Ohio State's Final Practice

Ohio State's final practice prior to Monday night's Tostitos BCS National Championship Game is over. Coach Tressel and his staff wrapped up practice nearly a half an hour earlier than the schedule called for. OSU will have a walkthrough Sunday, but the banging is over. The team is now under an 11:00 p.m. curfew for the next couple of days.

Following Saturday night's practice under the lights at Pinnacle High School, Tressel expressed confidence about the team's physical condition.

"The only guy I'm a little concerned about is John Kerr," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said after emerging from the Pinnacle High School practice fields Saturday night. "He was banged a little bit throughout (bowl practices). That's the only guy, and I think Antonio's (Smith) going to make it. John's the only one I'm worried about."

According to Tressel Kerr's injury is not new.

"He really didn't practice during the first half of bowl practice. He came back, but I don't know if we're going to have him (for the game)."

OSU's sixth-year head coach indicated the team is starting to sense it is nearly time to play the most meaningful game it has ever played.

"I don't know if you're tired of getting ready," the Buckeyes' boss said. "You're just anxious to play. "You've done all the things that you anticipate doing, all the fun preparation things.

Saturday's practice was the only time the Buckeyes have prepped under the lights this week. Tressel claims there's a very good reason for the night session.

"Kickoff is at about 6:30, so I guess we just wanted to emulate our circadian clock."

While this week's practices have been important, Tressel explained that the team did most of its heavy lifting back in Columbus.

"We put together probably 85-to-90 percent of our game plan before we left home, he said. "Then we worked a little bit more on those first couple days we got before we moved to game week. And then game week you just refine, keep studying, see if there's another little thing you can find here or there, and just reinforce and reinforce."

Many players may not have wanted to express it, but for the seniors, there was a sense of finality during their last practice.

"You know I don't think guys wanted to talk about that because they've enjoyed so much time together, and one of the bonuses to playing in this game is that we could spend another whole week together, Tressel said.

However, OSU's head coach did admit there were some players who may have felt a touch of sadness as they put the finishing touches on preparations for their final game as Buckeyes.

"Especially those guys who know this is their last practice, said Tressel. "It's one thing to have a senior tackle, but when you know you're going to a bowl game, you know your season has another couple of months, but now they know."

Despite playing twelve games without a bye week, the season didn't drag on, according to the head coach.

"It hasn't seem real long," Tressel claimed. "I've been through some eleven-game seasons that were 2-and-9 and those seemed a lot longer."

And while the team is about to play the biggest game of the season, Tressel said the next couple of days wouldn't be too intense.

"There will be some meetings, and some walkthroughs and a lot of riding on buses, but it will be relaxing."

Tressel claims he doesn't have a sense of what the team's collective confidence level is like. That seems to be more of an individual thing.

"I'm sure there are some guys that are right where they ought to be, he said. There might be some other guys that don't have enough confidence and there might be some guys that have too much. "But collectively, I don't know."

Tressel may not have as much insight about the confidence level of his team as he might like, but he likes the way his team is approaching Monday night's national title tilt.

"I've liked the way our guys have stayed purposeful throughout the year," Tressel said as he wrapped up the question and answer session. "I haven't been disappointed with their mood really ever. They could have -- when the game was so far away -- just gone through the motions, but they didn't. I think they're going to go out and try to do their best. We'll find out if that's good enough."

Dave Rice will be covering the Ohio State Buckeyes for Scout.com as a fully credentialed reporter throughout National Championship Week.

Rice has been working in the local and national media field for more than a decade. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Northern Arizona University and has been serving as a writer, editor and producer of sports and international news for a national wire service for nearly ten years.

Originally from the Cincinnati area, Dave is a lifelong Cincinnati Reds and Ohio State University fan. He enjoys spending time with his wife, young daughter and by watching high school and college sports.

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