Differing paths of QBs Stroud, McCarthy led them to The Game

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — JJ McCarthy was a freshman bit player in Michigan’s 42-27 victory over Ohio State last season at the Big House.

A year later, the 19-year-old from the Chicago suburbs is the starting quarterback for unbeaten Michigan, preparing to play in front of the largest and most hostile road crowd he’s ever seen with the season on the line.

“It feels just like the stars are aligning,” McCarthy said. “And now it’s finally here. It’s meant to be.”

Ohio State quarterback CJ Stroud is as weathered as a two-year starter can be. A Heisman Trophy favorite and one of the most prolific passers in the country, Stroud remembers the agony of losing to the Wolverines a year ago despite throwing for nearly 400 yards and two touchdowns.

“We’ve been licking our wounds for 365 days,” the 21-year-old Californian said.

Before last year, Ohio State had won eight straight in the series. Stroud, who is eligible for the NFL draft in the spring, wants to make sure back-to-back losses to Michigan aren’t part of his legacy in Columbus.

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