The Buckeyes, motivated by “scars,” ready for Michigan

Still scarred from last year’s loss to the Michigan Wolverines, Ohio State coach Ryan Day has motivated the Buckeyes all season to make sure this season doesn’t end in a similar way.

“I think you were shaped by what happened in your past, we have scars and we’ve all been motivated by the off-season,” Day said. “So we’ve worked hard to get to this moment here and now it’s time to go and prepare as best we can and that’s what we’re going to focus on physically, mentally and emotionally to play the toughest game we’ve ever played and we’ll see where we are on Saturday.”

The No. 2 Buckeyes (11-0) host No. 3 Michigan (11-0) on Saturday, with the winner moving on to the Big Ten Championship game and potentially making it to the College Football Playoff. It is the twelfth time that the two competitors have met each other in the top five.

The extra emotions associated with this game can sometimes cause unnecessary distractions and disrupt preparation, but Day said his team has been locked in and focused, in part because of how the Buckeyes felt from last season’s loss.

“I think you’re starting to talk about some of that other stuff, you can get distracted about the most important thing right now,” Day said Tuesday. “I think when you’re playing an emotional game and a big match like that, the easiest thing to do is say, ‘Let’s just start on Saturday.'” Let me just get to the match. But we have to use every minute.

“We have this countdown in our build, and every time you click a minute off it’s less than a minute to get ready for the game. So let’s take advantage of every minute we have to get ready to go.”

The countdown has slowly begun towards Saturday and the entire season is on the line for both programs.

It was reported that Day said privately that his team would hang 100 points on Michigan. After the Wolverines won last season, then offensive coordinator Josh Gatiss said the Buckeyes were “a fine team; not a tough team.”

“I don’t give a damn what anyone outside of this program has to say about our strength,” the Buckeyes’ Cady Stover said on Tuesday. “We know what we have.”

However, Day and Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh have not submitted any bulletin board material this season.

There is no hate, Harbou said, and his team is just grateful to be in this situation. Day said there will be friction naturally, but he and his team are just focusing on what will happen on the court and finding ways to stay undefeated.

“I’m not going to talk about it now,” Day said. “Maybe there’s another time to take advantage of that. But like I said, there are certain things that you listen to, there are certain things that you can’t listen to. And any time you’re in a high-profile game with a lot of things going on, a lot of things said.

“But there is a time and a place to talk about it, and it’s not now.”

The Buckeyes hope the time and place are after their Saturday win, so they don’t have to experience the feeling of another loss for next year.

“Our guys know they felt the pain last year and let it mature,” Day said. “And we had to chew through that for a full year, which is a long time. So we’ll see the corrections we’ve made, we’ll see about the growth we’ve had and know who we are on Saturday.”

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