Ohio State Note and Quotebook — Michigan Edition
By Tony Gerdeman
Alright, Everybody Be Cool: The Wolverines landed some heavy blows against the Buckeyes in the first half. They opened with a 30-yard run from Denard Robinson. They added a 75-yard touchdown on broken coverage, a 25-yard touchdown drive following a muffed punt, and then got a 67-yard touchdown run from Robinson to close out the half.
Photo by Jim Davidson
It was not a very good half of football for the Buckeyes, but they weren't too worried.
"We knew pretty much the whole time we were playing them, they weren't really do anything that was hurting us," said Orhian Johnson.
"We just wanted to go out there and settle down because of those big plays. We knew that if we could eliminate that, we could pretty much go out there and take over the game."
In the second half the defense did what they knew they could do. They held Robinson, who had rushed for 124 yards on six carries in the first half, to negative two yards on four carries in the second half.
"When we got to the locker room, we put a big emphasis on getting him to the ground because as everybody saw we couldn't tackle him at first," said Adolphus Washington. "But when we got to the locker room, everybody just grinded down and we made sure we got him to the ground."
They repeatedly stymied Michigan's attempts at power football. The Wolverines, on the other hand, weren't so fortunate.
Following C.J. Barnett's fourth quarter interception, the Buckeyes had the ball, and the 26-21 lead, with just 4:50 remaining on the clock. They knew that they didn't have to give the ball back if they could simply do what Michigan's offense could not– move the chains.
"We knew that it was our responsibility to end the game when it got down to that, to get a first down," said Jack Mewhort."
"We hadn't necessarily been moving the ball or scoring the way we wanted to throughout the game, so when we got our last chance to put the game away, we took it. We moved it well. Carlos was running really hard all day. He played incredibly.
"We had all of the confidence in the world that we could put it away and that's exactly what we did. When you've got a guy back there that you can block for like that, it's a lot of fun just to watch him go through there and pound guys."
The Top of the Heap: Now that the Buckeyes are 12-0 and their season is done, they are free to make their case for a #1 ranking in the AP poll.
Granted, it will fall on many, many, many deaf ears, but you can't fault a 12-0 team for trying.
Photo by Dan Harker
Senior captain Zach Boren's campaign was succinct. "Whoever's got a vote, vote us number one," he said.
"Now that it's over I think we can talk about it," said a more introspective Mewhort.
"We're 12-0. I think there's a chance maybe if some other stuff happens, we could end up sharing a national championship, and that would be an awesome thing for these seniors because they've given their lives to Ohio State and that would be a great way to send them out."
When given the chance to stump for votes, Urban Meyer didn't take the bait. But he did make it known how he felt about this team, as well as how others will feel about it down the road.
"I've been blessed to be on a couple of teams of championships, and the common denominator is not rushing yardage, passing yardage, blocked punts, whatever it is, it's great defense," he said. "And I'd say at this point in time Ohio State could go play with anybody in America.
"I'm not going to get into the what ifs, and you can't control what you can't control. What if we would have done this, what if we would have done this. We're 12 0. I'm going to see to it when you walk into that Woody Hayes facility this team will never be forgotten, because they deserve that."
Basking in the Glow of Victory: A win over Michigan is always a celebrated event, even if it has become extremely common. A win over Michigan to go 12-0, however, is anything but common. For that reason it will always carry a little more weight with those who took part.
Photo by Dan Harker
"This one I think has been my favorite one so far," said Mewhort.
"Just because of the circumstances, the implications that it has nationally. And just within our own walls, being 12-0. This senior class is the guys that I came in with, so that put an extra something on it for me. I wanted to win it for those guys, and that's been our motto all year, 'Win as many games as we can for the seniors'. And we did exactly that, so I'm proud of these guys."
"It's still kind of surreal," explained Reid Fragel.
"In big games like that, stuff's gonna happen. You've just got to fight through, and I think that's what we did all year. We did a great job of fighting through games like that. In the end, the defense won us that game by shutting them down in the second half."
The Buckeyes certainly fought for this game, but the fighting didn't just start on Saturday. Saturday was simply the culmination of winning a season's worth of battles.
"We had two overtime wins this year," said Ben Buchanan.
"Guys stepped up. I think back to when Kenny Guiton came in for the Purdue game. This team just refused to lose. We would have certain people step up when they needed to. You saw the same thing today versus Michigan. Guys just stepped up, made plays and completed a perfect season."
Bad Memories Revisited: Luke Fickell was asked if he had mentioned to his team the failures that he had suffered as a player against Michigan, as a sort of motivating factor for them.
Photo by Dan Harker
Fickell, who was 1-3-1 against the Wolverines as a player, chuckled as he answered.
"You can bring it up to Spielman," he began.
"He obviously did the game and he obviously asked something about that, about my record when I was playing, and I wanted to go after him over the table yesterday when I said, 'Hey, you ass, you know how it went. You're gonna bring that up right now? It makes me want to hit you.'
"But I guess in this situation I'm supposed to be more mature than that. It's tough, but it's something that drives you too. Competitors are driven. They know the situation. They know why you do what you do. Because of those situations, it's probably one of the biggest reasons I'm where I am today and I do what I do."
The 12th Man Called Into Action: Leading 23-21 at the end of three quarters, the game was now in the hands of the Ohio State defense. If they could simply keep Michigan from scoring for the final 15 minutes, it wouldn't matter what the offense or special teams did.
They didn't go it alone, however.
"When we went to that fourth quarter, we told them that we needed a 12th player," Orhian Johnson said.
"So we just really wanted to get them into the game. We were just trying to get them really excited and trying to get them loud. And they helped us out a lot."
It wasn't the first time the Silver Bullets needed a bit of help, and it wasn't the first time that the crowd came through for them.
"Playing in front of that crowd, I really think we've got the best fans in the land," he said.
"We credit a couple of games to those guys for being out there screaming and yelling for us. I don't think there's a better place to go play with a better group of fans."
And when the crowd stormed the field and he was swallowed up by thousands of Buckeye fans?
"I was enjoying it, man."
So was everyone else.
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