The group, made up of fourth- and fifth-year seniors and juniors who will depart the program following the season, will be honored before the game during Senior Day ceremonies prior to the Buckeyes’ noon kickoff vs. rival Michigan. They have been a part of plenty of success – a 24-game winning streak, a still-ongoing 23-game regular-season conference winning streak and an unbeaten season in 2012.
Still, it has not always been sunshine and puppies. They have won no conference championships, though the fifth-year seniors who were taking redshirt seasons in 2010 were on a team that ended the year sharing the league crown before that campaign was vacated. Head coach Jim Tressel left the program during that following spring, leading to a 2011 season that saw Ohio State finish with a losing record for the first time since 1988.
Then came the arrival of Urban Meyer. Ohio State has won 34 out of Meyer’s first 37 games, but two of those losses came in big games. The Buckeyes failed to claim the Big Ten championship last season, losing to Michigan State in the conference title game. Then Ohio State dropped the Orange Bowl against Clemson.
“A lot of guys in our class are like, ‘We haven’t won anything since we’ve been here,’ ” senior cornerback Doran Grant said. “We’ve won a couple (division) championships, but we haven’t won a Big Ten title or anything bigger than that. That’s our main goal is to win the Big Ten championship and of course beat the Team Up North.”
“It basically fires us up because we don’t want to be that class to not win anything,” Grant added. “We know how important this is to us, personally, and of course to the season, to the team and to the fans.”
The departing Buckeyes have also seen ups and downs in battles against the Wolverines. The seniors are 2-1 against U-M. Ohio State fell 40-34 in Ann Arbor in 2011 before earning hard-fought wins the next two years.
For many of the seniors, the loss was their first experience in the rivalry and one they have not forgotten.
“I only played special teams, and I saw the effect that it had. It was just crazy,” senior linebacker Curtis Grant said. “After that, obviously we lost, but it was like, ‘We can never lose to them again.’ ”
The Buckeyes beat visiting Michigan 26-21 in 2012 in Meyer’s first year as OSU head coach. Last season in Ann Arbor, Tyvis Powell saved the day for Ohio State by intercepting a late two-point conversion pass to give the Buckeyes a 42-41 win.
For the 24 departing Buckeyes, Saturday is the end of their time at Ohio Stadium and their time in the legendary Ohio State-Michigan rivalry. Naturally, emotions will be swirling for each man.
“I have been thinking about it a lot and I am not excited about it, it is going to be sad obviously and I just have to cherish the moment,” fifth-year senior offensive tackle Darryl Baldwin said.
Added Curtis Grant: “I’ve been thinking about it all week, but there are so many thoughts. I really can’t place it right now. This year, I’ve been having a blast. All my other years haven’t been too great for me, but in my final year you go out with a bang. You can’t be sad about that.”
Another reason for the departing Buckeyes to not be sad is that the season does not end Saturday. The Buckeyes still have a chance to add to their legacies, something that Meyer mentioned during his Monday press conference.
“This book’s not written yet,” Meyer said. “I’m pleased with it, but these next couple are going to … that’s going to be their legacy. Our legacy, I should say.”
The Buckeyes will face the West Division champion Dec. 6 in the Big Ten Championship Game. After that, Ohio State’s postseason fate is to be determined.
Senior Day Honorees
Darryl Baldwin, RT, 5th Sr.
Michael Bennett, DT, Sr.
Chris Carter, DT, Jr.
Kyle Clinton, K, 5th Sr.
Russell Doup, LS, 5th Sr.
Rashad Frazier, DE, 5th Sr.
Curtis Grant, LB, Sr.
Doran Grant, CB, Sr.
Peter Gwilym, WR, Sr.
Joel Hale, OG, Sr.
Jeff Heuerman, TE, Sr.
Devin Hill, TE, Sr.
John Holman, DL, Sr.
Kosta Karageorge, DL, Sr.
Steve Miller, DE, Sr.
J.T. Moore, TE, 5th Sr.
Chris Rock, TE, Sr.
Jake Russell, K, Sr.
Nic Sarac, CB, Sr.
Tim Scott, K, Sr.
Devin Smith, WR, Sr.
Nick Snyder, LB, Jr.
Evan Spencer, WR, Sr.
Antonio Underwood, OL, Jr.