probably will as the week goes.”