At the time of this writing, the No. 4 Ohio State Buckeyes are on major upset alert - leading the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the third quarter by a score of 24-21.
Though most would expect Ohio State to pull away in the second half, it's clear that the Buckeyes still have some kinks to work out. In his debut for Ohio State, true freshman quarterback CJ Stroud has shown flashes of both greatness and inexperience - completing 11 of 19 attempts for 163 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception so far.
As nervousness grows among the Buckeye faithful back in Columbus, the folks in Ann Arbor are certainly enjoying the show - including reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year Hunter Dickinson. With the Buckeyes trailing early in the third, Dickinson fired off a tweet that quickly got the attention of both Michigan and Ohio State fans.
Sure, it's possible that Dickinson is talking about basketball - or volleyball, or soccer, or rugby, or tennis, or essentially any sport offered at the University of Michigan other than football. Regardless of Dickinson's intention behind the tweet, the timing of the message is certainly no accident.
When it comes to 'The Game', the 2021 season will officially mark 10 years since Michigan's last win over Ohio State (2011) - including the two worst losses in rivalry history (2018, 2019). The Wolverines are also currently in the midst of the rivalries longest losing streak since 1918, dating back to the very beginning of the rivalry when Ohio State went 0-13-2 from 1897-1918.
In an effort to restore the rivalry to its former glory, the Wolverines appear to have a renewed focus heading into the 2021 season - a focus that comes in the form a one simple question.
Weeks prior to Big Ten Media Days, a photo from within the Michigan Football weight room began circulating social media. Though the weight room itself is certainly impressive, it was a large image on the wall that instead captured the attention of fans - an image that simply said, "what are you doing today to beat Ohio State?"
The message also captured the attention of the media, leading those representing Michigan at Big Ten Media Days to field countless questions about Ohio State and the rivalry.
“Well, I’m here before you, enthusiastic and excited as I ever am, always am, even more to have at it, to win the championship, to beat Ohio and our rival Michigan State,” Harbaugh said during his opening speech at Big Ten Media Days. “That’s what we want to do, and we’re going to do it or die trying." Senior captain Aidan Hutchinson echoed the sentiments of his head coach when it comes to the Buckeyes.
"I'm 0-2 against Ohio State and we didn't play them last year, so it's going to be two years when we play them in November," said Hutchinson from the podium in Indy. "We prepare for Ohio State every single day. In the weight room, in the walk-through's - every day we've got one thing on our mind and that's Ohio State, and what are we going to do to beat them."
Having faced the Buckeyes twice in his career, Hutchinson says there's one moment in particular that has fueled his off-season preparation for Ohio State and the 2021 season.
"When you're working out and you're grinding out that last rep, when you think you can't go anymore, all I think of is 2019 sitting on that bench, being down two touchdowns and not being able to do a damn thing about it," said Hutchinson. "That allows me to do two or three more reps, something that I think I wasn't even capable of. So having Ohio State there in the back of my mind every day is something that drives me."