Bolden and Charlton discuss rooting for Ohio State to win out -- including a win over MSU -- to set up a shot for Big Ten championship game Angelique S. Chengelis


Ann Arbor — The Michigan players insist their focus is on the upcoming game at Indiana, and while no one doubts that, they must be keeping tabs of the Big Ten East possibilities.

With Michigan State’s loss at Nebraska last Saturday, the door opened a bit for Michigan (7-2, 4-1 Big Ten), who obviously needs to win at Indiana and then at Penn State, but must now hope for an Ohio State victory over Michigan State on Nov. 21 in Columbus.

That would set the stage for a Michigan-Ohio State regular-season finale at Michigan Stadium with the East Division title on the line and a shot at the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis. Michigan’s one Big Ten loss this season was to Michigan State.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was asked if this potential window of opportunity for the Wolverines in terms of the Big Ten championship game, is something he will address with this team.

“I’m sure they’re aware of that,” Harbaugh said. “If not, we’ll make them aware of it. I’m sure they are.”

But rooting for Ohio State? Really? Is that even possible?

“(The MSU loss) obviously helps us out, at the same time, not too worried about that,” Joe Bolden, the Michigan linebacker and co-captain and Ohio native, said on Monday at Michigan’s weekly news conference. “We’re worried about Indiana.

“Rooting for Ohio State is a very bad, I would say, not a very good phrase. Obviously, we want to get to the Big Ten championship and for them to win that game (against MSU) here in a couple weeks would be awesome, but at the same time, I don’t really care what happens there. All we care about is Saturday. We can’t get there without continuously winning. “

Defensive lineman Taco Charlton said the Wolverines needs to focus on themselves.

“We can’t control what Ohio State does and what Michigan State does on their side of the bargain,” Charlton said. “We just need control what we do, so we make sure we have to win to control our own destiny. Everything else we hope will take care of itself.

“But root for Ohio State? I don’t know if we can go that far with it.”

Bolden said he predicted the Michigan State loss to Nebraska based on a “feeling,” and offensive lineman Ben Braden said he and several of the other linemen watched that game with their parents.

“It was exciting,” Braden said. “I wasn’t cheering for anyone specific, no. Our parents were cheering (about the MSU loss), definitely. We were like, ‘That was a crazy ending, wow.’ Our parents were like, ‘Yay.’ Our parents get more into what’s going on with other teams. It was definitely a fun game to watch. Nebraska was battling hard, Michigan State was battling hard, it was going back and forth and those are fun games to watch.”

Tailback De’Veon Smith, also a native Ohioan, steered clear of any questions about becoming a temporary Ohio State fan.

“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know,” Smith said, laughing as he spoke. “Our focus is on Indiana.”

Bolden operates using a different theory, though.

He played high school football with Dylan Coombs, the son of OSU cornerbacks/special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs, and has deep respect for the family.

“I want nothing best for the Coombs family. I love them,” Bolden said, smiling. “I want the best for that guy (Kerry Coombs). He’s a very intense dude. I I want the best for him until the last Saturday in November.

“I support Coach Coombs. That’s my loophole. If you ask me, no (rooting for) Ohio State by any means, but Coach Coombs I support and I love. Since my freshman year, after each game, just hugged him, told him I’m proud of him, he tells me he’s proud of me and life goes on.”