After Ohio State finished off a dominating 42-7 win, many of the players spoke at length about what it meant to beat their most heated rivals for the fifth time in a row, and one admitted that the thought of doing so was never far from the minds of the No. 10 Buckeyes as they prepared to face the 3-9 Wolverines.
"I think there was a sign in every room in the Woody Hayes (Athletic Center) that said five times in a row," said offensive lineman Steve Rehring, who has been on the roster for all five. "We knew it was coming."
And just in case his team needed a final reminder, head coach Jim Tressel held the trump card. The Buckeyes' honorary captain for the game was Ike Kelley, an All-American linebacker for the university in the 1960s.
Kelley was on the 1964 Ohio State team, one of two to have a chance to win a fifth game in a row against the Wolverines, but the seventh-ranked Buckeyes came up short with a 10-0 loss to No. 6 Michigan in Ohio Stadium that season.
"We had Ike Kelley speak to our players today, and he was a great player who happened to in the fifth game didn't get it done and you can tell it's still heavy on his heart," Tressel said. "He shared that with our players today."
That final speech seemed to have an impact on at least one Buckeye in linebacker and captain James Laurinaitis.
"We got to hear from Ike Kelley today at breakfast," Laurinaitis said. "He talked about the one that stuck with him was the fifth one they tried to get and they lost here. To be able to say forever that you're a part of this team is something that I'll remember for the rest of my life."
One other time in school history Ohio State had come up just short of a historic fifth win in a row. After Francis "Close the Gates of Mercy" Schmidt turned around the rivalry – and started the gold pants tradition – with shutout wins from 1934-37, his unranked Buckeyes fell by an 18-0 count in Ohio Stadium to No. 17 Michigan in 1938.
In addition, the 1976 team had a chance to make it five in a row without a loss to U-M after the previous four teams had gone 3-0-1, but No. 4 Michigan blanked No. 8 Ohio State 22-0 in the Horseshoe.
Afterward, the history seemed to overwhelm Tressel.
"It's hard to believe because it's so difficult," he said. "I remember looking up the statistic about three or four years ago of what the winning streaks were, because you've always got to have something in the back of your mind that you're shooting for."
A number of fifth-year seniors like Rehring were able to earn a fifth pair of gold pants, a charm given to each member of the team to signify a win over U-M. The big offensive lineman said he would yet again be giving his pair to his mother.
"My mom is going to be happy," he said. "She had her four pairs of gold pants on today and she's going to get her fifth."
Senior quarterback Todd Boeckman was the only player affiliated with the team back in 2003, the season in which Ohio State last lost to Michigan. As a grayshirt, Boeckman was able to take part in fall camp and bowl practice, though he did not travel to Michigan Stadium for the 35-21 loss.
With that 2003 experience a bit different from those of his teammates, Boeckman was happy to collect his fifth straight win over U-M after starting the rivalry on the wrong foot.
"To have five pairs of gold pants, that's something you'll never forget," he said.
"I think to be up here and be fortunate enough and be blessed enough to say that I didn't lose, it's a great feeling," said Robiskie, who caught his second career touchdown pass against Michigan on Saturday. "But I think that, especially for this team and for this year, this 2008 Ohio State team, for me to be a captain with these other three guys and I've accomplished it, it's real special."
One final bit of encouragement for the game came from former OSU safety Jack Tatum, who was on the Buckeye team that suffered what most consider to be the biggest upset it has ever taken in the series, a 24-12 loss in 1969. That game was replayed on some classic sports networks this week and greeted the man known as "The Assassin" as he arrived in Columbus.
"He said as soon as he walked into the airport, the first game he saw was the one he lost to Michigan," Jenkins said. "We're blessed to be in a position where we don't have to say that. We don't have to live with that the rest of our lives. We can always say we beat that team."