Ohio State Football Notebook: Winning Trumps All, Even Style Points

By Kyle Rowland on October 1, 2013 at 5:00p
To even get an opportunity to hoist this trophy, many believe Ohio State must win big during the regular season.

The best thing about being 5-0 is a chance to go 6-0. Those are the words of Urban Meyer. He utters a similar phrase each Saturday and again on Monday. Notice the simplicity of it all. Wins, nothing else.

Ohio State is undefeated and ranked in the top 5. Still, there is grumbling around Columbus and the rest of the nation. Saturday night’s 31-24 win over a ranked opponent wasn’t enough to excite fans and pundits. For Meyer, the win was just fine.

“I heard something about style points,” Meyer said. “We’re not really concerned about that – we won the game.”

He’ll leave the style points to gymnasts and runway models. This week presents another opportunity for the Buckeyes to extend their nation’s best win streak to 18 games and make college football fans around the country respect them a little more.

Northwestern is 14-3 in its past 17 games, undefeated in 2013 and ranked No. 16 in the country. College GameDay isn’t in Evanston just for show, it’s located in Chicagoland because it’s the game of the week, featuring two of the sport’s best.

Still, the perception of Ohio State is similar to that of 2007 and 2008 in the wake of national championship defeats. One sign prominently displayed at GameDay last week in Athena, Ga., read “Overrated” with a play on the Buckeyes’ logo.

Many thought the Wisconsin game was an opportunity to light up the scoreboard against a quality opponent. Ohio State has few challengers standing in the way of an undefeated season, both a luxury and deterrent. In the age of the BCS, winning impressively is better than just winning. College football is part barbarians, part beauty pageant.

A 31-14 lead in the second half over the Badgers looked like it could swell into 38, 41 and 48. But alas, the Buckeyes failed to add to its lead, holding on for the seven-point victory.

“Do the fans want to see everything they saw in the first quarter in the fourth quarter? Absolutely,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. “Good for them. But it’s not going to happen. We have a responsibility to win the game. We don’t have a responsibility to put up ‘x’ number of points or ‘x’ number of yards. There were certainly very justifiable reasons for approaching the game the way we did there in the fourth quarter.”

No. 1 was turnovers. Meyer said the only way Ohio State was going to lose the game was by turning the ball over.  So Tresselball once again made an appearance in Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes threw a grand total of eight passes in the second half and punted four times. Cameron Johnston was one of the players of the game, pinning Wisconsin inside the 20 on all six of his punts.

The Buckeyes haven’t exactly been the Mariano Rivera of the 2013 college football season. The Badgers were the first true challenge, but Ohio State’s ability to close string has been non-existent so far. Even with good field position in the second half Saturday, the Buckeyes couldn’t and chose not to move the football.

“Every time we had the ball was near the midfield area, and we have a very good punter. I trust our guys that we are going to down that ball and we are going to make them drive it 90 yards,” Meyer said.

On Wisconsin’s final position, Johnston boomed the ball inside the 10, and the Badgers were only able to return it three yards. That set up the scenario Meyer spoke of: 90 yards to tie the game. It didn’t come close to happening.

In a field position game, the Silver Bullets, a unit that’s been chided, rose to the occasion and made the Wisconsin running backs irrelevant. The goal was to force Joel Stave to beat Ohio State with his arm, and while he had success throwing the football, he still came up short. Mission accomplished for Luke Fickell’s gang.

“Would we have liked to convert maybe a few more third downs and keep drives alive? Absolutely,” Herman said. “But I think what gets lost is the offense and defense and special teams, they’re not mutually exclusive. We all work together. And when you’ve got a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter, the way you approach how you’re going to call the came changes significantly. I would think any football coach would tell you the same.”

So don’t expect Meyer or Herman’s strategy to differ anytime soon. They may listen to the DubCast and read articles on Eleven Warriors, but they’re steering clear of the forum.

“There’s a reason there is talk radio and message boards and everybody in here has a job,” Herman told reporters. “And that’s to discuss things that are probably never, ever, ever discussed in the staff room. You guys decide to lose sleep over it, and that’s fine.”

Can Fitzgerald take the Purple back to Pasadena?Pat Fitzgerald is 54-39 at Northwestern.

Purple Haze

While Northwestern was enjoying it’s bye week, quarterback Kain Colter was busy watching college football, even rooting for a future opponent. With his eyes trained on the Horseshoe, Colter cheered on the Scarlet and Gray – because he wanted College GameDay to travel to Evanston.

His wish was granted.

GameDay will be in Evanston for the first time since 1995. Also appearing on the Wildcats’ campus is Mike and Mike. The show will broadcast live from Deering Meadow on Friday. Co-host Mike Greenberg is a Northwestern alum.

Just how big is Saturday’s game? The average ticket price is $162 – for a Northwestern home game. It’s uncharted waters for the small, private school that’s routinely been a Big Ten whipping boy. But under the guidance of head coach Pat Fitzgerald, the Wildcats are now one of the conference’s best.

Saturday marks arguably the biggest home game in school history.

“I’m not gonna lie, this is a game I circled on my schedule just because I haven’t played these guys before,” Colter said, a strange fact. Ohio State and Northwestern went four seasons without playing.

The excitement in and around Chicago has reached a fever pitch. Fitzgerald, a straight-laced, no non-sense coach, admitted that he’s having a hard time blocking out all the chatter surrounding the game.

Northwestern has had two weeks to prepare and deal with all the hubbub. They last played on Sept. 21, a 35-21 win over Maine. Since the final whistle, all the attention has been focused on the Buckeyes.

“I think you embrace whatever it is that comes along with college football,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s why we have the structure within our program. Nothing changes for us this week. Our routine is our routine. We do what we do, and hopefully we put together our best week of preparation.”

The Wildcats have defeated Ohio State once in the past 40 years. That was an overtime win in Evanston in 2004. In four games against Northwestern since, the Buckeyes have won by an average score of 52-9. The smallest margin of victory has been 35 points.

Fitzgerald knows 2013 presents another challenge. But unlike in years past, the Wildcats have an equally talented team.

“They’re really good,” Fitzgerald said of Ohio State. “I had a chance to watch a couple of the top five teams,” he said. “They’re incredibly talented. But I think we’re pretty darn talented too. … But obviously those top five teams are talented because they play up to their talent consistently.”


Ohio State players have fallen victim to Twitter in the past. Carlos Hyde spouted off about playing time in 2011, even Urban Meyer’s daughters have taken to social media, only to be scolded by their father.

Wide receiver Philly Brown became the latest Buckeye to air his complaints on Twitter, to his 18,000-plus followers. He tweeted, “It hurts y’all to see us win lol,” after Ohio State’s win over Wisconsin.

Before the game, he tweeted, “It never fails... They get a team hype them up and you know what we do to them??? Smack them right back down.”

On Monday, Brown added another: “It’s a big game this week because WE made it a big game not them...”

It’s a tough-guy persona not seen out of Brown last year. But he’s backed up his words with impressive play. Brown has a team-high 24 receptions for 254 yards and five touchdowns. Saturday night he finished with 85 yards and two touchdowns, including one on a 40-yard bomb right before halftime that took away the Wisconsin defense’s confidence.

“I don’t think he took his approach to the game very seriously," Herman said about the 2012 version of Brown. “Everything about him was kind of three-quarters in, 75 percent in.”


“He’s probably the closest thing we have to a rah-rah guy,” Herman said. “He’s very vocal, he’s very energetic.”

Brown isn’t thrilled with what he perceives as disrespect toward the Buckeyes. He feels their 17-game win streak has been diminished by opposing fans and national media.

“I’m just saying because of the amount of games that we’ve won in a row, everybody’s waiting for our downfall," Brown said. “But the way that the team’s working right now and how we’re playing, I just don’t see that happening.”

Mark down a victory against Northwestern. Brown has already declared Ohio State “the best team in the country.” That tweet arrived in the days prior to the Wisconsin game.

“It’s just the way I feel,” he said. “Whatever I tweeted I meant. When people take shots at our team it’s like taking shots at my family. I take that personal so whatever I say on Twitter or whatever, I really mean it.”

Point taken. It’s been no secret that Brown has disagreed with Mark May’s treatment of the Buckeyes. The ESPN analyst doesn’t hide his distaste for all things Ohio State, routinely picking against the Buckeyes and having an uninformed opinion.

“I think a lot of those people on ESPN that do those shows, they’re the same way as all the haters that we have around here,” Brown said. “They say we have a weak schedule, so they say that we’re not ready for the big game or whatever," he said. “But we’re just going to keep doing the same thing that we’ve been doing, and we’re going to keep winning. They’re only going to hold us down for so long.”


Comments Show All Comments

njclebuckeye5's picture

Oooh kill em Philly!

Lobs it to the endzone... Touchdown Devin Smith!!

jbcuky's picture

"Just win" sounds good. But as Urban knows from Utah, you can go undefeated and not be in the national championship game. Unfortunately style points matter.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

True about Utah... But that was Utah, NOT tOSU!
There's a HUGE difference!

bigbill992001's picture

Granted, theres a huge difference between Utah and TOSU, but we're chasing and we will need help from those ahead of us.   If all the remaining games are won by us, Clem and Ore, or even 1 of Clem or Ore, then he Bucks watch the NC on tv.   And, everyone is wondering why we didnt kick ass when we had the chance.    I get the argument that a TO could change the game if we pass, but by keeping the game close arent we also taking a chance that a TO could accur?    Fumbles happen all the time.   Hell, we didnt even run read option or try to get the corners.   Our O-line couldnt handle the Wisky D in the 4th qtr.   Borland had a clear shot on Hyde, and to his(Borland) credit, stopped the big guy like few ever have.

cajunbuckeye's picture

Not everyone, I'll just take the wins. If they win out and don't get to the NC, so be it. That's not on the team, it's on the voters.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

yrro's picture

That had nothing to do with style points, and everything to do with not being in a BCS conference. Utah could have dropped 50 on every team on their schedule and not played in the championship game.

Oakland Buckeye's picture

Uh, Utah not relevant before or since that season -talk to TCU & Boise a few years ago.

nrobinsonpe's picture

All the talk about, "What did we do to beat Alabama today," only matters if tOSU gets to play Alabama in January. The fact is that Oregon and Clemson are showing their teeth every week and Clemson, in particular, against quality competition. Sadly, in the B1G, the only way to do that is with style points and you can't get those by turning off the engine in the second half and coasting home.

fear_the_nut70's picture

We are in what, week 5, 6 (counting byes for some)?  Long way to go people and much of this will work itself out.  It's rare there are 2 undefeateds, and even less likely there will be 3 or four.  I know it's boring, but UFM is right...best thing about being 5-0 is the chance to go 6-0.  Let's just worry about beating a good Northwestern team and let the chips fall where they may, shall we?

nrobinsonpe's picture

Very true. Oregon and Clemson both face stiff competition, but given undefeated champs from two of the SEC, the ACC, and the Pac 12 this year, we're on the outside looking in, strange as it may sound for Ohio State.

Spider1944's picture

Fear the nut is right. I hate this we have the lead so let's not blow it attitude but... I do like the sound of 6 and 0. So let's move on and give Northwestern their due. We are on the road against possibly the best team we will face this year. See you in Evanston. 

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

fanatibuck's picture

ummm...........wonder if you have checked out my thread that is totally based on this conversation? I have lots of no votes for voicing the same thing you have in this post. What gives?


osupolo's picture

tOSU + Urban Meyer = wins

KLF Buckeye's picture

I have to agree with a couple of the commenters above. Yes, it is good to keep winning, but there are teams looking better doing it than the Buckeyes. I hope we can inject some more competition into our schedule starting next year, because the B1G is not providing it. At least not in the eye of those that send you to the title game.
I love the Buckeyes and think they are or have the potential to be one of the best two teams at the end of the season. Sadly, it's not that simple.

2002osubuck's picture

This is tOSU, I don't care about any of the storylines the eSECpn creates, if we go undefeated we are in the NC game. Its just something to keep the 24/7 media cycle going and to push their product, the SEC. Urban knows wins are what matter and in the end going undefeated at tOSU guarantees being in the NCG. Strength of schedule doesn't mean shit if you're a big time program and win every game we'rein, regardless all the BS pouring out of all the pundit's mouths.

bigbill992001's picture

Did you forget that LSU got into the NC game with TWO losses?   And, kicked our asses.   Meanwhile UM sat home.    Dont discount the polls and tv execs.

Spider1944's picture

That was Florida not LSU. We kind of backed into the LSU NCG when everyone else lost on the last weekend. 

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

Doc's picture

What happened to Urban's quotes from last year when he said it wasn't his responsibility to stop his own offense?  He was going to keep his foot on the gas all game long.  It seems he had a change of heart, or he didn't want t stomp his friend into the turf. 
I'm wanting to see a stomping.  And not against Illi or Purdont.  I want a ranked team to be stomped on their field in prime time.  Maybe my wish will come true Saturday night.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Keep that chip on your shoulder, Philly.
Remind the lads DAILY how they're disrespected.
Then come out like "crazed dogs" (I think was how LT put it) & obliterate NW!
The Wildcats may be able to put up some points, but they're not going to be able to keep all the weapons tOSU has from torching the scoreboard.
NW will come out fast after having 2 weeks to prepare; we'll be in control by the middle of the 3rd quarter.

No way we go 13-0 (25-0 over 2 years!!) & don't get to play for the crystal football.

TennesseeBuckeye's picture

We're saving our style points and 4th quarter points for when it counts in November. Lots of teams are going to lose. Just win in October stay healthy and get to November.

I may not be able to outsmart too many people, but I can outwork 'em.
Woody Hayes

dlb72osu's picture

I have to agree with Tennesseebuckeye and disagree with 2002osubuck.
There are several undefeated teams currently. There won't be that many come the end of November. As T-buck pointed out, we just want to make sure that we are one of the undefeated left standing.
2002, don't be so ego driven that just because we are tOSU that we cannot be left out of the NCG. No lecture intended but IMO there is no place for narcissism in sports fandom. Oregon is playing some pretty good ball right now. If Alabama and the ducks continue their current play we will be left on the outside. I'll be very disappointed with that but I won't piss all over myself about it.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

- Invictus

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Anyone else think that pic of Fitzgerald looks like a healthy Jesse Pinkman? Here's hoping he looks (ok, feels) more like Jesse did for most of Breaking Bad, always getting the shite kicked out of him after HeisenMeyer is through with him....... 

okiebuck's picture

The question I would have for the self proclaimed "experts" on espn and elsewhere is; how would any of the other top five teams have fared without the starting QB? Clemson w/o Boyd; Oregon w/o Mariotta and Bama w/o McCarron??  Also; Georgia w/o Murray; Louisville w/o Teddy B??
Just asking.....

"Fate has cards that it don't want to show"

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Great point! Didn't really hear much about that from the chattering class.

cajunbuckeye's picture

Winning is everything. The Buckeyes have the longest win streak in the nation. I don't care what bowl game they play in. I hope for the players and the staff that they can run the table one more time. It's such a difficult feat to accomplish.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

lax20's picture

What saddens me is the fact that college football has evolved into this.  Our team must humiliate an opponent to quantify their ranking.  I find that classless and very unprofessional.  There will be a day of reckoning for the Oregon's.  I use to criticize Bob Stoops of Oklahoma for running up the score with keeping his first teamers in a game that was all but over.  Now his Sooners have been on the end of some good old fashion beat downs.   Urban is right, just win and all other things will fall into place.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article Kyle!  Let the Bucks keep on winning!  Good things will come. 
Go Bucks!!

penult's picture

He’ll leave the style points to gymnasts and runway models. 

Where do I insert my upvote for this statement?  Besides (and related to) the lack of a playoff, this is everything I hate about the game of college football itself.  It's football, not a %$#&ing beauty pageant! I don't give a $%& about the narrative. Play the games and see which team wins. If you want to talk about who was cuter when faced with a challenge then watch a #$%@ing beauty pageant.
Lately, I've become bored with who likes and who hates Herbstreit, and whether or not he's a true Buckeye, and whether or not he's a good analyst.  I don't care so much about that anymore.  But, #$%@ him and his narrative bull@#$% that he is always spewing.  Like this past Saturday night, for example, he likes Georgia now because they beat LSU--who hasn't played anybody yet by the way--even though Clemson owned Georgia, but he just watched Georgia beat an SEC team, and they both scored a lot of points, so they both must be really good.  @#$% him and his narrative bull@#$%.  
I know we are potentially stuck with it every year because there is no playoff, but at least let the season play itself out and see who can remain undefeated (for the love of god).
/end rant

ScarletNGrey01's picture

News flash, there will be a four team playoff starting next season.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

penult's picture

Yeah, I'm keenly aware of that. 
How does it stop the narrative crap THIS YEAR?
Also, how does it stop the narrative crap next year?  Which 4 teams are going to be in the playoff (which is not really a playoff, it's a "plus-one" which is more of an ancestor to a playoff system).  You think the narrative will stop then?  It will be "which team or teams make the final cut" and "should there be more than one SEC team" and "Alabama should get the 1 seed because they blew out 5 SEC teams, and let's ignore those SEC teams only beat 1 ranked opponent combined" and "Florida didn't need a single pass completion to beat such and such team so they should get the 4th seed" and "2-loss LSU didn't let ULM pass their own 30 yard line so they should bump Oregon" or "2-loss LSU only lost to Alabama by 9 points, so..." blah blah blah.

Mikefletcher24's picture

Just beat Michigan and all is well. Period 

Buckeytrips's picture

I hope our coaches are not getting inside information from Gene Smith "Don't worry about style points just win, I talked to some of my buddy's within the NCAA and they said just win and you are in.
Is it me or did anyone else not like the comments from Herman. I remember reading UM wanted to score a td every time we had the ball. Did this not get relayed to the OC. Seems a little soft to me, IMO. Plus, I never want to hear the word "Tresselball again.

steveoz49's picture

I respect the job Pat Fitzgerald has down at NW.  He came into the job under very difficult circumstances and has done a fantastic job.  He's got a likable quality to him and he (from what I've seen) doesn't make excuses.  That being said... I still want to mop the floor with these guys, it's nothing personal.... it's just business.

buckeyepastor's picture

I agree mostly.   I don't want to see us consumed with "style points" and part of me doesn't really care what the rest of the country thinks, as long as we win. 
But sadly, this is the last year where winning close games can and will keep us out of a shot at the championship.   Oregon or Stanford is likely to go undefeated, and either will pass us in the minds of the pollsters to play Alabama (or whomever beats Bama, should it come to that, which I doubt).  
It's frustrating that a one-loss OSU will likely immediately drop out of the top 10 and likely fall behind even a couple of two-loss teams.  It sucked for us that Wisconsin got hosed at ASU because they should have come in as an undefeated team at least in the top 15, possibly even in the top 10, and instead were outside the top 20.  Given the quality of team Wisconsin truly is, Saturday night was an impressive, high-quality win over a very, very good opponent.  But the numbers that so many look at, the poll ranking and record, made it look like a match-up that we were supposed to win, probably by double-digits.  

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

IBleedSandG's picture

I think the Pac-12 is pretty competitive, and Oregon and Stanford's paths to going undefeated are much tougher than tOSU's path.
Stanford's upcoming stretch:
@ Utah
@Oregon St.
Man, they are lucky the get their 3 toughest opponents all at home.
Oregon has to play @ Washington, UCLA and @ Stanford in  4 week stretch. Well, 5 week stretch. It looks like they have a bye before they travel to "The Farm."