Urban Meyer doesn’t know if the revenge factor will motivate his No. 6 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1, 4-0) on Saturday against No. 2 Penn State (7-0, 4-0).
While Ohio State’s 24-21 loss in State College, Pennsylvania, a year ago still stings, there are so many other reasons the Buckeyes want to win this week — to stay atop the Big Ten standings and to keep their playoff hopes alive being the most obvious — that revenge can’t be high on the list.
On the other hand, there are times it can help. Oklahoma used a 45-24 loss to Ohio State in 2016 to motivate itself when it came to Columbus in September.
Meyer won’t decide until later in the week whether he’ll use that theme.
“There’s times where we’ve used it, and we look silly using it,” Meyer said Monday. “There’s other times that it worked. I don’t know yet. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday isn’t about that. It’s about execution of a game plan and focus.”
Penn State is the highest-ranked opponent Ohio State has played at Ohio Stadium in Meyer’s six seasons. This is the 14th game against an Associated Press top-10 team in that time. Here’s a by-the-numbers look at the first 13 games in that category:
11: Quarterback J.T. Barrett has thrown 11 touchdown passes in nine games. He had four touchdown passes against No. 10 Nebraska last season. He has not thrown a touchdown pass in his last three games against top-10 teams. In those same nine games, he has six interceptions.
8: Ohio State has defeated eight top-10 teams since 2013. It didn’t play a top-10 team in 2012, Meyer’s first season. The victories against No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon in the 2014 College Football Playoff remain Ohio State’s best, by ranking, of the Meyer era.
6: Barrett has started in six victories. He’s 6-3 against top-10 teams but has lost his last two starts to No. 2 Clemson in the Fiesta Bowl last season and to No. 5 Oklahoma in the second game this season.
5: Ohio State has won five games by double digits. Its most lopsided victory was last season: 62-3 against No. 10 Nebraska.
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4: The Buckeyes have won four straight against Big Ten opponents ranked in the top 10 since losing 17-14 at home to Michigan State in 2015.
3: Ohio State is 3-0 in true road games with victories against No. 8 Michigan State in 2014, No. 10 Michigan in 2015 and No. 8 Wisconsin in 2016.
2: Ohio State has won two overtime games against top-10 teams during the Meyer era. Both came last season: 30-23 at No. 8 Wisconsin and 30-27 vs. No. 3 Michigan.
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