While John O’Korn will be making his first start of the season at quarterback for Michigan when the seventh-ranked Wolverines face Michigan State on Saturday, the game is no bigger for him than any of the Wolverines.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was asked Tuesday on the Big Ten call about this Michigan-Michigan State game being the biggest of O’Korn’s career.
“Just like everybody on the team, we’re all going into this (that it) will be the biggest game in a lot of our careers,” Harbaugh said. “That’s where it starts. Fully understanding the preparation. Feel like that’s the best way to have a mental edge, especially for a quarterback to know what his assignments are and what the other assignments are for the teammates on offense. As well as knowing the best you can what you’re being presented by a defense.”
Wilton Speight, the starting quarterback since last season, suffered an injury in the Big Ten opener at Purdue that will sideline him for several games, Harbaugh said Monday, and O’Korn is now the starter with Brandon Peters backing him up.
Speight was injured late in the first quarter against Purdue and O’Korn came in and led the Wolverines on four touchdown-scoring drives for the 28-10 victory. This will be O’Korn’s second start at Michigan, having started against Indiana last season when Speight was injured.
“I like the way John sees the field,” Harbaugh said on the Big Ten call. “I like the way he has the command of the offense to get the ball to the appropriate receiver, whether that be wide receiver, tight end or eligible back.”
Michigan is 4-0, 1-0 Big Ten, while Michigan State is 3-1, 1-0. The two will meet for the first time in the series under the lights.
“To us, it’s huge. To Michigan State it’s huge,” Harbaugh said Monday night on the “Inside Michigan Football” radio show. “For those in it and competing for it, it’s a huge rivalry. It’s a huge game. It’s a great trophy and you have two teams that want to win. They want to compete. They want to earn it. They want to take that trophy home.”
The Wolverines say that while this is a big rivalry game, it does not count more than the others.
“We’re going to treat this like it’s every other game. Each week, the next game is the biggest game,” kicker Quinn Nordin said on the radio show. “We’re going to take it that way. I’m excited, an in-state kid getting to play Michigan State, but it’s just another game. But it’s an important one.”