As Ohio State prepares for a third-straight matchup with huge stakes against Michigan, the Buckeyes are taking a page out of their hated rival’s playbook in the merchandising department. The Wolverines, still embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal that will keep coach Jim Harbaugh off the sidelines Saturday, took to wearing “Michigan vs. Everybody” apparel. In a counter-move, Buckeye NIL collective The 1870 Society is putting “Ohio Against the World” on merch and selling it. This makes Saturday’s contest a game between two top-five teams who think they have everything to prove to everyone else.
The mantra, “Ohio Against the World,” dates prior to the Michigan investigation. Buckeye coach Ryan Day proclaimed “it’s always been Ohio against the world, and it will continue to be Ohio against the world” after an emotional win over Notre Dame. This was in direct response to former Fighting Irish coach Lou Holtz. This is just progression.
Day and the Buckeyes are technically underdogs heading into Saturday’s matchup against Michigan, with BetMGM giving the Buckeyes 3.5 points as of Monday. That’s a negligible spread, particularly for a team going on the road during Rivalry Week, but it does support the narrative. College football coaches love few things more than the underdog status: It has paid dividends for Kirby Smart and the burgeoning dynasty cultivated at Georgia, and Day has espoused a similar mentality with the Buckeyes.
Ohio State was No. 2 in the Week 12 CFP rankings, with Tuesday’s unveiling not expected to bring change. The Buckeyes were also No. 2 in last week’s Coaches Poll. Ohio State and Michigan might be playing for a playoff spot Saturday. This is just the beginning of a big week of trash talk between two teams hoping for a chance to play for a Big Ten title.