Ryan Day has been on the Ohio State staff long enough to know how important the rivalry with Michigan is in Columbus. All you really need is a day on campus to understand the magnitude and significance of “The Game.”
But things have changed for Day in the last few months. He’s no longer a piece in one of college football’s best rivalries, he’s responsible for winning that game. That’s a lot of pressure for a first time head coach.
“First off, a lot of deep breaths when I started thinking about the game. I start to get a little worked up,” Day told 247Sports. “And the way last year’s game went, we’re going to have our hands full next year because that kind of got one-sided and they didn’t expect that.”
Michigan entered last year’s game with a 10-1 record and a chance to win the B1G East and potentially earn a spot in the College Football Playoff. It all dwindled away, though, as the Buckeyes steamrolled the Wolverines 62-39 in Columbus.
With the rivalry being played in Ann Arbor this year, Michigan will certainly have revenge on the mind.
So, how does Ohio State, and Day, handle that kind of pressure this year? The new head coach said that not much has changed since Urban Meyer left and that the Buckeyes still make it a point to make sure “The Game” is on everyone’s mind all year long.
“We still have our Team Up North periods, which we do in the spring,” Day said. “This is a period where we’re practicing against them for 10 minutes. We turn on the loudspeaker and play our music and play highlights from the game before. Coach (Mick) Marottti, our strength and conditioning coach, will have those days where, if there’s 225 days until ‘The Game’ then there are 225 reps that they’re about to do to end the workout. Things like this to make sure everybody understands what that rivalry is.”
Day also says that, to ensure everyone understands the magnitude of the rivalry, thee are certain rules inside Ohio State’s football facility.
“Nobody’s allowed to wear blue in the facility. If they do, they have to do five push-ups right on the floor,” Day said. “It doesn’t matter if they’re 90 years old or in a stroller, we make them do it. If they say the word in the facilities, same thing. So, it’s a way of life.”
Ohio State has won seven straight matchups against Michigan, with the Wolverines last victory coming in 2011. The Buckeyes are also winners of 14-of-15 games, dominating the series this century.
This year’s game will be played on Nov. 30 in Ann Arbor. It will be Day’s first taste of “The Game” as a head coach.