COLUMBUS — Ryan Day talked about “getting to the finish line” more than once when he previewed Ohio State’s match-up with Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night in Indianapolis.
But the finish line he was referring to was winning that game, not some bigger goal, some bigger finish line.
“All I know is we have to go win this game for a lot of reason. The Big Ten championship is one of our goals year in and year out. We just have to win this weekend. Everything will take care of itself if we do that,” he said.
“The other speculation or talk (about the College Football Playoff), the what-if scenarios doesn’t do us any good right now. Just focus on that finish line.”
Ohio State (12-0, 9-0 Big Ten) against Wisconsin (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) is a rematch of a regular-season game won 38-7 by OSU in a downpour on Oct. 26.
Ohio State led 10-0 at halftime that day, saw the Badgers block a punt and cut the lead to 10-7 early in the second half, then scored 28 unanswered points.
Asked about the possible difficulty of beating a team twice in a season, Day said, “It will be really tough. This is a very, very well-coached team. They’ve gotten better as the season has gone on. It’s going to be a big challenge.
“We kind of pulled away at the end. That was a tough game. We know it (Saturday’s game) is going to be the same way,” he said.
At Wisconsin’s weekly press conference on Monday, the Badgers’ coach Paul Chryst said, “There’s no question we are a better team (than last time). I think you can make an argument they’re a better team as well. It’s going to come down to playing good football Saturday night.”
Coach of the Year: Day was voted the Big Ten Coach of the Year by the media but Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck was the Coach of the Year in voting by the Big Ten coaches. Day’s honor was the first time an Ohio State coach was Big Ten Coach of the Year since Earle Bruce in 1979.
OSU defensive end Chase Young was the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Young’s presence: Even though Young did not have a sack in Ohio State’s 56-27 win over Michigan, Day said his “presence” made a difference.
“He had an impact on the second half in my opinion,” Day said. “His presence matters.”
Michigan double and triple teamed Young. That opened things up for other Ohio State defenders, Day said.
Relieved, then happy: Day said his first reaction to beating Michigan was a feeling of relief more than a feeling of happiness.
“It wasn’t even close. I didn’t know what I would feel, but it was absolutely relief,” Day said. “To say that I didn’t internalize a lot of emotions that week, leading up to that game, would not be accurate. A lot went into that. It’s not just me, it’s my family, it’s the staff, it’s this team. There’s just so much that goes into that.”
Standout linemen: Day reiterated the praise he gave center Josh Myers and guards Jonah Jackson and Wyatt Davis on a Big Ten teleconference on Sunday.
“Their approach to the game is off the charts. They understand stuff. They communicate. They’re tough. They’re good in the run and pass game. They finish guys.
“They’re the tip of the spear on our offense. Everything goes through those guys,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.