Urban Meyer’s Ohio State Buckeyes are preparing to play Illinois this week, and that’s all he wants them to prepare for.
He made that clear while fielding questions about Ohio State’s win over Michigan State, the Fighting Illini and more Monday.
Here are five things to know:
1. He’s really happy with the Ohio State running game.
This came as little surprise considering Mike Weber ran for 162 yards on just nine carries and J.K. Dobbins had 124 yards on 18 totes as the Buckeyes crushed Michigan State 48-3 on Saturday.
Meyer praised offensive line coach Greg Studrawa for helping craft the winning strategy against what was statistically one of the best rush defenses in the nation.
“I thought our backs ran really hard,” Meyer said. “They played fresh and they played fast and they played hard. So I liked the rotation we had.”
2. He doesn’t take issue with targeting in college football.
Although Ohio State had another player ejected for what was deemed an illegal hit Saturday, Meyer passed on a chance to criticize a controversial rule.
Last week saw Dre’Mont Jones tossed after he hit Michigan State’s quarterback high and late.
The week before, Ohio State lost fellow defensive end Nick Bosa, and defensive backs Damon Arnette and Denzel Ward were ejected from the Maryland game in early October.
“I was disappointed in Dre’Mont. It was a late hit… you don’t do that,” said Meyer, who noted the Big Ten later told him Ward’s ejection last month was a mistake. “We teach it. Obviously we don’t teach it well enough, but I don’t agree that they should change it. They just, it’s what it is. Keep your face out, keep your helmet out of the game.
3. This will be the last game at Ohio Stadium for 19 seniors, including quarterback J.T. Barrett and center Billy Price.
“We’re very close to this group of seniors,” Meyer said. “There will be, once again I haven’t thought about it much and there will be the right time to have those conversations, but it’s very well documented the respect and love we have for these guys.
“Because it’s the first time we’ve had a couple of fifth-year seniors who have decided to stay throughout their journey, and we’re going to treat them right. And best way to treat them right is go win this game.”
4. Ohio State might have a new lineup at linebacker.
With starters Jerome Baker and Dante Booker injured, Ohio State trotted out a different look at linebacker against the Spartans: Malik Harrison started on the weak side with Tuf Borland in the middle and Chris Worley on the strong side.
Borland led the team with 11 tackles and shared defensive player of the game honors with Arnette while Worley and Harrison both graded out as “champions.”
Meyer did not give an update on the injury status of Baker or Booker but said, “That’s a conversation we’re having now,” when asked if last week’s lineup could be more permanent.
5. Meyer was quick to shut down talk about his team’s playoff chances possibly being revived.
“There will be zero conversation around here, especially when you guys talk to the players this week,” Meyer said. “Zero conversation about what happened before and what’s gonna happen in the future. Zero.”
The Buckeyes dropped to 13th in the CFP rankings last week after being blown out by Iowa, but a lot can change in a week in college football.
Ohio State trounced No. 12 Michigan State while No. 1 Georgia, No. 3 Notre Dame, No. 6 TCU and No. 9 Washington all lost.
What does that mean for the level of hope from the Ohio State perspective, though?
“Zero conversation about it,” Meyer said. “Beat Illinois.”
Illinois at Ohio State, 3:30 p.m., ABC, 1410