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There’s a lot already known about the No. 3 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State football teams. After 11 games, there’s plenty of film, plenty of things do laude and plenty of things to criticize. But perhaps the largest single factor come this Saturday is still unknown:

The status of junior running back Blake Corum.

On Monday, when asked about Corum’s left leg injury that he sustained this past weekend against Illinois, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh remained mum:

“No update.”

Over 24 hours and 300 turkeys later, it’s no more clear.

Deemed “structurally good” by Harbaugh Saturday, Corum has proven he can at least walk on the leg. But after briefly returning against the Fighting Illini in the second half, then subsequently leaving due to the injury “bothering” him, walking doesn’t necessarily translate to playing.

The Wolverines, without the Heisman-hopeful Corum, would be severely hindered against the Buckeyes. Any team without its best player would be.

But, even if Corum doesn’t play, Michigan plans to win the same way it has all season: on the ground.

“I think in a game like this, winning the line of scrimmage, winning rushing totals is always a huge factor in the game for us,” graduate offensive lineman Ryan Hayes said Monday. “… I think we’ve planned on this. (Corum’s) a great player, but I think everybody else is just gonna step up with him out, and I think that we’re up to the challenge to do that.”

Sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy echoed the sentiment on Tuesday:

“We got guys who are going to carry the torch, and we got guys that we can rely on no matter who’s in there,” McCarthy said. “We’ll see with the running back situation, but we’re going to be ready for Saturday for sure.”

The optimism is palpable. The reality, however, is not so kind.

Against Illinois, after Corum left the game, the Wolverines’ remaining running backs were handed the torch and effectively snuffed out the flame. They ran for a combined 42 yards on 15 rush attempts, a measly 2.8 yards per carry. That doesn’t inspire confidence heading into Michigan’s toughest test of the season.

“Ohio State, they’re a good front,” graduate center Olusegun Oluwatimi said Tuesday. “They’re athletic, they’re strong, they’re penetrating. And they’re gonna give us their best, so we got to meet that.”

For the Wolverines to be at their best, they need Corum. Without him, the chances of a maize and blue victory fall faster than stock tickers in 1929.

This compounds with the reality that sophomore running back Donovan Edwards didn’t play against the Illini. If he’s also sidelined, Michigan has to reach deeper into its bag for running backs that haven’t proven themselves yet.

So, the biggest threat for the Wolverines to establish their punishing ground game remains Corum. Everyone else is more of an afterthought, a nagging worry, but not enough to strike fear into defenses.

That truth results in Ohio State coach Ryan Day acting as if Corum is healthy as can be in preparation for The Game.

“He’s a great player,” Day told reporters Tuesday. “We’re going to prepare for him to play. We expect him to play, and we’ll just do the best we can. They’re a very good offense. They have plenty of running backs — plenty of good players. So while he is very, very good, we’ll just continue to prepare for all of them.”

While Day still insists the Buckeyes will prepare for every back from Corum to Edwards to freshman CJ Stokes, the emphasis is — deservedly so — on Corum.

Buckeye defensive coordinator Jim Knowles gave a bit more insight on the psyche behind preparing for a back like Corum.

“It has a lot to do with discipline, understanding angles and taking your shot when you have it,” Knowles told reporters Tuesday. “But (take shots) with the appropriate angles and play hard within the scheme. It has a lot to do with discipline because if you are out of place, he will make you pay for it.”

And, just as Hayes, McCarthy and the Wolverines insist, Knowles believes the running ability in Ann Arbor goes beyond Corum.

“It’s difficult to simulate the way that they run the ball,” Knowles told reporters. “So you’ve just got to go back to your habits and training. You’ve got to put guys in great position, make sure everybody knows that everybody has to tackle. I think that’s a mentality that everybody has to tackle because they’re going to put corners, safeties — anybody — they’re going to put different people into a position where you have to make the tackle. So it’s really a mentality.”

Corum’s availability won’t be known until game time Saturday. Even then, it’s unlikely that Michigan will disclose the extent of his injury.

But whether Corum’s available or not, the Wolverines plan to win the same as they have their previous 11 games — and the same way they beat Ohio State last year. And no matter who Michigan lines up behind its offensive line, the Buckeyes have prepared to stop them.