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December 7, 2019
Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 21
THE MODERATOR: Coach Day, congratulations on a victory. Coach, would you like to make an opening statement, then we'll open questions.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, just what a gritty win that we knew it was going to be like this, to beat a well-coached Wisconsin team twice in one year, both in the top 10 when we played them, that's not easy to do. Then the way that we came off of these last two games, they were both emotional wins. Three back-to-back wins like this, it shows you what this team is made of.
But then to go down the way we did, come back and play in the second half, yeah, I think you've seen our talent, our execution, a lot of things, but today showed our team's heart. I think that's what makes this the best win of the year.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. Ryan, were you nervous at halftime?
RYAN DAY: Was I nervous? Yeah, I was a little nervous, yeah. We had a group of guys in that locker room who were barking at each other that they weren't going to leave this place without a win. Then we all got together and said, This is like life, it isn't always going to work out the way you want it. The challenge was we were going to find out what was really made inside of us. I think you saw that.
Q. Since the day you took this job, you knew what was ahead in terms of expectations. When you're looking back now, you go undefeated your first year, can you take a deep breath? I know there's goals ahead, I know you want to win a national title. At the baseline of where you got, can you finally feel good about you did what you were supposed to do?
RYAN DAY: I don't know. I don't know. I know what you're saying. There's a lot of stories to be told tonight. I don't think my story is one of them. But I will say, you know, when people are given opportunities in life, and there's certain high expectations, you can't worry about those things. You have to believe in yourself. I thought of this as an opportunity, not as a situation where people were going to expect something that was unrealistic.
You just go, you just put your trust in the team. I think this coaching staff is the best coaching staff in America. I think these leaders and players are the best in the country. We still got a lot of football to play.
Q. You can't exhale?
RYAN DAY: I don't know. I don't know. That game was such an emotional game, I think we'll kind of get back to the hotel, take a deep breath, then maybe get to enjoy it.
Q. Things didn't come easy for Justin today at all the first half. Second half he kept swinging, is MVP of the game. Speak on his play, how he responded.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, well, he didn't get a chance to practice as much as he would have liked to this week. I think early on it was a combination of our protection and maybe him just being a little rusty, not getting the amount of reps, live reps that he needed during the week.
Being a quarterback so much is timing. When you're in the NFL, you've had years and years, hundreds of games under your belt, maybe you don't need it as much. When you're a 19-year-old sophomore who hasn't played a ton of football, you need to practice.
The way that he played today without having a full week of practice is incredible. His heart is like I've never seen before. The way he came out to play today goes to show you that.
That's a microcosm of this team. You know what I mean? Look at the way Chase went through the season. You could go through the different stories. But there's something special about these guys.
Q. Chase, the defense really turned it up in the second half. I don't think you gave up a point. What was the difference for you to make that change?
CHASE YOUNG: I think we just had to go back in and refocus, just do the simple things like tackle, do our assignments. Coach Day, he just kept saying, Just keep swinging. We just kept swinging, kept swinging, kept swinging. We turned it out. It turned out for the best.
Q. Chase, you found yourselves down 14 points early. With you being the leader of the defense, what was conversation you were having with those guys in the huddle?
CHASE YOUNG: Halftime we went back in the locker room, you know, I just said there wasn't no need for any yelling. It was the simple things that we just weren't doing, like tackling, doing our jobs. I feel like the second half we made those corrections, I feel like you see what happened. We didn't give up any points.
Q. Do you think you deserve to be No. 1? Coach Day, that question as well? Two, how much of coming out the way you did maybe had something to do with having played Wisconsin before?
JUSTIN FIELDS: Really just looking at it, knowing the guys on our team, I feel like a lot of guys just have heart. Of course, outsiders can't really see that. In my heart, I think we should be No. 1. I hope we are.
CHASE YOUNG: Definitely. I think we No. 1, point-blank, period. I mean, I just feel like a team like this, that hit a lot of adversity, has been tested many times, times like today. To see us come back and not just come back but we came back and we dominated. I feel like a team that can flip the switch like that is, you know, a No. 1 worthy team.
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I think when you look at our résumé, what we've done, beating Wisconsin when they're a top-10 team twice in one year, and then again this three-game stretch was unlike I think any team has had in the country.
Committee does a great job of ranking these teams. These are top-15 teams, top-10 teams that we played three weeks in a row. If there's anything else that shows what this team is made of, you saw it here today. The fact that we went down and played the way we did in the first half, but then to come back and play the way we did in the second half not only shows you our talent but shows you the heart of this team.
Again, if there's a better team out there, I'd like to see them.
Q. Chase, tell us how dominant you were in the second half.
CHASE YOUNG: After we made our corrections, you know, what we tried to do is get three-and-outs. I feel like we for the most part succeeded. I feel like when plays had to be made, they were made. I feel like really that's the only thing you can ask, when a play has to be made, we make it, get off the field for the offense, I think that's the best thing we can do. We did it.
Q. Talk about in the third quarter where Wisconsin had a chance to score, they missed the field goal, how important was that?
CHASE YOUNG: It was definitely a momentum shift. I think our offense, they just took that momentum and just ran with it. It just continued throughout the rest of the game. We came out with the victory.
Q. Justin, this wasn't easy for you in the first half. You come back in the second half, explode a little bit. End up MVP of the game. How sweet is this victory?
JUSTIN FIELDS: This victory is a once-in-a-lifetime victory. I struggled a little bit in the first half, but I just knew to myself that I was a better player than what I was actually playing. Just kind of going back to my roots, getting confidence back, getting a rhythm. I think that kind of helped me a lot in the second half.
Q. Did you need a game like this, Justin? Does this help show what you're capable of playing in the Playoff?
JUSTIN FIELDS: I just think the team knew we already had it in us. I'm just glad the world got to see what this team was made of. I'm glad it happened.
CHASE YOUNG: It's definitely a good game for the nation to see when we get tested, how we handle adversity. I feel like as you see today, we handle adversity pretty well. So I feel like that's a big part of playing this game.
Q. Chase, you missed a few games this season, but you came back and didn't lose any momentum on the way you were playing at the beginning of the season. Talk to everybody about how you were able to keep that same momentum going after missing three weeks.
CHASE YOUNG: I think what I had to do is lean on my brothers, Coach Day, all the coaches, my family, not really listen to the outside noise. My coaches and my team never said anything bad about the situation. They always had my back. I feel like that just gave me even more confidence to continue every week, go out, just try to play my best games.
I just can't thank my family and my teammates and my coaches enough for the support because it made me go even harder.
Q. Chase, the defense, how much better can this defense be in the next couple of games?
CHASE YOUNG: We played Buckeye defense in the second half. I say first half we weren't ourselves. But I feel like as you see in the second half, I feel like we played pretty lights out for the most part.
Obviously the first half we made a lot of mistakes, a lot of missed tackles. Like I say every week, we just got to go back to the meeting rooms, just make our corrections.
Q. Chase, how badly did you need that fake punt? Drue Chrisman threw a bullet. Have you seen that in practice?
CHASE YOUNG: Maybe once. I'm trying to think. Maybe. I don't remember. When he threw it, everybody was confused: Whoa, what happened? He floated it out there. It was a pretty pass. It definitely got us excited. Definitely got the crowd excited. I feel like that just continued our momentum throughout the game.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss Chase and Justin. Congratulations.
Coach, do you want to address the fake punt question?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I felt like we needed a spark at that moment. Something that Matt Barnes had recognized that we thought we had a shot at. We practiced it during the week. Drue actually throws a pretty good ball. Always want to be aggressive. We felt like we had it. We felt like we needed it at that point. Kind of had to get a spark going. I thought that gave us a little juice there in the first half when we needed it.
Q. J.K. had another heavy-carry game. He delivered again. What does it say about him as a leader on this team running the gauntlet in this tough schedule?
RYAN DAY: Man, three weeks in a row now, 172 yards rushing on 33 carries. Wow, he ran hard. The offensive line, that's a good defense, they kept swinging and swinging and swinging.
We were going uphill. We knew we weren't going to run Justin in this game. That makes a huge difference. When you can't run your quarterback, we're not reading guys at the line of scrimmage, that changes everything.
We knew going into the game we weren't going to be able to do that. We knew it was going to be hard, tough sledding. They kept swinging, playing hard. Proud of these guys, the way they responded.
Q. Looking at the road ahead, most likely Clemson or Oklahoma, depending on where you end up. The road doesn't get any easier. What is going to be the message to the guys?
RYAN DAY: Yeah, I told the guys to enjoy this right now. We finished the race. It was tough at the end. It was like neck-and-neck. We finally finished this race. They need to enjoy it.
Tomorrow we'll come up for air, figure out where we are in all this. But we need to enjoy this. This was a long road. These last three weeks were hard, tough, emotional. I think our team is blown out right now. They need a little break, get away from this thing, take a deep breath. That took everything we had to win that game.
Q. A couple of new additions to the staff this year. Talk about the impact that Greg Mattison has had, not just on the defense, but his experience coming into this program?
RYAN DAY: It was huge. That was one of the huge question marks coming into this season. He has been a big part of our defensive successes the way he handles these things. Been in these spots before, experience, won national championships. Done a lot of things.
He's had a major impact on our staff. His experience is really critical for us.
Q. Even in defeat, Jonathan Taylor went over a hundred yards, more than 6,000 yards rushing. Talk about the impact he's had in college football.
RYAN DAY: Man, what a back. I've not seen many guys who have the combination that he has of size and change of direction, body control, power. He's a talented back.
It's been great to watch he and J.K. go back and forth here. He ran hard. Broke some tackles in the game. Nothing but credit for not only their scheme, the way they're coached, but their talent. He's one of the best backs in -- I guess in Big Ten history. He deserving all the credit he gets.
Q. When you're in the middle of a season, when does it occur to you you might have a team that is national title caliber?
RYAN DAY: That's a great question.
I think after the first Wisconsin game, you hoped that maybe we have a shot at this thing. Then as we go, we play Penn State, kind of work your way through it. Then last week, as we started to pull away in the rivalry game, you start to think you might have a shot at this thing.
Now that we've won this game here, I mean, we're two games away. It's real now. We deserve to be in it. I think we've done an unbelievable job of staying in the moment, not getting too far ahead of ourselves. But now it's real. We're in it now.
I'd say after this game, now is when you can at least say, Hey, we got a chance on this thing.
Q. The moment when you got to lift the trophy with your guys, what did that really feel like, Big Ten champs?
RYAN DAY: Felt great for our coaching staff. Felt great for the leaders, this team, who we've been through a lot together. I'm just proud of them. There were so many expectations put on us this season going into the season. Our ability to stay locked in week in, week out, play together as a team, and then for the first real time face adversity, we're losing in a game -- because that was the big question mark in my mind, what were we going to do down two scores at halftime? We don't know. The way we responded in that third quarter was unbelievable. You could feel the electricity in the stadium. We imposed our will. I think that goes to show you how special this team is.
Again, after these three weeks, three emotional wins. To get this championship, it was a just a great feeling.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Day, congratulations. Thank you very much for your time. Good luck going forward.
RYAN DAY: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports