There was plenty to talk about up north this week as Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverine players met with the media to discuss the upcoming game against the Buckeyes.
Harbaugh and his players fielded questions about the lengthy losing streak against Ohio State, what it would mean to get a win on Saturday, claims that Michigan ducked the Buckeyes last year, and Ohio State's blowout win over Michigan State last week.
Here's what the Wolverines are saying ahead of Saturday's game.
- On guaranteeing a win 30 years ago: "I know some people like to get up and pontificate about a thing they did in the past and have a lot of long stories about that, but I’m not one of those kind of guys."
- On what he would do if a player guaranteed a win: "Again, I’m not a guy that likes to talk about things that happened 35 years ago. I know some do, but I’m not one of them.”
- On the game having high stakes, but also being a rivalry game: “It’s both, really, right? It’s both those things — both those teams have a lot on the line. It’s a true playoff in that sense. In the College Football Playoff world, this is the start of the playoffs. The team that wins will advance, the team that doesn’t won’t. It is that, it’s also the big game, The Game, the rivalry.”
- On not being able to play last year: “Obviously, there’s no need to hype it. The things we just talked about. It’s a playoff game, it’s a rivalry game. It’s at the highest level.”
- On this game's impact on the team's legacy: “It’s a huge opportunity in that regard. Whether it’s said or not said, it’s known.”
- On Michigan's "Beat Ohio" drill: “It’s a run drill. Run drill and a run-stopping drill. All runs, all runs are between the tackles. Physicality, emphasis, and emphasis on Ohio State and keeping them on our minds every day of practice.” Harbaugh says they began the drill in the spring.
- On Ohio State's defense: “Really athletic. The defensive front is long, athletic. Very physical. Really good at taking on blocks, defeating blocks, taking on blocks, condensing holes with their athleticism and length and their physicality. Blocking is gonna be at a paramount. It will be channeling Bo and Woody — blocking and tackling. The game will in large part come down to it.”
- On what stands out about Ohio State's receivers: "Just how good they are. How dynamic. Their route-running ability, their catching ability. Their speed to all parts of the field — horizontally, vertically. Really outstanding.”
- On how Michigan prepares differently for this game: “We prepare for it like it’s The Game. Everything I talked about earlier — the rivalry and it’s a playoff game. The winner gets to keep playing and the loser does not.”
- On the record vs. Ohio State factoring into the "Beat Ohio" drill: “Like I explained a couple times, this is a game you’ve gotta channel Bo, you’ve gotta channel the blocking and the tackling, sustaining blocks, getting off blocks and making tackles. Blocking and tackling.”
- On C.J. Stroud: “Yeah, phenomenal. C.J. is a fantastic player. He’s doing — we saw it in high school when he played. Knew he was gonna be really good and he’s bringing it all to life. Playing great."
- On his team's focus: “I see it in their eyes. I hear the power in their voices, I see the confidence in their eyes. I think we’re all feeding off of each other like that. When I look at them, it feels like I’m looking in the mirror. I see the same confidence in them that I’m feeling inside of me.”
- On what it would take to win: “We’re gonna have to play really good as a team — offensively, defensively, special teams,” Harbaugh said. “It’s gonna come down to individuals really knowing their role, staying in their role, starring in their role. Back to playing really good as a team. You play really good, you’ve got a chance to win the game. You don’t play really good, you have a really good chance to not to win the game.”
- On whether they saw the Ohio State vs. Michigan State score: “Yeah, a couple guys were talking about it in the locker room. Obviously, you want to ignore it, but it’s kinda staring at you right in the face,” Hutchinson told Jon Jansen on the ‘Inside Michigan Football’ radio show. “We were talking about it, we saw the score. But we know we’re at The Big House, this is a game of matchups; this is a game of execution. The better team is gonna come out on top.”
- On silencing the critics: “I think we’ve silenced the critics for the most part. We have this one final test against Ohio State. This is a team that we simply haven’t beaten in many years. It’s something that we have to get over. It starts on Saturday. Hopefully, we will go out there and get the win and break that streak.”
- On staying focused: "It’s important to keep the emotions out of it, just because you can get so wrapped up in the Big Ten Championship, beating Ohio State and ending the streak. You do get emotional and you do want it so bad and that makes you focus so much on just winning and the outcome. That’s one thing I’m gonna stress this week is staying unemotional and staying in the process and focus on just taking one play at a time.”
- On the chance to beat Ohio State: "I just want to walk off that field as a winner knowing I was on the team that beat Ohio State.”
Quarterback Cade McNamara
- On Ohio State blowing out Michigan State: “Overall, ever since the Michigan State game, we just made it an emphasis that we just have to win every game from now on. We were aware of the score prior to us taking the field against Maryland, but I didn’t pay attention a ton to the end of the game. But at some point, it looked like it was out of control.”
- On Michigan's Preparation: “Overall, our preparation this season has been great. We haven’t faced a team that has really fooled us. I know I can say the same thing about my preparation and I’m confident in my preparation. This week, obviously, there’s going to be a heightened level of focus, that’s just what comes with this game. It’s also a point of emphasis that we don’t have to do anything abnormal in this game — we just have to be Michigan.”
Linebacker Josh Ross
- On the belief that Michigan ducked Ohio State: “It’s B.S., to be honest with you. That’s the game we always have circled on our calendar, always want to play. And as a Michigan Wolverine, that’s a game you would die for. Honestly, B.S., and it honestly doesn’t matter. This year is what matters and now is what matters.”
- On not playing last year: “Not playing last year sucked, to be honest with you. It wasn’t good not playing last year. But at the end of the day, it’s now – the time is now. And last year is last year and all that’s over. It’s about right now.”
- On getting blown out the two previous games: “It definitely was frustration, for sure. We want to play that game – we always want to play that game. That’s a game that’s always circled on the calendar for us as players, as coaches, and as a program. But, at the end of the day, last year’s over, that’s done. And to be honest, as players, we’re tired of talking – we’re ready to just do it. We’re ready to have a great week of preparation going into this week – attack it, have great days leading to this game, and have a great game.”
- On the "Beat Ohio" drill: “That drill, the Beat Ohio Drill, we approach it the same every week, every day. It’s to go get it as if we’re playing Ohio State in that 9-on-7 drill. It means everything to us, we got the music going, we got the energy going. It’s exciting, we do it every single week. This game’s been a game we’ve circled on our calendar all year — from when the season ended last year, going into preparation, going into winter workouts, going into spring ball, going into the season.”