The Lingering Sting

By Kyle Rowland on December 11, 2013 at 9:15a
Long faces in Columbus.

Two wins over Michigan, a miracle against Purdue, overtime at Wisconsin, Kenny Guiton’s record-setting days in September 2013 – all of it occurred during Ohio State’s 24-game win streak. Yet, losses linger much longer than wins. So it is that most will remember the Buckeyes’ defeat to Michigan State and not everything that preceded it.

Some of the gusto disappeared since Ohio State lost once it finally played a top-10 team. But what it accomplished as the program went through its darkest hour should still be lauded. From 6-7 to 24-0 is an unprecedented rise. The 2011 season is now just a distant speed bump on a road paved with gold.

That wasn’t the immediate thought in the wee hours of Sunday morning when Urban Meyer gave his post-mortem wearing a sullen expression before hopping on a golf cart to munch on some pizza. The image was indelible and appropriately captured the disappointment all of Buckeye Nation felt.

“I just feel we’re all very blessed and fortunate to have these kids on our team. I love that locker room,” Meyer said.

The bond he creates with his players is one reason why losses wear on Meyer so much. Every coach works hard, but few if any put as much into the job as Meyer. The phrase eat, breathe and sleep football comes to mind. Everything was set in place for Ohio State to win its first national title in more than a decade this season and the window could be closing, making Michigan State’s upset that much more difficult to deal with.

Oh, and the Spartans did so with a roster stockpiled with Ohioans, including quarterback Connor Cook.

“We accomplished a lot, but this is all about how we respond to the next event,” redshirt freshman offensive lineman Pat Elflein said. “So we’re going to respond the right way and go get the next one. It’s over with. We’ve got to put it behind us.”

“I just feel we’re all very blessed and fortunate to have these kids on our team. I love that locker room,” -Urban Meyer

The rest of the college football world – and Buckeye fans – will remember this one for a long time. Critics will harken back to 2006 and 2007 and say it proves Ohio State remains a fraud, built on flair and little substance. Those who sat in Lucas Oil Stadium will remember it for coming up short on fourth down and pondering just how close the Buckeyes were to Pasadena.

In 1998, fans recall the loss to Michigan State, not beating Michigan or winning the Sugar Bowl. The same goes for other years with national championship implications. When the opportunity to validate one’s status is presented, seizing that moment is paramount. Now 24 wins seems small and distant, no proof of elite standing.  

“Man, it hurts,” running back Carlos Hyde said. “To be a senior, to be that close to a national championship and to fail – that hurts.”

Blame is magnified after losses. Sure, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell took a healthy dose of criticism when the team won, but losing forms a runaway avalanche of disparagement – some deserved, some not.

When you’re in charge of the Buckeyes’ defense, it all comes with the job. Unfortunately, for Fickell, returns have been mixed. The defense allowed 30 or more points in five of 13 games, and it’s even worse when you go back to his stint as interim head coach. Three seasons, 20 games of at least 21 points surrendered. That is nearly as unmatched as the win steak. 

“These seniors will do a great job,” Fickell said. “You think back, these seniors have been through a lot of stuff in four years. That’s why I grabbed Jack [Mewhort] and some of those guys and just went by them and said, ‘Hey man, I really appreciate what you guys have done over a four-year period and I’ve been with you through a lot of that.’

“This is a journey. Sometimes you rip your chest open, you give it your all and then sometimes you don’t get what you expect in return. That’s part of life.”

That perspective isn’t lost on players. Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier spoke about taking the game personally and putting everything on the line each week. Now he’s left with a pain that isn’t easy to reverse.

Said Shazier: “It just hurts because we’ve been winning so much and just been doing everything together and been grinding so hard as a group.”

It will linger for a while. 



CALPOPPY's picture

Well done.
I know it wasn't the main point, but dagnabbit, we won in 1998. After that dang, heartbreaking loss to MSU.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

tommrkr's picture

Yeah, I don't recall saying to myself as I stormed the field in 1998 with thousands of my fellow students "Boy, some of the joy in this win is removed by our previous loss."  I think my thought process went more like "woooooooo! fuck yeah!!!!! fuck michigan!!!!! I taste hot sauce!!!!!"

whobdis's picture

These guys have nothing to be ashamed of..this group took us from the depths of 2011 and all that went with it to 24 straight wins. Of course the loss hurts but they did us proud. Urban will have team always fighting near the top and this group helped put us on that path.

dan_isaacs's picture

Yeah, I don't think anything is going to make me forget those wins.  Kenny G in particular.  Those are magical memories.

Of course, as I work my way into my 40's, I start forgetting more and more things.  So dementia may rob me of the memories.  But hopefully it robs my memory of the losses first.

Dan Isaacs

Doc's picture

Didn't Cooper always say you learn more from losses than wins?  Maybe it was Tress.  Whomever it was was right.  The team needs to focus on the problems and get those corrected.  All is not lost and the 24 game winning streak will not be forgotten.  Fight on Buckeyes.

I'm hiding baby and I'm dreaming
I'm riding down your moonlight mile

TilstheHun3's picture

I really appreciate everything the players and coaches did these past 2 seasons... 24 game winning streak, 2 wins over Michigan. It was an amazing way to start Meyer's career here. This team has come a long long way since that 2011 season.
Unfortunately, you're right Kyle, this loss will linger for a while. I feel especially bad for Hyde and the Senior O Line. They played so hard this year and won us many, many games. I remember a while back, last season I believe, where Meyer said something close to "Championship caliber teams need to convert on 4th and 1." It was after a game where Hyde got stuffed at the goal line. Don't remember exactly... Anyway, it's so strange how that played out. Hyde doesn't touch the ball on 3rd and short, and 4th and short, and we don't convert. We'll never know for sure, but I really think Hyde (and the O Line that LOVES to block for him) would have picked up a first down. And if he had kept getting the ball, I think we would have scored. Hyde has been that good this season and then some. He's carried us before, he would have carried us then. It's a sad ending to an amazing streak.
I don't think I'll ever get over the loss. It will sting forever. However, Meyer has given us a ton to be excited about. Recruiting has been phenomenal. There's no reason to believe this team won't have at least a chance to compete for a National Championship almost every season. Year 2 is often times incredibly special for coaches, here's to hoping Year 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, ect... will be even more special than this year was. Overall, it was a pretty sweet run.

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?

Larryp713's picture

Maybe it is maturity, but the sting of this loss didn't last very long for me. I thought Mich St was really good, and our guys played hard. At the end, they made the plays to win. I don't understand, honestly, how any fans over 15 are still bitter about this game.
I think Clemson will be a great bowl opponent for two reasons - the game should be very exciting, and if we are not prepared, we could get embarrassed. I think you will see an inspired Buckeyes defense who will play better than expected (and then we will hear "if only we played Sparty like this, blah blah blah.")
Let's keep supporting the Buckeyes, through wins and losses, and keep things in proper perspective. Go Bucks.



Nutinpa's picture

I agree with you, Larry.  Maybe it is my 40 + years of Buckeye fandom that has taught me to temper my expectations.  Hey, we lost to a good, under-rated team on Saturday night.  We also saw the weaknesses of this team finally come to roost.  A poor pass Defense; a highlight reel offense that had a tendency to be shut down for periods of time; an amazing QB who still has to learn to beat teams with his arm, not just his legs; a WR corps that met its doom vs. a first class secondary.  It all added up.  Am I disappointed? Of course.  Saturday night sucked. 
This team could have folded like a cheap suit when they were down 17-0.  They came back and showed a lot of heart.  I really thought when we took the lead 24-17, it was over and a possible rout was on.  So much for that.  This has been a great run....let the haters hate.
Go Bucks!

Chestnut Ridge Buckeye's picture

Thanks to both Larry and Nutinpa for these posts. 
As I saw Dantonio develop his team over the course of the season, I felt both anticipation, and honestly a bit of dread as it appeared more likely that we would face them in the championship game. I felt that their strengths matched up favorably (for them) with our weaknesses and that we would need our absolute best game to beat them. 
Unfortunately, we only got that for about 20 minutes, but our Buckeyes still made a thrilling battle out of it during that time. Congratulations to the Spartans. We nonetheless have ample reason to be proud. I think MSU's current ranking more closely matches where they should have been for the latter half of the season. I don't envy Stanford. 
It has been frustrating during some past seasons to watch the Bucks be outmatched by clearly superior efforts from good teams, but this team gave it their all, and more than earned our continued praise and support. 
GO BUCKS!! BEAT CLEMSON!!             

SoDakBuckeyeFan's picture

Agree completely with the hun. Hope Hyde has a tremendous career at the next level. He deserves it. 


IBleedSandG's picture

Hopefully these two cats inject some playmaking ability into the WR corp next year.


Barnsey69's picture

It was just Sparty's year, and we made enough mistakes to give them the win. I do love this team, even the defense, but it just wasn't good enough to win it all. My sincere hope is that they can regroup and bring home a win in the Orange Bowl. We are lucky to have Urban Meyer, and he will build upon this great start to bring Buckeye Nation future titles.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

bobby_gunz's picture

Why did he write "the window may be closing"?  Isn't it just getting ready to swing wide open?

Zaphod Beeblebrox's picture

Yeah to say that the Buckeyes window may be closing is just absurd.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Next season, the window might get tighter or it might actually get a bit wider. That probably depends on several factors - Braxton's status, how the inexperienced OL comes along, the progression of the young LBs and DBs, etc. 
Obviously, if the defense improves overall, the Buckeyes won't need a record-breaking offense next season to be a major player. Besides, if Brax comes back and is able to become a top-level passer while the receiving corps becomes more dynamic, the offense might not have much drop off despite not being as dominant in the trenches.
No matter what, I am confident that the depth of talent will continue to rise going forward.

Zaphod Beeblebrox's picture

I hope Miller returns for his sr. season. Not sure he's NFL quarterback material right now.

TilstheHun3's picture

In regards to the window closing, I think there may be some differences in opinion within Buckeye Nation concerning next years team being as good as this years and being a real title contender... I think some people viewed this year as our best shot rather than next year. I'm still unsure. For a while I thought this year was our chance to win it and next year might be slightly down (due to having to replace our O Line which is no easy task, even with the best O Line coach in the country) but I'm slowly becoming more optimistic due to the stellar talent we have brought it, though largely unproven at this point.

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?

Buckinthemiddle's picture

I believe he said that because they are losing 4 starting OL, arguably the best RB in college football, arguably the best LB in college football, and a playmaker in Roby. There are others, but I can't think of all of them right now.
They've recruited well, and have a wealth of talent at almost every position. However, to get everyone on the same page, and find your monster players to fill those rolls in 1 year is extremely difficult to accomplish.
That being said, if there's one guy I trust to put together a better product than we have right now it's Urban Meyer. 

"I'm in favor of it" - John McKay, on the execution of his team.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Probably meant "the window may be closing" for this group of players -- Braxton in particular.   
I'm disappointed with the loss, of course, but couldn't be more proud of my Buckeye heritage and this year's team. They showed massive heart in coming back from 17 down against Sparty. It seems like the last half of the season was played with a huge cloud over everything -- "Will we make it 25-0? Can we do enough to not get jumped by (insert SEC team here)? When will the D play like the Silver Bullets we're accustomed to seeing? Etc., etc., etc." There seemed to be a lot of pressure on everyone (even we fans! How many of us really couldn't enjoy the run because of fear it was all going to end, and end disastrously?).
I'm confident that we'll only get better. I don't believe UFM will keep any "dead wood" around when it comes to assistants. I also believe he's such a competitor, he'll be doing a lot of self examination as well.
Let's start a new streak beginning in Miami!

Zaphod Beeblebrox's picture

Your avatar is Stevie Ray Vaughan right? If so great avatar, I was lucky enough to see him live back in '88.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

I am so jealous, Zaphod! Have you seen the DVD of him at Montreaux in Switzerland? Amazing! What a great talent lost way too young!

Deadly Nuts's picture

This was the first Football/Basketball loss I've encountered as a member of 11W (Joined a few days after the loss to Wichita State).


Matt M.'s picture

I had a long comment typed up for this, but instead I think I'll just say:
I'm sorry, Carlos Hyde. I'm so... so... sorry, man. I'm sorry because I believe you wanted this win more than anyone. I'm sorry because I saw more heartbreak resting on your shoulders than anyone else when it was all said and done. I'm sorry that Urban's infatuation with Braxton cost you an opportunity for boosting your draft stock in the national title game. Most of all I'm sorry that we're losing the real heart and soul of this team after this year.
Good luck, BEAST! I know you'll do us proud.

dwcbuckeye's picture

You said:
"Everything was set in place for Ohio State to win its first national title in more than a decade this season and the window could be closing"
Respectfully and totally disagree here.  The window is just now opening.  This is the beginning of a run not the end.

Haybucks's picture

1998 - losing to MSU which sends FSU to the 1st BCS title game against an SEC team.
2013 - losing to MSU which sends an SEC team to the last BCS title game against FSU.
Sometimes you have to hate the way life kicks you in the nads.

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


buckeyepastor's picture

Those previous heartbreaks were different for me.  Partly because I'm older now and don't "live and die" with everything that happens on the field as much.   The other night was also different from 1998, and 1995, and 1996, and 1993, and NC 2007, because in those other contests what I saw on the field was an OSU team I didn't recognize.  It was like a "Twilight Zone" episode with MSU in 1998, and with the Michigan losses, and with the Florida game.  Those losses were harder because it didn't feel like OSU ever even showed up.   It was like they never really got an opportunity, and the history it created was like some horrible farce.  Last weekend, we went out and looked, more often than not, how we have most of the season, and it wasn't enough.   And that's okay.  I can easily live with being bested by a better team, more so than the disappearing act in the second half of 1998, or the uptight mess that took the field in 1993, 1995, and 1996, or certainly the dazed and confused crew that got pummeled by Florida.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Seattle Linga's picture

Agreed Pastor - was expecting a different outcome on Saturday night but we also have to remember that UFM has only recruited the two youngest classes on the field - let's give him another couple of years to get his kids in there, this team will be amazing!

okiebuck's picture

Totally disagree with "and the window could be closing" comment. We have one of the top two coaches in college football who is getting some of the best talent in the country to come to C-Bus. In other words, he is reloading which is what we do at TOSU! This train has barely left the station and it will bust through that window in due course; maybe in year one of the playoff system. 

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

Deadly Nuts's picture

ttun's window is locked shut with an airtight seal.


ScarletNGrey01's picture

Disappointing yes, but the future looks bright and we really have (including me) ridiculous expectations for our team that should be examined under the harsh light of reality.  Every elite team except one lost at least one game this season.  It's been a great two seasons, one loss against an excellent team.  The sun rose the next day and the bowl game against Clemson will be a good challenge and bounce-back opportunity. 

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

tennesseebuckeye11's picture

We are pretty much spoiled as Buckeye fans, losses are hard to take cause we just don't do it that much.  We have just owned TTUN, and we always go to a BCS bowl.  There may not be another fan base in the country that has had it as good as Buckeye Nation.  Living here in Volunteer country, they just can't hardly fathom the thought of being upset at 24-1, their just hoping to get to six wins next year so they can go to the Music City Bowl.  That being said the losses we have experienced are hard to swallow, because rarely did they happen to teams that were just better than us, they usually seemed to happen because of some uncharacteristic miscue from coaches or players.  So the agonizing "If only they had..." or "Why didn't they just..." is ever burned in your memories of those heartbreaking losses.  Take heart Buckeye Nation these moments are few and far between.  If your are still having trouble getting over the loss ask a fan of TTUN how to handle loosing they have several years worth of experience to pull from.