You’ve gotten used to it. Everyone has.
Unless you’re at least 87 years old, Ohio State and Michigan have played what’s commonly referred to as the best rivalry in college football in November every year of your existence on the planet Earth. For the last 78 years, it has been played as the last game on both teams’ respective regular-season schedules, sometimes acting as a de-facto play-in for the Big Ten championship and always drawing the eyes of millions around the country.
This season, however, with the Big Ten expected to release the 2020 football schedule in the near future, discussions about whether The Game will be moved up earlier in the schedule have circulated. The idea of bumping it up – which has been reported by the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein and Columbus Dispatch’s Bill Rabinowitz – generally stems from the idea of wanting to ensure it gets played in case coronavirus concerns shut the season down early.
Count starting quarterback Justin Fields among those who don’t care whether it has to get played in August, September, October or November.
“To be honest, I don't really care when we play The Team Up North,” Fields said on Tuesday afternoon. “I just want to play them and, my answer is simple, really just beat the brakes off them, for real. That's all I have to say.”
Wyatt Davis, a second-year starting right guard who earned first-team All-American honors last year, agrees with the signal-caller.
“I'm right there with Justin,” Davis said. “It doesn't really matter to me when we play them. Obviously, like Josh was saying, the tradition of that game is very important to us. But it doesn't matter. If it's the first game on the season, so be it. We're going to beat the brakes off them.”
Beating Michigan is one of the Buckeyes’ stated goals – along with a conference title, College Football Playoff berth and national championship – which Fields reiterated on Tuesday. As a Georgia native who didn’t grow up with strong ties to the Buckeyes, Fields has developed his disdain for the Wolverines over the past year-and-a-half.
A lifelong Ohio State fan from Miamisburg living out his dream as the team’s starting center, Josh Myers didn’t have to go through that process. He’s been watching the rivalry game throughout his life. Asked about his thoughts on it being moved, Myers wasn’t as gung-ho as his teammates.
He did, however, ultimately jump on their bandwagon.
“That’s a tough question. With the uncertainty of the season, right now I'm more concerned about playing (Michigan) at all, in general,” Myers said. “I don't know if that necessarily came out right because I think we will play them, regardless of where they are on the schedule. But I'm less concerned with it not, given the circumstances. Of course, given the tradition of the game, I would love for it to be the last game of the season. I'd also love to have a normal college football schedule, too. I'd love to play at Oregon. So there are a lot of things that are different about this year. I think letting that go for now and accepting the situation as it is, just being ready to play any day.”
Typically, that day is in November. That’s been the case as long as every current player or coach representing either team have been alive.
But this year could spell change. Not that Jonathon Cooper cares.
“Not at all – that day does not matter,” Cooper said. “Just the Team Up North, as long as we get to play them.”
And, presumably, beat them.