Michigan-Ohio State: ‘Would You Die To Be A Part Of It?’

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The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry has boundaries. State lines are an integral part of how it all started in 1897 and what it’s all about.

But there are also no boundaries. Michigan senior wide receiver Mike Sainristil was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and grew up in Everett, Mass., but he found out about The Game. Today it pits the No. 2 Buckeyes (11-0) versus the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (11-0) in the game of the year so far.

“It’s an opportunity that people grow up literally wishing, and would die, to be a part of,” Sainristil said. “Little kids grow up in this rivalry.”

RELATED: MICHIGAN IS X-ICHIGAN FOR OHIO STATE

The winner takes the Big Ten East, but more importantly, is assured of staying in the top three of the College Football Playoff rankings going into the Big Ten championship game next week. It is another Game of the Century.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy will play against Ohio State for the first time in his career as the starter Saturday. (Getty Images)

Michigan sophomore starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy is from La Grange Park, Ill.

“I always watched it as a kid – just from the notoriety of it,” he said.

In other words, it beats the hell out of the Illinois-Northwestern rivalry.

“From the get-go, just watching it, you felt the energy as you were tuning in,” McCarthy said.

Michigan-Ohio State QB Duel: J.J. McCarthy Vs. C.J. Stroud

McCarthy won the starting job early this season and has been solid. He is No. 26 in the nation in efficiency on 165-of-247 passing for 1,952 yards and 14 touchdowns with two interceptions. McCarthy will start his first Michigan-Ohio State game after directing the game-winning drive last week for a 19-17 win over Illinois on a 35-yard field goal with :09 left.

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud leads the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 183.3. (Photo by Gaelen Morse/Getty Images)

His competition? Only Heisman Trophy favorite quarterback C.J. Stroud, who is No. 1 in the nation in passing efficiency at 183.3 on 204-of-307 passing for 2,991 yards and 35 touchdowns against four interceptions. But McCarthy has it, former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh, who is now Michigan’s head coach, said in describing a critical play last week.

MICHIGAN-OHIO STATE: A WAR OF WORDS

“Talk about turning water to wine,” he said. “I made that comment in the summer that he had that ability. Drops the snap, goes down on a knee, has the presence before the touches the ball to lift his knee off the ground, picks it up, gets out of the pocket, picks up a critical first down. He’s got it.”

Michigan Wolverine RB Blake Corum Probable For Game

So does Michigan junior tailback Blake Corum, another out-of-stater who is from Marshall, Virginia, and played in high school in Baltimore. Another Heisman candidate, Corum is No. 3 in the nation in rushing with 1,457 yards on 245 carries and 18 touchdowns. He injured his left knee late in the second quarter against Illinois, but still gained 108 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown and two catches for 39 yards.

Corum is considered probable for the game after gaining 100 yards or more in eight straight games.

Players with injuries tend to heal miraculously in the days leading up to this game.

“Anybody who’s on the fringe, they’re going to do everything they can to play,” Harbaugh said.

After all, both camps say each prepares for this game in some way virtually every day of the year leading up to game day. There is no “one game at a time” BS from coaches and players before this one.

Michigan-Ohio State: Not ‘One Game At A Time’

“We do something on this game every day. All the building every day is to get right here,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said.

“Keeping track of them,” Harbaugh said. “There are things we do in each practice to prepare for them. We know Ohio State’s our toughest competition. This will be our toughest test to date.”

Michigan routinely has individual portions of practice for Ohio State.

“We watch their film in meetings throughout the year, and we have periods for them throughout the entire year,” senior offensive tackle Ryan Hayes of Traverse City, Michigan, said.

“The preparation never stops. That’s the mantra we go by,” senior defensive tackle Mazi Smith of Grand Rapids, Michigan, said.

“Yes, we have other opponents during the season,” Sainristil said. “But in the back of our minds, we know who’s at the end of the road.”

College Football Saturday Predictions

No. 3 Michigan (11-0) at No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 8-point favorite), Noon, FOX … Ohio State 34, Michigan 28.

Georgia Tech (5-6) at No. 1 Georgia (11-0, 36-point favorite), 1 p.m., ESPN … Georgia 38, Georgia Tech 3.

South Carolina (7-4) at No. 8 Clemson (10-1, 14.5-point favorite), Noon, ABC … Clemson 24, South Carolina 21.

No. 9 Oregon (9-2, 2.5-point favorite) at No. 21 Oregon State (8-3), 3:30 p.m., ABC … Oregon State 34, Oregon 31.

Auburn (5-6) at No. 7 Alabama (9-2, 22.5-point favorite), 3:30 p.m., CBS … Alabama 27, Auburn 21.

No. 25 Louisville (7-4) at Kentucky (6-5, 3-point favorite), 4 p.m., SEC Network … Louisville 23, Kentucky 17.

No. 5 LSU (9-2, 10.5-point favorite) at Texas A&M (4-7), 7 p.m., ESPN … LSU 31, Texas A&M 17.

No. 15 Notre Dame (8-3) at No. 6 USC (10-1, 4.5-point favorite), 7:30 p.m., ABC … USC 38, Notre Dame 21.

No. 10 Tennessee (9-2, 14-point favorite) at Vanderbilt (5-6), 7:30 p.m., SEC Network … Tennessee 41, Vanderbilt 17.

No. 13 Washington (9-2, 1.5-point favorite) at Washington State (7-4), 10:30 p.m., ESPN … Washington 38, Washington State 24.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

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