Buckeyes "Don't Need Extra Motivation" For Michigan with Big Ten East Title, Potential Playoff Spot On the Line After Two-Year Rivalry Hiatus

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With a spot in the Big Ten title game and a potential College Football Playoff berth on the line in Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes "don't need extra motivation" for Michigan.
It didn't matter how many times he'd already seen it.

Every time Ryan Day exited his office at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center with his son during his first year on staff at Ohio State, the pair would stop before walking out the front door to watch the highlight video of the Buckeyes' 2016 double overtime win over Michigan that played on loop at the facility. Having not yet experienced the rivalry firsthand, it was as close as Day could get.

"Instantly it became something that I just wanted to be a part of, and hope that I was able to enjoy a victory against the team up north," Day said Tuesday. "I understand what it means to so many people, and just tried to embrace it over the years."

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Since then, Day has known nothing but victory over the Wolverines in three meetings, including one as head coach in 2019. But for the first time since the 2016 game that Day used to watch in awe, the 2021 matchup will feature a pair of top-five teams with identical 10-1 records that have everything to lose.

Day wouldn't have it any other way.

"I don't know what else to tell you other than there is a lot of pressure. And that's the way you want it," Day said. "You want this game with everything riding on it at their place; it's gonna be a wild environment, and again, that's why you come to Ohio State."

Beating Michigan has always been the first priority for the Buckeyes. But during an era that has seen eight straight rivalry wins for the scarlet and gray, reaching the Big Ten Championship Game and earning a spot in the College Football Playoff have become standards of success and pillars of expectation for Ohio State just the same.

All three of those goals are on the table and ripe for the taking for either side in Ann Arbor on Saturday, and the two-year hiatus of The Game only adds to the atmosphere of a rivalry renewed with sky-high stakes on the line between Ohio State and…
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