After singing "Carmen Ohio" – the Buckeye alma mater – to the team's fans gathered in one corner of Michigan Stadium following his team's 21-10 victory, the junior left guard took a second to reflect back on the last time he had set foot in the building known as The Big House.
Two years and four days had passed since then, and the world around him was decidedly different. His previous game came Nov. 17, 2007, when he watched the Buckeyes celebrating on his home field following a 14-3 rain-soaked victory. Now, after a highly publicized transfer from the Wolverines to the Buckeyes, the central Ohio native was surprisingly mild-mannered about his homecoming.
To hear him talk about it, nothing about the afternoon was amiss.
"It's an intense rivalry," he said. "I grew up a Michigan fan in a Michigan family. I guess some people take it pretty serious. I'm just a kid trying to play football. I came to Ohio State and I'm trying to make the best of the situation."
On Saturday, that meant being part of an OSU rushing attack that picked up 251 yards on 53 carries – an average of 4.7 yards per rush.
But before the game began, Boren was the subject of more than a few catcalls from early-arriving fans. He admitted to having heard a few of the things yelled at him – none of which can be printed here – but said he tried to focus on the task at hand instead.
"I wasn't really looking up in the stands," he said. "I was trying to look straight ahead but I heard some things. You just zone out, laugh in the back of your head."
The night before the game, Boren said some of his teammates tried to talk to him about the game's personal meaning but that he shooed them away. That single-minded approach to the game reflected the attitude Boren put forth during the week in practice, OSU offensive line coach Jim Bollman said.
"He treated it very much like a normal week," he said. "He got ready to play a football game. He was jacked up and ready to go, as was everybody else."
Still, head coach Jim Tressel said he figured Boren was glad that the game was simply over and done with.
"I'm sure he's excited because he loves to compete," he said. "I'm sure he's glad this day is over because he has a lot of great feelings for Michigan. It runs deep in his family. So I'm glad he feels as if he came in, competed as hard as he could and came away with the win. I'm sure he's glad it's over."
Boren said he heard some of the Michigan players talking to him both early and late in the game but primarily kept out of it. Sophomore center Michael Brewster said that approach impressed him.
"He was the bigger man by not turning around and giving it to the people who were taking shots at him," he said.
On at least one play, however, he gave an opponent a piece of his mind. On sophomore tailback Brandon Saine's 29-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Boren and sophomore Mike Martin got into it a little as Boren pancaked him into the ground.
"He was talking before," Boren said. "I had a couple words, but he was talking beforehand. I'm not usually one to talk but I got caught up in the moment a little bit."
Boren said his parents, Michigan letter winners Mike and Hope Boren, were both in attendance for the game although his mother was concerned for her own safety headed into the game. Although he sat out last season to satisfy transfer rules, Boren said he received a pair of gold pants following OSU's win against Michigan and that he gave them to his mother.
After the game, he spoke with a few former Michigan teammates on the field including Chad Henne, who told him he played a good game.
Once it was all said and done, Boren was happy just to look back on all he had accomplished in his first season on the field for the Buckeyes.
"I feel awesome," he said. "We won the Big Ten outright. That's a great feeling. We had a good season. Now we just have to concentrate on playing in the Rose Bowl."