Ohio State players who are part of a team that beats Michigan are awarded a pair of miniature gold pants. But Tyvis Powell wanted more for his effort in last year's victory at Ann Arbor. He got a ball - and not just any ball, but the ball, the one he intercepted to thwart Michigan's two-point conversion attempt in the final minute that sealed Ohio State's 42-41 win.
Ohio State players who are part of a team that beats Michigan are awarded a pair of miniature gold pants. But Tyvis Powell wanted more for his effort in last year's victory at Ann Arbor.
He got a ball - and not just any ball, but the ball, the one he intercepted to thwart Michigan's two-point conversion attempt in the final minute that sealed Ohio State's 42-41 win.
"He caught the ball, and I don't think he put it down until he got back home in Columbus," linebacker Joshua Perry said with a laugh. "I mean, he went in the shower with that thing. He was getting dressed with the ball."
Powell said the ball sits in a place of prominence in his family home in the Cleveland suburb of Bedford. Catching that pass thrown by quarterback Devin Gardner, intended to provide Michigan with one of the great upset victories in the 110-game history of the rivalry, made Powell famous among Ohio State fans.
The sophomore safety isn't sure about famous, but conceded that making "a big, signature play in this game, it basically gets you known forever. Everybody will always remember you for what you did in that game. No matter how your season may have been, what you did in that game is what people really care about."
As Powell spoke in advance of Saturday's game at Ohio Stadium, his smile grew wider as memories of his theft bubbled to the surface.
"That's always something I'm going to take with me for the rest of my life," said Powell, who referred to the interception with 32 seconds remaining as the second-best moment in his Ohio State career.
"The first-best," he said, "was probably me committing here."
Players and coaches, past and present, always speak of the intensity of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, of how The Game often seems to hinge on a play or two. Powell's play, however, was one in which preparation met opportunity - the Buckeyes had seen Michigan run that play several times before in video study.
Powell also hasn't forgotten that his interception preserved a one-point win in a game that Ohio State was supposed to dominate. So nothing should be taken for granted this week, he said, even though the heavily favored Buckeyes (10-1) are already headed to the Big Ten championship game and Michigan (5-6) is left scrapping for simple bowl eligibility.
"Forget the record; that doesn't mean anything," Powell said. "This is the rivalry game. Like last year, records don't mean anything. They are going to come give us their best shot.
"The whole season is kind of based on this last game, really. That's how you basically talk about the season, whether you won or lost to The Team Up North. So, we're definitely going to give it everything we've got, and I know they're going to give it everything they've got. I mean, that's what they always do."
On top of that, the Wolverines probably want their ball back.