COLUMBUS — Ohio State defeated Illinois 52-14 on Saturday, clinching the Big Ten East Division crown and securing a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game in the process. After the game, Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer and several members of the football team spoke with the media. Here are the highlights.
+ Meyer thanked the fans and student body who stuck around despite the less-than-stellar weather.
+ “I love J.T. Everybody knows that.”
+ The emotions that Meyer had today regarding J.T. were about him saying goodbye to this crowd. This isn’t the end.
+ Ohio State was going to take the ball if they won the toss because of the incoming weather, so Illinois did them a favor.
+ “Defense was dominant.”
+ Mike Weber continues to run like the guy he was bragging about before the season.
+ “Rivalry week has officially started.”
+ Meyer put the starters back into the game because he didn’t want it turning into a clown show.
+ They celebrated the division title “for a quick minute”. Now it is “time for a laser-light on our rivals.”
+ “I love our focus.”
+ Parris Campbell is dynamic and he practiced well this week. Just like Mike Weber and Demetrius Knox practiced well before they started playing well. You don’t take it easy during the week and then perform on Saturdays. That’s not ho
w it works.
+ The goal every year is to get to the Big Ten Championship Game.
+ There is no template to rivalry week. The facility changes on Sunday. “Everything changes.”
+ There was a concerted effort to get Parris Campbell the ball. “I think he’s one of our best players.”
+ On experience playing last home game: “I think it was good. There’s just a lot of appreciation for Buckeye Nation. I try to go out and just do my job. My main focus is to do my job, execute and play hard. All of my teammates came out and played hard. That’s the main thing that was discussed during the week. We say we love each other, but we have to go out there and show it on the field. I think the young guys and the seniors were able to do that for us today.”
+ On suiting up for last time in Ohio Stadium “It was a very special moment for me, the last time running out. It’s been a long career for me. I’m very blessed and honored to play for this school. It’s been a great experience playing in this stadium, through all the ups and downs, and it was great seeing my family at the end. You come here as a young man and you leave as a grown man. It’s a humbling experience, and I’m just blessed and thankful.”
+ On combatting the weather: “Well, it was miserable. There is really no other way to put it. Regardless, it was still our responsibility to take care of the ball, get the ball to the quarterback and make sure there were no turnovers and execute the best you can. The message in the locker room regarding the weather before the game was to get out, and get out fast, so that’s what we tried to do.”
+ On feelings while leaving the stadium for the last time: “It was pretty emotional. I tried to keep it in, but seeing my mom and how happy she was just made it such a special experience. It’s just been a rough day realizing that things, from the walk after the skull session to entering the field with my brothers, it was the last time. It’s just a heavy experience.”
+ On thoughts about whether team is of the most elite in the country: “I mean, yeah, I definitely think that we are one of the elite teams. However, I don’t think that comes without every single guy locked in and focused. We all have to be on our jobs, and I think when we’re that focused, then we are definitely one of the elite teams.”
+ On playing all three linebacker positions in a three week span: “You know, it’s crazy because all through the year I’ve played middle linebacker. Last week I played the will and this week I played the sam. So, in three weeks, I have played three different linebacker positions. Whenever coaches approach me and say this is what we need to do as a team, due to injuries and things like that, they know I’m going to say yes. I told them to give me about 10 plays in practice to get it down, then it would be like riding a bike for me.”
+ On whether the offensive struggles were their own doing, or due to the play of Ohio State: “I think it was a combination of both. Starting off, they are a fantastic football team in all three areas. They were better than us up front. They dominated us on both sides of the football. We had an opportunity early on a third-down play and we got a penalty. It was all downhill from there.”
+ On the play of Chayce Crouch: “He has meant an awful lot to our program. His role has changed throughout the year. Starting as our quarterback, we asked him to move into a different role and he accepted that. Tight end, H-back, whatever we wanted him to do. It was good that he got another chance to play quarterback. Like our football team today, a lot of good things didn’t happen to us. Of course, we will remember him for this effort.”