Following Ohio State’s 56-27 win at Michigan in 2019, former quarterback Justin Fields was asked why he believes the Buckeyes have won 16 of their last 18 games against the Wolverines.
"I just think we take it more seriously 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. That's pretty much, I think, the bigger reason why we have more success than they do.”
The statement shouldn’t come as a surprise, given Ohio State has a clock inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center that counts down to The Game and even dedicates a period of each practice and offseason workouts to beating Michigan. The Buckeyes also refuse to call the Wolverines anything other than “that team up north,” a phrase coined by legendary head coach Woody Hayes.
“This game means everything to us,” current head coach Ryan Day said ahead of the 2019 meeting in Ann Arbor. “Nothing matters if we don't win this game.”
On the flip side, some question how important the rivalry is to Michigan, which has lost eight straight games in the series. That view was only reinforced when head coach Jim Harbaugh left beating the Buckeyes out of his top 10 goals for 2021 during an appearance at the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association clinic earlier this year.
However, it appears the Wolverines are finally starting to put more emphasis on the rivalry, as a graphic that says, “What are you doing to beat Ohio State today?” showed up on the video board inside their weight room this week.
We’ll find out in 172 days – when Ohio State travels to Michigan for their Nov. 27 meeting – whether or not the small motivational tactic works.
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