Michigan expects experience of beating Ohio State to carry over to new season

Eight months after helping Michigan beat Ohio State for the first time in a decade, Fairfield grad Erick All was still basking in the victory at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis.

“It’s a great feeling,” All said Tuesday. “At the end of the day, we hadn’t beat them in a long time and to be the team, team 142, to do that is a great feeling. And it feels like we accomplished a lot and we’re ready to get back out there and do it again.”

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Along those same lines, Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara indicated the Wolverines believe the first step toward beating Ohio State this fall could be having beaten the Buckeyes last fall.

“It gives us definitely more confidence that we’ve been there,” McNamara said. “There’s less weight on our shoulders as to the stress of, ‘We have to do this.’”

The Buckeyes entered last season’s tilt in Ann Arbor on an eight-game winning streak in the series, but that came to a crashing end with a 42-27 decision at Michigan Stadium.

It was the same site at which then-Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields said two years earlier he felt the Buckeyes took the rivalry more seriously than their northern neighbors.

That’s a message that seems to have been taken to heart by the Wolverines, who started emphasizing the rivalry in their daily workouts and copied Ohio State’s long-time practice of having a part of practice devoted to The Game.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh, who improved to 1-5 in the rivalry as a head coach, said he has not seen any complacency this year after the Wolverines finally slayed that dragon then went on to win their first Big Ten title since 2004 and make the College Football Playoff for the first time.

“It’s been a really good continuation from last year’s team,” Harbaugh said. “I think some of it, players that were on the team, they put in that work, they know what it was like — That good feeling of taking care of your business and having that success and being rewarded for it.

“They also saw other players on the team, guys like Aidan Hutchinson, Hassan Haskins, David Ojabo, who put in that work and how much it paid off for them.”

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After having standout seasons, that trio all heard their names called in the NFL Draft in April.

The Wolverines will have to replace them as well as a handful of other starters, but Harbaugh hinted motivation shouldn’t be hard even though his team is now on top of the mountain instead of perpetually climbing it.

“Using your head, using your noodle, it’s pretty easy to think, ‘Yeah, I want to do it just like they did it. I want to be where they are now,’” Harbaugh said. “It’s been a continuation of that this entire offseason. Just been tremendous.

“We’re just going to continue to attack. That’s what I really love about this team. They really literally attack everything that’s put in front of them.”

All, a senior tight end who helped Michigan rush for 297 yards, said he wasn’t surprised the Wolverines triumphed last year — or the physical manner in which they did.

“I watched a lot of their film, and I watched a lot of film on us too and practiced with the guys,” All said. “It’s just we were expecting to do what we did, and we’re gonna be doing the same thing, expecting the same thing this upcoming year.”

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