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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wolverines have chance to turn the page with win over 'Ohio'

Coming off an era of Michigan football that was so turbulent it warranted a book titled "Three and Out" to tell the story, the Wolverines now have a chance to officially start a new chapter of Michigan football. That chance is Saturday, the last in November, at high noon against the school Michigan coach Brady Hoke still won't mention by name.
"Beat Ohio," is all he really has to say.
That's been Hoke's message to his team since his first day back in Ann Arbor. It's almost fitting that Hoke refers to the school simply by the name of its state. The state that the Wolverines, and practically everyone else in our state -- whether maize and blue, green and white or somewhere in between -- universally despises.
We hate its cops. Hate its toll roads. Hate its cities. And for Michigan fans, that hate is compounded by not beating the Ohio State Buckeyes since 2003. Seven straight losses, most of which weren't even close.
Saturday, at home in the Big House, Michigan will be favored against the Buckeyes for the first time since 2004 (Wolverines are a 7.5 point favorites as of Tuesday).
The countdown clocks installed at Al Glick Field House have been running all season.
"Beat Ohio." The. Most. Important. Game. On. The. Schedule.
A win Saturday would give Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson something other, less-criticized pro-style quarterbacks such as Chade Henne and John Navarre never got. Robinson is coming off his most impressive game, given the circumstances, of his career with what he did against Nebraksa (11-for-18 180 yards, 2 TDs; 23 carries, 83 yards 2 TDs) this past weekend, earning him co-offensive player of the week honors. Saturday could become his best moment as a Wolverine -- a chance to end the losing streak, finish with 10 wins and potentially earn a bid to a BCS bowl.
"Beat Ohio," the capacity crowd at the Big House chanted as the Nebraska game came to an end.
At Tuesday's press conference, Hoke reiterated that the Wolverines have great respect for "that team" and "that school."
Respect is one thing, after all Hoke is a Kettering, Ohio native. But this game, this year, means as much as it ever has to Michigan. Because of the circumstances, it equals the stakes of the No. 1 vs. No 2. battle of 2006. It's a chance for Michigan, as a program, to move forward while at the same time stomp on its most hated rival while its down.
A loss Saturday derails what's been a joyride of a comeback season for Michigan. It's not only a must-win, it's a game in which the Wolverines need to make a statement.
It's the most important game on the schedule. It's not just the Wolverines vs. the Buckeyes. It's Michigan vs. Ohio.

Here's some other Wolverine news from around the web:
Win over Nebraska was signature moment for surprisingly fast-improving program -- The Oakland Press

Michigan coach Brady Hoke can't wait for Ohio State game -- The Detroit Free Press

The Game overshadows Michigan's win over Nebraska -- The Michigan Daily

Why Michigan will be too hyped following win over Nebraska
-- The Bleacher Report

Michigan starving for win over Ohio State -- Ann


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