Meyer’s men survived some suboptimal circumstances – a redshirt freshman quarterback playing in his first college game, a shaky offensive line and the unique triple option that Navy just about ran to perfection while racking up 370 rushing yards – to come away with a 34-17 win against the Midshipmen.
“Second of all, I have a lot of respect for Navy,” he said. “The best thing about this game is that it’s in the rearview mirror. It seems like we had been working on this game forever.”
That was a popular sentiment in Ohio State’s postgame gathering, as players and coaches expressed relief to be done with a formidable opponent that ran a scheme the Buckeyes won’t see again this season, barring a bowl game matchup against one of the service academies or Georgia Tech.
“That was a tough game, and you’re never going to see anything like that for the rest of the year,” said Ohio State senior defensive tackle Michael Bennett. “We’re not going to see anything. The way they ran (the triple option), the speed they had, their running backs… I’ve never been against a running back that runs harder than those running backs.
“Their O-line, the guys looked like they were like 6-foot, maybe, and definitely not as big as me, but they were moving. They gave us troubles all night. That’s just a grinder game.”
After heading into the locker room down 7-6 at halftime, it took until the fourth quarter for the Buckeyes to put the game away. Two big third-quarter plays – a 61-yard fumble return by Darron Lee and an 80-yard touchdown catch by Devin Smith – gave Ohio State a cushion, and a pair of fourth quarter scores – a 10-yard run by Ezekiel Elliott and a 9-yard reception from Michael Thomas – sealed the victory.
“We have a pretty tough program, we work out hard, and those are the types of games a team needs to come together,” sophomore “H” Dontre Wilson said. “Once we got to the second half, they were pretty tired… we kept our foot on the gas and came out with a victory.”
That was all Ohio State needed, as the Buckeyes were happy to walk away from this game in good health and with their first win of the season.
“Now we can move on to teams that aren’t the triple option, because you’re not going to see the triple option ever again,” Bennett said. “That was more of a team that people hate to start with because it’s so different and it’s a tough game and those guys are really good at what they do. It’s great to get them out of the way, and Virginia Tech is going to be a pass rushing game and that’s what we love to do.”