COLUMBUS, Ohio — Just three weeks ago, Ohio State held out hope of playing for the Big Ten title.

Now, after consecutive losses, about all the Buckeyes (6-5, 3-4 Big Ten) say they have to play for is beating No. 17 Michigan — which would be no small accomplishment.

A season already scuttled by NCAA violations, coach Jim Tressel's forced resignation, star quarterback Terrelle Pryor's premature departure and a series of crucial injuries now comes down to a showdown at The Big House.

Already a red-letter day for Ohio State fans, players and coaches, the game offers one last chance for the Buckeyes to rise above their troubles to ruin what has been a remarkable season for the Wolverines.

That's enough inspiration for just about everyone.