Miami was not where Buckeye fans or players wanted to go.
After two flawless seasons, Buckeye Nation had its sights set on the West Coast. A Big Ten Championship title seemed almost guaranteed, and Pasadena, Calif., was calling the names of the Buckeyes for either the Rose Bowl or BCS National Championship Game.
Michigan State didn’t think much of that guarantee.
For 705 days, Ohio State hadn’t seen a loss, and coach Urban Meyer hadn’t known what losing felt like while wearing Scarlet and Grey. However, that changed Dec. 7 after OSU fell to the Spartans in the Big Ten Championship, 34-24.
Senior safety Christian Bryant couldn’t finish watching the game and walked off the field before it ended, junior linebacker Ryan Shazier left the game with his head in his hands and redshirt-junior cornerback Bradley Roby took the loss arm-in-arm with special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs. The stadium was quickly depleted of scarlet-clad fans as a Buckeyes loss sunk in.
The Buckeyes’ aim for a national championship might have been a bit preemptive.
So while a ticket to Sun Life Stadium and a visit to sunny Miami would be a welcome end to a season for many teams, for the Buckeyes, it wasn’t what they had wanted.
“It’s going to haunt all of us, I imagine, for a little while,” Meyer said after the Big Ten Championship.
After returning to the field from a three-game suspension early in the season because of an incident at a Columbus bar in July, senior running back Carlos Hyde became an intrinsic piece of the team. Hyde ran more than 100 yards in eight of the 10 games he played and became Meyer’s first running back to gain 1,000 yards in a single season on the ground.
Stacking up 118 yards against Michigan State still didn’t get the job done, though.
“We hurt right now,” Hyde said after the Big Ten Championship game. “Like you said, we haven’t lost in almost two years, and we’re going to let this one sink in, move on, get ready for whatever bowl game we go play in and get ready for that team.”
A bit of hurt pride was mixed into the emotions of loss for the team.
“Things happen in the games and (when) they really don’t go your way, you got to come back and fix the mistakes,” junior quarterback Braxton Miller said after the loss to the Spartans.
Despite the loss, Meyer isn’t disappointed in his team.
“If you got any Shaziers or Millers, send them to me. I love you guys,” he said, followed by fist pumping both the players while on the podium after the Big Ten Championship game.
“It’s really big for us right now because it’s a championship series bowl game. It’s a real big bowl game. We’re going to come in here and try to do what we can do for the Big Ten and for Ohio State and try to get this ‘W,’” Shazier said after arriving in Miami Sunday. “We’re not thinking about what happened in the past, we’re just focusing on Clemson right now and trying to get this ‘W.’”
With current rankings, OSU has taken down only one Top 25 ranked team: Wisconsin, which is ranked at No. 19 in the most recent BCS standings.
With a blemished ego, Clemson is expecting a Buckeye team in need of redemption.
Kickoff between the No. 7 Buckeyes (12-1, 8-1) and the No. 12 Clemson Tigers is set for 8:30 p.m. Jan. 3, 2014 at Sun Life Stadium.