Buckeyes Wounded but Determined to Move Forward
By Rob Ogden
Eight months separated Ohio State's 2012 Gator Bowl loss and its next opportunity to earn a win. At least this wait isn't quite as bad.
It's been nine days since the Buckeyes' 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten championship game and 18 more must pass before they get the chance to play Clemson in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 3.
The challenge will be to make sure those 18 days will be spent focused forward, not looking back.
"We owe it to ourselves and to this university to keep moving forward and not dwell on the loss," senior captain Jack Mewhort said. "In sports there's ups and downs and it's how you respond to the downs that defines your character. We're gonna keep moving forward and try to win the Orange Bowl."
Photo by Dan Harker
Even with a big-time BCS bowl game — Ohio State's first in three years — on the horizon, it isn't alway easy to stay forward focused.
Junior linebacker Ryan Shazier said he laid in bed asking himself 'How did this happen? Why did this happen?' in the days following the loss.
following OSU's loss to MSU in the Big Ten champsionship game.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Friday, freshman defensive end Joey Bosa still hand't moved past the defeat — the first of his collegiate career.
"I'm trying to not think about it anymore," Bosa said. "I've pretty much gotten over it, but it was really hard. It still gets at me every once in a while, but it was really hard for a couple of days."
It was coach Urban Meyer's first loss as a Buckeye, as well. Meyer took over the team the day after the Jan. 2 Gator Bowl loss to Florida and led Ohio State on a 24-game win streak before falling to the Spartans.
Meyer has never hidden the fact that he takes losing especially hard.
"I could tell it was tough on him," Shazier said. "We all were expecting to go to the national championship and win that game. It was tough on all of us. We all handled it pretty much the same. We just stayed close to each other and we hung out with the people that are most important to us."
With four days off following the game, the hurt seemed to linger, junior Jeff Heuerman said.
The coaching staff didn't have much time to think about it, though, as they spent much of the past week focused on recruiting.
Meyer has tried to turn the page.
"The coaches made it clear to us that there's no moping around here," Mewhort said. "We have a big game to go win so that's our responsibility. How we bounce back will show a lot about our character. Now it's just on us to handle it like grown men, and that's what we're gonna do."
There was a different feel to practice when the Buckeyes first reconvened Thursday. It didn't last though, Heuerman said. It couldn't last, because if the Buckeyes are looking back, they know they can get beat.
"It was definitely a weird feeling, just because it hadn't been experienced around here in so long and it's never been experienced with coach Meyer and his staff here," Heuerman said. "So there's still a little bit of sting, but you have to keep moving. It's part of the game of football. We have a big one coming up, so we have to keep moving forward."
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