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Meyer should refine Ohio State’s ‘gold’

September 28, 2012
By BETTY POKAS - Buckeye Blitz ( , Times Leader

RUMPELSTILTSKIN is the only guy famous for turning straw into gold, and OSU head football coach Urban Meyer may be legendary but thankfully, he's not nasty like that fellow from fairy tales.

It would be helpful, however, if he would follow Rumpelstiltskin's lead in one area of expertise.

While Meyer can't be expected to spin straw into gold, it would be great if he would be able to refine some of the "unpolished gold" among the Buckeyes as they enter Big Ten competition Saturday against the No. 20 Michigan State Spartans.

The gold - or rather, talent - of some Buckeyes already is evident, but there's still more work to be done as shown in last Saturday's game at the 'Shoe against the University of Alabama at Birmingham team.

In the postgame press conference last week, Meyer said he was pleased with the win, and he also gave a lot of credit to the UAB team for playing hard, but then added, "It's glaringly obvious we've got to get a lot better or we won't win next week.

"Enjoy the win tonight, get back to work. It's Big Ten season. And I might be new to the Big Ten, I'm not new to the big-time atmosphere of college football. So we have to be ready for this one."

In Monday's press conference, Meyer after praising outstanding players went on to say there's a different feel among the Buckeyes since it's time for the Big Ten.

Noting that he feels "a different pepper in the step" regarding the players, Meyer said, "I would expect it. This is a rivalry game. This is a game that's going to have an instrumental impact on the Big Ten Conference."

He also said that going on the road sometimes is overrated. "Going on the road against a team that you're far superior, that's not a big deal. Going on the road against this outfit, this is a significant challenge for us."

With OSU ineligible for a championship game, Meyer said the goal is to win OSU's side of the Big Ten.

MSU's record this season is 3-1 with their wins against Boise State, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan and their single loss against Notre Dame.

Saturday's game means there's be plenty of Ohioans, including some outstanding players, on both sidelines at the stadium in East Lansing.

Meyer and MSU coach Mark Dantonio are both from the Buckeye State with Meyer hailing from Ashtabula while Dantonio is a Zanesville native. Each of them is the 24th head coach in their respective school's history.

Dantonio was OSU's defensive coordinator for three years under Jim Tressel. While he was there, the Buckeyes had a combined record of 32-6 (.842), including the 2002 National Championship.

On leaving OSU, Dantonio coached for three seasons at Cincinnati before going to MSU. His Michigan State record is 47-23.

One of the 28 MSU players from Ohio is Le'Veon Bell, a junior running back who leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the FBS in rushing, averaging 152.5 yards per game. He ranks second in the nation in carries with 117 and 10th in all purpose yards (173.8 ypg).

Bell, a graduate of Groveport Madison High School near Columbus, was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season after rushing a career-high 253 yards last Saturday against Eastern Michigan. That's the highest single-game total in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision this season and the sixth highest in MSU history.

He isn't the only Spartan who's a Columbus area native.

When talking about Saturday's game, MSU sophomore center Travis Jackson commented, "I grew up 15 minutes from there (OSU). I went to a ton of games there. It was really awesome to go down there last year. They're a really good team this year so that even excites me more to play such a good team in Spartan Stadium."

Jackson, a St. Francis DeSales High School graduate, is from the New Albany area.

Twenty-eight Spartans are from Ohio, and seven of MSU's 24 probable starters are from the Buckeye State. In addition to Bell and Jackson, they are junior left tackle Dan France, North Royalton; sophomore right tackle Skyler Burkland, Big Walnut, Sunbury; sophomore defensive end Marcus Rush, Archbishop Moeller, Cincinnati; junior linebacker Denicos Allen, Hamilton; and fifth-year senior cornerback Johnny Adams, Buchtel High School, Akron.

Dantonio regards the No. 14 OSU as "a big opportunity again. ... It will really be a great atmosphere. I guess I would say I can hardly contain myself."

He mentioned the Spartan team includes a lot of Ohio players "so it will be a special time for them as well. I'm sure we'll be energized and ready to go."

The MSU coach also said OSU quarterback Braxton Miller has had "immense growth in a year. He's a very exciting player, dynamic player, and he makes them go. He's tailback that can throw in the backfield. He can make you miss, do a lot of different things, run with power and then throw it. He'll be a tough guy to defend."

Saturday's game, set for 3:30 p.m., will be aired on ABC.

Pokas can be reached at



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