Peach Bowl: Ohio State arrives in Georgia focused on fundamentals

Credit: Abell Images

Credit: Abell Images

ATLANTA — If Ohio State wanted to prove it is all about business in Atlanta this week, choosing Tommy Eichenberg to be one of the first players to speak to the media was a good start.

“We’re down here to play a game and beat Georgia,” the All-Big Ten linebacker said Monday during a video conference set up to preview Saturday night’s the Peach Bowl. “I think we’ve got to do all these events and stuff, but we’ve got one goal, and it’s to beat Georgia.”

A first-year starter who led the Buckeyes in tackles, Eichenberg has been no-nonsense and a man of few words since the beginning of the season.

Five days before a College Football Playoff semifinal against the defending champions, he remained both of those things, a persona head coach Ryan Day likely would not mind seeing his team take on as a whole.

“The Peach Bowl and everybody at Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl does a great job of setting up these events and organizing things so that the guys have things to do, but I think our guys are going to do a good job of staying focused on what’s really important here and that’s playing the game at 8:00 on Saturday,” Day said.

“I think that’s why you have to keep as many things routine as possible because it is a little bit different. There are some things that are not normal, so how many things can we possibly just keep the routine so that when guys are here at the hotel or over at the stadium, they can kind of visualize where things are and keep the routine the routine so they don’t have to really process too much there and they can focus on getting on the field and doing a great job in their preparation and practicing.”

The Buckeyes convened in Atlanta on Sunday night and had Christmas dinner at the team hotel, an evening that included a visit from Santa Claus for the families in the traveling party.

Ohio State practiced at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time Monday morning, and along with Georgia players, was set to tour the College Football Hall of Fame on Monday night as one of many events organized by the Peach Bowl.

Ohio State is scheduled to practice each morning, and Day said the plan is to maintain a normal game-week routine.

“The good news is we have great experience being in this style of a game,” Day said. “This is our third time playing in the CFP in the last four years, but we have some really good examples to draw upon of what is going to transpire in this game.

“So we’ve been talking to our guys about first off just how much excitement there’s going to be at the stadium, the atmosphere, the electricity, and how when you’re in games like this, every yard is a fight. Every first down, every point is going to be that way.

“So we’ve been preparing that way. We’ve been practicing that way, and we’ll continue to do that throughout the week because we know what a challenge we have here.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart called the merger of the CFP and bowl traditions unique.

“Any of the playoff games that you can play in, even though they’re rotating, they have bowl traditions,” Smart said. “I went to those bowl games as a coach or a player a long time ago, and they started those traditions. So those traditions are important to them. The playoff and the meaning of the game is important to them too, but you have to balance the two.

“You’ve got to make sure your players understand this is my off time and they have activities that are scheduled, but we also are here for a purpose, and it’s a business trip. It’s not just a joy trip. The balance of those two is important.

“I look forward to the activities. We had them last year at the Orange Bowl. It’s important to get your mind off of the game at times, and those activities allow you to do that.”


Ohio State vs. Georgia, 8 p.m., ESPN, 1410

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