With the NCAA postseason ban lifted, Ohio State's 2013 team played with more on the line than pride. The Buckeyes also headed into the season with the nation's longest winning streak at 12 games.
Although the team lost 10 starters, many slated it to compete for a national title. Pundits looked at the nine returning starters on offense and the potent running of Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller. What they saw was a ground churning, scoring machine. However, Urban Meyer suspended Hyde for the first three games due to an incident during the offseason.
The question mark came on the defensive side of the ball, where the Buckeyes needed to replace eight of those 10 lost starters.
The defensive line took the biggest hit — Garrett Goebel, Johnathan Hankins, John Simon and Nathan Williams all exited the program. That left Adolphus Washington, Noah Spence, Michael Bennett, Joel Hale, Steve Miller and a freshman named Joey Bosa to take the stage.
|The 2013 Buckeyes|
|B1G Record||8–0, 1st|
|Coach||Urban Meyer (2nd year, 24–2)|
C.J. Barnett, Corey Brown,
Christian Bryant, Kenny Guiton,
Corey Linsley, Jack Mewhort
Games of Note
September 28th • #23 Wisconsin • Ohio Stadium
“Our leader is in an ambulance going to the hospital to have surgery on his leg,” Meyer said near the end of his press conference. His team had just defeated No. 23 Wisconsin 31-24 but dealt with the loss of Christian Bryant.
Ohio State's star safety broke his ankle with only 26 seconds remaining in the game as he made a tackle to help preserve the victory. The injury ended his season and removed his presence from the back end of the defense, a critical absence in the final two games of the season.
In a game in which No. 4 Ohio State never trailed and led by double digits for the majority of the second half, the Buckeyes did not feel safe with the victory until the final seconds ticked off the clock. Wisconsin's Kyle French kicked 42-yard field goal to make the score 31-24 with 2:05 left.
The Badgers forced a three-and-out and Ohio State had to punt from its own 38. Cameron Johnston came through, booming a punt 55 yards to the Badgers' 7. The dangerous Jared Abbrederis caught it at his own seven before Ohio State's coverage team tackled him at the 10.
After Ryan Shazier forced a fumble the Badgers recovered, Wisconsin faced 3rd-and-17 from its own 3-yard line. Joel Stave connected with James White for a gain of 13 on the play the Bryant fractured his ankle. On 4th-and-4, Stave threw incomplete to Jeff Duckworth and Ohio State ran off the final 20 seconds for the win.
LeBron James met with the team before the game and walked with it to the skull session. The Ohio native then soaked in the atmosphere of the 91-year old stadium for a night game. The players took notice of James' presence and the rowdiness that comes from playing under the night sky.
“Words can’t even explain what playing in The Shoe at night is all about,” linebacker Curtis Grant said. “The fans are crazy, that’s the main thing. And they give us a lot of energy. We call it ‘the juice,’ and that feeds through everybody. And at the end of the day, it helps us play.”
Bradley Roby identified another reason for the amped up crowd.
“I love night games; it’s electrifying,” Roby said. “It’s not a noon game. Everybody is there, people have all day to get drunk and stuff like that.”
|AUG. 31||BUFFALO||W, 40–20|
|SEP. 7||SAN DIEGO ST.||W, 42–7|
|SEP. 14||CALIFORNIA||W, 52–34|
|SEP. 21||FLORIDA A&M||W, 76–0|
|SEP. 28||NO. 23 WISCONSIN||W, 31–24|
|OCT. 5||NO. 15 N'WESTERN||W, 40–30|
|OCT. 19||IOWA||W, 34–24|
|OCT. 26||PENN STATE||W, 63–14|
|NOV. 2||PURDUE||W, 56–0|
|NOV. 16||ILLINOIS||W, 60-35|
|NOV. 23||INDIANA||W, 42-14|
|NOV. 30||MICHIGAN||W, 42–41|
|DEC. 7||NO. 10 MICH. ST.||L, 24–34|
|JAN. 3||CLEMSON||L, 35–40|
October 5th • #15 Northwestern • Ryan Field
It was nearly nine years to the day Ohio State lost to Northwestern at Ryan Field in a night game. The Wildcats' 2004 victory snapped Ohio State's 24-game winning streak in the series.
This matchup appeared to be going in favor of the home team as well. Northwestern led 23-13 with 10:40 left in the third following Jeff Budzien's third field goal. At that point, the Buckeyes' only touchdown came when Roby blocked and recovered a punt in the end zone late in the first quarter. Miller had a down game as he fumbled twice, threw an interception and did not score a touchdown.
Hyde went off in the second half and rushed for 112 of his 168 yards in the final two periods on the wet turf. With his team trailing 30-27, Hyde scored his third touchdown with 5:22 remaining to put the Buckeyes ahead.
Following the kickoff, the Wildcats drove to the Ohio State 34-yard line, where they faced a 4th-and-1 with 2:43 remaining. Pat Fitzgerald called for Kain Colter to run the ball, but he was stopped for no gain by Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry.
Hyde and the Buckeyes picked up a first down, but could not run out the clock. After five plays Johnston punted the ball out of bounds at the Northwestern 16-yard line with 21 seconds left.
On first down, Bosa sacked Trevor Siemian for a nine-yard loss. Following an incomplete pass on second down, Cain came back in the game and completed a short pass to Tony Jones. Jones then lateraled to Venrick Mark who fumbled and Bosa jumped on the ball up in the end zone as time expired.
Bosa's touchdown gave Ohio State a 10-point victory that covered the Vegas point spread. The Buckeyes improved to 29–1 over the last 30 games against Northwestern.
October 26th • Penn State • Ohio Stadium
"It's the worst game I've experienced," Penn State outside linebacker Mike Hull said following No. 3 Ohio State's 63-14 annihilation of his team.
The victory was the same margin Penn State dropped on the Buckeyes back in 1994. The 63 points were the most a Nittany Lion team had allowed since losing to Duquesne Athletic Club 64-5 in 1899.
Ohio State outgained PSU 414-158 and took a commanding 42-7 lead into halftime. In the final 30 minutes, Meyer's team scored three more touchdowns in Bill O'Brien's last game against the Buckeyes.
During the first half Ohio State recognized the 1968 championship team and the alumni had to be pleased with the display of dominance by the young charges. Meyer liked what he witnessed on the field as well.
"I like where we're at right now as a team," Meyer said. "The most impressive part of the game to me was we caused turnovers and we hit the quarterback a little bit. We haven't been doing that."
The Buckeyes' defense forced Christian Hackenberg to throw two interceptions and he only finished with 125 yards passing. On the other side of the ball, Miller threw for 252 yards, three touchdowns and ran for 68 yards and two scores. Hyde rushed for a game-high 147 yards and two touchdowns.
Ohio State won its 20th straight game and Meyer became the only coach in major college football history to have three 20-game winning streaks in his career.
November 30th • Michigan • Michigan Stadium
The 110th version of The Game was a classic. In a high-scoring affair, the rivals slugged it out on the field. Dontre Wilson and a slew of Wolverines actually did slug it out after Wilson returned a kickoff in the second quarter. When officials blew the play dead, at least four Michigan players surrounded the speedy returner and started shoving him. Wilson pushed back and a tussle broke out.
When the dust settled, Wilson and Marcus Hall were ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct. The only Wolverine the officials tossed was backup linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone. The Buckeyes lost out on the quality of players getting ejected, but Hall took the most of his opportunity and let the Michigan fans know what he thought about them as he exited the field.
|SAN DIEGO ST.||W4||4–0|
Heading into the fourth quarter, Ohio State broke a halftime tie and led 35-21. The Wolverines put on a valiant comeback and recorded three touchdowns in the last 11:15. The third score came with only 32 seconds left when Devin Funchess caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Devin Gardner. The score made it 42-41 and Brady Hoke had a decision to make.
Michigan's coach called a timeout and discussed the situation with his team. The players told Hoke that they wanted to go for two so that's what they did.
Ohio State's defensive players watched a lot of Wolverine film to get ready for the battle. One of the plays that stood out to safety Tyvis Powell was a play that Michigan ran for a two-point conversion earlier in the season. On the game-deciding play, the Wolverines' offense came out in the same formation.
When the ball was snapped, Powell knew where Gardner intended to throw it and jumped the route. The film homework paid off as the pass came right to him. The Buckeyes averted the potential disaster, but still had a little work to do.
Matt Wile attempted the onside kick to give Michigan a chance to win the game. The ball was struck well, but Roby recovered it and Ohio State was victorious in its school-record 24th straight game.
This marked the first time in the history of the series that both teams scored at least 41 points in the same game.
The Buckeyes' offensive leaders were Miller and Hyde. Miller threw for 133 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 153 yards and three touchdowns. Hyde bullied the Wolverines for 226 yards and Ohio State's last touchdown with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter.
Devin Gardner played the game with broken foot and finished with 451 passing yards and four touchdowns as he completed 32-of-45 pass attempts. Jeremy Gallon had a game-high 175 receiving yards including an 84-yard catch that setup Michigan's first touchdown.
Meyer was now 2–0 against the Wolverines and the Buckeyes had won nine of the last 10 against their rival.
December 7th • Michigan State • Lucas Oil Stadium
The Buckeyes had the BCS title game and its 24-game winning streak on the line when they lined up across No. 10 Michigan State in Indianapolis. A victory would pit Ohio State against Florida State in the title game.
The Big Ten Championship game according to The Chicago Tribune:
Braxton Miller rushed for 142 yards, threw for 101 and accounted for all three touchdowns for Ohio State (12-1), which lost its first game in the two-year tenure of coach Urban Meyer while likely seeing its national championship hopes dashed. Carlos Hyde added 118 yards on the ground for the Buckeyes.
Cook staked Michigan State to a 17-0 advantage with a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes of 72 yards to Mumphery and 33 to Lippett, before Miller led Ohio State to 24 straight points over the second and third quarters. Miller found Philly Brown over the middle for a 20-yard second-quarter score and Drew Basil added a 28-yard field goal to cut the deficit to seven as time expired in the first half.
Miller capped the offensive surge with a pair of third-quarter rushing scores, but Cook put the Spartans back in front with a 9-yard TD toss to Price in the final stanza. Ohio State had one last chance to take control following a partially-blocked punt that gave it the ball near midfield, but Miller was stopped on a fourth-down run and Langford burst up the middle with a 26-yard scoring run six plays later to end it.
Many questioned why Hyde wasn't given the ball on the vital 4th-and-1. The powerful back had not been stopped for a loss the entire night and seemed to have a solid chance at picking up the first down. Instead, Michigan State stopped Miller and Meyer was destined to eat cold Papa John's pizza after his first loss as Ohio State's head coach.
January 3rd • Clemson • Orange Bowl
Dalbo Sweeney and the Clemson Tigers were Ohio State's consolation prize for losing to the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship Game. The last time Ohio State played Clemson was in the 1978 Gator Bowl when Woody Hayes roughed up Charlie Bauman. Just over 25 years later, Buckeye fans were hoping for a different outcome.
Details of the 2014 Orange Bowl from the 2015 Ohio State Team Guide:
No. 12 Clemson narrowly edged No. 7 Ohio State, 40-35, in a wild back-and-forth shootout to win the 2014 Orange Bowl. The Buckeyes totaled 27 first downs and 427 yards, and they had a six-minute edge in time of possession. But they had twice as many turnovers as Clemson.
The Buckeyes rallied from a 20-9 deficit against the high-powered Tigers and scored 20 consecutive points before a flurry of turnovers began when Corey Brown fumbled a punt return to set up a Clemson touchdown. On the next series, Miller threw his first interception, and Clemson had to drive only 38 yards to score and lead 34-29. The Buckeyes regained the lead when Miller led a 75-yard drive and capped it with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Carlos Hyde.
After Clemson mounted a 75-yard touchdown drive and took the lead for good with 6 minutes left, Ohio State had two chances to rally. Miller fumbled when sacked on its first possession, but the Buckeyes got the ball back on an interception by C.J. Barnett. But on second down, Miller threw his second INT with under a minute
The Buckeyes replaced their 24-game winning streak with a two-game losing streak. The 2013 season did not end the way Meyer, the team or the fans ever envisioned.
- Braxton Miller threw a pick-six to Buffalo's Khalil Mack, but the Buckeyes prevailed 40-20 in the season opener.
- Against San Diego State, Miller left in the first quarter with a knee injury. Kenny Guiton stepped in and guided Ohio State to a 42-7 victory.
- Guiton started against California in Memorial Stadium and threw for 276 yards and four touchdowns in the 52-34 win.
- Ohio State covered the 57-point spread and defeated Florida A&M 76-0. Kenny Guiton set a school-record with six passing touchdowns, all in the first half.
- With LeBron James was on the sidelines, Braxton Miller returned and Christian Bryant broke his ankle in the 31-24 win over No. 23 Wisconsin.
- Carlos Hyde and No. 3 Ohio State rallied from a 10-point second half deficit to defeat Northwestern 40-30 on a wet field in Evanston.
- The Buckeyes came from behind to defeat Iowa and Hyde made a spectacular diving touchdown run. Miller had 324 yards of total offense.
- No. 4 Ohio State made a statement to the voters in a 63-14 throttling of Penn State.
- Doran Grant intercepted Purdue's first pass of the game and returned it for a touchdown as the Buckeyes blanked the Boilermakers 56-0.
- Carlos Hyde ran for 248 yards and 4 touchdowns as No. 3 Ohio State beat the Illini 60-35 in Champaign.
- Ohio State set a school record with its 23rd straight victory as it defeated Indiana 42-14. Ryan Shazier finished with 20 tackles.
- Tyvis Powell intercepted Devin Gardner's two-point conversion pass to give the Buckeyes a 42-41 win over Michigan.
- Braxton Miller could not convert a 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter and Ohio State lost to Michigan State 34-24 in the Big Ten Championship game. This was Urban Meyer's first loss as head coach of the Buckeyes.
- Clemson defeated OSU 40-35 in the Orange Bowl as the Buckeyes dropped their second straight game. Noah Spence was suspended for the game and Braxton Miller injured his throwing shoulder on a run.
- Jack Mewhort and Ryan Shazier were named All-Americans.
- Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby, Carlos Hyde, Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley and Christian Bryant were selected in the NFL Draft.
- Ohio State started the season ranked No. 2, but finished 12th.
The 2013 Buckeyes started the season 12–0 and set a school-record with 24 consecutive wins. The team was in position to play in the BCS Championship, but an upset loss to Michigan State derailed the national title aspirations. Through 12 games, Ohio State's defense only allowed 16.9 points per game. In the two losses to end the season the unit allowed an average of 37.
Urban Meyer knew he had a championship offense as it set school records in rushing yards (4,321) and passing yards (7,167). The same could not be said about the other side of the ball. Changes were on the horizon.