Ohio State fans cheer before the Big Ten championship game between Ohio State and Michigan State in Indianapolis. OSU fans filled about 75 percent of the stadium on Saturday.
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INDIANAPOLIS — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer expected a rafter-rattling crowd split evenly between scarlet and green Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"But I'm hoping it will be a stronger Buckeye crowd that shows up," he said.
If only Meyer knew.
With OSU playing its biggest game since the 2007 national championship, Buckeyes fans painted the 67,000-seat stadium with scarlet — invading about 75 percent of the stadium.
About the only Spartans stronghold was their designated southwest corner. Ohio State’s faithful devoured the school’s 10,000-ticket allotment, then fueled a scorching resale market in which tickets sold for an average of more than $200.
According to a Stubhub spokesman, 42 percent of its ticket sales came from the state of Ohio while 23 percent were from Michigan.
It was a similar split at ESPN’s College GameDay outside the stadium Saturday morning, where fans of both schools enjoyed the rare national spotlight cast on the Big Ten.
Among the signs: "BAMA (would be) 6-6 IN BIG 10," "Bama wishes they had Mike Tomlin on their sideline," and "24-0 Mark May ... U Mad Bro?"
HALL SITS: The Big Ten endured some criticism for not suspending Marcus Hall after the Buckeyes offensive lineman made an obscene gesture at the Michigan Stadium crowd last weekend.
But Meyer ultimately took the punishment into his own hands, sitting the starting senior guard for Saturday’s game. Redshirt freshman Pat Elflein started in Hall’s place.
Dontre Wilson, who was ejected along with Hall and backup Michigan backup linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone for their role in the scuffle in Ann Arbor, started as usual as the Buckeyes’ kick returner. Meyer said it was Hall’s "other nonsense" — the antics while exiting the field — that warranted the additional penalty.
Meyer expressed "a lot of confidence" in Elflein after his job filling in against the Wolverines.
"Pat Elflein went in and played fairly well," he said. "We expected that. He had some opportunity this year to play. He's our sixth guy. He’s just a tough nut. I love Pat Elflein. He's going to have a great career here."
SEEING GREEN: Both coaches had six-figure paydays on the line Saturday night.
Meyer was in line to pocket $350,000 in incentives — $100,000 if he won the game and $250,000 if the Buckeyes make the BCS championship game.
He also collected $50,000 for capturing the Leaders Division title.
Meyer strangely does not have a built-in incentive for winning the national championship, though his $4 million annual salary would undoubtedly be raised.
Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio, meanwhile, could cash in $225,000 — $100,000 for a Big Ten championship win and $125,000 for playing in a BCS non-title game Win or lose Saturday, the Spartans were likely bound for their first Rose Bowl since 1988.
EXTRA POINTS: While Ohio State and Michigan State fans may have been rooting against each other Saturday night, they were able to boo together as well. Michigan’s Taylor Lewan (Big Ten offensive lineman of the year) and Devin Funchess (tight end of the year) were loudly jeered during a pregame ceremony honoring the league’s award winners. Both players took the boos in stride, laughing as they waved to the crowd. ... Ohio State linebacker Curtis Grant started despite being hobbled in recent weeks by a bum ankle.
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