COLUMBUS – If ever a game would seem to be a “revenge” game, it would be Ohio State’s match-up with Michigan State on Saturday.
A year ago, Michigan State took away Ohio State’s chance to possibly play for a second consecutive football national championship with a 17-14 upset of the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium.
But for the most part, OSU’s players and coach Urban Meyer wanted no part of the “revenge” angle in this year’s game during interviews on Monday.
Meyer says he has played the revenge card at times in his past, but hasn’t so far this week,
“It depends on the team. I have not even thought about it one bit,” he said at his weekly press conference.
Linebacker Raekwon McMillan and quarterback J.T. Barrett also said the trip to East Lansing is not about revenge.
“We lost to them in our stadium last year. I wouldn’t call it revenge. We just want to get back out there and get the job done this weekend,” McMillan said.
“Whenever we lose here at Ohio State, it’s because we beat ourselves. We gave up some big opportunities to make plays last year (against Michigan State) and it just played out how it did,” he said.
Barrett said, “I don’t think it’s revenge. Would I say I’ve forgotten? No. Does it mean a lot each year playing against Michigan State? Absolutely. But revenge? I don’t think that’s the right word to use.”
Offensive lineman Billy Price didn’t use the word “revenge,” but he did seem to indicate last year’s outcome hasn’t been forgotten.
“There’s a little bit of human element that comes into the game, especially with them ruining our Senior Night and ruining the season we were supposed to have. It’s tough. It’s in the back of your mind. Absolutely,” Price said.
Two years ago, the last time Ohio State went to Michigan State for a game, the Buckeyes’ players expressed their disappointment more openly over a heart-breaking loss to MSU in the 2013 Big Ten championship game.
Before the 2014 game, wide receiver Devin Smith said, “I’m not going to lie to you. I cried for like two days,” when asked about the previous year’s loss to Michigan State.
Linebacker Curtis Grant said, “I’ll never forget that because I thought last year we were going to win it all.”
Whether or not revenge fueled them in any way, the Buckeyes came out of East Lansing with a 49-37 win. And that win, along with a 59-0 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game, helped get OSU into the College Football Playoff.
However, like Meyer said, revenge as a motivator doesn’t always work with every team.
After Michigan State, coached by Nick Saban, ruined Ohio State’s chances for a national championship with a come-from-behind 28-24 win in Ohio Stadium in 1998, the 1999 OSU team talked quite a bit about getting some revenge at Michigan State.
The result wasn’t exactly what they were looking for. Michigan State won 23-7, held Ohio State to 79 yards of total offense and 0 rushing yards.