Ohio State returns to Bloomington, where the last trip was a "program changer," Urban Meyer says

The last time Ohio State traveled to Bloomington, it was a bit of a horror show for the Buckeye defense, and Urban Meyer left an unhappy camper. This week, he called that win a "game changer" as far as how he approaches his team.

Since Urban Meyer came to Ohio State, the Buckeyes have taken on the likes of Oregon, Alabama, Michigan State and Clemson.

But none of those teams have scored as many points against the Buckeyes as one team did in Meyer’s first year at Ohio State.

On Oct. 13, 2012, the Buckeyes put up 52 points on the Indiana Hoosiers, yet won by only three as the OSU defense needed to recover a second onside kick with under a minute to play in order to seal a 52-49 victory.

Despite leading 52-34 with less than two minutes to play, the Buckeyes allowed two scores sandwiching an Indiana onside kick, something Meyer said is still fresh in his memory.

“I remember it very well. That was a game changer as far as how we approach (defense),” Meyer said. “If you don't play hard, you're not going to play.”

The Buckeye defense, which was led by fullback-turned-linebacker Zach Boren in tackles that night in his first game on the defensive side of the ball at OSU, allowed 481 yards of total offense and three touchdown passes. Two of those touchdown passes came from then-freshman quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who is set to start against the Buckeyes on Saturday.

Meyer said after that game, he changed a few things on the defensive side after an alarmingly poor performance.

“That was one of the few times I've ever seen a defense quit playing hard, and that was a problem. That was a program changer,” Meyer said. “Mistakes are one thing, but when I saw what I saw at that, that was not a good moment.”

A freshman linebacker during that game, Joshua Perry said he still remembers going through film the following day and the coaching staff being less than pleased.

“That just wasn't very good of a performance. I don't think we finished very well,” Perry, now a senior captain, said. “You could see it on the film,and I remember coming in the next day and coach just pulling up plays and pointing out where guys weren't playing. We weren't finishing, they weren't doing their assignment.”

Senior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington, who was also a freshman on that team, said he remembered the meeting that Perry mentioned being one of a kind.

“It was a defensive meeting. He had the whole defense in the team room and he was going over the film with us, telling us things that we needed to improve on and stuff like that,” Washington said. “That was the only time, and still the only time that (Meyer) has ever done that.”


Now three years later, the Buckeye defense has undergone a complete overhaul and rank near the top in the country in multiple categories including points allowed (T-10th) and total defense (6th).

Perry, who did not record a tackle in the 2012 matchup, said he expects much better from the Buckeye defense this time around.

“We saw a game (in 2012) where we were up a little bit and guys just let up. That's one thing that we are not going to do. Indiana has given us some really good games in the past and I know that their offense is just firing right now and they are playing really well,” Perry said. “They score a lot of points, they've got a pretty balanced attack right now.”

That offensive attack is led by Sudfeld, who after suffering a season-ending injury last season has been putting up big numbers in his return in 2015. Sudfeld currently ranks second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game with 285.8 yards per game and has thrown seven touchdown passes to just one interception.

He entered the 2012 game against Ohio State in place of Cameron Coffman and completed 6 of 10 passes for 77 yards and two scores. In addition, Sudfeld started against the Buckeyes in 2013 in a snow-covered Ohio Stadium and completed 25 of 41 passes for 224 yards and another two scores without throwing an interception.

Perry, who got the chance to spend time with Sudfeld at the 2015 Big Ten Media Days as the two were co-speakers at the league's Kickoff Luncheon, said Sudfeld has earned his respect by the way he carries himself on and off the field.

“He's a great guy, his teammates definitely respect him a lot. A lot of people throughout the Big Ten respect him. He is a solid overall dude,” Perry said. “We spent some time just yuckin it up a little bit and I really enjoyed the time I spent with him.”

But when the ball is kicked on Saturday, Washington knows that the Buckeyes are going to be tested.

“We are definitely up for a challenge, especially as a defense,” Washington said. “Last week I feel like we got exposed a little bit, and we just got to come to play because this is the best offense we are going to face so far this year.”

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