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Ohio State’s approach to The Game won’t change under Ryan Day

It’s hard to argue with Ryan Day’s decision not to change Ohio State’s preparation for Michigan when the Buckeyes have won the last seven matchups with the Wolverines.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

“That approach worked just fine. The thing I learned from Urban the minute I got there was you work The Game every day. And we honor the rivalry and respect the rivalry, so we work it every day, whether it’s recruiting, or where we have periods of practice where we call it the Team Up North Drill ... so we work it every day.”

Ohio State football head coach Ryan Day on the approach for Michigan via Steve Helwagen, Bucknuts

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Ohio State has won their last seven meetings with Michigan, and posted a 16-2 record against the Wolverines since 2001. Last week at Big Ten Media Days, Ryan Day was asked if Ohio State’s approach to The Game would change with head coach Urban Meyer having retired, and the new head coach said the Buckeyes would approach The Game the same way they did under Meyer, who had a perfect record against the Wolverines during his time in Columbus.

Not only could it be bad news for Michigan that Ohio State isn’t going to change their approach to the rivalry game, but the Buckeyes will have a little extra motivation this year, as many are pegging Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines to finally upend Ohio State. Last year Michigan was favored to win The Game but this year there is even more momentum to the Wolverines beating the Buckeyes, as Ohio State will not only have a new head coach, but also a new quarterback.

From the beginning of strength and conditioning work with Mickey Marotti, the importance of The Game is drilled into the players. Marotti has players do reps of certain workouts to match the number of days until the Michigan game, which can be over 300 in the winter. The hatred for The Team Up North is drilled into players early, so they are ready to do everything that can to earn the victory once The Game kicks off in late November.

Ohio State will face their toughest test from the Wolverines in quite some time this year, and it is in Michigan’s favor that this year’s contest is in Ann Arbor. Even though the odds look to be stacked against the Buckeyes, there is no doubt Ryan Day will have his team ready to beat the rivals just like Meyer did in each of the seven games against Michigan. Even though the college football season hasn’t even kicked off yet, Nov. 23 can’t come soon enough.


“My career so far has been well, but I know I can bring a lot more to the table. I know I can be a much better player than I’ve shown and I’ve taken the necessary steps to do that. I’ve worked extremely hard to improve my game and I’m pretty sure this season I will show not only myself, but my teammates and my Rushmen the player I’m supposed to be.”

Ohio State defensive end Jonathon Cooper via Stephen Means, Cleveland.com

Over the last few years, Ohio State has been loaded with talent at defensive end. Joey and Nick Bosa, Sam Hubbard and Jalyn Holmes are just some of the recent names who have excelled in Columbus. This year is no different with Chase Young returning for his third season at Ohio State, as well as highly touted recruit Zach Harrison kicking off his career with the Buckeyes.

One defensive end who isn’t getting quite as much hype, but is just as important to the Ohio State defense is Jonathon Cooper. Although Cooper has recorded just six sacks in his first three years with the Buckeyes, he knows there is still time to live up to some of the hype of being the 33rd ranked player in the country coming out of high school.

Even though Cooper’s stats so far at Ohio State haven’t been quite what he was hoping for, he is expected to take on a big role this season. While Ryan Day hasn’t named captains for this year’s Ohio State team yet, Cooper is expected to be one of those who earns the honor. Last week, Cooper was one of the Buckeyes chosen by Day to represent Ohio State at Big Ten Media Days.

Cooper knows that Ohio State has plenty to prove this year. Not only are the Buckeyes coming off a season when their defense was shredded for most of the season, but they aren’t the favorite in the Big Ten East for the first time in a while. The defensive end from Gahanna knows that even though Michigan is the trendy pick to dethrone the Buckeyes now that Urban Meyer has retired, Ohio State’s defensive line still has the talent to dominate.


“We want to get that play correct. It’s a very important plays as far as health and safety. but it’s also the penalty (that) is our largest penalty, so we want to make sure that we get that correct, and if we aren’t sure, the player will stay in the game.”

Big Ten coordinator of officials Bill Carollo on targeting via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

Since its inception, targeting has been one of the most controversial rules in college football. While some targeting penalties have been obvious to everyone watching, others have been tougher to judge, and in some cases been completely wrong. A prime example of where officials have gotten the call wrong was back in 2017, when Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward hit a Maryland receiver in his chest with his shoulder. Even after review, Ward was ejected from the game.

Things will change a bit this year when it comes to targeting, as now both the officials on the field and the replay official both have to agree on the penalty, with the replay official having the final decision. If the officials on the field and in the replay booth can’t agree on targeting the player won’t be ejected from the game. This could lead to seeing more flags for targeting, but only because the officials on the field are encouraged to throw a flag if they suspect there is targeting on a play, only because the play will go to review and if the initial call is wrong it can be reversed.

Another change in the rules when it comes to targeting is repeat offenders throughout the season will be punished. If a player is called for his third targeting penalty during the season, he will not only be ejected from the game, but he will also be suspended for the next game as well.

Ohio State wide receivers will have to be a little more careful with some of their blocking this year, as blind-side blocks in the open field have been banned, and will be a 15-yard penalty when flagged. To avoid being penalized, Carollo suggests that players should extends their hands as they make contact.

One other rule change that doesn’t come into play very often is to the overtime rules. Starting in the fifth overtime, instead of teams getting the football at the opponent’s 25-yard line, teams will now get one snap from the opponent’s 3-yard line. Since 2001, there have been 11 games that have gone at least five overtimes, but none of them have involved Big Ten teams.


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