Michigan quickly turns attention to Ohio State: 'We're ready for next week'
Bloomington, Ind. — Michigan had just earned its ninth victory of the season, but the focus turned elsewhere.
After a satisfying 39-14 victory over Indiana at Memorial Stadium, some Wolverines said they would enjoy the win for a few hours, but defensive end Aidan Hutchinson said Ohio State was already on their minds.
Michigan (9-2, 6-2 Big Ten) plays unbeaten rival Ohio State next Saturday at Michigan Stadium. The Buckeyes have already clinched the Big Ten East Division title and will play for the conference title with a shot at the national playoff. Ohio State has won seven straight against Michigan and 14 of the last 15 in the series.
“We were all in the locker room, (and) no one was even talking about this game,” Hutchinson said. “We’re all ready for next week.”
Quarterback Shea Patterson has thrown for 750 yards and nine touchdowns the last two weeks. He returned for another season in large part for another shot at the Buckeyes, who pounded Michigan, 62-39, last season.
“I just thought to myself there’s no way in hell I’m leaving this place on that note,” Patterson told The Detroit News last December when he revealed he would return to Michigan. “I think one of the biggest things that impacted me coming back — one of the them — was that last game in Columbus.”
After the win over Indiana, which was the Wolverines’ fourth straight and seventh of the last eight, Patterson always has an even-keeled approach and maintained that when asked about Ohio State.
“We understand the level of intensity this game brings,” Patterson said. “Everything we do leading up to this game next week is already planned throughout the season. Just Ohio State, the word Ohio State in itself, is enough for us.”
Ohio State coach Ryan Day was asked after the Buckeyes’ victory over Penn State on Saturday his philosophy on Michigan. He reiterated what he said in July at Big Ten media days.
“We live it every day,” Day told reporters. “The team up north is something that we talk about every single day. And the best way to respect a rivalry is to work it every day, and we do.
“We’re going to enjoy this (win over Penn State). This was a hard-fought win, a top-10 team, really well-coached, but we quickly transition to that rivalry game, which means everything to us.”
Michigan fans at Memorial Stadium started the “Beat Ohio” chant late in the game.
“That’s something that’s really cool to listen to and watch,” left tackle Jon Runyan said. “We were still kind of on the field when that was going on. I’m proud of my teammates. Wins in college football are hard to come by. I’m going to enjoy this one until midnight then we’ll get on to next week.
“We know what we’ve got ahead of us and looking forward to getting back to work.”
The players know what the upcoming game means. Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is winless in four tries. The Wolverines haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since 2011 under Brady Hoke when Luke Fickell was Ohio State’s interim head coach.
“Obviously this game is the biggest of our schedule and we’re going to come out there and do our thing,” Hutchinson said. “We don’t see them as unbeatable. Every team can be beat, and we’re gonna go out there and just do our job.”