The upcoming game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes is probably the most anticipated game in the NCAA. For this year, aside from the two teams' traditional rivalry, the outcome of the upcoming game will also determine the playoff fate of these squads.
The game between these two giants is scheduled on Nov. 26 but the tension can already be felt in each squad's locker room. In Ohio State, coach Woody Hayes has already covered Michigan's name with "The Team Up North" moniker just so he and his players will not be able to see their rival's name.
"We don't like them, and they don't like us," quarterback J.T. Barrett said in a statement. "We don't say that M word."
"We approach it as it's 'The Team Up North' week, so that already has its own standard and level of expectation," he added. "So as far as us being ranked in the top five, both teams, I don't think that's changed it."
Right now, both the Wolverines and the Buckeyes have an identical record of 10-1. Both are looking to change that on Saturday. The winner will most likely be able to cement its place in this season's playoffs.
But, despite what's at stake in the upcoming matchup, both teams are more focused on maintaining their ground in the rivalry. For them, the upcoming game is not just about maintaining the better record but defeating the other team.
"When we play it's always going to be a battle," Buckeye linebacker Chris Worley said. "You can take the records and throw them out, you can take the seasons and throw them out, honestly. It's all about one thing - just beat 'The Team Up North.'"
The same sentiments regarding the game can be felt in Michigan. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh is looking at the match as a championship game between the two squads.
"This will be a big challenge, and we look forward to it," he said according to UPI. "It's the big game - the championship game."
"They're a great team but I don't think there's things they do over the top that's going to be things we can't handle," linebacker Jabrill Peppers added.