[Editor’s Note: From now until Big Ten Media Days, we’ll be reaching into The-Ozone’s 23 years worth of archives and each day we will be posting a story from yesteryear. Big moments, small moments, big games, bigger games, and the random recruiting updates about guys you haven’t thought about in a decade or two.]
November 21, 2015 | It’s been a while since we’ve talked about painful Ohio State losses to Michigan State here, so today feels like a good time to revisit the 2015 loss to the Spartans. This particular story was written by our old pal Pat Murphy and concerns Ezekiel Elliott’s comments after the game about him not getting enough carries and the offense not being put in a position to win the game. If you thought you were frustrated by that game, imagine how Zeke felt.— TG
Ezekiel Elliott: “We Just Weren’t Put in the Right Opportunity to Win This Game
COLUMBUS – It was the biggest question of Ohio State’s surprise 17-14 home loss to Michigan State on Saturday: Where was Ezekiel Elliott?
The running back was physically there, as he finished the game with 12 carries for 33 yards and a touchdown, but he only had 12 carries for 33 yards.
In the postgame press conference, it seemed Elliott shined some light on his easy workload.
“No one know this, we kind of kept this under wraps, but earlier this week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I was hospitalized,” he explained. “I had an infection in my leg and honestly I didn’t even think I was going to be able to play during those days. It really took a toll on my body, but I was able to get back and practice Thursday and play in the game.
“I had a scratch on my leg and it just was a skin infection that kind of turned really bad. I had a 103-degree fever. I couldn’t walk it was so painful on my leg. It really was swollen about this big on my leg.”
Elliott said as the week progressed he got back to full health.
“I was 100 percent today,” he said.
“I was clear all the way. I’m 100 percent.”
So why did Elliott get his fewest touches since the middle of last season? That’s the question he’s asking too.
“It’s very disappointing,” he said. “The one drive that we had where we kind of had some momentum where we scored after the strip sack, the plays we ran, we ran a lot of gap schemes and we were gashing them.
“Honestly, we didn’t see those plays at all for the rest of the game. Those plays weren’t called any more… It just hurts, it hurts a lot.”
On the drive Elliott mentioned, the running back had eight carries for 27 yards and a touchdown. After that score, Elliott has just three more carries for the remainder of the game.
“I asked for those plays to be called and they weren’t,” he said.
“I was lobbying all game.”
Elliott said he lobbied to head coach Urban Meyer but was addressing his message to “whoever calls the plays.” Just like Buckeye Nation, the junior said he’s been given no explanation for his lack of opportunities.
“That’s something we’ve seen all season honestly,” Elliott said, “We’ll have some momentum, we’re calling plays that work, and then we kind of try and get away from it and try and get cute and run some other stuff.”
As one of the nation’s best backs and a Heisman candidate, Elliott is confident in his abilities. In a high profile, tight game, he wanted to be the one to carry his team to victory.
Ultimately, he wasn’t given the ball and the Buckeyes suffered because of it.
“I think I do deserve more than  carries,” he admitted. “I think I really do. Honestly, I can’t speak for the play calling. I don’t know what was going on. I don’t know what they were seeing. Honestly… it didn’t work out. It wasn’t working.”
After at least 100 yards rushing in 15 straight games, Elliott wasn’t disappointed because he couldn’t extend this streak, but help his team when he was needed.
“Honestly, that’s not even what I’m thinking about right now,” Elliott said of his rushing total. “I don’t care if I would have had 100 yards today. I just wanted to win this game and keep our playoff hopes alive. I don’t know how it all can work out. I don’t know if we still have a chance to play in the Big Ten Championship, I don’t know what’s ahead of us.”
It was apparent that Elliott was crushed by the loss and his lack of opportunity. In a season that was billed to be another great year for Ohio State, this was not the way the running back felt things should go.
“Just because of how we lost,” he said. “I feel like we just weren’t put in the right opportunity to win this game. We weren’t put in the right situations.”
Heavy words from an emotional and disappointed player.