Rivalry Week is officially upon us... as well as Thanksgiving (I think The Game might be a bigger holiday). This week is a time to pause and reflect on all that we are grateful for this year. Buckeye fans are supremely blessed with an 11-0 season, filled with breakout players and dominant wins. That all culminates on Saturday.
Here is a list of what I am thankful for as we head into The Game.
- Home Field Advantage
How painful was it to hear “Pump it Up” after every single touchdown at The Big House last year? Six dreadful times of hearing that song along with the crowd going absolutely bananas. I am extremely grateful that this year, if the Shoe’s DJ decides to be petty and plays it, it will be for a Buckeye TD and not a Wolverine one.
If it isn’t played, I will be equally as happy. That song permanently scarred me. It is such an advantage that in one of the most important games in the series history, it will be played in Columbus. The Buckeyes have definitely had their fair share of struggles on the road this season with Penn State, Northwestern and Maryland. However, they are dominant at home.
Personally, this will be my first ever Ohio State-Michigan game that I am attending. I am ecstatic. The stadium was electric during the Penn State game last year and the Notre Dame game this year, but I expect the crowd to be dialed up about 10 notches. It’s going to be loud and there’s going to be a lot of scarlet. Buckeyes- 1, Wolverines- 0.
2. Dallan Hayden
Obviously, I am thankful for everyone in the running back room. However, Hayden is stepped up big time when needed, especially against Maryland this past Saturday. It seems like either Miyan Williams or TreVeyon Henderson is out every week, making Hayden the backup. He has gotten a lot more snaps than initially anticipated this season, but he has made the most with the time he has gotten on the field.
It is nice to have him as a security blanket. Unfortunately, there seems to be a theme of a starting running back getting injured each week, and the other starter has to shoulder the majority of the load. That’s where Hayden comes in to share some of the snaps, and experiencing massive success while doing so. I feel like he will be a major key in The Game.
3. Marvin Harrison Jr.
I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory. He’s the GOAT. He should be the Biletnikoff Award recipient. He’s been damn near perfect all year long. However, last Saturday’s game revealed why he is even more important than we think.
He’s clearly the best weapon on the team, making amazing plays for positive yardage and averaging one touchdown per game. However, he was being heavily defended against Maryland, even more so than usual, limiting him to just 68 receiving yards. This isn’t entirely a bad thing. When he gets double teamed, it frees up the other receivers to make great plays, as demonstrated by Emeka Egbuka on Saturday. This team is full of talent, and honestly, Marv makes a lot of great things possible.
4. A hungry defense in need of some food (I think Wolverine is their favorite)
This defense is READY!! This is the moment they have been training for all season long. They have skyrocketed in terms of their improvement, and this game I expect them to ball out. They are going to be amped up, they are going to jump from the line of scrimmage in search of someone wearing maize and blue to take down to the ground.
I see J.T. Tuimoloau and Tommy Eichenberg having big games. Eichenberg has been here before, so his leadership will be invaluable. Tuimoloau I think is just ready to erupt, and this will be the perfect opportunity. Yes, the defense had a bit of a blip against Maryland, but I think that was an anomaly. Will there be some nerves, and as a result some penalties? Probably. But I believe the good will outweigh the bad in this case, and their energy will be to their advantage.