|Buckeyes take on Hoosiers and history on Saturday|
|Friday, November 22, 2013 9:08 PM|
By RUSTY MILLER
COLUMBUS — Hoosiers and history are on the checklist for No. 4 Ohio State this Saturday.
The Buckeyes carry a 22-game winning streak into their one-sided series against Indiana — the longest active major-college streak.
On top of that, however, if the Buckeyes win they’ll eclipse the school record set by the 1967-69 Ohio State teams.
That accomplishment comes only if they take care of business, however.
“Right now, we’re just focusing on beating Indiana,” center Corey Linsley said. “Because Indiana doesn’t really care about our winning streak.”
Even coach Urban Meyer, who runs screaming from just about anything other than the X’s and O’s of the next game, says it would be an impressive accomplishment.
“Any time a player plays at a place like Ohio State and you can make a name for yourself or a dent in this great tradition, that is certainly worth being recognized,” Meyer added.
The Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0) can also clinch a division title and a spot in the Big Ten championship game.
Here are five things to watch for in the game:
GET YOUR POINTS HERE: Ohio State won last year’s matchup, 52-49. This year, the two offenses may be even better — they’re combining for more than 1,000 yards per game. Plus, the defenses may be worse.
“Defensively, it’s a couple teams that have given up some points,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said.
Don’t be shocked if 40 points are scored — by the end of the first quarter.
FAILING HISTORY: The Buckeyes have made it an almost annual occurrence to beat the Hoosiers. Not only are they a 32-point favorite this time around but they’ve won the last 17 meetings with Indiana.
Amazingly, that’s still not their longest streak in the series. The Buckeyes did not lose to the Hoosiers from 1952 to 1986, going 31-0-1 and winning the last 23 in that span.
MOVING ON UP: Ohio State is third in the BCS rankings and needs to impress voters and the computers over its final two games plus a potential date with Michigan State in the Big Ten title game.
Meyer is angry with himself that he’s been distracted by all of the BCS talk and that in turn his players have been distracted by it.
“When I started getting asked questions about the BCS, (I should have just said), ‘Move on’,” Meyer said. “Because (the players) watch me and I’m saying, ‘Don’t pay attention to it’ and I’m paying attention to it. Then it’s a mixed message. But the best thing they can do is just play.”
CLOSING STRONG: The Hoosiers (4-6, 2-4) need to win their final two games — they finish up at home against archrival Purdue on Nov. 30 — to be bowl-eligible.
If they were to accomplish that, it would be Indiana’s first bowl trip since the 2007 Insight Bowl and only the second since 1993. But it’ll take a huge upset, first.
“With two weeks to go, (we still have a) chance for a bowl opportunity,” Wilson said. “Our goal is always constant improvement. I just met with our leaders, our seniors. I need their best two weeks. We need to get better on offense from a week ago. We’ve got a great challenge this week and we have to bring every phase of our defense along.”
SENIOR LIVING: Ohio State bids a fond adieu to 18 seniors, along with redshirt junior CB Bradley Roby who has already announced he’s giving up his final season of eligibility to jump into the NFL draft.
“It’s been a great ride,” said OL Jack Mewhort, who was on a 2011 team that went 6-7 and then experienced the other extreme by not losing since. “I owe everything, I owe who I am to this university and this program. It’s going to mean a lot to me running out for my last time.”
BUCKEYES BUZZ: President John F. Kennedy’s assassination shocked the nation and left millions grieving on this weekend in 1963.
Unlike the NFL, which played its regular schedule as if nothing had happened two days after the young president’s murder, college football reacted differently.
Ohio State had lost its previous two games, both at home, heading into the season-finale at archrival Michigan on Nov. 23. The Buckeyes took buses headed north to their hotel in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Friday the 22nd, according to Ohio State football historian Jack Park in his book, “The Official Ohio State Football Encyclopedia.”
Word quickly spread about the tragedy unfolding in Dallas.
The Buckeyes spent the night at their hotel, preparing to play a game the next day. While the team was traveling to Michigan Stadium at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, however, officials announced that the game would be postponed for one week.
The American people — and college football — were in mourning.
Illinois was set to play at Michigan State for the Big Ten championship that Saturday but the game was moved back to the following Thursday, Thanksgiving Day.
Ohio State returned to Columbus and repeated its trip a week after originally scheduled.
The game was played before a crowd of just 36,424 — Michigan’s smallest crowd in 20 years and the fewest fans to see a Wolverines home game since the opening of the stadium in 1927. The sparse turnout may have been due to fans who remained traumatized by the events of the preceding week but also because neither team was having a vintage year. The Wolverines came into the game just 3-3-2 (2-2-2 in the conference), while Ohio State was 4-3-1 (3-1-1).
Michigan took a quick 10-0 lead but just before halftime Buckeyes QB Don Unverferth tossed a 35-yard touchdown pass to future NFL Hall-of-Famer Paul Warfield. Midway through the fourth quarter, Unverferth rolled out and skirted left end on a 5-yard touchdown run.
The Buckeyes led 14-10 when Michigan drove to the Ohio State 6 with under 2 minutes remaining but the drive stalled there and coach Woody Hayes’ team captured their fourth straight win over the Wolverines.
SAYING GOODBYE: Eighteen seniors will be playing their final home game on Saturday.
They are Linsley, Roby, S C.J. Barnett, K Drew Basil, OG Ivon Blackmon, S Corey Brown, WR Corey Brown, S Christian Bryant, WR Chris Fields, CB Adam Griffin, QB Kenny Guiton, RB Jordan Hall, OG Marcus Hall, RB Carlos Hyde, LS George Makridis, OT Jack Mewhort, OG Andrew Norwell and S Jamie Wood.
Basil, Corey “Philly” Brown, Bryant, Hyde and Norwell are true seniors. The rest have spent at least one year as a redshirt.
THEY CALL IT A STREAK: Of course, Ohio State can lock up the longest winning streak at the school with a victory against Indiana on Saturday (3:30 p.m., ABC).
Should the Buckeyes win, it would also be the fifth-longest streak in Big Ten history and the longest by a conference team in more than 40 years.
Also, Meyer’s 22 straight victories with the Buckeyes are the fifth-most by a coach to begin his tenure at a school, behind Pop Warner’s 30 at Pittsburgh, Fielding Yost’s 29 at Michigan, Walter Camp’s 28 at Yale and Larry Coker’s 24 at Miami.
LOOKING AT IT THE OTHER WAY: The only way the Buckeyes would not play in the Big Ten championship game as the Leaders Division champion is if they lose their final two games while Wisconsin wins twice.
The Buckeyes are a 32-point favorite over Indiana and will likely be favored again at Michigan next week.
Wisconsin plays at Minnesota before hosting Penn State.
Three teams remain in the running in the Legends Division, although Michigan State is in the driver’s seat. All the Spartans have to do is win one of their next two games to seal the deal and meet Ohio State on Dec. 7 at 8 p.m. in Indianapolis.