ANN ARBOR, MICH. - As soon as Saturday's 20-10 win over Indiana concluded, Michigan's football players were already thinking ahead.
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Michigan in Columbus, high noon Nov. 26, with the college football world watching. One team would likely cement its spot in the College Football Playoff and, with a win, Michigan could advance to the Big Ten title game.
But the game may be about something more raw than that. The end of the season battle that's always fierce, regardless of the stakes.
"I just know it's going to be a battle," said U-M safety Dymonte Thomas, from Alliance, Ohio. "The way I look at it is it's going to be like two kids, meeting in an alley, fighting it out. The winner is going to take it all. That's the way. I look at it, the way we're going to look at it and it's going to be a brawl, it's going to be something fun, it;'s going to be something exciting.
"And it's going to be something special."
A win may be more special for the Wolverines because they don't know that feeling.
The last Michigan team to beat the Buckeyes was in 2011, at Michigan Stadium, the year between legendary coaches Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer.
The last time Michigan won in Columbus at Ohio Stadium? 2000, led by quarterback Drew Henson.
So this is foreign territory for the Wolverines, not having to play spoiler and instead playing for something of their own.
When asked what they remember about last year's Ohio State game, a 42-13 drubbing, the only game all season they didn't have a chance in the fourth quarter, it was a simple response from Warren, Ohio, native De'Veon Smith.
"We lost," he said. "Ditto," Jabrill Peppers added.
Every player has his own motivation. but they all understand the importance on many levels.
"With it all of it on the line, you're always ready for the game anyways but with how much we have riding on this game, we'll prepare really hard and get after it," nose tackle Ryan Glasgow said.
Thomas understands the legacy moment that awaits.
"I can't wait to play with the guys I came in with, I can't wait to play for coach (Jim) Harbaugh and I can't wait to go after them," Thomas said.
Detroit Free Press