Ohio State's Championship Hopes Dashed by Michigan State. Again.

By Kyle Rowland on December 8, 2013 at 2:13a
21 Comments
We're going to miss you, BR.

INDIANAPOLIS – For 24 straight games, Ohio State rode a wave that the tradition-rich program had never experienced. Rock-star head coach. Longest winning streak in school history. Wins over Michigan. Even when the odds favored opponents, the Buckeyes somehow, some way came away with a win.

But it all ended on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium with two years of success on the line.

A postseason ban in 2012 meant Ohio State couldn’t play for a national championship it almost certainly would have qualified for. So in January, the Chase began. 2012 became the Year of the Buckeyes.

Then Michigan State came along and ruined the same dreams it snatched away in 1974 and 1998. In front of a partisan Ohio State crowd – roughly 70 percent of the 66,000 in attendance – the Spartans extinguished more than a quarter century of frustration, beating the Buckeyes 34-24 for the Big Ten title and a berth in the Rose Bowl.

“It’s going to haunt all of us, I would imagine, for a little while,” said head coach Urban Meyer after his first loss at Ohio State. “But it’s part of the game.”

The upset shook the college football world. One week after it appeared the SEC’s championship streak ended, Auburn finds itself playing for the national title. This was just the third installment of the Big Ten Championship Game, but the preamble leading to the 2013 edition was something absent from Big Ten football dating to the 2006 Ohio State-Michigan game, which pitted No. 1 vs. No. 2.

Ultimately, it was uncharacteristic sloppiness that plagued Ohio State on Saturday. It converted just one of 10 third down and committed five penalties for 62 yards, three of which extended Michigan State possessions, including one on the first drive of the game.

“Things happen in games, sometimes it doesn’t really go your way,” Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller said. “You’ve got to come back and fix the mistakes.”

After beating Michigan by intercepting a two-point conversion in the final seconds, Ohio State’s season again came down to one play. Trailing 27-24 with 5:46 left in the game, the Buckeyes faced a fourth-and-the-season. They needed two yards and didn’t even sniff it. Miller’s rush to the right ended prematurely when Michigan State ran through a block to drag Miller to the ground. The Spartans scored on the ensuing possession to put the game on ice.

A week filled with talk about Michigan State’s top-ranked defense ended with the Spartans shutting down Ohio State’s high-powered offense for three of four quarters. The Buckeyes finished with 374 total yards – 273 rushing, 101 passing – well under their average of 530.

Miller had his moments, but not enough of them against Sparty.

Miller led Ohio State with 243 yards of offense, completing 8 of 21 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown and running for 142 yards and two touchdowns. But it was that 143rd that made the difference.

“It was my call,” Meyer said. “I wanted to put the ball in the hands of our best player, Braxton.”

Carlos Hyde’s season started conversation about its place in the pantheon of great running back performances. He didn’t just become the first Meyer-coached running back to reach the 1,000-yard mark. Hyde ran through everything opponents put in place to stop him, gaining well over 1,200 yards. On Saturday, though, even as he ran for more than six yards per carry, the ball was taken out of his hands with regularity. He finished with 118 yards on 18 carries.

The Buckeyes dug themselves a 17-0 first-half hole and didn’t score in the opening quarter for the first time all season. However, their fortunes turned immediately after falling down three scores. A five-play touchdown drive cut the deficit to 10 and a frantic possession to end the first half resulted in a field goal thanks to poor time management and mental mistakes by Michigan State.

The third quarter belonged to Miller as he willed Ohio State to the lead. From down 17-0, the Buckeyes took a 24-17 lead after two rushing scores by Miller in the third. But they wouldn’t score again. As quickly as Ohio State stole momentum from the Spartans, they took it back just as quickly.

Connor Cook, who played in Miller’s shadow as a high school quarterback in the state of Ohio, shined bright on the biggest stage he’s performed. Pass defense has plagued the Buckeyes all season and it became the Achilles heel again in the Big Ten Championship Game.

“I’m disappointed with our pass defense,” Meyer said. “We have to get this fixed. We’re going to get back to work.”

Cook completed a 72- and 33-yard touchdown passes in the second quarter. When Michigan State fell behind in the second half, Cook rose to the occasion once more, leading an eight-play 90-yard go-ahead drive. He finished 24 of 40 with 304 yards, three touchdowns and an interception and was selected the game’s MVP.

“I've always had confidence in him,” Michigan State offensive lineman Blake Treadwell said.” The journey was a little rocky for him at first, but I knew in my heart that he was going to lead us to big things.”

Running back Jeremy Langford became the first 100-yard rusher against the Buckeyes this season, tallying 128 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.

The three biggest plays of the game came minutes apart in the fourth quarter. First came a dropped third-down pass by wide receiver Evan Spencer followed by a Ryan Shazier blocked punt deep in Michigan State territory, but Ohio State couldn’t capitalize when Allen stopped Miller shy of the first-down marker on 4th and 2.

For the Buckeyes, it’s regroup after the first loss in nearly two calendar years. They’re likely headed to the Orange Bowl to play Clemson Jan. 3.

“If we do [play in a BCS game], they’re going to get a very good Buckeye football team that’s going to stick together and try to win a game,” Meyer said. “If you’re asking me to measure the levels of hurt, I’m not sure I can do that.”

21 Comments

Comments

TilstheHun3's picture

“If you’re asking me to measure the levels of hurt, I’m not sure I can do that.”

Same...

What is this? A center for ants?!? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?
 

lsjSnail's picture

“We have to get this fixed." Seems he has had to say this too many times over the last 2 years.

45has2's picture

Fire the cheerleader and hire a real DB coach. He wasn't even your first choice for DB coach, Urb.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

bucknut3011's picture

I think Urban has a bone to pick particularlly with Coombs.  In both this game and last week's game, I saw Urban in Coombs' ear, and it didn't look like he was just whispering sweet nothings.

AndyVance's picture

I noticed that too, and thought the same thing.

pcuzz1's picture

Damn, does this hurt!! Will take a couple of days to get over. Hopefully, this puts a very, very bitter taste in these underclassmens mouths.

pat cozzens

Blue Eyed Buckeye's picture

Michigan State, you've made it personal between us.  Pic related.

Riggins's picture

Didn't quite reach our goals of a B1G Championship and possible National Championship, but this year has been a lot of fun.  Still beat Michigan. Still going to a BCS bowl.  Still killing it on the recruiting trail.  Still have Urban Meyer.  The future is bright.
Things that need to happen:  1) Complete shakeup of the defensive staff with the lone exception of Vrabel whose D-Line unit has played well.  I don't think it's a lack of talent, so that leaves poor coaching.  Right now, the secondary couldn't find their own ass if you let them use both hands.  2) Warriner better have four studs ready to go on the OL next year to replace these seniors or we're looking at a serious drop off in offensive production.  3) Schedule more aggressively out of conference (I know it's looking better in the coming years) and hope the B1G gets better.  4) FSU needs to assblast Auburn and the B1G needs a strong bowl season.
Still beat Michigan.

RufusVonDufus's picture

Put the ball in the hands of our best player, Braxton?    Hey, Urban, how about putting the ball in the hands of your BEST running back who MSU could not stop all night?    I thought head coaches were supposed to realize things like that.    The only time Braxton did anything was on broken pass plays and THAT, coach, is his only forte!

Bucksnnuts

urban86's picture

They could stop stop Hyde and on 3 and 3 you line him out wide.  Feed Carlos the ball and we are going to Pasadena....Staggers the imagination...  inchigan still sux!!! GO BUCKS!

Tim's picture

Herman outsmarts himself sometimes and it finally burned us.

vitaminB's picture

Here's a plus.  Pat Eilfein has now played in two games this year, so he'll be more experienced for next year's campaign, so we only have to replace 3/5ths of the O line.
Just wish CJ Barnett could have stayed healthy this year.  Would have meant a very different looking secondary, IMO.  Here is hoping Vaughn Miller and Tyvis Powell can improve our safety play next year.
 

TilstheHun3's picture

Vonn Bell?

What is this? A center for ants?!? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building?
 

BSTP DeCon's picture

If the staff hasn't already fixed the pass defense issues this far into the season, hate to tell ya Urban Meyer, but I highly doubt it will get solved by our bowl game. Until next season...

wyatt's picture

The defense was suspect all year. LBs and DBs had problems against everyone. The rest of the team was good, but teams figure out our weaknesses and attack them. Michigan State was very impressive. We made Connor Cook look like Manning. Congratulations to Sparty.

Jim's picture

The team is very one-sided and against a very good defense, the cracks in the armor became evident.  To a considerable extent, the defensive woes showed up last week against Michigan and their over 600 yards of offense.
OSU is a good team whose weaknesses were hidden by strength of schedule and a very weak Big Ten. Even the offense, to be perfectly honest, was one sided.  Where was the passing game when it was needed yesterday? A classic case of a big fish in a little pond.

topgun67's picture

I, along w/ many here, have been and am a die hard Buckeye fan, now living overseas in Korea.  For past several years, I have been up at wee hours of the mornings watching every Buckeye game on live streaming online. 
Since 2006-7 NC game debacles, I have been waiting for that day that when the national media and football fans alike can say that OSU is the king of the college football.  And at beginning of this year and throughout, I thought this was the year.
Having watched games against school up north and against State, I have to acknowledge that this team is no where as good as its ranking for this year and even last.  I have to be honest to myself by saying that we were soft 24-0.  I now have to agree w/ national media that we played soft schedule and if we were in SEC, we prob would have lost 2-3 games if not more this year. 
Great thing is, though, future still looks bright - great recruiting, already have talent on the squad albeit we do lose O line mostly, Roby and Shazier likely. 
It really hurts and will for a long time.  I remember the 1998 loss against the State and how stunned we all were, including our head coach.  That was one of the best squad I've ever witnessed in 30 years and yet, we lost that one, and hurt for a long time. 
Well, I am going to bed now in Korea, my wife will never understand this pain, nor my 3 year old and 5 year old kids who were born in Korea so they really don't know about American football period. 
But sun will rise again.  Hope for a good bowl game and start the chase again
love being a Buckeye fan

dsbgobux's picture

Having been at the 1998 game I must admit that this loss does not equal the shock and pain of that one. I knew that when push comes to shove our D this year ( and the last 2 ) were merely adequate, and not the Silver Bullets. I respect the passion that Shazier played with last night, but when the other team has all 11 playing with the same passion and talent it is too much to overcome.  Hoping FAU comes calling for Fickell soon.

Buckeye in PA purgatory

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Nice photo of Roby and Coombs leaving the field together. Roby wants to go to the NFL next year. Coombs ought to be shown the door, too. His secondary coaching is the worst I've ever seen as a longtime Buckeye fan and watcher.

Wesleyburgess1's picture

I heard somewhere that this team is 30 yards away from giving up the most passing yards in school history. If that's not a fireable (clean house on defense) offense idk what is.

Sad thing is, is that I doubt Reakwan McMillan will want to join a program with so much uncerrtainty on the defensive side of the ball.

Imo I think that whithers and coombs if anyone, should be the ones fired. GO BUCKEYES