Buckeyes Enjoy Taste Of Revenge

Ohio State exorcised two demons this past weekend by beating a Purdue team that scored an upset one season ago one week after suffering a loss to Wisconsin. As it turns out, rebounding after losses has been a specialty for this group of Buckeyes.

As Ohio State has feasted on its opposition in recent years, they have primarily enjoyed filet mignon. But for every few bites of choice steak taken by the Buckeyes, a piece of grisly fat has managed to sneak onto the fork and into the stomach as well.

Since the fifth-year seniors on the roster were freshmen in 2006, OSU has compiled an overall record of 51-9, good for a .850 winning percentage. Perhaps most impressive is that no player on the roster has experienced a losing streak. To find one of those, you have to go back to the 2004 season when OSU suffered three consecutive losses to open conference play.

While the losses have been infrequent in recent years, both fifth-year senior Chimdi Chekwa and senior Cameron Heyward described the week following a loss as having a terrible taste in their mouths that will not go away.

"You always go out there not wanting to lose," Chekwa said. "When you lose, you have a sick feeling all week and you really want to get rid of it and get back on the field and play to get rid of that feeling."

That was the case last weekend, as OSU bounced back from a road loss to Wisconsin with a 49-0 home victory against Purdue. The game was a case of double motivation, as the Buckeyes had a chance to not only get back on track with a win but also to avenge an upset loss suffered the season before at the hands of the Boilermakers.

Of the nine losses suffered since the 2006 season began, three of them have taken place in bowl games. Following the six regular-season losses, OSU's average margin of victory has been 30.3 points.

"Everybody hates losing around here," senior running back and captain Brandon Saine said. "It's one thing that we're not used to. I think that we responded really well last week. After a loss, you feel like you owe somebody something."

After a loss, Heyward said the Buckeyes return to the field out for blood the following week.

"I think the main thing is we've got that nasty taste in our mouth and it's constantly on our minds but we know we have to be ready for the next game," he said. "We know how to bounce back. I think the main thing is we learned from our mistakes and we try not to let any of them happen again."

As the Buckeyes took the practice field for their week of preparation for Purdue, sophomore fullback Zach Boren said he noticed a new level of focus for Tuesday's practice – a day head coach Jim Tressel has told reporters is typically the toughest because the players are tasked with learning new concepts for the upcoming game.

"It was just real business-like," he said. "Tuesday is our hardest day of practice and guys are usually having fun but this week it was all serious throughout the week. We just came in and had meetings and watched a lot of film and were all on the same page."

Sophomore strong safety Orhian Johnson said the approach in practice was getting back to personal accountability.

"It was definitely a lot of talking about team, a lot of focusing on what we do and getting better at what we do," he said. "I think maybe we might've gotten away from it last week. That's something we need to focus on, going out there and doing our jobs and playing how we normally play. We just needed to focus on doing our jobs individually and being perfect at your job instead of trying to do somebody else's."

Heyward said the week of practice following a loss tends to follow a similar script.

"Everybody is a little tight," he said. "No one is really in a great mood because we know we have to get better and it starts in practice. Practice is going to be rough and there's going to be a lot of things we're going to try to improve on."

Whether it was Wisconsin or Purdue on the minds of Buckeye fans, Johnson said the team could not afford to get too sucked into trying to avenge either of the two losses.

"We can't go back and change any of the things that happened last year," he said. "Our main focus was on this team, this week, this game. That's all we could do."

Chekwa said he was aware of the disappointment among the OSU faithful after the loss to the Badgers. Asked what he expected the outcry to be like should the Buckeyes drop two in a row, the cornerback shook his head like he had just taken a bad bite of steak.

"I couldn't imagine it and I don't even want to consider it," he said.

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