Having coached in three of them during his time at Florida, Urban Meyer is no stranger to conference championship games. On Friday, the Ohio State head coach helped preview his first appearance in the Big Ten title game, and the Buckeyes' matchup with Michigan State.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Nearly 24 hours before his team takes the field for the Big Ten Championship Game, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer met with the media to preview his team's showdown with the Spartans. What follows is a list of updates from the Buckeyes head coach, who has led Ohio State to 24 consecutive wins in the past two seasons.
Meyer said that it was an "uneventful trip" from Columbus to Indianapolis, which is a positive with the whether. Said that the Buckeyes are honored and eager to be here.
Asked about the 2012 Michigan State game, Meyer said that Ohio State has reviewed that film quite a bit. Said offensively this year, the Spartans are different, but defensively, they're very similar. Said that the Buckeyes didn't play great in that game, particularly on offense.
Meyer said that his experience in the SEC Championship Games has helped with preparation this week, especially with the logistics. Said it's not a big deal, but logistics-wise, it has helped.
Injury update: Meyer expects Curtis Grant to play, despite being wobbly with a high ankle sprain. He's practiced all week. Corey Brown has a stress fracture in his lower left leg, but it sounds like he'll be good to go.
Marcus Hall will not start as punishment for his double-finger salute in Ann Arbor. No word on whether or not he'll play period.
Meyer likes where the team's focus is right now, as of Friday afternoon.
Asked to elaborate on Hall not starting, Meyer said that he was disappointed in his actions, and that while he served his punishment for the fight, it's his actions afterward that he's being punished for tomorrow.
"We're going to do what we have to do to move the ball," Meyer answered when asked about having a more aggressive approach playing inside the dome. Doesn't sound like the Buckeyes plan on going with a pass-happy attack.
The Buckeyes practiced indoors all week. Said Michigan State is an aggressive defense, and that will dictate a lot of Ohio State's offensive attack.
"The strength of the Ohio State offense is the offensive line and run game." Meyer said that the OSU offense vs. MSU defense will be a challenge for both teams.
Meyer said that the Spartans have a "rugged" offensive line and throw the ball more than you'd think. Said they're balanced, especially in the second half of the year. Said Connor Cook has a strong arm and is much improved from early in the season.
"Do I like them? I like them when we win them?" - Meyer when asked if he likes conference championship games. Other than that, it's just another game. Said he's anticipating one of the best atmospheres in college football tomorrow.
Meyer said that Kenny Guiton has had a huge impact on Braxton Miller this season. Compared it to how Taylor Decker has learned from Jack Mewhort. Due to being thrown into the fire, Meyer said that Miller never learned how to prepare properly. Said his last month and a half has been a 180 from that. Said he's preparing how a big-time quarterback should.
Meyer said that Carlos Hyde's offseason incident has had a positive effect on him over the past three months, hopes that it's something that sticks with him his entire life.
Meyer said much like his 2006 Gators team, this Buckeyes team has heard what it can't do as opposed to what it can do. Hopes that they continue to play with that chip on their shoulder.
"Great," Meyer said when asked what he's seen from the defense's preparation this week. Said that the coaches have been strong in their preparation. After getting through film study on the Michigan game, all focus has been on Michigan State.
Meyer said that Christian Bryant's injury was an emotional moment for everybody. He's the "heart and soul" of the team. Has seen guys pick up the slack in his absence, particularly Ryan Shazier.
Asked to compared the Spartans' defense to an SEC team he's faced, Meyer didn't give a team, but said it's one of the best he's ever coached against.
Meyer said he prepares playing indoors in championship games, because it allows him to use his entire offensive arsenal.
Asked about MSU's propensity to run fakes in special teams, Meyer noted that they've researched the situations and times that the run them in. Said that they have a habit of running them in big games."
Meyer said that preparing for a Mark Dantonio team "probably" feels likes preparing for a Jim Tressel team. That's good news for Ohio State fans.
Meyer refuses to look past this game and the national championship picture. Acknowledged everybody knows what's on the line because the Buckeyes have a very smart team.
Meyer said that last year, Hyde was a good back. This year, he's an exceptional one. Noted that he's lost 12 pounds, has better stamina, and that's apparent in his number of long runs this season. Said it's apparent that he's more explosive in the second level.
Writer tells Meyer "At some point, you will lose a football game at Ohio State." Meyer: "I appreciate that." Said he's not focused on any of the outside storylines. Only focused on Michigan State.
Pat Elflein will start in place of Hall. Said that he could've contributed last year but was injured. "I love Pat Elflein. He's going to have a really really nice career here."
"That's our position, that's the one, that's our concern." - Meyer on Ohio State's linebackers. Noted that Joshua Perry has established himself as a Big Ten linebacker. Said it's the middle line position that the Buckeyes are still having trouble with. Wants to keep stockpiling the position.
Meyer said that Brown and Devin Smith are the X-factors for the Buckeyes that don't allow teams to take away Miller and Hyde. Said that Smith's long touchdown pass against the Wolverines was a prime example of that. Said that it's important for the Buckeyes to have balance, because you can stop a run game with enough people.
Meyer said that the negative of watching last year's games is that you have to see how bad you were a year ago. Described OSU's offense as painful a year ago. Noted that a lot of the improvement is due to Miller's own improvement.
"I haven't heard it" - Meyer on questions about OSU's schedule. "I know one thing, we're facing an excellent team tomorrow night."
When Meyer was at Notre Dame, he always had a lot of respect for Michigan State. Said he had some recruiting battles with them. Said that he didn't interview for the Spartans' opening, despite reports that indicate otherwise."
"Not good," Meyer answered when asked how he sleeps the night before a conference championship game.
"I'm hoping it will be a stronger Buckeye crowd that shows up ... but you can't control that."
"It's a toughness game," Meyer said of facing the Spartans. Noted that rings true for both sides of the ball. "It's going to be a physical, hard, tough game and we'll find out if the Buckeyes are a tough team tomorrow night."