Jake Ryan speaks to the media following Michigan's 23-16 loss to Maryland Nov. 22, 2014. Ryan, an Ohio native, expressed excitement over playing Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio in what could be his final collegiate game. (Rebecca Gallagher/MJ)
Jake Ryan speaks to the media following Michigan's 23-16 loss to Maryland Nov. 22, 2014. Ryan, an Ohio native, expressed excitement over playing Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio in what could be his final collegiate game. (Rebecca Gallagher/MJ)
Jake Ryan speaks to the media following Michigan’s 23-16 loss to Maryland Nov. 22, 2014. Ryan, an Ohio native, expressed excitement over playing Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio in what could be his final collegiate game. (Rebecca Gallagher/MJ)

By ERICK LEHMAN, Staff Reporter

The last Saturday in November.

For most, a normal Saturday; the Saturday spent recuperating from the Thanksgiving feast a few days prior and black Friday shopping.

Others may spend it shopping on what is known as “Small Business Saturday.”
But, for people in Michigan and Ohio, it’s not just a normal Saturday. It is the most important Saturday of the year. It’s like a holiday.

It’s the day Michigan and Ohio State have long met in the rivalry known as “The Game.”

And for the Wolverine faithful, it is their National Championship, their Super Bowl. Bragging rights are on the line, bowl eligibility is on the line, and a spot in the first ever college football playoff is on the line.

For 23 players on the Michigan roster, it is a return home.

A return to a place where you’re hated for being a Michigan Wolverine. But the hate is even deeper for these 23 players, as they chose the Wolverines over their home state team: The Ohio State Buckeyes.

“We have the greatest rivalry in college football in my opinion coming up,” head coach Brady Hoke said after the Maryland game.

Some of the Michigan greats have come from Ohio, notably legendary coach Bo Schembechler, who was an assistant coach for the Buckeyes in the 1960’s.

Two of Michigan’s three Heisman trophy winners were also Ohio natives. Both Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson chose to head north, against their home state team, and play for the Wolverines.

“It’s the biggest rivalry in college football,” said senior linebacker Jake Ryan, a Westlake, Ohio native. “I’ve played in it, and it’s going to be a great game. I can tell you that much.”

Of the 12 seniors on the Michigan football team, Ryan is the only one from Ohio.

“Going back to your home state, in front of a lot of people that don’t like you anymore, but obviously it’s a meaningful game,” said junior linebacker Joe Bolden. “It’s the biggest rivalry in all of sports. It’s the last Saturday in November.”