- Marcus Hartman
If Ohio State had any trouble focusing on its game with Illinois on Saturday, it was impossible to tell.
Here are five things to know about the game:
1. It was Senior Day at the Horseshoe, but Urban Meyer was in no mood for goodbyes.
Ohio State’s coach made it clear the Buckeyes still have lots of business to take care of, starting with a trip to Michigan next week for the 114th edition of The Game.
So what if J.T. Barrett threw his 99th and 100th career touchdown passes?
“Once again, my emotions were more for him to say goodbye to the crowd,” Meyer said. “We've got a lot of stuff going on here.
“So it's certainly not a goodbye. When we say goodbye, it's going to be a tough one. But that was not a goodbye. That was a chance for him to tip his hat. That's why I made it clear to our players: Thank the crowd… I’ve been a lot of places where the crowd doesn't tip their hat back at you. And today was awesome. They did that. And it's well-deserved.”
2. There were some concerns about the weather.
It became moot when Illinois won the toss and deferred, but Ohio State was prepared to receive the opening kickoff if the Buckeyes won the toss. That was in anticipation that there might be a limited amount of time before heavy rains set in.
They got the ball, marched right down the field, scored and never looked back.
"It was the first time we were going to take the ball. They won the toss and deferred. But we were going to take the ball because we followed it really closely. And I think 5:00, 5:30 was when it was going to hit. We wanted to have a dry ball and also select the wind in the third quarter, second half. But it worked out fine anyways.”
There were torrential rains at times, especially in the second half.
3. A healthy Mike Weber and Parris Campbell make the Ohio State offense more dynamic.
Weber, a sophomore running back, has battled hamstring issues until recently but looked like a new man the past two weeks. After going for 162 yards against Michigan State a week earlier, he had 108 yards and two touchdowns against the Fighting Illini.
“We were bragging about him all summer and then had the tough injury,” Meyer said. “But he's doing very well.”
Campbell, a junior receiver who was bothered by a concussion for multiple weeks, caught three passes for 59 yards and ripped off a 44-yard run.
4. The Buckeyes did take some time to celebrate clinching a Big Ten Championship Game berth.
Of course focus went quickly to Michigan after the clock hit all zeroes Saturday, but that didn’t mean they couldn’t look ahead for a minute or two to Dec. 2, when they will face Wisconsin in Indianapolis.
"Pretty quick,” Meyer said. “We celebrated the chance that we're going to go to Indianapolis, which is a goal every year. And, yes, I was aware. And we dived right into getting ready to go.”
The Buckeyes have won their division six years in a row but tiebreakers kept them out of the title game the last two years.
5. Meyer is happy with his team’s mindset after the Buckeyes laid an egg at Iowa at the beginning of November.
"I love our focus,” Meyer said. “I love the fact the way that we're practicing and the focus -- intent focus is the mantra right now. And I like where we're at.”
Next up: The Game.