December 6, 2013

Time for talk is almost over

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INDIANAPOLIS - The Buckeyes and Spartans have been on a collision course to meet in the Big Ten Championship game for several weeks and the waiting is almost complete with both teams making it into snowy Indianapolis and Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday. Urban Meyer and Mark Dantonio met with the media for the final press conference on Friday afternoon to give some final updates and smile for the cameras with the Big Ten Championship trophy.

Of biggest news on the Buckeye side of things, Meyer confirmed that Marcus Hall would not be starting for the Buckeyes after his actions post-ejection from the Michigan game and a two-finger salute to the hostile Michigan crowd. Meyer said that Pat Elflein would be starting in his place but would not go further in his plans for the position after that.

"(I am) very, very disappointed in (Marcus') actions," Meyer said. "He paid the penalty for the fight, which is he missed three quarters in a rivalry game. It's not Marcus. But just really disappointed in his actions after the fight."

The Buckeyes are coming into the game with few significant injuries to players who have been playing down the stretch. Meyer has pointed out that the team has lost close to a dozen players to season ending injuries over the course of the year but at this point it looked like everyone who has been playing will play.

Linebacker Curtis Grant has been dealing with a pair of injuries and has been in and out of the lineup for the last month but would attempt to go on Saturday. Corey Brown has been dealing with a minor stress fracture in his leg and while he may not be 100-percent that he would be good to go and would play.

"I think Grant is going to play," Meyer said. "He's been practicing all week. Philly Brown has a small stress fracture in his leg. That's why he hasn't played as much in the last few weeks. It's healing. Probably not full speed, but pretty close. I think that's about it."

Seeking Hyde

There are several players pm each side that could be the Player of the Game on Saturday and many people feel that Carlos Hyde could be that guy, especially if the Buckeyes come out on top. After missing the first three games of the season with a suspension he has come out on fire and has run like a completely different back than what anyone had seen the previous three years.

Consider that Hyde rushed for a combined 126 yards in his first two games and most of his damage has come in the last seven games where Hyde has averaged 166 yards a game and two touchdowns a game (all 14 TDs have come in the last seven games).

But it did not appear for a while that Hyde would be part of this team after he ran into legal issues and into Urban's doghouse. The suspension cost Hyde 25-percent of the regular season but Meyer hopes the lessons learned will carry him beyond his football playing days.

"I'm hoping it will for the rest of his life," Meyer said. "A very humble young man that realized something was almost taken away from him. I've loved his approach to everything right now."

Been there, done that

Ohio State has seen its National Championship dreams dashed by Michigan State before. Rewind to November 7th, 1998 when the Spartans visited No. 1 Ohio State in Columbus and one of the most talented teams in recent Ohio State history came up on the wrong end of a 28-24 decision, after holding a 24-9 lead in the 3rd quarter, in the first year of the BCS. Nick Saban was the head coach of the Spartans but Mark Dantonio was on that staff as the secondary coach.

While a 15-year-old game doesn't help Dantonio on Saturday night, the memories of vivid and he has been a part of upsetting a highly ranked Ohio State team in the past.

"As far as what that has to do with this game, I haven't thought about it in that regard," Dantonio said "I just haven't because it's been quite a while ago. This is a different football team at Michigan State. It's a different Ohio State football team."

How does Dantonio feel this game compares to the game back in 1998?

"Really, to be honest with you, I know people may not agree with this in Ohio, but the magnitude of this game I think is bigger just based on from my perspective sitting here with the green helmet, from their perspective as well, because it sends you someplace," Dantonio said.

Last time out

Both the Buckeyes and Spartans are very different teams than the ones they faced in 2012 with the Ohio State offense being more prolific by a large margin and an already stingy Spartan defense quite possibly being even better. The Buckeyes pulled out a 17-16 win in East Lansing to start the Big Ten season, a win that launched a team fresh off a 6-7 season into a perfect 12-0 year in 2012.

Buckeye and Spartan fans may have different memories of that game but both teams have gone back to that game since the two did not play in 2013.

"Offensively, I think things are a lot different," Meyer said of Michigan State. "(MSU is) much more explosive than they were, but defensively very similar. (They have) great players, great scheme. We did not play great. We had two good drives. Other than that, it was not a very good performance by the Ohio State offense."

The changes for Ohio State from 2012 to 2013 are much more significant, most notably on the offensive side of the ball where Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde are playing at a different level than they did at any point of 2012.

"A lot of players that we saw last year are a year older, a year more experienced in their system, yet it is their system, it's what they were doing," Dantonio said "You get a feel for Braxton Miller in terms of what he did last year against us. You also get a feel for how Carlos Hyde played and Devin Smith, some of the other players that played against us. It gives us something to compare to. But at the same time they are who they are this year as well. We need to take into consideration more in terms of who they are this year."


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