Ohio State prepared for its first road trip of the year by piping in crowd noise during practice on the indoor field at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, but to say it mimicked what they fill face Saturday afternoon when they take on No. 20 Michigan State in East Lansing might not be exactly true.
"No place could be as loud as it was today unless it was a dome," wide receiver Corey Brown said. "Take our stadium and put a dome on it."
No matter the volume, the 14th-ranked Buckeyes plan to be prepared for a hostile environment when they head to Spartan Stadium, a venue Urban Meyer remembered as one that puts the fans on top of the action.
"When I was at Notre Dame we were there," he said referring to his time as a Fighting Irish assistant in the late 1990s. "I think they're right on you. I remember they're right there, and it's not the Buckeye fans who are on you. It wasn't the Irish fans, either."
Ohio State worked on using hand signals to communicate plays, and they hope to have their offense at full strength trying to decipher those Saturday.
That is thanks to the return of Carlos Hyde, the junior running back who has practice this week after missing two games with a knee injury. That would mean for the first time this season he will join Jordan Hall, a senior who missed the first two games while recovering from foot surgery.
"It means a lot," Meyer said of having his backfield fully stocked. "Especially with those two – those are two good players, and their attitude is fantastic. (Running backs coach) Stan Drayton has done a good job with them."
While the head coach of the Buckeyes joked he would not tell if he had installed any plays designed around the dual abilities of the 235-pound Hyde and 194-pound Hall – as he eluded to during his weekly press conference on Monday – Brown was a little more forthcoming.
"It's real exciting, especially seeing Carlos and Jordan in the backfield at the same time," Brown said. "A couple packages you guys won't see until Saturday."
The defense is getting healthier as well with the return of cornerback Bradley Roby, who could be joined by safety C.J. Barnett and lineman Michael Bennett. Meyer said Roby will play after missing the last game with a shoulder injury he suffered a week before. Barnett, who missed the same contest with an ankle problem, was declared "probable" while Bennett's status is to be determined. Bennett has missed all four of the Buckeyes' games so far because of a groin injury but will accompany the team north.
"Mike Bennett is not full speed yet, but he'll be cleared to play," Meyer said. "I don't know if he'll play or not. Barnett is still probable, and Roby will play."
With the Buckeyes set to begin their 100th season of Big Ten football, Meyer said his team continues to work on a variety of ways to improve.
"There's not just one area you have to get better," he said. "Shoring up the kicking game. Working on our punt unit, making sure we've got the right guys in there so that it's real sound. On defense, just tackling. We tackled Wednesday and (Tuesday), and then offense, just consistency and moving the ball. We had a really good day today."