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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Even when it would have helped Ohio State for its rival to win, the Buckeyes still couldn’t bring themselves to cheer for Michigan.

After falling into a precarious scenario in the Big Ten East Division race thanks to the upset loss for the Wolverines on Saturday night against Iowa, the Buckeyes made it clear that the bad blood between the programs trumped any self interest in preserving a three-way tiebreaker that would potentially allow them to advance to play for the conference title.

The Buckeyes were always going to need to win their closing games to stay in contention for a Big Ten championship, including the huge showdown with the Wolverines on Nov. 26. But now they’ll also need Penn State to lose once more to avoid losing a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Nittany Lions. For now, though, that doesn’t appear to be troubling the Buckeyes.

“No, I don’t root for them,” junior captain Raekwon McMillan said. “No. I mean, as a player and as our rival, I really just don’t root for them at all. It’s not a thing that I do, and I don’t feel like anybody at our university should either. It is what it is.

“None of my teammates were mad about them losing. That was our rival. We did want to play the best, highest-ranked team or whatever, but that’s all I have to say about that.”

The Buckeyes might be comforted by their improved chances of making the four-team College Football Playoff field without winning the Big Ten — with a potential path opening up ahead of them thanks to not only Michigan’s loss, but also upsets to previously unbeaten Clemson and Washington.

Ohio State moved up to No. 2 in the AP poll on Sunday. And after checking in at No. 5, according to the playoff selection committee a week ago, it will likely move into position to contend for the national championship when the new rankings are released on Tuesday night. And the ability to stay there will ultimately come down to winning on Saturday against Michigan State and in the finale against the Wolverines, whether they get help in the division or not.

“You know, no, not really; we don’t really ever want to root for those guys,” center Pat Elflein said. “It was just an exciting football game to watch. I was watching with my roommates, and you’re thinking about those scenarios and all that, but what I said is we have to win-out. First win against Michigan State, then win the rest of our games if we even want to dabble with the playoff and the championship. We have to win Saturday before we can even talk about that.

“I was watching, though. I knew No. 2, 3 and 4 went down. It was an exciting night of football — a lot of upsets.”