Urban Meyer started his last weekly press luncheon of the season talking about something else, but most of his 24-minute meeting with reporters Monday centered on just one topic: Michigan.
That came as little surprise, of course, as the Ohio native gets set to lead his first Ohio State team against its most storied rival for the first time at noon Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
"We can talk about this game now," the Ashtabula, Ohio, native said. "We talked about it as a team a little bit. We talked about it during training camp just to remember. Obviously, you walk through the facility, and there's all kinds of tribute to this game, but this is all I knew growing up. It's all anybody knew. In the era when I grew up, there really wasn't much other than three channels on your television and this game. It was Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes, Pete Johnson, Archie Griffin. That's all.
"I remember the games. I remember it coming down the pipe. I remember everybody talking about it. So it's incredible memories growing up."
Before the conversation turned to "That Team Up North," Meyer took a little bit of time to reflect on the Buckeyes 17-14 overtime win at Wisconsin last week.
The Buckeyes clinched the Big Ten Leaders Division title and maintained their perfect record thanks to the contributions of many players who made Meyer's weekly "champions" club.
Heading the group was senior defensive end John Simon, and that came as little surprise. He was named the team's defensive player of the week after tying a school single-game record with four sacks against the Badgers. That was part of a six-tackle day that also earned him recognition as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week.
Joining Simon in grading out as champions on defense were linebackers Ryan Shazier and Zach Boren along with safeties C.J. Barnett, Christian Bryant and Orhian Johnson.
"C.J. Barnett played his best game of the year – 18 production points, graded out 95 percent, very high," Meyer said. "Ryan Shazier continues to extremely impress with his production – 11 tackles, two assists, two tackles for a loss, two hurries, one (pass breakup) and two forced fumbles. 38 production points, which is incredible.
Meyer said Boren graded out at 86 percent as he continues to develop at linebacker after moving over from fullback in the middle of the season.
"One of the great stories, in my mind, in college football and certainly in Ohio State history," Meyer said. "What he's done, the selfless approach is I know I can only speak on, I guess, our coaching staff and myself, but the selfless approach and what he would do for this team is extraordinary. Incredible human being and a great game.
"Christian Bryant graded out 92 percent. He missed some practice with some injury time with a slight injury last week but came back and played very well. Orhian Johnson graded out 88 percent, was also our special teams player of the week. I made a comment to him I wish we had him for another year because he is really, really coming on as a football player. I'm not sure he knows how good he could be."
Carlos Hyde took home the honor of offensive player of the week after the junior tailback rumbled for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 15 carries.
Receivers Corey "Philly" Brown and Evan Spencer also graded out as champions on offense, and the small number of honorees on offense was an indication of the kind of day it was for the Buckeyes when they had the ball.
"On offense, we didn't play very well," Meyer said before praising his team's efforts on special teams.
"I thought, obviously special teams played a pivotal role, as it does when your talent is somewhat equal."
Brown was also named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week thanks to a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead early against the Badgers.
Joining him on the special teams champions list were Spencer, punter Ben Buchanan, safeties Corey Brown and Taylor Rice, cornerback Armani Reeves and wide receiver Devin Smith.
Meyer credited blocks by Rice, Spencer and linebackers Stuart Smith and Luke Roberts for springing Brown on his return.
"Really, that was as fine a job on a punt return as I can ever remember seeing, as far as hats on hats and ridiculous effort running down the field," Meyer said.