Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
The Ohio State Buckeyes are one of only four remaining undefeated teams in college football, but coach Urban Meyer said he has not addressed the topic of potentially being named national champions by the Associated Press with his team.
Meyer said he tries “not to control what we can’t control,” since the team is banned from postseason play this season, and that his team’s focus is on playing Wisconsin Saturday.
“They know what’s coming,” Meyer said of Saturday’s game. “Our guys know where they’re at.”
Redshirt senior cornerback Travis Howard said he and his teammates are approaching the season “one game at a time.”
“What we can control is just to go out there and beat every team that we face,” Howard said. “For right now … everyone is just focused on this one opponent, and that’s Wisconsin.”
Meyer called this Saturday’s contest, which will kick off at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., at 3:30 p.m., a “rivalry game.”
“It’s a rivalry game because we have to understand who you’re playing and what they’ve done the past few years,” Meyer said. “They’re a very good team.”
Last season, the Buckeyes defeated the Badgers 33-29 at Ohio Stadium. In 2010, the Badgers handed the Buckeyes their only loss of the season at Camp Randall. The 2012 season was later vacated by the NCAA as part of sanctions that resulted from Buckeyes players exchanging OSU football memorabilia for free tattoos.
Senior defensive end John Simon said the matchup with the Badgers is a “huge game” for the Buckeyes.
“This is going to be a tough, tough game for us,” Simon said. “We know they’re going to come in with a chip on their shoulder … we’re doing everything we can this week to prepare and we’ll be up to the challenge.”
There is one potential achievement the Buckeyes can control: with a win on Saturday, the Buckeyes clinch the Big Ten Leaders Division title, even though Wisconsin has already clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game due to OSU and Penn State’s postseason bans. Meyer said that he will discuss that with his team.
“That’s real important to us,” Meyer said of winning the division title. The Buckeyes clinched a share of the divisional championship after Penn State’s 32-23 loss at Nebraska.
After missing the Buckeyes’ last four games with a broken right fibula, redshirt senior linebacker Etienne Sabino is back in the starting lineup, Meyer said Monday.
Sabino, sophomore Ryan Shazier and senior Zach Boren, who moved to linebacker from fullback following Sabino’s injury, are the team’s starting linebackers as of Monday, Meyer said.
Meyer said senior linebacker Storm Klein will also play off the bench.
Freshman cornerback Armani Reeves, who plays on the team’s kickoff coverage unit but has missed the past four games due to injury, is back this week, Meyer said.
The news was less positive for freshman running back Bri’onte Dunn, who Meyer said is out for Saturday’s game with an MCL sprain. Meyer said the injury did not require surgery, and that his return for the season finale versus Michigan is questionable.
Meyer said starting center junior Corey Linsley is “still a little banged up, but he hopes Linsley will be back at full strength by Wednesday. He also said redshirt senior safety Orhian Johnson was “good to go” for Monday’s practice after suffering a head injury against Illinois.