There is no rest for the weary this week in Columbus.
After blasting then-No. 10 Michigan 56-27 on Saturday, the second-ranked Buckeyes returned home to prepare for a Big Ten championship game matchup against Wisconsin.
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The Badgers moved up to No. 10 in the Associated Press writers poll released Sunday, so the Buckeyes, who beat Penn State when the Nittany Lions were No. 10 two weeks again, will get three straight top 10 matchups.
Here are five takeaways from a coaches teleconference to preview the game:
1. The Buckeyes are getting used to having to recharge quickly after beating Michigan.
Ryan Day, Ohio State’s first-year head coach who spent the previous two seasons as offensive coordinator for the Buckeyes, only knows seasons that have gone this way.
“Yeah to say it’s not a challenge, that would be would be not accurate,” Day said. “I think it’s something we talked about — making sure that the guys understand that their rest is important preparation is critical.”
He thinks having had two weeks off during the season and the opportunity to rest starters in several second halves of games will also benefit the Buckeyes.
“So I think our team is still fresh, but like you said, we’ve got to be able to rebound and come back off of that emotional win and to do a good job. But I think the same for Wisconsin. You know they had an emotional, a big game against Minnesota yesterday as well. So I think it’s pretty even that way and the best team who handles it will win.”
2. He was impressed with how his secondary played at Michigan.
The Buckeyes allowed 305 passing yards Saturday, but only 55 came in the second half as quarterback Shea Patterson completed only 4 of 24 passes.
“I thought it was unbelievable,” Day said. “Nobody panicked even though they hit some plays on us, some plays that were very well designed. You know, they had a year to prepare for us, but then the adjustments that were made at halftime by our defensive staff and the communication by (assistant coach) Jeff Hafley to the secondary, Al (Washington) with the linebackers and Larry (Johnson) with the guys up front, I just thought it was really well done. And we did the right thing with the right guys in the right position and then the second half I thought we played excellent.”
That was despite Ohio State playing the whole game without Shaun Wade and fellow cornerback Damon Arnette leaving the game in the second half.
“Amir Riep stepped up and made a huge interception and had a huge breakup on a fourth down, so while the chemistry was a little bit different at times, I thought he stepped up and played really well.”
3. Wade could be back this week.
Wade’s versatility has given the coaching staff more options in terms of matchups and schemes this season, and Michigan was able to take advantage at times as the Buckeye coaching staff worked to figure out the best course of action.
Wade’s injury has not been made public, but Day sounded optimistic he will be able to play against Wisconsin.
He went through warmups but was held out in Ann Arbor.
“Yeah, it was close, and we just determined that he just wasn’t quite ready. We want to be smart with that, and I think we made the right decision. We’ll just let him heal up and then he should be ready to roll for this week.”
He wasn’t sure about Arnette because the senior hadn’t been evaluated yet early Sunday afternoon.
4. Day compared having a rematch with Wisconsin to facing a divisional opponent twice in the NFL.
“There are adjustments that are made (in that first game) and certainly you look at that film, but I think both teams are significantly different than when we played on October 26.”
The Buckeyes won that one 38-7 in Columbus.
“There’ll also be a lot of things schematically that we’ll look at and tweak, but certainly, the matchups are one of the things you always look at coming off a game like that.
“At the end of the day it comes down to players and making sure they have a good clean plan they can put on the field.”
5. Wisconsin will face a challenge in figuring out how to find more ways to move the ball without changing too much.
The Buckeyes shut down Wisconsin in the first matchup, holding the Badgers to 191 total yards and seven points, but coach Paul Chryst cautioned against potential pitfalls of getting away from what they do that is successful against most of the rest of their schedule.
“We played 12 games and you are kind of who you are,” Chryst said. “If you’re playing in a game such as this, you’ve done some things well along the way.
“And yet every game there are a couple things that either we’ve been practicing but haven’t done yet, or is there something that you see on film that, you know, maybe you can do something that kind of is just a one-off maybe of what you’re doing.
“But I think all in all, your players play best when they’re doing things that they know and that they’ve done and, and you think you know what you’re gonna get from another team, but you don’t know so the players have to understand all the little intricacies of the plan. A lot of times if you just run plays, some may work but it can be tough. So I think there’s a real fine line of trying to do something new, and then doing things that you’ve done well.”
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