There are victories in defeat; what doesn't kill you makes you stronger; every dark cloud has a silver lining; everything happens for a reason. Use whatever cliché you want, but we all learned a few things in Ohio State's regular season capping loss to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship ending the Buckeyes and Urban Meyer's 24-game win streak and destroying their hopes of playing in the BCS National Championship game against Florida State.
Coach Meyer said multiple times throughout the season that the defense was a concern, and the way they played on Saturday proved it. The secondary was vulnerable to the deep ball. There were numerous miscues and mistakes on coverage, not to mention multiple pass interference calls that led to Spartan points. The most frustrating thing about this defense is their seeming inability to wrap up the ball carrier. The defense allowed Michigan State's Jeremy Langford to average 5.3 yards per carry and made Connor Cook look like Peyton Manning, allowing him to throw for 304 yards and three touchdowns. If he can cook the Buckeye defense, lord only knows what Tajh Boyd can do in the Orange Bowl.
Whether it's personnel adjustments or just an emphasis on the fundamentals with live tackling in practice, you can expect for all the criticism Luke Fickell's received (and mostly deservedly so), the end product you see in Miami will differ greatly from what's become all too familiar in 2013.
Reverse the trend
The B1G Offensive Player of the Year Braxton Miller had a relatively small game, only throwing for 101 yards, his lowest total of the year (besides San Diego State when he got hurt on the opening drive). Miller ran for 142 yards, which kept the Buckeyes in the game. However, in order for the offense to work at its optimum efficiency, Ohio State needs Miller to have a dominant passing game to keep the opposing defense on their heels. The last two games, Miller has gone 8-of-21 and 6-of-15. If Ohio State wants to win the Orange Bowl, the junior leader will need to nip this seemingly growing trend in the bud.
We know what Miller's capable of, and while no one knows for sure if Miller's staying or going, Miami will provide him the proving ground to either jump start his NFL career or his 2014 Heisman campaign.
Feed the beast
Carlos Hyde had a solid game, running for 118 yards on 18 carries. However, it's safe to say Offensive Coordinator Tom Herman dropped the ball when it came to utilizing Hyde in the offense. As LGHL's own Christropher Jason pointed out, Carlos Hyde was in the game for 56 snaps, carrying the ball just 18 times (his lowest total in a competitive game since his 17 carries versus Wisconsin). Jason also posed the question, why did Coach Herman go away from what got the Buckeyes 24 straight wins? Valid question.
Ohio State was dominant all year in between the tackles (and outside, for that matter). The Buckeyes are the fourth best running team in the nation, averaging 317.5 yards per game. Saturday, they ran for just 273. Meyer and Herman broke the norm and left their bread and butter offense on the table, failing to execute outside of their well-known power offense. Instead of playing Tressel Ball and bleeding the clock, Meyer, Herman and the offense failed to close out the game due to poor execution down the stretch. I can tell you one thing for certain: 25 yards in the fourth quarter won't beat Clemson.
With Clemson looming, change is afoot. You can bet that Coach Meyer and his staff (particularly with a new, longer recruiting dead period in effect) will have their time monopolized by the small things. The team that you see in Florida will be (and likely has to be) diametrically different than the one you saw in Indianapolis in order to cap the season on a high note.