Talk about a timely crescendo. Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier said he probably played the best game of his career yesterday in a 42-14 victory over Indiana at Ohio Stadium.
Talk about a timely crescendo.
Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier said he probably played the best game of his career yesterday in a 42-14 victory over Indiana at Ohio Stadium. In the running for three postseason awards, Shazier made a career-high 20 tackles. Five were for a loss, including a flying sack of Nate Sudfeld in the fourth quarter.
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"A lot of people call this football weather," Shazier, a native of Plantation, Fla., said of the snow and cold. "I like it in the 90s."
He smiled, but against a spread offense that usually doesn't portend an ideal classic game for a linebacker, he excelled, roaming the field in the Buckeyes' nickel defense.
"I felt like I had a pretty good day, but I was just going and doing what I had to do," Shazier said. "I didn't really know it was 20 tackles until the end of the game."
His teammates could tell he was on, however.
"Shazier, he's the best linebacker in the nation to me," running back Carlos Hyde said. "That's how he plays, every week, game in, game out. I'm proud of him."
As for inspiration yesterday, Shazier was wearing it. He was playing for the sixth straight game in the No. 2 jersey of his friend and senior co-captain Christian Bryant, who was lost for the season to a broken ankle suffered on Sept. 28 against Wisconsin.
Shazier, a junior, said he watched proudly as Bryant ditched his crutches and limped out when he was introduced before the game on Senior Day.
"Lately, I've been playing for Christian," Shazier said. "I feel like it's both of us out there together. And today was for the seniors, too. I was playing for Christian and the seniors, and making sure they went out with a bang, to do everything I can to make sure this team had a wonderful victory."
He and the defense also were playing with the memories of a tough 52-49 victory over Indiana last year.
"We were just talking about don't relax, don't settle down because they have a wonderful offense and they can get back in the game like this," Shazier said, snapping his fingers. "We had to keep pushing the pedal. They got a few scores at the end, and we've got to fix those mistakes, but I feel like we did a pretty good job today."
Coach Urban Meyer appreciated the effort, especially from Shazier, who has helped fill the emotional void left on the defense since Bryant's injury.
"A very emotional guy … his heart is everything," Meyer said. "He wears his feelings on his sleeve, and the players love him for it. And so do I. Very emotional player that plays that way on the field. He's playing great right now, too."