Buckeyes focus on Badgers despite Schiano controversy

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Buckeyes focus on Badgers despite Schiano controversy

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Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins throws a 27-yard pass to Austin Mack in the third quarter against Michigan on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. David Jablonski/Staff

Coach Urban Meyer answered questions about #CameraGate and the fallout from J.T. Barrett’s knee injury on Saturday and again on Sunday and Monday. Meanwhile, a new controversy took center stage as his Ohio State Buckeyes continued preparation for the Big Ten Championship.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano had a deal in place to be the new head coach at Tennessee when an online backlash to the hiring began because of Schiano’s connection to Penn State and the Jerry Sandusky scandal, forcing the school and the coach to go their separate ways. Schiano remains with the Buckeyes.

In his weekly press conference Monday, Meyer repeated what he said Sunday when he was asked about Schiano leaving for the Volunteers, throwing his full support behind his coach, just as he did in 2016 when the alleged Sandusky connection first surfaced.

“He’s an elite person, elite father, elite husband, elite friend and elite football coach,” Meyer said, “and I stand by my coach. I just don’t know enough, and it’s not fair to my players to make any more comments than that because we have a huge game this week.”

That game remains the focus for the No. 9 Buckeyes (10-2). They play No. 5 Wisconsin (12-0) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The big question all week will be about Barrett. Will he be healthy enough to play? Or will Dwayne Haskins, who led Ohio State’s comeback victory Saturday at Michigan, get the start?

Meyer upgraded Barrett’s status to probable and said he’s been doing a nice job with the rehab. Barrett didn’t practice Sunday, Meyer said, and his practice status for the rest of the week has not been determined. Meyer expects Barrett to split reps with Haskins if and when he does return to practice.

If the Buckeyes do have to turn to the redshirt freshman Haskins instead of the fifth-year senior Barrett, they are confident he can get the job done. Haskins’ performance in the second half at Michigan Stadium boosted that feeling.

Haskins completed 6 of 7 passes for 94 yards and led Ohio State to a touchdown, field goal and touchdown in four drives. The other drive ended in a missed field goal.

“I get to see him every day in practice, so I’ve always had confidence whenever he got his opportunity he was going to shine,” wide receiver Terry McLaurin said. “He’s a very confident and poised quarterback, and he has confidence in his ability. My job as a leader was to make plays and make blocks whenever possible to help his outing.”

Notes: Defensive end Sam Hubbard was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week. He recorded 2½ sacks and forced a fumble in the 31-20 victory at Michigan. Hubbard, a redshirt junior, participated in Ohio State’s Senior Tackle tradition last week, which could indicate he plans to enter the NFL Draft after this season. “He’s been a three-year starter,” Meyer said. “He’s a graduate. And that’s his decision. We talked about it, and he wanted to go through senior tackle. And that’s his call.” … Meyer will appear at a press conference at Lucas Oil Stadium at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst will follow at 4 p.m.

SATURDAY’S GAME

Big Ten Championship: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin, 8 p.m., FOX, 1410

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