After defeating Michigan 62-39 on Saturday, head coach Urban Meyer is now preparing Ohio State for the Big Ten Championship where the Buckeyes will take on No. 19 Northwestern on Saturday in Indianapolis.
Even with more on the line than just a Big Ten title, Meyer said in his weekly Monday press conference that this game is only special if his team wins it.
“I used to say compete for championships in November,” Meyer said. “And [assistant athletic director for football sports performance Mickey Marotti] went a step further and said get to Indy. Now we’re in Indy so go win it.
The Buckeyes will face a Northwestern team that lost all three of its non-conference games this season and lost one Big Ten game to then-No. 14 Michigan. The Wildcats have ranked wins against then-No. 20 Michigan State, then-No. 20 Wisconsin and then-No. 21 Iowa.
Meyer complimented Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald and how he runs his program heading into the championship game.
“I think he’s one of the best coaches in college football,” Meyer said. “I don’t “think” he is. He’s one of the best coaches in college football. And his kids plays like that.”
Wyatt Davis replaces Knox at right guard
After redshirt senior right guard Demetrius Knox left the game in the fourth quarter of Ohio State’s win against Michigan, Meyer reiterated redshirt freshman offensive lineman Wyatt Davis would take the start the Big Ten Championship on Saturday against No. 19 Northwestern.
“Wyatt Davis was going to get his first start as a Buckeye, and there’s a lot of confidence around here because I’ve been talking about it for five weeks now,” Meyer said. “He’s the next man in.”
Meyer likes what he has seen from Davis in practice.
“He’s a rugged guy. And he’s been scratching and clawing for playing time ever since probably five, six weeks ago, and has been close,” Meyer said. “But we didn’t want to disrupt the flow of the five guys in there.”
Meyer said redshirt freshman Josh Myers, who he described as having a great month and a half of practices, junior Joshua Alabi and redshirt junior Branden Bowen, who Meyer said is “back to almost what he was” after suffering a leg injury last season.
Meyer said the Michigan game was the best he has seen the offensive line play, not allowing a sack against the Wolverines, saying the unit has shown a level of consistency over the past few weeks.
Now with the Knox injury, Meyer said he has a level of depth at the offensive line he had not had earlier in the season.
“Remember about five weeks ago we were down to the last tack, last group of guys, and now we’ve got some depth,” Meyer said.
Meyer wants Martell in the game
Even with the lack of success for redshirt freshman quarterback Tate Martell in the Michigan game when he entered in the red zone, Meyer said he wants to try and continue to utilize his skill set in some way.
“I’m a Tate Martell fan,” Meyer said. “So I’m pushing it real hard. And we’re going to do what’s best.”
Martell recorded one yard on two rushes within the 10-yard line against the Wolverines on Saturday, failing to convert a red zone trip to a touchdown each time he entered the game.
Meyer said it’s not just the play of the quarterback. There are other factors that determine the success of that particular red zone package.
For the head coach, it is simple why he may continue to use Martell in those kinds of situations.
“I want him in the game,” Meyer said.