Ohio State’s goals for the 2017 season haven’t changed despite the Buckeyes’ 31-16 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday night.
The Buckeyes still control their own destiny in the Big Ten, and could still make the College Football Playoff if they win the remainder of their regular-season games.
That’s exactly what the Buckeyes did in 2014, when they lost their second game of the year to a non-conference opponent at home – in that case, Virginia Tech – then ran the table the rest of the way and won the national championship.
While Ohio State coach Urban Meyer says his focus is on preparing for the Buckeyes’ next game against Army next weekend, he believes his team is capable of stringing together another run of victories – knowing it’s possible from experience.
"We got to go beat Army is what we got to do, and get on a roll," Meyer said in his postgame press conference. "That's what we got to do. You've seen a roll around here a few times. So that's what has to happen."
Because the Buckeyes play another game in less than a week, Meyer says he and his team can’t waste any time wallowing in disappointment over the loss. They’ll begin preparing to play Army – an opponent that requires unique preparation because of its triple-option offense – on Sunday.
"We're going to do what we do and that's go back to work as hard as we possibly can," Meyer said. "I’ve got a team to go coach. And we'll be hard at work tomorrow. We lost a game. We lost a game to a good team. Didn't play very well. Go back to work tomorrow and get better."
With 10 games remaining on the regular-season schedule and anywhere from one to three postseason games potentially after that, Meyer reiterated multiple times near the end of his postgame press conference that the Buckeyes have a "long season" ahead. And he believes his team will ultimately grow from its struggles on Saturday as well as its first-half struggles in its 49-21 season-opening win at Indiana.
"We were challenged first half against Indiana, didn't play very well and played very well in the second half," Meyer said. "This game we didn't play very well. So we'll go back at it and it's a long, long season."
Senior linebacker Chris Worley, who was part of the 2014 national championship team, said the Buckeyes need to accept the loss as part of their journey and grow from it.
"Throughout my time here and the things I’ve been through in life, I appreciate the journey, the ups and downs, adversity," Worley said. "As much as it hurts, I know it’s going to get us better, somehow and some way.
"It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon," Worley added. "This is Week 2. We’ve seen this before, I’ve seen this before here. Where early on in the season … you may stumble. No one ever wants to lose, but it’s a good test early on to see where we’re at.
"There’s only two things we can do from here. Crumble up, or step up and man up and go get better."
One of the biggest reasons why Ohio State lost was the performance of Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who completed 27 of 35 passing attempts for 386 yards and three touchdowns.
Both Meyer and Worley praised Mayfield for his performance and the way he competed in Ohio Stadium on Saturday night.
"He's a good player, really good player," Meyer said. "I love his competitiveness and energy. We had him wrapped up, I want to say, eight times and he came out of that thing. So a very good player."
"We knew coming into the game what type of player he was," Worley said. "With all his great scrambling ability, he’s not a guy that’s looking to really run the ball, he’s looking to make plays for his teammates. And he’s one of the best competitors to ever play against."
Mayfield, who made headlines for more than just his play by planting an Oklahoma flag on the middle of the Ohio Stadium field after the game, felt his team dominated the game on both sides of the ball but could have done even better.
"We should have won by a lot more," Mayfield said. "We knew that if we kind of turned them into one-dimensional that we could let our pass-rushers go and let our DBs make plays, and they did."
Mayfield did give praise to Ohio State’s defensive line, but credited his offensive line with enabling him to have the performance he did.
"They played great," Mayfield said of his offensive line. "Ohio State’s got some freaks up front, and our guys played well. They rose up to the challenge, and we played well. They executed, and I’m very proud of those guys."
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley gave praise to Ohio State’s crowd of 109,088 fans and the environment they created, making him proud of his team for being able to win as the visitor in that environment.
"Ohio State, their fan base is to be applauded," Riley said. "It was a great atmosphere, great college football setting. So to be able to come in here and win is very special."