- By David Jablonski Staff Writer
Ohio State Buckeyes hybrid back Curtis Samuel will find himself answering questions about his game-winning touchdown run against Michigan as long as he lives. He answered more than a few Tuesday in a Fiesta Bowl press conference at the Camelback Inn.
Samuel’s 15-yard run in the second overtime lifted the Buckeyes (11-1) to a 30-27 victory on Nov. 26 at Ohio Stadium.
Asked if he had ever celebrated a touchdown in that way, by jumping into the end zone with his arms outstretched, Samuel said, “I don’t know what I was doing on that play. I keep looking at the play and going back and going, ‘What was that?’ I don’t really know. I guess the joy and excitement just took over my body, being able to run into the end zone with how big that game was and how special that game was.”
Samuel said he’s still waiting for his mom to get a copy of a photo of his touchdown. Asked if he got to keep the ball from the score, he said, “I don’t know where the ball went. I wish I could have got the ball. I’ve got to find it.”
College choice: Clemson defensive lineman Christian Wilkins, the team leader with 12 tackles for a loss, almost picked Ohio State over Clemson during the recruiting process.
“They were actually one of my top three schools,” Wilkins said. “It went down to the very end with them. I took an official visit late there. I built a good relationship with coach (Larry) Johnson, a good guy. My family thought I was going there. I tricked them at the last minute and told them I was going to Clemson.”
In the end, telling Ohio State coach Urban Meyer no wasn’t hard.
“It was easy with Clemson as an option,” Wilkins said. “I was at peace with it.”
History lesson: Ohio State is seeking its ninth national championship and second in three years in these playoffs. It has not won two in three years since it claimed titles in 1968 and 1970.
With a win Saturday and another one in the national championship game on Jan. 9, Ohio State would also become the first two-time winner of the College Football Playoff. Defending champion Alabama, which faces Washington in the Peach Bowl on Saturday, also seeks to claim that history.
“Honestly, I don’t even think about that, really,” Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett said. “That’s one reason why you came because you understand the tradition and things like that, but when it comes into game weeks and playing for the national championship, you try to focus on the moment and understand it’s a responsibility playing for Ohio State but also, too, just make sure that you go out there and play your best.”
Play calls: Ohio State will use large play call cards on the sideline Saturday at the Fiesta Bowl. One of the new images on the cards features former running back Ezekiel Elliott sitting in a Salvation Army basket. Elliott jumped into one on the sideline after scoring for the Dallas Cowboys earlier this month.