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Michigan, OSU meet Saturday

November 25, 2011
Times Leader

Borrowing a familiar expression from Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, the Wolverines are down to just one more guaranteed game this season.

And it's a big one.

Saturday's meeting between Michigan and Ohio State will be the108th in the long-time rivalry.

The Wolverines hold a 57-44-6 advantage in the all-time series but have lost nine of the last 10, including seven in a row.

Hoke doesn't need to remind his players that it's been a while since a Michigan win. To do so, he says, would be an insult to their intelligence.

He also doesn't need to remind his team of the significance of this game, its history and tradition or that records go straight out the window every time these two teams meet.

"That's what makes it such a great game," said Hoke, "because of how both teams will come in prepared, how both teams will play. It's a hard-hitting, clean football game. Always has been. You can be the favorite and the underdog, but none of that matters in this football game. It never does. It's special because of the pride that both teams have."

Michigan played its most complete football game of the season last Saturday (Nov. 19) against Nebraska, dominating time of possession while excelling in all three phases.

But depending on which Wolverines player or coach you talk to, the victory celebration lasted mere minutes or hours before the focus moved on to the Buckeyes.

"We have goals in front of us that we want to accomplish," said fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen, "that we set out to accomplish a long time ago at the beginning of the season back in January, and in the offseason we set goals. We're just trying to get there and that's what we're focused on."

"We had a great day yesterday as far as putting that game to bed and moving forward," said Hoke.

"This is a special week, because you play in the greatest rivalry there is in sport. When you get the chance to play or coach in this game, it's always a fun week. So, we've got a lot of work to do, because we're not where we need to be in any sense as far as the team that we envision ourselves being and we expect to be."

The coaches have made a point to be consistent in their approach this week. Regardless of the opponent, they will always preach the same expectations in practice, in film study and in the Wolverines' preparation. The week has gotten off to a strong start, said Hoke, who feels that Michigan has done a good job of staying grounded and focused on "things that matter."

He credits the senior class for setting the tone.

"The seniors always are out in the forefront," said Hoke.

"This is a group of guys who have been through a lot. They've hung together well and done a nice job of preparing weekly. Not just preparing themselves, but they're preparing their teammates. So, they've got to keep that up and be consistent in what we do and how we prepare.

"We've been intense pretty much all year in how we practice. I know one thing from being here before for eight years: You don't have to do a whole lot of coaching this week. You don't have to do a whole lot of butt chewing and getting a guy to run to the ball or take on a block. Not this week. "



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