Ann Arbor — There is a daily reminder of Ohio State inside the Michigan football building, Schembechler Hall, named for legendary coach Bo Schembechler who every practice threw in something that ultimately was preparation for the Buckeyes.
Now, inside Schembechler Hall there are digital countdown clocks to the Ohio State game and a sign indicating how many days since the last Michigan victory over their rivals. Inside the weight room, in large red lettering high on a wall it reads: Beat Ohio, a message carried over onto the weight machines.
"Unless you've coached in it and played in it, sometimes it's hard to explain," coach Brady Hoke said Wednesday. "The intensity of this game is like no other you'll play."
Michigan is 5-6 and needs to upset Ohio State to become bowl eligible. But the Buckeyes are 20-point favorites and have won nine of the last 10 meetings in the series. Michigan also has not won in Ohio Stadium since 2000.
Hoke said the Wolverines don't do something every day in practice to prepare for the regular-season finale against the Buckeyes, but "The Game" is always on their minds.
"We talk about it," he said. "It's visually up here in this building all the time (with the clocks and other mentions). We talk about it weekly, if not daily, about the rivalry and the extent of it."
Senior linebacker Jake Ryan grew up in the Cleveland area and said when he was a freshman he didn't understand the impact of the game until he participated.
"Playing in the game gave you that sense of, 'Wow, this is actually happening and this is the biggest rivalry ever.' " Ryan said. "It's great to be a part of. It's crazy to be a part of because you grow up hearing about it all the time. It's a great rivalry, hard-fought, very tough."
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has a 2-0 record against Hoke-coached Michigan teams. When asked to describe his relationship with Meyer, Hoke called it "professional."
Meyer, who has led Ohio State to the Big Ten East Division title this season and a spot in the Big Ten championship, needs a victory to keep the Buckeyes alive in the national playoff discussion.
Hoke, with so much speculation surrounding the program regarding his job status, wants to prove that last season's 42-41 loss was not a fluke.
"We both always have something a little different for each other in this game from a systematic approach," Hoke said. "Like any other game, you want to make sure you cover all your bases."
Michigan at Ohio State
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Ohio Stadium, Columbus
Records: Michigan 5-6 (3-4 Big Ten), No. 7 Ohio State 10-1 (7-0)
Line: Ohio State by 20
Series: Michigan leads, 58-45-6 (Ohio State 42-41 in 2013)
Did you know? The teams have played every year since 1918, the 10th-longest uninterrupted series in Division I.