Meyer, Dantonio To Use Title-Game Experience

The Big Ten Championship Game is old hat to Michigan State, which played in (and nearly won) the first-ever contest in 2011. But while today's game is the first conference title game in OSU's nearly 125 years of football, Urban Meyer has plenty of title-game experience up his sleeve, too.

Lucas Oil Stadium didn't impress Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio as his team arrived in a caravan of buses on the eve of the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game.

It's a familiar sight for he and his program.

"When we took that turn, saw Lucas Oil, my feeling when we saw the stadium was, ‘Okay, we've been there,' " Dantonio said during a Friday press conference. "It wasn't, ‘Wow, here we are, what are we doing here?' It's like, ‘We've been here. We need to take the next step.' "

Dantonio's program is making its second Big Ten title game appearance, having lost to Wisconsin in the inaugural game in 2011.

Likewise, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer doesn't appear willing to declare playing in the home of NFL's Indianpolis Colts an accomplishment either. Despite having never coached in the Big Ten's title match, Meyer brought with him to Columbus a 2-1 record in the SEC Championship Games during his team as head coach at Florida. "I wouldn't say a big deal," said Meyer of preparing for his fourth-ever conference title game appearance.

For Dantonio and Meyer, the hope is likely that their familiarity with the title game stage will produce a victory. The title game know-how shared by the two coaches could spell improved execution by both teams, enhanced focus on what they're playing for and a memorable championship game. It has certainly factored into the messages and words delivered to players during the last week.

In the quick turnaround after the No. 2 Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0) surrendered 41 points to Michigan last week, Meyer used his prior postseason knowledge to attempt to stabilize the defensive unit. He said it went well.

"I saw a team that went to work," Meyer said of he's team's practice performance during championship week. " I've seen a team and coaching staff that have went to work. Bottom line is we won that game somehow (against Michigan)… But everything was focused on Michigan State from that point forward. So, I'm very pleased with how our defense responded."

Meyer also has the benefit of playing championship games indoors, having played his three SEC title games in Atlanta's Georgia Dome. This, too, has provided the Buckeyes' head man with a feeling of familiarity.

Meyer's preparations for No. 10-ranked Michigan State (11-1, 8-0) included holding practice in Ohio State's indoor, artificial turf practice facility at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and pumping in crowd artificial crowd noise in simulate a loud, dome environment.

"I asked about crowd noise," Meyer said. "We're anticipating 50-50 (support for both teams), but I'm hoping it will be a stronger Buckeye crowd show up, like I'm sure they do, too… But I think it's going to be a great environment. Really, really excited for it."

Dantonio said that he is excited, too, but the honeymoon stage of his program's relationship with the Big Ten title game is in the past. His message to the Spartans was to savor the experience in Indianapolis after it's passed and, hopefully, make it a victory to look back on fondly.

And unlike Meyer, Dantonio has players just two years removed from playing in Indy, losing the title and wanting to avenge the defeat.

"There's been a focus there all week," Dantonio said. "We have a lot of players from Ohio, from the Midwest. They understand the nature of this football game, the nature of where we're at. But that's where that experience ends. We have to play a different football team with different problems, different things we have to deal with. But I do think having been here before, our players understand a little bit about the environment here.

"What I try and (tell) to our team is this is an opportunity," he said. "You need to nail it."

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