Nov. 18, 2003

Senior tight end Ben Hartsock
On playing Michigan
“This game is huge. Everything is on the line – the Big Ten championship and a possible trip to New Orleans. The game will be very emotional.”

On the Michigan defense
“The Michigan defense is very experienced and talented. They have great athletes that are strong and fast. This will be a battle all day.”

Freshmen defensive back Donte Whitner
On preparing for Michigan
“Our main goal is to stay focused all week. It is very important that we are mentally focused on our game plan. Our primary focus for the game is to have no turnovers and control the pace of the game.”

On first Michigan game
“I am excited to be playing in the 100th game of this great rivalry. I look forward to playing my first game in ‘The Big House.’ I will play the best I can and fight to the end.”

Senior defensive tackle Tim Anderson
On the Michigan offense
“They have a great running game and strong passing attack. They are a dangerous team that can score points when they have to. I think we match up well with them.”

On the keys to stopping Michigan offense
“We will have to disrupt their passing game and shut down their running game. We need to force their quarterback into bad plays. We also need to keep focused and mentally and physically and control the tempo of the game.”

On the Ohio State defense’s biggest strength
“Our biggest strength on defense is our ability to rotate guys in and out. With our great depth we can keep a fresh squad in at all times.”

Senior defensive end Will Smith
On stopping the Michigan offense
“We need to stop their run and put pressure on their quarterback. If we can make them one-dimensional it forces them into bad situations. If we can do this we will walk out with a victory.” On Michigan running back Chris Perry
“He is hard working back – very strong and scrappy. He is fast and can create plays. We will need to go after him in order to be able shut down their offense.”

On Michigan’s offensive line
“I have played against most of these guys for the past three years. They are big, strong and physical. They will pose a big challenge for us but I know we will be ready.

Senior center Alex Stepanovich
On the BCS standings
“We are not concerned about the BCS standings right now. We just want to take care of business.”

On the challenge of defeating Michigan three consecutive years
“It’s going to be a big challenge. The games were not easily won the past two years. This game is for all the marbles. This is the game we want to play in. This will be a tough game and the challenge to win will not be any easier or any harder than before.”

On preparation for the Michigan game
“We rest more towards the end because we get beat-up throughout the season. We want to be well-rested as much as possible.”

On the Ohio State/Michigan rivalry
“This year a Big Ten championship is on the line and this game is bigger nationally. This is why you come to Ohio State, to play against Michigan with everything on the line. It’s going to be a war.”

On the game being in its 100th year
“It is special that this game is on its anniversary this year. It is the greatest rivalry in sports and this year it’s huge because not since ’84 have we been outright Big Ten champions.”

Senior punter B.J. Sander
On being named the Big Ten Special Team’s Player of the Week
“It is a great honor. I just want to help the team anyway I can.”

On staying calm throughout games
“That is just the way I am. I feel like sometimes I am in a groove. The ball looks huge, so I can’t miss it. Also I get great snaps. (Long snapper) Kyle (Andrews) has great timing getting the ball up.”

On the role punts and special teams play in a game
“Coach Tressel lets us know punts are important in football. Special teams have a huge role in every game we’ve played this year because of the type of game we play.”

On Michigan’s special teams
“Michigan has a great return man and in order for us to be successful we can’t have turnovers and we must have a relentless defensive and superior special teams. We just need to take care of business and let the chips fall where they have to. We need to win this game.”

Junior cornerback Dustin Fox
On Michigan’s Chris Perry
“Chris Perry is a great running back. He runs hard with full steam. He is one of those backs who falls forward to get those extra yards.”

On a scouting report of Michigan’s top players
“Braylon Edwards is the go-to guy and Breaston is the No. 2 guy. He’s a good player. No. 15 is a great guy with high-caliber talent. We have to stop the running game and make Michigan one dimensional.”

On John Navarre
“I think John Navarre always has been a solid player. There was never a time when he was not good. All players struggle at any one point in their career.”

On the rivalry
“You can feel the rivalry and the tradition and how big the game is. We are good at playing the game down, but it is important to play hard in the game. This is our opportunity to be outright Big Ten champions. That is what is foremost in our minds. We want to get that done first.”

On Michigan feeling pressure
“They have felt the pressure, we have felt the pressure. Both teams have a lot on the line this year.”

Junior tailback Lydell Ross
On playing Michigan in a hostile environment
“This is a big rival and an important game. It’s just really big. It’s one of the hardest hitting games and we are out there playing our hearts out.”

On the importance of the game
“It is important because we want to play hard and be outright Big Ten champions. Beating Michigan is most important right now, not the BCS standings or winning the national championship.”

On carrying the load for Ohio State
“I’m excited to be carrying the load. I’m ready for the challenge. This is a more tremendous weekend. I’m calm and focused about what’s ahead of us.”

On Ohio State’s overall preparation for this week
“Everything is in place right now, but there is always room for improvement. We just want to get better.”

On the history of the Ohio State/Michigan game
“The history is big. Coach Tressel and all the coaches do a good job of keeping us on even keel. They help keep the game in perspective because they know we are already excited.”

Senior fullback Branden Joe
On obtaining success against Michigan
“I expect this to be a physical game. I expect it to be mistake free. I expect to know what they’re doing and I expect them to know what we’re doing. There will be no secrets.”

On the improvement of the running game
“Our running game has just gotten better at the right time. All individuals are peaking at a good time and we are hitting our blocks and are clicking.”

On the preparation for Michigan throughout the week
“This is not just another week. There will be extra time spent watching film and studying technique. This is the Super Bowl of Ohio State. Whoever wins gets bragging rights for a year, so it’s a showdown. We have to make big plays because it’s going to be a battle.”

Senior quarterback Craig Krenzel
On being from Michigan and playing for Ohio State
“This is a big game across the country. It has Big Ten title implications and winning the conference is the goal of every team in the Big Ten. But being from Michigan I have seen how Michigan treats the game. In Columbus, the game is much bigger than in Michigan. I think Michigan’s overall thinking is the same as ours though. They want to win the Big Ten title, so they are not worried about losing three straight to us.”

On playing in the 100th game
“The number one goal is to win the conference title, so it’s not as important that this is the 100th game. Michigan is a tough football team with a great offense and exceptional talent. John Navarre and Chris Perry are always executing and putting points on the board. Their defense is solid. It is difficult to put the ball in the end zone against them. We have to beat a very good Michigan team and succeed at achieving our goals in the game and leave the game out on top.”

On it being Krenzel’s last game against Michigan
“I will be proud if we win next week, but I can’t focus on the little things like this being my last game in Ann Arbor. I have to harness the energy from this game to our benefit and stay focus. Everybody is going to remember this year by what happens on Saturday.”

On Michigan’s motivation
“I think both of our enthusiasms’ are sparked. This game is winner-takes-all and that is fuel for them and us. It is an honor to play in this game and to know that you are good enough to play on the team is also an honor. It is a great thing to be able to play in this game and now we have to prepare to go out and play a good game.”

On pulling out close games
“Our team has faith in each other and we know we will make the plays that need to be made. I try to stay calm when playing the game. Emotions go up and down in football and I just try to maintain a level head. All the energy helps fuel the emotions, but we just want to go out there and take care of business.”

Sophomore offensive lineman Nick Mangold
On getting motivated for Michigan Week
“We don’t need any extra motivation for this week. If you can get motivated to play this week then you just can’t get motivated.”

On the 100th meeting between Ohio State and Michigan
“This is a big milestone in the rivalry and with all the attention surrounding this week’s game it is easy to see that this week is something special.”

On the potential No. 2 ranking in the BCS
“We’re not really focusing in on anything else except for the game on Saturday. If we continue to win, the bowl games will work themselves out.”

Senior offensive lineman Adrien Clarke
On Michigan Week
“Games like this are what you come to Ohio State for, to play in the ‘big game’ and it doesn’t get any bigger then Ohio State vs. Michigan.”

On what to expect
“It’s going to be a dog fight and I think everybody on this team knows that so we’re putting everything we have into winning this game.”

Junior defensive lineman Simon Fraser
On the defensive leadership
“Guys who have been here for three years, like Tim Anderson, Darrion Scott and Will Smith, are guys that other people on the team can look to for leadership and all three of those guys are great leaders.”

On John Navarre
“Navarre is a great quarterback and it is essential that we get as much pressure on him as we can to get him out of the pocket to put him into some uncomfortable situations.”

Senior linebacker Robert Reynolds
On running back Chris Perry
“Perry is a very physical back that can break tackles, so we have to make sure that we tackle well and above all, wrap him up, otherwise it could be a long day.”

On the Match-up:
“We have so much respect for Michigan, but we feel that if we go in there and play our game then we can come out on top.”

Sophomore defensive lineman Mike Kudla
On Michigan
“Michigan is definitely a power team. They are very versatile and very tough in all aspects of the game so it will be a tough game.”

On the match-up
“This is the season right here in front of a national stage, so expectations are sky high and it’s going to be an all-out battle. We have worked very hard throughout the entire season to get to this point, so we are very excited to get started.”

Junior place-kicker Mike Nugent
On staying focused
“We all know this is going to be a close game and one thing I’ve learned throughout the years as a kicker is that you’re only as good as your next kick.”

On winning the Big Ten championship
“We have been focused in on winning the Big Ten championship all season and for everything to come down to this final game is very exciting.”

Sophomore safety Nate Salley
On the Michigan offense
“We know what they can do. Michigan has a very talented offense with Chris Perry and John Navarre plus they have an outstanding receiving group that makes plays, so we have to be ready for a tough game all afternoon.”

On the team’s confidence
“I think both teams are coming into Saturday with a lot of confidence. Nobody on either team wants to lose and both teams have a lot of pride so we expect a tough game.”