Brady Hoke says this Ohio State-Michigan game is no different from previous ones.
"There's a buzz," "he said, "because of the great rivalry and the great respect we have for Ohio."
Not enough respect to say the word "State," but that's a different matter.
Hoke can feel that way, but the truth is that this is unlike most Ohio State-Michigan games.
For the undefeated Buckeyes, the struggling Wolverines are just another hurdle toward the finish line. They have bigger fish to filet. They rank third in the BCS standings, and CBSSports.com analyst Jerry Palm said that "nothing will cause Ohio State to get jumped if it keeps winning."
So Ohio State figures to play for the BCS title if either Alabama or Florida State loses, and the Buckeyes beat Michigan and then Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game.
Ohio State fans are expected to flood Michigan Stadium, another sign that this barely resembles the annual Bo vs. Woody wars. Tickets are going for as little as $90 on StubHub.com.
"I'd be very disappointed," Hoke said, "to see a lot of red in Michigan Stadium."
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer would not bite on questions about Ohio State's larger goals.
"Our goal is to win this game," he said. "Everything else … is secondary."
For Michigan, it's more about saving face after losing four of its last six games. The Wolverines are 15-point underdogs. A respectable loss would allow Hoke to close out the regular season with some dignity and give an edge in holding together a highly rated recruiting class.
"Business" model: The keep-or-can Bo Pelini debate is in full throttle among Nebraska fans. Some reports estimate a 50-50 split in opinion.
Asked if recruits are asking about his future, Pelini replied: "I haven't been out recruiting. I've just been talking to recruits on the phone. It has been business as usual around here. You guys are creating more speculation than anyone else. We're just trying to win a football game and move along."
Nebraska is 8-3 with a Friday home date against Iowa. The Cornhuskers certainly have been consistent under Pelini — four losses every season. He is 56-23 overall, with his team showing a remarkable ability to pull out close games.
The wild card is that Nebraska has a first-year athletic director in Shawn Eichorst, who came from Miami. Eichorst has offered no clues to his thinking.
Asked if he would like his situation to be resolved soon, Pelini replied: "Shawn has said all along he has a process and doesn't comment on things during the season. People want to read into that. I know better."
Flower child: So if Ohio State beats Michigan State and gets a spot in the BCS title game, which team would the Rose Bowl select? It will be the game's 100th edition, so the prevailing wisdom has the Rose tabbing a Big Ten partner — assuming Wisconsin, Michigan State or both remain in the top 14 of the BCS standings.
Spartans coach Mark Dantonio told reporters Tuesday that he believes that if his team finishes the regular season 11-1 by beating Minnesota, regardless of what happens in Indianapolis, the Spartans deserve a BCS berth over Wisconsin.
"Oh yeah, I'll campaign," he said. "We've beaten Wisconsin three of the last four (times). Start with that."
Wisconsin would be 10-2 with a victory over Penn State, and both of its losses came on the road — to Ohio State by a touchdown and Arizona State in a finish the officials botched.
"We are a one-loss team in reality," Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland said.
Here's what could decide it: Michigan State has not been to Pasadena since 1988, whereas Wisconsin has been to three straight Rose Bowls, losing three close games.
Some Rose Bowl officials sensed a "been there, done that" attitude last year among Badgers players, and some were turned off by Bret Bielema's decision to leave for the Arkansas job rather than coach in the game.
So although Wisconsin could turn out to be the higher-rated team, few would be surprised if the Spartans got the call.
Extra points: The annual Iowa-Nebraska game will be played on Black Friday through at least 2019. ABC/ESPN prefers it that way, as do most fans. Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz acknowledged that whether he likes it or not doesn't much matter: "We're (no longer) driving horse-and-buggies, so we might as well embrace it." … Minnesota's Jerry Kill on the Badgers: "I don't know if there is a weakness on Wisconsin. You can't turn it over, you can't have minus yards." … Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter (shoulder) did not practice Tuesday, as expected. Coach Pat Fitzgerald said that in deciding whether Colter will suit up Saturday at Illinois, NU officials would not be swayed by it being Colter's final college game.