Urban Meyer was as loose and upbeat as he has been all season. He cracked a joke when told the city of Urbana announced it will drop the final "a" in its name in honor of the Ohio State coach on Monday, the day his Buckeyes play Oregon for the national championship.
Urban Meyer was as loose and upbeat as he has been all season.
He cracked a joke when told the city of Urbana announced it will drop the final "a" in its name in honor of the Ohio State coach on Monday, the day his Buckeyes play Oregon for the national championship.
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"You're kidding," Meyer said. "Wow. That's very nice. Thank you."
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He bantered with another reporter about alternate uniforms.
Meyer had his last news conference before the Buckeyes fly to suburban Dallas on Friday, and if the Buckeyes are feeling the pressure, he and his players didn't show it. After beating the odds all season, including an upset of Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Sugar Bowl, the Buckeyes are confident entering their game against the Ducks.
"I think we're really confident," center Jacoby Boren said. "When you're at this stage, you have to have a chip on your shoulder. It's us and Oregon and that's it. We have a lot of confidence and I'm sure Oregon does, too."
To win Ohio State's first national championship in 12 years, the Buckeyes will have to defeat a team that features Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and a fast-paced offense.
Meyer had nothing but praise for Mariota.
"I think that's so good for college football to see a guy like that go and win it," he said. "A great, great player. A great, great person and great leader. You can tell. He plays his best when it's hard."
Opponent after opponent has gotten worn out by Oregon's rapid pace. Michigan State led in the third quarter before the Ducks scored the final 28 points. Florida State disintegrated in a semifinal at the Rose Bowl once Oregon's opportunistic defense began getting turnovers.
The Buckeyes have done their best to practice for the pace by having waves of scout teams run plays at them. Defensive end Joey Bosa said snaps have come 16 seconds apart.
"You get two huddles going, two huddles running at us," linebacker Joshua Perry said. "You put the clock up there and try to get it running as fast as possible. It's trained us to make the play and get up and save the celebration for when we get off the field. You turn to the sideline, get the call and look at what's going on on the field."
Oregon averages 47.2 points and 552.1 yards, but the Buckeyes are conceding nothing.
"Nobody said we're not going to be able to stop it," Bosa said. "We can stop it. If we limit them to three-and-outs and we slow them down, I think we'll be able to stop them."
Oregon's defense is often overlooked. But it has made a bend-but-don't break approach work. Although the Ducks allow 421.9 yards a game (84th nationally), they yield an average of just 22.3 points (27th nationally).
"They have a very high-powered offense," said running back Ezekiel Elliott, who ran for a Sugar Bowl-record 230 yards. "Sometimes we're going to have to grind it out and have long possessions to keep our defense off the field and give them some rest."
Oregon is favored by 61/2 points, though Ohio State is 5-0 as an underdog under Meyer.
"Yeah, well, what is new?" safety Tyvis Powell said of the Buckeyes not being favored in a big game. "We've still got a lot to prove. As you can see, we still don't get the respect that we deserve. I've seen some things on the Internet where like 66 percent of the world is picking Oregon. I understand why. Everybody sees Oregon and they're like, 'Oh, wow.'
"But it's just motivation to come out here and make sure we get the job done on Jan. 12."