Then again, it might not be.
While players have only had to worry about one January game in previous years, the inaugural College Football Playoff gives the fourth-seeded Buckeyes a chance to earn a title game berth. No. 1 Alabama is all that stands in the way of a trip to Dallas for the national title game on Jan. 12.
Meyer said the game has a bit of a different feel to it, although he hasn’t really altered the way that the team has prepared for the game. At the end of the day, Meyer said, you’re still preparing to win a game against a quality team. On the other hand, there’s the undeniable fact that the Buckeyes are part of something that’s never been done before.
“It has been very clear that it’s history,” Meyer said. “It’s the College Football Playoff, and what a great place to have it – in New Orleans at the Sugar Bowl.”
The third-year Ohio State coach will have his team ready to go, saying that he’s loved what he’s seen from them in practice thus far. After final exams (which appear to have resulted in no academic casualties) and a Christmas break, the Buckeyes returned to Columbus for a couple spirited practices.
“We came back (from Christmas) bright-eyed and ready to go,” Meyer said. “You’d have to check the pulse of a human being if they’re not in a great mood to be headed where we’re headed, and that’s the Sugar Bowl against a great team. It’s a playoff. That’s a unique thing… it’s a much different feel than a normal bowl game.”
Other updates from Meyer and players are as follows:
- Unlike last year with Noah Spence, there is no situation where a player’s eligibility is in question. Meyer said that the whole team made the trip. “Everyone is here who should be here,” he said. Sophomore “H” Dontre Wilson is still in a boot and has a 50-50 chance of playing, but Meyer said they’re hoping to get a couple of plays out of him. Junior nickel back Armani Reeves, who sustained an injury at the end of the first half in the Big Ten title game, is ready to go.
- Meyer said he’s not really concerned by the fact that Alabama has been in this type of big game setting quite often. Said his guys have played in two Big Ten title games and he’s more concerned by the talent Alabama has than the experience they might have in games like this.
- One thing that has taken Meyer aback with this Alabama team is its ability to rotate defensive linemen. Meyer estimated that the Crimson Tide can use 10-12 defensive linemen in any given game.
- Meyer said he was tempted to have part of his staff watch Oregon and Florida State but said it’s impossible to do because there’s not enough manpower. They’re all-in on preparing for Alabama and treating it like a one-game season.
- The team has a curfew, but Meyer said the Buckeyes will get beat “upside down, inside out” if those sort of things become a problem. Said he doesn’t anticipate any issues, especially because Ohio State practices in the morning.
- Ohio State came in on a double-decker plane. Meyer said he checked out upstairs just to see what it looked like.
- Meyer said sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones is doing well, has had a great week of practice.
- Washington really enjoyed the plane ride.
- When asked about the bowl experience, Washington said that’s kind of out of their minds. Playoff means a different mind-set and different mentality.
- Alabama’s explosive playmakers on offensive have jumped out during film sessions.
- Washington said he thinks it won’t be a problem for Ohio State to jump right back into the swing of things once practice begins Sunday.
- The Louisiana humidity is not something Washington enjoyed, but he pointed out that it obviously won’t affect the team in practice or in the game.
- Washington said that if Ohio State comes out and plays the way it did against Wisconsin, it shouldn’t have any problems against Alabama. He said they’re more focused on playing their best game, not worrying about what Alabama might do.
- Washington said he thinks Meyer’s SEC pedigree and familiarity with Alabama has helped them prepare for the Crimson Tide.
- Vannett only had time for two questions, and incredibly enough, one of those was regarding an expanded playoffs. Vannett said it shouldn’t be a problem because of the way players take care of their bodies these days.
- Vannett said OSU installed the game plan last week after working on fundamentals the previous 2-3 weeks. He said the Buckeyes are trying to work on their weaknesses.