Meyer, Buckeyes Fall Short on Big Stage

By Kyle Rowland on December 8, 2013 at 8:00a
Urban Meyer suffered his first loss at Ohio State.

INDIANAPOLIS – It was the same Urban Meyer. The guy who won two national championships at Florida – one at the hands of Ohio State – led Utah to an unbeaten season and won 24 consecutive games as the Buckeyes’ head coach.

It wasn’t 41-14, but what Mark Dantonio – a Nick Saban and Jim Tressel protégé – concocted Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium is no less surprising. Ohio State was one win away from the national championship game, one win away from reaching a destination where demons from 2006, 2007 and 2011 could be extinguished.

But after erasing a 17-point deficit and taking a seven-point lead, the Buckeyes couldn’t finish, falling 34-24 to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game.

“That probably is the best team that we’ve faced in the past two years,” junior linebacker Ryan Shazier. “They beat us.”

Of all things, even on a night when defensive coordinator Luke Fickell will catch heat, a curious play call and going away from Carlos Hyde are the things many will attempt to decipher.

On 4th and 2 late in the fourth quarter – the play of the season – Ohio State ran Braxton Miller, not Hyde, to the right, not up the middle. Offensive coordinator Tom Herman said it was a play the Buckeyes practiced with success, adding Michigan State happened to execute better.

Perhaps more interesting outcome was 18 carries from Hyde after he’d been a workhorse the previous nine games and enjoyed success running against the Spartans. He finished with 118 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per carry. For two years, Meyer and Herman often went to what they referred to as their bread and butter. It produced 24 wins in a row, but on Saturday they finally looked mortal.

In the first half, second-ranked Ohio State fell behind 17-0. For those 30 minutes, Hyde received just eight carries. On multiple possessions, Hyde started drives with considerable gains only to not see another carry for three or four plays. And then another 10- or 15-yard run would take place.

“I definitely felt like we took over control,” Hyde said of the Buckeyes’ comeback. “We came out and started clicking on offense, and started scoring points. We came out pretty good in the second half. We started going back to our basic plays, running the ball, power plays and a few tight zone plays.”

But it didn’t happen consistently.

“It was difficult to try and find formations and plays that allowed us to have a chance to get him the ball. He did well,” Herman said. “I was proud of that. It’s certainly a mindset as we start talking about plays and formations on the headset, you’re always trying to get it to him, but you have to make sure you have the necessary hats accounted for.”

Adjustments by Michigan State contributed to Hyde’s lack of carries, according to Herman.

“There’s always 1,000 different things you could have done different in games like this,” he said.

On the fateful fourth down play, Meyer said he wanted the ball in the hands of their “best player.” 

Meyer’s record in big games is by no means tarnished, though a noticeable blemish now adorns his resume. It still reads two-time national champion, 7-1 in bowls, 2-0 in national championship game, 2-2 in conference championship games, 22-3 against rivals and includes four undefeated conference regular seasons.

On consecutive weekends, the Kings of College Football – Meyer and Saban – have suffered stunning defeats, ending the coronation and possible matchup for the BCS National Championship. Alabama’s loss last week opened the door for Meyer to win his third national title and close the gap on Saint Nick.

The 24-game win streak comes in a different light now. The accomplishment is worthy of applause, but an asterisk indicates Ohio State never beat a top-15 team during consecutive 12-0 regular seasons. In the end, the Buckeyes were a good team with flaws that could be easily exposed.

Offensively, they could hang against even the top-ranked defense in the country. Ohio State was held way under its season averages for yards and points by Michigan State, but the Buckeyes still could have won the game. The pass defense is the area that was ripped apart by opponents, the media and fans throughout the season – and for good cause. 

That issue arose again in the biggest game of the season – Connor Cook looked like the Heisman contender instead of Braxton Miller – and the Silver Bullets self-destructed with several inopportune penalties at critical moments. Combine that with an offense that converted just one third-down attempt and it’s a lethal cocktail.

It’s no national championship or Rose Bowl for Ohio State. For Meyer and the Buckeyes, it’s on to regrouping after a crushing loss that ended hopes of the ultimate prize.

Said Hyde: “We’re hurt right now.”


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KE's picture

Thanks for a great season, Bucks. Less pressure in a bowl game. But hey, it's Christmas, the basketball Bucks are undefeated, and it's a great time to be a Buckeye. So all is good.

Clinger76's picture

I'll never forget the first 24 games of Urban's career at tOSU. Last night though, thats one i want to forget NOW!! We had a great regular season and then slacked off at the wrong moment in time!!
Lets Go Bucks! Beat Clemson or whoever stands in our way next!!
Ps.-----Give Carlos the damn ball 35 times in bowl! THANKS  

"If you take no risks, you will suffer no defeats, But if you take no risks, you will earn no victories."

buckeyedude's picture

OSU offense only converted one 3rd down attempt? That is amazing, even coming against the best D in the nation. That, combined with our horrible secondary, had "loss" written all over it.
All I have to say is that I'm glad OSU didn't lose to TTUN, last week. I don't hate on Sparty. I hope they win the Rose Bowl and represent the B1G.



TLB's picture

Disappointing end to a great run. We got Tresselballled.

Hovenaut's picture

Quietly turned off the tv and headed to bed after the last td, nothing I could say.

My hats off to MSU and Coach Dantonio on a well deserved win.

This one stings, but will look forward to the bowl game, as well as what the future has in store for UFM and the Buckeyes.

AndyVance's picture

Ditto. Did the same thing.

AJW_16's picture

Ouch. That one hurt. Didn't post this on the vent thread last night but here are some of my thoughts:
Defense: What can you say? During the round table on Friday it was asked if you think the defensive performance against UM was an aberration or the result of deep-seated issues. I don't think anyone can argue against the former. Last night was just one more data point in a three year trend of poor back-7 play for OSU. Hate to pick on a kid, but Pitt Brown had about the worse game I have ever seen from an OSU safety. Poor tackling, poor positioning, and not being able to get off of the field. Like against Michigan, if we can get off the field one more time on defense, the game at least is a little better. Improving the secondary has to be top priority in the offseason. Not sure how you do that, but they need to find a way.
Offense: If you remember the last time Florida won a NC with Meyer they had one loss: in September (I think) to Ole Miss. This game reminded me of that. Florida was down a point and was driving for the go-ahead score. It had essentially become the Tim Tebow-run-up-the-middle show and on a 4th and 1 Tebow was stuffed for no game. Sound familiar? I'm not a coach here, but how do you get away from feeding Hyde in the second half? Very poor play calling last night. The receivers also had some pretty brutal drops. Those would have really helped a lot (especially since one was a TD).
Give credit to MSU - they are the better team. But man, all of the faults of this team were on full display last night. For me, the defense was going to cost this team a game. I wasn't too surprised when the defense yet again couldn't get off of the field, but it is that much worse when we're playing a good defense that can contain the offense.

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

bucknut3011's picture

Great points.  I am most defensively minded, and strong believer that defense does win championships.  In a championship game, I believe 24 points should win the game because you're playing against another championship defense.  More than 30 points is not a good defensive showing on a stage like this.
I was pleased with the run defense through the first three quarters.  There was penetration, in position, and mostly wrapping up.  I feel betrayed by the secondary, and this has been brewing all season.  This was supposed to be the strength of the defense and has been just disappointing.  I think there were FIVE pass interference calls last night - two dumb mistakes on the first drive alone.  My son is a DB and I don't want him watching this group to learn from.  I was actually having him watch MSU's DBs.  I expected more from Roby this season.  He flies to the ball but throws his body at the ball carrier, head down, trying to knock them off balance -- not wrapping up.  And I just don't see the secondary trying to read the QB. 
I think Fickell/Whithers (not sure who is exactly steering the defense) and Coombs need to be held accountable.  I think Urban has a bone to pick in particular 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.

aabuckeye's picture

Sure the defense wasn't great, but it's the offense that sputtered after it looked like we gained control -- and the lead -- in the second half. The defense's deficiencies have been there for a while, yet we've still managed to win games. This game could've been won had the offense maintained its momentum. Simple answer: their defense was too good for our offense. It hurts to lose, but they were the better team last night. They deserved the win. Kudos to MSU. You can't win 'em all. (But we sure came close!)

williamwhite37's picture

I'd say Sparty was better last night, but we still were inside their territory driving to win the game with 5 to play.
On a side note, just read Forde on Yahoo ripping urban for taking the team off before singing Carmen Ohio after the game and disrespecting 'tradition' (even though it's only been tradition for a decade or so). Maybe I'm wrong, and obviously they sang it 24 times in Urban's tenure, but did they always do that after a loss? 
of course, he's touting a lack of sportsmanship, but writes very little on the decision to sit  Marcus.

bucknut3011's picture

I recall them singing after regular season losses, but not sure if they did during post-season losses.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Losing SUCKS!!!  I'm glad the Buckeyes don't do it that often!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Dublin68's picture

Did you guys watch Auburn- Mizzo game, their running back got more than 40 carries in that game. I thought Hyde will get at least 25-30 carries......sometimes coaches outsmart them self and that what Herman did yesterday. he refused to give the ball to Hyde in the fourth Quarter and he went with an empty back several times!!!!!!!

4thandinches's picture

MSU did not win that game, we gave it to them.
I swear we had HS DBs out there yesterday. They never looked back for the ball and were always lost in coverage.
I don't blame the players though. They have the talent; they just haven't been coached well at all. I feel that they are getting multiple instructions from different coaches which causes them to be lost in space. 
And the lack of concentration didn't help at all. 5 PIs, seriously? Why does it always take Miller a full quarter to get his head in a big game?  

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

Edincostarica's picture

I think most of us faithful felt a lot of different emotions since the game ended. I know I did. I just need to remember it's a game; all be it a great game but a game never less and life goes on. We'll be back in the hunt for years to come, especially with Urban at the helm. THANKS AND GO BUCKEYES!!! We still have one more big game. Relax, enjoy and be grateful you are not a Wolverine fan. :-) 


buckskin's picture

Hey Hyde, we're hurting too.