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Ohio State football: Urban Meyer's night vision

Ohio State moved to 17-0 under Urban Meyer after a safe victory over Wisconsin on Saturday. More importantly, the Buckeyes and Meyer upped their record to 5-0 in games starting after 5:00pm. There's a reason why Meyer wants more night games: he wins them.

Meyer is undefeated at Ohio State in night games
Meyer is undefeated at Ohio State in night games
Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Buckeyes beat Wisconsin on Saturday, 31-24.  It wasn't that close.  Urban Meyer put on his best sweater vest, played field position and let a 17-point lead hold to give the Buckeyes their fifth win of the year, and the seventeenth straight victory since Meyer took the reins from Luke Fickell, who took the reins from the coach Meyer seemed to emulate on Saturday night.

The gameplan was simple enough: let Braxton Miller be XBRAX360 on offense, sell out against Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and James White on defense, and make Joel Stave (and Jared Abbrederis) try to beat you.  The first part of that plan worked just fine, thanks, as Miller went for 198 yards through the air, with four touchdowns.  The second part worked even better, as the two-headed Badger monster was held to 105 yards, and both backs were out-gained on the ground by Miller.  Part three, well...two out of three ain't bad, as the poet once said.

But it all adds up to a win, another in a long line of consecutive ones since Meyer took over.  The 17 straight wins is impressive, and with the rest of the Big Ten looking suspect once again, the Buckeyes could be on to something special yet again.

Meyer is a force on the recruiting side of the Buckeye world, and his field generals are among the best in the nation.  For seemingly ever, the biggest draws to coming to Ohio State were usually the tradition, the gameday experience, the staff and the rivalry against Michigan.  But Meyer knows how the winds are shifting.  He knows that recruits need more than just a sousaphone dotting an "i".  They need special guests at the Skull Session.  They need different threads than the ones they grew up seeing.  And more than anything, they want to play under the lights, in front of the whole country.  Meyer gets this.  He wants night games, and not only because of the benefit to the future of the program.

Meyer probably also wants them because of how well his teams play when the sun goes down, especially on offense and in the win column.

Let's take a look back at some of Meyer's teams in games that started after 5:00pm EST.

2006 Florida Gators

Game Note
Opponent Gametime Passing Yards Rushing Yards Total Yards Result
Home Southern Miss 6:oopm 248 yds 143 yds 391 yds W, 34-7
Home UCF 6:00pm 433 yds 204 yds 367 yds W, 42-0
Away Tennessee 8:00pm 199 yds 121 yds 320 yds W, 21-20
Home Kentucky 7:45pm 279 yds 235 yds 514 yds W, 26-7
Away Auburn 6:45pm 108 yds 171 yds 279 yds L, 27-17
SEC Champ Arkansas 6:00pm 194 yds 202 yds 396 yds W, 38-28
BCS Champ Ohio State 8:30pm 214 yds 156 yds 370 yds W, 41-14

In Meyer's second year at Florida, the Gators played in an almost unheard of seven night games, including two postseason games, the SEC and BCS Championships.  The results for that Florida offense, led by Chris Leak and Percy Harvin, were solid offensive performances, the highlight coming against Kentucky.  Though, I guess, one could argue that the actual highlight was beating the Buckeyes for the national championship.  But I digress.

Meyer's 2006 team averaged 377 yards of total offense in their night games, en route to a 6-1 record, culminating in a national championship.  There were plenty of close calls for these gators (the Tennessee game, and a nail-biting 17-16 win over South Carolina), but the ends more than justified the means.

2008 Florida Gators

Game Note Opponent Gametime Passing Yards Rushing Yards Total Yards Result
Home Miami (FL) 8:00pm 256 yds 89 yds 345 yds W, 26-3
Home Louisiana State 8:00pm 210 yds 265 yds 475 yds W, 51-21
Away Vanderbilt 7:00pm 191 yds 231 yds 422 yds W, 42-14
BCS Champ Oklahoma 8:20pm 231 yds 249 yds 480 yds W, 24-14

Another year, another impressive slate of night games for an Urban Meyer team.  This time, Meyer's teams upped their average to 430 yards of total offense, and went undefeated in the evening hours.  This gator team, too, would face some adversity, with Saint Tebow of Gainesville making his biblical "promise" after a 31-30 loss to Ole Miss. Result: national champions once again.

2012 Ohio State Buckeyes

Game Note Opponent Gametime Passing Yards Rushing Yards Total Yards Result
Home Nebraska 8:00pm 127 yds 371 yds 498 yds W, 63-38
Away Indiana 8:00pm 225 yds 353 yds 578 yds W, 52-49
Away Penn State 5:30pm 143 yds 234 yds 377 yds W, 35-23

Meyer's first year in Columbus famously ended without a loss, but not without a lot of question marks for the Buckeyes.  Nebraska and Indiana did not have a shred of defense in their games, but enough offense to keep things interesting for most of their games.  The Penn State game, similarly, was a classic Big Ten slugfest, that wasn't over until Jake Stoneburner took a Braxton Miller pass to the house to seal the victory.

2013 Ohio State Buckeyes

Game Note Opponent Gametime Passing Yards Rushing Yards Total Yards Result
Away California 7:00pm 276 yds 332 yds 608 yds W, 52-34
Home Wisconsin 8:00pm 198 yds 192 yds 390 yds W, 31-24
Away Northwestern 8:00pm
Home Penn State 8:00pm
B1G Champ* TBD 8:15pm
Bowl* TBD

There will be at least two more night games in Ohio State's future, and if all goes according to plan (hence the *), there could be two more, with the Big Ten Championship game slated for a late kick, and a potential bowl game possibly a late kick as well.

Add it all up, and in his two championship seasons at Florida, and so far in his tenure at Ohio State, Urban Meyer is 15-1 after the clock strikes 5:00pm, and is beating opponents by an average of 37-20, while putting up over 430 yards of total offense per game, on average.  Some purists may hem and haw at the possibility of playing less of the standard Noon games in the Big Ten.  But Meyer knows the future of the Buckeyes, of the Big Ten, and of recruiting are in making changes for the better.

With 15 wins (and counting) in four very important years for Meyer, this is one change that is a no-brainer.