Ohio State football: Urban Meyer buoyed by beating Michigan, playing for Big Ten title

Bill Rabinowitz
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer looks at the student section while walking on the field before the NCAA football game between Ohio State and Michigan at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, November 24, 2018.

It was a news conference Urban Meyer wouldn’t have had if his team hadn’t beaten Michigan, so it wasn’t surprising that the Ohio State coach was in a good mood.

He made a crack about quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. showing leadership against Maryland when he “dropped his pads and dropped some other things probably, too” with his willingness to run, which he again displayed against Michigan.

Meyer even smiled and repeatedly said “Good” when asked about his health and future. Meyer sometimes deflects questions he’d prefer not to answer by talking about special-teams minutiae. So when he was asked specifically if he would coach Ohio State in 2019, he responded, “I plan to coach,” before jokingly shifting to Northwestern’s kickoff team.

Ohio State will play the Wildcats for the Big Ten championship on Saturday. If the Buckeyes win, they’ll have a chance to gain a berth in the College Football Playoff. The selection show is Sunday.

The Buckeyes wouldn’t have a chance for the playoff if not for its 62-39 throttling of favored Michigan. But Meyer, as he did in a teleconference Sunday, said his focus is solely on beating Northwestern, not on what might happen afterward.

Pat Fitzgerald’s Wildcats (8-4) lost all three nonconference games but rebounded to beat every team in the Big Ten West. Their only league loss came against Michigan after squandering a 17-0 lead.

“Their coach and I have been friends for a long, long time,” Meyer said. “He’s one of the best coaches in college football.”

Meyer said he has known defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz and offensive coordinator Mick McCall since all three coached in Colorado.

“They’re just great people who coach their tails off, and their players are a reflection of their staff,” Meyer said.

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Northwestern is making its first appearance in the Big Ten title game. Ohio State is playing in the conference championship game for the fourth time. Given the circumstances of this season — Meyer’s suspension, the team’s inconsistency and the rout of Michigan — this return visit is anything but routine.

“It’s only special if you win it,” Meyer said. “Coach Mick (strength coach Mickey Marotti) and I talked about that. What is the objective? I used to say, ‘Compete for championships in November.’ He went a step further and said, ‘Get to Indy.’ Now we’re in Indy, so go win it.”

Ohio State has sold out its allotment of 10,250 tickets, football spokesman Jerry Emig said.


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