Sanzenbacher Hails From Divided Hometown

Toledo is likely the only region in the nation where Ohio State and Michigan fans shop side-by-side at a store devoted exclusively to both teams in one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports. It is also the hometown of Ohio State wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who will be playing against the Wolverines this weekend for the third time in his college career.

Before he even set foot on Ohio State's campus, Dane Sanzenbacher had an appreciation for what the Michigan game was all about.

Although the junior wide receiver is an Ohio native, his high school of Toledo Central Catholic is considerably geographically closer to Michigan Stadium (42.3 miles) than it is to Ohio Stadium (119 miles). However, the four-star prospect from the class of 2007 wasted little time jumping on a scholarship offer from the Buckeyes during the summer before his senior year.

An offer never came from the Wolverines, but if it had, it would have had no impact on Sanzenbacher's decision. Asked about that possibility at Monday's interviews, the wide receiver's answer was concise and quickly delivered: no.

If he ended up at Michigan, however, a different half of his hometown would probably be pretty happy about that.

"The majority of the city is pretty divided," he said. "You can find Michigan and Ohio State fans up there. It makes it that much more interesting. In Toledo, I can't speak for the rest of the state but the Ohio State-Michigan game is its own little holiday."

That holiday afforded Sanzenbacher and his classmates the opportunity to escape from wearing school uniforms for at least one day. Prior to the annual football game, Sanzenbacher said students were allowed to wear the clothing of their favorite team in the rivalry.

He did not have an OSU jersey while growing up, but Sanzenbacher said he would wear Buckeye T-shirts.

"I think it's strictly divided as anywhere," he said. "The two sides intermingle a little more, but you have to pull for one team or the other."

Now two years removed from his college decision, Sanzenbacher will make his second appearance in The Big House but is expected to take on a larger role than he did as a true freshman in 2007.

"It will definitely be different than the first time I was up there just because it's not that new experience of the Michigan game," he said. "When I went up as a freshman I didn't know what to expect in my first time in the Big House. Now knowing what to expect should make it a lot easier."

In a 14-3 Buckeye win two years ago, Sanzenbacher hauled in one 7-yard pass from quarterback Todd Boeckman in place of an injured Brian Hartline. It was one of seven completions on 13 pass attempts by the Buckeyes on a rainy day in Ann Arbor.

The catch remains one of his top memories against Michigan, but it is not his favorite moment.

"(The catch) obviously stands out to me, but to be honest of you when I think of the Michigan games I think of all Beanie's big runs," he said. "I was in for some of them and got to be a part of the blocking and run downfield and celebrate, but that's what pops in my mind."

His production increased against Michigan as a sophomore. In the team's 42-7 victory, Sanzenbacher caught two passes for 49 yards, one of which went for 35 yards and keyed a scoring drive that made it 35-7 in favor of the Buckeyes. It was the last completion of the afternoon for quarterback Terrelle Pryor, then a freshman.

Sanzenbacher has started every game this season and now feels he has a better grasp on what the Michigan game means. Despite being from Toledo, the wideout said you can not fully appreciate what it means to play in the rivalry until you actually do so.

"I didn't really know what to think when I was approaching my first Michigan game," he said. "My perception of it was that it was like its own Super Bowl. It's such a big deal and everybody always knows what day the Ohio State-Michigan game is and something is always going on for it. It's so big in Toledo that when I got there I didn't know how to approach it, but it was everything that I expected when I got up there.

"It's a lot different from the inside. Obviously the game itself is big as I expected it to be but everything else that does in it you don't expect. The gold pants and how much emphasis all the alumni and past players put on this game, there's always a lot more at stake."

On Monday, several players said the importance of winning the game has been drilled into their heads on a daily basis since the last Michigan game.

"It starts all year round, always mentally being prepared for this game and never letting it be something that's blown by the wayside," he said. "I think it also this year comes down to knowing how much is at stake for them. They're a dangerous team. There's no question. They have athletes and can make plays. We expect them to do that in this game."

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