Ohio State Falls Short Against Clemson in the Orange Bowl, Loses 40-35

osuHelmetLet’s get this out of the way: this loss is not Corey “Philly” Brown’s fault.


If there was ever a time to play the “what-if?” game, tonight’s Orange Bowl lose to Clemson is certainly one of them. There were so many turning points, so many opportunities to question play calling, officiating, decision making, the whole nine yards. Let’s look at a few of them.

We’ll start at the end. The Stephone Anthony interception of Braxton Miller. First off, what happened there? Brown was open behind Anthony. That’s a pass Braxton makes every time, but it was awfully under thrown. Was that because of Miller’s already broken down body? Either way, we can all agree that that play should have been reviewed. It may not have been overturned, but how you don’t do everything you can to get that play under review is bad. Just bad.

The curious case of Carlos Hyde: It took a little while to get Hyde in gear, but it was clear by the 2nd quarter that he had the wheels turning. He wasn’t picking up his usual seven yards a carry but he was still moving the chains. His last rushing attempt was the last play of the third quarter. He had over 100 yards through three quarters. He touched the ball TWICE in the fourth quarter, two passes from Braxton Miller. Where did he go?

Wherever he went, he took the tight ends with him. After hitting Heuerman for a touchdown in the second, they became non-existent. That was also troubling.

And yes, the Philly Brown muffed punt. That hurt the worst. At that point, Ohio State was up 29-20 and had all the momentum in their favor. They had just forced a three-and-out and had an opportunity to put points on the board and force Clemson into two huge scores. Instead of waving a fair catch on a punt that hung in the air forever, he tried to get away with bringing it down and took off before having complete control of the ball. Clemson took possession, scored 14 unanswered points and had the Buckeyes reeling after that.

And if we go all the way to the beginning of the game, let’s talk about missing Spence, Roby and Grant. Jamal Marcus played magnificently in relief duty of Spence. He deserves major kudos for that. But Roby’s absence forced defensive backs into a game they were not ready for, against a couple receivers that were flat-out better than they were. And CJ Barnett played as bad as I remember him playing. Defending the pass is not his jam, and it showed.

Finally, Braxton was battered and beaten. He played with heart but sometimes without his head. A couple really bad reads on the read option and some very unfortunate decisions on passing plays. But without him, we aren’t in a position to win anyway. I don’t fault Braxton one iota.

So that was that. With all this, Ohio State still had plenty of chances to take control. Clemson gave them multiple opportunities, especially at the end. They had their chances and they just weren’t able to capitalize.

And yes, there’s coaching. I’m not going to harp on it, but some of this can be laid at the feet of both coordinators. But Defensive Coordinator Luke Fickell was playing with a short hand to begin with. I’m sure there were tons of things he could have done differently. Things he probably should have done differently. But this isn’t a time to turn this into a bash Fickell party. Enough has already been said.

And so the 2013 Ohio State football season comes to an end. Not with a bang, but with a floating, errant pass into a Clemson defender’s hands (that he probably didn’t catch, but who cares). 12-2 is still a heck of a record. We’ve had some great moments this season. We witnessed a magical performance by Carlos Hyde. And the future is still bright. This game was not the end of the world.

Just the end of the season.


  1. Typical OSU whiner, “probably didn’t catch the pass”. Look at the stat sheet. You got beat on rushing and passing yards. Clemson tried to give it to you and the refs hit them for 15 penalties. You lost and are crying about it, just like a loser

    • Thanks for stopping by, sultan3noorJo. Last time I checked, the only stat that counts is points. So good for Clemson for gaining more yards, but that doesn’t really matter. Points do. Clemson scored more. Good for them.

      Not really crying about the interception nor the loss. I’m a little bummed, yes. No need for the hostility.

    • I started out defending Fickell…then moved to on the fence about him. Now I think he needs to take a back seat to someone else. It’s pretty clear that his defense isn’t working. I don’t believe it’s all his fault, as the players need to take a brunt of the blame as well…along with the fact that OSU was missing Spence and Roby…two of their best defenders.

      Ohio State’s goal is a championship. To do that they need a championship caliber defense and they don’t have that right now. Rumors are Meyer is looking for a homerun defensive hire. Instead of a Fickell(1A)/Whithers(1B) setup it’ll be more like a Heacock(1A)/Fickell (1B) setup. The same way it was when OSU had all that success on defense.

      The last three games were unacceptable by OSU standards. BUT…there were flashes. Joey Bosa is a future All-American DT. Wow is that kid good. Vonn Bell did get burned by Watkins…but who didn’t. He also had a great INT in the redzone. I believe that the #1 goal for Meyer will be to fix the defense in the offseason. There are good, young tools there…they just need guidance.

      On offense…

      I loved Millers toughness vs. Clemson. I watched the warmups and saw that Miller was wincing after throwing the ball. Then he clearly was shaken up after throwing his first INT while taking a massive hit. Miller doesn’t NEED to come back. He could easily go to the league and learn what he needs to while backing someone up. He has all the tools to be a great QB. BUT…he needs to learn how to the a football with finesse. He seems to have one pitch…a fastball. He reminds me of Mariano Rivera. A one pitch wonder…but he can’ get away with that vs. top flight competition.

      For anyone clamoring for Guiton….please stop. He is a backup and if he played OSU would have been blown out. Miller is a super star QB who gave OSU the lead only to have the defense give it back.

      I hope Miller comes back, because he is so fun to watch. But I would understand if he leaves.

      Dontre Wilson….the kid simply needs to see the field more. He ran 3 times for 24 yards and was used on playaction that resulted in multiple big plays for OSU.

      The OSU WR’s need to step up. I sorta questioned why OSU recruited 5 WR’s this year (seemed like a lot) but after watching Smith struggle with separation catching 2 balls for 5 yards I can see why. Heard some really good things about Corey Smith the JUCO transfer…some are saying he is the best WR on the team right now.

      Hyde. God I love him. Great, great year for him. He will be playing Sundays next year and doing it well. BUT….once again….Tom Herman failed to utilize him in the 4th quarter. One carry for 9 yards, and two catches for 39 yards and a TD…then…NOTHING???? Really Herman? REALLY? Not one touch?

      When in doubt this offense force feeds Braxton Miller which is fine…but totally predictable. I LOVE this offense, but in big games and big spots they clam up and get predictable.

      The last INT: HOW ON EARTH DOES THAT PLAY NOT GET CHALLENGED? I’m not saying it was incomplete for sure…but it was certainly questionable.

      The muffed punt: That was the absolute turning point to the game. OSU had ALL the momentum after a big stop and a 9 point lead. That fumble was a killer. Brown had struggled all year with fielding punts cleanly. Good WR…bad to inconsistent return man.

      I’ve seen too many teams this year lose games on muffed punts. I’d strongly consider not having a return man back there…the opportunity for disaster is greater than the opportunity to save field position or the off chance of breaking a big run back.

      Excuses for OSU to loss the game:

      Flu running rampant the week leading up to OSU’s bowl game.
      No Noah Spence
      No Bradley Roby
      Starting a true freshman Vonn Bell
      Braxton Miller pregame shoulder issues
      3 Miller turnovers
      Philly Brown muffed punt-C’mon man!!!
      Braxton Miller with a bad rib injury during the game

      With all that going against OSU…they still had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to win it vs. a damn good Clemson team.

      Onto signing day, spring practice and a bright 2014.

  2. No matter what Braxton Miller has made his place in Buckeye lore forever. what a bad mammajamma he is.

  3. We lost because we have a defense that gives up 500 yards a game, makes a star out of opposing QBs, can’t tackle, looks lost on the field, miscommunicates in the secondary, and we have defensive coaches that keep the best players on the bench (where was Von Bell in the previous 13 games). This has has been the case since Tressel left. Sweeney had 16 catches, half of them on the same exact play and we didn’t touch him until he got 15 yards. How can you not make adjustments all game long? Sorry but I have to bash Fickel for the millionth time. He has been in a coaching role for over 12 years and he is way over his head.

    Get a top notch DC with experience please. Mich St should not have a better DC than us and I am sure money isn’t the issue. We can’t build a program that must score 50 points a game to win.

    • I am one of the people who was willing to give Fickell the benefit of the doubt. Partly, this is because of the way he stepped up after the Tressel debacle (a terrible reason, I admit). Partly, it’s because that’s just the kind of guy I am. Perhaps it comes from watching the Cleveland Browns constantly changing coaches and QBs and thinking that’s the answer.

      Anyway, I say that so this is understood properly: It’s time for Fickell to go. The defense has been downright terrible. We are lucky our offense is world-class, because If it was was even average (think Tresselball), we’d probably be Nebraska or Iowa or even, ick, Michigan.

      This team deserves a defensive coordinator of equivalent talent to Tom Herman. Now, I know we all have our critiques of him as well, but would we if the defense wasn’t so atrocious? There are 8 major conference teams in the top 10 nationally for total offense. We are one of them. Here are the other 7 divided into two groups: Top 40 defenses and sub-Top 40 defenses:

      Florida State

      Texas A&M
      Texas Tech

      Guess which group we’re in.

      • I’m definitely with you in the “give Fickell the benefit of the doubt” camp. He has done more for this program than he gets credit for and he deserves respect, but maybe he’s just not the greatest coach. He’s a heck of a recruiter and motivator, but maybe he’s not a great X’s and O’s guy. We need someone who can do more. I don’t know who that is, but I hope Urban Meyer does.

    • I sure wish I knew who that top-notch defensive coordinator could be. This team is still a mish-mash of three coaches recruits. It’s clear that Urban and Co. are hauling in top-notch talent. Hopefully this trend of subpar defenses is on the way to being over.

  4. I agree 100% with you Ramy. Until OSU starts to play up on the outside receivers we will continue to have a poor passing defense!! Why not at least double team the best they got until they beat us with someone else!! This is not rocket science you simply make an adjustment to see what they counter with offensively…

    • Jaydub, I have to slightly disagree with you. Sure, it’s not rocket science, but it’s also not rock-paper-scissors here. The Clemson coaching staff is very smart and very good at what they do. I’m sure they have plenty of counters to a defense that sells out to double team their best player. I’m sure the offensive coordinator would salivate at the chance to go 10-on-9 on every play. It’s not as simple as saying “double team Watkins and we stop their offense”. Boyd is too good of a QB to believe that.

      I do agree they could have tried some things differently. I wish they would have. But it sure seemed like our coaching staff was calling this game conservatively and everyone, including the coaches, was playing tight and nervous. Not a good combo.

  5. It was a catch…and if you still don’t agree…at least understand it would have never been overturned. Sounds like you’re making excuses as to why Ohio State “lost” the game, instead of just realizing they simply got outclassed (Sammy is a beast). Clemson did everything in this game to try and lose, including being called for ~ 150 penalty yards and yet still outplayed Ohio State. I’m actually embarrassed they only won by 5 given how many points they left on the board.

    • Nick, thanks for stopping by. I never said it wasn’t a catch, I just wished it had gotten the proper review it deserved. That was a game-ending interception. I think that would warrant at least a second look. It probably wouldn’t have been overturned but we’ll never know.

      The Buckeyes absolutely did not get “outclassed” and there is nothing you can say that would EVER support that, so please do not try. Clemson’s high powered offense was going up a defense that was without three of its starters, one of its best players was hurt (Bosa) and one of its best playmakers was mentally checked out (Shazier). So no, Clemson did not outclass Ohio State. Ohio State may have been out-coached, but a 5 point victory is anything but outplaying or outclassing.

      Sammy Watkins is a great player and the lackadaisical approach the defensive coaching staff took to defending him was awful. Kudos to him and Boyd, they both played tremendously.

      • I’m gonna stick with outclassed as most non-biased observers will agree. Just look at total sacks, tackles for loss, turnovers, and total yards (heck look at running yards of Boyd compared to Miller). Clemson has better skill position players in almost every category. It was “close” only because of penalties (how many 4th downs would OSU have had if it wasn’t for this or that penalty). I know I know…if only you had Spence and Roby…

  6. Great article Tony. My thoughts exactly. You can’t solely blame Philly for the loss. There were so many contributing factors to the loss, even more than you mentioned. I also thought the late Clemson INT should have been reviewed. 12-2 is still pretty dang good and I think 2014 is going to be even better. There are so many underclassmen that stood out this year and will only get better next year. Now let’s hope Miller stays!

    • Agreed, Josh. I hope Miller stays, too. For selfish reasons and because I think another year would pay dividends (literally and figuratively) for his NFL career.

      That INT will be an all-time “what-if?” for Buckeye fans.

      • Christopher Jones says

        As much as I freaking hate to say it. I would prefer for Miller to stay because the freshmen we have is no way or even close to been ready to play next year. I really don’t know why he was recruited as a QB. The days of the big Tim Tebow QB’s is over. I hope this puts a serious bad taste in their mouth and sets them on fire for the 2014 season.


  1. […] and then POOF! It didn’t happen. But it did, because I watched it) 2013 – Orange Bowl (Too soon. Much too […]

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