Ohio State vs. Michigan: THE Game Always Matters

Michael PeriattCorrespondent INovember 18, 2009

EAST LANSING, MI - OCTOBER 14:  Jim Tressel, head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes, leads his team onto the field for a game against the Michigan State Spartans on October 14, 2006 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. Ohio State won the game 38-7.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Game this year, like last year, really shouldn't be close. But unlike last year, the Bucks have already clinched a trip to a BCS bowl. The outcome to The Game literally has zero effect on the postseason.

Michigan on the other hand, is fighting for their bowl lives. They NEED a win to become bowl eligible. Otherwise, their season is over.

Sounds like a trap game right?

Not even close.

Go ahead and rip on Jim Tressel. Call him too conservative. Curse "Tressel Ball." Say he doesn't use his players effectively.

No really, go ahead and do it. You might be right, but ever since Jim Tressel has set foot on campus, he's made it blatantly clear to everyone that priority (and enemy) number one is Michigan.

In one of his first appearances as head coach, Jim Tressel walked into "The Schott" and provided Buckeye fans with probably his most memorable speech ever (maybe his only one).

He clutched the microphone firmly, but awkwardly with both hands saying, "I promise you'll be proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community,..." He lumped these two things together almost rushing through them. The crowd seemed to be tuning him out at this point. Just another politically correct coach. Now, he had been spinning, almost waddling around in a circle the whole time.

"And most especially.." He did one final 180 before standing firm in his spot seeming to look an entire section of the arena square in the eye.

"In three hundred and ten days..." He let the words reverberate through the building for a few seconds. A few people started going crazy near the rafters, but most of the crowd stood clueless.

Then he muttered the words that set the crowd on fire. He didn't raise his voice, just let the phrase flow like all the others before them, "In Ann Arbor Michigan on the football field."

The crowd went absolutely nuts. There wasn't a Buckeye fan in the entire place that wasn't won over then and there.

And Tressel's troops delivered not just 310 days later, but seven times in the next eight years. Through thick and then, through championship glory and big game embarrassment, Tressel has always gotten his players ready for Michigan.

So go inside the OSU lockerroom and tell them The Game doesn't matter. Their response they give won't be political BS. They'll tell you from the bottom of their soul that this game transcends records. It transcends post season aspirations.

The third Saturday in November is always first in their minds.