Just like three years ago, Ohio State will face Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game needing an impressive performance to convince the College Football Playoff selection committee of its worthiness.
Just like in 2014, quarterback J.T. Barrett was injured in a victory over Michigan.
Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer sees the parallels, but only to a point.
“That feels like 25 years ago,” Meyer said on a Big Ten teleconference on Sunday. “This is a different year, a different team, different people involved. Certainly that was one of those moments that you’ll never forget, but I think it’s unfair of our current players to say, ‘This is what we expect out of you.’ ”
Barrett’s injury three years ago was a season-ending broken ankle. The knee issue that flared up on Saturday against the Wolverines does not appear to be as serious. Barrett said afterward that he expects to play against Wisconsin.
“We won't know for a couple days,” Meyer said, “but everything seems to be improving. Obviously, it’s real early.”
Barrett revealed on Saturday that he has played with a meniscus issue in his right knee since the season opener against Indiana. The knee was bumped on the sideline by an unidentified person on Saturday, apparently a photographer or cameraman, just as the game began. When he got hit on a third-quarter run, the swelling from the bump prevented him from playing.
“He was getting treatment and had to deal with issues before, but nothing quite to the extent of what happened Saturday,” Meyer said.
As for “Cameragate,” Meyer said that Ohio State officials were looking into the matter.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of anything like that,” he said.
With Barrett out, Dwayne Haskins Jr. played superbly in relief, rallying the Buckeyes to a 31-20 victory.
Now it’s on to Wisconsin, the only undefeated team among the Power Five conferences. The 2017 Badgers seemingly are like every other Wisconsin team: stout defensively, with a power running game featuring a star running back, with a big offensive line up front.
In 2014, Ohio State punched its ticket to the first College Football Playoff with a 59-0 rout of the Badgers. As for what it would take on Saturday for the Buckeyes to convince the selection committee, Meyer didn’t want to predict. He also doesn’t want his players even thinking about it.
“I will talk to our team about it because the term around here is ‘laser focus,’ and the laser focus is on Wisconsin and nothing else,” Meyer said. “I’ll actually visit with our players before they meet with media.
“I don’t want to hear about it on social media. Focus on your responsibility. When they do, we’re a heckuva team. When they don’t, we’re like everybody (else).”