Football

Buckeye B1G Championship Postgame Reactions, Recap

Following Ohio State’s 22-10 Big Ten Championship Game win over Northwestern, head coach Ryan Day and a number of Buckeyes spoke with reporters about the win and how the game went. Here are the highlights from everything that was said.

Ryan Day

— Asked about the importance of having families at the playoff bowl game, he said he hasn’t had a chance to think about it, but he agrees the families should be there. All of his energy has been put into this game.

— Why did it take so long to stick to the run? They’re always going to be aggressive, but then the run game just kept clicking and they stuck with it eventually.

— This week was a microcosm of what this team has been through all year. “This is one of my favorite teams I’ve ever been around.” This team is so tough and they just don’t flinch. “If we have to play one game against anybody in the country, I’ll take the Ohio State Buckeyes.”

— Trey Sermon ran hard. The offensive line played unbelievably well. The tight ends as well. Sermon ran with a different look in his eyes. Master Teague went down and Sermon stepped up in a big, big way. After the first few weeks they were wondering exactly what they had in him because he had a slow start. So it’s been great to see.

— A few players would be affected by the Big Ten’s 21-day COVID rule, but he also knows that rule is being looked at very hard.

— Chris Olave’s absence is significant. You go into scramble mode. Julian Fleming stepped up for them and made some nice catches early. Garrett Wilson took a step forward with his leadership this week.

— Hopefully Justin Fields recovers quickly. Looks like a sprain. They’ll take a look at Master Teague and see what the doctor says this week.

— Asked if he regrets not running the ball more early on, he said no. You have to be able mix things up against this defense. “We just didn’t do as good a job in the pass game.”

— What this team has been through, every conference is different, but nobody has gone through what the Buckeyes have. Spring starts, then it’s canceled and everybody is sent home. Then they are finally allowed back to campus, then the season gets canceled. Then they fought for a season and won that fight. They have had to deal with cancelations, the inability to get a rhythm because of everything going on. “In a world of wins and losses, this team has learned so much this season.” People can say whatever they want. “I’m not going to talk about other teams.” “I feel strongly about this team.” They have character and they have been through so much.

— Asked about Justin Hilliard, “Oh my God, how about the interception he had?” So many guys stepped up, including punter Zach Hoover. “It doesn’t just happen and I’m proud of this team.”

Justin Fields

— Trey Sermon “played his ass off.” When you have a player in that kind of rhythm, you have to keep feeding him the ball and that’s what they did.

— His right thumb is pretty stiff and he can’t really move it. He’ll put some ice on it and he should be fine in a few days. He hurt it in the red zone on a fall. After that, he told Ryan Day he couldn’t really throw the ball.

— When you don’t have Chris Olave, it makes his job harder. But Northwestern did a great job on defense. They’re sound. “It’s really on me, to be honest with you.” He wishes he could say NU had him locked down, but he just needs to be better.

— In the first half, his issues were execution. He’s not blaming it on his thumb. “It’s just flat out me. That’s it. Me.”

— Very proud of Trey Sermon. Been working out together since high school. It’s great to see his work pay off for him. “It’s just great to see.”

— Do you deserve to be in the playoff. “Yes.” Why? “Because we’re one of the top four teams in the country.”

— Asked to grade the overall team performance, he said the team showed fight despite missing starters on all sides. They fought their butts off in the second half. They did whatever they could to win. They knew going into the locker room that they were going to win the game.

Trey Sermon

— He was able to get into a groove today and keep it rolling.

— Coaches told them at halftime that they were stopping themselves, so they took that to heart.

— His mindset it to make the most of his opportunities. He’s aware of his ability and he just played his game of making guys miss and getting to the second level.

— The offensive line played their tails off. “They made my job easy.”

— When he’s in the zone like today everything slows down for him and he can see all of the right cuts and proper reads.

— The coaches told him all season to keep fighting. They told him they brought him here for a reason. They knew he could make an impact and he had to believe that himself and trust in those around him.

Josh Myers

— Overjoyed at the running game today. With Trey Sermon, they see it from a different angle, but he could still see he was ready to go off today. “Man, did it feel good.”

— Dealing with COVID, Indiana was the last game he played in. The process was awful. He had to sit for 10 days and do nothing. He couldn’t work out because he wasn’t allowed to get his heart-rate up. He was happy for the offensive line at Michigan State, but sitting and watching is “awful. I don’t have any other way to put it.” When you invest to much and have to sit out, it’s hard to put into words.

— It was awesome to get back out there and play with the boys again. He thought he might have difficulty with keeping his energy up, but he did well. Northwestern was moving a lot before the snap and disguising things well, but once they were able to figure that out they busted some pretty big runs on them.

— It breaks your heart for guys like Chris Olave to miss games with COVID. He talked to the team about it, about how life can be hard and things get taken away from you, and he told the team that they have had so many things taken away from them that to keep the guys who couldn’t play in mind when you’re on the field.

Justin Hilliard

— That interception was something they have practiced many times. He was ready for it.

— This whole journey has been tough and a blessing. He talked to the younger guys at senior tackle about his time at Ohio State.

— There’s never panic on the defensive sideline because they are always working on fixing any issues. The effort was there but they may have overrun a few plays.

— It’s going to mean so much to hear their name called tomorrow during the playoff selection show. The focus has been on getting to Indianapolis because that’s a stepping stone to the playoffs.

— Absolutely they are one of the best four teams. Look at the adversity they’ve gone through and the body of work. Northwestern is a really good team. “Whatever the next mission is, I’m looking forward to it.”

— What he’ll remember most about this game was the attitude coming out of halftime. Kerry Coombs told them exactly what they needed to fix and what they needed to do.