Yet it was not all bad news on that side of the football for Ohio State. Take Joey Bosa for example. The freshman defensive lineman was one of the only players to consistently put pressure on MSU quarterback Connor Cook. In fact, Bosa recorded Ohio State's lone sack and had a game-high two tackles for loss with three quarterback hurries.
As the Buckeyes sputtered down the stretch defensively, Bosa remained a reason for optimism for the future. The freshman enters Ohio State's Orange Bowl clash with Clemson with 39 tackles, 12½ for loss, with 6½ sacks, a team-high six quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery. Those tackles for loss rank third on the team, as does his sack totals.
For his efforts, Bosa was recently named a freshman All-American by College Football News and Sporting News.
"It's good to see that all my hard work is being rewarded. (But) I'm not really focused on individual accomplishments. I have to finish the season strong," Bosa said.
Bosa has arguably had the second-best freshman campaign in the Big Ten, behind only conference freshman of the year Christian Hackenberg of Penn State. The Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas product claimed to have no expectations heading into the season, but no matter whether he did or did not, Bosa's first season as a Buckeye has been solid.
Not that it was all sunshine and puppies right away.
"I definitely wouldn't say it's come easy because at the beginning I wasn't really a good player," Bosa said.
The defining moment for the 6-6, 275-pounder came Oct. 5 in Evanston when Ohio State held off upset-minded Northwestern. Bosa recorded his first collegiate sack – finishing the game with two, in fact – while making five stops. He even scored the game's final touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone.
"That was a big turning point," said Bosa, who was named Big Ten freshman of the week after the win.
Bosa, an all-Big Ten honorable mention selection, will return to his native Florida for the Orange Bowl on a streak of five consecutive games with a TFL and four in a row with a sack. Admittedly still disappointed after the Michigan State loss, Bosa is excited about going home. The Buckeyes will practice in Fort Lauderdale prior to the game against the Tigers.
"Obviously we're still all getting over (the loss), but it's a big game," Bosa said. "I'm going back home to Miami. It's going to be fun. It's a big game playing a good team. It means a lot."