A game like Ohio State and Michigan is important enough to win it doesn't need any extra motivation. Sometimes though, you never know what aspiring recruit might be watching.
Last week, at home against Northwestern, Ohio State was well aware of at least one top junior that was watching.
On hand to see Ohio State's 48-7 defeat of the Wildcats was 6-1, 240-pound fullback Henry Hynoski. Hynoski is one of 2007's best big back prospects from Southern Columbia Area High School in Catawissa, Penn.
Of next year's seniors, few will be more sought after within the Midwest region than Hynoski. He has already seen attention from Ohio State, Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan and Pittsburgh among others.
"There's a lot of Big Ten schools with Penn State the big one," he noted. "I really like Penn State. They're a great school, I visited there and they are high on me and I'm high on them as well."
"Other schools like Iowa, Michigan State and Purdue and in the Big East there's West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Florida State, Virginia, Boston College, and schools from the ACC," he added. "I'm getting them from various conferences, but mainly the Big Ten."
The game last Saturday was the second of the season attended by the talented junior. He was on hand for the Buckeyes' game in Happy Valley against Penn State earlier in the season. This past weekend, he visited South Bend, Ind. for Notre Dame's game against Syracuse.
Early on, it's a bit early to proclaim favorites. However, Hynoski admits a soft spot for the Nittany Lions and Joe Paterno.
But neither Penn State nor the teams within the region have yet surfaced true leaders this early in the process.
"I'm still trying to consider everything and everybody as I don't know exactly what I want to do or where I want to go just yet," Hynoski explained. "Those schools are definitely near the top. This decision where I go will be made how I fit in a program the best."
He's definitely not one to sit back and focus on one team, though.
Already, in addition to the three games Hynoski attended this fall, he has been to several campuses. He reports visits to Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Michigan in addition to those games.
Last spring, Hynoski visited Ohio State with his coach and family, as well.
This season, Hynoski's Southern Columbia Area won the district title last Friday, and was going for a possible fourth consecutive state title.
A big part of that success has been on Hynoski in this his third year. He has already surpassed 4,000 rushing yards for his career, including over 1,500 this year as a junior.
He's averaging 10.2 yards a carry and has 24 rushing touchdowns.
That's playing on a team where often he wouldn't get a lot of carries because of blowouts and not playing entire games.
"Last year I had 1,000 yards in the playoffs alone," Hynoski said. "It's the same story this year where about this time of year I'm able to pick it up and play full games."
This year's Penn State return to prominence hasn't been lost on Hynoski. He's seen first hand a renaissance of sorts in State College.
"Ever since Penn State started recruiting me, I've liked them since I was a kid, they started recruiting me by sending letters or whatever on the first day you are allowed to in September," he said, "I've been there on visits, I went there for camp as a freshman and ever since they have shown a lot of interest. I'm pretty familiar with the coaching staff at Penn State and I just think the game time atmosphere is awesome with the crowd and the student section and everything."
Hynoski's chance to see Ohio State last weekend gave him the ability to stack up Ohio State's game day atmosphere against that of Penn State.
It was a favorable first impression, although Hynoski was already familiar with the campus.
"Obviously this wasn't my first trip as I was there this spring and I loved what I saw," he said. "I loved the campus, the coaches were great, and the stadium was unbelievable.
"I liked it so much I made sure I went back and I was there for camp this summer and I had a pretty good showing and I think that's when I really got noticed at the camp when I went for one day. I was talking to the coaches and spent a lot of time with RB coach Doc Tressel and Joe Daniels the QB coach. I decided to come back for a game. They invited me back to a game, we came with my family and it took us about six hours. We got there and the game day atmosphere was unbelievable. The fans are amazing and the stadium is awesome. I can't say enough about the stadium and the coaches really made me feel welcome. There are some unbelievable athletes out there like A.J. Hawk, (Bobby) Carpenter, (Anthony) Schlegel…I mean those guys are amazing," Hynoski added.
Another big factor is going to be his desired field of study.
Hynoski gave high marks for a possible field in dentistry or pharmaceuticals at Ohio State. He felt good about Ohio State's academic programs.
Right now, Hynoski sports a 3.96 GPA, which is good for fourth in his graduating class. He has yet to take the ACT or SAT.
Having a chance to see just Penn State and Ohio State prior to this past weekend, Hynoski had compared what he saw from the two schools.
"They were pretty similar, it seems like teams in the Big Ten Conference, the fans follow their teams pretty well, " he said. "As far as facilities, it doesn't seem like there's much difference. Both facilities are great and it seems like the two are pretty comparable."
Hynoski says he expects some college coaches to come in during the winter for visits. Otherwise, he's unsure as of yet for future plans.
He does say they have discussed going on some trips to the south with his high school coach and some teammates to Duke, Florida State, Virginia and others.
Until then, Hynoski will be watching from afar. That's an important set of eyes.