In Ryan Day’s first season with the Ohio State program, in which he served in the roles of quarterback coach and co-offensive coordinator, the Buckeyes appeared to be making another run toward the College Football Playoff. That was until they ran into the 5-3 Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City.
Iowa controlled the game from the first play from scrimmage, a pick-six off of the arm of Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, until the final whistle en route to a 55-24 upset of the Buckeyes — effectively closing the door on OSU’s CFP hopes. Now, as the head coach of the OSU football program, Day noted that the 2017 loss has eaten at him since it happened and that he’s brought it up to his players to prepare for the challenges the Hawkeyes bring, even five years later.
“That’s a scar, it doesn’t go away,” Day said. “I’ve felt it this week, for sure. That week in particular, we were coming off of the Penn State win, which was an emotional win. Going into Kinnick, which is a very difficult place to play, and we turned the ball over in that game. The first play of the game was a pick-six and then we fought ourselves back but turned the ball over too many times. That was a tough day for all of us.
“Anytime you have a scar like that, it’s real,” he continued. “We’ve talked about it a lot to our staff. We’ve talked a lot about it to our players. We’ve talked a lot about it as an offensive staff, and we’ll continue to talk about it. This team is always difficult to beat, it doesn’t matter what year it is. That year was no different than it was this year.”
Although much of the roster from that 2017 team is gone, center Luke Wypler said that loss has lived on in the building and that Day has placed a specific focus on that loss in order to prepare his players for Saturday’s contest with Iowa.
“Just because we weren’t a part of it doesn’t mean that people in this building still aren’t affected by that game,” Wypler said. “For us, it’s just knowing what this game means. 2017, we lost. For us, it’s just revenge. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a part of it or not, it’s still revenge.”
For safety Ronnie Hickman, he noted that understanding the history of that loss, and what it meant for the Buckeyes’ playoff hopes that season, has reminded the team of what can happen when they take an opponent lightly.
“We can’t make that mistake again,” Hickman said. “No matter what they did prior to us, and what the schedule may look like, what the stats or numbers may say, we have to take this team seriously and we will.”