COLUMBUS â?? Forget the World Cup. The Super Bowl and the World Series, too.
After Ohio State beat Iowa 20-17 on Saturday night, OSU offensive tackle Mike Adams relegated them to secondary status behind the Ohio State-Michigan football game.
â??Itâ??s the biggest game in the world,â?ť he said about OSU-Michigan.
Now where would he get an idea like that? Maybe from a guy who has many sweaters missing their sleeves and who never misses a chance to motivate his team.
Hereâ??s Jim Tressel right after the Iowa game, already looking forward to Saturdayâ??s game against Michigan:
â??Iâ??m proud of these kids and wish they had time to it enjoy it, but they donâ??t because weâ??ve got the biggest game of all coming up,â?ť he said.
Tresselâ??s message and methods seem to be working. Since he took over at Ohio State, the Buckeyes have won eight times in nine games against their biggest rival, including the last six in a row.
Michiganâ??s only win against Tressel came in 2003 in Michigan Stadium.
The Buckeyes (10-1, 6-1 Big Ten) will go into this yearâ??s game at Ohio Stadium (noon, ABC-TV) as a big favorite against the Wolverines (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten).
Michiganâ??s seven wins are the most since Rich Rodriguez became its coach in 2008 and its quarterback Denard Robinson is the most productive offensive player in the Big Ten with 2,229 yards passing and 1,538 yards rushing.
But, just like last season, defense has been a huge problem for Michigan.
Ohio State ranks second in the Big Ten in scoring at 39.6 points a game and Michigan is third at 36.8. But while the Buckeyes are No. 2 in scoring defense at 13.9 points a game, Michigan is ninth at 33.5 a game.
Ohio State gives up a Big Ten-best 241.5 yards a game on defense and Michigan is last in the league at 445.2 yards a game.
Michigan is young with only three senior starters, but the Wolverines have also shown themselves to be deficient in some of the basics, like tackling.
Wisconsin rolled up 558 yards of offense in its 48-28 win over Michigan on Saturday. James White rushed for 181 yards and Montee Ball had 171. And Wisconsinâ??s starting tailback John Clay didnâ??t play because of an injury.
Michigan is still searching for a signature win under Rodriguez, who has a 15-20 record in Ann Arbor.
Some say his job is secure, others are not so sure.
One thing is certain. His teams have not won as often as Michigan is accustomed to, and they have not done well against upper level teams in the Big Ten. In Rodriguezâ??s three seasons, Michigan is 1-12 against Ohio State, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State and Michigan State.
â??Itâ??s a challenge, anyway, playing a great team at their place,â?ť Rodriguez said about Ohio State in his post-game press conference Saturday. â??Itâ??s Michigan-Ohio State and itâ??s not going to be hard to get the guys fired up to play.â?ť
Ohio State also has lots of incentives in Saturdayâ??s game. A win would give the Buckeyes at least a share of their sixth consecutive Big Ten title, which would tie a record. It also would probably earn them an invitation to one of the BCS bowl games even if they donâ??t get the Big Tenâ??s automatic spot in the Rose Bowl.
But the players say beating Michigan trumps all of that.
â??You definitely donâ??t want to be the one to break the streak,â?ť center Michael Brewster said.
‘The biggest game in the world’