COLUMBUS — Denzel Burke did not guarantee victory for Ohio State over Michigan this week.
He came kind of close, though.
“The last two years I’ve really got a different whole perspective, and we’ve got a different mentality coming into this game,” the junior cornerback said.
“The history, the past couple years. The bad brawls, the respect for the coaches. Just doing it for the city of Columbus. It’s important here, and we’re gonna get it done.”
Burke was the last Ohio State player to meet with reporters Tuesday, the only day players will be available for interviews prior to the 119th edition of The Game, which pits second-ranked Ohio State against third-ranked Michigan in a contest that will decide the last champion of the Big Ten East Division.
He was also the one who seemed to be feeling the pain of the Buckeyes’ back-to-back losses to the Wolverines most deeply, at least during his time at the mic.
“I’m very emotional,” Burke said. “I’m trying not to get out of character, but this game means a lot for us, and we’re gonna get it done for the state of Ohio.”
Of course, guarantees of victory are nothing new in rivalry games, and Ohio State-Michigan is no different.
Perhaps the most famous was issued in 1986 by Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who is now the head coach in Ann Arbor.
With the Big Ten championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl on the line, the Wolverines followed through, sneaking out of Ohio Stadium with a 26-24 win after the Buckeyes missed a field goal late in the fourth quarter.
That was the margin between goat and hero for Harbaugh, who wore the laurel of hero that day but is currently serving a three-game suspension as the program is under investigation for illegally performing advance scouting of opponents and recording their play signals.
How Burke is remembered remains to be seen, something that is true of a large group of veteran Ohio State players still looking for their first win in the rivalry.
A junior from Phoenix, Ariz., Burke is part of a group of juniors looking to avoid going 0-3 against the Wolverines, something no Ohio State class has experienced in more than two decades.
As a candidate to enter the NFL Draft next year, Burke might not get another shot — something he seemed well aware of Tuesday.
“This game is really just about respect for us, especially my class,” he said. “The last two years, we haven’t gotten it done. No gold pants (jewelry charms that go to Ohio State players who beat Michigan), so we just gotta go out there and just be us.”
Emotion figures to be a key topic call week for the Buckeyes.
It was the first thing head coach Ryan Day talked about Tuesday when he had his time with the media.
“You have to play with emotion — you can’t let emotion play with you,” said Day, who is 1-2 as a head coach in the rivalry. “I think that’s important. You have to have your emotions in check, which isn’t easy in a game like this because as we all know the magnitude of it all, but it’s something that we identified in the offseason so they will talk about it this week.”
Ohio State at Michigan, Noon, Fox, 1410