Michigan games go perfectly for Meyer

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra
Urban Meyer did something Saturday no other Ohio State coach has done: improve to 7-0 against Michigan. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

The only thing missing was the Old Man rubbing Michigan’s nose in it.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was not going there. He has a portrait of Woody Hayes hanging in his office, but some things you just do not do. Not even for Woody. Not anymore. The Game is politically correct, at least compared with 1968, when Hayes went for two against Michigan with the Buckeyes leading 50-14.

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Meyer would never think of embarrassing “The Rival” that way. Fifty years later, it was enough to hang 62 on the amazed and bruised — the most points Ohio State has ever scored in the rivalry and the most points in regulation Michigan has allowed against anyone. Ever.

But as stunning as the “ever,” it may not match Meyer’s 7-0 record against the Wolverines. No Ohio State coach has ever done that. Not Paul Brown. Not Francis Schmidt. Not Woody or Jim Tressel. Only Urban.

You want Meyer’s lasting legacy? There it is. He is perfect against Michigan (and Buckeye Nation awards bonus points for improving to 4-0 against Jim Harbaugh).

And this latest “W” may be the most fulfilling for Meyer. He would not say so. Not how he rolls. But consider the circumstances that preceded 62-in-the-Shoe.

• Missed preseason, then served a three-game suspension

• Brett McMurphy

• Pooping out against Purdue

• Brett McMurphy

• Defense that only a mother could love. Er, could like. OK, barely tolerate.

No wonder Meyer’s wife, Shelley, was crying on the sideline after the game Saturday. It has been a long road to get here, and to win 62-39 against a defense that leads the nation statistically — and put your team in position to make the College Football Playoff when most fans/media/anyone breathing thought “no way” — is about as satisfying as it gets.

“Obviously, some adversity earlier in the year — not some; big-time adversity. And to come back against your rival and play like that, that’s a focused team that loves each other and cares about each other,” Meyer said.

That is 7-0 talking. Want to know how Meyer has done it? Recruiting? Yes. Game-planning (while benefiting from Harbaugh’s lack thereof)? Yes. But the intangible element is Meyer’s ability to get the Buckeyes to believe in something bigger than the individual.

“That was a love game,” he said.

Say what?

“You hear the word ‘brotherhood,’ and why do you really play? Why does a true soldier fight? It’s not for the hatred of those in front of you. It’s for the love of those behind you. That’s a great quote we live by, and they proved it today.”

Admit it. You’re either tearing up, rolling your eyes or ready to put on the pads. But regardless of what you or anyone else thinks of Meyer’s military/motivational memes, all that matters is that the players buy into it.

In that way, Meyer is like Woody. Both men instilled their own confidence into their players.

“He was down for three games, but was always around; that voice in your ear in the background,” defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones said of Meyer. “And when he came back, he taught us and motivated us each week. It’s a testament to the type of coach he is.”

Meyer won’t coach at Ohio State as long as Hayes did, but in the approaching dusk he was sticking it to Michigan in his own way. Woody did it with Super Sophs. Urban with Fantastic Freshmen (especially wide receiver/punt blocker Chris Olave).

The 1968 Buckeyes rode that dominating win to a Rose Bowl victory and national championship. The 2018 Buckeyes? Defeat Northwestern in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday and the playoff committee needs to seriously compare OSU and Oklahoma for what likely will be the last spot.

That spot seemed like a long shot. Until Ohio State unleashed its fury against the Wolverines.


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