COLUMBUS – Ohio State’s football team hasn’t been tested as often on the field as coach Ryan Day would like, but they have passed numerous off-the-field tests.
And that makes him confident No. 4 OSU (5-0) will be ready when it plays No. 14 Northwestern (6-1) on Saturday in the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.
Ohio State will go into that game a week after having its annual rivalry game against Michigan canceled when the Wolverines had a surge in positive tests for COVID-19 in their football program. It was the third game Ohio State had canceled this season and the first time since 1917 that Ohio State and Michigan did not play each other in football.
“It’s something we’ve had to become really good at. I think if this is something that happened last year and everything was going normal and it got canceled it would probably take a lot longer to recover from. We’re actually getting used to getting bad news and having to move on quickly,” Day said on a Zoom conference on Sunday.
“I think we’ve become hardened to that as a team and because of that we moved on pretty quickly and transitioned to playing in this championship game.
“Early on when we’d get bad news you’d see long faces and it would take a couple days to peel them up off the pavement. But I think now these guys have learned a lot and because of that we’re able to transition fast,” he said.
Ohio State needs to win and perhaps win decisively on Saturday to be one of the four teams invited to the College Football Playoff.
Day said style points aren’t among his concerns and shouldn’t be for the Buckeyes.
“I thought about it the other day. I don’t think there is any other sport in the world where anything other than winning matters. It’s very, very unique that way. College football is different and this year it is even more strange,” he said.
“But all we’re going to do is worry about winning and doing the best we can and playing it one play at a time. I talked to the team about that this week. If we go into a game trying to do anything other than winning one play at a time you can get yourself sideways. We’ll focus on that, one play at a time, and then at the end of the game we’ll look up and see where we’re at.
“In terms of the national landscape what matters to us is just winning. Everyone can talk and have their opinions but at the end of the day what matters is how well we play on Saturday and then we go from there.”
Ohio State and Northwestern did not play each other this season but OSU won 52-3 last season at Northwestern.
The biggest difference for the Wildcats this season is probably at quarterback, where Peyton Ramsey, a graduate transfer from Indiana, has brought some stability after last year’s four quarterbacks produced six touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.
Ramsey threw for 2,454 yards last season and 2,875 yards in 2018 for the Hoosiers.
“Peyton Ramsey really gave them a shot in the arm on offense but they’ve got some really talented guys on defense. They don’t give you anything, you have to earn it,” Day said.