Five ways Michigan week is different for Ohio State

Intensity increases for one of the biggest rivalries in sports

Maize and blue mixed with scarlet and gray Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. That meant one thing: Michigan week for the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Members of the scout team will wear the Wolverines’ colors all week in preparation for the regular-season finale at noon Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“You see those ugly colors, and you might want to hit them a little bit more,” Ohio State linebacker Chris Worley said.

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“You don’t want to be a part of that,” wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “It’s kind of two-headed. You don’t like wearing those colors. At the same time, if you do your job, you can prepare the defense for the looks they’re going to get on Saturday.”

That’s one way Michigan week is different than every other week for No. 9 Ohio State. Here are four others:

1. Increased intensity: Most coaches take pains to paint every game with the same brush. Every game is important. No one game means more than any other.

You won’t hear Ohio State’s Urban Meyer saying that about this game. He has made it clear for years this is the most important game on the schedule.

“You hit a little bit harder,” Ohio State defensive end Jalyn Holmes said. “You run a little faster. You play a little more aggressively. It’s one of those games where you’ve got to come tough and you’ve got to come prepared. No matter what the record is, both teams are going to come and play like it’s their last.”

2. Musical choices: “It’s Time For War,” a song by rapper LL Cool J, blasts from speakers at Ohio State’s practice facility all week. How many times do the players hear it?

“Infinity,” Holmes said.

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The song plays when they’re eating lunch, McLaurin said, and when they’re having meetings. He hears the echoes in his mind when he’s walking home at night. It gets annoying, he said, but it also triggers something for all the players.

“It kind of locks you in,” McLaurin said. “As soon as you walk into this building, you’ll hear that music and it’s time for that big game.”

3. World choice: Meyer trains the players well to not say the word “Michigan.” It’s always “That Team Up North.” Reporters mentioned “Michigan” nine times in the Monday press conference with Meyer. He never used the word.

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That part of the rivalry has become such a tradition that the letter “M” was crossed out on signs across campus this week. Hybrid back Parris Campbell said you won’t see the letter even in past photos of the game posted on the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. He doesn’t even know what the repercussions are if someone slips and says Michigan because it doesn’t happen.

“You learn from day one,” Campbell said. “It’s the Team Up North. That’s just what it is.”

4. Special prize: Ohio State players who beat Michigan earn pins in the shape of gold pants. The fifth-year seniors on the roster this year could earn their fifth pin. They don’t know what it feels like to lose to Michigan, though they have talked to past Buckeyes about that feeling.

Former defensive coordinator Luke Fickell talked about it in previous seasons, Holmes said.

“I don’t want to have that feeling at all,” Holmes said. “That’s one of my top fears in life: losing to them. I’m going to do my best to not have that happen.”

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