ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan Wolverines football senior running back Blake Corum woke up Monday and thought to himself, “man, it’s game week,” he revealed during his press conference. It’s not just game week, it’s the week of ‘The Game,’ and Corum is fully healthy — minus typical bumps and bruises — for the matchup against Ohio State for the first time in his career.
Corum played on a high ankle sprain back during a 42-27 win over the Buckeyes in 2021. He contributed by ripping off a 55-yard run on Michigan’s first drive of the second half, setting up 1 of Hassan Haskins‘ 5 scoring rushes. In a 45-23 beatdown of the Buckeyes in Columbus, Corum, who had went down with a knee injury the prior week against Illinois, tried to give it a go but wasn’t healthy enough to impact. He underwent knee surgery a week later, after carrying twice for 6 yards (amazingly, given he had torn his MCL and meniscus) and being on the field for kneeldowns.
“Finally, I get to play in ‘The Game,’ healthy,” Corum said Monday. “I’m super excited, but I’m trying to remain calm. I’m going to make sure that I prepare really well. But yeah, last two years, sophomore year, a little banged up with the ankle and then last year I tried but couldn’t.
“This game means a lot. Not only will this be my first time being healthy [against Ohio State], but it’s going to be my last time in The Big House playing in front of the best fanbase with my brothers and the best coaches. I’m super excited.”
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Corum will be honored on senior day. A year ago, when Corum was vying for the Heisman Trophy, it looked like this day wouldn’t come. But he chose to return to Michigan and has excelled in his final season, with 888 rushing yards and a nation-leading 20 touchdown runs.
“I think it’ll definitely be emotional, but it’s ‘The Game,'” Michigan’s 5-8, 213-pounder said. “Who’s not going to be emotional? I’ll definitely be amped up. Going down that tunnel one last time, [I] definitely will have a lot of emotions going on, playing in front of 110,000, the best fan base.
“Going into my last game in The Big House, I just want to say, the University of Michigan has been nothing but good to me. I’m so glad I chose the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan chose me. I’m just thankful, man, and I’m excited. Hopefully, we can end with a bang.”
Corum said before the season that it was “win or bust” for Michigan. The Wolverines’ first chance to win a championship comes Saturday, when they can be crowned Big Ten East Division champions and earn the right to play Iowa in the conference title game with a victory. The College Football Playoff is also on the line, most likely, since there are several teams still in contention to make the four-team field.
“Championship game that we’re coming up on Saturday, Nov. 25,” Corum said. “We’ve just gotta be locked in, be where our feet are this week, prepare really well and then just play our ball, man. Don’t do anything different. Play together as one unit and play for our brothers and do what Michigan Wolverines do.”
A win would also mean three straight against Ohio State for the first time since 1995-97.
“Three wins would mean a sweep, right? Three is a sweep?” Corum, who’s never lost to Ohio State, said with a smile. “So, it would be major. It would be huge for the program. It would be huge for us and the type of season we’re having. So, it would be huge. It would mean a lot in this rivalry, winning three in a row.”
‘The Wolverines will be ready’
The Wolverines have dominated the Buckeyes, outscoring the arch rival 87-50 the last two seasons, after implementing a ‘Beat Ohio’ drill and appearing to place more emphasis on the regular season’s final contest.
“You try to be where your feet are as much as you can throughout the season, but sometimes it’s hard not to glance off at that last game,” the Michigan standout admitted. “I think we’ve been doing that throughout the year, even though we’ve been preaching ‘one game at a time.’ We’ve definitely glanced off. I know a lot of guys watched some film previously, maybe a little dibble dabble here and there throughout the weeks.
“But we’re here now, and we can focus all we want on this game — and I think that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve kinda been looking at it from afar all year, but now we’re going to be locked in, we’re going to be ready and we’re going to prepare like no other. Come Saturday, the Wolverines will be ready.”
Ohio State’s defense ranks second nationally — behind only Michigan’s unit — with only 9.3 points allowed per game. They’re third in the country with 252.8 yards given up per contest, too, and give up 108.6 of those on the ground (21st). Corum knows Saturday could be the Michigan offense’s biggest challenge.
“It’s 11 hats to the ball at all times,” he said of what he’s seen from the Buckeyes. “They have great players on all levels — not just the D-ends and the linebackers, but I think D-ends, linebackers, secondary, you name it. They’re fundamentally sound, they play well together. It’s going to be a good challenge for us to be able to go up against other great athletes.
“Overall, I don’t think they’re missing many pieces. I think they’re a pretty darn good defense, so I’m super excited for the challenge.”