The Michigan football team is not unlike other football teams in its attempt to focus on the upcoming game. Every week, the Wolverines repeat familiar statements about planning only for the next game, treating each game the same and respecting every opponent.

Michigan stuck to that refrain again this week, but halfway through the season, some numbers have become too much to deny.

The Wolverines (6-0) moved up to third in the Associated Press poll this week, with archrival Ohio State (6-0) staying at No. 2. And while Michigan had a bye on Saturday, it had a chance to watch the Buckeyes knock off then-No. 8 Wisconsin in Madison in overtime. The only time either Ohio State or Michigan will face a currently ranked opponent before the teams face off in Columbus on Nov. 26 is when the Buckeyes host No. 8 Nebraska on Nov. 5.

This week, Michigan is a 34-point favorite at home against Illinois (2-4), and the Wolverines’ game preparation this week will consist of only that matchup. But for fifth-year senior offensive lineman Kyle Kalis, a native of Lakewood, Ohio, the regular-season finale is beginning to come into focus.

“It’s definitely just the time of year we start getting texts saying, you know, ‘The game’s coming near,’ ” Kalis said. “Especially with where we’re ranked and where they’re ranked, it’s just bound to happen. When we get there, it’s gonna be a crazy atmosphere. I mean, as it always is, but this year, it’s kind of turning out to be one to remember.”

A number of games from around the country on Michigan’s off week added to the hype. Clemson, which was ranked No. 3 in last week’s poll, narrowly escaped North Carolina State, so the Wolverines jumped them for the third spot. Michigan State, Michigan’s opponent Oct. 29, lost its fourth straight game against Northwestern, 54-40, lowering another roadblock in the Wolverines’ way. And in the primetime matchup, Ohio State outlasted the Badgers, whom Michigan beat by an identical margin two weeks ago.

There’s still plenty of football before the showdown in Columbus, but as of now, the collision course is on track.

“We’ve always paid the same amount of attention — it’s just that this year, we’re doing so good, expectations are just kind of different,” Kalis said. “That really goes without saying. We just gotta keep doing our job like we are, and good things will happen.”

Harbaugh, meanwhile, refused to look ahead, as he often does. He said he watched two games this weekend only as a fan — Nevada at San Jose State (perhaps because Nevada coach Brian Polian was Harbaugh’s special teams coordinator at Stanford in 2010) and Ohio State-Wisconsin. Asked how he will keep his team focused after yet another rise in the rankings, Harbaugh said simply: “We’re just gonna work. Work and not worry.”

The coach often expresses his goal of treating every game like a championship game. But it’s becoming more and more difficult to overlook what really could be a championship game in Columbus next month.

Redshirt junior linebacker Mike McCray, a native of Trotwood, Ohio, said he watched the Buckeyes out of sheer interest — “to scout them, I guess you could say.” He said he doesn’t look at the game differently because his father, Mike Sr., was a captain at Ohio State.

Kalis also watched the game, and he added that he hopes the Buckeyes keep winning to make their matchup with Michigan as important as possible.

In the meantime, the Wolverines haven’t had any trouble sticking to this week.

“It’s really not that hard,” Kalis said. “I mean, this far into the season, you’re kind of into a rhythm, and so you’re used to just doing the scouting report and having Tuesday practice and Wednesday practice and Thursday practice. Nothing really goes to your mind — you really don’t have time to think about other teams until the week comes.”

“ ’Cause trust me, when the week comes, there’s plenty of time. That’s all you’re doing all week, is thinking about that.”

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