It’s only through trial and error that Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has gotten a handle on bye weeks.
His Buckeyes don’t have a game this Saturday before embarking on stiff tests at Wisconsin and at home against Michigan.
Meyer has tailored his approach to bye weeks through the years.
“Certainly [you fit it] to the personality of our team,” he said. “We’ll look at the past teams and then reflect upon it because it’s all different. I try to relate this team to maybe a previous team and I’ll look closely at how we coached them that week as far as practice time and times off. Then that’s how I come up with what we do.”
The Buckeyes are practicing three days this week, then will get the weekend off before reporting for a regular work week on Sunday.
Meyer concedes there are times when his teams have not done well after a week off.
“Oh, sure. There’s always that hindsight that you wish you would have [done better],” he said. “I really spend a lot of time on that, I put [practice records of past teams] all around on my desk and just try to reflect upon what kind of a team that was and what I would have done differently. Absolutely, there’s always times where you say I wish I would have done this a little bit better.”
Ohio State, without Meyer, is 13-9 in games following bye weeks since 1971.
PLAYING FOR SOMETHING
Perhaps the most intriguing Big Ten game this Saturday involves Indiana.
Yep, you read that correctly.
Long a doormat and not in contention for more than four decades, the Hoosiers (4-5, 2-3) actually have something for which to play when they host Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2). At stake is the inside track to the Leaders Division title and a trip to the Big Ten championship game.
And it’s not far-fetched at all for the Hoosiers to win.
Amazingly, they haven’t won an outright Big Ten title since 1945, haven’t played in a Rose Bowl since 1967 and were 1-11 just a year ago and ran the table, going 0-8, in conference play.
Just three weeks ago they were 0-3 in the league and headed to another, well, Indiana-type season.
Since then, they’ve won at Illinois 31-17 and at home last week 24-21 over Iowa. Suddenly, they’re contenders in a season in which the top two teams in the division (Ohio State, Penn State) aren’t eligible to play in the Big Ten title game because of NCAA sanctions.
“The kids are showing some resiliency,” second-year coach Kevin Wilson said. “I think we’re figuring out that we don’t have to play perfect and we don’t have to hope for things to happen, we make it happen.”
If the Hoosiers were to win, they would win a tiebreaker with Wisconsin going into games at Penn State and at Purdue to close out the regular season. Wisconsin plays Ohio State on Nov. 17 and at Penn State the week after.
Win out, and the Hoosiers would be in the Big Ten title game.
“We’ll look forward to having a good week and to seeing where it stacks up Saturday at 12,” Wilson said.
WON’T GO THERE
QB Braxton Miller was asked this week if Ohio State miscalculated by not offering to take a bowl ban after the 2011 season, possibly saving this year’s team from staying at home.
He wasn’t jumping into that alligator pit.
“Things just happened and we’ve got to take a step. Throughout the whole season, coach Meyer and the boys and the team, we just wanted to win out the season, just let the seniors go out with a good season,” he said. “Bad things happened last year so we’re just going to fix it and make sure we do the right things this year.”