In the span of four seasons, the Ohio State senior class has experienced a 24-game winning streak, a 23-game Big Ten winning streak and a crushing loss in the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game.
While the success the seniors have had is significant, there’s still something missing.
OSU is already set to play in the Big Ten Championship Game on Dec. 6 in Indianapolis, but 24 seniors will be honored this week when the Buckeyes take on Michigan on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
Starting with the Wolverines, coach Urban Meyer said the seniors’ legacy will be decided over the next two weeks.
“This book’s not written yet,” Meyer said Monday. “So I’m pleased with it. But these next couple are going to … be their legacy, our legacy, I should say.”
Senior wide receiver Evan Spencer said finding a way to win against the Wolverines is what makes a Buckeye’s legacy.
“Whatever you do in this game is immortalized forever,” Spencer said Monday. “If you go for three touchdowns or you have however many tackles or you have however many sacks, everybody’s gonna remember this, really, forever. This game is just, it means a lot to us. And it means even more to us seniors.”
As a senior set to play in his fourth Michigan game, Spencer — whose father, Tim, is a former Buckeye running back and assistant coach — said he has negative feelings every time he lays his eyes on the Wolverines.
“I’ve … grown to not like them very much ever since birth,” the younger Spencer said. “So every time I see it, every time I hear that fight song, every time I see those damn helmets, I just, not great feelings come up.”
When the players donning Michigan’s maize and blue uniforms are sitting in Ohio Stadium this weekend — by Spencer or anyone else — they will have a chance to derail OSU’s national championship hopes. At No. 6 in the College Football Playoff Standings, the Buckeyes would likely miss out on the top four come season’s end if they take a second loss.
But even with so much on the line, senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said he’s simply looking forward to a good game in his last time taking the field in Columbus.
“I just hope it’s a good game. It’s my last game in the Horseshoe,” Heuerman said Monday. “Obviously we’re just gonna go out and play as hard as we can, and we’ll see. Hopefully it’ll turn out in our favor.”
While he mentioned the game will be his last at Ohio Stadium, Heuerman said he didn’t “even want to think about that.” He stressed how much the school has meant to him, but added he’s looking forward to the next step.
“I just loved it so much and I just don’t want it to end. I love college, man, I love Ohio State,” he said. “I honestly just don’t want it to end, but it’s been a good ride, and all good things come to an end and move on to the next chapter.”
As the seniors’ time in Columbus winds down, senior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said he’s proud of the leadership his class has provided.
“I think our leadership on this team and in this senior class is very good, at least that’s my personal opinion because I’m part of it,” he said Monday.
But Bennett added there’s still unfinished business, meaning there’s still time for his class to leave its mark on the younger players and the program in general.
“At the same time, nobody here has ever won a Big Ten championship or anything like that,” he said. “So it would be very important as the leaders to rally a lot of these young players that have been contributing.”
Senior cornerback Doran Grant said the class got together and discussed what they needed to do before moving on to the next step in life.
“We just sat back and really talked to each other, a lot of guys in our class, like, ‘We haven’t won anything since we’ve been here,’” Grant said. “We won a couple (division) championships, but we haven’t won a Big Ten title or anything bigger than that. So that’s our main goal is to win the Big Ten championship and, of course, beat the team up north.”
Like many OSU players before him, Grant grouped beating Michigan in with winning championships. And while the Buckeye seniors haven’t picked up a championship of their own, a win on Saturday would give them a career winning record against the Wolverines.
Spencer said he’s glad to be playing his last Michigan game in Columbus instead of Ann Arbor, Mich., and stressed he’ll do anything he must to come away with a win.
“I’m glad I don’t have to go back to Ann Arbor and I don’t plan on ever going back,” Spencer said. “And I’m gonna do whatever I can to beat ‘em up pretty good this week and go out 3-1 against them.”
Kickoff between OSU and Michigan is set for noon.