|As wins mount, so does pressure on No. 4 Buckeyes|
|Wednesday, October 16, 2013 12:27 AM|
COLUMBUS — It’s a long way away from Oklahoma’s major-college record of 47 consecutive victories.
Still, Ohio State may be feeling the pressure of having the nation’s current longest winning streak — 18 games.
“I can feel sometimes pressure mounting on players when you (are on a) streak,” coach Urban Meyer said. “You start hearing about streaks. And it’s my job as a coach and our coaching staff (to make sure) it’s all about today.”
The fourth-ranked Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) can tie for the second longest streak ever at Ohio State when they host Iowa (4-2, 1-1) on Saturday.
The Buckeyes had won 19 straight, including a national championship, in 2002, and were ranked No. 3 when they fell at Wisconsin, 17-10. The 2005-06 team was ranked No. 1 when it lost 41-14 to Florida — ironically, coached by Meyer — in the national title game.
The most sustained streak at the school is 22 games, encompassing the 1968 national championship. The top-ranked and unbeaten 1969 team had scored almost as many points (62) in its opener as it had allowed through the first eight games (69). But it still was upended 24-12 at archrival Michigan, kicking off the Ten-Year War between Woody Hayes and his former Ohio State lieutenant, Bo Schembechler.
Long winning skeins don’t come along very often. So it’s only natural that when one does, it draws a lot of attention. Also, it piques the interest of opposing teams who would like nothing better than to quash the streak and steal some headlines.
As much as players talk about focusing on the present, the streak is always on the periphery, a consideration that only a few grudgingly acknowledge.
“It brings a little bit of pressure,” defensive tackle Joel Hale said. “It’s great to be part of something outstanding. What are we 18-0 now? Going for 19-0? But our main goal right now isn’t to win the next four games, it’s to beat Iowa.”
Not everyone around the Buckeyes program considers the streak a 500-pound gorilla in the locker room.
Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers believes winning several games in a row doesn’t mean a buildup in pressure.
“I really don’t believe it does. Every game is its own entity and you go in and you work on every single game and not look at what’s happened in the past,” he explained. “The hardest thing as a coach is you’re always thinking about the next one. As soon as you just finished with Northwestern, boom, we have a bye week but we are all planning on how to stop Iowa.”
There are already enough potential distractions and white noise around a major program. A winning streak almost gets lost among the other possible distractions.
“We don’t really pay too much attention to that,” wideout Corey Brown said. “We always emphasize a one-game season. We don’t really talk about the winning streak too much.”
Told that the Buckeyes could match the second-longest streaks ever at the school, Brown felt that would be a notable achievement but nothing that would get in Ohio State’s way.
“I mean, it’s a good honor, but that’s not our ultimate goal so we don’t spend much time on that,” he added. “We’re more worried about winning this next game and then winning some more games after that.”
BUCKEYES BUZZ: It’s hard to argue with the results: Six wins in six games, a 2-0 record in Big Ten play, back-to-back victories on national TV against ranked opponents.
Behind the scenes, it seems, the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes must be pretty solid as well.
Meyer has extolled the leadership qualities of last year’s team which went 12-0. He was asked this week how the leadership was on his current squad.
“I was panicky going into the season because I thought it was poor,” he replied. “It was certainly poor in the spring and obviously when you have issues like we had in the summer, then that questions the leadership of the team.”
He was referring to the legal problems which enveloped RB Carlos Hyde and CB Bradley Roby, along with a problem from earlier in the year for RB Rod Smith that resulted in all three sitting out games at the start of the season.
Thankfully, things have changed, Meyer said.
“I’m not saying it’s great yet because they are still only halfway home but through the first half the season, they have done a very nice job,” he added. “There’s good chemistry, good alignment and good leadership right now.”
CHANGING GEARS: In the 40-30 victory over Northwestern 10 days ago, the Buckeyes’ defense adapted to the Wildcats’ two quarterbacks, fast wide receivers and a lethal short passing attack.
Thinking on your feet is a big deal for a team. The opponents make changes, so do you.
Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers was impressed that the Buckeyes were able to go to more of a press or man-to-man coverage to pressure Northwestern’s offense at other spots.
“You’d like to be able to say you can press guys the whole game,” he said. “If I had my druthers, we’d walk up and press every snap. But you can’t. That’s not realistic. And some of the coverages don’t allow you to do that anyway.”
Doran Grant’s fourth-quarter interception in press coverage helped turn the tide.
“That was a game-changing play because we were in press and they weren’t expecting us to be in press and threw the ball out there,” he added.
INJURY UPDATE: On the Big Ten coaches’ teleconference on Tuesday, Meyer had good news about a couple of injured players, DL Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt.
“Adolphus has a little bit of a tweak of an ankle but he’s fine. He’s ready to go. He’ll be close to 100 percent,” Meyer said. “Tommy Schutt had a great day yesterday so I put him as game-ready.”
Schutt had surgery to secure a broken foot and has yet to play this season.
BRAXTON AND … TERRELLE? Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was asked to compare two very different looking and different styles of athlete during his weekly news conference.
So, what’s Braxton Miller like compared to former Ohio State and current Oakland Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor?
“They’re both really good. I’m not good at comparisons,” Ferentz said. “Now you find a guy (like Pryor) that’s a little different style in terms of size, all that type of thing. But he’s fast. He can throw the ball. This guy (Miller) is fast, throws the ball extremely well. He can get it down the field, far down the field, and it gets there fast and it’s pretty accurate. They just put a lot of pressure on you from the defensive standpoint.”