Saturday, November 23, 2013
OSU has reason to celebrate, work to do
By Austin Ward
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The conversation about polls and rankings might be getting annoying.
The wait for some help might be getting tedious as it stays frozen out of a potential spot in the national championship game.
The apparent need to defend the longest winning streak in school history and the perceived weakness of its conference could be wearing out Ohio State during the week.
But the No. 3 Buckeyes clearly aren’t getting tired of winning on Saturdays, and they treated a 42-14 win over Indiana at snowy Ohio Stadium just like they had each of the 22 games that had come before it.
They will keep facing questions about how impressive their résumé is and where they rank among the top contenders. They'll hear plenty about the need for style points. But as long as they don’t lose, the Buckeyes don’t seem to care about how the job gets done on the weekend.
“I mean, I think if you win a game and you’re on a streak like us, why wouldn’t you celebrate?” senior left tackle Jack Mewhort said. “We’re on the longest win streak in Ohio State history, and we’re going to have some fun when we do stuff like that.”
Braxton Miller has rushed for 328 yards and three TDs in the past two games.
The Buckeyes again were all smiles after yet another victory, and they clearly were enjoying themselves as they steamrolled on the way to it against the overmatched Hoosiers.
Braxton Miller capped a pair of athletic runs with acrobatic dives into the end zone, one seemingly for show as he executed a front flip by choice after breezing 37 yards through the Indiana defense and another out of necessity as he leaped over a defender at the goal line and toppled in for his second rushing touchdown.
With the outcome well in hand in the second half, the coaching staff erupted off the sideline after a fourth-down stop in the red zone kept a shutout intact for the moment, with defensive line coach Mike Vrabel running all the way down to the 15-yard line to join in the party.
When it was all over, the record broken, a berth in the Big Ten title game assured, another perfect regular season one game closer to becoming a reality, Urban Meyer had a couple of quick seconds by himself on the way to the south end zone to join his team in a postgame sing-along with the band. And if the Buckeyes coach is getting tired of all the winning, he hid it well as he repeatedly pumped his fist on the quick jog over from midfield.
“I know one thing, and that’s this team is playing at a very, very high level,” Meyer said. “They’re focused each week, and that’s our job to maintain that focus each week.
“On a national level, we have enough to work on, so this week you’re going to hear some very generic answers about everything. I’m not being a jerk to you guys, but our focus is on beating that rival team and that’s it.”
The Buckeyes have had plenty of distractions tugging at them lately, which won’t change ahead of The Game at Michigan, but the risk of losing their focus has gone up with every successive win as the scrutiny and pressure continue to ramp up around the program.
The division wasn’t clinched yet heading into the final home game of the season. The seniors had the emotions of their last trip through the tunnel to deal with. The BCS lead over Baylor was trimmed to a razor-thin margin last week, adding another element to a conversation about how the Buckeyes fit in the title picture behind Alabama and Florida State.
But none of those things did anything to slow down Ohio State as it raced to a 42-point lead and coasted to the finish line, and they certainly haven’t put a damper on the enthusiasm after a game goes final.
“No, no,” Meyer said when asked if the winning was getting old. “There’s Victory Meal tomorrow night.
“It’s the 23rd Victory Meal in a row.”
The food still tastes plenty sweet for the Buckeyes, regardless of what anybody else thinks about the dinner spread.