November, 17, 2013 Nov 17 10:00 AM ET Lessons from No. 3 Ohio State’s 60-35 road victory over Illinois on Saturday that kept the Buckeyes undefeated and tied the school record with their 22nd win in a row. The defense needs healthy bodies: A lack of depth even at full strength has made it obvious from the start of the season that the defense didn’t have much of a safety net. In case proof was needed, the Buckeyes showed how little margin for error they have as injuries hit every level of the unit and Illinois strung together a handful of productive drives to put up 28 points and at least hang around deep into the second half. Linebackers Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry both missed the entire game, defensive end Joey Bosa had a breakout performance cut short by an injury and steadying safety Christian Bryant was already out thanks to his season-ending broken ankle, and Ohio State clearly suffered with so many backups forced into prominent roles. It needs to get healthy with another prolific offense on tap next week with Indiana coming to the Horseshoe.
Stick with what works: Whether it was the windy conditions, the absence of Jack Mewhort at times to hamper the pass protection or just an off day for quarterback Braxton Miller, throwing the football just wasn’t going to be a consistent answer for the Buckeyes. And while they certainly adjusted in the second half and put the game away with a ruthless rushing attack, if anything they didn’t feature Carlos Hyde and Miller enough on the ground. Perhaps that sounds a bit crazy considering the duo combined for 430 yards on 40 carries, but Illinois was helpless to slow them down with overwhelmed personnel, and Ohio State might have done even more damage just by focusing on what was working all along. Either way, the spread offense still rolled up 60 points, so Urban Meyer can surely live with the plan of attack.
Distractions will keep providing a challenge: The fight against complacency never stops, and Meyer might have some fresh evidence to show his team on film how important it is to stay locked in on the task at hand. He was clearly upset heading to the locker room at halftime about some missed opportunities on offense, a breakdown on special teams and a couple blown assignments on defense, and the Buckeyes didn’t exactly step on the throat of Illinois until late in the fourth quarter. The weather wasn’t great, the Illini were always going to be overmatched and the focus on style points has added pressure to blow out every opponent — but the noise and scrutiny surrounding the Buckeyes isn’t going to go away. Meyer will undoubtedly be stressing the need for sharpened focus moving forward with just two games left in the regular season before a likely date in the Big Ten championship
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite the exhaustion and the late hour after a hard-hitting, prime-time win, Ryan Shazier simply couldn’t get to sleep. The Ohio State linebacker was tossing and turning, his mind racing and processing the loss of a teammate that had been a costly price of victory over Wisconsin.
Christian Bryant had only just been diagnosed with a fractured ankle and taken directly to the hospital for surgery, but Shazier was already racking his brain to come up with a way to honor the star safety and emotional leader for the fourth-ranked Buckeyes.
+ EnlargeChuck Rydlewski/Icon SMIRyan Shazier changed his number to honor teammate Christian Bryant, who broke his ankle against Wisconsin.“I had a really tough time the night of the game, to be honest,” Shazier said. “I was just thinking, ‘Man, I want to do something.’ “It was just on my mind, so I texted the coaches.”
Shazier sent what on the surface seemed to be a relatively simple request to change numbers, swapping out his normal No. 10 for the No. 2 that belonged to Bryant.
The response that came back was to check with the normal owner of that jersey first, and the Buckeyes could work out the rest of the details after that.
The approval from Bryant followed shortly afterward, albeit with one stipulation.
“When we talked he said, ‘As long as you’re doing good in it,’” Shazier said. “I just made sure to do that, and now I have to keep going strong in it.
“I wanted him to be there spiritually with us. I know he’s still going to be there with us, but when people see a tackle, I want them to be able to say, ‘Is that Christian?’ People will still know that he’s out there.”
The Buckeyes aren’t going to have the physical version with them for the rest of the regular season, and the timeline for recovery is still somewhat unclear as it relates to a potential return for a bowl game.
But while Shazier has the same type of attachment to his normal number as most players and even has his “10” tattooed on his left arm, he’s shown no hesitancy in the past putting on different digits to honor others — and his play has done even more to pay tribute to those close to him.
Last season, Shazier made a one-game switch and put on No. 48 in honor of high school friend Gary Curtis, who had died earlier in the year. He capped that tribute in a wildly productive outing against Penn State with an interception return for a touchdown that sparked a crucial win on the road on the way to an unbeaten season.
Now, midway through his junior campaign, Shazier has committed to wearing Bryant’s jersey for the rest of the year. And his first appearance in the new uniform featured 10 tackles, a quarterback hurry, a tackle for a loss and certainly enough evidence to earn Bryant’s approval to keep putting it on. “Ryan is one of the most incredible young men I’ve ever been around,” coach Urban Meyer said. “He’s got a heart of gold.
“When Ryan comes to me like that, I’m like, ‘Settle down; what’s the best thing to do and how does it affect our numbers and all those things.’ But with him, that’s one of about 50 ideas he always comes up with, and it’s all pure ideas and caring in its pure form, which is kind of cool.”
Shazier certainly doesn’t plan to keep the number forever, though.
For now, he’s just keeping it warm and doing everything he can to keep Bryant’s energy on the field with the Buckeyes.
“I really have a personal attachment to No. …
EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Carlos Hyde ran for a career-high 168 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 4 Ohio State rallied to beat No. 16 Northwestern 40-30 Saturday night and extend the nation’s longest win streak to 18 games. The Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) remained undefeated since Urban Meyer took over as coach last year. On a rain-soaked field and with a prime-time audience watching, they rallied from 10 down in the third quarter to take out a team aiming to show it could beat the best in the conference. Hyde, who was suspended for the first three games after an alleged conflict with a female in a bar this summer, prevented that. He scored on a 4-yard run late in the third and added two more touchdowns in the final quarter to lift the Buckeyes. He was credited with a 2-yard touchdown after a replay review early in the fourth to put Ohio State ahead 26-23. Then, after Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian connected with Cameron Dickerson on a 12-yard score, Hyde ran it in from the 7 with 5:22 left in the game. That made it 34-30. The Wildcats’ Kain Colter then got stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Ohio State 34 with 2:43 left after he picked up his own fumble, wiping out a late threat. The game ended with Northwestern (4-1, 1-1) lateralling and the Buckeyes recovering the loose ball in the end zone. Ohio State pulled this one out even though Braxton Miller had a rough night. He threw for 203 yards but had an interception and fumbled twice after matching a career-high with four touchdown passes against Wisconsin last week. He also ran for 68 yards. Corey Brown added 127 yards receiving, and the Buckeyes beat the Wildcats for the 29th time in 30 games. Northwestern hasn’t beaten a Top-five team since it opened the 1959 season with wins over No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 5 Iowa. Siemian threw 245 yards and two touchdowns against a defense missing one of its leaders in safety Christian Bryant. He broke his left ankle late in last week’s game and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season
Ohio State may have won 31-24 on Saturday against rival Wisconsin, but there was little celebrating in the Buckeyes locker room less than 24 hours later—and that’s because devastating news was handed down to the team in the aftermath of victory. Senior safety, and team captain, Christian Bryant suffered a broken ankle in the win and his season, along with his career, were over. This is how Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer put it to the media (h/t ESPN.com): We just got news we lost our captain. Just tough news, I just love that kid — he’s done so much for our program, come so far. Incredible leadership skills, and he’s going to be even more valuable outside of football. Hard part of the game, boy. So, life must go on for the No. 4 ranked team in the latest AP Poll. That’s the harsh reality of sports and the grind of a season—there is little time for self pity and loathing about things you can not control. It also puts Ohio State in an interesting position because of what is in front of them. Up next on the schedule are the Northwestern Wildcats, who have one of the most explosive and multiple offenses in the Big Ten. However, after that things become much easier to deal with—thanks to games with Iowa, Purdue, Indiana, and Illinois all in the mix. Sure, there are some tests in the passing game, but those teams are a lot less multiple and a lot more straight forward with what they like to…
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — There were worries about quarterback Braxton Miller’s health, about suspensions, about other injuries, then about beating a good Wisconsin team. Now that those concerns have dissipated in the wake of a 31-24 victory last week, No. 4 Ohio State’s coaching staff gets hit with yet another major question: How do you replace perhaps the leader of your defense? Coach Urban Meyer and the rest of the Buckeyes are confronting that as they prepare for their second major challenge in as many weeks, a primetime matchup at No. 16 Northwestern on Saturday night. Christian Bryant, a starter in 27 games in his four-year career and the Buckeyes’ third-leading tackler this season, was lost for the rest of the year with a broken ankle late in Saturday’s game.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The announcement was still fresh in mind, barely more than 24 hours old as Urban Meyer reported for the first meeting of the day. Saturday night’s win over Wisconsin was creeping into Sunday morning when the Ohio State coach walked to a podium he would soon smack after revealing star safety Christian Bryant had been lost for the season with a broken ankle, and it was still early on Monday when his staff met at 7 a.m. to talk about replacing him.
Ohio State defeated Wisconsin on Saturday night, but in the process the No. 3 ranked Buckeyes (USA Today poll) lost senior captain and starting safety Christian Bryant for the season. Bryant broke his left ankle with 30 seconds left in the game after tackling Badgers running back James White on a third-down play. When discussing what Bryant means to his squad, a frustrated Urban Meyer was visibly upset as he pounded the podium. “We lost our captain,” the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported Meyer saying. “He has a broken ankle, and it’s just tough news. It’s the hardest part of this whole job, man.” Ohio State already has overcome an injury to its offensive leader, quarterback Braxton Miller, who missed almost three full games with a knee injury. The Buckeyes (5-0, 1-0 in the Big Ten) travel to face No. 15 Northwestern (4-0, 0-0) in a primetime conference showdown on Saturday.
Updated: September 29, 2013, 1:03 AM ET By Austin Ward | ESPN.com COLUMBUS, Ohio — The season and career of Ohio State safety Christian Bryant appears to be finished. The senior, a respected captain and one of the most productive Buckeyes on defense the last two seasons, fractured his ankle in Saturday night’s 31-24 win against No. 23 Wisconsin, and he was put directly into an ambulance to go to the hospital for surgery. Ohio State had reason to celebrate a gritty win against a division rival to open Big Ten play at the Horseshoe, but the loss of Bryant cast a pall over the locker room and led to a frustrated Urban Meyer pounding his fist into a podium after announcing the injury. “We just got news we lost our captain,” the Buckeyes coach said. “Just tough news. “I just love that kid — he’s done so much for our program, come so far. Incredible leadership skills, and he’s going to be even more valuable outside of football. Hard part of the game, boy.” The Buckeyes will have to work quickly to find a replacement for a player who started every game for the unbeaten team a year ago and finished among the program’s top-three tacklers in each of the last two seasons. Another significant test is coming for Ohio State as it goes on the road to take on Northwestern, and while the secondary might be the deepest position group on the roster, Bryant’s contributions go far beyond his tackling ability and knack for generating critical turnovers. “Our leader is in an ambulance right now going to the hospital,” Meyer said. “That’s the concerning part about preparing for Northwestern. He’s our leader, so that’s concern No…
Ohio State Buckeyes safety Christian Bryant suffered a broken ankle in the team’s 31-24 win over Wisconsin at Ohio Stadium on Saturday evening. Bill Rabinowitz of the Columbus Dispatch reported the news, which game from head coach Urban Meyer after the game: Urban Meyer just said that Christian Bryant suffered a broken ankle tonight. — Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) September 29, 2013 This unfortunate development puts a damper on an otherwise huge Big Ten victory for the AP No. 4 Buckeyes. Meyer was upset at the podium and commented on how Bryant feels, as the senior was on his way to get surgery: Urban Meyer is distraught over the loss of Christian Bryant to a broken ankle. Smacked the podium, harping on how valuable he is. — Austin Ward (@AWardESPN) September 29, 2013 Meyer on Bryant: “Our leader is in an ambulance going to the hospital to have surgery on his leg. He’s devastated.” — Rob Ogden (@Rob_Ogden) September 29, 2013 Bryant has emerged as a key contributor in the defensive backfield and has grown into a more efficient tackler with better understanding of schematics and improved coverage ability. Those improvements were implicit in a report after the Buckeyes’ 40-20 season-opening win over Buffalo by Cleveland.com’s Ari Wasserman. The ringing endorsement and dejected reaction Meyer had when discussing Bryant’s highlights how vital he is to the Ohio State defense. It also comes at a pivotal time, as the Buckeyes have to turn around…
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The matter is obviously out of the hands of Christian Bryant, and there’s nothing any of his Ohio State teammates can do to change the schedule either. And while the senior safety and the rest of the Buckeyes have consistently stressed the importance of maintaining focus this week, the unpredictable nature of college football and simply embracing another chance to play in their home stadium and win another game, they’re certainly aware of the stature of the opponent coming in for a visit.