Nov. 13, 2006

Troy Smith, senior quarterback
On the atmosphere Saturday for the Ohio State-Michigan game
“I expect it to be all 11 games in one. It is going to be complete pandemonium around the stadium with two teams of this caliber and tradition. There is going to be mile-high excitement all around.”

On staying focused
“One way I stay focused is by staying wrapped up in my teammates. We have such love and passion for each other because of our situation and all of the ups and downs we experience with each other throughout the season. I just try to wrap myself up in them.”

On his success versus Michigan
“My success is credited to everyone around me. It is not just me who is 2-0 versus Michigan. It is everyone who was on the field. I give all the credit to my offensive line. Without them no big plays could be made and without them I would not be 2-0.”

On the game
“I think every game is a big game. I try not to put to much emphasis on one game or put all of out eggs in one basket. It is the last game so we want to perform our best. Big players make big plays in big games.”

On playing in Ohio Stadium
“It is like no other place. You cannot really understand unless you get to line up in scarlet and gray. I am humbled every time I step on the field.”

David Patterson, defensive tackle
On the Michigan game
“We think about it all year `round. It is THE game and Coach Tressel talks about what it takes to be successful in this game. But, we have been taking it one game at a time because when you don’t, someone can sneak up on you in the Big Ten.”

On defensive pressure
“I think we have been putting a lot more pressure on people. Our defense as a whole has done a great job. We have guys in the back that are doing a great job and we are more experienced than last year.” On the fans
“Our fans are going to come out ready. It is going to be loud and the `Shoe’ is going to be rocking. When those fans get going it really increases the energy and helps when you’re tired after driving 13 plays down field.”

On James Laurinaitis
“James works so hard. He is always busting his butt and putting in extra time and watching films. His work ethic is very similar to A. J. Hawk’s. Being under A.J. and Bobby (Carpenter) helped him a lot.”

On Chad Henne
“He looks like a veteran out there. He sits back in the pocket and gets the balls to his playmakers. He is doing a great job.”

Antonio Smith, senior defensive back
On Friday night
“I am not quite sure how I will feel. It will probably be hard to sleep. There is a lot of emotion, excitement, and anticipation for this game. That is what you love about this game is all the emotion you put into it. Our team just needs to stay focused.”

On Earle Bruce speaking to the tea
“He is always great when he comes to speak to us. He shares his wisdom and his stories and tells a few jokes. It is always great to have him here with us.”

On his Thorpe award nomination”Jim Thorpe played many sports and was an amazing athlete. I am honored to be considered for the award. I thank God for the opportunity to be in this place in my life. It is a great honor.”

T.J. Downing, senior offensive guard
On preparing for the game
“We are just trying to stick to the same routine we have done for the past 11 weeks. If anything, I am just getting more calls from people wishing me good luck this week. I’ve gotten a lot of calls from my dad’s ex-teammates. Even though they bleed blue, they love my dad and they treat me like a son.”

On the legends made at this game
“The battle coming up won’t be forgotten. Legends are made in this game. Every guy knows they have a chance to go down in the record books and make history. The offense blocks as hard as we can and do the best job we can. In the end, if something breaks down you expect to see something special out of Troy. It is his senior year, so I would expect to see something amazing out of him.”

On the importance of the game
“This weekend is so important because we are 11-0 and Michigan is 11-0. Everything is on the line. The last time we won an outright championship was when I was born. They have one of the best defensive fronts in college football. We just have to get after them and keep our focus to win. We have to play smash-mouth football and go from there.”

Antonio Pittman, junior tailback
On the fifth-year seniors
“A lot of players don’t get a chance to play in the championship game. The fifth-year seniors have the chance to be on a team that played at two. They played their part in the team winning that game, but now they have a chance to actually play in the game.”

On what it will take to win
“Our guys in front will come in and give it all we’ve got. Their defense is good. We just have to go in and play it out. We have to go out and execute. We have to do everything hard. Troy acts like the game is not a big deal. People talk about the hype, but he doesn’t even respond to it.”

On the significance of the game
“Some players will go on to play in bowl games and in the NFL, but for some of us it might be the biggest game we ever play in. There is so much at stake here. It is the biggest game I will play in. I get a high just getting on the field and helping the team win.”

Brandon Mitchell, senior free safety
On the importance of the game
“The Ohio State vs. Michigan game is important every year. It is a little more important this year because of what is riding on it. We want to win the game because we haven’t had an outright Big Ten championship in 20 years. If we win, we will go to the championship game.”

On being a senior
“Coach Tressel gives us seniors a lot of challenges. One is to play our best in our senior year. For some of us, time is running out. There is no room for error. Troy (Smith) is able to understand this is not just another game. It’s the biggest rivalry in college history.”

On what it will take to beat Michigan
“You don’t really understand how big the game is until you play in it. Both teams are good. It is going to be about toughness and competitiveness. They are a physical team and we will have to match that. The gold pants are a sense of pride. We work hard to get those.”

Jay Richardson, senior defensive end
On the pressure of playing Michigan
“There’s a lot of pressure on both sides. This game is huge. They are No. 2 and haven’t won in a couple of years. They want to win for their coach. We are No. 1 and want to go the championship game.”

On the team’s focus
“Coach Tressel and Troy (Smith) do a great job of keeping us focused. From the beginning Tressel told us we have to take it one game at a time. He is a good coach and a good motivator and he’s done a great job at keeping us focused on each game. All the hype just goes to show this is the game everyone has been waiting for.”

On the game
“It’s going to be a tough game. Their offensive line is great and it’s going to be a good challenge. If we can get Quinn and David attacking their guards, hopefully we will have a good game. We understand the magnitude of the game, but we have to remember that it’s just football.”

On Michigan’s team
“There is a lot of respect between the teams. We know how good of a team they are. There are no secrets in this game. It is going to be about who plays harder and tougher. From a personnel stand-point they have a great team. If we reach our goals and make it out-right, it will be my fourth trip to Arizona. Arizona is a great place to be. I’ll take it.”

Doug Datish, senior center
On the hype surrounding the Michigan game
“You always hear how big this game is. The emphasis and importance placed on this game defines everything to the Ohio State season. If you lose this game, it’s an empty season. Playing Michigan is something we look forward to every year. It’s always the best game of the season. This year, it’s great that it is for the (National) Championship, but it’s still the OSU vs. Michigan game.”

On the week before the Michigan game
“If I think about it throughout the whole week, I would not be able to eat or sleep. If you think about too much, you wouldn’t be able to focus. I’m just happy the game is finally here, because we are all ready to play.”

On Michigan
“They have great players and a tremendous team. Their defense is big and strong. There is no denying that they are tough and physical, because they have a fundamentally sound unit. I think they are probably the best defense we have played against all season. That is why people play at Michigan – they produce great players.”

On winning the Big Ten conference outright
“If we win the Big Ten outright, it would be the first time in over 20 years. That’s huge when Ohio State has been held from something for so long. But we don’t want to make a mark – we just want to add to the existing one. The tradition here is so great and our win would just be a small blip on the radar. If we can do anything to add to that, it will just make the tradition bigger.”

Anthony Gonzalez, junior wide receiver
On growing up as a Michigan fan
“I was a Michigan fan my whole life, so the Ohio State vs. Michigan game was something I was excited about when I was little. My father played there, but he was injured his sophomore year, so (his career) didn’t last long.”

On his reception last year that set up the winning touchdown at Michigan
“A lot of things were said about that catch last year. But that was last year – this is now. My philosophy is to let it go, because that exact catch won’t ever happen again. I saw a clip of it once today, but it just happened to be on the film I was watching. A lot of things are planned for and some are not. That catch is an example of a play that wasn’t planned. You just have to make opportunities on your own.”

On the last home game for the seniors
“This will be a special game fore the seniors. It is their last time to come out of the tunnel and then they get to go through the tunnel of pride, where they are introduced individually. It’s something neat to watch and also just another chance to get out there and play.”

On the Michigan defense
“Their defense is the best we’ve played thus far. Their front seven are tremendous and their secondary is very talented. Their coaches have faith and trust in them for a good reason, because they have great players overall. Our team is experienced, but so is theirs. We have both played in big games during our seasons, but I can’t think of a bigger game.”

Quinn Pitcock, senior defensive tackle
On Michigan
“They have a great offensive line. They give (quarterback Chad) Henne a lot of time to sit back. With that, he has become a precision passer. They have a lot of play-action that is hard to read. That fact alone has improved their game. (Michael) Hart is also a great player. He was an early Heisman candidate. I’ve played against him before and he just has great vision.”

On his last game vs. Michigan
“It’s great that it is at home, with the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the nation playing each other. It is a dream-come true; something I never thought would happen.”

On the growth of the Ohio State defense
“Our defense has definitely grown as a team. I know every week we get better. Our emphasis this year has been to create turnovers and put pressure on the quarterback. We still need to work on stopping the run, but we have to operate like we do every other week. It is just like another exhibition game, but it happens to be the biggest game of the season. We can’t get distracted and we must stay focused.”