Buckeyes Begin Preparation For Michigan

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes quickly turned the page from their 20-17 win at Iowa and began looking forward to Michigan week. Tressel expects a physical contest between his team and head coach Rich Rodriguez's Wolverines.

At noon Saturday, Ohio State and Michigan will play on the gridiron for the 107th time. If there was any doubt what week it was, OSU head coach Jim Tressel removed it with the opening to his customary week-opening press conference Monday.

"Well, I don't have to tell you what week this is. It's exciting and there's nothing like it," he said. "You can feel the energy in our building and amongst our kids and coaches and fans and all the rest and on the campus, and we're looking forward to it," he said.

Tressel, who at 8-1 in the series has mastered the Wolverines like no Buckeye mentor before him, has an easy solution for any nerves that might affect his team early in the contest between the ancient rivals: There is nothing a few cracks of the pads can't fix.

Might his team face extra pressure trying to maintain a six-game winning streak in the series? What about trying to lock up a share of a record-tying sixth consecutive Big Ten championship or playing for a BCS bowl berth?

"I hope not," he said. "I think once you get splattered a couple of times all the rhetoric ends and the football begins."

How will wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, one of 24 seniors set for his last game at Ohio Stadium, deal with the feelings of closing that chapter of his life?

"I'm sure it will be an emotional time for him and he'll need to go out and get whacked a couple times," Tressel said. "He'll be immersed in the moment, but he'll want that clock to never end. That's just the way he is."

How will fellow receiver DeVier Posey put a dropped touchdown pass last week at Iowa behind him?

"We've all been there and, again, once he gets hit Saturday, even if he's thinking about it all week, which competitors do... he'll have his chances and he'll be fine."

And so Michigan week has hit Columbus.

Speaking of physical play, Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was part of plenty of that as he carried 15 times in Iowa City last week. He picked up 75 yards and what appeared to be a sore right (throwing) shoulder along the way, too, but Tressel said he should be fine this week.

"He was bruised up, but again, that blood will get flowing on Saturday and he might get bruised during the game and have to go like this again, but guys will keep going," he said.

He added that there was nothing to the apparent shouting match Pryor and quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano had on the sidelines late in the second quarter at Kinnick Stadium. That type of exchange occurs between the two on a regular basis, but neither takes it seriously for long.

"If we had cameras in the coaches rooms, it would be a reality show," Tressel said. "I spend half my energy calming those two down. That's competitive quarterback and that quarterback coach."

While Pryor should be good to go against the Wolverines, Tressel said he does not expect the return of freshman defensive back Christian Bryant, who has missed the past four games because of a foot infection and subsequent surgery to remove it.

"He's not going to be playing in the game, unless there's something I don't know," Tressel said. "I didn't see that on the medical report, although (trainer) Doug Calland did say that this is the easiest week of the year in the training room. All of a sudden everybody's ready, so maybe he is ready. He's going to have to hurry to beat some of those other guys out though."

The head coach and his players both agree the Buckeyes will need as many healthy bodies as they can find to slow down Michigan's spread offense. The unit is ranked fifth in the nation and No. 1 in the Big Ten in total yards and spearheaded by star quarterback Denard Robinson, whom Tressel was not sure just one player could mimic in practice this week.

"It gives you all of the problems that a wildcat offense gives you with a great running back back there, but along with it, it has all of the passing problems," Tressel said. "So I think you've got to work on them maybe independent of one another, but knowing on Saturday they won't be independent and it will be a great challenge."


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