Ohio State faced its toughest trial of the season, trailing Wisconsin 21-7 at halftime of the Big Ten Championship Game.
The unbeaten Buckeyes responded with 27 unanswered points to win the conference title, and redshirt sophomore center Josh Myers said the team’s confidence didn’t waver.
“We hadn’t really faced a whole lot of adversity so far this season,” Myers said, “and I don’t think anybody really knew how we would respond outside of our own locker room — we all knew how we would respond.
“I’m so proud of the way we turned around and came back and just gritted our teeth and won that game. That was a war now. That was brutal.”
Despite the convincing second-half performance concluding a 13-0 conference championship season, the Buckeyes dropped to No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings behind LSU.
Head coach Ryan Day was asked if he was disappointed that his team slipped to the No. 2 seed, matching the Buckeyes up with No. 3 Clemson.
“I feel like we should have been the 1 seed, but LSU has had an unbelievable season,” Day said. “What [LSU quarterback] Joe [Burrow] has done and what that team has done, they’ve done an unbelievable job. What Clemson has done, I could see that argument, as well. They’re the defending national champs, and they haven’t lost a game since and played great football.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to beat the best to go win the National Championship, and certainly Clemson is that. What matters at the end of the year is who’s won, not right now.”
Day was asked if LSU facing No. 4 Georgia in the SEC Championship may have given the Tigers an advantage in the rankings while OSU played against No. 8 Wisconsin, but the first-year head coach didn’t seem interested in complaining about the CFP Committee’s decision.
“At this point I’ve kind of moved on. Now it’s on to Clemson,” Day said. “I get it. It’s not an easy decision. Nothing but respect for the committee. I know they have a hard decision to make. I thought we made our case, but it’s time to move on.”
Day’s “it’s on to Clemson” message resonated with his team, because Buckeyes like Myers see all their goals still ahead of them.
“We’re undefeated and of course we want to be No. 1, but we’re not, and I don’t think that’s on any of our minds,” Myers said. “Immediately one of the first things (Coach Day) said afterwards was, ‘OK, we’re still in this thing. We’re No. 2 and we’re playing Clemson. We’re in the College Football Playoff; what more could you ask for? We’re right in the running for it.'”
Fifth-year senior defensive tackle Robert “B.B.” Landers shared a similar perspective when asked if the No. 2 seed showed the Scarlet and Gray enough respect.
“I feel like our level of play and how we’ve come in and come out week to week, we’ve gained a lot of respect from a lot of teams all over the country,” Landers said. “At the end of the day, we’re able to continue our season and keep trying to get to what we strived to accomplish at the beginning of the season, so it’s a blessing.”
Fellow fifth-year senior defensive tackle Jashon Cornell explicitly did not care about the ranking, while making the point that the Buckeyes fear no team.
“I feel like the media sometimes, or people, don’t really give Ohio State the respect that we need,” Cornell said. “But we’re ready to play. We don’t care where we’re at. We’ll play at Oklahoma — it doesn’t matter where it is — we’re going to be ready to play football.”
“No. 2 doesn’t matter to us; it’s just a ranking. We’re still in the Playoff, so each team has got to line up against each other and play. We’re ready to go play anywhere. It doesn’t matter where we’re at; we’re ready to just play ball.”
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