Five-year-old Ohio State right tackle Branden Bowen knew Saturday was an emotional day for him.
As he runs out of tunnels for his final game at Ohio Stadium, Bowen reflects on his journey as a Buckeye and his five years in Columbus, which included overcoming a serious foot injury that accompanied him to for a year and a half before re-establishing himself as a starter on Ohio State's offensive line this year.
When Bowen was first asked at an Ohio State conference Tuesday about what he thought Saturday's feelings would be like, however, the significance of this week's game being his last Shoe game was completely lost in his mind.
"It's time, I don't think I'm thinking about it," Bowen replied at first. "Especially in big games, coming to Wisconsin, about the same thing, but just getting around my guys, I just enjoy being around and I'm excited for the opportunity to go against superb defense and such a great team. team. "
That answer is a reflection of how committed the Buckeyes, including Bowen and 25 other seniors to be honored Saturday, are preparing for their upcoming opponent.
Saturday's game against Penn State will be Ohio State's final game of the season, but it is also Ohio State's biggest game of the year to date, as the Buckeyes look to defeat a top-10 ranking. opponent, clinch a Big Ten East title and move one step closer to kicking their College Football Playoff ticket.
As a result, Buckeyes seniors spend more time thinking about what they need to do to defeat the Nittany Lions than they think Saturday's game will be their final games. in Columbus.
"Honestly, I haven't hit it yet. I honestly don't think it could hit me until the end of the game, because right now, all eyes, all focus, all Pennsylvania State playing energy , "said fifth-year defensive tackle Robert Landers. "I think when the game is over and time goes to zero, it's going to come in."
If the Buckeyes can keep winning, they could potentially play as many as four more games after Saturday – the regular-season finale in Michigan, the Big Ten Championship Game, a Football semifinal Football Playoff and the national championship game – so the seniors don't feel like their careers are over.
"I know if we do what we have to do, we have a lot of balls left," said five-year-old receiver K.J. Mountain.
Still, each of the outgoing Buckeyes – excluding players who may still return next year and will have to make decisions about their future after the season – will have a moment to celebrate in front of over 100,000 fans before Saturday's game kicks off, a moment that will lead them to commemorate and reflect on their careers in the State of Ohio.
As Bowen celebrates his moment with his mother Natalie, girlfriend Kate and daughter Booker, he thinks about the role of a Buckeye who has been united in their family together.
"The State of Ohio is the reason I have a son and the reason I have a girlfriend," Bowen said. "And then my mom was the whole reason I was here. She told me like & # 39; No, you can't pass this opportunity. & # 39; So & # 39; I'm really grateful."
Hill said Saturday's Senior Day would be "bittersweet."
"It's coming quickly," said Hill, who considered entering the NFL draft after last season before deciding to stay at Ohio State for another year. "You came here as a freshman, you were like & # 39; Dang, I can't describe myself running on my last day in Shoes. & # 39; But now here."
Ryan Day would certainly be more focused on trying to lead the Buckeyes to a victory than he would be in pregame pageantry, and there he wants his players to be focused, but he wants them to enjoy the moment. this.
"I think it's easy to say, enjoy the experience and say that; I think it's harder to do," Day said. "But let's talk about it and let's talk about it every week: You should enjoy it. , because time is waiting for anyone, and you have to handle this thing and hold on as tight as possible because it is a special opportunity for all of us, and we must make sure we understand that. And I think our guys understand, I think they appreciate each and every moment. But in big games like this, you just get to know what's going on, sometimes it's really hard to appreciate it until it's over.
"Certainly for the people who have their last game in the stadium like this, it will be emotional, and they deserve all they can get in terms of praise and admiration from everyone in the Buckeye Nation for what they have done. , "Day added." This is a special group. "
"I know if we do what we have to do, we have a lot of balls left." – Ohio State wide receiver K.J. Hill
The 26 honorees on Saturday included 18 scholars and eight walk-ons. Scholarship players include nine members of Ohio State's 2015 recruiting class, five members of the 2016 recruiting class, two transfers (Chris Chugunov and Jonah Jackson) and two former walk-ons (C.J. Saunders and Kevin Woidke).
|AMARI MCMAHON||RB||DUBLIN, OHIO|
|JAKE METZER||P||DOYLESTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA|
|DERRICK MALONE||TE||DAYTON, OHIO|
|BROCK DAVIN||TE||CINCINNATI, OHIO|
|OWEN FANKHAUSER||S||TUMBOK, OHIO|
|LOGAN HITTLE||LB||NASHPORT, OHIO|
|NOAH DONALD||DL||UNIONTOWN, OHIO|
|BRANDON PAHL||OL||CUTLER, OHIO|
|KEVIN WOIDKE||OL||CLEVELAND, OHIO|
|LIAM MCCULLOUGH||LS||COLUMBUS, OHIO|
|CHRIS CHUGUNOV||QB||SKILLMAN, NEW JERSEY|
|JONAH JACKSON||OG||MEDIA, PENNSYLVANIA|
|RASHOD BERRY||TE / DE||LORAIN, OHIO|
|JOSHUA ALABI||OT||DETROIT, MICHIGAN|
|DAVON HAMILTON||DT||PICKERINGTON, OHIO|
|MALIK HARRISON||LB||COLUMBUS, OHIO|
|JASHON CORNELL||DT||ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA|
|BINJIMEN VICTOR||WR||POMPANO BEACH, FLORIDA|
|C.J. ANSWERS||WR||DUBLIN, OHIO|
|ROBERT LANDERS||DT||DAYTON, OHIO|
|BRANDEN'S WOMEN||OT||DRAPER, UTAH|
|JONATHON COOPER||DE||GAHANNA, OHIO|
|AUSTIN MACK||WR||FORT WAYNE, INDIANA|
|DAMON ARNETTE||CB||FORT LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA|
|JORDAN FULLER||S||OLD TAPPAN, NEW JERSEY|
|K.J. GOOD||WR||LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS|
Justin Hilliard, also a member of the 2015 recruiting class but is currently pursuing a six-year eligibility period after missing several seasons at Ohio State due to injuries, was not listed among the participants Saturday's Senior Day, an indicator that the door remains open for Hilliard to return in 2020.