Ohio State still trying to make a little noise
December, 9, 2013
By Austin Ward | ESPN.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The phone call came in, the next challenge was confirmed and Urban Meyer was ready to move on.
The Ohio State coach praised the bowl destination, talked up the opponent he’s already preparing for and mentioned on several occasions how his driven team will quickly adapt its goals now that there’s only one thing left to accomplish this season.
But as Meyer rattled everything off the No. 7 Buckeyes have to look forward to against No. 12 Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3, even on a teleconference it was clear he was still carrying with him at least one wound from the loss that abruptly ended “The Chase” and ripped a likely crack at the national championship away from his team.
“Excuse me,” a hoarse Meyer said Sunday night. “I lost my voice yesterday a little bit.”
The Buckeyes had no shortage of reasons to scream as Michigan State picked apart their secondary, largely shut down the spread offense and snatched a trip to the Rose Bowl from them in the Big Ten title game. And that loss is likely to haunt Ohio State well after Meyer has any need for lozenges.
But in place of one spot in the BCS, the Buckeyes quickly earned a bid to another when the Orange Bowl called to help brighten up Meyer’s afternoon.
They may not have a shot at Florida State, but another ACC powerhouse filled the void to give the Buckeyes a chance to make a statement victory after having their schedule picked apart all season long.
The school-record 24-game winning streak is gone as well, but then there’s a springboard to maybe start a new run down in south Florida.
And while it’s understandable and perhaps acceptable for Ohio State to be feeling a little down and disappointed for a day or two, that can’t last long if it’s going to do anything with the opportunity that took the place of the one the Buckeyes really wanted.
“I actually opened a forum a little bit [after the game], opened the floor for anybody, and it was interesting to have a couple players, a couple coaches say a few words,” Meyer said. “It was just about finishing this thing the right way. The team has got a chance to win 13 games in a season, and obviously finish ranked very highly. A lot of these players with what they’ve gone through the last two years, you could look in their eyes and they were very disappointed, but they understand there’s an incredible opportunity ahead of them. With opportunity comes responsibility, and they understand that.
“They’re heartbroken, but they’re competitors and they’re also [aware of] the fact we’re playing in a BCS bowl against Clemson. It’s going to wake you up real fast.”
The Buckeyes didn’t get much sleep after their first loss in two seasons, getting back from Indianapolis at 4 a.m. Some of the coaches didn’t even return to Columbus, leaving directly after the game and locker-room discussion to hit the recruiting trail.
But when the staff and players do all get back together again to start preparing for the Tigers, they’ll hear plenty from Meyer about everything that’s left for to play for. And for the first time in his tenure, that will include the chance to bounce back from a loss.
“I think it means a lot for us to go back and play in a BCS bowl game,” senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said in a release. “To get a win in a big time bowl and at the same time show some resiliency would be a great way to go out.
“I couldn’t ask at this point for anything more than to play in a BCS bowl game, and getting to go to battle with these guys I’ve been fortunate to play with for the last four or five years will be great.”
The first step before they can deliver another successful battle cry: The Buckeyes just have to get their voice back.
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