A lot is on the line Saturday for No. 6 Ohio State when it plays No. 2 Penn State at Ohio Stadium in what could be considered an elimination game for the College Football Playoff.
But Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said Wednesday after practice that his mind wasn’t on the big picture.
“I’m not being a jerk, but we don’t even think about things like that” at this point in a game week, Meyer said. “All focus is on execution against a team that’s all over the place on defense.
“So I think there are some great storylines, and someday we’ll look back and say, ‘That was really cool.’ But we’re not there yet. … Right now, it’s the pinpoint focus on execution is what it is.”
One challenge for the offense and quarterback J.T. Barrett will be dealing with the pressure Penn State brings. The Nittany Lions try to disguise it until the last second but still blitz about “40 percent” of the time, Meyer said.
Defensively, the Buckeyes will be dealing with the most prolific offense it has faced, and that’s taking into account Oklahoma, which beat the Buckeyes 31-16 on Sept. 9. The Nittany Lions feature a playmaking quarterback in Trace McSorley, the current favorite for the Heisman Trophy in running back Saquon Barkley, and one of the nation’s elite tight ends in towering Mike Gesicki.
The Buckeyes will counter with one of the better defenses in the country and the top offense in the Big Ten in several categories. But in big games, Meyer said the adage is right that a team’s better players need to step to the fore.
“That’s absolutely the truth,” he said. “You’re a bully if you (only) beat up on the guys that you’re better than. And you’re great player if you play your best in those games (against great teams). We’ve had some great examples of that around here. That ’14 team (that won the national title), goodness did they play their best in the big games.”
On the injury front, Meyer said there have been no developments over the past two weeks that should keep a player out of the game, though there is still another day of practice remaining.
Left tackle Jamarco Jones, defensive end Jalyn Holmes and hybrid back Parris Campbell will play after having to leave the Buckeyes’ last game, a 56-14 win over Nebraska. Middle linebacker Chris Worley, who has played sparingly since suffering a sprained foot against Army on Sept. 16, is “cleared to go,” Meyer said.