Allen Park — A year ago, Taylor Decker and Graham Glasgow were on opposite sidelines in one of the most intense rivalry in college sports.
On Thursday, the two will line up, side-by-side, with a shared goal to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford and open lanes for the Lions running backs as the team seeks to extend its NFC North lead over the Vikings.
The Lions drafted Decker in the first round out of Ohio State to fill their massive need at offensive tackle. Two rounds later, the team grabbed Glasgow, the versatile Michigan lineman, to provide depth at center and guard.
Decker slid into a starting job at left tackle immediately, while Glasgow fell into a reserve role. But when guard Laken Tomlinson’s performance slumped to start the season, the Lions made a switch, opting to roll with the two rookies on the left side.
The hatred that permeates the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry dissolved months before Decker and Glasgow landed in Detroit. The two were placed into the same grouping at the combine in February, along with Detroit’s fifth-round pick Joe Dahl, and immediately hit it off.
“Graham’s probably one of my favorite people that I met at the combine,” Decker said this offseason. “We just clicked.”
The bond has only continued to grow, to the point where the two decided to rent a place together.
“We just felt it was a good situation for us to live together,” Glasgow said. “We just felt we could be where we need to be and in your first year, it’s nice to have people around.”
The college rivalry rarely comes up in discussion, but when it does, it’s strictly playful banter.
“He’ll drop the TSUN bomb every once in a while, call me TSUN,” Glasgow said, referring to the acronym Ohio State uses to refer to Michigan, that school up north.
For now, it’s all business for Decker and Glasgow. The two are experiencing their first short week in the NFL, a cram session as the team prepares to battle the Vikings on three day’s rest. With so much at stake, no one has time to think about the upcoming showdown in Columbus between the No. 2 Buckeyes (10-1) and No. 3 Wolverines (10-1), a game that carries significant playoff implications.
But after Thursday, both players hope to travel to the game and cheer on their respective alma maters. They might even car pool, a thought that’s sure to make many fans on both sides cringe.
It will be an especially meaningful trip for Glasgow. His younger brother, Ryan, is a senior defensive tackle for the Wolverines and a key contributor on the nation’s best defense.
Ohio State’s defense isn’t far behind, ranking fifth, which could make for a low-scoring struggle.
Unlike many locker room squabbles over college superiority, Glasgow and Decker have no intention of placing a friendly wager on the game. But, obviously, both players expect their side to emerge victorious.
“I would never think we’d lose a game,” Decker said. “It’s a really talented group, they’re talented as well, so I’m sure it will be exciting.”
Glasgow was a little more specific.
“I think it will be a lot of defense,” he said. “I imagine it will be Michigan on top, with both teams in the high teens, low 20s.”
What’s clear is both would prefer a victory Thursday.
“We’re really focused on the Vikings,” Decker said. “That’s a lot more important that Saturday.”