Sometimes there are stories that aren’t meant to be written by the media, but instead told by the players.
The Ohio State Buckeyes will head into University of Phoenix Stadium with a chance to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship if they can defeat the Clemson Tigers on New Year’s Eve.
First of all, it’s important to understand there are always high expectations at Ohio State. Buckeye linebacker Chris Worley perfectly put that into perspective earlier today.
Here at Ohio State, there’s a tremendous amount of expectations. And with that you have to live up to it, and there’s no mistake about it. It’s one of the greatest programs of all time.
The Buckeyes had to overcome some adversity with their youth, but were able to put together a one-loss season and earn a berth in the College Football Playoff. Quarterback J.T. Barrett explained the season in further detail yesterday, saying:
I think with our schedule and the way things played out, we grew up really fast. And I mean the road games we had and also, too, just the tight games in general, I think that helped us a lot and being able to get the experience we needed to put ourselves in a position to play at this type of game.
Running back Mike Weber credited his QB for handling the difficult moments in a mature manner, saying:
He knows how to handle tough situations. And I feel like when things are not going well, he’s really calm and just knows how to handle different things. And that rubs off on different guys on the team and I feel like it helped us a lot this year.
Weber went into detail describing his season along with the youth on the team.
I feel like it’s a special group. We’ve been through a lot of things, especially not playing last year and going through a lot of tough times. And I feel like we all came through the adversity as young players. And we had a hard time and it’s paying off right now.
Urban Meyer is 50-4 in his tenure as the coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes and hasn’t lost a postseason game since losing to Clemson in the Orange Bowl in 2014. Since that loss, he led the Buckeyes to win the first ever College Football Playoff then followed it up with a victory over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
Center Pat Elflein described the job done by Meyer and the rest of the coaching staff and the impact it has on the team.
I think our coaches do a great job and put us in the best position they can to help us win the game. And they put a lot of time into it. And every player has to really invest and buy into the game plan. So, yeah, I think we all like it.
When preparing for a huge matchup there’s a balancing act of emotions involved. Curtis Samuel described how Meyer creates the right mindset for the team as well as get them ready for New Year’s Eve.
He’s been great. We have some fun times, we have some laughs, but when it’s time to lock in we lock in. But he just helps us understand the moment, really, just understand where we’re at, how we got here. Don’t ever change. When you get to a bigger stage and just be at the state of where you was, but just to trying improve and execute on the little things.
Elflein went into detail about the mental approach Meyer brings as well.
I think this is when Coach Meyer is at his best, in games like this. So then we have some fun, too. You have to have that, because if you’re locked in all the time like that, it’s not good for you to be like that and be so tense. You have to be able to relax a little bit and enjoy your teammates. So we do a little bit of both of that. When it comes time to lock in and go hard, that’s what we do too.
Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard gave some insight into how the coaches prepare the players for a bowl game.
We break it down into three phases. The first is fundamentals. The second is game plan. And the third is finishing up the final touches.
Weber made a point of how the coaching staff was the key to success all along.
A lot of people didn’t really think we was going to be that good, be here this year, because of how young we were. And I knew it the whole time what we were and all we had to do was work hard and listen to the coaches and follow the game plan.
Now that the game is just days away, the Buckeyes need to be ready to embrace and be fully aware of the “moment” that’s coming. Defensive end Tyquan Lewis spoke about the upcoming game.
Defensively speaking, we come ready to play every weekend. We practice very hard and these are the moments we live for as a defense.
Barrett elaborated on the “moment” saying
You try to focus on the moment and understand it’s already a responsibility for playing for Ohio State but also, too, just make sure that you go out there and play your best.