Michigan Quotebook: Ohio State Seniors Reflect on Final Win Over Wolverines, Then Shift Focus to “Championship Season”

By Dan Hope on November 26, 2017 at 8:55 am
Tyquan Lewis

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Ohio State’s seniors have officially completed their careers in The Game without ever losing to their biggest rival.

As the Buckeyes defeated Michigan, 31-20, to win their sixth straight game against their rivals on Saturday, Ohio State’s seniors who have been on the team since they were freshmen can now consider themselves to be the proud owners of at least four pairs of Gold Pants – with some, like starting linebacker Chris Worley and starting center Billy Price, now possessing five pairs of Gold Pants as fifth-year seniors.

While those seniors had already secured that they would finish their Ohio State careers with winning records against Michigan, none of them were satisfied to rest on their past accomplishments.

Speaking to the media after Saturday’s game at Michigan Stadium, Worley said his teams’ past success against the Wolverines only motivated him more to win again and maintain that perfect record.

“In my mind, I wasn’t losing. I know these seniors, we wasn’t losing,” Worley said. “There’s been some great Buckeye legends that hasn’t won one, and to just think that we went, our group went 4-0 or 5-0 against those guys, and most of the times it was a war. Just to think, we came out the other side of those with wins, I’m happy.”

Ohio State defensive end Tyquan Lewis, also a senior, shared that motivation and said Saturday’s win felt even more special than the other rivalry game wins he had been a part of.

“Most definitely, because it was my last one,” Lewis said. “And never lost against The Team Up North, and it feels great to say that.”

As is usually the case in The Game, Ohio State had to scratch and claw its way to Saturday’s win. The Buckeyes trailed for more than 15 minutes in the first half, went into halftime tied and briefly trailed again in the third quarter before finally taking control of the game late in the third and in the fourth quarter, scoring the game’s final 17 points.

Price said Saturday’s win wasn’t the toughest win the Buckeyes had to earn against Michigan in his career, pointing to the 2016 game that required two overtimes for Ohio State to get past the Wolverines in Ohio Stadium. He also said, though, that Michigan always gave the Buckeyes a tough game – despite its complete lack of wins since Urban Meyer became the Buckeyes’ coach – in his career of playing in The Game.

“I’d say last year’s was a lot harder to come by. I guess I can go all in on making that statement, but this one is a tough and nitty gritty game,” Price said. “You go into a game like this and you go all out. And that’s what makes it fun about the rivalry and The Game against The Team Up North, anything can happen and these guys are always gritty and tough.”

As meaningful as it was, however, for those seniors to get one more win against Michigan, they also said they had to quickly shift their focus to their next opponent, as the Buckeyes are set to play Wisconsin – the only remaining undefeated team in a Power 5 conference – in the Big Ten Championship Game next Saturday.

Playing in the conference title game means the Buckeyes must continue to raise the bar in terms of how they prepare for their next game, Lewis said.

“The main goal was to beat The Team Up North today, but now the focus is moving on to the Big Ten Championship. It’s championship season, so the preparation has to be a little more crisp and everybody has to contribute a little more. It’s always great to play for a championship.”

While the Buckeyes surely celebrated their win over Michigan on Saturday, Worley doesn’t expect his team to have any trouble moving on from that win starting Sunday and setting its sights on earning another big victory.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Worley said of the opportunity to play in the Big Ten Championship Game. “We came and took care of job assignment No. 1, and that was beat The Team Up North. We came out with the win, so now, it’s time to win on our next assignment. We’ll get back to work tomorrow and focus in on that and then, as the week goes by, continue to work at it.”

Next weekend’s game represents an opportunity for the Buckeyes to not only play for a conference championship, but also potentially earn a spot in the College Football Playoff (though those hopes took a hit when Auburn beat Alabama on Saturday). Price implied after Saturday’s game that paying attention to who else is winning or losing in college football, with an eye on assessing their own playoff chances, had the potential to be a distraction for the Buckeyes this week. But he felt the Buckeyes did a good job of staying locked in on what they needed to do despite those distractions, and he expects them to do the same in preparation for the Badgers.

“We had a good preparation, good work week,” Price said of the week leading up to playing Michigan. “A lot of distractions obviously with rivalry weekend, everything going around the country but again, guys stay focused, guys are disciplined to it, understood they had to get a job done.”

Next Saturday’s Big Ten Championship Game is set for an 8 p.m. kickoff and will be televised on Fox.

View 37 Comments