The Buckeyes will get to face an ACC team in January after all - just not the one they had hoped.
By Rob Ogden
Ohio State had its eyes fixed on a BCS title game matchup against ACC champion Florida State, but a loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game derailed those hopes. Instead, the Buckeyes will face Clemson in the Orange Bowl Jan. 3 in Miami.
It's a consolation prize, but a prize nonetheless.
"Everybody was down in the dumps (after the loss)," coach Urban Meyer said Monday. "They're heartbroken, but they're competitors. Also, the fact they're playing in a BCS bowl game against Clemson, that's going to wake you up real fast."
No. 7 Ohio State will play in the Orange Bowl for the first time in the BCS era, and will face the No. Tigers for the first time since the 1978 Gator Bowl.
The Buckeyes are 2-7 al-time in Florida bowl games, and haven't won a postseason game in the Sunshine state since the 1986 Citrus Bowl.
For junior linebacker Ryan Shazier, as well as four other Buckeyes, the game offers a bit of a homecoming for the Florida natives.
"It will be really cool to be able to play Clemson in Florida in the Orange Bowl game in front of my family and friends," Shazier said. "It will be nice to be able to play the last game of the season in my home state. It will mean a lot.
“I haven’t thought that much about the bowl game yet, but I do know we have to finish out strong and get this 13th win for our seniors. We have to do whatever we can in this game to go out with a win."
Jack Mewhort is one of those seniors, and one of four on the offensive line.
“I think it means a lot for us to go back and play in a BCS bowl game,” Mewhort said. “To get a win in a big-time bowl and at the same time show some resiliency would be a great way to go out. I couldn’t ask at this point for anything more than to play in a BCS bowl game, and getting to go to battle with these guys I’ve been fortunate to play with for the last four or five years will be great.”
The Buckeyes are 6-3 all-time in BCS bowl games and Meyer is 4-0. Meyer won the 2008 BCS title at the Orange Bowl with a win over Oklahoma.
The game will be held at Sun Life Stadium and will be televised on ESPN. Game time is 8:30 p.m.
The stadium seats 72,230, and each school will receive 17,500 tickets. The Buckeyes will be the home team.
Following Saturday's loss, Ohio State didn't get back to Columbus until very early Sunday morning. They took the day off, but Meyer ensured there would be much left to work towards in the 24 days leading up to the game.
"This team has a chance to win 13 games in a season and obviously finish ranked very highly," Meyer said. "A lot of these players with what they've gone through the past two years, I saw a look in their eye and they were very disappointed, but they understand there's an incredible opportunity ahead of them."
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