COLUMBUS, Ohio — The last time Michigan beat Ohio State in Columbus was back in 2000. The Wolverines defeated the Buckeyes to win the Big Ten. While the stakes are a little different in this era of football, Michigan needed to beat Ohio State in order to get back to the Big Ten Championship.
The Wolverines beat Ohio State last season in Ann Arbor, but going to Columbus is a whole new animal. The Buckeyes entered the game undefeated and ranked second in the country. Most of the pundits didn’t think Michigan could get the job done.
But after a second half where Michigan outscored Ohio State 28-3, Michigan won in consecutive years against its bitter rival. The Wolverines finished the regular season 12-0 after defeating the Buckeyes 45-23.
Mike Sainristil had another big game in the nickel position. He broke up a touchdown pass thrown to Cade Stover in the end zone to force Ohio State to kick a field goal and Sainristil made several open field tackles on the day. He told the media he knew Michigan had the game won going into the fourth quarter,
“Going into the fourth quarter,” said Sainristil “You know, we had a quick defensive talking, you know, the first thing we did was, we looked over at their sideline. And they were over there hanging their heads a little bit, you know, so we knew like are — they’re vulnerable right now. And let’s go out there. Let’s keep passing on them. Keep, you know, taking away the run game, the pass game, and just take advantage of every opportunity.”
Beating Ohio State hasn’t been a norm for Michigan fans. But for most of these players, that’s all they know. The Wolverines didn’t play Ohio State in 2020 due to COVID-19. Some players on the roster played the Buckeyes in 2019, but the majority of them have played Ohio State twice in their career. Cornelius Johnson told the media this was personal for him. He is one of the players that lost to Ohio State in 2019 and he wanted to get the leg up on OSU.
“It’s definitely personal,” said Johnson. “I mean, for me, personally, like I was 1-1 (record) against these guys coming in, and I was even so I had to get up on these guys. Don’t feel like — you have everyone keeping track of your personal records. You know, even we had guys come in this year, old Michigan players come in and talk to us during a training camp. And all that people ask is what’s your record against State? And you know, like, doesn’t matter your personal achievements. What did you do? How was your record and how many rings you got? That’s what matters most. And I was glad I was able to come in here with my guys. And I take your business down here.”
J.J. McCarthy said Michigan wanted to beat Ohio State this year more than anything. The Wolverines don’t look back towards the past, the losses against Ohio State in years past don’t mean anything. But the sophomore was thrilled to get this win on Saturday.
“I mean, it’s huge. It’s huge,” said McCarthy. “We’re not so much of a team that looks to the past and worries about it. We’re always about the present and worried about changing the future and it was just one of those things where everything was aligned for us. We were ready. We wanted more than anything, and it was just really awesome to do it the way we did.”
At the end of the day, Michigan is 12-0. But like last year’s team always said ‘We haven’t done anything yet’. McCarthy reiterated on Saturday this win doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Michigan wants to win the Big Ten Championship and get to the CFP. The job is not finished.
“I mean, it was it was great and all, obviously, to get a win — like every win is great, and especially this one,” McCarthy said. “But at the end of the day, this one doesn’t even matter. This doesn’t matter. The job’s not finished. we got so much more to do and so many places to go, so job’s not finished and we’re ready to get after it.”