Gary Andersen hopes to make one thing clear: When Wisconsin visits Columbus on Saturday night to face No. 4 Ohio State, it will mark another game. That's it. Don't bill it as a win-at-all-costs encounter for the Big Ten's Leaders Division crown.
Gary Andersen hopes to make one thing clear: When Wisconsin visits Columbus on Saturday night to face No. 4 Ohio State, it will mark another game. That's it.
Don't bill it as a win-at-all-costs encounter for the Big Ten's Leaders Division crown.
"This is far from a championship game," the Wisconsin coach cautioned during his weekly news conference in Madison. "It will just be one game in the conference race at the end."
Don't bill it as a rivalry against the Buckeyes, who are 7-4 against the Badgers since 2000.
"The way we prepare will be no different because it's Ohio State," Andersen said.
Certainly don't bill it as a personal matchup against his old boss Urban Meyer, whom he worked for as a defensive line coach at Utah in 2004 when the Utes finished 12-0 and became the first non-BCS program to land in a Bowl Championship Series game, the Fiesta Bowl.
"It doesn't have anything to do with it," Andersen said. "Obviously, Urban's a good friend. I consider him a good friend. But it's about the kids, and it always will be."
For Andersen and his kids, the nationally televised, primetime showdown will be business as usual. And their preparation will reflect that.
"We'll be prepared no matter if we play well or play bad, or win or lose," Andersen said. "We'll continue to prepare the same way."
Wisconsin (3-1) comes in off a 41-10 drubbing of Purdue on Saturday in the teams' conference opener. The Badgers, who had stumbled the week prior in a controversial finish in a 32-30 defeat at Arizona State, regrouped nicely with 388 rushing yards against the Boilermakers.
Running backs Melvin Gordon, the nation's leading rusher, and James White, the nation's leading active career rusher, combined for 292 of those yards on 32 carries.
For Wisconsin, the hope is to simply build off that with conference play underway, even against Ohio State
Last season, the Badgers, led by then-coach Bret Bielema, who left for Arkansas, lost to the Buckeyes at Camp Randall Stadium in overtime 21-14. Although it has gone to three consecutive Rose Bowls, Wisconsin has not beaten OSU since 2010.
Andersen, again, downplayed the significance of facing the Buckeyes.
"No one's even really shared anything with me," he said. "I know the kids are excited to play Ohio State, just like they would be excited to play Ohio State every year, just like they were excited last week to play Purdue. I really don't get a feel of any games."
In short, there are no added stakes, and especially between the two coaches.
"I'm sure (Meyer) would say the exact same thing," Andersen said. "Much of our beliefs is always about the kids first, and he believes in putting them first. I do, too.
"We'd like to deflect any of the talk about us and our prior coaching together, our relationship. Although it's an important relationship to me, this is about the kids who are playing the football game."