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Buckeye Football Notebook: 'I knew when I looked at him there was just something different in his eyes'
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — If a Buckeye football freshman's first day on campus was the week before Michigan Week and they had never been told of the rivalry between Ohio State and Michigan, there is little doubt that they would have noticed a distinct difference between their first week and Michigan Week.

From 'It's Time for War' blaring in the facilities, to the focus on the face of each of the players who had been here before, to the very look in Urban Meyer's eyes, it would have been impossible to miss the meaning of the final week of the regular season, especially this year following the loss to Michigan State.

"Just to see Coach Meyer hurting and feeling down, our offensive coordinators, they really can’t play the game for us so we had to figure out a way to give back to them and correct that and bring their spirits up as a whole," said junior receiver Michael Thomas after the win over the Wolverines.

 "Some guys didn’t have their best game last week so we felt as a team we had to bring the energy back for this team. So we wanted to go out here and prove ourselves."

It wasn't just Thomas who was looking to set things right. The entire team had the same focus and mentality. They took their approach from their head coach, and the result was a 42-13 throttling over Ohio State's rival.

"You could see it in his eyes," sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett said of Meyer. "As the day started when we woke up at seven o’clock, I knew when I looked at him there was just something different in his eyes."

Barrett wasn't the only player who took notice.

"Honestly, from last week, just the way we went about this week and his demeanor this week, everyone on the team, everyone wanted to get out here and dominate," said junior tailback Ezekiel Elliott. "We wanted to get out here and make up for last weekend and we were just determined. That on top of playing The Team Up North, this big rivalry just with so much emotion, and I think we handled it really well. We came out and executed."

Arguably the one thing in Saturday's game that the Michigan coaches couldn't account for was the move of Ed Warinner from the sideline to the press box and what that meant for the Ohio State offense, and subsequently the Michigan defense.

Once that move was made, it cleared the way for an up-tempo offensive attack that would not bode well for a Michigan defense lacking speed and depth.

Interestingly, Michigan only found out about 24 hours after the Buckeyes did.

"I didn’t find out til Friday," said senior left tackle Taylor Decker. "I don’t think he wanted to distract us from the preparation during the week. He basically told us, ‘You know, I just gotta tell you guys this before Saturday morning, I’m gonna be up in the booth.’ He wasn’t too worried about it, but I think that’s why he waited so long to tell us."

Meyer made the decision on Tuesday to send Warinner upstairs, and it obviously worked. The Ohio State running game and tempo was too much for the Michigan defense to handle as the game went on.

Asked what it took to get the running game going in this game, Urban Meyer cited the blocking, but then also credited Warinner for his role in a dominating performance.

"Blocking them," Meyer said with a smile when asked the secret to their running success. "That was a very good front. I think second-ranked defense in college football. We knew we were going to go with Zeke, I didn’t know that much. J.T. played his tail off too. Wow, J.T. ran for 139; 214 for Zeke. Yeah, incredible effort by both those kids, but it all starts up front.

"I will say this, Ed Warinner gets blistered and that’s part of the title, it comes with it, but he did a marvelous job coaching."

The offensive line does deserve credit for much of Ezekiel Elliott's success in his two years as a starter, but Elliott deserves credit as well because he will leave Ohio State after this season as an All-Time Buckeye Great.

Part of the legacy that Elliott will leave will be that of the school's second-leading rusher of all time, whatever that number eventually ends up being.

None of this, of course, is lost on Elliott.

"It’s kind of a dream come true to come out and be a dominant collegiate athlete," he said after Saturday's game. "I just have to give all the thanks to God and then after that the O-line. They just have been so good in my time here and if you look back at Coach Meyer’s history, that’s four straight games the Ohio State offensive line just dominated The Game.

"It all starts there and that chemistry we have with each other just kind of drives us and we play for each other and we play our hearts out for each other. It’s an honor to continue this running back pedigree at O State, but I just gotta thank my O-line for everything."

Player profiles relevant to story:
15 - Elliott, Ezekiel | Coach - Meyer, Urban | Coach - Warinner, Ed
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