The 2008 edition of The Game does not have national championship or outright Big Ten title implications, but it does have added meaning for OSU's seniors. With another victory over the Wolverines, the group will leave Ohio State with an unblemished record against its archrival.
OSU has won four straight in the series, tying the record set by teams from 1934-37 and 1960-63. If the Buckeyes make it five in a row, it would be the longest streak on either side of the series since Michigan won six straight during the 1920s.
Even with Michigan coming to Ohio Stadium with an uninspiring 3-8 record, seniors will not overlook the Wolverines. Not with perfection on the line.
"I think that (winning five in a row against Michigan) would be a huge accomplishment," linebacker Marcus Freeman said. "But at the same time I think we've got to put those four years behind us and realize that it's about this year and about this game and try to use those last couple years as momentum rather than use this year as itself and try to win this year."
A win will give Ohio State a share of its fourth Big Ten title in a row. With a win and a victory by Michigan State at Penn State, the Buckeyes will be Pasadena bound thanks to a Rose Bowl tiebreaker. For Michigan, this year's edition of The Game is the Wolverines' bowl game. First-year head coach Rich Rodriguez has seen his team struggle to a poor record that includes losses in six of its last seven games, including a shocking 12-10 loss at home to Toledo.
None of that matters to the seniors.
"I didn't even know they were 3-8 and I didn't know that they had lost that many games," defensive tackle Nader Abdallah said. "It really doesn't matter what their record is coming into this game because I know when they come in here they are going to be a whole different team and they are going to be fired up."
Freeman remembers when the rivalry was not going well for Ohio State. The Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne product grew up a Buckeye fan back when Ohio State could not beat Michigan. He said watching favored OSU teams lose to Michigan gave him perspective.
"It makes this rivalry what it is," Freeman said. "No matter the records, if you've lost two games or you're undefeated or whatever it is, when this game comes it's a 0-0 record and it's about winning this game."
While Ohio State's seniors are playing for perfection, those seniors wearing maize and blue on Saturday are hoping to not finish their careers without a victory over the Buckeyes. OSU cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said he does not want to imagine what that would be like if the roles were reversed.
"I wouldn't want to know," Jenkins said. "If I wanted to know, I can go and ask somebody from one of (our) teams that lost to Michigan. I want to go look back at my four years and say I've never lost."
Each of the Buckeye seniors who were available to the media on Monday spoke highly of Michigan, despite its record. They have been on the winning side of the rivalry three times and know how important it is to beat their rival.
"Any time you can beat Michigan it makes your season, really," Laurinaitis said. "Your season depends on the last game, for both schools. You can go 1-10 here, but if you get that last one, people will consider it a success in Columbus. So this is a huge game for us, this is our biggest game of the year, by far."