December 1, 2013

Amid national title talk, focus remains on Michigan State

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- About 24 hours following Ohio State's thrilling 42-41 win against arch rival Michigan, coach Urban Meyer addressed the media on the Big Ten championship game teleconference Sunday.

The Buckeyes -- which are now ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press and USA Today coaches polls after No. 3 Auburn upset then-No. 1 Alabama in dramatic fashion Saturday evening -- are set to play No. 10 Michigan State for the conference crown next weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Here's a list of quick hitter of what Meyer, moved to 24-0 as the program's coach, had to say.

More on the brawl

After being ejected for their respective roles in an in-game melee with Michigan players Saturday, Meyer said he doesn't anticipate suspending senior guard Marcus Hall or freshman running back Dontre Wilson.

Of course, it's not like Meyer condones such behavior.

"There's no room for fighting in football," Meyer said.

Hall and Wilson were tossed after throwing punches in a scrum early in the the second quarter. Notably, Hall, on his way to the locker room, threw his helmet, kicked an empty bench and flipped off all 133,511 people at Michigan Stadium.

It's still unclear if such antics, which made national headlines, will lead to suspensions from the Big Ten. Meyer said, as of Sunday afternoon, he hadn't yet talked with the conference about potential disciplinary measures. The coach said he thinks he will know more today.

Back to No. 2

After hovering in the top five for months, Ohio State is now ranked No. 2 in both the AP and coaches polls.

While the weekly BCS standings -- which determine what two teams play in the national championship game in January -- come out some time Sunday evening.

Meyer, though, said his crew will take little time to address their place on the national stage.

"We'll spend about eight seconds on it," he said.

With the chaos in the standings, though, Meyer added "I think America is ready for a playoff."

Otherwise, ike he's done much of this season and, especially, in recent weeks, Meyer ducked and dodged any and all questions dealing with big picture things and answered the opportunity to comment on Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs' seemingly shameless politicking with a simple, "No."

Jacobs said it would be a "disservice" to the country if the Tigers, which sit at 11-1 before an SEC championship game date with Missouri next weekend, got left out of the national championship game.

And Auburn, which are moved up to No. 3 after returning a last-second missed field goal for a touchdown to stun their rivals in the Crimson Tide, 34-28, Saturday night, appear to be undefeated Ohio State's biggest threat to a BCS title berth.

Of course, like the Buckeyes and any team gunning for a spot in college football's mecca, they will need to win out.

Meyer said Ohio State isn't in such a conversation unless it handles its business against the Spartans.

Here comes Sparty

It's probably really easy to simplify the Big Ten championship game into terms of when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. The former being Ohio State's explosive offense and the latter being Michigan State's asphyxiating defense.

The Buckeyes, which have entered a sort of offensive renaissance under the direction of Meyer, are averaging 48 points and 531 yards a contest.

Meanwhile, the Spartans, led by Ohio State former defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio, are only surrendering 12 points and 238 yards a game.

In particular, Meyer's crew -- which is running the ball on average for 321 yards -- will have to contend with a Michigan State team allowing 65 yards a game.

"There's no shortcutting Michigan State's defense," Meyer said.

Quick hitters

Here's what else Meyer had to say Sunday on the teleconference:

1. Meyer said Ohio State's pass defense was "exposed" Saturday against Michigan. He and his staff, he said, will obviously keep working to remedy that unit.

2. Meyer Carlos Hyde, who has run 1,290 yards and 14 touchdowns -- including a 226-yard, one touchdown outing against the Wolverines -- has a "father-son like" relationship with running backs coach Stan Drayton.

3. Meyer said that between Hyde and quarterback Braxton Miller, it might be one of the -- if not the single most potent combination of players he's had.

4. Meyer said the gap in between the SEC and Big Ten isn't as vast as people think, but didn't want to expand on that saying it takes away from his team's focus on task at hand.

5. Meyer said reserve offensive lineman Pat Elflein came up big for the Buckeyes after Marcus Hall was ejected: "He actually played like really good at times."


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