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INDIANAPOLIS — All the sacrifices were made in hopes of a shot at championships for Ohio State.
Obviously the opportunity hasn’t arrived exactly like the Buckeyes would have expected. But after all the uncertainty of whether a season would even be played, the protests and the petitions, the schedule changes and the cancellations and every other complication along the way, they’re right where they always intended.
Ring Season has arrived for Ohio State. First on the calendar: The Big Ten title matchup with Northwestern on Saturday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“[Handling adversity] is something weâ€™ve had to become really good at,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “If this was something that would have happened last year, if everything was going normal and then The Game got canceled, it would probably take a lot longer to recover from. But weâ€™re actually getting used to receiving bad news and having to move on quickly. I think weâ€™ve become hardened as a team, and because of that we moved on pretty quickly and transitioned right to playing in this championship game — because thatâ€™s what mattered next.
“Early on when we would get bad news, youâ€™d see long face and it would take a couple days to peel them up off the pavement. But these guys have learned a lot, and now weâ€™re able to transition fast. â€¦ Now that weâ€™re here, itâ€™s like: OK, weâ€™re playing for rings now.”
The Buckeyes have been fitted for the Big Ten jewelry three years in a row, and it would take a stunning upset for them not to do it a fourth-consecutive time. Ohio State still won’t have a full-strength roster after dealing with positive tests within the program for the last four weeks, but the expectation is that it should be closer than it was two weeks ago when it locked up the East Division bid at Michigan State. Either way, the Buckeyes remain double-digit favorites for a reason thanks to the absurd amount of elite players they have accumulated on the depth chart after stacking up record-setting recruiting classes one after another.
The winning mentality, the tight-knit brotherhood and cutting-edge coaching obviously all help as well. But when it comes to keeping the Big Ten crown, the overwhelming talent disparity has fueled the program’s dominance.
That won’t end on Saturday. And Ohio State can then start chasing more rings after that.
The Pick: Ohio State 56, Northwestern 6.
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