Ohio State coach Urban Meyer called the Buckeyes’ game against Michigan State this Saturday “a prize fight” during his weekly press conference on Monday.
“The tougher team usually wins,” he said about the match-up of the two leaders in the Big Ten East Division in a series in which three of the last four regular-season games have been decided by a touchdown or less.
The prize fighting analogy might have been appropriate since Ohio State is getting up off the floor after being knocked out, 55-24, by Iowa last Saturday.
Some thoughts from Meyer about that game and this week’s game:
OSU STILL HAS GOALS: Even though the expectation of playing for a national championship is gone after OSU’s second loss of the season, Meyer said there are “still plenty of great things ahead” for the Buckeyes.
“That’s something we work on not just today, that’s something we’ve been working on all year. You try to get a close team that cares about each other and plays really hard.”
REFOCUSING FOR MICHIGAN STATE: “We’ve got to understand what we’re going to play against. Great respect for them and they’re playing well,” Meyer said about the Spartans. “We’ve got to really practice well and fix the turnover issue on offense and play a little better on defense.”
Ohio State and Michigan State are both 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the Big Ten. If either wins their next three games they will win the Big Ten East Division. No other team can say that. The others would all need some help.
BARRETT FORCED THROWS: Meyer said quarterback J.T. Barrett throwing four interceptions against Iowa “was not normal for him.”
“I felt like he forced it, especially right before the half,” Meyer said, referring to Barrett’s second interception, which came with Ohio State down only seven points and set up Iowa at the Buckeyes’ 22-yardline. Three plays later Iowa scored to go up 31-17 at halftime.
NO OFFENSIVE LINE DEPTH: Meyer said Ohio State’s offensive line depth is “not even close” to where he wants it.
BOSA SAID NO INTENT: Some people thought it appeared Nick Bosa head butted Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley on the play on which the OSU defensive lineman was called for targeting but Meyer said the sophomore defensive lineman said that is not what happened.
“He was just lunging at the ball is what he told me. There was no intent is what he told me,” Meyer said.
If Bosa had not been penalized, Iowa would have had to punt. Instead, it scored on the next play after the penalty to go up 24-17.
DOBBINS AND HIS CARRIES: Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins carried the ball four times for 47 yards in the first quarter, then got two carries for four yards the rest of the game.
Meyer said he deserves to get the ball more but his six carries and 51 yards were both career lows.
“He should have more carries but we got behind and started throwing a lot,” Meyer said. “Just the way the game materialized in the third quarter there weren’t a whole lot of runs. He should have more than six carries but we got behind and started throwing a lot.”
QUARTERBACK RUNS: Meyer referred to quarterbacks running the football as “a get out of jail free card.”
He said the ideal number of runs by a quarterback would be “eight to 10 to 12.”