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ATLANTA – Apparently, the Ohio State Buckeyes’ luggage made it here.
They just don’t want to mention their baggage by name going into Saturday’s College Football Playoff national semifinal against No. 1 Georgia (13-0) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (8 p.m., ESPN).
Asked at a press conference Wednesday what Big Ten team Georgia reminds them of most, “Michigan” was clearly in the air at the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel. But “Michigan,” aka “that team up north,” was never uttered by an Ohio State player.
Michigan beat Ohio State, 45-23, on Nov. 26 and is 13-0 and No. 2 in the nation going into its national semifinal against No. 4 TCU (12-1) on Saturday (4 p.m., ESPN). Ohio State finished 11-1 and got into the CFP at No. 4.
“Probably wouldn’t say anyone really,” senior linebacker Tommy Eichenberg of Cleveland said slowly. “You probably want me to say some team, but I’m not going to.”
As laughter broke out, Ohio State junior safety Lathan Ransom two seats down at the podium laughed and said, “Oh, God.”
“I’m not going to force you to,” the moderator told Eichenberg.
Bad Michigan Memories For Ohio State
Sophomore defensive end Jack Sawyer of Pickerington, Ohio, offered a compromise of sorts.
“I’ll just say scheme-wise and the way they use their tight ends and what not – Penn State probably,” he said, sounding satisfied that he came up with a Big Ten school not Michigan. The Wolverines, after all, have topped Ohio State two years in a row.
“I feel like you all know the answer to that, but I’m just going to say Penn State, too,” Ransom said as laughter broke out again.
“Yeah, Penn State,” Eichenberg said.
“Wisconsin,” Sawyer added.
Buckeyes Anxious To Move Beyond Michigan Loss
“Anyone want to talk about Michigan anymore?” the moderator asked.
“Let’s watch them raise their hand,” Sawyer said, trying to whisper to Eichenberg.
Previously in the news conference, Sawyer also adroitly avoided the M word.
Asked if his team wants to prove people wrong “after the Michigan loss,” Sawyer said, “I think definitely after that loss we took late in November, we’ve been very eager to get back on that field and prove everybody wrong and prove ourselves right.”