Buckeyes Came Together After MSU Win

The Ohio State football team opened Big Ten play last weekend with a 17-16 win at Michigan State. Bigger than the final score, however, was how first-year head coach Urban Meyer said the Buckeyes came together in earning an impressive victory.

Ohio State's 17-16 win at Michigan State moved the Buckeyes to 5-0 after a hard-fought, hard-hitting Big Ten opener. More importantly, however, might be what first-year OSU head coach Urban Meyer thought the win represented.

Following two years of turmoil surrounding the Buckeyes, Meyer and other members of the football program said the win was a unifying moment – something bigger than just a final score.

"It's been a team that's been pushed around for a while," Meyer said. "A lot of things have happened, a lot of things I'm probably not even aware of. But I could tell that it wasn't a close team. It was a team with a lot of excuses. But (that togetherness) materialized over the weekend."

The trip to East Lansing last weekend was a special one. It showed Meyer the Buckeyes were tough enough to come together and fight back through adversity. Michigan State took advantage of a defensive tackling debacle to take a third quarter lead before Ohio State rallied with a TD of its own and a time-killing drive that sealed the victory.

"You can't tell (if they'll fight back), not until you get into tough situations," Meyer said. "It's when you get to places like this. It's when you play a team that's as good as you are, that it starts to show up. If that team wasn't together, that team loses that game. No doubt."

Junior wide receiver Corey "Philly" Brown was one of several players to describe the atmosphere in the postgame locker room at Spartan Stadium as little short of a love fest and the game as a first step toward something bigger.

"After the game, words can't explain what went on in that locker room," Brown said. "All the excitement and everybody telling each other how much they love (each other). I got up there and got a chance to talk and I just expressed my love for this team and how much we are all in it. We're going to build on that win and keep going."

Added fifth-year senior linebacker Etienne Sabino: "It was a steppingstone, something for us to build off of. It was a hard-fought win. I think our team grew off of it. I feel like that win really helped our team grow, as far as dealing with adversity. We hadn't been playing as well as we wanted to. We had a pretty good game overall as a team and it's something we want to build off of."

Meyer and the players were not the only ones to recognize the significance of the moment. Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel was around for last year's 6-7 campaign and knew it would take time before the Buckeyes had a breakout moment.

"Until players really realize that they're the ones who go out and have to make the plays on Saturdays it's tough for them to buy in," Vrabel said. "I think Saturday was a huge step for us."

Offensive line coach Ed Warinner called the win over MSU a "12-round boxing match" that showed just how hard the Buckeyes have worked since Meyer and his staff took over.

"There were a lot of plays that could have gone one way or the other, and we made just enough to win the game," Warinner said. "That all validates how hard this team has worked, the transition they've been through, what we've asked them to give."

In 26 years as a college coach, Meyer said six or seven of his teams came together how he'd like. Those that do often become great.

This Ohio State could make that count seven or eight.

"I'm not saying we're a great team," he said. "But we at least have a chance to do some good things together because I felt they came together."

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