COLUMBUS, Ohio — At Ohio State, it’s time for war.
At the request of coach Urban Meyer, the LL Cool J song blares at the facility throughout the week leading up to The Game. Just minutes after blowing out Illinois to win the Big Ten East, the song already was playing in the minds of Ohio State football players.
“You sing the fight song [after the game], and it’s Team Up North week,” defensive end Tyquan Lewis said. “You hear the It’s Time For War song. I hear it in my head already.”
Ohio State already has clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game regardless of what happens against Michigan in the final game of the regular season, but that doesn’t mean the Wolverines are being spared any attention. Lewis said he would start watching Michigan tape on Saturday night, something that doesn’t happen most other weeks.
Left tackle Jamarco Jones said the Big Ten Championship Game won’t mean anything without a win against the Wolverines. Michigan has a chance to spoil Ohio State’s path to the playoff, something that hasn’t escaped the Buckeyes’ attention. On top of that, it’s a chance to continue a run of dominance against their Northern neighbor.
“It’s the biggest rivalry game in college football,” Jones said. “There’s always a little bit more added to it – not just bragging rights. I want another pair of gold pants. This is a big rivalry for us, and we put a lot into this. We’re going to have a lot of energy. I’m sure practice is going to be pretty crazy this week. There’s going to be a lot put into this week. It means a lot to a lot of people.
“We’re already focused on them. It’s the biggest game of the year every year, so we have to be ready. They’re a great team, and defensively up front they bring a lot to the table. It’s going to be a battle.”
Ohio State still has everything to play for, but none of that will matter without a win against Michigan.
“Everything has to be focused and locked in to beat The Team Up North,” quarterback J.T. Barrett said. “All the other stuff right now really doesn’t matter.”
It’s time for war, and that is all the Buckeyes are worried about.