Monday, December 10, 2012
Perfect Moments: No. 5
By Austin Ward
BuckeyeNation counts down the five biggest moments on the march to perfection for Ohio State, from the biggest games and plays to the locker room speeches and celebrations -- starting today with a meeting before the first road test of the season.
No. 5: Ballroom chat sparks win over Sparty
Nearly two months later, Urban Meyer remembers not only the exact day but the precise minute when everything seemed to change.
The Ohio State coach had already watched his team cruise through the nonconference slate with four wins, but he wasn't convinced yet that he had a group capable of really going on a run through the Big Ten, let alone going undefeated.
But in a hotel ballroom in East Lansing, Mich., a few hours before Meyer's first conference kickoff -- and what promised to be a stiff test on the road against an aggressive, physical and ranked opponent -- the Buckeyes showed him something he'd been waiting to see. Exactly what was discussed in that team meeting and how it impacted the players in the room remains something of a mystery, but it obviously has stuck with Meyer.
"Sept. 29 at 11:22 [a.m.]," Meyer recently recalled. "I’m being serious. We had a meeting in a ballroom in East Lansing, very intense, very emotional meeting, and that’s when I saw it.
"Up until then, I didn’t think we had it, to be quite honest with you. They weren’t playing like it and they weren’t acting like it."
Just a few hours later, the Buckeyes were playing and acting like they had "it," overcoming an injury to running back Jordan Hall and the stinginess of the Michigan State defense to pull out a 17-16 win that stamped them as a legitimate threat to win the Big Ten in Meyer's first season with the program.
Braxton Miller gutted through several hard hits to carry 23 times for 136 yards and complete 16 of his 23 attempts for 179 yards and a clutch touchdown strike to Devin Smith. Bradley Roby shook off an injured shoulder to lead the team with nine tackles while breaking up two passes and blocking a punt. Philly Brown nearly matched his receiving total from all of 2011 with 12 catches.
Those efforts and all the others added up for Ohio State, and the entire roster and coaching staff met in the corner of an end zone at Spartan Stadium for another meeting. This one wasn't nearly as intense, but the Buckeyes were just as emotional, dancing with the band and sharing hugs, setting the course for the rest of an undefeated season.