It's hard to imagine any player - whether it be on Michigan's side or Ohio State's side - not taking the rivalry between the Wolverines and Buckeyes seriously. It's even harder to imagine that a player would admit that they were unprepared for what is arguably the biggest rivalry in all of sports, but that's exactly what Buckeyes receiver Emeka Egbuka admitted to on Wednesday.
“I was absolutely not prepared at all,” Egbuka said. “I didn’t really know what it meant until I played in it. I probably still wouldn’t know unless we lost last year, and we did. We got into a lull (by) beating them every year. We got into last year expecting the same. That was a wake-up call for us. Now the rivalry’s back full force, so we’re ready to take them on.”
In other words, Ohio State lost because they weren't prepared and didn't take Michigan seriously. Not exactly the best look for Egbuka, head coach Ryan Day, or the Ohio State Football program in general.
Of course, it's not the only excuse that the Buckeye's could come up with for that loss to Michigan in 2021. During his postgame press conference, quarterback CJ Stroud blamed Ohio State's lackluster performance on the flu and "things like that."
"Everybody kind of having the flu, and things like that...of course I don't make excuses but you kind of got to take that into consideration," Stroud said. "It kind of does matter."
Ironically, it wasn't all that long ago that Ohio State was singing a completely different tune. Following a dominant 56-27 win over Michigan back in 2019, former Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields said the exact opposite during his postgame press conference.
"I just think we take it more serious than they do,” Fields said. “We prepare for it all year. We’re preparing for them next year right now. I think it just means more at Ohio State.”
There's certainly no room for excuses this time around, particularly when considering all that is at stake when No. 3 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State meet on Saturday. A divisional title, a trip to Indy for the Big Ten Championship game, a spot in the College Football Playoff, and even a trip to New York for the Heisman trophy ceremony are all in play for this year's edition of 'The Game'.
Whether it's sickness, injury, mindset or the weather - there will be no excuses when the clock hits zero this Saturday. One way or another, the better team will win.