Ohio State Vs. X-ichigan, Or TTUN (That Tea-x Up North), Should Be A Great Ga-x-e

The Ohio State Buckeyes hate the Michigan Wolverines so much, they feed that passion to the letter of the law by being mum on all words that start with "M."

So much so, that if a Buckeye wrote the above sentence, it would say, "The Ohio State Buckeyes hate the X-ichigan Wolverines so x-uch, they feed that passion to the letter of the law by being x-u-x on all words that start with "X."

Ohio State's athletic website painstakingly avoids use of the word "M." This is practiced even in a headline over a film of the Buckeyes' treasured 42-39 win over the Wolverines in 2006 when Ohio State was No. 1 and Michigan No. 2.

"Relive 2006 The Ga-x-e," the website says.


For just a routine headline over player interviews, the website's headline says, "Buckeyes Chat With The X-edia."

Or, sometimes, they just say, "TTUN - That Team Up North."

No. 3 Michigan (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) has made the 189-mile journey south to play No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) Saturday (Noon, FOX) at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. It is clearly a Game of the Century, or at least the game of the year so far.

On the line is the Big Ten East, the Big Ten, and a berth in the College Football Playoff - if the winner also wins the Big Ten title game next week.

"We just want to make sure the focus is on that team up north," Ohio State coach Ryan Day said on the Buckeye Roundtable radio show on 97.1 FM The Fan in Columbus this week. He was explaining why he had postponed the Buckeyes' Senior Tackle tradition to bowl preparations from its frequent spot during the last practice before the Michigan game. Seniors hit the blocking sled one final time in that tradition since 1913.

Ohio State Trying To Eliminate All Distractions

"We're not as rushed. There's not as many distractions. Because the focus is on this game," Day said.

"For what it's worth coach, that is a great decision," former Ohio State head coach John Cooper said on the show. And he should know something about distractions and perhaps a lack of focus during Michigan week. He was 2-10-1 against the Wolverines from 1988-2000 and lost five of six with a tie from 1988-93.

"That's a great move, I can tell you right now," Cooper said.

"OK, good," Day said. "I'm glad you agree because we've got so much riding on this game."

Yes, Day does not want a losing streak of two. He fell to 1-1 as Ohio State's head coach against Michigan last year with a 42-27 loss at Michigan - the most lopsided loss by the Buckeyes since 1993 under Cooper. That win a year ago was Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's first win in the series after five straight losses. Not winning enough in this series can get a coach fired. You could ask Cooper.

Ohio State Coach Feels Pressure To Beat Michigan

"I think any time you're here playing in this game, you're going to feel it," Day said. "When you're at Ohio State, you know what's on the line."

Ohio State has had to live with 0-1 in this series for the first time since a 40-11 loss in 2011. Eight straight wins followed.

"We're reminded every single day since the game. It's been very hard living with that loss," said Ohio State linebacker Tommy Eichenberg, a senior from Cleveland.

"Living with it for a year sucks,"said safety Ronnie Hickman, a senior from South Orange, New Jersey.

"I did not play well in that game," Eichenberg said.

So, they chose to work on the next one all year.

"We use that as motivation in the summer in the off-season camp, and we're using it day by day," Hickman said.

"We've got scars," Day said.

"Really focusing a lot of our energy this year on beating them," said wide receiver Emeka Egbaku, a sophomore from Steilacoom, Washington. "Whether it's summer workouts, winter workouts, everything. There's not a lot you can say about it. We just got beat last year straight up."

That may have been more difficult to say than "Michigan."

Written by
Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests. A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention. Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at www.acadianhouse.com, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.