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Dec. 3, 2002

OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel
On the Miami Hurricanes, a possible opponent in the Fiesta Bowl:
“I really didn’t see too much of the game (against Syracuse) Saturday. They’re a great football team. They are loaded with talent. They have a lot of speed at every position. They’re well coached and they make a lot of great plays.”

On the chances of playing Iowa in the Fiesta Bowl:
“I think it would be great for us and the Big Ten to play Iowa (in the Fiesta Bowl). Both teams have had great seasons and both are Big Ten champs. It would definitely be a great game between two great teams.”

On the time off preparing for the Fiesta Bowl:
“It’s great to get back to work, but it’s also nice to be able to sit back and watch knowing we’re already (in the Fiesta Bowl). It’s a comforting feeling. We have finals next week and then it’s nothing but football until we leave for Tempe.”

OSU linebacker Matt Wilhelm
On being named an All-American:
“It’s definitely a great feeling. It goes right along with the type of season we’ve had. I just wanted to improve my game from last year and I think I’ve done that.

On the time off:
“It has been great. I’m almost bored sometimes sitting around. It is nice having time off. The last time we had a week off was after Texas Tech and we needed that because we had 12-straight weeks of football ahead of us. I watched a lot of games Saturday and it felt good knowing that we accomplished what we set out to do. The opportunity to play for it all is a great feeling. It was fun to watch and be a fan for a weekend.”

On their opponent in the Fiesta Bowl:
“It really doesn’t matter at all to me who we play. Whoever we play we need to be ready.”

OSU defensive lineman Will Smith:
On going to the Fiesta Bowl:
“It was one of the goals we set out to do at the beginning of the season. That was to go to and win the national championship. Now we have the opportunity to do that and it is a great feeling. It’s our chance to be called the best in college football.” On their opponent:
“It doesn’t matter who we play. It’s the No.1 team against the No. 2 team so we’re going to match up well against whomever we play. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”

OSU punter Andy Groom
From a walkon to an All-American:
“I just never gave up. I knew that it would take hard work, but it feels like I have lived a dream. I could not have written it better myself. To win the honors during the same season that we are playing for a national championship is great. The entire experience could not have been a better time.”

On being a potential underdog to Ohio State’s opponent in the Fiesta Bowl:
“It is going to be good going in as the underdog this time. We have been favorites all season and this will be nice. We know as a team that we can hang with anybody. We have played great all season. We play in a tough Big Ten conference that has four of its teams ranked in the Top 15 in the country. We just have to be prepared to play for the title.”

On the play of the Ohio State special teams throughout the season:
“We have played consistent and steady football on special teams all year. Mike Nugent has performed well and Chris Gamble is a great threat as a return man. The unit has gotten stronger as the season has gone on and we have come up big in the big games.”

OSU kicker Mike Nugent
On soaking in the experience of playing for a national championship:
“I am just still really excited and a bit shocked that it is actually us that is playing for the national title. The experience is just starting to sink in. The reality of it didn’t really hit me until all of my family was asking me questions about the Fiesta Bowl on Thanksgiving. The feeling has started to set in from that point.”

OSU safety Mike Doss
On Ohio State’s first off week since the week following the Texas Tech victory:
“It has been a while since we have had a break from playing and practicing. It felt nice to sit back, relax and just be a regular student for a couple days.”

On preparing for the Fiesta Bowl and playing for a national championship:
“We are just going to get back to basics and look forward and prepared for who we are set to play following the weekend. We will not know who that is until this Sunday, so we have to wait to prepare for our opponent. But it is nice to know that we are in the game and the pressure is on someone else for now.”

On being honored as an all-American for the third time in his career:
“I feel honored and privileged to receive such an award. The award is from hard work by both myself and my teammates. The award is a product of winning and you need to have great teammates to do that. I have worked hard as a team player. We win and that is what matters to me.”

On Ohio State’s tight contests throughout the season:
“We stepped up and made the big plays when we had to. The Michael Jenkins catch on 4th-and-1 against Purdue was a key play in our season. We have just made the plays and worked hard as a team to be in the position we are in now and that is 13-0 and playing in the Fiesta Bowl for a National Championship.”

OSU tailback Maurice Hall
On the 13-0 season and the opportunity to play for a national championship:
“This game is for all of the marbles and we just have to make sure that we keep our focus on the things we have to do to win a football game. We have worked hard and we are where everybody on this team wants to be. We just have to make sure that we take advantage of this opportunity.”

OSU tight end Ben Hartsock
On improving in a month:
“It is almost going to be similar to a preseason setting when you don’t have a game to be fresh for at the end of the week. The coaches are going to work you a little bit harder, we’re going to a more physical style of practice and that’s reminiscent of how our preseason went. I believe that’s where the team developed its identity and it’s focus.”

On the advantage for a team who has played recently or a team that has had time off:
“Both of them have their pros and cons. The team that has played later in the year is going to be a little more in the groove of game-time situations, but a team that has taken some time off has had some time to heal up and get back to the basics. Teams tend to get away from their basics and their fundamentals and with some time to recognize those and get them under control will be an advantage.”

OSU center Alex Stepanovich:
On playing Miami:
“I think whoever we play in the national championship game, being Miami or any other team, I don’t think there would be any difference. Us defeating someone would not prove us to be a better team. We want to be national champions and we are going to have somebody standing in our way on Jan. 3, we need to go out there and win.”

OSU defensive lineman Kenny Peterson:
On playing Miami:
“Whoever we play we are going to prepare like it is anyone else. Coach Tressel always said if you want to be the champions you have to play the champions. It really doesn’t matter who we play.”

On the hype around the Fiesta Bowl:
“I heard a lot this weekend. One thing I try to do is not get caught up in the hype. I continue to do what I am doing and prepare for this game as we did for Michigan.”

On the last second of the Michigan game:
“I came off the ball and I was trying to get the pass from Navarre. I saw him throw the ball, which seemed like it took forever, Will (Allen) caught it and I knelt down and thanked God for everything.”