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Another week, another must-win for Buckeyes

Published: Tue, December 3, 2013 @ 12:05 a.m.



Associated Press


There was a time when Ohio State players could look forward to a break after trading bruises with archrival Michigan.

Not anymore. At least, not this year.

No sooner did the second-ranked Buckeyes escape Michigan Stadium with a 42-41 victory — thanks to Tyvis Powell’s last-minute interception on a two-point conversion pass at the goal line — than they were already immersing themselves in preparation for yet another make-or-break game.

The Big Ten championship game against No. 10 Michigan State — the only top-15 team Ohio State has played in a school-record 24-game winning streak under coach Urban Meyer — looms on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Buckeyes are beaten up, physically and mentally. But this is no time to reflect on what’s been accomplished so far.

“I think they are sore,” Meyer said on Monday. “I have got to be smart this week in what we do. As far as energy and focus — and throw in the fact that it’s finals week at Ohio State — we have to be really efficient with these guys.”

Now No. 2 in the BCS standings, the Buckeyes need to win to hang on to their spot in the BCS national championship game.

Since 1943, Ohio State has not had an opponent between Michigan and a bowl game. But with the Big Ten going to a two-division format three years ago, it was only a matter of time until the Buckeyes were busy again the week after their annual grudge match with Michigan.

A year ago, the Buckeyes also went 12-0, but were not permitted to play in the Big Ten title game or a bowl because of NCAA sanctions from violations that occurred on former coach Jim Tressel’s watch.

It’s not as if they don’t have some things to work on this week.

The defense was overwhelmed by Michigan’s previously erratic offense. The Wolverines’ Devin Gardner completed 32 of 45 passes for 451 yards and four touchdowns — including three in the fourth quarter as Michigan pulled even after trailing by 14 points.

The Buckeyes surrendered 603 yards.

Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell was displeased with the stats but couldn’t have been happier that the Buckeyes’ offense did enough to bail out his side of the ball.

“Did we win? Did we win?” he repeated when asked about the failures of his defense. “Because I’ve been up there quite a few times in my 18-year career (as a player and coach) here and have not always been able to come away with the win. Momentum and things happen and we didn’t play great on the defensive side of the ball. So there’s a lot of things to correct.”

Ohio State’s running game doesn’t have a lot of flaws right now. Carlos Hyde, the first running back in Meyer’s 12 years as a head coach to top 1,000 yards, rumbled for 226 yards on 27 carries and scored once at the Big House, while quarterback Braxton Miller rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns.

But the Buckeyes will be up against a Michigan State defense that is ranked No. 1 among all major colleges against the run (allowing just 64.8 yards per game), in passing efficiency defense and also in total defense (giving up just 238 yards a game).

Offensive coordinator Tom Herman said the Spartans do not have an apparent weakness.

“I don’t know if there is a first-team All American on that defense,” he said. “But they have 11 guys that know exactly what they are doing and they do it really well and they tackle well and they are always in the right spot. They are about as sound a defense as you’ll see.”

As has been the case throughout the season, Meyer won’t discuss BCS rankings or the potential of playing in the national championship game.

The Buckeyes, by virtue of two-time defending national champion Alabama’s quirky loss to Auburn in the Iron Bowl on Saturday night, moved up a spot to No.2 in the BCS rankings.


1taxme(359 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

24-0. I think the biased media should quite complaining about OSU. Big 10 teams get up for the games against OSU like no others. They play above themselves and do it well when playing the buckeyes. Bottom line is the Buckeyes win! 24-0 deserves the #2 if not the #1 spot. Shut up Mark May. You don't know crap!

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2Irishtiger(51 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Isn't every game this time of year a must win? How does this team get rated so high after struggling with a really weak Michigan team? Mooney has a better schedule. I'll laugh so hard if they actually make it to the BCS Championship game. THAT will be a joke. They should be rated no higher than 6th. Michigan State sucks too. Won't even be a game. WHAT A HYPED UP JOKE!

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3walter_sobchak(2418 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Well, I guess the only bigger joke than the OSU schedule is Florida State's schedule and they are rated #1 but have to get by DUKE in the ACC Championship game. Look, this BCS process has been a joke for some time as it rewards the teams from the power conferences that can play easy schedules and stay unbeaten. The four team playoff will be better but the #5 team will complain next year.

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4papa1(711 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

irishtiger, I could tell you were a domer before I finished your comment. I love the fact that brian Kelly is sucking wind because he's a puke. he walked away from cincinatti before their bowl game. he also caused the death of a young guy that he let go up in a very high lift in a high wind situation. really nothing against nd, I just hate Kelly. they haven't had a good coach since lou holtz. they have a proud tradition and I hope they get it back. but, hey, GO BUCKS! GO BUCKS!! GO BUCKS!! OH-IO!! OH-IO!!

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5taxme(359 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago


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