Ohio State, Michigan Still at the Top of Big Ten

By Kyle Rowland on July 25, 2013 at 4:30p
14 Comments
The Big Ten's annual showcase event.

CHICAGO — Throughout his head-coaching career, Urban Meyer has dealt with great expectations on a yearly basis. Each team approaches those beliefs differently, he said, and it can be a chore keeping 18-to-22-year-olds on task.

Last season presented Ohio State with a rare set of goals. Winning every game is always at the top of list, but a postseason ban eliminated conference and national championship aspirations. Back in the NCAA’s good graces, the Buckeyes are primed for a title run.

Now is the time to ease up on the conversations that center on January 2014.

“I think we could potentially be a championship-caliber team by November,” Meyer said.

Until Ohio State positions itself as a contender late in the season, talk of championships should be rendered irrelevant. Meyer will deliver that message to his team when they reconvene on Aug. 4.

“The Chase” is on schedule, according to Meyer, which bodes well for the atmosphere inside the locker room and effort displayed on the practice field. After going through a 12-month cycle of adversity two years ago, the Buckeyes are as equipped as any team in the country at tempering expectations.

Grinding through summers is the norm for teams at the top level of college football. But there’s that extra something in the truly elite teams. To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, “You know it when you see it.”

For Meyer, he already knows about 2012’s undefeated season and good reports from summer workouts. He just needs to see all of that put together on the field.

Last summer’s sessions were especially gruesome because it was the introduction to Marotti, and a ceiling already capped the upcoming season. That is no longer the case.

“I think it’s a big step for us knowing we have a chance to compete for a national championship and a Big Ten championship,” senior safety Christian Bryant said. “Coming off the season we had last year, I think the first game this season is going to light a fire under us, knowing what we could have done last year. We want to keep that streak going.”

The numbers 26-0 have been discussed among the players, almost certainly a conversation Meyer will squash during camp. But the confidence and possibility of back-to-back undefeated seasons are goals Meyer and his players cherish.

“It feels great,” said quarterback Braxton Miller. “You get a reward at the end. We played the whole season (last year) without any type of award. At the end, we expect something this year.”

Miller went on to explain that the team received commemorative shirts. Not quite the same as a crystal football.

DOCTOR, DOCTOR

Meyer has made it clear distractions and disrupting team chemistry are the biggest detriments to building a championship-level football team. Third in line are the injuries. With fall camp around the corner, the Buckeyes’ health is not a concern for the head coach.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier has fully recovered from a sports-hernia that limited him during spring practice, giving the defense an added boost in the form of one of the best players in the country.

Kenny G "The Game Saver," not the Saxophonist. Guiton will return to action during camp.

Offensive players Corey Linsley, Antonio Underwood and Kenny Guiton won’t be 100 percent at the start of camp, but there are no concerns about their future, according to Meyer.

Linsley, the Buckeyes’ starting center and one of the team leaders, also missed some of the spring after suffering a foot injury during the 2012 season. A screw was inserted, but Meyer said he’s in a walking boot and is able to run.

“Linsley is about 85 percent,” he said. “He’ll be full speed eventually, but not at the beginning of camp.”

Underwood, a fellow offensive lineman, tore his ACL during the spring and is still on the road to recovery. He surprised many with a solid spring until the injury, which hampers depth along the line. Meyer said he’s still limited and will miss camp, but spoke in an optimistic tone.

The same came for Guiton, someone Meyer called “a great kid.” He broke the ring finger on his throwing hand moving furniture this summer, limiting how much he can toss the football.

“It’ll be two more weeks until he can throw,” Meyer said.

Guiton came in for spot-duty several times a year ago when Miller was injured, including the miracle Purdue comeback. That isn’t on the agenda for 2013.

Friendly Rivals 

Insults and good-natured ribbing are not only part of rivalries, but give them an added spice. Brady Hoke’s use of “Ohio” is seen as vile name-calling from Ohio State supporters. At the same time, though, it has injected the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry with a much-needed cocktail of animosity.

Three years of Rich Rodriguez combined with a down year for the Buckeyes made The Game stale for a brief period. With two head coaches who “get it,” late November is again one of the most anticipated weekends not only in the Big Ten but nationally.

The barbs are in the news again, but this time the headlines aren’t because two college teams despise on another. For once, Ohio State and Michigan have come together. All it took was an emotional journey by a 12-year-old Buckeye fan.

Grant Reed beat Michigan.The toughest 12-year-old on the planet.

When Grant Reed was diagnosed with cancer, he vowed he’d beat the disease and named his tumor “Michigan.” On Wednesday, Hoke said the Wolverines’ 8-5 season a year ago was unacceptable. As Michigan readies for the 2013 season, it already has one “L” in the loss column, because Reed defeated cancer.

“We were glad," Hoke said. “We were excited for that young man. And being a father, our children are so important and you try and put yourself through what that family has gone through. So him beating Michigan, in this context, we were all for it.”

Hoke touched on a personal experience, mentioning how tough it was for his family when his daughter spent five months in the hospital as a newborn.

Reed finished his chemotherapy in July and has drawn national attention ever since for his clever determination. He was invited to November’s Ohio State-Michigan game in Ann Arbor, happily accepting Hoke’s offer. Reed will be the lone attendee in Scarlet and Gray that draws an ovation.

"I spoke to Grant a little bit. He's doing well. He was excited,” Hoke said.

Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner chuckled when he was asked about rooting against his own team.

“Though we play football and the rivalry is so big, what (Reed is) fighting is so much bigger,” Gardner said. “If what he needs to do is name his cancer ‘Michigan’ and says he needs to beat ‘Michigan,’ I’ll fully support it. Beat Michigan in that aspect.

“When it comes to the game. I don’t support that in any way.”

I won't back down

When Gardner made his much-publicized comments in June about beating Ohio State, his words struck a chord with both fanbases and immediately went viral.

“We always have room for improvement, but this is definitely a championship-caliber football team that will win in the ‘Big House’ against Ohio State,” Gardner said on “The Huge Show” in Detroit. “We don't feel like we're inferior to anyone in the country. We're going to give it our all."

A month later, he is not pleased with how his words have been twisted.

“I’m not going to retract my statement,” Gardner said. “I never said ‘promise’ and I never said ‘guarantee.’ I said we’re going to work hard and we’re going to do our best, and I do believe we’re going to win the game. That’s not arrogant.

“I wouldn’t expect any player, from any team, to answer that question differently. And if they do, they don’t deserve to be on that football team.”

By the way, The Game is only 128 days away.

14 Comments

Comments

hit_the_couch's picture

 I wouldn't call michigan at the top, maybe if it were 8 years ago.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

M*chigan is at the top with Ohio State in recruiting only.

made The Game stale for a brief period.

Not really. Beating M*chigan never gets old.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Urban Nation Army's picture

The way it should be.

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

buckeyestu's picture

The buckeyes could beat scum every year, and the rivalry, the game, would not get stale with me.

dubjayfootball90's picture

This rivalry is amazing. It is so much bigger than the teams, the schools, the games. This is the best damn rivalry in all of sports. Prime example is of the Cancer story with Grant Reed. Two bitter rivals that revel in hate for one another came together and embraced a story about the well-being of a child. This kid was fighting for life against a silent killer, and he persevered. And now, Michigan (I will say the name of them out of respect for the first class actions they took with this story) is basically recognizing the child and his family and the fight he had to endure to ensure he can live his life to the fullest. 
This rivalry is second to none. We all should consider ourselves to be blessed to be apart of this. Even though the hatred is there, when one side is hurting or has life-or-death news for someone associated with that school or fan base, that is when you see the respect between the two armies. That is when you see the true spirit of the rivalry. The best damn rivalry in all of sports.
Maybe the use of the word 'hate' and 'hatred' is a bit strong, but you understand the point that I am trying to convey.
Case in point: Honoring Bo Schembechler at the Shoe after his death. Rest In Peace, Bo.

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

Sleepy's picture

This rivalry is second to none. We all should consider ourselves to be blessed to be apart of this. Even though the hatred is there, when one side is hurting or has life-or-death news for someone associated with that school or fan base, that is when you see the respect between the two armies. That is when you see the true spirit of the rivalry. The best damn rivalry in all of sports.
Amen, brother.  Amen.

MN Buckeye's picture

It will be interesting to see if Hoke can coach his talented recruiting classes into on-the-field success. Whether he does or not, I would like to see us beat them in a blowout.

Hovenaut's picture

I hope M...igan stays competitive. The conference, the game of college football needs these rivalries.

Now, that said, when I mean they stay competitive I hope to beat their sorry @sses on an annual basis.

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

TSUN has been recruiting right there with OSU since Hoke has arrived.  But, before we can officially consider them right there with us atop the Big 2 Little 10 Big 2 Little 12 Big Ten, they have to prove it on the field.  So far, they haven't been to this new thing called the Big Ten Championship game. 
And unfortunately, OSU hasn't been to this new game, either.  I guess in a weird sense, OSU does have a little something to prove in order to be considered atop the B1G.  Then again, going undefeated last year, beating both teams that were in the conference title game (only kept out of that game due to a postseason ban), is plenty of proof that OSU was the best that the B1G had to offer.
Conventional wisdom tells us that as long as OSU and TSUN are the only two schools recruiting on an elite level in the B1G, then that will eventually reflect on the on-field results.

Class of 2010.

buckskin's picture

I am glad to see Hoke gave the kid tickets to The Game.  Shows class and understanding.  Nice to see Gardner standing by his statement.  So many in the news today just run their mouths and then as soon as they get called out on it, they trip over themselves backtracking.  I want to beat someone who owns their statements, it's that much better.
 

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

It was a classy move by Hoke.  I give him a lot of credit for that.  Some things go beyond football, but when it comes to The Game we all know we want to beat that team up north!  Go Bucks!!

1967Buck's picture

  The story about Grant Reed has touched many hearts, peace be with you young man. Oh,and hes a young Buckeye fan also. WOW what a kid. Go Bucks!!

pjtobin's picture

I hope our players make a full recovery very soon. I also hope the entire team stay outa any shady situations. I'm so happy mushagain has already been defeated once this year. Under those circumstances nothing else could have been better. Hoke showed class. I will not bash him on treating a cancer survivor to OSU's last scheduled win of the season. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Haybucks's picture

Beat Cancer!
Beat the Tumors Up North!

The time to stop talking is when the other person nods his head affirmatively, but says nothing. - Henry S. Haskins