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'When Adversity Hits You Get to See Who the Tough Guys are and Who are Not'
By Tony Gerdeman
Jabrill Peppers' interception was just one example of the Buckeyes overcoming adversity.
Photo courtesy

COLUMBUS — There are plenty of ways to measure toughness and almost all of them involve enduring some kind of pain along the way.

There is a certain toughness that comes along with withstanding that pain, but the kind of toughness a football coach is looking for requires an eventual response, rather than perpetual tolerance.

On Saturday, down 17-7 late in the third quarter to the Wolverines, the Buckeyes provided those responses, and Michigan tolerated it.

Ohio State battled back, tying the game 17-17 with a Tyler Durbin field goal with one second remaining in regulation, and that came after missing a field goal seven minutes earlier.

The Buckeyes didn't allow that miss to cloud their approach. They simply regrouped and went back to work because that's what they've been coached to do for years. That's what every offseason is building toward.

"We don’t like to say it’s a survival," defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said. "We try to say that in those elements you want to thrive. I think that’s what I’m most proud of, to see those guys who got in those situations, those elements where they’re down and there’s some doubt in their minds, things aren’t going exactly well, and they thrived in that environment, thrived in that situation. That’s kind of what we breed them to do every single day in the off-season. I’m happy they did it."

This was the fifth time this season the Buckeyes have played in a game decided by one score. They have won four of those, twice overcoming 10-point deficits -- both times against Top 10 teams. In fact, the only one-score contest they lost this season was at Penn State, and that came after OSU held a 14-point lead. As we saw last season, sometimes handling success has been more of a challenge for this program than handling adversity.

In Meyer's first five years at Ohio State, his Buckeye teams have won 17 of 20 games decided by one score or less. That's handling adversity the right way. In seven such games as Michigan's head coach, Jim Harbaugh has won three and lost four, including two losses in three attempts this season.

"Throughout the game there were ups and downs," linebacker Chris Worley explained. "I said it before we played the last game against those Green and White guys, you’re going to see who everyone is in these last two games. Games like this, games like last week, you separate the grown men from the boys."

In the end, the Buckeyes were separated from the Wolverines by just three points, though it may have seemed like more from the Ohio State sideline.

"When adversity hits, you get to see who the tough guys are and who are not," Worley said.

"That’s what it’s all about. The game is not always going to be perfect. When you fight through those bad times throughout the game you’ll find a way to scratch and claw out a victory. That makes guys who they are. As coach Meyer would say, legends are made and careers are born. That’s just what it’s about."

Player profiles relevant to story:
35 - Worley, Chris
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