Orange Bowl chance for Buckeye redemption

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Last updated: 12/24/2013 3:36 PM
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Orange Bowl Will Give Buckeyes Chance at Redemption
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the advent of the Big Ten Championship Game three years ago, there is no more sharing of a conference title, which means that only one Big Ten team can end the football season truly happy. This season that team was not Ohio State.

In previous seasons, the Buckeyes have split conference championships with the very teams that have beaten them. Even though the loss hurt at the time, the university was still able to print “Big Ten Champions” shirts and hats because a split title counted in the standings just as much as a title won all by their lonesome.

Now, however, the only thing being split is ticket allotments at the Big Ten Championship Game. It's winner takes all, and this year that winner was Michigan State. Pegged as favorites since the preseason, the Buckeyes are now in a position where a 24-game winning streak has only actually won them two division titles, which is nice, but probably not nice enough.

Such a predicament means for many to consider this a successful season, the Buckeyes will need to take care of business against Clemson and come away with an Orange Bowl victory. At least that's how some of the Buckeyes are looking at it.

“Not really in the eyes of others, but definitely in our eyes more so,” center Corey Linsley said of needing a win to validate their season.

Corey Linsley
Photo by Dan Harker
Corey Linsley

“Obviously by validating it in our eyes, it will validate in the eyes of others. The thing we're worried about is just showing our character, showing who we are as people by working hard and working towards a win.”

It has been said that talent is a gift, but character is a choice. For the Buckeyes, their choice is to prepare for the Orange Bowl with a little bit of redemption in mind. The national title hopes are gone, there is no Big Ten championship, all that is left is a game against Clemson.

While the stakes are lessened, it does allow for more focus, as there are undoubtedly fewer distractions in preparing for this game than there would be for the BCS National Championship Game. While the tangible stakes may not be as immense, there is still the pressure being put on the Buckeyes by the players themselves to avoid going out with a loss, especially for the seniors.

The question being asked at the moment is if Ohio State was to lose this game, would the season be a failure?

“Everybody has their own opinion,” Linsley said of the question.

“Obviously that will be the opinion of some. In my mind I'll be extremely disappointed, I don't know if I could call it a failure. I definitely would be extremely disappointed in myself and the leaders and the guys on this team if we don't come out and do well.”

Failure is a big word, a harsh word, especially when you consider what this team was able to do on the field this year, as well as last year. The Buckeyes and their fans have seen failure, be it a 6-7 season in 2011, or the collapse of an empire in the months prior.

While it would certainly leave a mark, a loss in the Orange Bowl wouldn't make this season a failure for the Buckeyes. After all, 99% of the nation would sign up for a season that features a 12-0 regular season including a win over your arch-rival, a conference championship game appearance, and a BCS bowl game. How can a season so coveted be considered a failure?

That being said, a loss would certainly be disappointing, as all losses are. What the Buckeyes have ahead of them, however, is an opportunity to move past the loss in the Big Ten Championship Game and end the season with a large measure of accomplishment.

According to Linsley, this game is also a chance for the team to show their character one final time.

“We haven't faced real adversity since I've started, since Coach Meyer's gotten here, so it will show our character again.”

They say character is revealed when nobody is watching, but for Linsley and the Buckeyes, they are hoping it will also be revealed when everybody is watching.

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