Buckeyes Know They Must Bounce Back

OSU's first loss in 648 days has them doing some soul searching. But cornerback Dustin Fox says there is little time to lament with four ranked teams remaining on the schedule, including No. 9 Iowa which visits Saturday.

Ohio State tasted defeat Saturday night at Wisconsin for the first time in 648 days, falling to the Badgers 17-10 to end a 19-game winning streak.

The defeat was OSU's first since a 31-28 loss at the hands of South Carolina in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1, 2002.

"We haven't lost in so long, we're not used to it," said OSU cornerback Dustin Fox. "It's not something you want to be used to. We need to come back and be resilient."

Although Ohio State (5-1, 1-1 Big Ten) -- which dropped from third to eighth in the national polls after the loss -- appears to be out of contention to repeat as the national champions, the Buckeyes still have a lot to play for. And, even more importantly, they have a long and tough road the rest of the way, beginning with Saturday's game with No. 9 Iowa (3:30 p.m., ABC regional telecast).

That game is one of four OSU has against teams ranked in the current AP poll. No. 15 Michigan State, No. 13 Purdue and No. 17 Michigan also loom down the stretch.

OSU needs another Big Ten team to defeat Wisconsin to have a chance to earn a share of the Big Ten title. UW would have to lose twice or fall into a multi-team tie with the Buckeyes and another team (possibly Purdue) for OSU to earn the Rose Bowl bid.

But OSU coach Jim Tressel is confident the Buckeyes will rebound from this defeat.

"I have a lot of confidence in our guys," Tressel said. "People have been asking ever since spring practice about what's the quality of our senior leadership and what's the quality of our football team. Sometimes, you don't really know those things until you're in some adverse conditions. I have a lot of confidence they will respond to it. They're hurt, no question."

Tressel was asked where the Buckeyes stand in the various championship hunts.

"We don't really talk about that stuff a whole bunch," Tressel said. "We talked about at the beginning of the year that if we wanted to definitely be in that last game, we better win all of our games. Maybe we don't get in there with that. If you want to win an outright Big Ten championship, you better win all of your league games. I don't know if that's true this year, but we will go after the next one."

The coach was also asked about OSU seeing its long winning streak go by the wayside.

"I am concerned more right now about where we need to go," Tressel said. "Those 19 games, we still won them. We didn't lose those. But we lost this one. We need to move forward and work hard. We need to do a lot better job when we get a chance to play next weekend."

Senior defensive tackle and co-captain Tim Anderson agreed that the winning streak was irrelevant.

"It doesn't matter that we won 19 in a row," he said. "It doesn't matter what you did before this weekend. What matters is what you did today. We lost tonight and we've got to deal with it and do our best to learn from it."

Senior defensive end and co-captain Will Smith added, "We've got to move on. It is sad that we lost, but we can't dwell on it. We've still got a lot of games left. If we get down and disappointed because we lost to Wisconsin, we're not going to win too many games after that. This is just something we will have to prove again."

Senior flanker Drew Carter, who enjoyed a big game with three catches for 90 yards, believes OSU can still have a special year.

"We can't say the season is over," Carter said. "We can still play for the Big Ten championship. We can still win the Big Ten because you never know what will happen."

Defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio has faith that the Buckeyes will not pack it in.

"I'm very confident in our players," Dantonio said. "Our players play hard. They compete. The line up every day and come to practice."

But Fox knows OSU has no time to cry over spilled milk. Iowa comes in off an emotional win over Michigan a week ago. A second Big Ten loss for either side would be devastating.

"There are so many things that went into it," Fox said. "We need to break it down and figure out what happened. It was our specialty units, we didn't get things done on offense and it was the same thing on defense. We have to get a lot better before next week with a really good team coming in."


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