The story on Ohio State’s season was seemingly written when they lost to Michigan back in November, and it wasn’t the happy ending that everyone hoped it would be.
The Wolverines ruined the Buckeyes’ Big Ten title hopes and also absconded with bragging rights for another entire year. But when USC lost to Utah in the Pac 12 Championship Game, there were some new pages that suddenly needed written because Ohio State was going to the College Football Playoffs.
But the gist of the story remained the same. The Buckeyes still lost to Michigan, and that loss has been impossible to shake.
During Thursday morning’s Peach Bowl Media Day, it was mentioned to OSU head coach Ryan Day that one of his players said that this was a pissed off team.
“Well, they should be. And we all should be,” Day said. “We know what we need to do in this game to win, and that’s kind of the way this month has been for a lot of us at practice every day. There’s been an edge. There’s been friction. There’s been conflict. There’s been a lot of that going on, and that’s a healthy thing. And so the one good thing about this, we’re going to go play. We’re not going to sit there and worry about what if or anything like that. Nobody really gives us a chance to win this game anyway. So we’re going to let it all out. We’re going to play as hard as we possibly can and look up after four quarters and see where we’re at.”
The Buckeyes have also been asked about being a touchdown underdog. It has become something they’ve embraced, but they can’t let it become a distraction. Saturday’s playoff semifinal between No. 4 Ohio State and No. 1 Georgia will come down to execution and attention to detail. It’s one of the things that has separated the Bulldogs from the rest of the nation.
“Well, it comes down to the little things. It comes down to one or two plays typically that can change the game,” Day said. “When you look at the game they played against LSU, they’re kicking a field goal. They block every hat return for a touchdown. That’s a ten-point swing in a game. Things like that in a matchup game can be the difference. It can come down to one or two plays. You never know when those things are going to be.
“When you are in matchup games, you gotta keep playing. You have to keep swinging. And you have the mentality that you’re going to go out there and swing as hard as you can for 60 minutes and then you’ll come up for air at the end, but the team that prepares harder and continues to work towards 8 o’clock is going to win, and that’s the mentality we’ve had all month as we’ve prepared. ‘Who’s practicing harder? Who’s preparing better? Who’s doing a better job in meetings? And once we get on that field, who’s going to play harder, and that’s what it is.”
The message has been clear. The Buckeyes have a chance to write a better ending for themselves, and Saturday will also be an opportunity for them to get some of that anger out.
“I know that we’re going to play fast in this game,” Day said. “We gotta play violent in this game. We gotta execute at a high level, and that’s what it’s going to come down to. What we’re not going to do is play it close to the vest. We’re going to go and then our guys are going to play that way and have that mentality when they walk in that stadium because we know what the stadium is going to be like. We know the electricity. We know it’s going to be heavy.”
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