COLUMBUS — Urban Meyer says Ohio State’s game at Wisconsin on Saturday is definitely a rivalry game.
The only question is if Meyer suggested that to his players first or if they planted that thought in his mind.
Several OSU football players left no doubt they consider the Badgers a rival on Monday when they discussed Saturday’s game.
“I don’t want to go on record saying that I hate Wisconsin more than Michigan but I hate Wisconsin just as much as Michigan,” junior wide receiver Corey Brown said.
“Ever since I’ve been here they’ve been a nightmare. They ruined our perfect season (in 2010). We’re going to Wisconsin and we don’t want a repeat of what happened to us freshman year,” he said. “My freshman year when they ruined our season, that kind of put a bad taste for them in my mouth right away. That kind of put them up there with Michigan.
“I don’t really like Wisconsin, I don’t think anybody around here does.”
Linebacker Zach Boren said “rivalry” is the first word that comes to his mind when he looks at Wisconsin.
“You think Wisconsin and it’s just a rivalry, it’s a heavyweight fight,” Boren said. “I’m sure they’re sitting there, talking the same stuff, about how it’s a big rivalry.”
Wisconsin was a thorn in Ohio State’s shoulder pads long before the current players arrived in Columbus. The Badgers beat Ohio State in 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2004.
But the rivalry really heated up the last two seasons when Wisconsin ended then-No. 1 OSU’s national championship hopes with a 31-18 win in mid-October in 2010, then the Buckeyes knocked off the Badgers 33-29 last season on a long touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to Devin Smith in the final minute of the game.
No. 6 Ohio State (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) has more incentive than just revenge, though. NCAA sanctions will keep the Buckeyes from playing in the Big Ten championship game or any postseason game, while Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2 Big Ten) has already clinched the spot as the Leaders Division representative in the conference title game.
“We want everyone to look at us at the end of the season as the best team in the Big Ten even though we can’t go to the Big Ten championship game,” Brown said. “As of now, we are the best team in the Big Ten. A win this week would give us another big road win. We won at Michigan State, we won at Penn State. With another big road win, there would be no question who is the best team.”
SABINO BACK: Senior linebacker Etienne Sabino is expected to be in the startling lineup Saturday. He has not played since suffering a broken bone in his leg against Nebraska on Oct. 6.
“I can’t tell you what percent he’s at, but he’s in the starting lineup,” Meyer said at his weekly press conference on Monday.
DUNN INJURED: Freshman Bri’onte Dunn, who rushed for a personal-best 73 yards in a 52-22 win over Illinois two weeks ago before OSU was off last weekend, has a sprained knee ligament and won’t be available this week.
“We’re hoping to get him back for the finale but that will be questionable,” Meyer said.
SIZING UP THE OFF WEEK: Meyer said the players seemed to be rejuvenated by a week off from playing a game after playing 10 straight weekends.
“The No. 1 thing to worry about is that phone call, someone doing something ignorant on a Friday or Saturday night. My comment (to the players) was, if it’s going to help us win our 11th game, do it and do it a lot. If it’s not, don’t do it.”
NOT FOREIGN TERRITORY: Meyer has been to Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium both as a graduate assistant for Earle Bruce at Ohio State and last season when he was an analyst for ESPN.
But defensive backs coach Kerry Coombs says not only will it be his first trip to Camp Randall, it will be the first time he has been in the state of Wisconsin.