Fewer than 48 hours after suffering their first loss in two seasons at the hands of Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game, the Buckeyes received some good news on Sunday when it was announced that they had been selected to play in the Discover Orange Bowl on Jan. 3. in Miami, Fla. Playing in its 10th BCS bowl game since the program's inception in 1998, the Buckeyes will face Clemson, who will represent the ACC after a 10-2 regular season that saw the Tigers ranked as high as second in the nation earlier in the season.
Despite his team's devastating defeat on Saturday, which rerouted Ohio State's plans of playing in Pasadena for the national championship, Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer sees his team's upcoming opportunity as a chance to end the 2013 season on a positive note.
"They're heartbroken, but they're also competitors," Meyer said of his players. "I think the fact that they're playing in a BCS bowl game against Clemson, that's going to wake you up real fast ... there's no doubt in my mind that we'll be excited to go play in this bowl game."
While Meyer doesn't anticipate a letdown from his team, Ohio State certainly has its work cut out for itself with Clemson, as the Tigers lay claim to the both the nation's 12th-ranked scoring and passing offense. Spearheaded by quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Clemson possesses arguably the most dynamic offensive attack that the Buckeyes will have faced all season, which excels in an area that has been a concern for OSU in recent weeks.
Although most of his assistants are already on the road recruiting, Meyer admitted that his staff has already gotten a head start on preparing for the Tigers' prolific areal assault.
"The athleticism of their receivers is ridiculous. Having a quarterback that's able to throw and run -- it's a sector that we've lived in for years and it's difficult to defend," Meyer said. "I've already began looking at it. There's certainly things that we've gotta get fixed and get fixed in a hurry, because we know what's coming down the road here."
Playing on the shore of the Biscayne Bay, the Buckeyes' upcoming bowl game will serve as a homecoming for a number of Ohio State players from the Sunshine State, including running back Carlos Hyde, tight end Jeff Heuerman, defensive end Joey Bosa, and linebacker Ryan Shazier. A product of Plantation High School, Shazier said that he's excited to be headed home for a return to South Florida.
"It will be really cool to be able to play Clemson in Florida in the Orange Bowl game in front of my family and friends," Shazier said. "It will be nice to be able to play the last game of the season in my home state. It will mean a lot."
But while their will be plenty of pageantry for the Buckeyes in the coming weeks, the focus remains on picking up their 13th victory of the season and sending out their senior class with a win. Deemed to be Ohio State's "heart and soul" by his head coach, left tackle Jack Mewhort is looking forward to bouncing back after this past weekend's conference championship game collapse.
"To get a win in a big time bowl and at the same time show some resiliency would be a great way to go out," he said. "I couldn't ask at this point for anything more than to play in a BCS bowl game, and getting to go to battle with these guys I've been fortunate to play with for the last four or five years will be great."