Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones holds the team's Sugar Bowl trophy as the team is honored for their New Year's Day win over Alabama, at an NCAA college basketball game against Illinois in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
Paul Vernon
January 03, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The large crowd at the Illinois-Ohio State basketball game roared loudest when the first football player stepped on the court.

During a break in the first half Saturday, the Ohio State football team was introduced to a 50-second standing ovation. The Buckeyes will face Oregon in the College Football Playoff championship game Jan. 12 at AT&T Stadium in Texas.

After highlights of the of the Buckeyes' 42-35 victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl was shown on the center court monitors, coach Urban Meyer took the microphone.

''This is the closest team I've ever, ever been around,'' he said. ''When times got tough, we got tougher. When times got tough, we got closer.''

He also thanked the fans and students for their support during the Buckeyes' 13-1 season.

Captains Doran Grant and Curtis Grant, who are not related, then spoke.

''Thank you for the support all year,'' said Doran Grant, a senior cornerback. ''We're going to need you for this last game against Oregon.

He added, ''And go Bucks, baby!''

Curtis Grant, a senior linebacker, then briefly led the crowd in the O-H, I-O cheer.

The Ohio State team is departing for the game Jan. 9 and a public send-off is planned.

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