After a 49-37 drubbing of Michigan State last weekend, Ohio State's matchup with Minnesota on Saturday could be the classic case of the "hangover game."
On Tuesday's Big Ten coaches teleconference, Urban Meyer explained how teams try to avoid having that issue.
“We spend every second of our day on trying to make sure that doesn’t happen," he said. You watch the video tape and here’s a team that’s won a bunch of games and their last game was their best game against Iowa. I’ve never coached against Minnesota and I’ve known about Coach Kill for a long time and he’s as fundamental of a football coach as there is in America. He’s got some excellent players so it’s not by accident they’re winning games."
One thing Meyer was most impressed about the Gophers is their defense, which he likened very similar to the one the Buckeyes just faced in East Lansing.
“Very similar defense that we’re gonna face. They really are a stop-the-run mentality. They’re packed in there pretty tight. Very good defensive line," Meyer said. "… It’s a very similar defense to what we just saw. They pressure you, probably not as much as Michigan State, but it’s a very similar defense.”
Of course, for Ohio State to be successful against that Minnesota defense, it is going to need another strong performance from redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, who is coming off the best game of his young career against the Spartans.
Meyer said what makes Barrett so good is his approach to the game of football.
“A relentless approach to everything he does. To being a student at Ohio State, to being a teammate, to being a quarterback, he’s just relentless," Meyer said. "He comes in every evening and sits on the game plan room with us for a few minutes and loads up his tip sheet and he’s just relentless. He falls in the mold of a Tebow and Alex Smith as far as preparation and that’s a great quality to have.”
Barrett's play has certainly sparked a lot of interest regarding a potential quarterback controversy next year with Braxton Miller's return still a possibility. Meyer addressed that issue Monday, but was asked by a Wisconsin writer Tuesday about the difficulties of using a two-quarterback system like the Badgers have done this year. Meyer had a similar situation at Florida in 2006 with Tim Tebow and Chris Leak.
You have to put your ego on the shelf and we had zero issue with it, but it’s a little risky," Meyer said. "It all depends on the makeup of the individuals doing that rotation and if they’re egoless and if they’re team-first guys it’ll be no problem.”
Ohio State sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson is currently on the shelf after breaking his foot against Michigan State, but Meyer was asked about his willingness to go back to Wilson after he had a rough game. Wilson was later able to grab a touchdown pass with his broken foot in the second half.
“We have a culture here that if you make a mistake it’s OK. In the game of football, there’s never been a player go through a game without making a bunch of mistakes, there’s never been a coach not make a mistake," Meyer said. "However, if it was lack of effort, he’s out of the game in a second. The one thing with Dontre Wilson, it’s never lack of effort. If you’re making a play where you go as hard as you possibly can and make a mistake, that’s what teammates are for to pick you up and go.”
There is a three-way tie for the lead in the Big Ten West as Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin all enter Saturday's games with a 4-1 record. As you know, the Gophers host Ohio State, but another marquee game in the Big Ten features the Badgers hosting the Cornhuskers.
The matchup between Wisconsin and Nebraska will feature two of the top running backs in the country in Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon (1,501 yards) and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah (1,250 yards).
Ohio State can clinch a share of the Big Ten East with a win over Minnesota on Saturday and a Maryland win over Michigan State.
In addition to Meyer, the Big Ten's other 13 coaches met Tuesday on their weekly teleconference. Here are some highlights of what each had to say:
Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern):
- For the first time all season, Fitzgerald made an opening statement: "On behalf of our football family I'd like to thank all those who have served our country."
- Fitzgerald on Wisconsin and Nebraska and their respective running backs: "Two great football teams. Very talented teams, very well-coached and those two backs are two of the best in the country."
- On Northwestern's failed two-point conversion attempt against Michigan: "I told our team I'm not sorry for going for two, I told them I'm sorry it didn't work. Play to win, man. Play to win."
Brady Hoke (Michigan):
- Part of Hoke's opening statement was also about Veterans Day: "I want to thank all those veterans who have served our country. It really is a special day."
- Hoke on the win over Northwestern: "It wasn't pretty, but at the end of the day we earned a victory and that was the goal."
- Hoke was asked if he had met at all with Michigan president Mark Schlissel about the program. He said he met with him for about 30 minutes in the summer.
Gary Andersen (Wisconsin):
- Andersen on Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah: "Everything I've heard he's supposed to be, he is. ... He's not a good running back, he's a great running back and I think you've got the two best in the country coming at you in this game."
- On Wisconsin's defense, which ranks No. 1 in the country: "The youth concerned me, but now I'm very happy with how the youth has developed."
Bo Pelini (Nebraska):
- "We're looking forward to playing a heck of a football team in a great environment on Saturday."
- Pelini on Wisconsin's defense: "I think they do a good job. It's well thought out schematically and they're aggressive on the outside playing coverage."
- On the status of Abdullah for Saturday's game: "I would expect him to play."
Mark Dantonio (Michigan State):
- Dantonio said it took his team 24 hours to get over the loss to Ohio State: "We went through Sunday night and we have to move on for our next challenge and our guys have done that."
- On running back Jeremy Langford: "He's much stronger than he looks. He runs with power and has great vision and he can break it like you saw Saturday night."
Kirk Ferentz (Iowa):
- On the blowout loss to Minnesota: "It was a tough weekend for us. Bottom line is we didn't play as well as we needed to."
- Iowa hasn't played Illinois since 2008 and Ferentz said it's like preparing for a team the Hawkeyes play in the non-conference since they haven't played in so long.
- Ferentz was asked what awaits Ohio State this weekend when it faces Minnesota: "The team we played Saturday was outstanding. They beat us in all three phases. ... It ought to be a good game."
Jerry Kill (Minnesota):
- Kill said Ohio State is playing "as good as anybody in the country."
- Kill on Joey Bosa: "He's a big-time player. he's gonna play at the next level. It's like our guys said, 'It's like playing against an NFL defensive end right now.'"
- At the beginning of the year, Kill said Braxton Miller was the best quarterback in the Big Ten. Now? It's J.T. Barrett, he says.
- On the growth of the Minnesota program: "We're moving forward. We've still got a ways to go to catch up with some other teams, but the culture is changing."
- Kill declined to answer who would win a game between Ohio State and TCU, but said "It'd be a hell of a football game and I'll know more about that after we play them."
- Kill on the impact the weather might have on Saturday's game: "I don't see it being a factor. ... That's the way it is in the Midwest so you deal with it"
Kyle Flood (Rutgers):
- On Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, who Ohio State will face next weekend: "Another really talented running back. He's as good as there is in the country, there's no doubt about that."
Tim Beckman (Illinois):
- On trying to maintain consistency at Illinois: "It has been kind of an issue here: maintaining consistency. I think that comes through time and we've had to play a lot of young guys here."
Randy Edsall (Maryland):
- "We've got a tremendous challenge this weekend going against the No. 12 team in the country."
- Edsall on the Michigan State offense: "You can see why they're averaging the numbers that they're averaging."
- Edsall said Stefon Diggs won't play this week, but wouldn't comment on the report he may miss the rest of the season.
Darrell Hazell (Purdue):
- Hazell on Wisconsin's quarterback situation: "Those are two really good quarterbacks. They play off each other very well."
James Franklin (Penn State):
- Franklin was somewhat blown away by the defensive stats of Penn State's opponent this weekend, Temple. The Owls have recovered an NCAA-best 17 fumbles on the year.
- Franklin on linebacker Mike Hull: "He's a special player. he's a special person. I've been doing this for 20 years and I don't know if I've seen a guy play as consistently at a high level like he's been playing at."
Kevin Wilson (Indiana):
- Only one question for Wilson this week on the matchup with Rutgers: "It's a road test, we've gotta learn how to be a tougher team on the road. I know they're gonna have a great crowd, great environment."