COLUMBUS – Ohio State’s 22-game winning streak, which is expected to become a school-record 23 games on Saturday against Indiana, started under circumstances similar to those which led up to the previous record.
The current Buckeyes share the record with the OSU football teams of 1967, 1968 and 1969.
In 1967, Ohio State football was in a downturn. The Buckeyes lost three of their first five games after going 4-5 the year before. But they won their last four games and OSU didn’t lose again until the Michigan game in 1969.
Like 1967, Ohio State began its current winning streak after hitting a low point. A 24-17 loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, 2012 completed the first losing season at OSU since 1988.
The next day Urban Meyer and his coaching staff took over and Ohio State hasn’t lost since.
Even the players who have been there through the entirety of the current streak didn’t see that kind of success coming when they got on the plane to fly home from the Gator Bowl.
“I never would have guessed that,” senior backup quarterback Kenny Guiton said. “We all left the Gator Bowl with a sour taste. We didn’t know what the future would hold. We weren’t headed in the right direction at the time.”
Offensive lineman Corey Linsley said, “I don’t think anybody really wanted to be at the Gator Bowl and obviously that wasn’t our expectation going into the season. Those were the darkest moments.”
Losing to Michigan in the last regular-season game might have been an even lower point, Linsley said. “After that game everybody was like, ‘We haven’t lost to these guys in forever.’ There were two classes that went through and never lost to them.
“Coming from that moment, it’s a whole ’nother world away,” Linsley said. “There’s a lot of reasons why we were 6-7 and why we’re undefeated now. But regardless, I think we’ve done nothing but worked hard and earned this spot.
“It’s been one heck of a ride. Just a lot of stuff thrown at us. For the guys that stuck it out, through everything, through the ups and downs, it’s absolutely been worth it.”
Another offensive lineman, Jack Mewhort, says OSU has grown since bottoming out at the end of a tumultuous 2011 season.
“It seems like these guys care a lot. I’ve seen guys change over the years and really become selfless people. You’ve seen guys transform from me guys into team guys. That’s something that’s great that has happened around here, ” Mewhort said. “I think we did a lot of growing up.”
The current Buckeyes (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) are carefully avoiding talking about the streak, heading into Saturday’s game against Indiana (4-6, 2-4 Big Ten).
“At the end of this game, if we get this win then that will be a heck of an accomplishment, but right now we’re just focused on beating Indiana. Because Indiana doesn’t really care about our win streak,” Linsley said.
Mewhort said, “We’re kind of done looking forward. We have our eyes on something but we don’t want to do a lot of talking about it.”