Well, it’s something.
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has been criticized for years for being soft on internal discipline, but OSU senior offensive right guard Marcus Hall will not start tonight’s Big Ten title game because of his behavior in last week’s win at Michigan.
Hall was ejected in the first half along with teammate Dontre Wilson and U-M’s Royce Jenkins-Stone after punches were thrown. Hall left the field with his hands up and both middle fingers extended, and OSU and the Big Ten took heat this week for not giving him further punishment.
“Very, very disappointed in his actions,” Meyer said Friday of Hall. “He paid the penalty for the fight, which is he missed three quarters in a rivalry game. It’s not Marcus. But just really disappointed in his actions after the fight.”
Meyer did not specify when Hall might see the field for No. 2 OSU (12-0, 8-0 Big Ten) tonight against No. 10MSU (11-1, 8-0) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Redshirt freshman Pat Elflein took his place at U-M and is expected to start in his place.
Meyer also indicated linebacker Curtis Grant (high ankle sprain) could contribute more after returning briefly last week at U-M after several weeks off. He said Grant still has “a little bit of a wobble” but is improving. OSU receiver Philly Brown has been playing through a stress fracture but should be OK.
¦ CHRISTMAS COLORS: It should be a packed stadium tonight and though MSU is the official “home” team in green, Ohio State fans have had more time to plan.
“We’re anticipating 50/50, but I’m hoping it will be a stronger Buckeye crowd show up,” Meyer said.
Meanwhile, former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was in Indianapolis two years ago to cheer on MSU and close friend Mark Dantonio against Wisconsin — green sweater vest and all. But what about for this one? “I don’t know if he’s got green on or not (for the game),” Dantonio said of Tressel, “but maybe.”
TO BE THE BEST: Dantonio summed MSU’s defensive opportunity this way: “We want to play against the best. We want to prove that we are the best.”
This is the biggest MSU defensive challenge of the season, trying to hold down quarterback Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde. Dantonio called Miller a “magician” and Hyde a “bull of a runner.”
MSU freshman quarterback Damion Terry and freshman receiver Trey Kilgore took turns emulating Miller for the scout team this week, and freshman running back Gerald Holmes Jr. and junior fullback Ty Hamilton alternated as Hyde. They were “live,” or open to full contact.
Dantonio said he saw Terry “make some plays that got you excited.”
BUCKEYE BACKGROUND: MSU grad assistant Rob Harley played safety for Dantonio at Ohio State when Dantonio was Tressel’s defensive coordinator for a 2002 national title. And Harley’s OSU ties go deeper than that — his great-great uncle, Chic Harley, was OSU’s first three-time All-American. Ohio Stadium is known as “The House That Harley Built.”
MSU co-offensive coordinator Jim Bollman was Tressel’s offensive coordinator at OSU and was let go when Meyer was hired. He took a beating from Ohio State fans in his tenure and now has a chance to help beat the Buckeyes. “He’s a little bit more on edge than normal,” co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner said of Bollman, “which is good to see.”
Come back Saturday for Josh Mansour's live blog of the MSU-Ohio State Big Ten championship game.