COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Ohio State coach Ryan Day held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to preview the Buckeyes top-five game against Michigan this coming Saturday. You can watch Day’s comments in the video player above.
This is the first time the Buckeyes and Wolverines are undefeated going into “The Game” since 2006 when OSU won 42-39 at Ohio Stadium in a top-two matchup. “There is nothing quite like ‘The Game'”, said Day. “I know it’s going to be an electric atmosphere.”
The winner of the rivalry game in Columbus will clinch a spot in the Big Ten championship game. It’s the first time since 2018 ‘The Game’ is being played in Ohio’s capital and Day is counting on fans to bring the noise to complicate things for the Wolverines.
“We need to be as loud as we possibly can,” said Day in a message to the fans. “Make it a hostile environment. If their [fans] presence can be felt, that will help the Buckeyes.”
Ohio State has waited all year to avenge last year’s 42-27 loss to the Wolverines, their first loss to Michigan since 2011. Day and company have not forgot about that loss 12 months ago.
“You are shaped by whatever has happened in your past,” said Day. “We have scars and it motivated us all offseason. We’ve worked very hard to get to this moment right now and now it is time to go and prepare the best we can.”
The Buckeyes’ toughness was called into question by former Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis who said “they’re a finesse tea, They’re not a tough team.” That hasn’t been the case so far this year. The Buckeyes are 15th in the country at stopping the run, top 20 in rush yards, tied for 2nd in fewest sacks allowed and 22nd in team sacks. Michigan is just as impressive ranking fourth in rushing and top 25 in sacks allowed and forced.
“You’ve seen us really work towards this moment right here,” exclaimed Day about Saturday’s game. “When you lose this game, it’s a tough year, there is no hiding from that. There is only one way to handle it: Go back to work and address the issues you think need to be addressed so when you go back to play the game, you are ready to roll.”
Both Ohio State and Michigan are coming off close wins last week. The Buckeyes beat Maryland 43-30 in a game that was closer than the scoreboard indicated. OSU trailed the Terps 13-10 at halftime before exploding for 30 points in the second half thanks to three rushing touchdown by true freshman Dallan Hayden and a strip sack by Zach Harrison returned for a touchdown at the end of the game.
Day re-emphasized how Hayden stepped up in the Maryland game while talking to media members Tuesday, saying he has to continue taking care of the football.
Hayden replaced TreVeyon Henderson who returned from a left foot injury but didn’t look like himself rushing for only 19 yards on 11 attempts in the first. OSU’s No. 2 option, Miyan Williams, was unavailable with a right leg injury. Their status, along with offensive guard Matt Jones and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, remains unclear going into the game.
Michigan is also dealing with injuries at running back. Heisman candidate Blake Corum went down with a left knee injury in the second quarter against Illinois and was not able to finish the game. Day said the Buckeyes expect Corum to play and will continue to prepare for him.
The Wolverines made a 35-yard field goal with 10 seconds left to beat the Fighting Illini 19-17 at home. Michigan’s backup running back, Donovan Edwards, was unavailable so the Wolverines turned to true freshman C.J. Stokes.