OSU ready for the rivalry game
COLUMBUS – Eighteen Ohio State senior football players went through Senior Day ceremonies and experienced their final home game when OSU beat Indiana 42-14 on Saturday.
But how they will be remembered and the legacy and reputation of the 2013 Buckeyes is still incomplete. The final regular-season game of the season, at Michigan on Saturday, the Big Ten championship game a week later and the bowl game will write the final chapters of that story.
No. 3 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) will go into Saturday’s game focused on adding another win to its school-record 23-game winning streak. If the Buckeyes do that, win the Big Ten title game, and either Alabama or Florida State loses, they could reach the BCS national championship game.
Michigan (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten) has taken one step forward and one step backward much of the season.
The Wolverines have not won back-to-back games since beating Connecticut on Sept. 21 and Minnesota on Oct. 5.
Maybe the biggest reason for their inconsistency has been the lack of production in its running game, caused largely by offensive line problems.
Michigan’s defense has been solid, ranking No. 26 nationally in total defense. But its running game is 11th in the Big Ten, ahead of only Purdue, and it ranks 123 out of 123 FBS schools in tackles for losses allowed.
Fitzgerald Toussaint leads Michigan in rushing with 613 yards. But since gaining 151 yards against Indiana, in his last three games he has gained six yards, did not play and gained 12 yards.
Quarterback Devin Gardner (2,509 yards passing, 473 yards rushing) has been forced to be the Wolverines’ main running threat, along with leading the passing game.
Even though Michigan has been struggling, Ohio State’s players say this game will have their full attention.
“I don’t think we would ever have a hard time getting up for that team up north,” OSU defensive lineman Michael Bennett said.
“There’s no chance of us overlooking a team from here on out. You’ve got that team up north, the Big Ten championship and whatever comes after that. Every week from here on out is a bowl week.”
After the win over Indiana, coach Urban Meyer said, “When we focus, this is a very good team. A very, very good team. Obviously, this week focus won’t be an issue.”
TWO-WAY STREET: Carlos Hyde thanked his offensive line after crossing the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season on Saturday and offensive tackle Jack Mewhort said the line enjoyed Hyde’s achievement in a big way also.
“It’s really cool because as an offensive lineman you don’t really show up on the stat sheet. What Carlos does is kind of a reflection on us as offensive lineman,” Mewhort said.
“When you’re an offensive lineman, you kind of live vicariously through the skill guys on offense. It feels good for him but it feels good for us as offensive linemen to see the fruits of our labor.”
ROBY ON SENIOR DAY: Cornerback Bradley Roby has probably not had the season he expected this year after coming back to Ohio State instead of entering the NFL draft. But in his final game at Ohio Stadium on Saturday he had 10 tackles, three pass break-ups and a blocked punt.
This time, Roby definitely is heading to the NFL even though he still has a year of eligibility after redshirting as a freshman.
“When I came back this year that was the first thing I said, that this would be my last year,” Roby said. “What we accomplished this year and what I accomplished in my career, I really don’t feel like there’s a reason for me to come back. I’ve proved myself on the field. It (the NFL) is just the next step.”
FIVE-YEAR WAIT: Hyde’s 1,000-yard rushing season is the first by an Ohio State running back since Chris Wells did it in 2008.