COLUMBUS — After securing its biggest win of the season, the Ohio State football team enjoyed a Saturday without a game.
“(We) kind of wanted to keep that momentum going, but yeah I think a lot of guys gained a lot of confidence coming out of that game,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said of a 17-14 victory at ninth-ranked Notre Dame on Sept. 23.
It is back to the grind this week as the Buckeyes prepare to host 5-0 Maryland, the first of eight consecutive Saturdays against Big Ten opponents that will culminate with a trip to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan on Nov. 25.
The Buckeyes have three other road games and a visit from Penn State along the way.
Here are five things to know from Day’s weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon:
1. Day is hoping his team was able to rest, not rust, last week.
“There’s certainly no complacency here,” he said. “We know we’ve got to continue to get better. We did give the guys a little bit of time to clear their minds and bodies and souls because it’s going to be a heck of a run here for the next couple of months, but I think it’s more about this week.”
The Buckeyes had their open week after six games last season and never seemed to have quite the same sharpness after their break.
In hopes of combatting that, the Buckeyes altered their practice schedule somewhat, going in helmets last Monday then having the types of practices they typically would on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
They used a similar approach ahead of the Peach Bowl against Georgia last season and the season-opener at Indiana this season.
“We thought that gave us a little bit of an edge, so we’re expecting to have a great practice today,” Day said.
2. Marvin Harrison Jr. is expected to be full-go.
Day said the junior receiver, whose ankle was rolled onto by a Notre Dame defensive player, will be fully available Saturday.
When the injury first occurred in the third quarter, Harrison appeared to have potentially suffered a major setback because he remained lying on the ground face down after the play concluded.
However, Harrison was back on the field the next time Ohio State got the ball and was able to finish the game, including logging a crucial catch on the game-winning drive.
His quick return is also notable because several Buckeyes dealt with nagging injuries for much of last season.
3. The Buckeyes have been working on their short-yardage offense.
That was also not a surprise after Ohio State struggled again to convert on third- and fourth-and-short situations in South Bend.
They made the last yard against the Irish when Chip Trayanum scored a touchdown with one second left, but prior to that Ohio State was 1 for 4 after converting just once in short-yardage running situations in the previous three games.
“We want to be 100 percent, but on third-and-1, third-and-2, we should at least be at 80,” Day said. “Third-and-3 it comes back a little bit, but we want to get every short-yardage situation. We work hard to get in those situations, and I forget exactly where we are right now, but we need to do better.”
5️⃣-0️⃣ Maryland at 4️⃣-0️⃣ Ohio State
It's a big one Saturday in Columbus (noon ET on FOX/ @CFBonFOX).
“Guys better recognize it because that’s exactly what happened,” said Day, whose team tacked on a defensive touchdown in the final seconds. “They know how good this team is and how many weapons they have.”
5. Day felt like his post-game comments in South Bend were well-received, at least locally.
The head coach became the subject of headlines himself after taking former Fighting Irish coach Lou Holtz to task for questioning his team’s toughness in the games it has lost during his five-year tenure.
Though he did not want to revisit that situation too deeply, Day did offer a few thoughts.
“One, very proud of the fact we’re 2-0 against Notre Dame the last two years,” Day said. “Very proud of the way we played, proud of the grit that they showed. It was an emotional game, and I can tell you the response I’ve gotten from Buckeye Nation and around Columbus and our team has been remarkable. But they just love the passion the team played with on Saturday.”