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Notes from Big Ten title game eve

12/5/2014

INDIANAPOLIS -- Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer met with the media Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium to preview Saturday's Big Ten championship game. Here are a couple of noteworthy items from their sessions:

  • The biggest injury issue revolves around Wisconsin center Dan Voltz, who hurt his ankle last week against Minnesota. Dallas Lewallen, who starts at guard, is the No. 2 center, and the Badgers' depth is thin. Andersen says he's hopeful Voltz will start -- "There's no one tougher," he said -- but if need be, the team is prepared to take the redshirt off true freshman Michael Deiter.

  • Cardale Jones remains the mystery man in this game. The Ohio State quarterback will make his starting debut Saturday, replacing the injured J.T. Barrett. Meyer reiterated that he's very confident in Jones. "I saw what we needed to see on Wednesday [in practice]," Meyer said. Barrett and Braxton Miller have made the trip and will offer guidance to Jones wherever they can.

  • Andersen said he doesn't expect the Ohio State offense "to change one bit" with Jones in the game. "He's a big strong kid that can throw the ball very well," Andersen said. "He's shown great speed. He's jumped over people, ran through people. He's definitely an issue to tackle and get on the ground, similar to the young man [Mitch Leidner] we played last week at Minnesota."

  • Meyer has not been happy with the Buckeyes' depth at defensive line and knows that group will be challenged by Wisconsin's massive, physical offensive line. He said Chase Farris, who has spent most of his time on the offensive line, could see snaps on the defensive line Saturday because "he's a big dude that has some quick twitch to him."

  • Ohio State did its walkthrough Friday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium and it was the first time back for Meyer and the returning players since last year's crushing loss to Michigan State that kept them out of the national title game. Meyer said he thought about the loss when he first walked into the building Friday but then moved on quickly. "The older players that played, you'll never forget," he said. "It's an opportunity for us to move forward and get a championship."

  • Andersen said every time Wisconsin players broke a huddle this season, they said the word, "Champs." "I told them , if you're going to say it, you'd better mean it," he said. Andersen expressed his admiration for this group, noting that it had gone through "an unbelievable amount of adversity off the field" with several family situations.

  • Meyer was asked what he's like the night before a big game like Saturday's: "A nut job," he said. "I'm trying to think of the appropriate term. I don't sleep very well. I just keep walking around, staring at the players' eyes. Even when they think I'm not watching them, I'm watching them. I'm insane about that."

  • The fondness between the two coaches -- Andersen worked as an assistant under Meyer for one year at Utah -- was plain to see. As both coaches were on the dais for a planned photo op with the Big Ten championship trophy, they spent several moments catching up. Meyer brought along his son, Nate, a high school freshman, and Andersen jokingly asked if Nate would be going to Wisconsin. The coaches' wives also hugged.