COLUMBUS – How many ways can you say you have to get over a loss and move on to the next game?
The answer was five for Ohio State on Monday during coach Urban Meyer’s press conference and the interview session with three players and an assistant coach that followed it.
The Buckeyes found themselves in that situation, answering questions they probably never expected to be asked, after letting a 14-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter of a 24-21 loss at Penn State last Saturday night.
It was the first loss of the season for No. 6 Ohio State (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten). The loss dropped them four spots in The Associated Press college football rankings and knocked them out of a share of the lead in the Big Ten’s East Division.
A sampling of the Buckeyes’ reaction to the loss and where they go from here:
“You’ve got to move forward,” Meyer said. “If you lose a game, you’re not a loser. If you lose a game, you accept it. That’s our message to the players.
“It happened. Move on. Get ready for a very good team coming in here,” he said, referring to Northwestern, who will be OSU’s next opponent on Saturday afternoon in Ohio Stadium.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett said, “We’re going to find out what we’re made of. Everybody is doing fine when we’re winning games. When our backs are against the wall and things are against us, and we lost, I think it really shows your true character, your true colors.
“Losing happens in football. We do our best to prevent it. You go back to what we were built on, which is toughness and going to work, grinding. I think that’s what we’re going to go back to so this doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Defensive end Tyquan Lewis said, “We have to put that behind us and keep moving forward. We’ll come out tomorrow (Tuesday) and have a great practice and get ready to beat Northwestern.”
One of the big questions is how Ohio State’s 16 first-year starters and its other young players will react to their first loss of the season, or in some cases, the first loss of their college careers.
Junior offensive lineman looked at that and said, “The crazy thing is we’ve only lost five games in five years. As we sit here, the world is ending. But the sun came up. This isn’t an occurrence that happens often. But we grow from this, we get tighter, we focus on us. We don’t worry about everybody else and the fans. We need to focus in on us.
“The next week (after a loss), you have to get hungry, you have to get after it,” he said. “There is not a question of ability on our team. We have very, very talented guys.
It (losing) gets that chip back on your shoulder. Everybody talked about how young we were and how good we weren’t supposed to be, and then the next thing you know we’re performing pretty well and all of a sudden you get smacked in the face. So now it’s time to go out and showcase our skills and what we’re all about. We’re really looking forward to getting after Northwestern.”
Northwestern is 4-3 overall and 3-1 in the Big Ten. It has won four of its last five games after losing its first two games to Western Michigan and Illinois State.