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Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Saturday’s matchup between 2 Ohio State and 5 Michigan in Ann Arbor, and debate if Jim Harbaugh can finally beat the Wolverines biggest rival.
DAN WETZEL: Just a little, little dust up going down in Ann Arbor this weekend. Ohio State, 10 and 1, Michigan, 10 and 1. Winner goes to the Big Ten championship game and stays alive for this playoff. Doesn't get any bigger than this. Ohio State is absolutely rolling right now. Pass offense is sixth in the country. They look tremendous. Michigan looks good. Had the loss up at East Lansing, but that was a very, very close loss. Credit to Jim Harbaugh, who most people wanted fired last year or this or that. Hey, here they are. They got a chance. We'll see if they all still love them Saturday about 4 o'clock. But for now, Harbaugh's done what he's needed to do. Wolverines are still alive. Thoughts on this game, Pat.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, I mean, I'm so happy to have this game be a big deal again, because it's just awesome when it is. You know, that is one of the best parts of college football when Ohio State and Michigan meet on artificial turf under a slate gray sky in cold temperatures Thanksgiving weekend. My thoughts are this. Winter is damn close to going to the playoff, you know. I mean, you win this and you have just about punched your ticket. You just have to not throw up in the Big Ten championship game. Loser, not necessarily out maybe, maybe, maybe. I mean, you could maybe try to come up with a way that that could happen. Some things would obviously have to fall into place.
But third thing, Michigan, if you are 10 and 0 against everybody but your two biggest rivals, is that still a great season? I think it's a good season. I think it's good enough that you can walk away from this and say, hey, we're back at least to being good. We weren't the embarrassment we were last year and we've improved from the two or three years prior to that. And then the fourth thing, I mean, like if Ohio State just continues rolling Michigan though, at some point like I mean, do Michigan fans just have to settle for the fact that we are not just second banana, but we're a distant second banana in that league.
PETE THAMEL: Yeah, all the variants of potential outcomes here are more fascinating than this game's been in a while. Did you go to the 1, 2 game, Pat, Lloyd Carr, the [INAUDIBLE] Schembechler game when Bo died that week?
PAT FORDE: Yes, sure did. I sat next to Dan Wetzel.
DAN WETZEL: That's right, that's right.
PETE THAMEL: I try to forget that too. Yeah, like that was early in my career one of those big high stakes just like monster games that you, like just you could feel it. And it's extremely exciting to have Ohio State and Michigan at this level again. I did a story on Yahoo this week where I talked to like seven coaches who played Michigan this year and why they've turned around and have they've turned around. It has been a remarkable turnaround. We've covered it on this podcast. All the credit to Harbaugh, the new coaches, the new schemes. I mean, they are a completely different football program than they were last year. And you don't overhaul both sides of the ball and have it work very often like it has for them. So a lot of credit to, a lot of credit to Michigan.
DAN WETZEL: Agree. This is, obviously, it's a huge opportunity for Michigan, because everything's on the line. And I think unlike Ohio State, you don't think every year you're going to have that opportunity maybe, right? Michigan though, that loss to Michigan State was painful, but here we are. Harbaugh is doing what's reasonable there. I've said this before. The thing with Michigan and I think what both some Michigan fans don't get and then a lot of fans around the country maybe don't realize, is the folklore doesn't match the history.
The folklore of Michigan football is, it's one of the best programs in the country and it's a national championship program and contend for national championships, all this stuff. That just has never been the case. The reality of Michigan is a really nice football program and they do really well and all of that, but this belief that like its championships are nothing just isn't based on what the reality of the school and the talent base and all that stuff is. And so that's why I think it sometimes gets confusing for people who are like, well, Michigan should be Ohio State. Ohio State, it's a different level of care. And so it's just different.
So Harbaugh's done a nice job, but you don't want to come out of this and be like, we lost to Michigan State, we lost Ohio State. So he's in a, it's a weird game. But that said, he's a big underdog. So there's a lot on this beyond just, oh my goodness, we can get to the Big Ten title and win and get to the playoff. There's a lot of; Harbaugh came back to settle family business and he hasn't settled any family business.