Sure, Kyle Kalis will admit it: The Michigan guard is keeping tabs on Ohio State.
In fact, Kalis is rooting for the second-ranked Buckeyes to keep winning until the third-ranked Wolverines visit the Buckeyes next month.
“I want them to win all the way until we play them,” Kalis said Monday. “I know some of the guys were wishing them to lose, which it’s hard not to. A little part of me was hoping they’d lose, but I’m glad they won. I want them to make ‘The Game’ as meaningful as possible.”
Jim Harbaugh said he watched Ohio State win at No. 8 Wisconsin in overtime, but wasn’t very forthcoming.
“I was just watching it as a fan,” Harbaugh said. “Two good football teams.”
While the Buckeyes were beating the Badgers, the Wolverines were enjoying the weekend off without a game. Michigan (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) hosts Illinois (2-4, 1-2) on Saturday.
Harbaugh was working during his team’s bye weekend and, of course, found a unique way to do it. At one game in California, he announced the school’s homecoming queen.
“It was great to be part of the activity,” Harbaugh said.
At another game in California, Harbaugh held the down marker on the sideline because he said they needed a guy for the chain gang .
“I was promised a tri-tip sandwich at halftime,” Harbaugh said. “And that was all I needed to hear.”
Kalis, an Ohio native, who committed to Ohio State before choosing to attend Michigan, has been hearing from friends back home about the annual showdown game, one of the best rivalries in sports. The Wolverines have five more games before they play Nov. 26 at Ohio State, but that isn’t stopping anyone from talking about the highly anticipated matchup.
“This is the time of year when you start getting texts saying, ‘The Game’ is coming near,’ ” Kalis said. “Especially with where we’re ranked and where they’re ranked, it’s bound to happen. When we get there, it’s going to be a crazy atmosphere as it always is, but this year is turning out to be one to remember I feel like.”
Kalis insisted he has always paid the same amount of attention to Ohio State leading up to their matchup.
“This year, we’re doing so good expectations are just kind of different,” he said. “We just have to keep doing our job like we are and good things will happen.”
Michigan is going into the second half of the regular season with its highest ranking in a decade.
The Wolverines were No. 3 in 2006 after losing at No. 1 Ohio State as the second-ranked team in the country. Kalis said the Wolverines have been climbing in the poll because they prepare “like no one else,” and have treated each game as if a championship is at stake.
“We want to go higher,” Kalis said. “The goal is to go as high as we can. We just need to continue what we’re doing and it’ll pay off.”
Michigan has been tested only once this season and it passed, beating Wisconsin 14-7. The Wolverines have had only had one other relatively close game, a 45-28 win over Colorado. In every other matchup, they have routed their opponent with ease.
Harbaugh said playing another team his team is expected to dominate with emotionally charged games coming up — including next week against rival at Michigan State — isn’t a concern of his as he prepares the Wolverines to play the Fighting Illini.
“We’re just going to work and not worry,” he said.
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