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Columbus, Ohio – Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has said often before a big game that he wants his players to "keep the lion in the cage."

In other words, don't get too amped up for any one game and absolutely don't say anything that could give the opponent any more motivation.

As No. 2 Ohio State and No. 9 Michigan State prepare to square off Saturday at Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes players did a good job of that on Monday -- at least for the most part.

That is, until cornerback Eli Apple was asked about dealing with the hype heading into a big game.

"There is gonna be a lot of talking out there," Apple said. "It was like that last year. They love to talk and we love to respond back to people when they talk, for sure.

"Our thing is we are gonna just have to play our game, be very, very calm out there and locked it to our assignments and what we have to do. You can't let all the outside stuff get to our heads and try to get too fired up because once you get too fired up you start playing out of character and you can't do that."

Ohio State defeated Michigan State, 49-37, last season, a game the Buckeyes believed was the turning point in a season that ended with a national championship.

It could have the same result this season as the winner will be in the driver's seat in the Big Ten East.

"That was our best game offensively, by far," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said of last year's meeting. "We threw for over 300. We ran against not a good defense, a great defense. … We're not there right now. We've got to get there fast when you start playing teams like this and a talented team like this."

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