This is the week that Michigan fans and Ohio State fans think about for a better part of the year, the final week in November.
While the annual matchup between Michigan and Ohio State usually provides plenty of intrigue regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, this year's edition carries a lot of significance for several reasons. A divisional championship, a trip to the conference championship game, a trip to the college football playoff, and even a potential trip to New York for the Heisman trophy ceremony are all on the table when No. 3 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State meet on Saturday.
For Michigan, the preparation for 'The Game' began as far back as January.
"Every day since January on, we always have them in the back of our mind," said offensive lineman Ryan Hayes. "Everything we're doing is about them. It's about winning this game at the end of the season. So I think it just starts from January on. Always have them in the back of our heads. Do periods with them. We watch their film pretty much weekly. So just start with that."
For head coach Jim Harbaugh, keeping an eye on Ohio State and planning for this moment has been something he's done all year.
"Keeping track of them," Harbaugh said on Monday. "There's things we do in practice to prepare for them. We know Ohio State is our toughest, toughest competition. This will be our toughest test to date. I think they're a really good team, improved team. It's a tremendous team. We're very grateful to be in this position, to be playing in this game. Winner takes the East. Winner takes all right there."
More specifically, the Wolverines spend time each week working on the 'Beat Ohio' drill - a drill specifically named by head coach Jim Harbaugh himself. Prior to the game in 2021, offensive lineman Trevor Keegan provided a bit of insight into what happens during the drill.
"Years prior we've called it nine on seven - which is what the drill is - but this year we've changed it to the 'Beat Ohio Drill,' said offensive lineman Trevor Keegan. "We're blasting music, ya know...smelling salts, everything. It's a pretty physical period, we love it."
On Monday, Mike Sainristil (veteran wide receiver turned defensive back) confirmed the drill is still very much a part of weekly practice.
The ‘beat Ohio’ period, pretty sure you guys were introduced to that last year by coach. We still we still do that. And then just film on them, just who they are. They're good in the run game this year. So we're also getting run defense. But it's just gonna be two good teams going at it.
No. 3 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State are set to kickoff from Columbus at noon on FOX.