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December 2, 2017

Jerome Baker

J.T. Barrett

Urban Meyer

Indianapolis, Indiana

Ohio State - 27, Wisconsin - 21

THE MODERATOR: We'll ask Coach Meyer to make an opening statement. Then we'll go to your questions.

COACH MEYER: A lot of respect for our opponent. What a great conference championship game. Two teams that were certainly well prepared and played their hearts out.

Also I'd like to thank Buckeye Nation for representing -- there was a good portion in that stadium were Buckeye fans. And I'm extremely proud of a group of players that -- this is not an easy season, as they never are -- but to win the championship -- first of all, to win the Eastern Division, which is arguably one of the top divisions in America, and then to come in against the No. 4 team in the country, our second win over top four teams in America, and win the championship.

So I'm much appreciative of our players and hope some good things happen down the road.

Q. After J.T.'s surgery on Sunday, did your faith ever waver that you'd be able to count on him in this game?
COACH MEYER: It never does. That's just because -- I've had (Tim) Tebow and this kid's a lot like him. How you keep him out of a game, I just don't know how it happens. I was skeptical. I had one other player come back within a week from a scope and he played it.

And so we have an excellent trainer. Stew did an excellent job with him, to the point they were together 15 hours a day, minimum. And after Tuesday when it didn't swell at all, they told me it's looking good. Wednesday it's looking really good. Thursday it's he's going to be ready to go.

Q. Was there anything you were looking for in the game with J.T. to see if he was okay? And did you feel like you guys adjusted the offensive game plan at all with him?
COACH MEYER: They were playing a lot of people near the line of scrimmage. We had some big plays early. J.T. had a nice pass to Terry McLaurin in a unique formation we gave him. Also Parris (Campbell) came out of a bubble screen for a big hit. J.K. had two big hits.

We left a lot of yardage on the field. We had some misfires in the throw game that were -- guys were wide open. But I thought we adjusted fairly good against one of the top defenses in the country. Still had 450 yards of offense, but there was a lot of offense on the field.

Q. During the course of the season you guys had two tough losses. Talk to us about what the character of your team looked like toward the end of the season; you guys just bounced back. Talk to us about how well they played down the stretch.
COACH MEYER: They were phenomenal. After that one really tough loss, we came back. And Billy Price, along with our seniors -- it wasn't a whole lot that the coaches said. It was all the players. Said everything that we want is still ahead of us.

Boy, they came back. Played great against an excellent Michigan State team and then went on the road to beat our rivals, and obviously against a top four team now.

So resilient, tough and together is the way I'd characterize this team.

Q. You for weeks have shut down any talk about the playoff. You started to lobby a little bit after the game. What is your case for getting in the game? How disappointed would you be if Ohio State is not taken tomorrow?
COACH MEYER: I would disagree with the lobby. I was asked questions. And I answered questions. I think our strength of schedule, quality wins is phenomenal. And we're conference champions.

Once again, two wins over top four. I don't know if anyone's done that. Two wins over top four teams this year. Another blow-out win against a 12 team in America.

And so we played three top five teams and we won two of them. So I got asked the question. Just amazing how important this playoff is and how the whole world revolves around it. I hope we get a shot.

Q. Did you think it was possible that you would try J.T. and then, just in game action like that he wouldn't be able to go? And what was your conversation with Dwayne about maybe being ready if needed?
COACH MEYER: Be ready to go. And Dwayne (Haskins) came up to me, put his arm around me and said, "Coach, I'm here if you need me." The one thing about the injury he had, there's no structural -- it can't get worse. It's just the pain tolerance, will it swell.

So it wasn't like a ligament issue where you're putting a player at risk. That was not at all the case. It was simply they shaved off a piece of his cartilage in a quick scope surgery. And it's pretty much no swelling, if he can tolerate the pain.

Q. That's exactly the question I was going to ask you: Did he have pain that he had to deal with, especially tonight?
COACH MEYER: I grabbed him afterwards and he said his shoulder was sore and he said his leg is fine. No pain whatsoever. And there's no pain whatsoever.

Q. J.T., I know what he means to you. What does he mean to the huddle? What does he mean to the locker room? What does he mean to his teammates? I have to believe him getting in there gave them extra motivation maybe?
COACH MEYER: The players love him, they respect him. They know him better than all of us because they're the ones in there. I'm not there in the summers when they're training and running.

But he's earned the respect of the players, and that's the most important respect that you can have.

Q. A lot was made about there's a lot of talk about Wisconsin not -- I guess a lot of people didn't think they were a top four team. I know it's not on the table for them anymore but after playing them how would you gauge where they stand. There was a lot of talk before about Wisconsin not being worthy of being one of the top four teams in the country. Obviously that's not on the table for them anymore. But how would you gauge where they stand after you played them?
COACH MEYER: Well, we've had some experience against some top five teams. That's a top five football team. Excellent team. Excellent defense. And our defense really did a nice job shutting their running game down. But their defense is outstanding. We think they're a top five team.

Q. In that first half, you guys were able to pop several big plays which kept you in the ballgame, because they had time of possession was all on them for the first quarter and a half or so. What were they doing that allowed you to be able to get those big plays off during the course of that time?
COACH MEYER: They made a concerted effort to try to stop the run game. They were playing something we call zero hold coverage where it's basically zero coverage. And they're going to try to negate the run game and force maybe J.T. to throw the ball a bit more with his injury.

We hit some early on and we missed some later on. But the one pass to start the game to Terry McLaurin was a great pass. We caught them in zero hold coverage and it was a big hit.

And Parris (Campbell) came out the end of the other bubble. Whenever you play zero hold coverage, if you break your tackle you come out the other end. So we had a couple of big hits. And, like I said, in the second half we had a couple other ones. We just didn't hit it.

Whenever you face that kind of feast-or-famine style defense, which they played against us, you're going to have some big hits.

Q. When you decided to kick the ball late in the game, fourth and one instead of going for it, were you saying to your defense that we're going to put this game in your hands because we want to show that offensively we don't want to bury them deep in a corner there, but we want to say, hey, defense it's up to you; if we move on you have to stand up and make the call?
COACH MEYER: Yeah, that was a very tough call. Offensive line wanted to go for it. But we're up by three. If we do not, that gives them life. I've just been on the other side of that ball, all you need is a field goal to tie the game as opposed to you need a touchdown.

So I made that decision. And that was hard, because our offensive line wanted to go for it. And usually I do in that situation. But I just thought our defense was playing so good; let's let that quarterback and let our defensive line do what they do best and get after that quarterback. But that was one of the toughest calls of the day. Notice earlier we went for it on fourth down and just barely got it.

But to keep them from feeling it, if we don't get it there, now all they need is a field goal to tie it up.

Q. J.T., what was this week like for you, the decision to have the surgery, and then just how you felt coming into this game?
J.T. BARRETT: Yeah, so, I mean, it wasn't like I really had an option for it. I really couldn't straighten my leg out being my meniscus popped out. So I had to have the surgery. But I mean it was just a small procedure, really.

And then just a lot of treatment. A lot of time in the training room. Tried to do my best to get my mental reps through film and then out there on the field as well so I'd be able to play today.

Q. Urban, you're not on the committee, I know. But philosophically for you, last year you guys were not a conference champion and you did make it. This year you are a conference champion. Just in your mind as a coach, how much should a conference championship matter in the playoff discussion when you're comparing teams?
COACH MEYER: I got asked that last year. And I thought Penn State was very deserving. The difference last year, we had those three, top, big wins, two of them on the road at Oklahoma, at Wisconsin, both top 10 wins and against our rival. So once again three top 10 wins.

I would imagine that's the reason -- I never really asked, but that's why I think the conference championship should be huge. But also we had two wins this year against top four teams, top four teams in America. And I can't imagine any other team doing that.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach. Questions for the players.

Q. J.T., what would it have taken to keep you out? When did you know exactly that you were going to play? Maybe you knew it before the surgery, I don't know. But talk us through that whole process?
J.T. BARRETT: Yeah. On Saturday after we played the team up north, I said I was going to play next week. So if I didn't, I was kind of going to be a liar. And I wouldn't lie.

Q. J.T., coach said that you were spending 15 hours a day with the trainer. Was that an exaggeration? And did you suggest earlier that you didn't take the field in practice? Was it strictly straight into the game?
J.T. BARRETT: Yeah. So, yeah, I mean it was about -- I would say that, about 14 hours a day. Getting treatment and then, yeah, I didn't -- I wasn't able to get the reps in practice just because I was trying to maintain or trying to, I guess, not get the swelling in my knee. So the swelling at the beginning of the week, I was trying to make sure keep on reducing that swelling. I couldn't go out and practice, otherwise. We wouldn't be able to manage the swelling like we did.

Q. Jerome, how important was it for you to stop Wisconsin's running game and limit Jonathan Taylor? And how were you able to do just that?
JEROME BAKER: It was very important. We knew their running game was the main part of their offense. And as a defense, as a whole, we took pride in it, in stopping the run. We did that. That was the main focus point, as you can see. Just the rest handled itself.

Q. J.T., did you think it was possible that when you went out today in game action, that even though you felt ready, you wouldn't be able to really sustain it once the game started? Or did you know, you know what, I'm going to be able to do this?
J.T. BARRETT: So during the course of the week, Thursday is when I took a lot of reps. And I was just -- not a lot, but I took about half the Thursday reps in practice. And I was mainly throwing the football. Didn't run at all.

And then yesterday before we took the bus ride here, I did a whole bunch of cutting and planting on my knee. And I had confidence in my ability to go out there. So it wasn't like I was second-guessing at all.

Q. Were you limited in any way today, or did you pretty much feel like yourself?
J.T. BARRETT: Yeah, I felt like myself. I told Coach Day, he asked me, how do you feel running the football? I said, you can call whatever play you want to.

Q. J.T., what would it mean to you to get into the playoff, considering the last time you couldn't play?
J.T. BARRETT: I think it would mean a lot, not just to me but guys in the locker room, understanding the work we put in, the way we fought through the season.

And I think our resumé speaks for itself. I think -- I mean we put ourselves in a good position of being the conference champions. Also the wins we had, the big-time wins and all the other stuff they consider.

But I don't know, I think we did what we were supposed to do. And that was today go beat the No. 4 team in the country in Wisconsin and be the Big Ten champs.

Q. J.T., we know you want to be out there no matter what, but what did it mean that you got to play in the Big Ten Championship game, which you've never got to play in before?
J.T. BARRETT: Yeah, so I was saying to myself last time I got us to the party but I wasn't let in.

So this time there's opportunity for me to go play in this game, I was going to do whatever it takes to go out there and play with my brothers knowing that it's my senior year.

This was one of the reasons why I came back, to play in big-time games like this. With the opportunity to go do that -- with the Lord, it was going to be right. With God, everything was going to be all right. That was in my head.

So with that, just didn't stress about, didn't worry about it. Just did what I could as far as rehabbing my knee and reducing the swelling. And I knew, just put it in God's hands and not worry about anything.

Q. Jerome, if you could speak to the college football playoff committee, what would you say to them about why Ohio State should be in the playoff?
JEROME BAKER: I don't know. I'm the wrong person to ask that to. I just go out there and do my best. Every play I just try to go my hardest. That's all I can really say. The rest, college football will handle itself. It's just a blessing to be out there, and I'm just having fun.

Q. When I asked you, I thought you said that you hadn't done any practice and then later on you said you took half the reps on Thursday. Can you clarify for us what exactly happened?
J.T. BARRETT: Okay. So Thursday we have our perfect practice, our perfect Thursdays and I took half of those. So the first half of practice I took those reps.

I was just throwing the ball. I didn't run. And then that was basically the practice reps that I had. So I think you could tell today there was a lot of things that were off as far as timing in the throw game just because I just didn't get those reps in practice.

But I think we need to make plays. We were able to make them down the stretch, and at the end of the day that's what helped us win this game.


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