Urban Meyer started his career at Ohio State 24-0. He is now on a two game losing streak, both of those losses coming when Ohio State had more to prove than at any other point in his coaching tenure. Cause for concern? Not entirely.
Ohio State was a flawed team. The defense has been anywhere from suspect to downright bad, the receiving corp is average, and Braxton isn’t a quarterback with true drop back skills. We’ve all known it for the past two years, but it couldn’t actually be confirmed due to the spotless record. Now, with two losses and the season at end, it’s time to recognize that this was a resilient team that probably over achieved due to the weak schedule and the excellent “mindset” fix Meyer performed upon taking over the program.
The Orange Bowl was an entertaining game for sure, but it was incredibly sloppy. Filled with penalties, poor offensive adjustments (Clemson was obviously all in on the Hyde runs up the middle, call more sweeps to Wilson/Brown and PUT KENNY G IN WHEN BRAXTON IS OBVIOUSLY HURT), and four costly turnovers (although the last interception should have been reviewed). It was a very odd game that saw Clemson mostly dominate the first half and yet found themselves trailing by 2 at the half as the Bucks made a few key plays late in the 2nd quarter. Ohio State then had a chance to really put the game out of reach, when Philly Brown muffed the punt and seemingly renewed Clemson’s spirit as they would finish the game on a 20-7 run.
Much like the Michigan State loss, Ohio State fell behind early, clawed their way back in front and couldn’t capitalize on chances to take a commanding lead. The Buckeyes had a tendency to squander chances to really choke opponents out during the regular season (Buffalo, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan) and it showed up in their post season games against the two teams good enough to take advantage of the Buckeyes lack of killer instinct. It’s interesting that Ohio State under Meyer has lacked this trait as Meyer has made enemies in the coaching ranks because of his ruthlessness and willingness to rub it in opponents faces at times.
As much as losing stinks, the bowl loss to Clemson doesn’t have anywhere near the sting of the B1GCG loss, which in hindsight probably saved us from another humiliating BCSCG loss (remember that Florida State absolutely CRUSHED Clemson, AT Clemson earlier in the year). Ending the season with another poor defensive performance will hopefully up the pressure on Fickle (who, like it or not appears to have Meyer’s support) to fix this defense and field a unit worthy of the Silver Bullets title (with the caliber of recruits Meyer is bringing in, it better happen FAST). The hopes for next season will be high as it seems Braxton will be back for his Senior year to lead the offense. The defense will be better, almost by default. But for now, all the fans have to live with is a disappointing end to a season that had such high hopes.