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Big Ten Championship game: Justin Fields’ status could impact Ohio State game plan

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio State quarterback plans to be available Saturday in Indianapolis against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Justin Fields plans to be in the lineup for Ohio State on Saturday.

How much of the star quarterback’s skills will be available as the Buckeyes play Wisconsin for the Big Ten championship?

Probably not all of them.

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Fields said Tuesday he is again going through treatment this week on the left knee he sprained against Penn State two weeks ago.

“It hurts right now, of course, but I’m just going to try to get in the training room as much as possible and try to get back,” Fields said. “In my mind, I’m playing on Saturday, so I don’t care how much it hurts. I’m playing whether it hurts or not.”

That treatment includes includes ice and exercises to strengthen the muscles around his knee, including the quad, though it sounds certain he will not be 100 percent Saturday.

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A potential aggravation of that injury stopped the hearts of plenty of Ohio State fans Saturday at Michigan when he remained down after taking an inadvertent hit to the knee from a teammate in the third quarter.

Thinking of what his father had told him as a youngster, Fields wanted to get up right away, but there was a problem.

He couldn’t.

“I couldn't walk, so I just stayed down and talked to the trainers,” Fields said. “And as time went on the pain got less and less so I knew I just had thrown on the bigger knee brace and get back out there again.”

The sophomore not only eventually walked off the field but returned before the end of the drive.

As it turned out, that drive only had one play left because Fields used it to throw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson.

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On the play, Fields showed he still had plenty of mobility in the pocket as he scrambled to his left to create time to find Wilson, but he said Tuesday the brace he will wear this week limits his ability to run.

That figures to alter Ohio State’s game plan and be information Wisconsin can use in crafting its own, but it is the price of trying to protect the knee from further damage.

“I definitely can’t run as fast and I definitely won’t be able to be as mobile, but I know the most important thing is being safe back there and staying healthy,” he said. "Not saying that I need to use my feet to win the game, but I just have to wear it to keep my knee safe.”

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Asked if there were any thoughts of sitting Fields to let him heal for the rest of the postseason, Ohio State coach Ryan Day said no.

He did acknowledge game-planning could be a delicate process.

“He gives me good feedback,” Day said. "We go back and forth about a lot of things like that. Yeah, we have a good relationship, have created a tremendous amount of trust between the two of us to figure out what's right, what the plan is for this week.”