The No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes were riding high until they ran into a roadblock at Penn State. OSU lost its first game of the season after multiple games that sprung criticism of the offensive play-calling. The defeat prompted OSU coach Urban Meyer to give an alarming opinion on where the team should be at the moment.
“We’re not a great team right now,” Meyer said after the Penn State game. “We gotta come back and keep swinging.”
Since then, OSU has been playing its best football of the season and is in the heart of the College Football Playoff picture. But the turnaround after Penn State wasn’t the easiest thing. Several players vocalized the importance of learning from the humbling experience. However, it’s one thing to say it, and it’s another thing to actually learn from the mistakes and apply those lessons.
For OSU, it is the appreciation of the little things that has made a difference.
“If you don’t appreciate the little things of life, those things go away,” said redshirt junior guard Billy Price. “You just have to appreciate winning around here. Wins in the Big Ten are hard; I mean really, really hard. So you have to appreciate every little thing.”
Price and the rest of the offensive line were responsible for six sacks and 11 tackles for loss against Penn State. The unit gathered itself and returned to give redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett the pocket he needed to make plays in the passing game. Barrett had arguably his two best games of the year against Nebraska and Maryland. Combined, he gained over 600 yards and has been responsible for eight touchdowns the past two weeks.
On the defensive side of the football, redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis said that the Silver Bullets are also buying into the little things since the Penn State game. He said that the unit was already strong, but adversity brought them together. He added that the bond among the players is paramount in November.
“I think we’re only guaranteed like 13 more days together. These seasons, they roll by and people move on,” Lewis said. “You have to value that time and that bond with your brothers because you’ll never get it back.”
The timing of three top-four teams losing and OSU hitting its peak production couldn’t be better. OSU’s offense scored 60 points in back-to-back games for the first time in 20 years. Ranked No. 2 in the College Football Playoff poll, OSU looks to be in a prime spot to make its second final four in three seasons.
Michigan’s loss to Iowa on Saturday makes the path to the Big Ten Championship Game a bit complicated for OSU. If OSU and Penn State both win out, the Nittany Lions will represent the Big Ten East in Indianapolis on Dec. 3 by way of a head-to-head tiebreaker. Despite that, Barrett and redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard voiced their opinions on the team’s CFP fate.
They see it like this: OSU wins out, the Buckeyes are in.
However, the team is focused on Michigan State. Following the Maryland game, Meyer made that apparent.
“November is here and we got a big one coming one week from today,” he said.