Urban Meyer not downplaying Saturday’s showdown

COLUMBUS, Ohio — It’s a rematch of last year’s Big Ten Championship Game and it’s essentially for a spot in this year’s game. The loser is out of the race for the first ever College Football Playoff, too.

No. 11 Ohio State plays at No. 6 Michigan State on Saturday night in the biggest Big Ten game of the year. And in the buildup, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer isn’t sugarcoating or going coachspeak with anything.

"Absolutely it’s a big game," Meyer said Wednesday night. "I just had a conversation with our players. This is why we train. Every second of everything we do from offseason conditioning to summer camp, we train for moments like this.

"Our goal is to play for championships in November."

Both teams are 7-1 and unbeaten in conference. Barring a meltdown, the winner will win the Big Ten’s East Division and advance to the Big Ten Championship Game.

Meyer is 31-3 in three seasons at Ohio State. He was 24-0 before losing to Michigan State last December in Indianapolis.

"We don’t want to apologize for all the wins we’ve had but this is a big game against a good team," Meyer said. "It is what it is. This is another challenge against a very good team. It’s an opportunity to compete for a championship."

Meyer said his team still has work to do on the practice field this week but he likes the focus and attitude level. Earlier this week he said Michigan State is "king of the hill right now because they won the championship and you have to dethrone them. How do you do that? You outwork them Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday."

QUICK HITS: Meyer said he hasn’t even asked quarterback J.T. Barrett about the sprained knee that cost Barrett some practice time last week but no game action. "J.T. is good," Meyer said … Ohio State nickel cornerback Armani Reeves probably won’t be cleared to play, Meyer said, meaning Cam Burrows "or possibly Damon Webb" will replace him in nickel defensive sets. Webb is a freshman from Detroit Cass Tech.

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