COLUMBUS – From Urban Meyer at the top, down through the ranks, the message coming out of Ohio State’s football team on Monday was that some valuable lessons were learned in Saturday night’s overtime win at Wisconsin.
“I think that’s going to happen, and I’m kind of glad it did,” Meyer said at his weekly press conference about OSU having to come back from 10 points down to the Badgers. “You need to get hit right in the chops and we did. Not every fight’s going to be tilted one way.”
Ohio State went into its 30-23 overtime win over Wisconsin averaging 52 points a game and its average margin of victory was 42 points a game.
Defensive end Sam Hubbard said, “I’m honestly kind of glad it happened to us. We really needed to kind of get smacked in the mouth or face some adversity, at least.”
Defensive end Jalyn Holmes said, “That shows you what you’re really made of. It was a great game, a hostile environment. We learned a lot about each other. We learned we don’t fold when pressure comes. That’s good to know.”
Linebacker Chris Worley labeled the win “a battle scar” and “our first true test.”
“We have a resilient group of guys who won’t take ‘No,’ for an answer. We need games like that in a season, especially if you’re looking to go the distance,” he said.
“No team will go 15-0 and beat everyone by 40 points. That’s not the way this game works. We celebrated that one for a pretty good, long while.”
No. 2 Ohio State (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) will play at Penn State (4-2, 2-1 Big Ten) on Saturday night.
OSU’s last trip to Penn State, a 31-24 overtime win, reminds Meyer a lot of the win at Wisconsin.
Similarity No. 1 is that quarterback J.T. Barrett stepped up in overtime in both situations. He threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Noah Brown on Saturday night and scored both of OSU’s overtime touchdowns at Penn State two years ago after a sub-par performance in regulation.
“In that kind of environment, our quarterback was not playing well. We had a pick six, I believe, in that game, and he also had a second degree MCL sprain, and here we go. We’re going to go play overtime down in front of their end zone, and we’re seven points behind,” Meyer said, looking back to the 2014 Penn State game. “So the script was written. I just remember thinking what am I going to say to this team afterwards? It crossed my mind. And he kind of just took it on his shoulders,” the OSU coach said.
Barrett remembered the end of the 2014 game at Penn State this way:
“My knee was hurting but I didn’t want to come out of the game. I knew I could still play and be able to make plays. It was just one of the things you have to fight through mentally and with God’s help I was able to do that,” he said. “I think I grew up in that game but I think the team as a whole did too.”
Ohio State is 6-5 in 11 games at Penn State since the Nittany Lions entered the Big Ten in 1993. The Buckeyes have a winning streak of 20 games on opposing teams’ home fields.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.