Walking through the concourse of Michigan Stadium following Saturday’s game, you could feel a different mood in the air than the usual post-victory elation; much less talk about the game that fans had just watched, much more anticipation for the game next Saturday.
There’s only one team that garners that type of reaction among the Michigan fan base — it must be hate week.
For the Wolverines themselves, the anticipation has been there since the start of spring practice, even as they’ve kept their sights on what was immediately in front of them.
“Honestly, I think we’re really prepared,” defensive end Kris Jenkins said. “We really try to keep that mindset of preparing for them all year throughout the year in everything that we do. Not just playing the game of football but in our workouts, in everything. Everything we do we’re setting that mindset, that attitude, that identity, so that when we go over to play them we give them our best shot.”
While there was absolutely no disagreement on the need to shift gears, there wasn’t quite the same unanimity on how long the Wolverines would allow themselves to soak in their 19-17 comeback win over Illinois.
For wideout Ronnie Bell, the rush of a Senior Day victory didn’t really exist at all.
“Once the clock hit zero,” Bell said. “This is what we’ve been striving for all year — 11-0 to get there and now to play The Game, that’s all we wanted, man. Once the clock hit zero, get up out of here with a win and now we get to play the game we all want.”
In a bit of a surprising contrast, it was head coach Jim Harbaugh who provided a bit of a more easy-going attitude on when the right time to shift focus was.
“I think I’ll just enjoy this one,” Harbaugh said. “I think I’m just gonna enjoy this one for a few hours, probably about six. Give it six hours. Probably about six hours from now, I’ll be thinking about the Ohio State game.”
That six hours elapsed at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, meaning only one thing — hate week is officially on.