The upper hand in the Legends Division race will be at stake when Michigan visits Nebraska on Saturday night, and both head coaches talked briefly Tuesday about how much they emphasize what a Big Ten championship means or how they might use it as potential motivation.
Brady Hoke said it’s hard not to in Ann Arbor.
“Let’s face it, besides graduating and honoring your name and your university’s name, the expectations are to win Big Ten championships, especially at Michigan,” Hoke said on the weekly Big Ten teleconference. “So we embrace it and we’re not going to shy away from it, and we’ll be very honest about it.”
The Wolverines also haven’t won or shared a Big Ten title since 2004, something that can weigh on a coach who also spent eight years as a Wolverines assistant (1995 through 2002) before becoming head coach in 2011.
“There’s no question about it,” Hoke said. “That’s part of the legacy and tradition of this program.”
Bo Pelini said the staff at Nebraska doesn’t talk about it daily, but it’s always there.
“I mean, our players understand what’s out there and what the challenges are, and we try to keep them focused on what we’ve got to do that particular day to get better,” he said. “Every now and then we talk about it, but like I said, you don’t have to talk about it a lot because I think they have a great understanding of what’s at stake.”
Michigan (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten) plays Nebraska (5-2, 2-1) in a 7 p.m. game Saturday that will be televised on ESPN2. It will be the Wolverines’ first visit to Lincoln since the Huskers joined the Big Ten.
“They’re very good at home,” Hoke said. “I think most of us understand that.”