ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In Week 9, we’ll finally get to separate who the true contender to Ohio State might be in the Big Ten. Though the Buckeyes take on Penn State in a prime time game, with the Nittany Lions losing to unranked Illinois, all eyes will be on the battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy between Michigan and rival Michigan State.
The Wolverines took care of business on Saturday against Northwestern to improve to 7-0, ensuring a battle of the unbeatens in East Lansing. But don’t expect any crazy hyperbole coming out of the Michigan side of the rivalry, because the way this maize and blue team sees it, MSU is just the next battle they must endure.
“Personally, on behalf of the defense, we always preach nameless, faceless opponents,” edge rusher David Ojabo said. “So we’re just gonna go out there, execute, and do what we’ve gotta do. We can’t start weighing games or whatever. We’ve just gotta go out there and do our job, the rest will take care of itself.”
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What about how the game transpired last year, though? Michigan was a heavy favorite at home, yet the Wolverines struggled in all phases, giving MSU head coach Mel Tucker his first win, both over the Spartans’ rival, as well as his first as the Michigan State head coach.
This Michigan team isn’t looking back, however. Though it admits that the time to focus on MSU starts right now, they’re not making it into some sort of revenge game — like, perhaps, the 2018 team did with its ‘revenge tour.’
“Last year was last year,” running back Blake Corum said. “This is a new year, so we’re just focused on us right now. Like I said, we’ll get ready tomorrow, get ready the whole week. Come out next Saturday — rolling.”
“Yeah, we don’t really dwell on the past,” safety Daxton Hill added. “We’re just focused on what we can control right now and that’s Michigan State next week.”
For Michigan, it’s less about what MSU does, and more about executing its own plan. And it matters less about what happened in 2020.
“Yeah, you see what we’re doing this year, so it makes us — it’s just fuel to our fire to just go back out there and do what we do,” Ojabo said. “Do what we do, but we can’t dwell on the past, mentally. Just gotta keep going, keep looking forward.”
Though Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara continues to draw criticism from fans and media, alike, despite him executing what’s asked by the coaching staff, he had a simple response when asked about the game.
“Yeah, we’re excited and we’re confident.”
Michigan and MSU will kick off at Spartan Stadium on Oct. 30 at noon EDT. The game will be nationally televised on Fox.