COLUMBUS — Ohio State coach Ryan Day says he is not concerned about having three players in the Heisman Trophy discussion.
In fact, he might be more annoyed if there weren’t any Buckeyes being mentioned as Heisman contenders.
After big performances in a 38-7 win over Wisconsin last Saturday, running back J.K. Dobbins, defensive end Chase Young and quarterback Justin Fields have all been talked about as having a chance to draw significant support in the Heisman balloting.
“I think when you’re at Ohio State, this is what the norm should be, and it always has been. Hopefully it always will be. You come to Ohio State and you’re a tailback, you’re a quarterback, you should be in the Heisman Trophy conversation,” Day said on Tuesday at his weekly press conference.
“Now for Chase, that’s a different deal, and he’s obviously a special player, and hats off to him to even be brought up in something like this.
“I think if you ask those guys, they’ll tell you that they’re not worried about individual accolades at all, it’s all about a singular goal and that’s winning championships. And if we do, then I think there’s going to be a lot of those things to go around,” he said.
Many of the same analysts who say OSU has a trio of Heisman candidates also have declared Ohio State to be the best team in college football. Joel Klatt said it on the telecast of the Wisconsin game. Kirk Herbstreit said it. Even noted Alabama and SEC apologist Paul Finebaum says Ohio State should be No. 1 ahead of Alabama.
Outwardly, at least, Day is just as comfortable with those statements as is he with all the Heisman talk.
“I think all it means is that you have a lot more to lose if you let it get away from you. That’s it. And the more this builds, the more we have to lose. So we’re not going to get anxious about that or anything like that. But at the same time, we also know that we’ve got a bigger bull’s eye on our chest week in and week out. We have to work harder and harder and we’re more and more invested every week,” Day said.
“But I think this has been something we’ve been talking about for a long time. We expected to be in this situation, and now we have to act accordingly, and what that means is just staying locked in week in, week out on this game, preparing the same way, playing with the same energy, playing together, taking care of the football, tackling well, playing tough.
“That’s really what it comes down to, trying to help 18-, 19-, 20-year old kids understand that this is a great opportunity and that these opportunities don’t come around but a few times in a lifetime, and you have to capture those moments and what are you willing to sacrifice to go and achieve those goals. That will be the things we talk about this week,” he said.
No. 3 Ohio State (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten) is off this week. Its next game will be against Maryland on Nov. 9 at Ohio Stadium.
PLAYERS OF THE GAME: To the surprise of no one, J.K. Dobbins (163 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns) was the Offensive Player of the Game and Chase Young (4 sacks) was the Defensive Player of the Game against Wisconsin.
Safety Jahsen Wint was the Special Teams Player of the Game. Young was also the Big Ten and national Player of the Week. Dobbins was Big Ten Player of the Week.
RECRUITING PITCH?: Ever since Ohio State was spurned by two of the top running back recruits in the country in the 2020 recruiting class this summer, OSU has maintained it is not worried about finding someone to add to its backfield.
Day can’t talk about specific recruits but he might have been trying to send a message when he talked about running back and recruiting on Tuesday.
“I think if you’re a running back throughout the country in the United States and you’re seeing the history of running backs at Ohio State and what we’re doing this year and what we’ve done in the past, I think you’d be foolish not to give Ohio State a hard look,” he said.
“We’re really confident with some of the guys we’re recruiting right now, and there’s a long way to December and then February. We feel strong — we also feel really good about the guys we have in the room right now. I think it’s all going to work out.”
Earlier this year Bijan Robinson, of Tucson, Ariz., picked Texas over OSU, and Jaylan Knighton, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., chose Florida State over the Buckeyes.
TOUGHNESS AGAIN: Toughness is one of Day’s primary goals for Ohio State and he said he saw a lot of it against Wisconsin, including battling unfavorable weather.
“I think we played with toughness on Saturday. Again, it doesn’t matter if we don’t come out and play with toughness next week. But to handle the elements the way we did, I thought that the rain and the whole situation was kind of lining up a little bit to play towards Wisconsin’s strengths. So we just had to say that doesn’t matter to us, how tough can we possibly play, can we handle the elements,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau