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Arden excited about rivalry

COLUMBUS -- Redgie Arden wants a matching set.

There's a tradition at Ohio State that gives Buckeye players a pair of gold pants trinket for beating their arch rivals the Michigan Wolverines. The Buckeyes won last year's meeting and Arden got a pair of gold pants in his rookie season.

Now the redshirt freshman plans to get greedy.

"I've got one pair of gold pants already. I'm ready to get another," Arden said.

But the trinket is minor compared to what is at stake for Saturday's game scheduled to kickoff at noon. Ohio State is 12-0 and ranked second in the Associated Press poll and Bowl Championship Series ratings. A win would put Ohio State in the national championship game in the Fiesta Bowl.

Arden, who was the AP Division IV co-Defensive Player of the Year for the Ironton Fighting Tigers, has been in a lot of big games during his career including this past season. But none of those games can match Saturday's showdown.

"It's going to be awesome. This is the biggest game I have ever been in," Arden said. "There's a lot on the line, but Coach (Jim) Tressel wants us to focus on one game at a time and not to think about the national championship game. We have to win this game first to get to the championship."

The 6-foot-5, 260-pound Arden began his career as a linebacker, but the lack of depth at tight end forced his move to offense. As a results, Arden is playing on the kickoff return team and earning some playing time behind starter Ben Hartsock.

"I miss defense a little bit, but up here you do what you have to do to play and to help the team win," Arden said. "I like it at tight end. I'm getting better and I'm getting to play."

Although Arden grew up a Buckeye fan and well aware of the rivalry, he said it was not even close to actually being involved in the pregame hype.

"They're going crazy up here," Arden said. "I'm seeing so much stuff. This is one of the best rivalries in the country. To be a part of it is unbelievable.

"When we came out of our meeting on Sunday, the band was playing and (former Ohio State) coach (Earle) Bruce gave a speech. We got all our media stuff out of the way on Monday and we've stayed focused all week. But we're excited and it's not just the players. The fans are excited, too."

Although the Buckeyes have had some close games all season, Arden said it doesn't matter as long as you keep winning.

"We've got all the talent in the world. The margin of victory for us always depends on how well the offense executes," Arden said.