Ohio State hopes to avoid Boilermaker burnout
COLUMBUS – Michigan might be the most prominent word on Urban Meyer’s list of prohibited words, but losing is the most distasteful.
Ohio State has not had the bad taste of losing in its mouth since Meyer was hired in November 2011 to pull OSU out of the disappointment and disillusionment of a turbulent 6-7 season, the first losing season at Ohio State since 1988.
OSU has won 20 games in a row going into Saturday’s game at Purdue. Meyer’s personal streak is 21 games, dating back to Florida’s loss to Florida State in its last regular-season game in 2010.
By Saturday, Ohio State will have gone 670 days without a loss since being beaten by Florida in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, 2012.
The winning streak, or more specifically, the possible end of the streak is not something Meyer spends much time thinking about or talking about.
“That ‘L’ word is not a good word for anyone,” Meyer said earlier this week. “Do I still feel it (the memory of what it’s like to lose)? Yeah, and I just want to avoid it at all costs.”
While probably no one would have predicted a 20-game winning streak, Meyer knew he was not walking into a smoldering ruin at Ohio State.
“I have so much respect for Ohio State and the previous coaching staff. I knew all of those guys. I knew Coach Tressel very well. So I kind of figured it would be (OK). There are always some issues, but nothing that can’t get fixed. And you can recruit good players at Ohio State.”
Losing might be a word to be avoided when discussing the winning streak but it appears to be a motivational tool for Meyer and OSU’s coaches to use this week.
“We’ve got some pretty good agitators around here,” Meyer said about his coaching staff.
This year’s Purdue team (1-6, 1-3 Big Ten) is probably the worst in the Big Ten. But several Ohio State players referred to past struggles by heavily favored OSU teams in the past when they talked about the Boilermakers.
Last year, a heavily favored Ohio State team had to go into overtime to get a 29-22 win on the day the legend of Kenny Guiton was born.
In 2011, Purdue won in overtime after blocking a potential game-winning extra point kick by Drew Basil in the final minute of regulation. And in 2009, a Purdue team that had lost five games in a row knocked off No. 7 Ohio State 26-18.
“It’s always one team that’s out to get you and Purdue seems like that team,” Ohio State linebacker Curtis Grant said. “When I was a freshman (2011), we went up there and took a loss. That sticks in my mind a lot.”
Cornerback Doran Grant said, “I know the history (with Purdue). We know what we’ve got to do.”
Tight end Jeff Heuerman has bad memories from 2011, too.
“I was there my freshman year and it didn’t turn out the way that we wanted it. I think there are a lot of guys on the team that remember that. This week is a big week for us. We have something to prove going back to Purdue,” he said.