Ohio State offense looks forward to playing indoors vs. Wisconsin

Joey Kaufman
Quarterback Justin Fields led Ohio State to 38 points in a win over Wisconsin on Oct. 26, but he said the Buckeyes could have scored 50 if not for the rain that fell at Ohio Stadium. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Quarterback Justin Fields made the proclamation after Ohio State's 38-7 win over Wisconsin in October.

He predicted the Buckeyes could have scored 50 points if the weather had been better, if it hadn't rained at Ohio Stadium throughout the afternoon.

The notion will be tested Saturday as the Buckeyes face the Badgers for a second time in the Big Ten championship game.

In this rematch, Fields and the rest of the offense won't be restricted by the elements. The game at Lucas Oil Stadium, an indoor venue in Indianapolis, is a setup that left several of Ohio State's players giddy with anticipation.

“I don't know what's better,” senior receiver Austin Mack said, “either playing for rings or playing inside.”

For the last month, most games have been in temperatures in the 30s and 40s, including some rain.

“It's just one less thing we have to worry about,” center Josh Myers said.

If Ohio State's offense benefits from controlled conditions, it could lead to a scoring onslaught and land style points among the College Football Playoff selection committee. Not only do the Buckeyes hope to prevail, they aim to hold on to the playoff's top seed.

The prevailing thought is the Buckeyes stand to benefit most from an indoor environment over smash-mouth Wisconsin, which features a more traditional offense, less reliant on the passing game.

“Without any elements, it gives us a chance to hold on to the ball a lot better,” Mack said, “be able to throw the ball a lot better, be a little bit more dynamic.”

Both the wind and rain have had effects. Fields said some throws in last week's win at Michigan were altered by wind, though they still scored 56 points against the Wolverines. Myers said rain, which fell during games against Penn State and Wisconsin, forced him to adjust his grip before snapping to Fields.

“The rain is not very fun,” Myers said. “I know it's not very fun for our quarterback, our wide receivers, our running backs.”

Staff being pursued

Several of Ohio State's assistants could be pursued by schools with head-coaching vacancies.

Running backs coach Tony Alford was linked to Colorado State, his alma mater, when it split with Mike Bobo on Wednesday.

Alford was reported to have interviewed for the Rams' vacancy in late 2014 before Bobo was hired. Then the running backs coach at Notre Dame, Alford joined the Buckeyes' coaching staff in 2015 in a similar role, though with the additional title as assistant head coach for offense.

The Boston Globe reported Boston College will target Jeff Hafley and Al Washington for its head coach vacancy.

Both are in their first season as assistants at Ohio State, with Hafley serving as the defensive co-coordinator and Washington as the linebackers coach. Hafley, a New Jersey native, was the only assistant who spoke with reporters this week, but he declined to address the speculation.

“I completely understand you asking that question,” he said, “but I'm heading into the next biggest game of my career.”

Washington played for the Eagles and also spent five seasons as an assistant, coaching the defensive line and running backs.

“We've got a lot of guys who want to be here,” coach Ryan Day said. “I don't expect any changes or anything like that to come up, but it's part of the profession.”



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